The Best Soccer Show Finale

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | View Comments
This is the last episode of the famous Best Soccer Show. Goodbye and godspeed.

Greg Berhalter has a mystery Yank wanting to come and play at Columbus Crew Stadium, and with the Crew having the number one spot of the allocation order they will be able to sign the unknown player.

"I don’t want to say names, but I got a call yesterday about a guy who wanted to specifically come to Columbus," Berhalter told Stars and Stripes FC. "A big national team player, and I thought that was interesting. All of a sudden we’re getting calls where people are coming to us."

With the mystery player interested in playing for the Crew and Berhalter keeping his name in the dark till further notice. The speculations of who this player is will begin, the possible list of players can be Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Oguchi Onyewu, Mix Diskerud, and who knows maybe even Jozy Altidore. It doesn't matter what other players they have or what the Betfair odds are of CC winning anything this season. Remember since the Crew hold the number one spot of the allocation order, Berhalter can get anyone he pleases as long as they enter the allocation process.

“We can get anyone,” The former U.S. international told Soccer By Ives. “As long as ownership says, ‘Let’s do it,’ we can get anyone. We’re in the position. We play good enough football that anyone would want to come play with us. I think that spot is very valuable to us for that reason. To say that we’re just a placeholder in that, that’s not true.”

Well first we can count Jozy Altidore out since he seems determined to break through at Sunderland. Jermaine Jones has almost a secure deal with the Chicago Fire. Sacha Kljestan seems destined to be heading to the Los Angeles Galaxy, according to a Soccer By Ives source.

Now for players like Juan Agudelo who currently do not have a club, that could be a possibility of him coming to the Crew, but he would not fit the bill of a "big national team player." Plus Agudelo just left Major League Soccer less than a season ago, and his hunger for European soccer does not seem to be satisfied yet.

Now for the Brek Shea's, Oguchi Onyewu's and the Mix Diskerud's, there is a chance of these players coming to the Crew. However, with these players already belonging to clubs it will cost MLS some money to get the rights for their contracts to enter the allocation process. Of course it will not be an immense of money for Onyewu or Shea, since both players are struggling to break through their respective clubs. Also like Agudelo, Shea who recently left MLS is also doubtful of returning from Europe.

For Onyewu, a place like Columbus could be a potential new home for the 11-year journey man. Ever since the knee injury he suffered right before the 2010 World Cup in the final World Cup Qualification match against Costa Rica, where he would have to carried out of the game.  He has never truly found his dominating form since that injury, he has bounced around club to club in Europe since the injury, and Columbus can potentially become his new home. However, both Shea and Onyewu both do not fit the "big national team player" as well.

As for Diskerud, the Crew will have to give a good amount of money to get the USMNT creative midfielder from his club team Rosenborg BK is one problem. The other obstacle would be to convince Diskerud to come and play in Columbus, the Norwegian/American almost came to MLS a couple years ago. Portland Timbers Coach Caleb Porter almost recruited his former Under-23 U.S. Men's National team midfielder he coached in qualification to the 2012 London Olympics summer games. However, Diskerud was turned off how players could easily be traded to another club in the MLS, so to bring the creative midfielder to play in the state of Ohio, the Crew will have to draw up a special contract for him, which makes Diskerud coming to MLS a long shot.

With the Crew coach holding his cards close to him speculations can only be formed till the former U.S. international center back reveals who is this USMNT mystery man?

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Jurgen Klinsmann's men go into their World Cup second round game with confidence at an all-time high, despite being on the receiving end of a defeat in their last game in Brazil. The USMNT were not expected by anyone to make it out of a group that contained Portugal and Germany, especially with the other side in Group G being the team who handed them their marching orders at the last two World Cups.

Vengeance over old foes

USA enjoyed sweet revenge over Ghana in their only victory of the group stages, setting their campaign off to a flying start within 32 seconds and then stealing a winner in the last ten minutes through John Brooks.

But the Ghana win was so nearly overshadowed when they almost earned 3 points against the FIFA Ranked #4 in the world; Portugal. After trailing for an hour, the USA rode a Portuguese storm and never gave up fighting, eventually getting back on even terms through a sensational strike from Jermaine Jones. The German-born midfielder, who now plays his club football at Turkish side Besiktas, has played exceptionally well in South America and has even outshone golden-boy, Michael Bradley, in the center of the US midfield.

Before the World Cup it was seen by most as either Jones or Beckerman alongside Bradley, but out in Brazil the 3 players have forged a partnership that doesn't fear anyone, not even the Germans!

USA morale

Jurgen Klinsmann has lit a fire under this group of players that is not going to be put out without a fight. They have bonded together stronger than anyone could've predicted, especially just a few weeks back when Landon Donovan was omitted and so many anticipated a collapse without the experience and reliability of the 57-goal legend.

DaMarcus Beasley has been electrifying in his record-breaking, fourth World Cup finals, providing that cool head under pressure in his latest role as part of the defensive line. Despite his advancing years, the 32-year-old still has pace and has been seen getting forward on the wings to great effect in Brazil.

Belgium may be without captain through groin strain

Les Diables Rouges may be without inspirational captain Vincent Kompany, and without his influence they will be missing a key element to their game. Kompany is the figure-head of the team with cool composure and exceptional vision.

MatchFitUSA prediction: Belgium 0-1 USA

The Stars and Stripes will have to weather a storm of unrelenting Belgian pressure, but they will again show their strength in defense as well as between the sticks. The European side have a wealth of quality in their squad, but this campaign has USA riding on the crest of a wave and that confidence and morale will carry them through. Expect Michael Bradley to finally find the net in this one.

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Clint Dempsey moved from Fulham to London rivals Tottenham last summer, for a fee believed to be in the £6 million range. With the USA international on board, Spurs rallied to their highest ever points total in the Premier League, however still missed out on a top-four finish. With this in mind, was Dempsey's first campaign at White Hart Lane a success or not?

One of the standout features of Dempsey's play at Fulham was his ability to find the back of the net on regular occasion from an attacking midfield position or from wide. For all money it looked like Dempsey would move to Liverpool, with the exchange betting now showing that a switch to Anfield was on the cards. However, with the Reds arguing over a transfer fee, Spurs nipped in to pip their rivals to the attacker's signature, and make the most of his versatility.

Although Dempsey did not return as many goals last term as in previous campaigns with Fulham, his seven Premier League strikes came in as a benefit to a side that largely relied on Gareth Bale to hit the back of the net. The American scored in both games against Manchester United to see Spurs take four points off the eventual champions, and also contributed other important strikes both in the Premier League and in Europe. Spurs fans will hope that Dempsey can look to make it into double figures next season.

His versatility was also a key aspect for Spurs, with Andre Villas-Boas able to call on Dempsey to play on either flank or through the middle as a second striker if needed. With Aaron Lennon injured for parts of the campaign, Gylfi Sigurdsson taking time to find his feet and Lewis Holtby only joining in January, Dempsey's presence was one that was largely positive for Spurs. Dempsey has also added a direct approach and energy to the Tottenham attack, while the American also offers guile and good technique.

Although his debut season for Spurs will not go down as one of his career best, the signs are there that Dempsey can be a critical man in Tottenham's attempts to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Stoke City, with it's pair of Americans grabbing the attention of at least of few of their countrymen across the pond, head to Loftus Road on Saturday to battle QPR in a crucial game for both sides. Stoke's recent form leave them perilously close to the drop zone in 16th, just three points clear of 18th place Wigan. Tony Pulis is under pressure, Stoke's brutal style of play is starting to wear thin with frantic supporters, and only a win against Harry Redknapp's club will do anything to lighten the load.

The most pressing problem is that Stoke hardly score these days, and they've hardly scored away from the Britannia all year. Hence the word at Betfair, with Stoke a 3.65 wager to win. It wouldn't be in character for Pulis to let his charges loose against QPR, even if getting a goal that can bring three points is crucial. On the other side, Harry Redknapp will have every reason to take the game to Stoke at home in London. QPR's situation is dire with the club 10 points adrift of safety, and only a rampant run of form down the stretch of the season will keep the Hoops up for another year in the Premier League.

Of Stoke's American contingent, only the trusted Geoff Cameron will be expected to play a part. Whether due to lack of fitness or because of his liabilities on the defensive side of the ball, Tony Pulis hasn't yet seen fit to give former FC Dallas man Shea much of a look. This is the case enough though Stoke is without winger Matthew Etherington due to injury. Shea's move to Stoke remains a bit of a head-scratcher for that reason; if Pulis had no intention of using Shea (and his attacking abilities) this season, the transfer during the dying hours of the January window makes little sense. Nothing else has worked for Stoke lately--would it be so wrong to give the young American with the funny hair a run out against one of the league's worst teams?


The chances of a set piece goal, for either side, are notable. Stoke is both the league leader in percentage of total goals scored from set pieces (57%) and conceded (46%). QPR's Loic Remy is hot, with goals in four of his last six Premier League appearances. Stoke City has just five points in 2013, and just one in their last seven games. Stoke hasn't picked up a point away from home in their last six trips. QPR has scored first a league low nine times this season, but when they do, they're good at protecting a lead.


Considering Stoke's trouble putting the ball in the net and QPR's greater comfort at home, Harry Redknapp's side looks like a winner, 1-0.

MLS presents a veritable smorgasbord of tasty match-ups this weekend as part of a day-long celebration of the league's best rivalries. On Saturday alone, rivals clash across a 10-hour block, starting with the Red Bulls v. D.C. United at Red Bull Arena and climaxing with Seattle v. Portland from a packed house in Seattle. NBC Sports will provide live look-ins at several games via a "whiparound" show called "The Breakaway."

Really, for those into who use things like Unibet to do something by the name of online betting, the crush of action, action, action is like a dream wrapped inside a fantasy covered in pixie dust. Even if you're not the type, nonstop American soccer action could be the high point of your month. I know it will be of mine. Do not judge my life.

But which game is the best of the lot from a competitive standpoint? Which game pits the most even teams against one another while also bringing the added element of heated (or, in some cases, lukewarm) rivalry? Which game rises above its rivals to become the rivalry of rivals? Ahem.

From my perspective, New York hosting D.C. United holds the most potential. Obviously the rivalry (and outside of Cascadia, it might be the league's fiercest) is part of what makes the game potential firecracker, but the talent on the field and the quality of the team's overall puts it above the rest of the slate. D.C. United comes in on the back of their first win of the season, a 1-0 defeat of Real Salt Lake in Washington. That win brought Ben Olsen's team their first points of the young season--they opened the campaign with a loss in Houston, a place they never win.

New York opens their home schedule after a West Coast trip they'd probably rather forget. Up two goals on the Timbers in their first game of the year, they left with only a point after failing to hold the lead. Last week in San Jose, it happened again--only this time, they took home no points after Roy Miller's epic meltdown in the final ten minutes (in less time than it takes to boil an egg, Miller lost his mark on the back post for the equalizer, committed a handball offense in the box, then encroached during the penalty so blatantly that it led to Chris Wondolowski getting a second chance to convert after his first show was saved--he did).

So one team is building off a win, while the other is looking to recover from a disastrous result. Let's see how this shakes out.

Key Players:

Thierry Henry (Red Bulls) - Yes, pointing to Henry is hardly difficult analysis, but the Frenchman sets the tone for the Red Bulls. If he comes out surly and disinterested, it could submarine New York's efforts from the start. Watch Henry closely; his body language tells half the story. The other half is in the lack of it when the mistakes start to flow. If he doesn't care, it will be up to Fabian Espindola and others to make goals happen.

Dwayne DeRosario (D.C. United) - Another obvious selection. But this one is different, mostly because DeRosario has yet to play in 2013 after a suspension stemming from a preseason headbutt. DeRo shouldn't have much trouble integrating to the team, and his presence will undoubtedly help wing threats Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon.

Key Questions:

How good is United's defense?

Last week's performance gives United plenty of confidence heading into Red Bull Arena, but New York presents a stiffer challenge than Real Salt Lake. The Red Bulls should have Juninho Pernambucano back in their lineup after the Brazilian missed a week through injury, so United's defenders will have to careful not to give up any fouls in the general vicinity of their own goal. And by that, I mean within 30 yards. This means you, Perry Kitchen.

The Red Bull response

It's worth mentioning again--the Red Bulls loss to the Earthquakes on Sunday has the potential to derail their season before it gets started. United will certainly know that, and would be happy to send their chief rival spiraling into the abyss. New York can prove a lot to the league and themselves if they put in a god showing. Mike Petke can go a long way towards proving he's a different kind of Red Bulls coach.

Will Roy Miller start?

Because the boos. Oh the boos.


It's hard to picture the Red Bulls being fully recovered after the two trips out west in two weeks and the loss in San Jose, but they will be at home. United's strength lies in their defensive commitment and the threat of DeRosario and Pontius. New York has more weapons, and that's even if Thierry Henry isn't fully engaged., that's enough. New York 2-1 United.

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Back in the summer, when Clint Dempsey’s future hung in the balance of a transfer market that undervalued Americans (we were sure of it) and the future of American soccer (read: our World Cup hopes) hung with it, there wasn’t much concern that whatever happened wouldn’t work out for the Texan. He’s Clint Dempsey. “Badass” where you start with the descriptors, moving up from there.

Clint proved himself at Fulham. He deserved to move on to a bigger club in the Betfair Premier League. Naturally, he wanted Champions League soccer, and had said so many times, so the expectation was that he would garner interest from a team in the English top four. Until the drama had played itself out, however, we didn’t know that he’d land at the one club in the English top four not playing Champions League football. Good enough to qualify in any other year, Tottenham had the misfortune of finishing fourth just as Chelsea decided to win the European title with a decidedly underwhelming team.

Still, Tottenham. Not bad, right? Hardly a disappointment to be there and not say, Liverpool, who is not only not a Champions League club at the moment, but looks to have a hard road ahead back to their former lofty status. Spurs has a new coach in Andres Villas Boas, and Clint would have to prove he could play in a team featuring a significantly higher level of talent than he was used to at Craven Cottage, but he’s Clint, remember? “Badass” is his baseline. Badasses don’t ride the bench. Badasses get on the field, and badasses score goals.

Sitting here, a handful of months later, it looks like Clint is facing another battle to prove himself on all fronts. There are rumors that AVB didn’t necessarily want him, that the club panicked when other deadline deals fell through, and a club legend is questioning Dempsey’s talent. Clint’s still a badass, but the degree of his badassery has taken a hit or two. There is no grace period here; Tottenham has aspirations and spent a lot of money to turn near-misses into establishing themselves among the Premier League elite. Sitting fifth through just more than a quarter of the season, Spurs has much more work to do if they hope to challenge for a place in next year’s Champions League.

It is early. But Clint will find, along with his millions of American fans sitting here hoping for him to continue his uninterrupted run of year-over-year improvement in production since his move to England, that the clock moves faster at a bigger club. Fulham’s dreams mostly consisted of staying up, with any finish above 18th place a bonus. Mid-table is massive. A Europa League run is gravy. Clint’s goal-scoring was important at Fulham, but the microscope was much kinder to his flaws. That won’t be the case at White Hart Lane, where every player is open to rampant—and sometimes unfair—criticism because Tottenham’s goals are much bigger.

Dempsey has dealt with plenty of personal pressure over the course of his career. Constantly proving himself to manager is old hat at this point. But this kind of larger pressure, the kind that will follow him into the lineup as Spurs fans and the English media bear down on a new coach (with his history of failure at Chelsea) and a team from whom fifth place is failure, is new.

We don’t have any real reason to doubt that Clint can handle it. He’s badass, after all. But it might be a little rougher going than both he and his fans are used to for awhile.

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Despite the pleasant moniker bestowed upon these contests by FIFA, international “friendlies” between the United States and Mexico are usually about as chummy as a night out with Drake and Chris Brown at a New York City night club… meaning you’re pretty much guaranteed to see more than the necessary share of testy exchanges and hostile attitudes.

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In light of today's news that the revived New York Cosmos will be joining the NASL in 2013, it seems appropriate to repost this piece from November of 2010. In it, I attempt to capture some of the angst fell by Red Bulls fans as the Cosmos revival picks up steam and draws attention away from their club.

Originally posted November 4, 2010.

by Jason Davis

In the universe that is New York City's soccer culture, gravitational pull is not a matter of new stadiums, flashy signings, or success on the field.  It's a matter of history.

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At one point, there was a half-assed plan to repost old posts, both in a transparent bid to keep MFUSA going, and because I honestly believe there are things worth revisiting in the archives. This is one of those, a post by Jason Kuenle about a USMNT fan base at odds with itself. It's more than relevant as Jurgen Klinsmann attempts to make a hard right turn with the team and program, so I present to you now.

This was originally published on June 16, 2011.

By Jason Kuenle

In two weeks time, we’ve seen opposite ends of the US fan base. We saw this piece by Chris Ballard on this site while nearly simultaneously seeing an uptick in the usual twitter vitriol as the US has struggled in the Gold Cup. Perspective is a funny thing.

I’m not going to pontificate on changing perspectives. People believe what they believe because of the values that they hold shaped by what they have experienced. Changing values is an exercise in futility and no person has experienced what another has. But the contrast between two opposite viewpoints deserves a bit of attention.

Those who have followed US soccer over the last twenty years have really only seen two true tournament failures in the US’ ascent in the footballing world, the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. Both of these instances were followed by coaching changes that coincided with the US “getting back on track” on their inevitable rise toward the top. Or at least that’s the narrative that is often told. The struggles here and elsewhere in Bob Bradley’s tenure make it easy to make his departure the beginning of the next upswing of the USMNT.

That narrative influenced part by increasing US success in soccer and part by general success of the US in everything else is a powerful one that rings true for most American fans. There is a manifest destiny aspect to it all; with the right player selection, the right tactics, and the right manager the US would have…choose your expected level of international success.

Contrast that with this quote from Chris’ post: “I had been keeping an eye out just to see how she was doing, but even though so far she’s not reached the levels of achievement as some, I just find that I have more fun with her than I ever did with you [England]. I see great potential, and I’d like to be along for the ride.”

But commonality may also be found in Chris’ words, “Every two or three years you say that you’re going to change; that this time it will be different, that this time you’ll repay my faith in you, but each time I’m let down badly. I don’t really think this is your fault – I’m sure you genuinely believe that this time, things will be different – but I feel like I need to protect myself from the constant disappointment.” He, of course, was talking about England, but two see those words from a US fan would not be out of place.

Results often determine the narrative. Opportunities taken or lost determine results. In a game as fickle as soccer, drastic swings in narrative can come from an inch here or there. In my perspective, almost all US successes and failures can be attributed that way. Without the right scorelines in matches that the US wasn’t even involved in, the knockout round successes in the 2002 World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup don’t happen. By finishing routine chances in the Gold Cup, the US could have drawn Panama 2-2 and beaten Guadeloupe 3-0 or 4-0. When those inches fall our way, the US does well, when they don't, red flags rise.

Potential is a dangerous thing. It presumes the ability to do great things, but without the guarantee or even probability of success. For those who see the US' potential but are unsure of when or how it will be fulfill, the first quote from Chris is most fitting, but for those that expect US success now, Chris’ second quote rings truer. The choice between the two is one of perspective.

The world loves to place a bet, with football being one of the biggest sports that people put bets on. It only makes sense that while there is no football to place a bet on many of these same people like to play at online slots at places like in order to get the same thrill of watching a game with money lying on it.

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Despite the 2011-12 season just drawing to a close and Euro 2012 and the Olympics on the horizon, a raft of leading European teams are planning their warm up games for next term. With an increase in popularity in the game across in North America, it has been the trend for pre-season friendlies to be played in the United States and Canada, and this summer it will be no different. Despite the fact that Barcelona and Manchester United will not be heading stateside in the build up to the 2012-13 season (see the latest football odds), plenty of other European giants are.

Chelsea American chairman Bruce Buck will have had a say in deciding to take the Blues back across to North America this pre-season, and the Stamford Bridge club will play four games in USA in July. Starting on the west coast in a game against the Seattle Sounders, Chelsea will also play big-spending Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and the MLS All-Stars team.
  • 18th July - Chelsea vs Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle
  • 22nd July - Chelsea vs Paris Saint-Germain, Yankee Stadium, New York
  • 25th July - Chelsea vs MLS All-Stars, PPL PArk, Chester
  • 28th July - Chelsea vs AC Milan, Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Aston Villa Again with an American chairman at the helm, Villa will play three games in the United States in a whirlwind trip stateside in July. Games against Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers should test Alex McLeish's men.
  • July 18th - Aston Villa vs Philadelphia Union, PPL Park, Chester
  • July 21st - Aston Villa vs Chicago Fire, Toyota Park, Chicago
  • July 24th - Aston Villa vs Portland Timbers, Jeld-Wen Field, Portland
Tottenham Spurs are set to go face-to-face with former striker Robbie Keane, David Beckham and former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry this summer. With Brad Friedel in the travelling contingent, the north London club will hope to use the trip to stoke up some additional support from fans stateside.
  • July 24th - Tottenham vs LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson
  • July 28th - Tottenham vs Liverpool, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
  • July 31st - Tottenham vs New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison
Liverpool The Fenway Sports Group take their Anfield side across for a pre-season tour of Canada and United States this summer, with a glamour friendly against fellow American-owned side Roma one of the highlights.
  • July 21st - Liverpool vs Toronto, Rogers Centre, Toronto
  • July 25th - Liverpool vs Roma, Fenway Park, Boston
  • July 28th - Liverpool vs Tottenham, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Real Madrid The newly-crowned La Liga champions will cross the Atlantic to test themselves in pre-season, and try to increase their popularity with American fans with Barcelona not travelling stateside this year.
  • August 3rd - Real Madrid vs LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson
  • August 5th - Real Madrid vs Juventus, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
  • August 8th - Real Madrid vs AC Milan, Yankee Stadium, New York
Juventus The rejuvenated Turin giants are always a big draw for American crowds, and will once more return to the United States this summer. Their full plans are yet to be revealed, but the following friendlies have been confirmed.
  • July 28th - Juventus vs DC United, RFK Stadium, Washington
  • August 5th - Juventus vs Real Madrid, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
AC Milan It will be a summer of rebuilding for AC Milan, as old heads Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Filippo Inzagi and Clarence Seedorf will leave the club, and American fans will be keen to see any new signings. Again, Milan's plans are still to be set in stone, but the following are confirmed.
  • 28th July - AC Milan vs Chelsea, Sun Life Stadium, Miami
  • Two games in Philadelphia - information yet to be released

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The MLS has another chance to show its pedigree and monitor its progress when the division’s best take on English Premier League powerhouses Chelsea in the All-Star game on July 25.

This free bet site backs the west London outfit as favourites to show their class and win the fixture at PPL Park, however the hosts will look to take inspiration from their 1-0 victory over the Stamford Bridge club six years ago, and win oncemore.

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