Diagram of human head

Blank slate. Ramble time?

Or a Larry King-style stream of consciousness collection of random thoughts?

More likely neither, but let's see how a directionless late night post goes...

As a fan of American soccer always looking for a breakthrough moment, even as I intellectually know it's extremely unlikely to happen, I wonder if this World Cup can provide it. England. Charlie Davies (maybe). ESPN's full court press. A confluence of factors that could be a tipping point. But probably not. Won't change anything for most of us anyway.

Still burning brain cells on the issues brought up over at Nutmeg Radio about US supporter music. Is our soccer culture too fragmented to ever find a coherent voice, or is that range of influences a strength that will allow us to form something truly unique? I hope it's the latter, even though I imagine it will be a long, painful process of stops and starts. What do American fans bring to the table as a group? It just might be up to people like the American Outlaws to figure it out.

The issue of American "style" came up thanks to Jurgen Klinsmann's comments on our apparent lack of one. This discussion, and the accusation that American soccer is devoid of distinct character elicits a fairly visceral reaction in me. The object is to win the game, which means playing your strengths; for Bob Bradley and the men that came before him, that means relying on defending and counter-attacking almost exclusively. I guess that in and of itself isn't a "style". Bah. Do what you need to do to win, and style will evolve over time. Most nations given the honor of having a "style" by experts have been A) successful internationally or B) operating top-flight leagues for decades. The US has done neither. Where's the appreciation for the time it takes to develop?

Speaking of Klinsmann, his naming to the ESPN crew dredges up all of those raw nerves from the US courtship of the German legend. The man's coaching resume is fairly thin when you think about it, though he does have "German National Team" and "Bayern Munich" in bold, 24 point font on it. Sure, his World Cup run carries weight, and his Americanized sensibilities might have made him a good fit here on some level. But I'm doubtful, without being able to prove it of course, that he could have done any better to this point than the coach we ended up with. Say what you want about Bob Bradley, he's managed to pull some fairly impressive performances out of this team. Confederations Cup aside, I can't help but wonder what might have been in Azteca if Donovan hadn't been ill and beaten to the end line for Mexico's winning goal. Yeah, I know. It doesn't matter much now.

I'm reading (in fits and starts) Filip Bondy's book Chasing the Game. It's the telling of the US story leading up to the World Cup, with some additional background on high profile players and Bob Bradley. There's nothing special about it, and there are a few fairly obvious mistakes that footy fans would catch, but it's not a terrible read. If you been around for awhile, it serves as a trip down memory lane; if you're new to the game, the National Team, or the World Cup buildup, it becomes more of a primer. There's room for that, and I'm glad to see books like this appearing; but as Adam Spangler rightfully pointed out in one of the first reviews I've seen of the book, there's little to no narrative, and the information presented is in no way new. Oh, and bits of it are maddening for people who know and love the game. Take it for what it is and move on.

How Larry King managed to spit out those USA Today columns in one sentence/thought bites, I have no idea. Maybe I'm just too damn wordy.

Have a good weekend.

Apologies for not getting this up sooner, but Mr. Carlton seems to be indisposed.

Here we go with Week 6, another eight-match-in-one-day affair.

D.C. United - 0
New York Red Bulls - 1

New England Revolution - 2
FC Dallas - 1

Houston Dynamo - 0
Kansas City Wizards - 2

Chicago Fire - 2
Chivas USA - 0

Real Salt Lake - 3
Toronto FC - 1

San Jose Earthquakes - 1
Colorado Rapids - 1

Los Angeles Galaxy - 2
Philadelphia Union - 0

Seattle Sounders FC - 1
Columbus Crew - 1

Let's Form a Committee

Friday, April 30, 2010 | View Comments
Thinkstock Single Image Set

MLS, meaning the corporate entity that runs a soccer league rather than the competition of teams on the field, announced the formation of two committees this week. Though these committees have different tasks, one looking inward while the other focuses on league fortunes abroad, they collectively represent a visible commitment on the part of the people in charge to address two of the more frustrating (and blogged about) issues facing the league: The US Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League.

The former is an absolute disaster from an MLS perspective. Few fans care, fewer show up to watch, and clubs rarely prioritize it above de facto reserve league status. The abject nature of the competition at the top level is a death spiral: the fans don't care because the clubs don't, and the clubs don't care because the fans don't show up.

Midweek matches are notoriously tough to sell in the US, and with US Open Cup clashes existing only in that attendance wasteland, it doesn't behoove teams to market it aggressively. Often, the financial considerations lead clubs to choose cheaper auxiliary facilities over their usual homes, driving the relevance meter down further. Simply put, the MLS profile and interest level of the US Open Cup is at life-support levels, and though proponents of the history-rich tournament do their best to breath what life into it they can, it's clearly time to assess the situation.

The latter is a matter of Major League Soccer's ability to compete with other teams from the region (mostly Mexican) for the title of CONCACAF champion. The deflating fact that they simply can't, with the the relative quality of its teams lacking and the tournament format penalizing a league that is only just starting its pre-season during the knockout stages, is doubly troubling in light of Mexico's biggest teams giving more weight to the Copa Libertadores than their own regional championship. If MLS has dreams of ascending to regional supremacy, or simply hopes to make the FIFA Club World Cup for marketing reasons, something has to be done.

What exactly, short of spending significantly more on player salaries across the board, something we know won't happen anytime soon, is anyone's guess. MLS will not, under any circumstances, alter their business philosophy and slow-growth model just to finally have a team or two win in Mexico when it counts.

Hence the committees for both problems, groups likely to make recommendations commiserate with the over-arching attitude of a frugal, yet aspiring, league. Whether these groups will have any real power, of if their suggestions will be noted, discussed, but ultimately discarded, is a question for future consideration. Simply forming committees gives reason to lend the league the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that there will be at least some effort made to correct problems facing MLS teams in each competition.

Not that you should hold your breath on major changes coming any time soon. The forming of committees is, in itself, no real action. There's bound to be months of discussion with no final conclusions drawn while we all forget that the committees even exist. In the case of the US Open Cup committee, all the league can do is make recommendations to US Soccer, who will then need to address changes themselves. This could take awhile.

But hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Jersey, Charlie, and Songs

Friday, April 30, 2010 | View Comments
Starting Eleven

Multiple topics, one post. What can I say, it's Friday.


Jersey Hate

I'm not a jerseyphile, shirt collector, kit freak or whatever the term is for someone who breathlessly analyzes the newest looks pumped out by Nike, Adidas, Puma, or whomever is responsible for them. The modern approach to these things is distasteful enough, with massive companies that hardly need the money changing things dramatically every few years in an effort to sell more merchandise.

I just can't work myself up enough to waste emotional energy on something that matters little to the fortunes of my team (or any other for that matter).

Yet, I can appreciate the mindset and passion that leads to commentary like Keith Hickey let fly in the previous post. He criticized the new USMNT kit because he cares. I may see it as misplaced enthusiasm, but that doesn't mean it isn't valid in the most inconsequential of ways.

For the record, I don't mind either the away or home US jerseys for the World Cup. It appears that makes me the exception rather than the rule. So be it.

When the United States takes the field in South Africa against England on June 12th, I doubt seriously that anyone will care that their shirts have a beauty queen sash, that the shirt is "cluttered" with a number added, or that there are pointless stripes of red or white on the sleeves. If the Americans manage to shock everyone with a win, or scrap their way to a hard fought draw, the jersey they're wearing will immediately become iconic in the history of American soccer (provided the take care of business against Algeria and/or Slovenia; no one will care if they crash out in the first round). If they don't, or if this World Cup ends up like the last World Cup, the shirt will fade away into history, taking its place along the terrible looks the US has sported throughout the years.

If you don't like the jersey, don't buy one. I'm not sure there's much more to say, although I would advise you to wait to see it on the players on the field before you make your final judgement. Some times these things look different in "real life".

Me, I'll be getting mine as soon as I can find a spare $75. I just hope that happens before the World Cup. Nike, if your reading, drop me a line...

Whoa, that was pretty shameless. Never mind.


Charlie's Chances

Bob Bradley made some comments on the World Cup hopes of Charlie Davies at the jersey unveiling in New York yesterday. Most outlets are characterizing those comments as "not hopeful" or a sign that Davies is still a long shot to make the 30-man roster or warm up camp next month. While on the face of it Bradley wasn't too positive, I tend to see his comments as careful and calculated rather than any real indication that Charlie will or won't be included in camp. He certainly can't say that Davies is guaranteed a spot, not at this point.

My bet is he's there, with a real shot to make the team, come May 15th. Now, it would help a lot if he could get a game before the end of the Ligue 1 season, and who knows it that will happen. Let's cross our fingers.

Bradley is right to downplay expectations, let the situation play out without tipping his hand, and minimize pressure on Charlie. What he says at a jersey launch in New York isn't necessarily going to be the most enlightening information, especially from a guy that like to play things close to the vest.

Charlie has work to do yet, and he may not end up in South Africa; but for the time being, I have no reason to believe he doesn't have a very real shot.


Supporters and Songs

It's not my habit to throw out links, but there's a quality bit of writing that popped up this week that needs some more attention.

It's a lament on American supporters and our songs from Nutmeg Radio (I'm in full agreement with this sentiment, by the way).

Go read it, it's worth a thought or two.

Back later perhaps, either in the usual one topic format (if inspiration hits) or in this more casual round up thing.

Stars, Stripes, and Style

Thursday, April 29, 2010 | View Comments
Maybe it's because I'm from Philadelphia, but I always get a bitter taste in my mouth whenever I hear or read the words "New Jersey." Or maybe it's because kit manufacturers have a history of messing about in order to make jerseys look just different enough that they can get fans to buy them. Either way, there's some Pavlovian stuff going on in my noggin.

In closely related news, Nike had their "look at the shirt you all knew about months ago, isn't it awesome?" party today. In case you haven't seen it, here it is:

Yeah, I hate it too. When Nike said it was going to be 100% recycled, they weren't lying. At least the away looks better: (clicky) It's not that I don't like the sash. I mean, I don't, but it's not the sash itself that makes the shirt look stupid. It's the grey on white color scheme. It looks like the kind of curtains stuffy old rich people put in their summer homes. According the the press filler, they were doing it as an homage to the 1950 World Cup team, which is why they decided to wheel out Walter Bahr for the occasion.

Now, looking at that failed abortion up there and at the legendary 1950 shirt (here) that it's supposed to be paying tribute to, you can see the difference. The 1950 shirt is simple, yet classy. Red, white, blue. Stick a badge on it, and we're good to go. It has a sash, but it's not nearly as silly looking as later be-sashed efforts. It manages to not be boring, while not being needlessly busy. Somehow with the current top, Nike have managed to produce a shirt that is not only boring, but stupid looking, too. Is there a point to the red bits near the end of the sleeves? The extra white and grey piping around the sash? This shirt isn't as much tribute to the 1950 shirt as it is the bastard love child of that jersey and the last US home shirt, when it seemed Nike had finally reconciled their misconception that the US flag is white, grey, and blue with the public's need for a shirt that doesn't look like crap.

I didn't like our last World Cup jersey, either, although that might be because this is my abiding memory of that tournament. And maybe that's the problem with US jerseys. It's hard to get attached to one because it changes so often, and because it keeps changing, there's no time for a truly American look to cement itself. All of the true classics, like Argentina, Brazil, or Holland, have been largely unchanged for decades. Instead, we've got a motley crew of dated shirts like this one, the infamous "denim stars" look from the 1994 World Cup, or this uninspiring effort from 1990.

For once, I'd like the USSF to force Nike to pick a single look and stick with that theme for an extended period. It would help bolster the senses of tradition and identity in the US soccer community. And stay away from the sashes, please?

Claudio Reyna

Claudio Reyna's role as youth technical director for US Soccer, and with it the concept of structure and directed teaching as a means of producing talented players, is getting the once over by people asking relevant questions. How do you turn kids into stars? Does rigid structure stifle creativity? Will the US always be lacking because we don't have little Messis-in-waiting kicking a dirty ball around a dusty street like the youths of Argentina and Brazil?

All reasonable questions, and while Rob Hughes wonders about the benefits of locked down programs with their drills and regimentation, I find myself curious as to why there's no appreciation in America for the most important factor in the country's ability to produce world class talent:


The United States is a relative newcomer to this game of turning young players into world famous superstars. We've hardly had enough time to truly know where things are headed.

Common sense, if you're at all into that type of thing (and sometimes I wonder about American soccer fans...), tells us that the simple passing of time will lead to greater quantities of top level professional soccer players raised in America; participation is high, the sport is growing in exposure and relevance, and young players are likely to stick with the game longer than ever before because of those facts. If there are more and more top level pros, likely plying their trade in Europe at some point, then it stands to reason that one day, one of those pros will ascend to the level of "world class". It's more a numbers game than a matter of reaching down the youngest levels of organized soccer and moving things around in the hope of achieving better results. There are millions of American kids kicking balls around. A small portion of them will play professionally. A few will be stars, but most will show promise yet ultimately flame out or have undistinguished careers. None of that is unique to the United States.

It doesn't keep us from trying to "fix" it.

Because that's the major issue when it comes to American soccer, our youth programs, and the intense desire to produce better players. We just can't leave well enough alone. We're doers by nature, which means an irresistible desire to meddle, change, shift, rejigger, re-organize, and dictate, if only to make ourselves feel better that we're doing something. In some cases, it's the right thing to do. In others, the benefits are questionable.

Will the hiring of Claudio Reyna, and whatever change he affects, make a difference or be just another example of rearranging the deck chairs on a cruise ship that every indication shows is slowly steaming in the right direction?

As has been pointed out by others, it would seem the more important concern for Reyna and US Soccer should be access to the game rather than coaching standards for kids already playing it. I believe that Reyna is committed to providing access to soccer for kids who might not otherwise be able to get it. That alone would make his hiring a success in my mind, whether he established a universal curriculum for coaching or not. I hope he succeeds in that area.

American soccer culture, one that connects the youngest players all the way up to the professional game as it's played here, is just beginning to sprout. Roots laid down by decades of youth participation sat underutilized for too long for a fully functioning culture to exist; while that's no longer the case, it does mean that for all the players produced by the US in the past forty years or so, none of them benefited from growing up in an environment that was fully immersive. Academies run by professional clubs were non-existent until recently, just one example of changes to the landscape.

That, more than new programs, higher standards, universal curriculum and the like, will push America towards producing better soccer players.

Provided we give it time. Nobody likes to be patient.

The Job Facing Bob Bradley

Thursday, April 29, 2010 | View Comments
Bob Bradley

It's almost as if the soccer gods wanted to make Bob Bradley's life as difficult as possible for some unidentified transgression deep in his coaching past. It's not enough that the World Cup is rapidly approaching and that the job of choosing 23 men to charge into South Africa with was already daunting enough; no, to add to the pressure, some shadowy force has conspired to throw wrenches of varying sizes and stickiness, exactly at the time when decisions must be made, into the works.

Between players returning from injury, those finally playing after months matchless activity, and long-forgotten strikers scoring goals at will, Bobbo's head must be swimming with heaving maelstrom of pertinent factors to be considered.

To be fair, much of the news is good. Oguchi Onyewu, a lock for the World Cup starting lineup when healthy, is back in full training. Ricardo Clark, who served admirably for Bradley over the course of the past year, finally got on the field for Eintracht Frankfurt. Stuart Holden is training with Bolton, Benny Feilhaber has shaken off his injury, and others are rounding into form.

And then there are the strikers. Of the choices available to Bradley, perhaps only Jozy Altidore has no question marks. Old Reliable (not to imply he's old...) Brian Ching is nursing an injury. Conor Casey is, well, Conor Casey. Eddie Johnson, Jeff Cunningham and Robbie Findley failed to show enough during National Team duty in recent months to justify an automatic place in the World Cup team. Charlie Davies has an inspiring story, and if healthy enough to play, would bring more than just on-field contributions to a team often reliant on spirit and camaraderie; but can a precious spot be given to a player for whom simply walking was victory as recently as five months ago?

More options are always better than less, and therein lies Bradley's silver lining. Better to have several players to choose from who are either good players finally playing or new-ish players on amazing runs; if the US had neither, or the rash of injuries suffered in the pool weren't so miraculously timed, the mood would be decidedly more dour. As it is, the situation falls somewhere between "best case scenario" and "complete disaster".

It's nearly crunch time. The first step for Bradley is narrowing down his pool to 30 names, likely including a few questions marks, those red hot strikers who haven't been in the picture for years, and one or two surprises. From there, he'll have roughly two weeks to flesh out who can best help the team in South Africa, both in backup roles and as potential starters, all the while attempting to build a cohesive dynamic, drill in tactics, and foster spirit.

Nothing like leaving it all to the last minute.

My shot-in-the-dark thirty man roster. Remember, it's doubtful all of these guys will be in camp come May 17th:

GOALKEEPERS: Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan

DEFENDERS: Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo, Heath Pearce, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay Demerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Frank Simek

MIDFIELDERS: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Ricardo Clark, Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Torres, Sacha Kljestan, DaMarcus Beasley

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Conor Casey, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez, Charlie Davies, Eddie Johnson

It's likely, hell, certain, that you're personal guess/preference will be different. Feel free to throw it out in the comments.


This is exactly how my microphone looks

It was such a success last week that I've decided to bring it back; it's the Footy Free For All, in which I will babble incessantly while fielding Skype calls, Tweets, and chatroom comments from all the other soccer freaks who join me.

Kicking off at 8:30 PM ET.
Skype: americansoccershow
Twitter: MFUSA

A lot of unforeseen results in Week Five, which made big gains hard to come by. Just a reminder, if you miss a week every now and then (and it's going to happen to everyone during this long season) don't worry about it. All it takes is one big week to get right back into the race.

Jason Davis 35
Ben Aranda 34
Jason Kuenle 33
B-Mac 27
thedoe 26
Alex Will 23
Ross Hopper 22
Matt (NES) 21
mrburito2 19
Julius 19
Wes Mills 19
John Carlton 19
wvhooligan 16
CVO 16
patrickmkennedy 15
amerisnob 13
AveryR 12
martek 10
hazemeyer 10
crocken 4
Travis 1
ted meyer 6

To hear Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber tell it, the Philadelphia Union would not exist without the efforts of a group of dedicated fans called the Sons of Ben. The collection of like-minded soccer fans had one goal in mind when they formed in 2007: bring a top-flight professional team to their city.

With their mission accomplished, the Sons of Ben now have an actual team to support. But for other groups around the country who hope to replicate Philadelphia's success, the path is a bit more difficult. Far from MLS headquarters and often in cities thousands of miles away from the new hotbeds of the Northeast and Northwest, they do the what they can to drum up interest, find reasons to believe, and keep their cities in the discussion for the next MLS franchise.

One such group is the Crocketteers, started in 2009 with the stated purpose of bringing professional soccer to the River City. Founder Michael Macias found the imagery of Davy Crockett and the Alamo, two icons from San Antonio's history and sources of pride for the city, a perfect fit for the fledgling effort.

"Like the Sons of Ben, we pay homage to a local city hero or for our matter, state hero in David Crockett," Macias said, "Crockett, although from Tennessee, is considered a Texan in the minds of many proud Texans. He came to Texas for a new life and then gave that life for Texas by fighting for it. His statue is on the grounds of the Alamo today, his name is honored in both a downtown street and hotel. In fact one of our members is a direct descendant of David Crockett."

Having just marked the group's first year of existence, Macias knows the job of proving to MLS that San Antonio deserves a franchise won't be easy; convincing soccer fans to join without a team to support brings its own unique challenges. Growth has been slow, as one would expect, and spreading the message is done almost entirely by word of mouth, a local community website, and the groups' own Internet presence at crocketteers.com.

"Our numbers are growing every month and we have a goal of having over 250 members (500 on Facebook) by year's end," Macias revealed. "We want professional soccer to notice us. We want to say that we were there from the beginning, before a club called San Antonio home."

Make no mistake: the Sons of Ben legacy, and the there-before-the-team success that Macias and his group hope to copy, is a strong influence on The Crocketteers. That legacy manifests not only in the spirit of the group, but in networking advantage; Union president Nick Sakiewicz's brother Ed, who runs soccer-related organizations in San Antonio, lent a helping hand to the group by opening a direct line of communication between The Crocketteers and the Sons of Ben.

As part of that relationship, The Crocketteers have been admitted to the Independent Supporters Council, an organization of supporters groups from the US and Canada that includes the Timbers Army of Portland, the Red Patch Boys of Toronto, and the Sons of Ben themselves. "We look to use that resource in running our local group," said Macias.

Macias and The Crocketteers recognize that MLS may be wary of San Antonio as a potential market, having flirted with placing a team there just five years ago. The effort ended in disappointment, with then-newly-elected mayor Phil Hardberger criticizing a proposed deal that would have put a team in the Alamo Dome. "It makes our situation that much harder in that we have to put San Antonio back on the soccer expansion map," lamented Macias.

But with new mayor Julian Castro on the record supporting the idea of professional soccer in San Antonio, the advent of The Crocketteers, and the growing nature of the city, Macias sees hope.

"With an economy that is that is rated tops in the nation, local sports radio in support of MLS and now a grassroots soccer supporters base that other candidate cities would love to have on their side, San Antonio needs to be on Major League Soccer's short list not only for expansion but for a possible relocation of an existing franchise."

SOCCER 2010 - Haiti vs Trinity Tigers Exhibition Game

Fans look on as the Haitian National Team takes on Trinity University in San Antonio

San Antonio is the nation's seventh most populated city with 1.3 million people, and the metropolitan area boasts over 2 million; those numbers are certainly strong enough to support a team that would hope to draw crowds of no larger than 20,000 a match.

For all its attributes, the case for San Antonio means nothing without an actual plan. The 2005 deal, one that sought the Alamo Dome as a potential home, fell through because the city's leadership failed to see the benefit. Local investors seemed to be lacking as well, though efforts to find them were hampered by political concerns. When Phil Hardberger closed the door on the deal, and the league responded tersely to the political resistance they felt was destructive, and the city feel off the MLS radar.

Enter the ownership of the San Antonio Spurs, the city's only major league sports franchise. The Spurs ownership, operating as Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) currently hold an option to start a USL franchise in the city, an indication that they might be willing to invest in top-level professional soccer. During a summer schedule, an MLS franchise in San Antonio would be without serious competition for sports entertainment dollars, and any conflicts with the Spurs themselves during those portions of the year that overlap could likely be sorted out without any serious hindrance to soccer's ultimate success.

Equally as pressing as lining up a willing ownership group with the requisite deep pockets is finding a proper home for a possible team; the Alamo Dome is likely no longer an option, and seems ill-suited to the task regardless. Building from scratch isn't out of the question, but with suburban stadiums around the country struggling to draw fans and urban land prices a potential deal-breaker, an alternative might be necessary to entice the Spurs to shell out the expansion fee.

That alternative might exist in Alamo Stadium, a 23,000-seat venue used primarily for high school football since its opening in 1940. The stadium is currently owned by the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), who has reportedly held talks to turn over control of the venue in light of their budget problems. With a central location and potential for renovation, Alamo Stadium could be the perfect place for professional soccer in San Antonio.

Location of Alamo Stadium (denoted by "A" on the map) in the city of San Antonio

The stadium would need renovation, $30 million worth according to sources, to bring it up to the necessary standard. Though the school district could pass a bond issue to pay for the construction costs, that may prove difficult in the current environment of school closings and budget shortfalls. Another possibility is a partnership with the Spurs and the city, who would split the costs; though there is no talk yet of such a deal, SS&E's resulting control of the venue for all events (soccer, outdoor concerts, etc.) might be enough to bring their investment.

The trickiest bit for San Antonio's renewed MLS candidacy is the availability of a franchise. Would the city be a candidate for expansion, with Don Garber stressing the need to re-enter the Southeast and Montreal already lined up to join as the nineteenth team? Perhaps the Alamo City could become home to an existing franchise, one struggling in their current market or with a intransigent stadium situation.

For Michael Macias, new or old hardly matters.

"Seeing the success of the Houston Dynamo, the Crocketteers are in full support of a relocated franchise. It might be a better option from the Crocketteers standpoint as we will be supporting an established team and success may come sooner than expected."

And if you wonder which current MLS team Macias and The Crocketteers think might be a candidate for a move to their city, you needn't look far.

Alamo Stadium

"In the early 1970's the City of San Antonio saved a failing ABA franchise in the Dallas Chaparrals," he said. "The team wasn't doing well in Dallas and attendance was less than woeful. That team today is known as the San Antonio Spurs and has been one of the best supported franchises in all of sports. I'm sure if the situation called for it, the City of San Antonio can turn around the fortunes in the stands for another Dallas-based franchise."

AmSoc 23

Monday, April 26, 2010 | View Comments

A quick MLS review, talk of expansion, a note on attendance and hooliganism in New Jersey, a look at the Charlie Davies "news", a review of Jason's Edson Buddle interview, and a debate over Jozy Altidore's end at Hull. Visit the AmSoc site to check it out.

You can also download it, subscribe in iTunes (and leave a rating and review, please), or get the regular old RSS feed.

Our T-Shirts are comfortable, fashionable, and full of American soccer spirit. Get one.

The One Thing: MLS Week 5

Monday, April 26, 2010 | View Comments
Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls

Back at it after a week off. A fairly full schedule, and unlike last week, I was able to see at least some of the action.

Remember that these aren't recaps, but attempts to identify the one thing that most affected the match in question. Full recaps and video highlights are linked for your convenience. I've also added the attendance for those of you that are into that type of thing.

Here we go.

FC Dallas 2, Seattle Sounders 2
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 8,512

The One Thing: The Penalty That Wasn't

Seattle Sounders FC v FC Dallas

A complete and utter gift of a point for FC Dallas, and a crushing blow for a Sounders team on the first leg of a long road trip. There's simply no way to convince me that the penalty was legit; it may have looked questionable in real time on television thanks to two Sounder players converging on the ball, but a referee should never call it from a much closer distance. That being said, Sounders fans obsessed just a little too much over the next few days; I guarantee you, Rave Green nation, that you'll be on the good end of more than a few terrible calls this season, and that this will all even out in the end. Such it the state of things in MLS.

New York Red Bulls 2, Philadelphia Union 1
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 15,619

The One Thing: Orozco's Hand Ball

Stefani Miglioranzi, Michael Orozco, Juan Pablo Angel, Ibrahim Salou

The Union aren't nearly as poor as I thought they might be, but they do seem to have a tendency to blow games with stupid decisions and boneheaded mistakes. Case in point on Saturday, when the Union were on their way to at least a point in the first edition of the Red Bulls-Union rivalry. Unfortunately, Michel Orozco arm flailed, the ball hit it, and Juan Pablo Angel buried the resulting penalty. The Union aren't exactly Keystone Kops-esque out there, showing flashes of quality on a fairly regular bases (insert obligatory Roger Torres love), but we have to just shake our heads at their self-destruction.

Columbus Crew 1, Real Salt Lake 0
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 15,619

The One Thing: GBS From the Spot

Real Salt Lake v Columbus Crew

From the look of things through the wonders of streaming video, this game was played in a monsoon, which might explain why the only goal came from a penalty. Real Salt Lake pushed hard for the equalizer, but Will Hesmer shut them down. The champs continue to underachieve; while beating Columbus on the road wasn't going to be easy, the game was obviously there for the taking with a one goal deficit for fifty-plus minutes. Credit to Columbus for making the penalty stand up, and three points is three points. On a side note, a nod also goes to the 14k+ Crew fans that should up in the terrible conditions.

New England 1, Colorado Rapids 2
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 8,142

The One Thing: Mastroeni's Blast

Colorado Rapids v New England Revolution

Pablo Mastroeni doesn't score a lot of goals, so when he does, it's notable. Even more so when it's a 35-yard game winner on the road; Colorado and New England look to be middle of the pack teams (again), but when half the league makes the playoffs, middle of the pack can get you a chance at a title. The Revs continue to struggle without their dread-locked midfield anchor Shalrie Joseph; it's natural to wonder if Mastroeni gets the winner if the Grenadian was in the lineup. Nevertheless, give Colorado credit for winning in New England, where it's not always easy.

Chicago Fire 2, Houston Dynamo 0
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 11,312

The One Thing: Cameron Goes Down

Houston Dynamo v Chicago Fire

The loss of Geoff Cameron in the 28th minute changed this match, allowing Chicago to dominate midfielder and get forward on the suddenly toothless Dynamo; Husidic and Lowry got the goals for the Fire, but it was Houston's best player leaving with a knee injury that tilted the scales to the Fire. The match spiraled into a chippy affair that saw referee Ricardo Salazar eleven cards in total, including two yellows back-to-back for Danny Cruz and a straight red to Krzysztof Krol two minutes later. Houston, especially if Cameron is out for a significant amount of time, could be in serious trouble moving forward.

Kansas City Wizards 0, Los Angeles Galaxy 0
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 10,045

The One Thing: Kamara's Miss of the Century

Los Angeles Galaxy v Kansas City Wizards

Poor Kei Kamara. He might never live down his unbelievable miss, one so ridiculous that The Sun highlighted it prominently on their website. The ball was there to be hit, Kamara whiffed, landed, and knocked the ball over the line with his hand. Give credit to the assistant referee, who made the correct call from the sideline; how he was able to process what happened while certainly being shocked that it had, I don't know. The Wizards, by all rights, should have handed LA their first loss of the season, and were the better side through much of the match. I'm guessing Peter Vermes and Kei Kamara both wish they had a time machine at their disposal right about now.

Chivas USA 3, San Jose Earthquakes 2
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 14,389

The One Thing: Chijindu's Insurance Goal

San Jose Earthquakes v Chivas USA

When Chukwundi Chijindu broke away and beat Joe Cannon for Chivas USA's third goal, it looked to be just salt in the Earthquakes' wound; but it turned out to be the difference between three points and one when San Jose's Steve Beitashour rocketed home a second Quakes tally. This was a thoroughly entertaining match, though one that proves nothing about two sides difficult to assess; Chivas appears to have taken a step back under Martin Vasquez, an though San Jose is clearly better than in 2009, it's too early to tell if they'll be a playoff contender. The West is stacked, so if Chivas is going to have a chance at the post-season, these were three crucial home points they needed to hold onto.

Toronto FC 2, Seattle Sounders 0
Recap - Goal.com
Attendance: 18,394

The One Thing: A Lucky Bounce

MLS: Seattle Sounders at Toronto FC

The tired legs of a spent Seattle squad, playing their second match in four days while on a long road trip, was likely a factor in their inability to put away chances. Still, Toronto did just enough to win, and in part thanks to a lucky bounce off of the referee that indirectly led Dwayne DeRosario's 58th minute goal. Stefan Frei saved the Reds' bacon on multiple occasions, the unusually quiet crowd at BMO finally had reason to cheer, and a disappointed Sounders squad came up empty handed in Canada. Life in MLS isn't fair, and sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Not one of them

There are some very cool things going on in American soccer right now, but being just a couple sets of eyes, we at Match Fit USA don't get to see all of them. That's why we're asking for your help. For the next ten weeks, we'll be running a competition, aptly titled "The Coolest Things in American Soccer." We want you to send in pictures, videos, and links to inspiring stories or cool features from every level of the American game. Every week, we'll run our favorites, and on July 4th, we'll pick our very favorite item, and the person who submitted it will get a very stylish American Soccer Show t-shirt.

Send your entries to iheartjasondavis@gmail.com

Football - Hull City v Aston Villa Barclays Premier League

As I begin this post, Hull is beginning the second half of a crucial EPL fixture with Sunderland, and doing so without Jozy Altidore. The young American striker was sent off for violent conduct late in the first half, when he lashed out after Sunderland's Allan Hutton tossed the ball at Altidore's head while the latter was on the ground. It was an ugly scene that leads to questions over's Altidore's maturity.

It will also likely be the last thing Jozy ever does in a Hull shirt. The loan that sent the American to England from Villareal, after he struggling to find a game in Spain, comes to an end after the season. Hull has the option to buy Altidore, but that seems unlikely if they are relegated, and that ignominy seems almost a certainty now.

Hull is a poor, poor team. While the excitement, at least for American fans, that followed Jozy's loan to Hull was rightly placed, with a young player who needed time landing at a club that would likely play him in one of the world's best leagues, it was always going to be an up-and-down proposition. Make no mistake: Altidore has played enough for the loan to be termed a success from an experience standpoint, despite a few fits and starts. But if frustration won out, as it seemed to today, then we must wonder if the stint has done more harm than good. Is Jozy Altidore a better player today than when he arrived at Hull in August?

Again, from a purely physical standpoint, it would be difficult to argue that Altidore has regressed; playing is always better than not, and even in a bad team that struggles to consistently mount an attack (meaning Altidore sees the ball rarely), Jozy's skills look to have improved. There have been more than one occasion, despite a lack of goals, where Altidore was Hull's lone bright spot. Winning balls, pressuring the defense, and drawing fouls; it's not flashy, and it's not clear-cut evidence that Jozy is getting better in a way that would make USMNT fans comfortable, but it is something.

But what about his head? Today's transgression isn't Altidore's first issue with maturity. He started his Hull stint on the wrong foot last year, arriving late and being admonished for tweeting about his omission from the match day roster. A manager change, the stress of a relegation battle, and larger problems at the club have only made it more difficult; it might even be fair to call Hull's environment "toxic", a situation ill-suited for a player of Altidore's age and experience.

That's not to give Jozy a free pass. It's up to him to commit himself, perform professionally, and not allow his frustration to carry over into his actions. His sending off today will only have people asking if he will ever grow up, or if his attitude and penchant for stupid behavior will inevitably lead him to a disappointing career.

Everything that Altidore does is subject to close scrutiny in the US because of his status as a entrenched USMNT starter (in part due to lack of better options) and his being one of a handful of American regulars in England's top division. If Altidore was a rising American player, but one whose performance at his club was not seen as directly related to US chances in South Africa, would we have so much criticism for him?

Maybe. From certain segments of the American fan base, always. The fortunes of talented young players is the subject of obsessive analysis because there are still too few. Altidore, for better or worse at twenty years of age, is an important player in a World Cup team despite his lack of professional credentials in Europe. Such is the state of Bob Bradley's team.

And so Altidore's Hull experience is probably over. I might be the first to attempt an assessment of his time there, but I certainly won't be the last. More important for Altidore is how he leverages his experience; was it simply a frustrating exercise in futility, both from a team and personal standpoint, that ended sourly and spiraling him downward, or was it something to be learned from, a bit of adversity that will serve him well as he strives to fulfill his potential?

I have a sense that Bob Bradley will play a role in the ultimate fallout. The timing could not be better for Altidore now, to leave Hull after a terrible ending and head directly into US camp for the World Cup. Altidore has been at his best in an American jersey, and if there's any way to mitigate the damage from this debacle, it could be found back in Jozy's home state of New Jersey.

Maybe Jozy is a brat. Maybe his development is stunted by a poor attitude, and much of what happened this season at Hull is direct evidence of that.

He's still very young, and playing on a bad team has detrimental effects on many players. Let's hope the adversity is just rough patch on Jozy's road to ultimate success.

Clint Dempsey isn't the fastest player on the US roster. He isn't the most technically gifted. He's not he tallest, the strongest, or the most successful. But come the World Cup this summer, he just might prove to be the most important. As a whole, the United States is a hardworking, difficult to break down team. Landon Donovan is the epitome of that mentality. Industrious without the ball, purposeful and direct with it, he's the player around which the American attack has been built around. But I have an inkling that if any American player is going to leave his mark on this World Cup, it will be the one we call "Deuce."

For me, Dempsey is the most intriguing of the USMNT core. He has a frustrating tendency to drift out of games, especially against so-called "weaker" opposition, and a thrilling habit of performing when he's needed most. He's unpredictable, mercurial, intense, volatile. He's a skillful winger with a bag of tricks and penchant for the kind of audacious goals which get you out of your seat and shaking your head in disbelief. "Did he just DO that?" could be Deuce's tagline. His recent wonder strike for Fulham to knock Italian giants Juventus out of the Europa League was widely proclaimed as the greatest goal ever scored by an American in European competition, rivalled only by his goal against Liverpool that saved Fulham from relegation. If you remember, Dempsey was the only American player to score at the last World Cup, thumping a rifled volley home from a perfect DaMarcus Beasley cross, when the US was, for all intents and purposes, out of the competition already.

That single-minded, never-say-die attitude is a constant feature of Deuce's career. His ability got him out of the Nagodoches, Texas trailer park of his childhood and opened doors which led to college and Major League Soccer. He was drafted by the New England Revolution, and won the Rookie of the Year award. During his time with the Revolution, MLS turned down several lucrative offers for him from Europe. Not happy with playing the big fish in the small pond, Deuce spurned MLS's offers of contract renewals and marquee staus to dip his toe in arguably the biggest pond of them all and sign with English Premier League side Fulham. Through what seems like sheer force of will, Dempsey carved out a first team position for himself, and he has become one Craven Cottage's biggest cult heroes this side of Johnny Haynes.

With the participation of Charlie Davies this summer a doubt, even more of the attacking responsibility will fall to the midfield, and with Landon Donovan providing the bulk of the creativity, it will fall to Deuce to provide the flair and dynamism. If his past performances are any indication, Deuce is hungry. Hungry to improve, hungry to prove himself, and hungry to be the best. "Complacent" is an alien word to Deuce, which is why we love him so much.

MLS Rankings of Power!

Friday, April 23, 2010 | View Comments
Electrical plug

I'm not a fan of power rankings. Everyone does them, they usually provide no real insight, and they're ultimately meaningless; shouldn't we know who is good and who is not based on the standings? Sure, we still have conferences, but the schedule is balanced this year, meaning that throwing everyone into a single table should presumably provide an accurate picture of quality.

That being said, I understand the appeal. Everyone wants to know where their team ranks in the minds of others, and power rankings create a natural point of debate even if you don't have a vested interest in the order. Hell, Americans just like to rank things, so we do.

But I just can't get myself to do it. You want to know who I think the best team in the league is? Just ask (LA by the way). You want to know who I think is the worst team in the league is? Just ask (tough to pick anyone other than DC at the moment). Everything in between is a giant crap shoot of a free-for-all, and separating the FC Dallas' from say, the San Joses is literally impossible.

So instead of the usual power ranking nonsense, I give you a Friday post involving the ranking of random MLS-related items born of an addled brain, a lack of any real motivation, and the cumulative effect of too many late nights. And yes, I realize this is in no way an original idea.


Controversy is fun, unless you're on the wrong end. MLS refs have taken it on the chin so far this year for some outright wacky calls, and last night's penalty decision by Terry Vaughn did nothing to stem the tide. I say keep it up.

2. DPs!

A change in the rules, a World Cup year, and owners with Scrooge McDuck-like vaults of cash just waiting for an over-the-hill Euro to swoop in and boost the marketing profile; it's a recipe for rumor the likes of which we have never seen before. It's all so very exciting.


From Toronto's grassy debut, which was better than the turf but still sorta crap, to PPL's newly laid sod, grass is shooting up the rankings like cigar-shaped rocket, lit on one end and spewing smoke in a thick cloud of sense-altering goodness. Or something. Who doesn't like more grass?


Good, bad, and mediocre, everyone is talking MLS attendance. Seattle gets 30k+, Toronto sells out, Philly got off to be big start while Dallas holds intimate gatherings, the Red Bulls lose half their opening number, and people have even taken to forecasting the size of crowds. Bad attendance gets more attention than good attendance, and so it's with a heavy heart that I inform you that every possible joke has been made at FC Dallas' expense. Moving on.

And...I'm done. Are there more things to rank? Probably. Maybe I'll do a power ranking of the fan bases' relative comfort a few weeks in, from relaxed to riddled-with-stress-related-ailments. Hell, let's do that now.

1. LA


3. San Jose
"We're better!"

4. Columbus
Annoyed, but they know they're good.

5. Kansas City
Pretty damn happy I would imagine.

6. Seattle
Grumble, grumble, third in the table

7. Philly
Hey, it's an expansion team.

8. New England
I can't tell, honestly.

9. Houston
Faith in Dom.

10. Colorado
Middle of the pack in everything they do.

11. Real Salt Lake
A good team with far too few points.

12. FC Dallas

13. Chivas USA

14. Chicago Fire

15. Toronto FC

16. DC United
Life is pain.

Alright, enough of this messing around. Happy Friday everyone. If you want to rank something, it's anything goes in the comments, so have at it.

A strong Week Four by prediction-leaguers provides evidence that MLS fans are starting to get a handle on which teams are good and which are poor. MLS Week Five features another loaded slate of contests, and it starts tonight as Seattle Sounders FC heads to Frisco to face FC Dallas. Below are my predictions. Leave your picks in the comments section.

FC Dallas - 3
Seattle Sounders - 2

New York Red Bulls - 2
Philadelphia Union - 1

New England Revolution - 1
Colorado Rapids - 1

Columbus Crew - 2
Real Salt Lake - 1

Kansas City Wizards - 1
Los Angeles Galaxy - 2

Chicago Fire - 3
Houston Dynamo - 1

Chivas USA - 1
San Jose Earthquakes - 1

Toronto FC - 0
Seattle Sounders FC - 2

A Setback for Charlie's Chances

Thursday, April 22, 2010 | View Comments

Courtesy of and heads up by Greg Seltzer of No Short Corners comes word from Sochaux president Alexandre Lacombe that Charlie Davies will not play in Ligue 1 this season.

This is a definite blow to Charlie's World Cup chances, if only because the lack of first team playing time in a competitive situation leaves Bob Bradley with plenty of work to do in May. Davies, provided he's called into US camp, will not have played in a match since October; if he was returning from a knee injury (ala Oguchi Onyewu) or another run-of-the-mill soccer ailment, that might not be a problem. But because Charlie's comeback has been so difficult, Bradley needs as much evidence that he's at adequate capabilities as possible.

I've stated before that as long as Davies can run and kick a ball, Bradley has to call him into camp at the very least, partly because public sentiment will demand it. That's not to say that Bradley is beholden to the fan base, just that a camp spot for Davies is the least needed to see where Charlie stands and if he's capable of contributing at the World Cup. This setback now makes that camp spot a must, because there will be no other opportunity to assess Davies progress.

But what about the 23-man roster? This news doesn't help, but it doesn't mean it can't happen either; it just means we'll have to wait to see how Davies performs in camp before having any sense of his chances.

When expectations, and recovery timetables, are set aggressively, there's always a chance for setbacks and disappointment. It looks like Charlie has had one of his first (allowing for the possibility that something is lost in translation, or that there's someone else at Sochaux who may decide Charlie will play); next is how he responds and how Bradley views the news.

It isn't over for Davies' World Cup chances, but this isn't good news for them.


Apologies for not getting this up sooner. Greg Seltzer did some digging, and determined that Lacombe's comments are not reflective of anything other than his own opinion. There is no club mandate that Charlie be held out, so there is still hope he could show up in a season-closing match for Sochaux. Check out No Short Corners for more.

Vinyl Ready Art - Road Signs

I've been batting around the idea of doing a mid-week call in show via UStream for some time; while that hasn't gotten off the ground due mostly to the amount of work involved and the money required, I'm considering a stop-gap, at least for one night.

So if you would be interested in listening to me, and possibly others via Skype, ramble on American soccer topics (perhaps with a bit of Euro thrown in) around 8:30 PM EDT tonight, please be so kind as to say so in the comments. I'd like to have an idea of what kind of interest there is, and since I'm not going to do structured show with topics pre-planned, I'll be relying on people in chat, on Twitter, and through Skype to keep things moving along.

As this is an experimental endeavor (if it goes off), there won't be a podcast of it; one night only, live on UStream, the MFUSA (did I mention I would probably be doing this solo?) Footy Free-for-All.

If there's enough response, I'll be back here with the details of how to listen, what time, and how best to interact while I'm broadcasting.



Alright, looks like there's just enough interest to make this a go. We'll kick off at 8:30 PM Eastern.

There's a chat room below the player. You can also tweet me @MFUSA with any thoughts, or call in on Skype name americansoccershow.

The Case for Herculez Gomez

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | View Comments

To hear many who know the player and his talents, the goal scoring exploits of Herculez Gomez can be chalked up in part thanks to a return to his natural position. Anyone that recalls Gomez' last few seasons in MLS, and let's be honest, why would you, must be flabbergasted at his incredible strike rate in Mexico.

In both Colorado and Kansas City, Gomez was dropped into midfield, resulting in a slow decline in his play that eventually saw him collecting splinters on the bench in his final season with the Wizards. How could that have happened to a player who showed so much promise with LA in the early part of his career?

Talent doesn't always translate directly from league to league. Gomez' MLS path, one that saw him marginalized for unclear reasons by coaches who played him in midfield rather than at forward, stalled, giving him a chance to land in Mexico with Puebla this January.

Obviously, it was the right move to make.

The run Gomez just ended (he was sent off with a second yellow in Puebla's penultimate match, meaning he won't play in the season finale), like that of Edson Buddle, has him back in the US National Team discussion. If it comes down to direct competition for a World Cup spot with the Galaxy striker, Gomez does have a few marks in his column; Mexico's Primera Division is a better league, the run of games itself has been longer, and Gomez has more recently, while Bob Bradley's been at the helm, been called into the National Team. Add in a note that Gomez is more Davies-like than Buddle, and it's hard not to see him with the advantage.

Too many factors will come into play to analyze them all properly. Bradley's assessment of Buddle and Gomez, or Buddle v. Gomez perhaps, is as much wrapped up in each player's ability to fit in with a tight-knit group of internationals as it is in their play; once the two are called into camp (assuming they are), one wonders how much their performance there will be a factor as long as they're not abjectly poor.

Bradley will have two friendlies with which to test his team ahead of naming his World Cup roster, interspersed with training sessions that will include more players than he will be able to take to South Africa. Does that give him enough flexibility to see how Gomez plays in a system, and with a style, significantly different than the one he's part of in Mexico?

Where's the weight in the equation? How much does Charlie Davies' recovery play a part, and would his comeback eliminate Gomez (and perhaps Buddle) from consideration?

All important questions, and unless you've taken up residence inside of Bradley's Princeton-marinated noggin, it's doubtful you have any more idea than the rest of us.

What Bradley should absolutely do is give Herculez Gomez an audition in May. Form should count for something, after all, and it's not as though the ex-MLSer is hitting nets in the third division of some backwater footballing country; Mexico's first division is at least, and probably more, the testing ground that Major League Soccer is, even if you're of the opinion that a focus on defense is lacking south of the border.

Gomez has written his resume. It's impressive, and with a job available for South Africa, he has to be a candidate. Strikers are supposed to score goals, and Gomez has done just that.

It might be interesting to note that neither Buddle nor Gomez appears to have had USMNT-related contact with Bob Bradley (at least none that's been reported); does Bob not want to tip his hand, or is he simply waiting to see how things play out before making his decisions in a few weeks time?

Buddle's Start Built on Attitude

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | View Comments
Chivas USA v Los Angeles Galaxy

By Edson Buddle's own admission, he's a long shot for the US World Cup team. His torrid start to 2010 is, for him, a matter of "rhythm" and "the ball just going in" rather than any significant change in his approach or marked improvement.

He did, however, change his off-season routine, choosing to stay in California during the winter months rather than return to his home in New York. It would seem there's a direct correlation between that change and his goal-scoring form; field work against a better quality of player and outdoors rather than indoors would logically play a part in how he's started.

But perhaps more important for Buddle, and why he's turning in good performances week in and week out, is the commitment to his craft. His off-season work may indicate a renewed intent on getting better. Buddle's talent has always been there, and he's managed to put up decent goal scoring totals in several seasons; but the complete performances, ones that has him both healthy and mentally engaged throughout a campaign, have been few and far between. Perhaps it wouldn't have happened for Buddle, meaning a string of strong MLS seasons that would have had him in the National Team picture as well as a possible transfer target, no matter what happened in his early 20's. He did himself no favors, though, and we can only assume he wasted some of his potential.

Buddle is hot at the moment. He's leading the league in goals, is getting a strong amount of USMNT-related buzz from American fans, and shows no sign of slowing down. But form is fickle, especially for a striker, and it's extremely unlikely that he keeps it up all season. How will he respond when his chances aren't going in? Will he fight through, lean on the extra effort he's given towards training, and rebound quickly? Or will he fade, trending back towards the inconsistent player he's been in the past?

And that's to say nothing of injury, something that's bitten Buddle entirely too often and derailed his 2009 season fairly significantly. Maybe his off-season will serve him well in that regard, or maybe he's just snake-bitten. Only time will tell.

In the context of the National Team, Buddle's window to make his case is rapidly closing. The general sense in the fan base is that both he and Herculez Gomez have done enough to make the provisional roster, and will likely get a chance in the May camp to battle for a World Cup spot. If that's true, and Bob Bradley, who has known Buddle personally for years, decides to take shot on a striker who hasn't figured in the US picture for seven years, it's a credit to the player and his amazing start in 2010.

It helps that he plays his club soccer with Landon Donovan, a man who might just possibly play a significant role in the US campaign this summer in South Africa.

Everything is coming easy for Edson Buddle right now. Is it all about attitude?

This post was influenced heavily by my chat with Buddle, an interview you can listen to here.

Edson Buddle Interview

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | View Comments
New England Revolution v Los Angeles Galaxy

As part of the CSRN Interview Series, I had a chance to interview Edson Buddle, he of the seven goals in four matches and sudden National Team buzz.

Head over to the CSRN website to take a listen.

Some sharper predictions from the entire field this week. There appears to be far less league parity through four weeks this year as compared to last year. Far fewer draws, in particular. Just a quick note, I'll try to post the predictions page each week the day before or, at latest, the morning of the first game. I always announce the predictions page on twitter, so you can also follow me at twitter.com/archtype

Ben Aranda 30
Jason Kuenle 28
B-Mac 26
Jason Davis 22
Alex Will 21
Matt (NES) 19
Wes Mills 17
Ross Hopper 15
Patrickmkennedy 15
Julius 14
thedoe 14
mrburito2 13
wv hooligan 13
CVO 12
John Carlton 12
AveryR 12
amerisnob 11
hazemeyer 10
martek 7
tedmeyer 6
Crocken 3
J6pini 3

A few months back, when reviewing my television service, I made a bold decision:

It was time to switch to DirecTV.

Now, there were several factors that played into my choice to switch, not the least of which was some potential savings (at least for awhile) and a wider selection of HD programming. I'm not necessarily an HD snob for most things, but I do enjoy sports in high definition; I bought the HDTV, I should get some use out of it, right?

One of the HD channels I assumed would be added to the DirecTV lineup, and the one I was most excited about getting, was FSCHD. Fox had finally made the investment in their little soccer channel and bumped up production to the current standard for signal quality; considering that Fox Soccer Channel is home to EPL, MLS, and Serie A matches, this was big, big, news for any footy freak. Finally, the glories of Anfield, Old Trafford, etc. (to say nothing of their MLS Game of the Week), would be visible in a crisp, clear picture more often then the once a week provided by ESPN.

I waited anxiously, expecting the usually-prompt DirecTV to add FSCHD at the earliest possible date. I gritted my teeth every time Christian Miles told me that a game was broadcast in glorious high definition, and I fumed when the network put the "HD" symbol in the top right corner of the screen.

HD? What HD? I don't have it in HD, so why are you saying it's in HD?!

Still, my frustration with FSC is a bit unfair. I know they're providing an HD signal, and it's not their fault that DirecTV hasn't added it; so even though they're technically lying, someone somewhere is watching the game in high def. Just not anyone subscribed to DirecTV.

Eventually, I stopped worrying about it. Even though I still saw the "HD" symbol on my grainy picture, I simply assumed that the channel would be added shortly, I'd forget about my anger, and everything would be right with the world. Besides, the DirectTV twitter account had responded to my question about FSCHD and said something about a new satellite. It had to be coming, they said it was coming. So when is it coming?

It's April, and there still is no word on FSCHD being added to DirecTV. It won't be added in May, either, according to an announcement by the satellite company on new HD channels.

I'm feeling like quite the sucker today.

I'm sure there are many of you who either don't have DirecTV or don't care about HD enough for this to be an issue. Good for you, really. But I and many others are more than a bit annoyed at this point, and I think it's time for a bit of action.

If you have DirecTV and want FSCHD, send them an email demanding it be added. At this point, all I can find is an email form through their website, which means entering your info; if I can find a direct email address, I'll update this post.

I'm sure people have contacted DirecTV about this over the course of the last few months, but we need a concerted effort here. The more emails, the better, so let's hit 'em hard and fast.

Get everyone you know involved, and give DirectTV no choice but to get Fox Soccer Channel in HD added to the lineup.

Red Bulls to Provide Balance

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | View Comments
MLS: Fire vs Red Bulls MAR 27

Major League Soccer has been out of balance for the last few years. Yes, there's salary cap and roster restriction-mandated parity, a reality that frustrates some even while it guarantees a majority of the league's teams have a chance to win a championship each and every season. And yes, small or non-existent margins mean that many clubs are hesitant to tip the scales for themselves the one way they can, with the designated player rule.

But in the areas of flash and hype, the attention-grabbing, headline-stealing, PR-directed battle for status and awareness, MLS has been tilted dramatically to the West.

The LA Galaxy are a "flagship" MLS franchise because they inhabit the country's second largest market. They have deep-pocketed owners, a first class stadium, and the will to spend money to "grow their brand". This has manifested itself in the signing of one of the world's most visible players in David Beckham and the resulting firestorm of notoriety that followed. In the contest for headlines and mainstream coverage, the Galaxy are winners by a wide margin. No one else in the league, even those few clubs that have signed designated players like Seattle and New York, come close. Add the small detail that the Galaxy have the league's best American player in Landon Donovan, and Los Angeles has garnered the lion's share of interest from the non-soccer segment of the American sports community, the gossip industry, and observers abroad.

Let's consider it a good thing then, that the New York Red Bulls appear on their way to balancing the situation. Finally out of the crumbling, ill-fitting, club-crippling Giants Stadium and settling into Red Bull Arena, New York has all of the prerequisites for an American club looking to make a name for themselves.

Big market? Check.

Owners with deep pockets? Check.

A first-class venue? Check.

And the willingness to spend doesn't seem to be lacking either, with news coming down last week that the Red Bulls plan to buy a third designated player spot as is now allowed by MLS rules. Since New York currently has just one DP in striker Juan Pablo Angel, it's seems safe to assume that they'll be splashing the cash on big name talent as early as this summer.

Perhaps the signings won't bring the club on-field success, though early returns on the Hans Backe/Eric Stover era are positive. That aforementioned parity can be a bitch, excuse the expression, and it will take more than a few aging European stars to bring the Red Bulls their first championship trophy. That hasn't kept the team from making grand pronouncements on their intentions, claiming they can win it all as soon as next year.

The universe, even the American soccer version, needs balance. Attention in all forms is good for a growing league like MLS, and it doesn't matter that the Galaxy and the Red Bulls dominating the headlines by spending more than anyone else is akin to two Darth Vaders doing battle in a maelstrom of footy evil for rest of the country. Perhaps it's not yin and yang, but it does represent progress; the two cities of Los Angeles and New York are connected to one another throughout the history of American sports, and there's no reason that shouldn't be true in soccer. No club should run ahead unchallenged for profile supremacy, and it's about time New York's club took its rightful place as a leading light in Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer will be better with a New York team acting like a New York team. It looks like that time has finally come.

Sure, it's distasteful when the richest teams get all the attention and outshine teams that "do it right" or are able to win despite a small-market handicap. But villains grow passion in direct opposition; if people love to hate New York (which some already do) the way so many already love to hate LA, that's a massive victory for MLS.

The One Thing: MLS Week 4

Monday, April 19, 2010 | View Comments
Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles Galaxy

Note from JD: I was unable to watch most of the MLS action this weekend, so Matt Acconciamessa from US Soccer Daily is filling in with this week's "The One Thing".


Since I haven’t been contributing here nearly as regularly as I once did, I decided to help Jason out this week and write up MLS Week 4’s “The One Thing” post. As is the case with the previous editions, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive (the game reports are linked, if that’s what you’re looking for), but is instead intended to focus on the one thing that had the biggest impact on the match. Enjoy:

Toronto FC 2, Philadelphia Union 1
Recap – Goal.com

The One Thing: Roger Torres

Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC

TFC gave me two chances this weekend to point out their lackluster play, so for their midweek match, I’ll instead talk about the Colombian gem that Piotr Nowak has found. Once again, 18 year old Roger Torres turned in a very strong performance in the midfield, distributing well and floating a gorgeous ball behind the defense to set up Philly’s lone goal just before halftime. Despite being a man down, the Union actually fared quite well in the opening 10 minutes of the second act, largely thanks to the hard work of Torres. But this all changed when the America de Cali loan player was subbed off in the 55th minute. Without their minute maestro, the Union soon found themselves on their heels and eventually on the losing end of a 2-1 final score.

New York Red Bulls 2, FC Dallas 1
Recap - Goal.com

The One Thing: Bouna Time

MLS: Dallas vs Red Bulls APR 17

A week after making being featured in “The One Thing” for all the wrong reasons, Bouna Coundoul redeemed himself with a game-changing save in the second half of NY’s comeback win. Trailing 1-0, the Red Bulls very nearly fell into a deeper hole, but Bouna came to the rescue, robbing David Ferreira from point-blank range with a great reaction save. The diving stop was just enough, pushing the ball into the post, after which it was cleared by the defense. Just 30 seconds later, Juan Pablo Angel leveled the score, and NY went on to add a second in the final minute of regular time to record their second home win of the season. Without Bouna Coundoul’s crucial save in the 56th minute, the outcome likely would have been a lot different.

Seattle Sounders 1, Kansas City Wizards 0
Recap – Goal.com

The One Thing: Playing until the final whistle

Kansas City Wizards v Seattle Sounders FC

The Wizards had gotten off to a good start to their 2010 campaign, and they very nearly added a result at the unfriendly confines of Qwest Field to their growing list of early season accomplishments. They played well enough to earn a draw and very well could have walked out with win with some better finishing, but instead they got back on the plane to KC empty-handed. Their strong 90+ minutes of play were wiped away because of a defensive lapse in second half stoppage time, where substitute Michael Fucito was able to sneak behind the defense on a throw in and fire a shot from 10 yards out into the back of the net. If the Wizards are really going to be one of the league’s elite this season, they’ll have to learn how to close out games like this one. Seattle was almost guilty of the same offense, but fortunately for them, Kasey Keller made a fantastic save on Chance Myers just a minute after Fucito’s tally to preserve the clean sheet and secure a victory.

Houston Dynamo 3, Chivas USA 0
Recap – Goal.com

The One Thing: Lovel Palmer

Chivas USA v Houston Dynamo

After losing Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark in the winter window, there were some questions about how the Dynamo would replace the all-star duo. On Saturday, Lovel Palmer did his best to fill that void, helping Houston to a 3-0 victory in his first career MLS start. His solid midfield play in the opening half was capped off by a spectacular 30 yard bomb into the far side-netting beyond the outstretched arms of Zach Thornton, doubling his team’s lead en route to a shutout victory. It was Palmer’s first MLS goal, and the stunning strike should earn him Goal of the Week honors.

Chicago Fire 2, DC United 0
Recap - Goal.com

The One Thing: Brian McBride

Chicago Fire v D.C. United

Carlos de los Cobos looks like a pretty smart guy after bringing on Brian McBride as a 75th minute substitute in a 0-0 game on the road. Four minutes after coming on, the USMNT and Fulham legend made his presence felt, setting up the Fire’s opening goal with a delicate flick to a trailing Marco Pappa inside the box. 10 minutes later, he doubled the lead by adding a goal to his stat line, muscling off Carey Talley to get his head on a long free kick from Andrew Dykstra. There wasn’t a lot behind the header, but it had just enough to sneak by Troy Perkins at the near post and secure three points for the visitors. Overall, McBride’s 15 minute appearance was a super-sub performance in every sense of the word.

San Jose Earthquakes 2, New England Revolution 0
Recap - Goal.com

The One Thing: The Earthquakes’ Defense

New England Revolution v San Jose Earthquakes

With all due respect to Chris Wondolowski’s goal, this game was decided by the SJ defense. Joe Cannon turned in a fantastic performance in goal, recording six saves along the way, including a couple of point blank stops late in the second half. The one shot that did manage to beat Cannon was kept out by a Bobby Convey goal line clearance, which proved to be a pivotal point in what was then a 0-0 match. On the other end of the field, it was Ike Opara creating havoc on set pieces, nearly burying one in the first half before heading home his second goal of the year in the 72nd minute.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Real Salt Lake 1
Recap – Goal.com

The One Thing: Edson Buddle

Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles Galaxy

Another game, another couple of goals for Edson Buddle, who brought his season total up to seven with a brace in LA’s victory. This latest performance has some claiming he should be in South Africa, while others are trying to hold off on jumping on the Buddle bandwagon. Regardless of his national team status, Buddle continues to rack up the goals in bunches. DC United Director of Marketing Communications Kyle Sheldon put it best with this tweet: “At this rate, Edson Buddle is going to score 52 goals this season. Is that good?” Yep, it’s been that kind of start for the Galaxy striker, whose production has helped the Galaxy take all 12 points from their first four matches.

Colorado Rapids 3, Toronto FC 1
Recap – Goal.com

The One Thing: TFC’s defensive miscues

Toronto FC v Colorado Rapids

As I alluded to earlier, the Reds didn’t exactly do a lot to instill confidence in their fans this weekend, with their Sunday match against Colorado having a lot to do with that. All three Rapids goals came as the result of a poor play from the Toronto defense. Conor Casey converted a first half penalty after an overzealous slide from Adriann Cann led to his handling the ball in the area, while Jeff Larentowicz scored on a direct kick from 20 yards out thanks to a huge hole in the wall created by a jump to the side from Julian de Guzman. To cap off the defeat, Maxim Usanov pulled down Conor Casey inside the box on a long ball, sending him to the spot once again for another PK goal. TFC has given up 10 goals in four games; only DC United (11) has allowed more. Yikes.

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