Silly Season Cynicism

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | View Comments
I considered starting this post with a rundown of all of the various European and South American footballers who have been linked to Major League Soccer over the last week or so. It's a substantial list, and includes names you'd recognize immediately. Others are less recognizable, but have a measure of star power in their homelands.  I've decided against compiling it because most of it is nothing more than noise. If you're curious, there are plenty of places that trade in that sort of "information."  Google if you must. Try to avoid the worst of them.

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The MLS SuperDraft of Change

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | View Comments

The MLS SuperDraft is the target of more than its fair share of derision. An oddity in the game of soccer, the draft is one of the few MLS quirks that most fans would be happy to see die a quiet death. Euro-focused soccer aficionados don't like it because it's not the way of the rest of the world. Die-hard MLS fans would prefer to see their clubs develop talent in-house, making the draft irrelevant to their rosters. No one seems to think too highly of the institution from where most of the draftees come, college soccer.

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Remember World Cup '94?

Ever if you were young, or hadn't quite taken to the sport yet, you surely remember the tournament that spawned nearly everything that American soccer is today.  The tournament itself was a massive (though very warm) success, setting a ticket sales record that has still yet to be broken.  Americans actually seemed to care about soccer for a brief window of time. The plucky US National Team made it into the second round with inspiring heart and desire augmented by a bit of luck. Brazil defeated Italy in front of a Rose Bowl crowd of 94,000+ to win their 4th title. Diana Ross became an enduring part of soccer history for all the wrong reasons.

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Time for Gooch to Go

Monday, December 27, 2010 | View Comments

When Oguchi Onyewu parlayed his successful run at Standard Liege in Belgium into a contract with Italian giants AC Milan, American soccer appeared to have taken a step forward. An American had landed with a Champions League perennial, one of the world's most well known soccer institutions, and in a league where exactly one other Yank had ever played before (Alexi Lalas at Padova way back in the mid-90s); with all of those factors at play, it was hard not to see Gooch's Italian windfall as a pretty big deal.

Findley Signs, Rising Tides

Thursday, December 23, 2010 | View Comments
Robbie Findley has signed with Nottingham Forest of the English Championship. Despite rumors that the former RSL striker had interest from Mick McCarthy at Wolves, going to Forest is a good move for Findley. Hopefully Findley grows as a player and refines some of the natural ability he certainly possesses.

In this part of the world, there is some understandable surprise that Findley garnered as much attention as he did. Having seen him play over the last few years and in South Africa (where he supposedly caught the eye of the aforementioned McCarthy, who might want to have his eyes checked), Americans will have to fight the urge to chuckle that anyone on Forest's level would want Findley. Point for Robbie and his agent however; his decision to not re-sign with RSL paid off in the end.

Donovan Decides Against Another Loan

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | View Comments
If Landon Donovan is tired, and how could he not be, then staying home this winter is probably a good idea.  There is only so much life in the legs of a soccer player. Donovan's schedule over the last two years borders on insane, particularly because while he's supremely conditioned, he's hardly a young player anymore.

I'm not really sure the reasons matter.  Maybe Donovan just want to relax a bit coming out of the MLS season (and LA's trip to the other side of the world directly thereafter), which set him back on his fitness.  I don't get the feeling he'd want to head to England (likely Everton) and not be at his best.  It's not that he thought he'd still be tired in January, it's that he wasn't ready to startup the engines in December.

MLS is in the midst of negotiating a new TV deal with Fox Soccer Channel, and according to Sports Business Journal (which is a subscription site, so you get this instead), isn't being shy about the process. The current FSC contract is worth about $3 million a year. MLS is asking for $20 million. That's nearly a seven-fold increase, and no one could argue that the ratings are on the League's side.

If this is a negotiating ploy, starting high with room to come down as the talks go on, it still seems odd. A 100, 200, or maybe 300 percent increase as an opening number? Sure. But this? This smells like something else.

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The nature of soccer in the United States means professional clubs in our lower divisions are always coming and going in rapid fashion.  Every year sees the launch of at least one new organization. Usually these clubs are wholly new creations, bursting onto the scene with little but big talk and  modest money by people with little experience running a soccer operation. Late 2010 brought us something slightly different; instead of a new club popping up to join the NASL or USL, the Austin Aztex cut bait on Texas and headed east to Orlando while simultaneously moving to the USL's new reformed top division, USL-PRO.  The move was not without controversy (obviously), but entrée of the club in central Florida involves people that know something about the game.  One of those people is Adam Soucie, OCSC's Director of Communications.

AmSoc 55: Alexi Lalas

Monday, December 20, 2010 | View Comments

This show is mostly about our interview with Alexi Lalas, but there are a few other things in there as well, thoughts on Charlie Davies' big step and the first MLS Re-Entry draft first among them.

Listening options below.

Never before has riding the bench meant so much.

Charlie Davies made Sochaux's 18-man roster for their game with Bordeaux today. He didn't play, and the two sides drew 1-1, but the American striker's presence alone made it a monumental day in his comeback from injuries suffered in a deadly auto accident last October. Charlie Davies, a man who required metal parts and facial surgery just to become whole again, is back as a top-flight professional soccer player.

by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

The drawn out saga of the proposed San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium continued this week with a small but favorable step in the right direction. At Tuesday’s San Jose City Council meeting, an amendment to the land purchase agreement between the city and the stadium developers was passed in a unanimous vote. Basically the amendment gives a multimillion dollar break on the purchase price of the property while also extending the deadline to complete the transition to 2015. Without passage of the amendment, and despite already sinking $5 million in nonrefundable deposits into the deal, Quakes owner Lew Wolff and his developer partners had threatened to walk away from the whole project without the city’s concessions.

The Re-Entry Draft in Retrospect

Thursday, December 16, 2010 | View Comments
by Jason Davis

If you blinked on Wednesday afternoon, you might have missed the second stage of the first-ever MLS Re-Entry Draft.  In the draft, MLS teams were able to obtain the rights to players who were either out of contract or had their option declined.  Teams now have seven days to extend "bona fide" offers to the players they selected - a few have already signed.

The names on the list, both those taken and those passed over, are interesting to say the least.  LA grabbed Juan Pablo Angel and will now need to find a way to fit him under their salary cap.  Chivas USA doesn't have a coach, but have veteran US international Jimmy Conrad to bolster their backline. Guillermo Barros Scheletto went undrafted, Jeff Cunningham is changing teams (again), Josh Wolff is headed to DC, and Fred might be continuing his travels up I-95.

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BREAKING: MFUSA Not Best of 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010 | View Comments
US Soccer announced the final four winners of their Best of 2010 awards this morning, including "Best Blog." MFUSA did not win, nor did we finish in the money.

Really, just getting nominated is an honor and a victory, and that's not me just blowing smoke. We just passed our second anniversary, so every bit of recognition we get is somewhat amazing.

That being said, the goal for next year is make the top three. I might even push for votes a little harder (if we get nominated again of course).

Congratulations to Ives Galarcep and the Soccer by Ives team; Ives has put together a quality team of writers to go along with what he does himself, and it's a deserved victory.  Congrats to Brooks Peck for finishing runner-up, though I know he ripped the head off of his Bob Bradley voodoo doll when he heard the news.

In the spirit of moving forward and becoming a site worthy of 10% of the vote next time around, it's time to ask for your help in making MFUSA better. Things are in the works, including an expansion of our content and a new look. Don't hold us to a timeline, but those things should be in place for the 2011 MLS season.

If you have comments, suggestions, thoughts, criticisms - any feedback at all - throw it up in the comments to this post. If you have a mind to write about soccer, particularly if you would like to cover your local MLS team, shoot us an email (

Thanks to everyone for making 2010 a great year for MFUSA.


The things you miss if you aren't on Twitter.

Like a respected Newsweek reporter casually dropping a Wile E. Coyote-style bomb, the kind that looks more like a bowling ball with a wick than something that might actually harm anyone, labelled "Qatar World Cup Bribes" into the laps of Twitter's ever-milling soccer writers, bloggers, and fans with not so much as a "how do you do."

It took a few minutes for us to realize what we were seeing.

Teal Bunbury is in England.  Taking part in training and reserve matches with Stoke City, he scored against Wigan yesterday in a 3-1 loss, and impressed with his play.  Depending on who you believe, the young striker is either there simply to gain valuable experience in training, or is on trial to tempt the Potters into making a move for his services.

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Match Fit Reserve: US State Teams

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | View Comments
It's the offseason, and I really don't want to waste brain cells on the Re-Entry draft, so I've whipped up a little interactive post for you guys. I was bored the other day, and got to thinking about a hypothetical situation where instead of a main US national team, each state had a representative side. I got most of four big states, but I wanted to open up the floor to see if I've missed anyone (I'm sure I have), and to allow readers to post the best XI or squad from their own state. I'll update this post as often as possible while we're doing this.

Chris Seitz - Philadelphia Union
Nick Rimando - Real Salt Lake
Boaz Myhill - West Brom (England)
Heath Pearce - FC Dallas
Frankie Hejduk - Columbus Crew
Carlos Bocanegra - Saint-Etienne (France) (C)
Danny Califf - Philadelphia Union
Patrick Ianni - Seattle Sounders
Michael Orozco Fiscal - Philadlephia Union
Mike Chabala - Houston Dynamo
Landon Donovan - Los Angeles Galaxy
Sacha Kljestan - Anderlecht (Belgium)
Peter Vagenas - Colorado Rapids
Robbie Rogers - Comumbus Crew
Maurice Edu - Rangers (Scotland)
Luis Gil - Real Salt Lake
Chris Pontius - DC United
Jovan Kirovski - Los Angeles Galaxy
Eric Avila - FC Dallas
Jeff Larentowicz - Colorado Rapids
Sal Zizzo - Chivas USA
Chad Barrett - Toronto FC
Herculez Gomez - Pachuca (Mexico)
Tristan Bowen - Los Angeles Galaxy

Cobi Jones

Tim Howard - Everton (England)
Brian Edwards - San Jose Earthquakes
Chris Konopka - Waterford United (Ireland)
Gregg Berhalter - Los Angeles Galaxy
Ryan Adeleye - Hapoel Be'er Sheva (Israel)
Michael Bradley - Gladbach (Germany) (C)
Mike Seamon - Seattle Sounders
Eddie Gaven - Columbus Crew
Nick LaBrocca - Toronto FC
Stephen King - DC United
Danny Szetela - Unattached
Alejandro Bedoya - Örebro (Sweden)
Giuseppe Rossi - Villarreal (Spain)
Jozy Altidore - Villarreal (Spain)
Jemal Johnson - MK Dons (England)
Vincenzo Bernardo - Nola Calcio (Italy)

Bob Bradley

Jon Conway - Toronto FC
Patrick Hannigan - Unattached
Zarek Valentin - Michigan Bucks, University of Akron
Jim Curtin - Unattached
Chris Albright - New York Red Bulls
Jeff Parke - Seattle Sounders
Marvell Wynne - Colorado Rapids
Bobby Convey - San Jose Earthquakes (C)
J.T. Noone - Philadelphia Union
Tony Donatelli - Montreal Impact
Jason Yeisley - FC Dallas
Marcus Tracy - Aalborg (Denmark)
Andrew Konopelsky - Newark Ironbound Express
Dan Antoniuk - San Diego Boca
Corey Hertzog - Reading United, Penn State University

Ben Olsen

Tyler Deric - Houston Dynamo
Zak Whitbread - Norwich City (England)
Hunter Freeman - IK Start (Norway)
Nelson Akwari - Vancouver Whitecaps
Greg Garza - Estoril Praia (Portugal)
Bobby Boswell - Houston Dynamo
Drew Moor - Colorado Rapids
Brede Hangeland - Fulham (England)
Omar Gonzalez - Los Angeles Galaxy
Daniel Hernandez - FC Dallas (C)
Davy Arnaud - Sporting KC
Clint Dempsey - Fulham (England)
Jose Francisco Torres - Pachuca (Mexico)
Lee Nguyen - Becamex Bình Dương (Vietnam)
Shea Salinas - Vancouver Whitecaps
Jay Needham - Orlando City
Jamie Watson - Orlando City
Francisco Navas - Houston Dynamo
Omar Salgado - Unattached
Sonny Guadarrama - Atlante (Mexico)
Brek Shea - FC Dallas
Conor Doye - Derby (England)
Corben Bone - Chicago Fire

Jeff Agoos

Bill Hamid - D.C. United
Matt Van Oekel - NSC Minnesota Stars
Alexander Stopa - University of Louisville

Devon McTavish - D.C. United
Clarence Goodson - IK Start (Norway) (C)
Danny Cruz - Houston Dynamo
John Gilkerson - Carolina Railhawks
Josh Rice - University of North Carolina
David Walden - University of North Carolina

Corey Ashe - Houston Dynamo
Conor Shanosky - D.C. United
Brian Carroll - Philadelphia Union
Bobby Foglesong - Richmond Kickers
Jordan Cyrus - University of Maryland
John Sterzter - University of Maryland
Nicholas Abrigo - College of William and Mary

Brandon Massie - Charleston Battery
Roger Bothe - Richmond Kickers
Jordan Evans - Richmond Kickers
Trevor McEachron - Richmond Kickers
Alan Koger - College of William and Mary
Brian Ownby - University of Virginia

Wade Barrett

From Down Under:

“The average salary in the A-League is far more than the average salary in the MLS, but that’s a league that’s been around for more than 15 years, in a huge market and with average crowds of 16,000. I can’t see any single reason for the fact that the salaries in Australia are higher than they are in the U.S."

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by Jason Davis

By almost any measure imaginable, the Seattle Sounders are an American sports phenomenon.  In the soccer realm, they're a breakthrough franchise, garnering support and attention on levels that we hope portend a glorious MLS future.  They've crushed league attendance records through two seasons, and show no signs of slowing down.  Their city has embraced them, and from an outside perspective, they seem to get the type of local media attention that other clubs would kill to have.

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by Jason Davis

Congratulations are in order for Caleb Porter and the University of Akron men's soccer team, your 2010 NCAA champions.  The Zips took out the Louisville Cardinals in Santa Barbara yesterday 1-0, winning a title nearly every informed observer of college soccer thought they deserved on the balance of the season.  College soccer is a large hole in my soccer experience, so I defer to those in the know.

What I witnessed of Akron's semifinal win over Michigan and championship game defeat of Louisville certainly did nothing to make me disagree.  Akron won because they scored more goals than their competition - apologies for the obvious statement - but garnered praise because of the way they played.  The kept the ball on the ground, moved it around the field quickly and with purpose, and generally out-styled everyone they faced.  Because our perceptions are so often dictated by how a team plays as much as, or more than, how many they score/concede, Akron has the look of a champion.  Now that they actually are champions, much is right in the world of college soccer.

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While most of the American soccer community struggles to reconcile FIFA's choice of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, and a few go about the business of tsk-tsk-ing anyone who questions the tiny country's worthiness, the planet continues to turn.  Part of that turning involves weather.  It being winter in this part of the world, things are bit dicey out there.

I mention this because Don Garber's MLS Cup Final-timed announcement that the League will study the possibility of switching seasons had already hit the cynicism scrapheap before recent snowstorms; we hardly believed it was a legitimate effort before December 2nd, and we're not buying it at all post-Qatari victory. Garber, on behalf of American soccer and the USA bid committee, threw Sepp Blatter a bone (or so it seems). It didn't help.

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'Dinho and Donovan Dominoes

Friday, December 10, 2010 | View Comments

Rumors of Ronaldinho landing in LA with the Galaxy have circled back around, and I'm wondering what they mean.  The unrealized reports of the summer, when Milan was dancing a contract samba with the superstar, and the Galaxy were said to be in the contest for his services, gave a sense of inevitability to the Brazilian coming Stateside.  Sure, he could always go back to Brazil, but when AEG is involved, you shouldn't bet against them. We might not have to wait long, as LA is itching to bring the saga to a resolution.

by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

With much anticipation, the inaugural MLS re-entry draft arrived this week with a varied assortment of players available for selection. Big name veterans like Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Juan Pablo Angel and modestly paid options like Luke Sassano and Joseph Ngwenya populated the initial list of 35 players that went un-tendered by their original teams. This draft was lauded as a breakthrough moment for the players of MLS, who in their negotiations earlier this year on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the league wanted greater flexibility in changing teams in the off-season — a form of free agency if you will in a league where all player contracts are owned by a single entity. Yet when the big event commenced this previous Wednesday, it concluded
with only two players selected, and in as much time as it takes me to brew my morning cup of tea.

Soccer Fans Are Fashion Wonks

Friday, December 10, 2010 | View Comments

This topic was one I originally intended to tackle, and in much greater depth, months and months ago.  Unfortunately, that would require research I just don't have time for at the moment, and so you get this fired-off ramble instead of a properly told story. Joy.

Ireland Still An Option for Doyle

Thursday, December 09, 2010 | View Comments

In addition to Giovanni Trapttoni's initiative scouring America for players with Irish-sounding names, Ireland's Under-21 coach has his sights on a player plying his trade much closer to the Emerald Isle: Conor Doyle.

Doyle, who was born and raised in Texas and has a Dublin-born father, is in Florida with the US US-20s.  That doesn't mean he has decided for whom to play his senior international soccer, however.

Finding a New FIFA President

Thursday, December 09, 2010 | View Comments

By Chris J. Ballard
Follow Chris on Twitter

Following last week's Zurich debacle, and having got fed up with seeing the smug face of Sepp Blatter everywhere, I wanted to find out how the FIFA President is elected. Given the murky way in which the World Cup hosts are decided, I’d rather expected it to be conducted in secret, with very little accountability.

by Jason Davis

Before there was Jermaine Jones, there was Thomas Dooley. In 1992, with a World Cup at home looming and international reinforcements needed, a international net was cast for US-eligible players. What came back was Dooley, a German defender with a dual citizenship by virtue of his American serviceman father. Like with Jones, the US benefited from a player being passed over for the German National Team; in Dooley, head coach Bora Milutinović found a player who dreamed of appearing in the World Cup, and provided that player an unforeseen path to making the dream a reality.

As American soccer fans, it's probably about time we moved on from last week's bid disaster. What's done is done, whining about it isn't going to change anything.

Any fallout to come from what is either FIFA business as usual or the final malfeasant straw won't be our doing; for all the marketing clout contained within American borders, US Soccer is hardly in a place to leverage it. Major League Soccer cannot afford any sanctions taken should our federation make some anti-corruption stand. Unless England chooses the nuclear option and pulls out of FIFA and invites the US to come along, there isn't much to consider. Soccer in the US can't afford our going rogue.

AmSoc 54: More Bid, Sundry Items

Monday, December 06, 2010 | View Comments

It wasn't the easiest show to do, but here it is nonetheless. Zach and I talk Chuck Blazer's rumored turncoat act, bring in James T of Unprofessional Foul to take stock of it all, and finally move on to other news (like Jon Spector, new MLS drafts, Jose Torres in America, etc.).

Listening options below.

Brazil 2014: Arena Amazonia

Sunday, December 05, 2010 | View Comments
After the nastiness of the last few days, I've been on the lookout for a palate cleanser. I suppose the MLS Re-Entry Draft player list could have done the trick, but that felt a bit too dry. Around here, we either do lots of words or image overkill. It's time for a bit of the latter.

Arena Amazonia is one of Brazil's planned stadiums for the 2014 World Cup; built on the site of the recently demolished Estadio Vivaldão Lima in Manaus, it will hold 46,000. Construction costs are budgeted at R$ 499.5 million, roughly 300 million USD.

By Keith Hickey

With FIFA having shown to the World on Thursday that it doesn't matter if you're an insignificant backwater, you too can host a World Cup if you throw enough money at it, I figured it was time to propose a long-standing dream of mine.

FIFA should award the 2026 World Cup to my home state of Pennsylvania.

It may seem odd that if the country as a whole could not land the tournament, one state alone could even have a chance, but bear with me for a moment. Pennsylvania, at roughly 46 thousand square miles, is ten times the size of 2022 host Qatar. It has a population of over 12.6 million, roughly 7.5 times that of Qatar.

Slavery in Pennsylvania has been completely illegal since 1847 (and it was never that popular before then). In Qatar, a foreign worker may not enter the country without having a sponsor. The worker cannot leave without the sponsor's permission. Many sponsors do not allow the transfer of one employee to another sponsor (aka "Finding a new job). Confiscation of passports and withholding of wages is commonplace.

While same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Pennsylvania, the acts and social conventions associated with that lifestyle are. In Qatar, sodomy carries a five year prison sentence.

Pennsylvania was founded on the idea of religious tolerance. The law in Qatar is based on Sunni Islam, and Apostasy is on the books as a capital offense. Even non-Muslims are banned from eating and drinking in public during Ramadan.

Social issues aside, let's take a look at the hard numbers of infrastructure.

Pennsylvania could be divided into three zones for the World Cup.

The Western Zone, with Heinz Field (65,050 Capacity) and PNC Park (38,496) in Pittsburgh would be served by Pittsburgh International Airport.

The Central Zone, home of Beaver Stadium (107,282) would host the opening match and the final, and would be served by Harrisburg International Airport.

And finally, the more populous Eastern Zone would host most of the matches. It has a number of stadiums, including Lincoln Financial Field (69,144), Franklin Field (52,593), Citizens Bank Park (46,528), and PPL Park (18,500, but designed to be expanded to 30,000 with relative ease).

So that's six stadiums which would be ready with minor reconfigurations, and a seventh that requires moderate expansion. Since FIFA requires at least eight, we'll put up a temporary modular 30,000 seat stadium in Harrisburg, and when the tournament is over, ship it off to some impoverished backwater desperately in need of such a facility. Like D.C.

There are already extensive train and highway systems connecting all three host zones The light rail network may require some modernization, but that's a legacy project which will serve the state long after the tournament has left, and it's not like we have to build, say, a dozen air-conditioned stadiums in a desert the size of Connecticut.

That would just be stupid.

By Chris Ballard
Follow Chris on Twitter

So, after years of planning, politicking, jetsetting and begging, the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. The initial shock faded after about an hour, to be replaced by a cold, simmering rage, which then transformed into overwhelming apathy at the pointlessness of it all, before giving way to some genuine thoughts, which hopefully you’ll indulge me in.

FIFA Bitterness

Friday, December 03, 2010 | View Comments
What can I say that hasn't been said?  There's only one angle that matters, that FIFA finally crossed whatever lines remained that it hadn't managed to cross already.  As Americans, we're disappointed we won't have the World Cup at home again.  As soccer fans, we're angry that FIFA so baldly flaunted what we knew all along; that they're corrupt, incompetent, or both.

Jolly old Sepp, with an ego the size of an imaginary stadium in the desert (built by whom, exactly?), and a brazenness so stunning it sounds like the stuff of fiction.  If Sepp was a character in a movie, we'd chuckle at just how over-the-top his clownish act is.  Blatter's sanctimony, as he swings the World Cup like a censer across various "new territories", cannot conceal the blatant and transparent (as opposed to the voting system, which is not) money grab of soccer governing body.  Sure, Sepp gets to play football pied piper, and the World Cup going to Russia and Qatar is a fine thing in that way; but when the process is so rife with abuse of power, something should, and must, change.

Robert Jonas: Promises, Promises

Friday, December 03, 2010 | View Comments
by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

So, the rumblings and grumblings surrounding the USA World Cup bid proved to be true Thursday morning, as Qatar completed their dream-building exercise with the FIFA executive committee and took home the prized 2022 hosting rights. I’m not too surprised given the behind the scenes comments being passed around as recently as MLS Cup weekend in Toronto. After a luncheon hosted by the bid committee, in which Sunil Gulati and other US Soccer officials refused to talk directly about their competition in the FIFA vote, the writing on the wall that Qatar was a formidable foe was clear to see. Throw in the nervous looks of some officials to the threat posed by the diminutive Middle Eastern country, plus the subsequent kowtowing of MLS Commissioner Don Garber in donating $2 million to the bid and then suggesting major calendar changes to the league to appease soccer's governing body, and it strongly suggested that the USA's World Cup fait accompli everyone expected on December 2nd was in jeopardy.

AmSoc Live 12.02.10

Friday, December 03, 2010 | View Comments

The reaction was swift, visceral, and, in the case of Zach, loud.  Here's the live episode recorded last night in which we attempted to capture it all.  There's plenty of talk about the legitimacy of Qatar's bid, FIFA incompetence, a missed chance for American soccer, and of course, good old Sepp.

Listening options after the jump.

AmSoc Live Tonight: Bid Loss Fallout

Thursday, December 02, 2010 | View Comments
Black is appropriate

Dear friends,

It's a dark day.  FIFA, in their grand wisdom, has chosen to give the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.  We know you have thoughts, we know you want to share them.  We're here to give you a forum.  We'll probably also touch on the 2018 race, won by Russia over England and others.

The American Soccer Show will be live tonight starting at 8 PM Eastern.  You can listen in via the Live Show page here or at the AmSoc UStream channel.


Duane Rollins of Canadian Soccer News is running a live blog on Decision Day, and since I'm not able to administer one myself, let's just share his.  Hopefully the Canadians won't point and laugh if we lose.

I'll pop in as work allows.  Live blog after the jump.

World Cup Bid Decision Day

Thursday, December 02, 2010 | View Comments

It's decision day in Zurich.  The 2018 bidders have completed their presentations, and an announcement is expected (though don't be surprised if they makes us wait) around 10 AM ET.  While FIFA's Executive Committee mulls their options over lunch, those of us following along at home or work are left to try and handicap a race that is literally unhandicapple-able.

The last step for the USA bid committee before tomorrow's monumental vote is over.  Along with fellow 2022 bidders Australia, Korea, Qatar, and Japan, the United States presented their case before the assembled FIFA Executive Committee in Zurich; each bidder highlighted their strengths through chosen speakers and videos.

Putting Faith in Freeman

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | View Comments

All of the heavy hitters, minus Vladimir Putin apparently, are in Zurich ahead of Thursday's World Cup bid vote. This is the final push, the last minute glad-handing that is supposed to put a bid over the top; for Qatar, football great Zinedine Zidane is the marquee name.  For England, it's David Beckham, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Prince William.  For the United States, it's Landon Donovan, Attorney General Eric Holder (See? Our government is behind the bid!), former President Bill Clinton and legendary actor Morgan Freeman.

MLS Execs Choosing the Wrong Words

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | View Comments
DC United introduced Ben Olsen as their new (permanent) head coach yesterday.  At a press conference in front of gathered local media, president Kevin Payne and general manager Dave Kasper spun the hiring of Olsen, after only a few months ago claiming he was too inexperienced to remain in charge, as a positive for the club.  The event was a classic example of management doing their best to put a good face on a bad situation.

The backtracking is somewhat detestable, and the revisionist history is a wealth of unintentional comedy (Payne says he always kept "an open mind" about Olsen, despite publicly ruling him out as a candidate).  It's not that Olsen is a poor candidate (he's not), it's that the club looks foolish for having declared him out of the running only to hire him permanently when a search for a replacement came to nothing (for whatever reason, though most that come to mind aren't good).

Don’t Freeze Out the Fans, Don

Monday, November 29, 2010 | View Comments
by Matt Higgins

Every so often, one of the hot-button issues in American soccer rears its ugly head among the Internet forum cognoscenti. Whether it’s a well-meaning newbie suggesting promotion and relegation for Major League Soccer, a Europosing troll or a wayward Englishman who feels compelled to remind the colonials that “it’s called football, not soccer!!!”, flurries of posts and flames get exchanged before the issue sinks back into the murky depths, waiting for its next resurrection.

Bid Fatigue

Monday, November 29, 2010 | View Comments

Warning: I didn't know where this was going when I started, so it's completely slapped together and borders on incoherence.  Read at your own risk. - JD

Here we are, finally inhabiting the part of the calendar that will see a decision made on the sites of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Anticipation fills soccer fans around the world, from Australia to Qatar (all twenty-something of them - feels good to use that joke after hearing it for so long from American soccer-haters) Russia, England, and the United States.

AmSoc 53: Season of Change?

Monday, November 29, 2010 | View Comments

Happy Monday. Here's your new show, featuring Jason and Zach talking USWNT qualifying for the World Cup, the "spectacle" of the MLS Cup Final, changes to the MLS playoff structure and (maybe) calendar, and the US chances in Zurich this week to secure the 2022 World Cup.

Listening options after the jump.

by John Carlton

After 30 weeks of rigorous prognosticating, the inaugural Match Fit USA Predictions League is in the books and our Champion is Jason Kuenle, who edged out Ross Hopper in the last week of play. Congratulations, Jason! You win the glorious grand prize, an officially licensed t-shirt in the original packaging proclaiming the New England Revolution 2006 MLS Champions!* Thanks everyone for participating. If there's enough interest, we'll get it going for next season.

Jason Kuenle 199
Ross Hopper 190
Jason Davis 186
Ben Aranda 167
John Carlton 163
Matt (NES) 161
B-Mac 154
Julius 143
thedoe 128
mrburito2 126
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by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

It being the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday, one of the traditions at my family’s dinner is to go around the table and describe an event, person, or experience that you were thankful for in the last year. I was quick to describe the day earlier this fall when I dropped my daughter off at her dorm to start her freshman year of college. All of the effort on her part coupled with the sacrifices I’ve made as a parent to help her survive along the path to that point was punctuated by my internal shouts of joy at seeing her ready and prepared to embark on the next stage of her life. I was not alone in seeing her to this point, and so gave thanks to all those that helped me along the way.

Happy Thanksgiving. This year, we're thankful for Chuck Blazer's blog, moments like this, exciting young American talent, the continued support of our readers and Fox Soccer Channel in HD (apologies if you don't have it).

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VIDEO: Memories of '94

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | View Comments
<a href="" target="_new" title="">Eric Wynalda: Memories of 1994</a>

Video of Eric Wynalda talking about World Cup '94 - thanks to Ben from Bumpy Pitch/The Original Winger for passing this along.

Gotta love the shots of Wynalda posing in various locations around the Rose Bowl.

Bid vote in less than eight days.

MFUSA Up For US Soccer's Best of 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | View Comments

For the second year running, MFUSA has been nominated for US Soccer's "Best of 2010" alongside some heavy hitters in the soccer blogging game.

A hearty thank you goes out to everyone that nominated us.  If you feel inclined to vote for MFUSA, you can do so here.  I've also linked to the voting page in the bar at the top of this site.

Applauding the English Media

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | View Comments

by Jason Davis
If you've been following along with the World Cup bidding process and the fallout over FIFA improprieties, you know that much of the discussion surrounding England's 2018 bid involves the role of their media in "sabotaging" their chances.  On the surface, it might just seem another example of England's overzealous press torpedoing all things involving the Cross of St. George and the world of football (see: England National Team). 

Juan Agudelo (front) of the U.S. fights for the ball with South Africa's Siyabonga Sangweni during their Nelson Mandela Challenge soccer match in Cape Town, November 17, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Freddy Adu is back in the news, such as it is, for yet another instance of failure.  Danish side Randers, best known to American soccer fans as the club Yura Movsisyan currently calls home, brought in the disappointing American for what was either a trial with a potential contract at stake or a no-expectations training invitation, depending on the particular report.  With Adu, the spin goes both ways.  Pinning down whether Freddy blew his chance or if there was a chance to be had at all is difficult.

If he wasn't Freddy Adu, deposed golden boy of soccer in America, the story would be nothing but a blip on the Yanks-abroad radar manned by various sites and message boards.  As it is, Freddy's continuing descent into career oblivion is an opportunity for some to revel in the downfall of a player who was probably never good enough to deserve the praise - and money - he received.  Though the labels and accolades thrown Adu's way were not of his making, and it's likely the hype irrevocably damaged his development as a player, his failure to live up to his promise makes him an easy target.  It's simpler to assume that Freddy doesn't work hard enough or has an over-inflated ego (which, though pumped up by the American media and corporate money, we indict him for not shedding by now) than to imagine that he's just not good enough.

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 21: Drew Moor  of the Colorado Rapids kisses the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy in celebration of their 2-1 overtime victory against FC Dallas during the 2010 MLS Cup match at BMO Field on November 21, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

On a chilly night in a half-filled stadium, two of Major League Soccer's founding members played an ugly final decided by an own goal while the American soccer community on Twitter mollified itself by ripping anything and everything taking place north of the border.

The new show was recorded pre-MLS Cup Final, so if you're tired of hearing about how bad the game was this morning, this will be a nice break from the negativity.

Zach and I cover the USMNT friendly in South Africa (AGUDELO!), Garber's State of the League showdown with Paul Gardner, read listener emails on Ted Westervelt's appearance, the MLS playoff structure, and the future of the USMNT, then Jason has an interview with Sporting Club (Sporting KC's parent company) COO Greg Cotton on his team's name change.

My predictions for the Western Conference Semifinals:

SJE over COL
LAG over FCD

So I pulled an o-fer. I'd be willing to wager that a lot of people did. I went for the scrappy underdogs in San Jose, and they got bullied around by the, um, scrappy underdogs of Colorado. But unless your upper appendages are reminiscent of prehistoric carnivores, you probably didn't have LA 0-3 DALLAS on your betting slip.

A lot of bloggers, journalists, and other pontificating mouths are saying this is great for the league and two small-market teams who've been around since the Analog TV days and could use a boost. That's probably true, but it doesn't make me any less annoyed. As a neutral, and cafepress boxer shorts wearing member of the "I hate Conor Casey" society, I don't give two Doug Logans about it. I wanted the attractive, big name grudge match of LA and San Jose.

And yes, I'm just being petulant because I whiffed like Kei Kamara on the last round. And bitter because I could have gone if I had a passport. Which I don't. Last time I went to Canuckistan, you didn't have to have one.

Looking at the teams that are actually involved, it's hard to separate them. Dallas gets the edge on defense, largely thanks to the best keeper in MLS history having something to prove. Colorado have the better offense, due the the more than a bit presumptively named "C+C Goal Factory." Dallas probably have a better midfield, but Larentowicz and Mastroeni are hardly pushovers. Although Colorado lost to DC United this year, which should probably have meant automatic playoff elimination on the basis of league pride alone.

I'm going for the Dallas win. 1-0, with an "Are you watching, LA/KC/Keeper of the year voters?" performance from Hartman

-----Intermission. Match Fit Reserve brand cola available in the lobby.-----

The other big story was the USMNT B team going back to South Africa and kicking its dog. They complained about us not bringing the first team, because obviously, a bit of metal with their national demigod's name on it is more important than the MLS playoffs.

Then we found out during the pregame show that some South African player who couldn't win a spot on the dead-last 2008 Quakes was offended that he wasn't called up for the USMNT despite not having a US passport. And they had those fucking vuvuzelas. Apologies for the language folks, but the South Africans were shitty hosts.

And after all their bitching and whining in an accent that sounds like a mentally deficient New Zealander? They get shown up by the Rugrats. Tim Ream had a solid, smooth debut without any major errors, which is precisely what you want from a player in his position at his age. Teal Bunbury showed the makings of a true target man. Eric Lichaj, apart from one stupid challenge, was fantastic, dealing with a lot of traffic on his flank. Mix Diskerud may be my favorite of the newbies. I've heard a lot about him before, and it was exciting to see him play so well on his debut. He's got a fantastic first touch, a fair lick of speed in him, and the inventiveness of his assist was delicious; the willingness to try that in the box on his debut is just so absolutely pleasing.

And then there's America's new record youngest goalscorer, Juan Agudelo. I was against him going. I didn't think he'd earned it, and I thought he was too young, but all credit to him, he had an opportunity and made the most of it. I'm excited to see more of him, but hesitant to jump on any sort of bandwagon. I've been burned before. I'll wait until he pulls a Geoff Hurst before I'll admit he's not another Freddy Adu or Eddie Johnson.

This was the second time we've won the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. If we do it again, do we get to keep Mandela?


The Future of MLS Playoffs

Friday, November 19, 2010 | View Comments
July 10, 2010 - Kansas City, Kansas, United States of America - 10 July 2010: The Adidas MLS Jabulani match ball. Chivas USA defeated the Kansas City Wizards 2-0 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, Kansas City, Kansas.

By Chris Ballard

Let's face it; the MLS playoff system this season has been less than ideal. When the Eastern conference final is contested between two teams nominally from the west, you know something has gone wrong somewhere. In other sports, the playoff procedure has been determined for quite some time and everybody - fans, teams, journalists - know what each team has to do to make the post-season. This isn't something that MLS has done in recent years; with the near constant expansion of the league, the competition format has needed to change regularly to accommodate the new teams.

Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham reacts after the team was defeated by FC Dallas during their MLS Western Conference final soccer match in Carson, California, November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Steve Davis has a dispatch from Toronto this morning on the potential site and opponent for the 2011 MLS All-Star Game.  The new Wizards Sporting joint is getting some run in the rumor mill, with Barcelona as the top choice for barnstorming Euro invitee.  The possible location of the game is somewhat interesting (Red Bull Arena is the other obvious choice, and would be much easier for me to get to), but what really caught my eye was Davis' note on friendly asking prices.

Embracing History

Friday, November 19, 2010 | View Comments
by Jason Davis

History, specifically American soccer history, is top of mind these days.  I'm taking a few days away from the bill-paying job, and while I'm mostly serving as a toddler's jungle gym at erratic intervals that are threatening the viability of my...male paraphernalia, I'm also doing my best to keep up with the goings-on in the soccer world (frankly, I need a 12-step program to break my addiction to my newsreader and Twitter), provide as much content here as vacation-affected motivation will allow, and visit family that deserve a modicum of my attention.

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