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Excuse me for borrowing liberally from my friend TJ at MLS Daily, but I just thought this topic was too good to pass up.

TJ makes the case for San Antonio as an MLS expansion candidate, noting the large Hispanic community, the sizable metropolitan population, and the close-call bid of 2005.

All excellent points.

I make my own case for San Antonio after the jump.

I really have nothing of significance to add to the case, as I'm not familiar enough with San Antonio. It does appear, however, that there are a couple of issues involved in the possibility of MLS in south Texas, generally revolving around a dramatic increase in the number of public-use soccer fields for the youth of the area (see the quotes from the various mayoral candidates in TJ's post). If the MLS and any potential ownership group made sure to include a program for getting those fields built, it appears as though the ideal would appeal to at least more than a few of the candidates.

As I said, though, I don't really have much to add to that discussion. My real reason for this post, and the real reason I'm borrowing the topic from TJ, is that San Antonio fits several of the criteria I believe will make for good soccer markets in the United States.

I've written this before, but it bears repeating: while in a perfect world, MLS would be in every major market in the country (i.e. every NFL market), there is often simply not enough room in the crowded sports environment for soccer in those cities.

The easiest answer to this problem for the league is to take the path of least resistance. This means placing teams in either the largest non-NFL markets, or in cities that have a strong history of supporting soccer, regardless of the presence of big time American sports franchises.

Prime examples of each can be seen in the last two American cities awarded franchises: Seattle, a city with an NFL team but minus one franchise due to the relocation of the Sonics, has supported the sport as far back as the NASL days. Portland, a city with a strong soccer history that cannot be underestimated, has only an NBA basketball team on the top tier of sports to compete with the incoming MLS team.

San Antonio, while lacking in the soccer-history (at least as it pertains to supporting a professional franchise; participation is another issue entirely), also has no NFL team, and like Portland, is home to only an NBA franchise.

As long as the ownership group is solid, and the team and city can come to an agreement on getting a SSS built as soon as possible, San Antonio has all the making of a fantastic MLS market.

The league needs to pick it spots, not punch above its weight, and be sure that the markets it enters have the proper characteristics and infrastructure in place for soccer to be a success. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and neither will the efficacy of a Major League Soccer franchise in San Antonio; but the city certainly has the makeup, the character, and the potential to be among the next great expansion stories.

Match Fit USA hereby bestows upon the City of San Antonio the rating of five "MFUSAs" (that's pronounced "ma-fu-sa") as a potential MLS market.

But they should probably get a USL team first, just to test the waters.

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Share your thoughts, or propose a city you think has all the makings of a good MLS market.

Site Update & Changes

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | View Comments
Allow me to update all that wonder just exactly what is going on around here:

I've been alerted that the iTunes page does not show any episodes; I've tried to find a work around, and have resubmitted my podcast to iTunes. Hopefully this fixes the problem in short order. You will, however, have to resubscribe. I will update the link for that as soon as I get confirmation from iTunes.

Also, another big change is coming to Match Fit USA, one that is probably a much bigger deal to me than it will be to you, but stay tuned nonetheless.

Done. No need to click the "read more" junk.

*UPDATE* You know that thing that I'm probably more excited about than you are? Yeah, it's done. The address for Match Fit USA is now

No more blogspot junk, so update your bookmarks accordingly.

After Saturday's debacle (a word I do not hesitate to use) in San Salvador, many American fans are screaming for wholesale changes to the USMNT starting lineup ahead of the next World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago, set for Wednesday night in Nashville.

If Bob Bradley's tenure as the National Team head man is any guide, however, those changes may not be forthcoming.

What changes we might expect, or are unlikely to see after the jump.

"Flexible" is not a word most fans would use to describe the taciturn Bradley, and it will be interesting to see if he digs his heels in on a few favorites, or if he acquiesces to what were obvious deficiencies in the starting lineup he put on the field against El Salvador.

Oguchi Onyewu will certainly be back in central defense, a change that is only change because Onyewu was held out of the match on Saturday. The same goes for Tim Howard, who was unable to play in San Salvador due to a red card, and will be back in goal for the Americans. Of course these aren't exactly the changes American fans are looking for; they're calling, fairly unanimously, for changs to the midfield and attack, two groups that looked extremely poor for the first sixty-five minutes or so on Saturday.

Word out of U.S. camp, straight from the head man himself, is that while Jozy Altidore looks good in training, he is not currently a ninety minute player. Whether or not this means that Altidore will once again start the game on the subs bench isn't clear; Bradley could conceivable start the youngster, then relieve him with Brian Ching, a reversal of Saturday's tactics. Altidore is at the top of the list when it comes to players supporters want to see start, though my guess is that the "reliable" Ching will once again be up top come game time.

MFUSA's Odds on Jozy Starting: 10-1

Saturday's other impact sub, Jose Franciso Torres (who Steven Cohen got confused with Jorge Flores on FFF last night), would appear to be the most likely new starter; Sacha Kjlestan's ineffectiveness, combined with Torres' strong play against the Salvadorans, makes his case to start a strong one.

MFUSA's Odds on Torres Starting: 3-1

Defense was clearly an issue on Saturday, and while Gooch's return should make an immediate positive impact, the ineffectiveness of Heath Pearce still remains an issue. Pearce was removed from the match with the Americans 2-0 down, and DeMarcus Beasley dropped back to make way for Torres. Pearce's exclusion would seem a foregone conclusion, though it's unclear who would step into his place. The idea of DeMarcus Beasley starting at left back is one that get a lot of play among supporters, but does not seem appealing to Bradley.

Bradley's propensity to stick with the status-quo, both in lineup makeup and in tactics, has continually frustrated those who believe the American team as a whole has greater potential than they are being given the opportunity to exhibit. What happens in Nashville, even before a ball is kicked, may go a long way towards eroding the remaining support that Mr. Bradley enjoys among supporters.

My preferred lineup:






My expected lineup:





Maybe there's not as much shakeup as you'd like, or maybe the formation leave's something left to be desired.

Give me your lineup, and then the lineup you expect to see.

Match Fit USA Podcast #7

Monday, March 30, 2009 | View Comments

The new and improved Match Fit USA podcast is here, and this time I'm not alone.

I'm joined by the insightful Mark Fishkin of The Kin of Fish to talk about USA-El Salvador, Red Bull New York, MLS attendance, the upcoming CBA negotiations and the marketing failures of the old MLS guard.

File download link after the jump.

As part of the new look here, the embedded player with the most recent podcast will always be on the main page of the blog. Past podcasts can be found in the podcast archive, link at the top of the page.

Also, please subscribe to Match Fit USA to get the podcast as soon as it's released, be it through a reader, iTunes, or email. All of those links are also at the top of the page.

The direct download links:

128 Kbps (large file)
64 Kbps (smaller file)


Preferred Media Player 128 Kbps (.m3u)
Preferred Media Player 64Kpbs (.m3u)

Still at the day job killing time, so here's a mid-afternoon piece of news:

A tie with El Salvador has done nothing to silence Bob Bradley's critics.

In fact, many are up in arms perhaps more than before. It seems the heightened expectations that come with being the CONCACAF bully mean that just getting by in Central America just won't cut it anymore.

Comeback or no comeback, the performance was atrocious.

More after the jump.

Any credit Bob gets for the substitutes that finally got things going has to be weighed with his inability to make changes on the fly, as well as the reluctance to make half-time adjustments (including subs). Twenty minutes of good soccer means there were seventy minutes of poor soccer; a lot of the blame must fall on the coach's shoulders.

Bob Bradley knew what kind of lion's den that team was walking into, and was obviously cowed by the environment. Is that the type of guy we want leading us into Azteca in August or South Africa (knock on wood) in 2010?

Probably not.

Around the interweb, other are voices concerns, and in some case, suggesting possible replacements.

Chief among them, Jamie Trecker of Fox Sports who leads the Bob's-just-not-good-enough-charge.

Just one of the thousands of Davis' covering American soccer, Noah of gives us winners and losers from the USA-El Salvador match (and I'll give you one guess where Bob is listed).

I started this post expecting to find several opinions to bolster my argument; without taking extreme measure, this is really all I could find. Maybe people are willing to give Bradley a long leash, or are waiting to see how things play out in Nashville on Wednesday against Trinidad & Tobago. Hell, I even found an article that says the draw should be seen as a positive. Hmm...

While I don't want to go crazy on our managers and hate the idea of organized "Fire Bob" campaigns, I do worry that those in charge of our National Team fortunes aren't quite pressure enough.

I'm not advocating anyone go and buy (.com is taken, though there's nothing there), but it is available.

MLS Monday Reactions Top 5

Monday, March 30, 2009 | View Comments

It's Monday morning, and predictably, I'm dragging just a bit. It's so hard to pack it in and call it a night when you're doing something enjoyable, and last night was no exception. The podcast session with Mark Fishkin was so good that I put a couple hours of good work in to get it ready for release this evening.

On other fronts, another MLS weekend has come and gone. While the Nats qualifier occupied most of my attention on Saturday, I do have a few observations that I would like to share, and I've put them in a handy-dandy top five format.

All the nonsense after the jump.

Bear in mind that all of these thoughts are off-the-cuff and reactionary, and bound to be filled with entirely too much emotion; I'm sure I will back down a bit from most (if not all) of them rather quickly.

1. What the hell is going on in Dallas?

I hate to drink from the same well that my friend Ginge is already draining (and rightly so), but it's absolutely shocking how poorly that team drew yesterday. Listed attendance was 6,500, though independent sources say that it might have actually been much lower than that. On the podcast (COMING THIS EVENING!), Mark and I discuss MLS marketing for some of the original clubs, and Dallas was top of mind; something is fundamentally wrong there that cannot be excused by a small budget. People much more knowledgeable of the situation than I have claimed that FC Dallas is in no danger of relocation, though I wonder if that's even a good thing at this point. Dallas' attendance reflects on the league, something which the suits at MLS headquarters are hopefully keenly aware. For all the good that Lamar Hunt did for American soccer, his legacy is being sullied by the ineptitude of the current HSG leadership.

2. Seattle is the greatest thing ever!

Of course I jest, but only slightly; the American soccer community is going batty over Seattle and their early success, and it seems unlikely to stop as long as the team keeps wining. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'll say it again: expect great home form from the Sounders, but let's hold off on crowning them MLS Cup final favorites until they prove that they can get points on the road. The Sounders are the feel good story of MLS, though my enthusiasm is tempered this week by collection of poor attendance numbers around the rest of the league. Mitigating factors abound in most locales, so I won't break out the panic alarm quite yet. I do think, however, that it's important to keep the big picture in mind. Anyway, one more item of business with Seattle, and then we'll move on: MONTERO! MONTERO! MONTERO!

3. Columbus-Toronto: The Aftermath

Things weren't exactly peaceful in Columbus, and I think it would have naive of anyone to think it was going to be smooth sailing. A couple of arrests, some disbursed pepper spray and mace, and angry missives from Columbus supporters all resulted from what was a fairly pedestrian match. I can't truly say I'm disappointed in anyone's behavior, though I worry that the focus on soccer supporters when it comes to violence makes the light that shines on the league because of incidents like this even harsher. No matter that dust-ups between fans of opposing teams in other sports happen fairly regularly, soccer will continue to be treated unfairly on that front for a litany of reasons. Hopefully, the leadership of both the TFC supporters groups and the Crew Nordecke faithful will denounce those from their sides that were involved in altercations.

4. Houston-San Jose First Half, or A Goal Every 9 minutes!

The first forty-five in San Jose was chock full of offensive gold, with all five goals the match produced occurring before the half-time whistle. You have to wonder if both teams simply ran out of gas in the second forty-five. As I was unable to watch the game, I saw the scoreline and immediately thought I had missed a barn burner; turns out I only missed half a barn-burner. Week two, and I still have no idea if either team is very good; it appears as though that Dynamo defense which used to be so solid has some serious chinks in the armor. San Jose, after a fairly ugly game with New England last week, showed some signs of life, and even got a contribution from the up-and-down Arturo Alvarez. One thing from the highlights: I loved the fact that Frank Yallop was giving an in-game interview when Ryan Johnson scored San Jose's opener. While I usually hate those things while play is going on, at least something interesting was happening at the same time.

5. Club or Country, It's Not Just For Players Anymore

With MLS playing through the FIFA mandated international match weekend, there were bound to be some conflicts for American soccer fans. Not only was the U.S. National Team playing on Saturday night, but the home nations of large communities of immigrants all around the country were playing as well. Attendance certainly took a hit due to the evening matches competing with the World Cup qualifiers, and it only served to magnify the scheduling issue for the league. Several people have come down on MLS (naturally) and while I'm tempted to join the mob, I'm holding back on my criticism. It would be difficult for me to believe that Garber and league officials want to play through a weekend like we just had, so give them the benefit of the doubt. When the league's position is strong enough and the stadium issues are a thing of the past, and not until then, will an international break be part of the MLS schedule.

A quick note this week's podcast: the addition of a guest may push back the release a day, but trust me, it will be worth it.

As I've mentioned before, my guest is fellow soccer blogger Mark Fishkin from The Kin of Fish, and there's a lot of great stuff.

Mark and I discuss USA-El Salvador, MLS marketing, and the upcoming CBA negotiations.

Highlights, the best I could find:

And Bradley's post-game comments:

Today is podcast recording day, so I'll be back and forth with that. Feel free to lament the result, wax poetic about the comeback, or just spew your thoughts.

Comments can be posted after the jump.

USA Ties El Salvador 2-2

Saturday, March 28, 2009 | View Comments
Hejduk Spurs USA to Comeback

Well then. Quite the comeback, wasn't it? Down 2-0 on the road, in an extremely hostile environment (one day we'll have that here, I hope), the United States salvaged a point with goals by Jozy "I should be starting everywhere I play" Altidore, and the ageless surfing wonder, Frankie Hejduk.

Match report and thoughts after the jump.

For the first sixty or so minutes of the match, everything went El Salvador's way. The opening goal in the fifteenth minute cowed the Americans even more than the raucous crowd, and "frazzled" suddenly became the word of the day.

The middle of the field was a mess, Landon Donovan disappeared, and it never seemed as though the U.S. was going to ever get back in the match. A beautifully headed goal by El Salvador's man of the match, Cristian Castillo, and it appeared as though El Salvador would walk away with three crucial points.

Bob Bradley, whose starting lineup was unable to create any significant chances as originally formed, made the perfect tactical moves when they were absolutely necessary. Jozy Altidore came on for Heath Pearce in the sixty-first minute, and DeMarcus Beasely slid into the vacated fullback spot. Torres entered shortly thereafter, in the seventy-first minute, replacing the ineffective Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan just never looked comfortable in the middle of the field, and may have relinquished his starting role with a poor performance.

Subs on and down 2-0, Frankie Hejduk sparked the American attack. After an overlapping run on the right, his driven cross found the head of Altidore. Lingering at the back post and unmarked, Altidore took his chance and brought the U.S. back into the match. 2-1 El Salvador, and what had been a ridiculously loud Estadio Cuscatlan quieted noticeably.

It wouldn't be long until the game was level, with the tying goal once again involving Hejduk. Landon Donovan's corner was hit into the box dangerously, and Salvadoran keeper Juan Jose Gomez, himself a substitute after El Salvador's starter Miguel Montes left injured, attempted to punch the ball clear. It came perfectly to Hejduk's head, and the defender put it away. 2-2, all of the air gone from the building, and loss turned into a point. Whew.

Alright, enough of the match report stuff. Let me just say that the time wasting tactics used by El Salvador in the second half were ridiculous. No matter that the referee added seven minutes of stoppage time; the Salvadorans sucked the energy out of both the American comebacks attempts and the match itself in a way that shames the sport.

Just a quick rant. Maybe you'll get 800 words on it at some point, depending on how angry about it I remain.

To close this out: If you read the live blog, you know that most of us had lost the faith down 2-0; this match was the perfect example of why soccer is such a fantastic sport. No matter how dire things seem, as long as there is time on the clock, good things can happen. The better team didn't win tonight, but they certainly showed grit and determination on a level that bodes well for the future. Good on Bob Bradley for making the right changes, they might have been the thing that saved the day.

Now if we could just get him to start Jozy...

USA-El Salvador WCQ Live Blog

Saturday, March 28, 2009 | View Comments

Freddy Adu Puts On A Brave Face

Saturday, March 28, 2009 | View Comments
Freddy Adu

Paul Oberjuerge at the New York Times Goal blog has a nice interview with Freddy Adu today, in which Freddy says all the right things.

Quotes, with my thoughts on the matter, after the jump.

“I’m fine,” Adu said Friday afternoon at the hotel where the United States national team is staying here. “A lot of people probably think because I’m not playing a lot that my confidence is low, or this and that. No. I’m fine. Confidence is at where it should be right now. I’m training very, very hard and if the coach calls my name, I’ll get out there and do what I can do to help the team, try to make a difference. And if he doesn’t call my name, I just keep working. And that’s the mentality I’ve taken on.”

It's been said before, but I'll go ahead and mention it again. The kid is nineteen years old. Despite that fact, plenty of National Team fans have written him off, given up on him ever becoming a worthwhile player. While I'm not of that opinion, I can certainly understand it; Freddy's exit from MLS wasn't exactly smooth, and he's barely sniffed the field at either Benfica or Monaco. The recent ousting of Monaco's club president, the man responsible for obtaining Freddy, hasn't helped matters (Jerome de Bontin, who carried the interim tag).

Freddy addressed the age issue directly, pointing out that his pro experience doesn't carry much weight with Monaco's coaching staff.

“Obviously, I’m at the beginning of my career, contrary to what anyone else thinks,” he said. “I’m 19 years old. In any other country, everywhere else, you’re a prospect. And that’s what I am right now in Europe. I’m a prospect. I’m not a seasoned veteran. They don’t see me as somebody who has played five years as a professional already. They see me as one of the prospects and I have to earn my way into the team and into the lineup, and that’s what I’m in the process of doing.”

Freddy's confidence appears to be bolstered by his call up to the Nats, and while it's unlikely he'll play (we'll get to BB's quote on that in a moment), training for a WCQ with the full A squad has to make himself feel better about things. I'm guessing the kid is a lot more frustrated then he is letting on, though give him points for being professional about it. Everyone that wants to bury him should at least admit that he's showing the right attitude. Whether or not that means he ever reaches some level of quality is yet to be seen.

On to Bradley's quote about Freddy getting a call up:

“No part of a qualifying match includes in any way the idea that it’s a great time to look at someone,” Bradley said. “We’re playing to win. Playing with the maturity we need to have to play and win and hopefully get to the World Cup final.”

That first sentence is possibly to most convoluted thing a National Team coach has ever said, and my head is still spinning after reading it. Still, it's fairly clear that Bob's just saying that qualifying matches are serious business, and that young inexperienced players are unlikely to get much run (or, get ready for Ching up top again).

“I believe the perception, the U.S. fan’s perception of Europe is a little different,” he said. “When you’re there and you see the day-in-day-out way of it, you see how good some of these players are and how good the competition is. It’s not easy. At all. People really do think you can just walk in and play and it really doesn’t work that way. Take two players, look at myself and Jozy. We’re in the same situation. And even Michael Bradley. Michael Bradley goes from Herrenveen where he scores something like 20 goals or whatnot and goes to Germany, and he was playing in spurts, at one point, until they started starting him. Finally being a full-time starter. It’s not easy. You’ve really gotta earn it. You really have to grind it out. And that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

He's got a point about Jozy, one that I've made here before. Jozy is up against the same challenges as Freddy, and it would be difficult to say who is in the better situation. As for Bradley, it appears he's ruined the curve for Jozy and Freddy; while he had to work himself in at Gladbach after moving from Herrenveen, he's still managed to work his way into the starting lineup. American fans will have less patience for what's happening with Adu and Altidore when Bradley is actually playing and they're not.

Still, I've yet to give up on Freddy, and I'm hoping things change for the better in the not-to-distant future. The prospect of a return to MLS has been mentioned, and while I think it would be good for the league, I'm not sure Freddy would be too keen on the idea. It's pretty clear that he still believes he can prove himself in Europe, and it's not quite time to throw in the towel.

USA-El Salvador

I feel it necessary to talk a little more about the Yanks qualifier in El Salvador tomorrow. Some of this is a service to you, and some of it is an education for me.

I've compiled a brief list of facts on El Salvador, as well a look at the stadium in San Salvador.

After the jump of course.

El Salvador
FIFA Rank: 106
National Stadium: Estadio Cuscatlan (capacity 52,900)
Last World Cup Finals Appearance: 1982

The more I look at the game, the more I'm convinced that a U.S. win by less than 3-0 (and do I dare dream for more) would be disappointing: El Salvador does not have a player in their squad that plays their club soccer outside of the country, and their league does not crack the IFFHS rankings top one hundred
(which I don't put a lot of stock in, but it's still some kind of measure).

A lot is made of the hostile environments that exist throughout CONCACAF, and I'm sure El Salvador is no exception. Here's a picture of the stadium, just to give you a sense of it:

This video of last month's El Salvador-Trinidad & Tobago qualifying match doesn't really give you the sense that it will be overly hostile, though:

Finally, something relatively humorous I found while poking around for information on El Salvador: Apparently, in a fan poll on the FIFA website, El Salvador was picked to be atop the hexagonal after Match Day 1. Weird. Obviously that didn't happen as they tied T&T (2-2) while the USA and Costa Rica won.

Forgot to mention a thought I just had (connect the dots with me):
The DC Metro has sizable Salvadoran population...
DC United play their home opener at RFK tomorrow, kicking off at 7:30 pm Eastern...
El Salvador-USA kicks off at 9 pm Eastern...
Attendance at RFK will be...?

MLS Daily Column 3/27

Friday, March 27, 2009 | View Comments

My new column for MLS Daily is now up over there, so check it out and give me some feedback (either here or there, doesn't matter).

It's probably not my best work, but I think the sentiment is solid.

Link after the jump, with a few more thoughts.

MLS Daily Column 3/27

Once again, I have to thank TJ at MLS Daily for giving me the opportunity to use his forum. There's also a chance I may cover a game or two for him in the future, click some of those ad thingies or hit that donate button and help make sure I'm prepared (back to that laptop thing again).

I promise that everything earned through MFUSA will go directly back into MFUSA. With a little kickstart, I can provide you guys with a lot more content, and make this place even better. I would be forever in your debt.

MLS & USA-El Salvador Preview

Friday, March 27, 2009 | View Comments

I don't have time to do a full preview of USA-El Salvador, and I can't really get into all of the MLS action that is (unfortunately) taking place this weekend, but I thought I would share a few quick thoughts on each match. As always, it's always possible I will ramble on about numerous things (maybe even football betting), and this will turn into something I did not intend.

As a bonus, I'm ranking these, counting down from eight to one, with a prediction to boot.

8. Kansas City Wizards at Colorado Rapids

Something about games in Colorado depresses me, and I can't really explain why. Maybe it's because I've always considered Denver a pseudo-hometown of mine, since I have so much family there. I just wish that stadium was closer to downtown Denver. As for the game itself, there are some interesting players, and I'm sure it won't be horrible. Still, I'm not excited for it in the least.

Prediction: Wizards 2, Colorado 1

7. New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls

I can't stand watching soccer matches that take place in Giants Stadium. Pluse, as good as New England's been over the years, something about them bores me to tears. No thanks on this one.

Prediction: New England 1, New York 1

6. Chivas USA at FC Dallas

It's hard to tell whether either of these teams are any good; Chivas had their game last week handed to them, and Dallas got completely outclassed by a Chicago team that tops a lot of people's favorite lists. Kjlestan and Cooper are about all I really care about. That and seeing how low attendance at Pizza Hut Park goes.

Prediction: Chivas USA 1, FC Dallas, 1

5. Houston Dynamo at San Jose Earthquakes

I think there's a chance that the Dynamo could fade back to the pack, and end up fighting for a playoff spot towards the end of the year. San Jose jobbed themselves last week, and I expect they'll be a little crisper in Week 2. What's a Huckerby get a goal, and the Quakes win at home.

Prediction: Houston 0, San Jose 1

4. Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders

It's going to be interesting to see how strong the crowd in Seattle is for Week 2, and how RSL reacts. I actually picked the Lakers to go to the Cup final this year, though I don't think they get the win on the road in Seattle. Say it with me: Mov-sis-i-yan. Come on, it's fun.

Prediction: Real Salk Lake 1, Seattle 1

3. Chicago Fire at DC United

There's a little bad blood between these teams because of Blanco's Open Cup antics last year, so the level of physical play bears watching. I'm almost tempted to say that someone gets sent off in this match. Screw it, I will. Someone will get sent off. Blanco comes on as a sub again, United play well at home, and the bleachers at RFK shake up and down. How's all that for going out on a limb?

Prediction: Chicago 1, DC United 3

2. Toronto FC at Columbus Crew

As you'll see in my MLS Daily column that's coming out at some point today, I'm very interested in the growing hostility between the supporters of TFC and Columbus. As long as there's no violence, I think the dynamic is great for the league. The actualy game? I have no clue, but I think the Crew at home with some magic from GBS is a good bet.

Prediction: Toronto FC 1, Columbus 2

1. USA at El Salvador

The biggest game of the weekend for me, mostly because my Nats supporter status is locked in, and I'm yet to truly find myself passionate about any particular MLS team. Another qualifier that the U.S. should have no problem winning. The only wrinkle may be the starting lineup Bradley throws out; word on the street has that there may be some interesting changes. In that vein, my gut says that something will happen that hasn't in a while: Eddie Johnson will score a goal. That's right, you heard it here first. It's the hunchiest of hunches.

*UPDATE* I'm tempted to remove the previous paragraph (and the picture) because not only did EJ not score, he didn't even dress. I'm leaving it though, both as a testament to my idiocy and as a reminder to myself that while over-the-top wacky statements may look good in print, they're over-the-top and wacky for a reason. Good God I hope no one ever calls me on this.

Prediction: USA 2, El Salvador 0

Comments Down

Thursday, March 26, 2009 | View Comments

Just a heads up for those of you trying to comment: the disqus system didn't come over to the new site very well, so the comments function is down at the moment.

Ginge is in touch with the disqus people, so we're hoping it will be fixed soon.

Thanks for your patience.

*UPDATE* Apparently the comments are fixed, as my little brother has now decided to invade MFUSA. Be on your best behavior, Kevin: I would hate to have to ban you.

**UPDATE AGAIN** Okay, so you can comment, but you have to go to the full post (Click to Read More) to do it. For some reason, there's no comment link on the main page for each post, which is supposed to show the number of comments as well. I'll try to figure it out this evening.

Zero chance anyone but me gets the joke with that picture...

Timbers fans react to USL Live news
It's not often that something worthwhile is available for free. Even when something good comes with no price tag, there is usually still some kind of catch.

Ever see that episode of Family Guy where Peter has the chance to get a free boat but has to sit through a high-pressure sales pitch for a condo in order to get it? It's a stupid cartoon, but it's not far from the truth.

In a fantastic stroke of genius, your friends at the United Soccer Leagues have decided to make their product available via internet stream for the low, low price of nothing. As a soccer junkie (and an American soccer junkie first and foremost), I find this to be extremely exciting news.

More after the "jump" (never had to use that before, seems a little pretentious). Just click "Read More" please

The USL is riding a wave of positive publicity with the success of two of their teams in the CONCACAF Champions League, and providing free online streams of their matches is a great way to capitalize on that publicity. If nothing else, the interest in the Impact, Islanders, Timbers and Whitecaps (thanks to the expansion news) should dramatically increase the league's profile.

Let's hope that people take adavantage of the situation and give USL a chance; as staunch a supporter of MLS as I am, I'm definitely for USL giving them a push. It might actually spur the league into some kind of action on their salary structure, as they'll be forced to keep up with the "smaller" league.

USL has some of the best supporters in the North American game, and it will be great to be able to see them and their clubs more often than just watching FSC on a Friday night allows.

So bookmark USL Live right now. Come on, you know you want to...

Hell, I might even liveblog a few USL games this year, and I'll certainly be keeping an eye on things. Anyone want to help me pick a team? I'm easily swayed/bought if given the right direction...

USA v Mexico
You didn't forget that World Cup qualifying returns this weekend, did you?

I may not get to a game preview, and I haven't touched on Bradley's call ups (except for Jozy), but I did want to give the game on Saturday against El Salvador a little love. Perhaps I'll do something on the projected lineups (I'm sure there won't be too many changes from the pictured team above).

More after the jump.

To get you back into the WCQ mood, here's a nice little commercial for the game against Trinidad & Tobago in Nashville next week.

Make sure to look out for the next podcast as well; I hope to have Mr. Fish of The Kin of Fish fame on to review the Nats performance (among other topics).

Trying out a new image service; I hate all that space between the pic and the text, but I can't seem to do anything about it.

It turns out that HVS, a sports and entertainment consulting firm, put a nice little presentation on MLS finances together for the Portland 2011 bid. There are some interesting tidbits in there, and I thought I'd share a few that interested me.

Stadium Revenue
Total projected stadium revenue is less than $15 million; now, I'm sure that's a conservative estimate, but it seems shockingly low. Of course, I'm certainly jaded by the type of money made in big time American sports.

Ticket Price
Portland's projected average ticket price is $33.65, significantly higher than the 2007 league average (cited in the presentation) of $22.47. Not sure if that really means anything, just an interesting note.

Chivas Season Tickets

If you needed more evidence that Chivas is the most poorly marketed team in the league, here's a kicker for you: in both 2007 and 2008, season tickets sales for Chivas USA were less than 900. Wow. They need to do something out there, and I think re-branding the club would be a good start. That, or move them (St. Louis?).

Kansas City Season Tickets
Unlike Chivas, the Wizards seem to be making progress. While the number of season tickets sold for Kansas City is second worst in the league, they saw a 232% percent increase between 2007 and 2008. Pretty damned impressive, and certain to rise again when the team moves into their new digs in a couple of years.

Portland's Projected Ticket Sales
Now, I don't know a thing about sports venue consulting, but it just seems odd that HVS would assume a decline in total tickets sold from 2011 to 2015. Isn't the goal to make the team more popular, thereby increasing ticket sales? I guess that's just part of the overly conservative outlook these type of things have to take when it comes to public financing issues. Oh, and if Portland is averaging less than 12,000 in 2015, I think it would be safe to say at that point that giving them a team was a bad idea. Not going to happen, of course. I have faith in the soccer fans out there.

TFC Fans Like Their Beer

The report says that Toronto fans spent more on average than an other team in the league, at a rate of $11.00 per game (I'm assuming that's USD). Think they were spending that $11.00 on hot dogs and nachos? I doubt it. If TFC charged for bathroom access, they could probably bring in another couple mill a year.

Both Kinds of Football at PGE Park

Listed as a source of "other event" income in the report is Portland State football. Now, I guess it would be naive to think that the renovated PGE Park would be used for nothing but Timbers games, but I was certainly unaware of Portland State playing their other kind of football there. High school games? Fine. Concerts? If you must. College football? No thanks. Guess you just have to take the good with the bad. Maybe we'll never be able to separate soccer in this country from American football, no matter how many soccer-specific stadiums we build.

I was made aware of the report by Footiebusiness, and you can read the original report in .pdf form here.

MLS Stadium News Ruins Good Vibes

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | View Comments

For all the love and good will that Major League Soccer has gotten recently from Seattle, Vancouver and Portland, today's stadium news for two of the league's premier franchises has put a massive damper on my enthusiasm.

In Houston, Glenn Davis is reporting that the proposed Dynamo stadium may still hit snags, despite the fact that the team has secured the necessary financing to get the thing built.

In DC, Prince George's County, the team's apparent future home after the District failed to make good on Poplar Point, cut the team at the knees with a 5-0 vote against moving forward with the idea (the stadium isn't dead, just on life support).

Ugh. And these are just two of several stadium issues that threaten to linger long into the future.

Here are the worst stadium situations in MLS, from most critical on down. Call it a Big Four if you will (with an added bonus: me handicapping the likelihood based on current information):

DC United
Current: RFK Stadium
Efforts: Prince George's County Project
Likelihood: 20/1

No offense to any of the other teams, but United's situation is clearly the most distressing. A team with vocal support, solid attendance, and on-field success, DC is one of the premier clubs in MLS. For a team on the level of United, torchbearers for the league since its inception, not to have a proper soccer stadium is a black eye for American soccer. The District led United around by the tail for years, and now Victor McFarland has decided that enough is enough. Desperate for a locality that makes sense for both the fans and the team, United headed to the Maryland suburbs, where it appeared they expected a warm reception. It didn't happen, as the county's committee recommendation proves. There have even been whispering that United could move out of the DC metro completely if the PG County stadium falls through. That would be a severe blow to the reputation of both the league and professional soccer in the U.S., and shouldn't be allowed to happen no matter the cost.

As a potential alternative to PG County, a local radio show that I've posted about before suggested that United team up with George Mason University (yes, that George Mason University) here in Fairfax (30 miles outside of the city, and where I spend eight hours of hell everyday), as the school is looking to start a football (American) program and might be willing to share the costs with the team. Two problems spring to mind for me, as I'm intimately familiar with GMU and Fairfax: one, I have no idea where they would put it; two, the city of Fairfax (or county of Fairfax if it would be outside the city limits) is unlikely to be too fond of the idea, mainly due to the fact that it will only add to the already ridiculous traffic situation.

*UPDATE* And now this, which I was alerted to by American Soccer News. United in RFK would immediately become the most depressing atmosphere in MLS. The place holds 90,000 people for cripes sakes. It'll be like a school of goldfish in the Chesapeake.

Houston Dynamo
Current Home: Richardson Field
Efforts: Stadium in the city of Houston
Likelihood: 3/1

What more can the Dynamo do? After moving from San Jose because stadium possibilities had dried up there, the club has worked hard to make sure Houston wouldn't be strike two. Yesterday, all the news was good; the team had secured the loan necessary to pay their portion of the construction costs, and looked like everything was good-to-go. Today, Glenn Davis squashes all of the optimism (not his fault, he's just the messenger) with a blog post that shows that Houston may have complete morons in the city council who could be an impediment to the stadium getting built. While they're not unique in that regard (there are idiot city councilmen and women everywhere), Dynamo fans can't be too happy right now. The Dynamo have about as strong a reputation currently as an American team can have in the region, yet they play on a field that is more suited for buckets and shovels than soccer. I truly hope that today's news is only a momentary hiccup, and that the Dynamo get on their way towards SSS status sooner rather than later.

New England Revolution
Current Home: Gillette Stadium
New Stadium Efforts: Somerville (maybe?)
Likelihood: 1000/1

While United and the Dynamo get first billing, the Revs aren't too far behind. Although they haven't (yet) won a Cup, Nichol's boys are consistently one of the top three or four teams in Major League Soccer. Despite that fact, they continue to play in a cavernous abomination (for soccer at least) that not only sucks all of the atmosphere out of a Revs home game, but also means the team plays on the dreaded "football lines" entirely too often. If nothing else, it makes Revolution games difficult to watch on TV. Foxboro, from my understanding, is about as far removed from the immediate Boston area (which is where they should be) as any other team in the league is from their nominal hometown (okay, so Boston isn't in their name; they're still supposed to be a Boston team). With bad news on the Somerville stadium front, the Revs look to be stuck in Gillette Stadium for at least the foreseeable future.

Just a thought: A couple of years ago, the Patriots threatened to move to Hartford if they didn't get a stadium, and then stayed put when Gillette was finally green lighted. While they were probably just bluffing, it was clear that Hartford is hungry for a team of their own. I'm sure this will piss off my Boston friends up there, but why can't the Revs move to Hartford?

And I just remembered that they're owned by Robert Kraft. Never mind.

San Jose Earthquakes
Current: Buck Shaw/Oakland Alameda County Coliseum
Efforts: SSS Near San Jose Airport
Likelihood: 3/1 (who knows when though)
Things are actually fairly good in San Jose, though the speed at which the process is moving leaves a lot to be desired. Owner Lew Wolff is looking to fund a 15,000 seat facility (again, I ask: why only 15k?) near the San Jose airport, and there have already been preliminary studies done on the potential site. That's good, but I'm impatient. Every time San Jose is forced to play in the tiny Buck Shaw, or the ugly-for-soccer (even by MLS standards) Coliseum, it saddens me a bit. San Jose seems a lock to get to the SSS promised land though, and that's more than most stadium-less teams in the league can say.

Match Fit USA Moving Day

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | View Comments

The Ginge* tells me things are ready to go for the big move to the new and improved site, so it's likely to be a little funky around here for a bit. The move is set for 10:30 Eastern and will take about an hour, so if you come and things are a mess, don't worry.

I didn't mean to add "The" to your name, Ginge, but now that it's there, I'm leaving it. Mostly because it sounds cool.

UPDATE (11:30am) from "The Ginge": Yeah, uh, still have some work to do, looks like it will be a few more days...sorry about that

UPDATE UPDATE (8:00pm) from Jason: Hi Ginge! Don't sweat it. Everyone go check out Ginge's blog: Ginge Talks the Footy.

A couple of days ago, I put up a quick poll on who you guys believe is currently the best American player (non-goalie). Although the number of votes was fairly minimal, I think the exercise did its job; namely, it proved that there's a segment of USMNT fans that believe Clint Dempsey is the best player we've got.

I disagree, though I it's a lot closer than it used to be (and Michael Bradley is probably not too far behind either). Because some think Dempsey is better, and because I have the time and energy to do so, I've decided to do a little head-to-head comparison of the two players.

I'm using a point system format; meaning that in each area, the player can either get a win, draw, or loss, and earn points for a result. Three points for a win, one point for a draw, and obviously zippy for a loss. Here we go.

Remember that this is a subjective attempt to determine who's better, and that it is only one man's opinion.

Even Dempsey backers would have to admit that Donovan is the more skillful player (apparently not; see comments); while neither is Ronaldo or Messi, each can do some pretty impressive things with the ball. Still, Donovan has proven that, given the opportunity, he can impress with his skill. Dempsey has the stepovers, something that Donovan rarely employs (though I think it's there), and both can create space with the ball at their feet.

Result: Donovan Win (3 Points)

Speed (Pace for our English friends)
Not much of a contest here. Clint's not exactly slow, but Donovan's speed is world class; everyone remembers moments where Landon's speed changed a game. Speed's not everything of course, but it does play a role in a player's ability to stand out on the field.

Result: Donovan Win (3 Points)

We're talking runs, off-the-ball movement, and the ability to be in the right place at the right time here; both are good at finding open space and making themselves available. Donovan's speed is an advantage in this area, though Dempsey might actually have a better natural sense. I'm calling this one a draw, because the differences are slight enough to make it matter of perspective/recency.

Result: Draw (1 point each)

Getting into space and making the right run is great, but an attacking player is more correctly defined by his ability to set up his teammates. Donovan has a slight headstart in this area because he usually plays more in a more central role than Dempsey, and I'm taking that into account. Still, I think this is another win for Donovan.

Result: Win Donovan (3 points)

Although both players are offense first as their positions dictate, each obviously has defensive responsibilities. Tracking back is something neither player is hesitant to do when it's called for, so this seems to be another tightly contested area. My sense though, is that Dempsey works a little harder, and is usually more sucessful in his efforts.

Result: Win Dempsey (3 points)

Level of Competition
I might put less stock in where a player is playing his club soccer than most, and so I'm consciously going against my instinct on this one. It might be a bit unfair to Landon, especially in light of his recent efforts to get back to Europe, though his failed stints in Germany as a younger player have to be taken into account. Donovan obviously scores a lot more goals in a lesser competition (and internationally), but Clint is playing in what is generally considered the best league in the world. In deference to those who think it matters, this one's clearly a win for Dempsey.

Result: Win Dempsey (3 points)

Final Standings:
Donovan 10 points
Dempsey 7 points

In the end, Dempsey comes up a win short of tying for the title. I'm tapped out on areas to compare the two, which obviously doesn't mean there aren't more. If anyone has a suggestion (although I'm sure it will be colored by your bias for a particular player), please speak up and I'll add it in.

As I said, I tried to be a objective as possible, and not let my overall sense of each player color the results. Breaking it down into individual areas of comparison seemed the easiest way to accomplish that, though it's obviously not perfect.

So step up, add a point of comparison, make your case, or just disagree with my results.

Don Garber on MLS Future

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | View Comments
"Let's put the next expansion team over there"

The phrase "mixed signals" is so often used, that it may have lost its bite a bit. Still, it's very clear in its meaning:

Unclear message; usually two contradicting messages.

Don Garber, he of the designer suits, Don Flamenco hairdo, and rosy league outlook, has suddenly reversed himself. Instead of the usual rhetoric about the glorious future of MLS, Don is now voicing just a little concern on what the current economic climate (aka the CEC™: I'm trademarking that); don't get too excited, he says, we still don't know if things will work.
"I think it is impossible to tell," says Garber, who will celebrate his 10th anniversary as league commissioner in August. "It's unusual for us as Americans to wake up this way, because we're born with an optimism that exists just as part of our character, and a lot of that optimism has been knocked out of the system. We wake up every day thinking tomorrow is going to be worse instead of better, which is unusual in our society."

Hey Don, what are you trying to say? Should I be worried? Is there something we don't know? If things are so up-in-the-air, then why expand rapidly (which I'm all for, but still), and risk overextending the league?

Don? Hello?
"We're a long-term play. The times we're going through, while challenging for all of us, are temporary. We need to be sure when we come out of the recession we're positioned for growth, with strong investors in the right markets and good facilities."

Okay, so expansion is positioning for growth? Wait, isn't expansion "growth" itself? Sure, the recession is bound to be temporary, but what if it becomes protracted? I'm so confused. What good is all of this expansion, exactly?

"It's a very positive story," says Garber. "From the geographic standpoint, our sport is built on rivalries. It drives the game of football in England, it drives it in Italy, in Spain, in Brazil and we need it to drive it in our country, too. Now that we have a team [Vancouver] just up the road from Seattle, which is obviously doing very, very well, bodes well for the future of our league."

Whew. There's the old Donnie. I was getting a little worried there, with all of that talk about recession and uncertainty. You had me a little scared, Don. Don't do that to me again, I don't think my heart can take it. I feel much, much better.

And I need a smoke.

Read the original article from which I borrowed these quotes and used them completely out of context here.

A quick poll to start the day, the results from which I hope to craft a post on the subject:

Altidore Makes U.S. Roster

Monday, March 23, 2009 | View Comments
Jozy & George: Doin a Whole Lotta Nothin

The first question that comes to mind is "Why?"

In the future, if things go as planned (though they never do), Jozy Altidore will be our first choice striker in every major competition in which we participate; he's had more hope put into him than any rising Nats players in a long, long time.

The problem is, things are already not going as planned. Jozy is wasting away at a second division Spanish club, one at which his development was supposed to begin in earnest after Villareal decided he just wasn't ready to play for them.

So Bob Bradley decides that a little training at Xerez makes him worthy of a qualifying squad call up, no matter the lack of actual game time. Maybe Bob knows something we don't, or maybe he simply wants to get Jozy some action for the first time in months.

It's accepted as a given that Altidore has a bright future, both as a club player and as a integral member of the U.S. National Team: but is it, really?

If Jozy is having trouble impressing the coaches at Xerez, or if the reports of his lack of effort in training are true, then maybe he's not quite the player we all thought. As much as I want to believe that Jozy's simply caught up in dressing-room politics, and that his lack of time is not a reflection of his skills and character, it's hard to believe that all of that would conspire to keep him from even making the bench.

I'm loathe to mention the dreaded anti-American bias; while I do think it exists in some form, I doubt either Villareal or Xerez have reason to intentionally stunt his growth simply out of spite.

What a mess.

But hey, at least he gets to train for, and maybe play against, El Salvador and T & T!

MLS Impressions: Week 1

Monday, March 23, 2009 | View Comments
Blanco: Sneaky Bastard

No formal match reports, no in-depth analysis of teams, players, tactics, etc. Just a thought or two on each match I was able to see from Week 1.

Seattle Sounders 3 New York Red Bulls 0

I've said plenty about this one, so let's quickly move on.

Houston Dynamo 1 Columbus 1

Aside from the ugly pitch, a well-taken goal by GBS and the work between Wondolowski and Ching, the game didn't really do much for me. I think both teams will probably be good this year, so the match doesn't really tell us much.

FC Dallas 1 Chicago Fire 3

As great as Cooper's goal was, there's absolutely no way he should have been able to score from there. Makes for great video though. Chicago looked thoroughly dominant to me (I might have missed the first 20 minutes or so), and I love the way Blanco takes free kicks. It's like he's trying to sneak the ball into the net.

KC Wizards 2 Toronto FC 3

I don't care who you are, soccer lover or not, this was a fantastic game to watch. It had a little of everything, included two absolute bombs from Davy Arnaud (one with each foot), a Chad Barrett-special (horrid effort on goal), and fantastic effort from Amado Guevara. Give KC credit for getting back in a match that looked lost. All that being said, I'm not sure if the game gives us any real indication of how good either side might be. Oh, and for only 10k, those fans in KC make a lot of noise.

Chivas USA 2 Colorado Rapids 1

Out of all of the games on Saturday, this is the one I probably paid the least attention to. I was attempting to write while watching this game on FSC, while also trying to follow New England-San Jose; so my impressions of the game are based solely on highlights and brief glimpses. In what seemed to be a running trend thoughout the weekend, goals were scored as a direct result of defensive blunders. Again, I think it's hard to tell how good either team actually is.

San Jose Earthquakes 0 New England Revolution 1

Again, a goal scored off what appeared to be a poor defensive play. Arturo Alvarez usually leaves me cold, but it appears as though he played relatively well in this match. I don't have much more; need to go back and take another look at the game, but that's not happening during the work day.

LA Galaxy 2 DC United 2

Somehow I missed this game when I posted this originally. Quickly then: Disappointment for DCU after being up 2-0, Donovan is the entire Galaxy team, that was not a penalty, good to see Ben Olsen playing again, where are all the people? There. Done.

Lemme explain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up.

In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed the first week of the season, even if I didn't get to properly pay attention to any specific game. I did like the multi-game liveblog (hard to keep up obviously), but I may have to pick one game a week to focus on in the future.

The two teams that most impressed me? Seattle and Chicago, though I'm very aware of what that atmosphere meant to the Sounders; it's unlikely that they play quite that well going forward.

Feel free to share you impressions or your completely bias analysis in the comments.

Match Fit USA Podcast #6

Sunday, March 22, 2009 | View Comments
Here's Match Fit USA Podcast #6:

Run time is 1:00:00

No table of contents this week: I'm a little all over the place.

Generally, it's all MLS Week 1 with a little expansion talk, Stephen Webb, and Seattle's debut.

Comments welcome. Please, I'm begging you. I'm considering lowering the bitrate to bring down the file size, so I'm curious if anyone cares.

Direct download:

Match Fit USA Podcast #6


Super Sunday

Sunday, March 22, 2009 | View Comments

Working on the podcast at the moment, along with a view on the foreign club investment in U.S. soccer, so I don't really have anything for you right now.

Just some things off of the top of my head:

You know that post I did on celebrities and MLS? The one about how the league should be looking to soccer fans from all walks of the celebrity culture to promote it? Perhaps especially athletes?

Hopefully, there's at least one of those types joining the cause in a big way. Steve Nash is part of the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS ownership group, and I expect we'll be seeing a lot of him in the near future. As much as I love Drew Carey and what he is doing for Seattle and the league, Steve Nash has a bigger profile and more of a hip factor. It's a given that Nash will be involved in the marketing of his own team, I just hope the league takes advantage and uses him to push all of MLS.

I think the Galaxy-United game today is going to be very interesting on several fronts, not the least of which will be the attendance and enthusiasm of the crowd in L.A. Let's hope there isn't a Beckham backlash that leads to people not showing up.

I'm also very interested in the ESPN2 ratings for Thursday night: I've done a bit of poking around, and I can't seem to find them. If anyone has a link, please share. I don't expect them to be very good, because MLS ratings never are, but perhaps the excitement in Seattle carried over and there will be at least a small bump. ESPN certainly didn't promote that game like they should have, which isn't going to help.

Oh, and Aston Villa (I know, not American soccer related, but thought I would comment anyway) has completely fallen apart. Bye bye Champions League.

Photo credit: Associated Press

MLS Saturday Week 1 Liveblog

Saturday, March 21, 2009 | View Comments

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MLS Saturday Plans

Saturday, March 21, 2009 | View Comments

What a glorious day for the first Saturday of the MLS season. The Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and there's not a cloud in the sky (actually there are clouds now, but there weren't when I originally planned on posting this, several hours ago).

I've moved my home office so that I can now watch matches on TV and the Internet while blogging, something you would have thought I would have done a long time ago. Sometimes I'm just a little slow like that.

I am also no longer sharing my office space with my young son, which means I won't be limited to posting when he is not sleeping (again, a fairly obvious change that should have happened ages ago, but what can you do).

Anyway, as I was saying, today it's the first Saturday of the MLS season. Coming off of the excitement of Thursday night, it'll be interesting to see if there's a little bump for some of those clubs that weren't necessarily expecting sell outs this weekend (I'm looking at you, FCD). I'm seriously considering a liveblog tonight, at least for round of matches (Columbus v. Houston at 8 ET and Chicago v. FC Dallas at 8:30 ET, and Toronto v. KC at 8:30 ET), so come by if you would like. I'll probably bounce back and forth between the two games that aren't on FSC. I think this liveblog will be more formal than the last one, as I'll be better prepared to take control of the situation.

Since it is Week 1, and everyone else is doing it (including a cat), I thought I'd go ahead and give my predictions for today.

Columbus 2 Houston 1

Chicago 3 Dallas 0

Toronto 1 Kansas City 1

Colorado 1 Chivas 2

New England 1 San Jose 1

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Ostensibly, MLS is the top flight of American soccer. The league even has a fancy FIFA designation saying so.

USL First Division, also ostensibly, is the second tier of Amerian soccer. After forming from the ashes of the old A-League, USL is now a competition made up of teams from the U.S. and Canada.

Of course, because there is no promotion/relegation system in the United States (or Canada), none of this really matters. Because no MLS team will ever drop down and no USL-1 side will ever move up (at least not technically; the expansion teams in the Northwest are entirely new franchises, even if they carry over the old name), the "pyramid" as it exists in other footballing countries around the world just isn't a part of the American game.

I could go on about promotion/relegation, boring with you yet another opinion on how it would be great here, how it would make soccer unique and appealing, and how it makes sense on so many different levels. But I won't. I won't because it truly doesn't matter. Pro/rel will never happen here as long as soccer remains on the fringe. Until the day comes that the American public is willing to watch soccer on TV in significant numbers, allowing for rights contracts for two divisions, MLS teams will stay MLS teams and USL-1 teams will stay USL-1 teams (or rather, come and go almost at random, disappearing and reappearing as if by magic).

Instead of pro/rel, we get two leagues competing for players and fans while eating their own in a desperate bid to claw out a pauper's existence in the crowded American sport landscape. Fantastic.

MLS will continue to pick off USL-1 markets as long as two things hold true: one, MLS stays on the expansion path, and two, ULS-1 is without a national presence (which is extremely unlikely to change) that would enable it to compete directly with MLS, rather than than bob and weave about, taking potshots at its bigger (and richer) brother.

Originally, this post was going to be an attempt to draw a parallel between MLS-USL and the old league-wars between the NFL and AFL, the NBA and ABA, and even the NHL and WHA. I had the thought that perhaps one day we might see a merger, or something close to it, that would unite the two leagues in a glorious union. Together, they would fight the forces of the evil soccer-hating opressors, ushering in a new era of American soccer.

Instead, you get this. Essentially, I lack the initiative and resources to properly research the reasons behind the lack of cooperation that currently exists. I may revisit this subject in the future, as the situation truly does interest me on many different levels.

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New MLS Daily Column

Friday, March 20, 2009 | View Comments
Very quickly, because my weekend is about to officially start, I wanted to post the link to my latest MLS Daily column.

I bet you can't guess what it's about.

MLS Daily Column for 3/20

Sounders Big Night

Friday, March 20, 2009 | View Comments
I'm spent. After a night of liveblogging and dealing with various family related concerns, I'm simply a walking zombie today.

Still, I wouldn't be doing my made up job if I didn't post about last nights amazing win by Major League Soccer's newest team, the Seattle Sounders.

Obviously, it was a great first performance for the team on the field. Freddy Montero was dangerous every time he touched the ball, the Sounders' defense held up, and even the ancient Kasey Keller looked pretty good.

My bold predictions for the Sounders in 2009, which I formed before the match but will share with you now, are the following:

Freddy Montero will be in contention for the Golden Boot most of the season

Seattle will have a pretty good home record, stink on the road, and barely miss the playoffs

Every nationally televised Sounders game will involve at least 6,324 shots of Drew Carey with a scarf around his neck and his arms awkwardly in the air after Seattle scores

Something the old school Sounders fans already know but that was clearly evident last night: Stepehn Le Toux is pretty good.

I might put up a more in-depth look at the Sounders-Red Bulls match at some point, but for now make due with a fan video of Montero's second goal (the third goal of the match), and look out for my MLS Daily column a little bit later on.

Live Blog: Sounders v. Red Bulls

Thursday, March 19, 2009 | View Comments

Time to Crow, Changes Coming

Thursday, March 19, 2009 | View Comments

Yesterday was a pretty good day for Match Fit USA; not only did I make an appearance on the upcoming episode of Winning Ugly Radio, but MFUSA was somehow connected with twofootedtackle's "Most Influential MLS Blogger" project.

Now, it does seem a bit of an aberration that MFUSA even sniffed those rankings, and Chris at twofootedtackle emailed me when this place popped up in his data to voice that concern. I agreed with Chris that MFUSA might be a little too young to rate as highly as his rankings seemed to indicate (you can see Chris explain this exact situation much better at his site). Still, I was happy just to hear Match Fit USA was even on the radar; if nothing else, it would seem to indicate that I'm doing something right.

And because I may possibly be doing just a little something right, I've decided to upgrade the look around here. I have always felt that the site is completely lopsided, and that maybe people have to tilt their heads to read the posts. So, with the assistance of Zach of Winning Ugly and Ginge Talks the Footy fame, who is infinitely better with this stuff than I am (even if he does have his cat picking MLS games), Match Fit USA will soon be getting a major makeover.

Get ready for the unveiling of a new logo, a new look, and the same old nonsense.

Oh, and don't forget that I'm liveblogging the Sounders-Red Bulls tonight, with a special guest commenter, the aforementioned Zach from Winning Ugly.

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