USMNT Roster for October Friendlies

Thursday, September 30, 2010 | View Comments
Aug. 01, 2010 - 06258669 date 31 07 2010 Copyright imago Wienold 31 07 2010 Gelsenkirchen League Total Cup Schalke 04 Hamburg SV Jermaine Jones Schalke Football men Gelsenkirchen League Total Cup 1 BL 2010 2011 Action shot Vdig 2010 Square Highlight premiumd.
Jermaine Jones will finally make his USMNT debut

Bob's first act as newly re-signed US National Team head coach was calling in a 20-man roster for the upcoming friendlies against Poland (Chicago - October 9th) and Colombia (Philadelphia - October 12th).  The number of fliers taken by Bradley was fairly small, though there are a few interesting inclusions, and omissions, on the list.

SEATTLE - AUGUST 28: Fans of the Seattle Sounders FC cheer during the game against the Chicago Fire on August 28, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

When the Sounders became an MLS franchise in 2009, they set their sights on winning a trophy - any trophy.  With a strong history in the US Open Cup as a USL side, it made sense that they would put an emphasis on the knockout tournament.  It didn't matter that the Open Cup was treated as a nuisance by most MLS teams; the title would not only give them tangible success in their first top-tier season, but brought with it a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Report Says MLS Gaining Fan Traction

Thursday, September 30, 2010 | View Comments
Even small victories matter when it comes to Major League Soccer's visibility in a crowded sports marketplace. Not only does the domestic soccer product compete with the Big Four of American sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, and we'll throw the NHL a bone), other less-popular competitions fight for the very same entertainment dollar and television viewer.  The import given to big time college sports, golf, tennis, NASCAR, etc. makes it all the harder for MLS to convince Joe Sportsfan to give a damn; add in the problem that the league has of convincing fans of European club and leagues to pay a little attention to American soccer, and even tiny movement of the needle is cause for celebration.

Umbro has announced that they have signed a "worldwide kit deal" with the revived New York Cosmos, tailoring a look based on the classic Cosmos uniforms worn during the club's Pelé-led heyday.  Pelé will appear on the cover of the November issue of FourFourTwo sporting the new jacket, with an interview on the new Cosmos in the issue.

Wynalda Keeps on Giving

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | View Comments
More from this guy
What does a man who has just signed on as the president of international operations for a lower division Mexican club do as a follow up?  Well, give an interview to Soccer America in which he questions the quality of American coaches, paints himself as unfairly ostracized and moans about American soccer stagnating, of course.

Colorado Rapids - 1
Philadelphia Union - 2

San Jose Earthquakes - 3
Chicago Fire - 1

Seattle Sounders FC - 2
Toronto FC - 1

Philadelphia Union - 2
Houston Dynamo - 2

New York Red Bulls - 2
Kansas City Wizards - 1

New England Revolution - 2
Real Salt Lake - 1

Columbus Crew - 2
San Jose Earthquakes - 2

FC Dallas - 1
Chicago Fire - 1

Colorado Rapids - 2
DC United - 0

Chivas USA - 3
LA Galaxy - 4

Jason Kuenle 172
Jason Davis 161
Ross Hopper 159
B-Mac 154
Ben Aranda 152
Matt (NES) 148
John Carlton 146
Julius 143
thedoe 128
mrburito2 104
Alex Will 72
Travis 71
CVO 65
Martek 51

Will MLS Ever Get Any Respect?

Tuesday, September 28, 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.

For those of you who are unaware, I'm not originally from these shores (editors note: make sure you check the byline of this post). I'm an Englishman. A Limey, a Sassenach, a Rosbif, a Pom. Part of the cultural stereotype that I am obliged to fit into - aside from insisting on spelling words differently, crowing about the good old days of the Empire, and being emotionally stunted - is that I look down my nose at any soccer that isn't "English". Naturally, the evidence put in front of my face from a very early age only proved that this perceived superiority is misplaced, and since then I've tried to be even-handed when it comes to assessing the relative merits of the various leagues, players and the rest.

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Eric Wynalda Heads to Mexico

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | View Comments
April 17, 2010; Carson, CA, USA; Eric Wynalda participates in BritWeek 2010 with Celebrity Soccer Game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Photo via Newscom

Eric Wynalda has never been one to sit on his hands and do nothing. Love him or hate him, Wynalda has continually put himself in the American soccer conversation because he speaks his mind, a habit that has sometimes landed him in hot water. It's a reasonable assumption that Wynalda's loose lips policy is partly to blame for the USMNT and MLS great being unable to land a coaching job in the United States.

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 18:  Brian Mullan #9 of the Houston Dynamo and Jeff Larentowicz #13 of the New England Revolution fight for the ball during the 2007 Major League Soccer Cup at RFK Stadium on November 18, 2007 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Two of Major League Soccer's most historically successful franchises won't be competing for a title this season. The Houston Dynamo, back-to-back MLS Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, and the team they beat for those two titles, the New England Revolution, will play out their regular season schedule and begin to focus on 2011 after being mathematically eliminated from the playoff race.  The fortunes of these two clubs, contending stalwarts for so long, looks to be another sign that MLS is heading in an uncharted direction; for the first time in MLS history, only half the league will make the post-season.  Combined with a growing emphasis on foreign talent, both ultra-expensive and mid-level, the league has become a greater challenge for two clubs known for consistent on-field success.

AmSoc 44: The Fightin' Ginge

Monday, September 27, 2010 | View Comments
I do enjoy me some fired up Zach Woosley, even if he manages to shout me down on occasion.  This week's episode of the American Soccer Show is chock full of quality banter with Ginge on subjects like: Klinsmann's second dance with US Soccer, MLS refereeing and how to "fix" it, Ian Darke's hiring by ESPN and stories from Portland on Don Garber's visit.

Eddie Johnson's Lack of Confidence

Monday, September 27, 2010 | View Comments
Football - Cardiff City v Derby County Coca-Cola Football League Championship - Ninian Park - 8/4/09..Cardiff's Eddie Johnson Photo via Newscom

Eddie Johnson got himself a full thirty-five minutes this weekend in Fulham's 0-0 draw with Everton at Craven Cottage. Brought on for Zoltan Gera, Johnson's appearance was his third in the league and fourth overall this season.

VIDEO: Beckham and the Heckler

Saturday, September 25, 2010 | View Comments
Weekend fare.

Not sure why this Galaxy fan wanted to heckle one of his team's own players. Big man.

*EDIT* Ben Rycroft of It's Called Football suggested that this could have been a setup, something I hadn't considered. It's very possible, and you have to wonder how News of the World got the video.

#LAvNY #MLS #LiveBlog

Friday, September 24, 2010 | View Comments
The Clash In Carson™ seems a perfect time to bring back the Live Blog Machine.  In conjunction with the 24th Minute, I'll be drinking and making snarky comments starting at 10:45 PM EDT.  See ya then!

Davies Struggling With Comeback

Friday, September 24, 2010 | View Comments
SOCCER/FUTBOL ELIMINATORIAS CONCACAF 2010 MEXICO VS ESTADOS UNIDOS TIEMPO DE CELEBRAR EL GOL Action photo of Charlie Davis of USA, during World Cup 2010 qualifier game against USA at the Azteca Stadium./Foto de accion de Charlie Davis de USA durante juego eliminatorio de Copa del Mundo 2010 en el Estadio Azteca. 12 August 2009. MEXSPORT/JORGE REYES Photo via Newscom

Let's be completely honest here: we got ahead of ourselves when it came to the recovery of Charlie Davies.  Charlie Davies got ahead of himself when it came to the recovery of Charlie Davies.  All the faith, belief, and hope in the world couldn't heal Charlie, and turn him back into the footballer he should be, faster than nature would allow.

There's trouble up in Canada. A debate is currently raging between Duane Rollins of the 24th Minute and Daniel Squizzato of Some Canadian Guys over where Canadian National Team matches should take place; Duane's stance is that regular games in one location, the better to build up a committed supporter base, trumps concerns about spreading the national team around the country. Squizz disagrees, as evidenced by his petition to get a CMNT game for the city of Moncton, New Brunswick.

Robert Jonas: Fever Pitch(es)

Friday, September 24, 2010 | View Comments
May 29, 2010 - 05969036 date 28 05 2010 Copyright imago Chicago Illinois USA 28 05 2010 A C Milan Ronaldinho Na MECZU Chicago Cubs I St Louis Cardinals n Z Ronaldinho A C Milan Kamil PL A C Milan Midfield Ronaldinho throws out Ceremonial First Pitch AT Wrigley Field Before Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals Game in Chicago Before International Soccer Game Against Chicago Fire ON Sunday May 30 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxPOL Football men Baseball MLB Single cut out Vdig 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd.

by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

One of the finest narratives on the game of soccer comes from British author Nick Hornby and describes his relationship to sport using the Arsenal Football Club as his chief muse. Titled Fever Pitch, the book was later adapted into a romantic comedy film of the same title with Colin Firth as the protagonist. Years later, an American re-make was made with the same title, but the sport was changed from soccer to baseball, and used the 2004 Boston Red Sox championship season as a backdrop. Both films were entertaining, but strayed too far away from Hornby’s original story and failed to capture the author’s deep passions for the sport.

FC Dallas - 2
New England Revolution - 0

Kansas City Wizards - 1
Houston Dynamo - 1

Los Angeles Galaxy - 2
New York Red Bulls - 1

Toronto FC - 1
San Jose Earthquakes - 2

Philadelphia Union - 0
Chivas USA - 0

New England Revolution - 0
Columbus Crew - 1

DC United - 2
Houston Dynamo - 1

Chicago Fire - 2
Seattle Sounders FC - 2

Kansas City Wizards - 1
FC Dallas - 1

Real Salt Lake - 2
Colorado Rapids - 1

The Day in Hype: #LAvNY

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | View Comments
Rafa is escorting JPA to the big game
It's Wednesday.  The epic showdown of East vs. West, The Big Apple vs. La-La Land, Wall St. v. Hollywood, etc., etc., so on and so forth, is just two days away.  With fifty-ish something hours to go, let's take a look at how the hype machine is fairing, shall we?

Don Garber Stokes the Northwest Fire

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | View Comments
HARRISON, NJ - AUGUST 03: MLS Commisioner Don Garber speaks to the media during a press conference to introduce Rafa Marquez to the New York Red Bulls on August 3, 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

Don Garber must be a pretty intelligent man to have reached his current station.  Former NFL executive, shepherd of Major League Soccer 2.0, leader of men and maker of decisions.  Don Garber has got it together.

And Don rarely says anything without weighing out the consequences.  He always has his PR conscience on his shoulder, monitoring his words and making sure that nothing is said out of turn.  You can ask Don a question, but don't be surprised when the answer reveals nothing; it's Don's job to control the league's image as much as is humanly possible, and information is always embargoed.  You'll know when you need to know, or when Don wants you to know.

Jun. 10, 2010 - Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA - epa02195078 FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter (L) and Secretary General Jerome Valcke (L) listen a question during their press conference while official match ball of the World Cup named 'Jabulani' after 60th FIFA Congress at Sandton Sun Center in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa on 10 June 2010. FIFA World Cup 2010 will take place with South Africa vs Mexico opening match on 11 June.

FIFA, that impregnable bastion of ethical behavior and good-faith dealings has a warning for those nations bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups: don't do any deals you sneaky bastards.

Good for FIFA, laying down the law and nipping any backroom vote-trading in the bud.  The World Cup bidding process is a serious endeavor that deserves the respect of the nations involved; vote-trading is unseemly, illegal, and unfair to those nations that should be granted a World Cup on the merits of their bid, and the merits of their bid alone.

Alecko and Taylor

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | View Comments
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 4: Coach Steve Nicol (L) talks with Taylor Twellman of the New England Revolution before a game against the Seattle Sounders FC at Gillette Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

By force of an interesting coincidence, two MLS players of note unfortunately connected because they are each out of action due to brain-related injuries have updates posted to major newspaper websites.  Though concussions are rarer in soccer than in American football, the cases of these two players and their ability to bring attention to the seriousness of the issue is an important part of the continuing growth in awareness of brain injuries in sports.

Come on people, we're millionaires...surely we can afford sleeves by now? REUTERS/Mike Segar  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Let me tell you a story…

A long time ago, in a Galaxy far far away…the evil empire (AEG) decided that they needed a marquee signing to increase ticket sales and publicity. As luck would have it, there was a Jedi nearing the end of his lightsabering days who was looking for one more battle to go into. Moreover, this was a Jedi who had actually been heard of by some of the as-yet-unconvinced American sporting public, even though this was perhaps more for because of his wife than for any prowess with said lightsaber. This Jedi’s name was David Beckham, who helped paved the way for other high-profile soccer players to come to the New World.

Agbossoumonde Currently Clubless

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | View Comments
Borrowed from
According to Yanks Abroad, US U-20 central defender Gale Agbossoumonde has left Sporting Braga. With Braga's finances stretched and a renegotiation due with Traffic Sports (the holders of Agbossoumonde's rights) the young American was unable to stay. This is slightly distressing news; although Agbossoumonde's playing time at Braga was limited, he seemed to be in their plans and making strides.

Gunpowder Plot, Roman Catholic conspiracy to blow up English Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605 when James I was due to open a new session. Guy Fawkes, best known of the conspirators, is third from right. From print published Frankfurt 1605.

A listener of the American Soccer Show sent me this email yesterday, asking an interesting question. While I could wait to use it on the next show (and I probably will mention it), I thought I'd share it here first.  It's obviously in response to the debate over Thierry Henry's punishment for injuring Kevin Hartman.

The Mess Gulati Made

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | View Comments
The President of the U.S. Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati answers a question from a reporter at a news conference in Irene June 9, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

With Bob Bradley signed up for another four years, and the federation claiming he's the best guy to take the program forward, Gulati and Co. were made to look silly by the comments of a certain German legend they've danced with before.

AmSoc 43: A Double Guest Special

Monday, September 20, 2010 | View Comments

The new show is up in all of the places it is usually available.  I made up for the lack of Ginge by bringing on Ives Galarcep in the first segment and Miriti Murungi of Nutmeg Radio in the second.  The list of topics covered is long - Ives and I hit everything from MLS news to the national team situation, while Miriti and I discussed broad topics on American soccer and answered a few listener emails.

Americans Abroad, Not Playing

Monday, September 20, 2010 | View Comments
Jonathan Spector West Ham United 2010/11 Aston Villa V West Ham United (3-0) 14/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

The "Americans Abroad" roundup is a popular feature with US-based soccer blogs because we're always interested in how our boys are playing in Europe, Mexico, etc.  There aren't so many Yanks (though the number is growing) plying their trade in foreign lands that we can just relax about it.  We need to know who played, who scored, who made a difference, and who furthered the cause of Americans in the world of soccer/football/futbol.  It's half about just staying informed on our national teamers and national team prospects and half about our continuing inferiority complex when it comes to the reputation of American players elsewhere.  When our Yanks don't play, we're naturally discouraged.

That string of characters in the headline of this post that starts with the pound sign is called a "hashtag".  A hashtag is an identifier inserted in messages on Twitter to help make topics easily searchable.  "#LAvNY", as I'm sure you've figured out, is the hashtag being used for the upcoming clash between the Galaxy and Red Bulls at the Home Depot Center on Friday night.

Whitecaps Pushing to Sign DeMerit*

Sunday, September 19, 2010 | View Comments
June 23, 2010 - Tshwane/Pretoria, Guateng, South Africa - 23 JUN 2010: Karim Matmour (ALG)(13) attempts to tackle the ball off the foot of Jay DeMerit (USA)(15). The United States National Team defeated the Algeria National Team1-0 on a extra time goal by Landon Donovan at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa in a 2010 FIFA World Cup Group C match to lead Group C out of group play.

Marc Weber in Vancouver has an interesting story today; per his sources, USMNT defender Jay DeMerit is set to sign with the Vancouver Whitecaps as the the team's first Designated Player.

U.S. players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Turkey in the FIBA Basketball World Championship final game in Istanbul September 12, 2010.             REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Note from JD - This is the first post from regular MFUSA commenter Chris Ballard, who I've invited on as a contributor.

I was thinking about what to base my first post upon when I stumbled upon the gem of a link that Jason put up yesterday. If you’ve not had a chance to take a look at it, here it is. Essentially the author questions the point of television coverage of the recent World Cup, taking care to compare it to the coverage – or lack thereof – of the FIBA Basketball World Championships, which was held in Turkey during August.

Stuff About Soccer You Should Read

Friday, September 17, 2010 | View Comments
At symbol

It's been a long time since I did a link post.  Aside from the Henry-Hartman incident last night, there's not much top-of-mind to write about.  Perhaps something will present itself a bit later.

In the meantime, let's take a look around the webernet for interesting things to read...

Thierry Henry's Dallas Faux Pas

Friday, September 17, 2010 | View Comments
FRISCO, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Goal keeper Kevin Hartman  of FC Dallas holds his knee in pain after giving up a goal to the New York Red Bulls at Pizza Hut Park on September 16, 2010 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The takeaway story from last night's hard-fought 2-2 draw between FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls was not what is should have been.

It wasn't the play of Dallas, down a man after Brek Shea's idiotic challenge on Chris Albright earned him a red card in the 29th minute. It wasn't the late own goal Jair Benitez put in to gift the Red Bulls a draw. It wasn't the exciting play of Eric Alexander, who scored Dallas' second. It wasn't Mehdi Ballouchy's goal in his Red Bull debut, it wasn't the once-in-a-blue-moon crowd at Pizza Hut Park, and it wasn't Juan Pablo Angel's odd benching to start the match.

SOCCER/FUTBOL LIGA DE CAMPEONES CONCACAF 2010/11 CRUZ AZUL VS REAL SALT LAKE Action photo of Javier Orozco (R) of Cruz Azul and Nat Borchers of Real Salt Lake, during game of the Liga de Campeones CONCACAF 2010/11./Foto en accion de Javier Orozco (D) de Cruz Azul y Nat Borchers de Real Salt Lake, durante el juego de la Liga de Campeones CONCACAF 2009/10. 25 August 2010. MEXSPORT/OSVALDO AGUILAR Photo via Newscom

by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

Week three matches of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage took place the past couple of days, and for the first time since the tournament moved to its current format in 2008, I missed every one of them. It wasn’t because I was distracted by the midweek clash between my hometown San Jose Earthquakes and the visiting Philadelphia Union. It didn’t happen because I was on vacation in some wonderful tropical paradise (writing about soccer pays for trips to In-and-Out instead). And it certainly wasn’t due to my cable television being on the fritz. No, the simple reason was that I was just not interested.

Ochocinco the Soccer Player

Thursday, September 16, 2010 | View Comments
Chad and Ronaldinho - borrowed from The Offside
Chad Ochocinco is a soccer fan.  He pals around with famous footballers, he owns a strong collections of soccer shirts, and he has stated repeatedly that the game was his first sporting love.  During a recent appearance on FSC's Soccer Talk Live, Chad did what Chad does, when he stated something nearly impossible to take at face value and yet seemingly plausible: that perhaps he would drop American football for the other kind of football, and might do so as early as next year.

Qatar Bid Presents Stadium Models

Thursday, September 16, 2010 | View Comments
Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup bid team display zero carbon, solar powered cooling technology for open-air stadiums to FIFA inspectors during the FIFA Inspection Visit for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Bid at a showcase stadium in Doha September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad (QATAR - Tags: SPORT SOCCER ENVIRONMENT SCI TECH)

The USA World Cup bid has a lot going for it.  Stadiums in abundance.  Infrastructure up to the task.  The capacity to make enough money that even FIFA should drool at the possibilities.  Aside from that pesky "just hosted in 1994" problem, there are no holes in the American bid.  If FIFA chooses to go in another direction, it won't be because the United States isn't the best place to hold the 2022 World Cup. (Warning: lots of images below)

The US National Team as Lovable Losers

Thursday, September 16, 2010 | View Comments

I'm going to go ahead and assume that you've seen the wonderful video tribute to the USMNT's World Cup run entitled "Dying Bravely."  If you haven't, stop what you're doing and watch it now.  It's worth every second of its eleven minute run time.  The video above is part 2 - the link goes to the full version.

Please bear with me on the P-League standings for another few days. I've been traveling quite a bit and haven't had access to the spreadsheet with the tally.

San Jose Earthquakes - 1
Philadelphia Union - 0

FC Dallas - 1
New York Red Bulls - 2

Real Salt Lake - 1
Chicago Fire - 1

Columbus Crew - 1
Seattle Sounders FC - 1

Houston Dynamo - 2
Toronto FC - 0

Colorado Rapids - 2
New England Revolution - 2

LA Galaxy - 2
DC United - 1

Chivas USA - 1
Kansas City Wizards - 2

MLS Roster Expansion Scuttlebutt

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | View Comments
Per Buzz at the 3rd Degree, Schellas Hyndman let slip at practice today that MLS rosters will expand to 30 next year.  This is fairly big news on the back of word that the schedule will be 34 games long (in a 32 week span); the more players teams have to compete with multiple fronts, the better.

Local news has roused me enough to interrupt my hiatus. The ongoing saga of DC United and their no-hope stadium situation was enough to necessitate comment. I'm the worst hiatus-taker ever. Sue me.

Per Steven Goff of the Washington Post, DC United apparently spoke with Rockville, MD city officials (Montgomery County) about the possibility of putting a stadium for the club on the site of a struggling municipal golf course. This is good news, if only because it indicates that United's leadership is on the hunt; the problem, as usual, is that the talks are almost certain to go nowhere (which Goff relates with caustic humor).

Firing Up MLS Growth

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | View Comments
HARRISON, NJ - AUGUST 11: Head Coach Preki of Toronto FC argues a call during their game against the New York Red Bulls on August 11, 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Red Bulls defeat Toronto 1-0. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

This past winter, five MLS teams hired coaches.

For the second time this year, one of them was fired.

For the second time this year, it was one with previous MLS experience.

Curt Onalfo and Preki have a trend in common. Their teams have progressively gotten worse. This leads me to this question; is MLS player talent passing MLS coaching and front office talent?

In 2007, Onalfo led KC to a fifth place finish in the East with 40 points; in 2008, a fourth place finish (42); in 2009, a sixth place finish (33). In 2010, he was fired when DC was in 8th place on pace for a mere 20 points.

Similarly, in 2007, Preki, using a team largely put together by Bob Bradley, led Chivas to finish first with in the west with 53 points. In 2008, they finished second (43). In 2009, they finished fourth (45). In 2010, Toronto was on pace for 35 points.

If the trend stopped there, it wouldn’t be much of a trend, but looking at current list of MLS coaches, a couple of other names stick out; Frank Yallop and Steve Nicol.

Yallop won two MLS Cups with San Jose in their first incarnation, but in two seasons with the Galaxy and now three with the new Earthquakes has yet to secure better than fifth place in the West.

Nicol’s success in New England is well documented, but trend of the Revolution since the advent of the Designated Player Rule doesn’t look that much different than that of Preki.

Looking back at video from MLS matches four years ago, the difference in playing level compared to today’s matches is clear. The competitive balance in MLS ensures a certain level of equality. So, teams or managers that have been on down trends while the league as a whole has been on an uptrend likely have institutional questions. But, it is not a question of designated players, as RSL and Columbus have both proven effective without them, while teams like DC and Toronto have struggled with them. It is not a question of being on the frugal side, as a resurgent Dallas is now showing. It is primarily a question of effectively culling talent from a growing foreign and domestic talent pool and implementing game plans to be competitive.

Some MLS organizations have navigated these new waters well, while some have severe leaks, or have capsized completely. To me, the initial hirings of Onalfo and Preki were inconsistent with where the league is going. As much as anything, their firings are a sign that the league is growing faster than the management and coaching.

Russia Switching; US Implications

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | View Comments
Jan 29, 2010 - Munich, Germany - Munich's FRANCK RIBERY. German Bundesliga, FC Bayern Munichwins over FSV Mainz 3-0. Played in snow.

With news that the Russian Premier League is moving to the same schedule as non-Scandinavian Europe, those pushing for MLS to adopt the same calendar have yet another opportunity to voice their opinions. And for the first time, they may actually have a leg to stand on. With this switch, which will occur by extending the 2011 season to likely play each opponent club three times, Russia will become the coldest country to play a fall-winter-spring season.

To date, the standard for playing in Europe appeared to be an average high of 40 degrees. Very few matches in Europe occur in cities when the average high is below 40 degrees. This average temperature is never even approached in Mediterranean climates like Spain and Italy. The averages in France, England and most of Scotland never reach this temperature. Germany and the Netherlands keep their leagues at 18 teams allowing them take a brief break during their coldest days. The more extended breaks in Denmark and Ukraine are accomplished by the same means for the same purpose.

Because Russia has only a 16 club top flight, their premier league can, and likely will, take a two month winter break. However, nearly every city housing a Russian Premier League club has average highs in both December and February that are below freezing. As such, it will become the first league to regularly host games at temperatures below freezing. This move has implications on the possibility of moving the US to a fall-winter-spring schedule.

A lot more went into the decision to have a spring-summer-fall league in MLS than just the weather, but the ramifications of the Russian move should be monitored. With a 20 team league on the horizon, MLS would not be able to schedule a winter break and continue to have a balanced schedule. Therefore, matches would need to be played throughout the winter. Currently, half of the teams in MLS play in cities with average highs in January of below the old standard of 40 degrees. New England, Chicago, and Toronto, all have addition months under 40 degrees. The addition of Montreal will increase these numbers and place a team in the league that has three months (December, January, and February) of average highs below freezing. Additionally, Toronto average high in January and February is below freezing.

There is a lot of talent in the Russian Premier League and, like MLS, it has the capacity to grow as a league. If the added demands and increased injury risk of playing so many cold weather matches drives talent out of the league, it may serve as a warning if MLS were ever to attempt the move. However, if the Russian league continues to attract top talent and grow, the weather may no longer be an excuse to not move to a fall-winter-spring schedule for MLS.

AmSoc 42: The Answer

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | View Comments
The answer to life, the universe, and everything

My brief break (becoming briefer by the day, by the way) does not include forgoing my American Soccer Show duties, so here's the new episode I forgot to post yesterday. Zach and I are back after our Labor Day holiday to talk Bob Bradley, the October friendlies, Brian McBride, the USA World Cup bid, news out of Division 2, and Landon Donovan needing a rest.

A Necessary Hiatus

Monday, September 13, 2010 | View Comments
Hello all. Jason here. 

Recent personal events have forced me to conclude that now is the time for a bit of a hiatus for me.  Believe it or not there are more important things in my life than thinking and writing about soccer, and those things are imposing themselves right now. 

I don't know how long I'll be gone, nor am I quite sure what this means for my podcasting efforts yet, but I'll do my best to keep all of you updated as events warrant.  You loyal readers, love me or hate me, that have helped turn MFUSA into quality place for American soccer discussion have gotten me through some hard times before, and I'm sure I'll be back sooner rather than later to lean on you again.

There are others around here, quality writers like Keith and Jason Kuenle, that have free reign to post whenever they please.  That means that MFUSA won't go completely silent, which gives me some solace.

Cheers, and I hope to talk to you soon.

Jason Davis

FRISCO, TX - MARCH 27: FC Dallas fans fill the stands as FC Dallas takes the field against the Houston Dynamo during a MLS game at Pizza Hut Park on March 27, 2010 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

As much grief as we've given FC Dallas around here for their paltry attendance and apparent inability to leverage a beautiful new soccer-specific venue into real home support, there's no doubt that they're doing plenty right. The team sits solidly in a playoff spot after a spectacular run of form and their academy system is producing young talent at an impressive rate. I'm still uneasy about the Hunt Sports Group (and AEG for that matter) holding on to two teams, and I doubt Clark Hunt is quite the titan of industry his father was, but it would be unfair to claim that they're not making an effort.

Being a Philadelphia Union season ticket holder, I received an email from team President Tom Veit this evening. Most of it, clearing up some issues which had arisen regarding security and flow of foot traffic, was warmly received. I welcome that sort of communication between the brass and the fanbase. It shows they're aware of the problems that exist and are working to remedy them.

I'm rarely one to pile on, and lord knows every blogger and their mother have commented on this particular story, but what the hell - it's too good to pass up.

The Timbers planted their flag in Sounder Land via a billboard this week; the advert in question is the latest shot fired in a rivalry that has everyone with an interest in MLS drooling in anticipation for 2011. Timbers and Sounders fans just plain don't like each other, and their mutual animosity will finally be on display at the top level next year. From a neutral standpoint, the two (presumed) matches between the clubs next year will be must watch events.

Maybe Donovan Should Take a Break

Friday, September 10, 2010 | View Comments
Aug. 14, 2010 - Harrison, New Jersey, United States of America - August 14, 2010: LA Galaxy forward LANDON DONOVAN ( ) keeps the ball from New York Red Bulls forward JUAN PABLO ANGEL.

Landon Donovan hasn't had much time to recuperate over the course the last few years. Starting with the MLS season of 2008, Donovan's off-season has consisted of no more than a short period of inactivity between the end of the domestic season and the opening of the winter transfer window in Europe. In 2009, Donovan took another shot at Germany and spent the pre-MLS months with Bayern Munich. In 2010, he went on that successful loan to Everton, a stint that set the table for much of the intrigue over a possible permanent move to Europe following a good showing at the World Cup.

SOCCER/FUTBOL AMISTOSOS 2010 MEXICO VS ECUADOR OLOR A CAUCHO Actuon photo of players of Mexico, during friendly game against Ecuador held at Guadalajara, Jalisco./Foto de accion de los jugadores de Mexico, durante juego amistoso en contra de Ecuador celebrado en Guadalajara, Jalisco. 04 Septiembre 2010 MEXSPORT/OSVALDO AGUILAR Photo via Newscom

by Robert Jonas - Center Line Soccer

I love the arrival of International dates on the FIFA calendar, because I know there is a good chance that I’ll get to watch the U.S. National Team in action. And even though most of their matches are inconsequential friendlies, I watch with the same critical eye and intensity usually reserved for the contests that count. I agonize over the failed opportunities to beat a worthy opponent, and I applaud the effort of the players when they meet my expectations. Above all, I am proud to cheer on the U.S. no matter the opponent or the result.

Here We Go: The Two Footballs Collide

Thursday, September 09, 2010 | View Comments

Perhaps you've been living in a nuclear fallout shelter for some reason, or have just avoided all forms of mass media over the last two weeks or so and didn't know that the NFL season starts tonight.  Well, it does, and the super spectacular kickoff game features the defending Super Bowl champions versus the Brett Favres.  I'm sure many of you will be watching.

RSL: A Team Without an MVP Candidate

Thursday, September 09, 2010 | View Comments
SANDY, UT - AUGUST 14: Real Salt Lake poses for a picture before a game against the Columbus Crew at an MLS soccer game August 14, 2010 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake beat the Columbus Crew 2-0. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

I grew up really, really caring about baseball.  In baseball, a sport that is as much an individual pursuit as it is a team game, awards given to players really, really matter.  Careers can be made on a Cy Young or an MVP, and even lesser awards like the Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers are hotly debated.  Every year the same question pops up when it's time to crown MVP: should the award go to the best player in the league, or should it be given to the player who means the most to his team?  Despite the debate, the award inevitably goes to the best player, meaning the guy with the best stats.  Hit a lot of homeruns and collect a lot of RBI, and you're likely to be the MVP.  All that talk about what "valuable" actually means is just a bunch of window dressing.

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I groused about the US Open Cup start time last week, a post that got me branded a rampant East Coast elitist; though that wasn't my intention (I should have simply stated that the final should be moved to a weekend), it is certainly discouraging that much of the country would need AM bedtimes to see the game (much less the trophy ceremony) in its entirety.

Chicago Fire - 1
Toronto FC - 0

Seattle Sounders FC - 2
Real Salt Lake - 1

Chivas USA - 2
New England Revolution - 0

Toronto FC - 1
DC United - 1

New York Red Bulls - 3
Colorado Rapids - 1

Philadelphia Union - 1
Chicago Fire - 2

San Jose Earthquakes - 1
FC Dallas - 1

LA Galaxy - 2
Columbus Crew - 2

American Second Division Shenanigans

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | View Comments

When US Soccer sanctioned second division soccer for 2010, they did so on a temporary basis; after several USL member clubs split off to form their own rival collection, a revived NASL, it was unclear just how the division would operate this season.  In the end, the Federation chose to run the league under their own auspices via forced truce, with the situation to be reviewed again at year's end.

Young American Players Around the World

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | View Comments
Derby County's Conor Doyle

As foreign clubs cast their scouting nets over the American soccer landscape, more and more young American kids are landing in surprising places.  In some cases, these kids have cultural connections or passports that make their moves easy; in others, they've been lucky enough to find themselves playing in front of the right scouts at exactly the right time.  After going on trial, these players have managed to catch on with clubs and entered the professional environment earlier than anyone thought they would.

Head of the FIFA Inspection Group Harold Mayne-Nicholls attends a meeting with journalists about the World Cup 2018-22 bid event in Lisbon September 2, 2010. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro (PORTUGAL - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

I considered posting this under our Match Fit Reserve label, but decided that it was more tragedy than comedy in the end.

The FIFA people landed in the US yesterday, and after a look around New York and its environs, will head to DC to visit FedEx Field and George Mason University (I hope they've allowed enough time to deal with traffic).  From there it's on to Miami, where the team will scout the proposed venue in South Florida (Joe Robbie? Pro Player? LandShark? What the hell are they calling that thing these days?).

Non-League Day and American Myopia

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 | View Comments

I was thinking about Non-League Day as I fell asleep last night.  If you don't know about Non-League Day, here's a bit of background:

"The "non-league football day" is the brainchild of James Doe, a lifelong football fan, supporter of QPR and follower of Harrow Borough FC. Its aim is to promote the semi professional game in this country by virtue of a fortuitous break in the football calendar. In James' own words:

26 Jul 2001:  Brian McBride #20 of the East All-Star team and Dema Kovalenko #21 of the of the West All-Star team congratulates one another during the MLS/Pepsi All-Star Skills challenge at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT

by David T. Hammons

Brian McBride's announcement came with great sadness, because he had one of the most illustrious playing careers in American history.

The 38-year old center forward will be hanging up his boots following the conclusion of the Chicago Fire's involvement in the 2010 Major League Soccer season. As it stands right now, McBride's last game would be on September 29th against the San Jose Earthquakes, because the Fire are five points adrift of the final play-off spot.

Geovanni Starts Strong

Monday, September 06, 2010 | View Comments
SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 21: Geovanni  of the San Jose Earthquakes makes his major league debut with a header against Leonardo  of the Los Angeles Galaxy on August 21, 2010 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Earthquakes won 1-0. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

San Jose's first ever Designated Player signing is already making a difference. Geovanni set up a goal and scored his maiden MLS tally in the Quakes 2-1 win over the Dynamo in Houston last night, showing a readiness to contribute sorely lacking in some of his mid-summer DP peers.

COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 28: Zach Loyd  of FC Dallas makes a successful tackle on Emilio Renteria  of the Columbus Crew on August 28, 2010 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

by Dan Barkley

The MLS playoff picture is taking a different shape than expected.

Let's flash back to around the midway point of the season. Back then the Galaxy were running away with the league, almost ten points ahead of the rest of the pack (although they were already slowing down). FC Dallas had recovered from their early season funk, but looked like a borderline playoff squad. Toronto looked to be in a good spot for the playoffs, while Seattle looked to be out.

Philadelphia - 2
Kansas City - 1

Chicago - 1
Los Angeles -1

D.C. United - 0
Columbus - 2

New England - 1
Seattle - 2

FC Dallas - 2
Toronto FC - 1

Colorado - 1
Chivas USA - 0

Real Salt Lake - 2
New York - 2

Houston - 1
San Jose - 1

USA Bid Committee Executive Director David Downs addresses the media during a press conference announcing the 18 cities to be submitted to FIFA as part of the bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup at the ESPN Zone in Times Square, NYC, NY, on January 12, 2010.

The USA is bidding for the 2018 or 2022 World Cups, the two tournaments up for grabs this December. The FIFA inspection team is set to arrive next week to tour the proposed facilities, and though there's a sense the American bid has little chance of getting the 2018 tourney, the committee has yet to remove themselves from consideration.

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