Previewing 2012 for the USMNT

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | View Comments
The first few months of the Klinsmann era weren’t as successful as many might have hoped in terms of wins and losses, but after ending the 2011 calendar with a respectable 1-0 defeat in France and a solid 3-2 win in Slovenia, there’s definite positive momentum heading into 2012.

The slate for next year is far from finalized, but it will give fans an opportunity to gauge just how much progression is being made and who will play significant roles going forward, as along with multiple friendly matches, the U.S. will begin their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign in the summer.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

There’s a piece of accepted truth in the blogging world, one of those bits of conventional wisdom impossible to verify, that the average blog’s lifespan is three years. I’m not sure if this is meant to apply to all blogs, sports blogs, or specifically to soccer blogs, but it’s a “fact” I’ve heard repeated more than a few times during the span of Match Fit USA’s existence, and by extension, the time I have been penning my overwrought missives on the state of American soccer.

Match Fit USA turns three years old today.

And it won’t live to see four.

This, in fact, is the final post here at Match Fit USA, as I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to turn off the lights. There are many good reasons to do so, but it mostly comes down to a gnawing sense that I just can’t do the place justice anymore. The blog started out as a place for me to spew my obsessive ramblings about topics that I’ve come to think of since as the American soccer blogger’s introductory hobby kit. Topics like promotion and relegation, soccer’s struggles on TV, Eurosnobs and the battle for their hearts and minds, why Americans are hesitant to fully adopt the sport, etc. This blog was specifically started to address big picture items about which I had too many thoughts and no attractive outlet at which to pontificate about them. At the time, having only scratched the surface of soccer-related web content, I was naive enough to think I could do something good, completely on my own, and have it launch me into something approaching a “career” writing about the sport.

I started this blog for the same reasons anyone anywhere has started a blog, with allowances for my being in the smaller segment of people who one day hope to earn a bit of money doing something they love. There was a clear goal in mind, and the blog was simply a vehicle with which to reach it. MFUSA wasn’t intended to be the ends, but the means. I can honestly say that I’ve reached that goal by any reasonable measure, and it’s a significant reason for the blog’s end. When faced with a decision on how to spend the free time I have remaining in light of regular writing gigs and a twice-weekly podcast, there was never any doubt that I would defer to saving just a little bit for my family.

Perhaps if I was still single and didn’t have a toddler to pass my love of soccer on to, there would be time to continue updating the site. In a parallel universe, there’s probably a parallel unattached Jason Davis doing a podcast, writing for three outlets, and maintaining his original blog.

I never expected to become attached to something that has no physical existence. This and every blog is a nothing but a collection of ones and zeros interpreted by a computer and then displayed through the cunning use of excited electrons. It doesn’t have a smell, a texture, or a weight. If and when the blogging service that allows it to live ceases to exist, there will be nothing left for anyone to know it was ever here at all. Somehow though, it has a feel, because the people who used its structures to express themselves--be it as writers, commenters, or both--gave it one. That’s an amazing and humbling thing.

I was tempted to relive the past three years, reminiscing (as much as one can about something only three years old) over the ups and downs of MFUSA, the various directions and tones the blog took (inconsistency which is completely down to my own aimless search for what type of writer/blogging/whatever I wanted to be), and how posting here not only made me a better writer, but how being part of the soccer blogging community (both American and transatlantic) enriched my life in ways I could not have imagined when I tapped out my first nonsensical post on December 14, 2008.

Reliving it all would be naval-gazing of the highest order, would surely devolve into an examination of pained existential questions of interest to only me, and probably end up spoiling whatever good feelings you have for this blog or me, so I’ll spare you.

Instead, I’ll keep it brief and to the point and thank everyone that came here, everyone that wrote here, everyone that nominated the blog for awards it was never good enough to win, and everyone that thought of Match Fit USA--even if only for a brief moment in time--as an asset to soccer writing in America. I cannot begin to frame the sense of astonishment I still feel a ramshackle blog started by a blogging neophyte grew into something to which people paid attention.

This is the blog’s end as a living, breathing outlet for “Examining the State of American Soccer” (my admittedly pretentious mission statement-slash-tag line), but there’s no reason not to leave it up as an archive. All of my typo-laden wordiness will be here (not to mention the dead images - thanks a lot Picapp), waiting for the random Google search or a sudden pang of personal nostalgia. Many others did excellent work here (like Jason Kuenle, Chris Ballard, Keith Hickey, Kevin McCauley, Ben McCormick, et al), and it’s not my place to blink their contributions out of existence.

So that’s it. Find me doing things at KCKRS, writing for US Soccer Players, podcasting on The Best Soccer Show, and just generally bouncing around the world of America soccer internet tomfoolery.

RIP MFUSA. Let it be said that it lived an appropriate amount of time, served it's original purpose beautifully, and had a few insightful things to say about the sport of soccer in American. Can't do much better than that.


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-by Chris Ballard

You might remember that way back in March, Keith, Jason and myself all put forth some predictions regarding the 2011 MLS season. Usually when these things happen it becomes convenient to later forget to revisit them; because it invariably proves that we - as much as anybody else - know pretty much nothing. However, it makes sense to at least crow about the ones we did get right. Even if there aren't very many.

So let's begin.

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The Survey Heard 'Round The World

Wednesday, November 02, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over the news that MLS sent out surveys looking for information on the strength of Baltimore as an MLS market. On the surface, which is the way 99.9% of the interested parties are viewing it, it looks like a clear sign that United is not long for DC. Should a move up I-95 come to pass, it would represent the biggest sin ever perpetrated against a group of MLS fans. Yes, people were undoubtedly crushed in Miami, Tampa, and San Jose when their teams were ripped away from them. Those situations pale in comparison to taking a team like DC United, with the history of support its has, out of Washington.

And for the uninitiated who might be suggesting that it's not a big deal, Baltimore isn't that far away, it's really not a relocation at all: wrong. Baltimore is not DC, nor should United fans be expected to simply trek up to the Charm City because MLS asks them to.

But there are still more questions than answers here, and the survey doesn't in and of itself confirm that DC definitely is moving to Baltimore. Those who have been paying attention should not be surprised by this news, unless the surprise comes from the rather obvious nature of the survey. Of course MLS knew fans would catch wind of it, because if they didn't, they're naive beyond any reasonable possibility. Here come the questions.

Knowing that dissemination of the survey would get back to DC supporters, did the league simply choose to absorb the negative reaction, or was observing and documenting that reaction part of the point? No one in DC's city leadership, beyond Marion Berry -- whose support for a stadium was about his constituency and not soccer or DC United itself -- has shown an interest in helping the club find a solution within the District. If the league asks fans to give their opinions about MLS in Baltimore and United's rabid fan base rise up to voice their displeasure, could it have a positive impact on the dialog between the city and club? There's an argument to be made that -- either through willful ignorance or unhealthy myopia -- that the city doesn't quite know what it has in United. Pushing aside the debates about public funding and the value of stadiums to a locality, if enough people make enough noise over the survey and its implications, it might give leaders food for thought on soccer's place in the city.

But probably not. While I think some effect is possible, more like this is what it looks like: DC is out of options, Will Chang (and the league itself) is hemorrhaging money, and there is real value in polling soccer fans in the Mid-Atlantic for their thoughts on an MLS team 40 miles north of DC. Whether it was wise to do so in the manner they chose, with the inevitability of it becoming a news item, is a separate can of worms.

The worst part of this, and why I don't begrudge United fans their (over)reaction, is that the fans are utterly powerless. Attendance for United games hasn't been at traditional levels recently, but as the club improves, there's no reason to think the numbers won't climb back into a very respectable range. This isn't FC Dallas. United fans are committed, for better or worse, and the quickest way to turn them against the league is to take their club away. Forty miles might as well be continents for most of them.

Here then, is the crux of the matter and why the survey is ultimately so troubling: we do not know if MLS is doing everything in their power to keep the team in DC. Even protestations to that effect by the club and the league won't assuage fears the MLS and United are anxious to take the path of least resistance and move up the interstate rather than explore each and every possibility in the nation's capital. From there, the questions get trickier, up to and including things like just how far out into the suburbs it would be okay for DC United to build a stadium if doing so enabled them to stay "DC" at least in spirit. Some of the locations bandied about in recent years are in the Dallas-to-Frisco distances, meaning they bring with them the very real possibility that fans in the city proper and the interior suburbs won't make the trek. DC is not Dallas insomuch as they've always been in one place and have always had good support, but that doesn't mean the same fate couldn't befall them.

Chang is looking for investors. If he finds them, does staying RFK become more tolerable? Is MLS helping him in the search, or is he on his own? How much influence does the single-entity all-for-one business model play into determining the threshold for when it becomes more attractive to go rather than stay? I would never assume to think MLS sees the United fan base as replaceable, but perhaps there are delusions about how much of the current fan base would make the drive to Baltimore for home games. DC-based Oriole fans did it for years before baseball returned to DC, so why wouldn't some here swallow the realities of the intransigent DC stadium situation and help fill the gap?

Everyone is trying to flesh out exactly what this thing means. If MLS thought they were muddying the waters by including five different clubs as choices for whom respondents would like to see moved to Baltimore, it was a rather transparent charade. It's inconceivable that the league would move any other team than United and risk cannibalizing the DC-Baltimore soccer fan base, leaving DC United to rot in RFK while FC Dallas or Columbus or the other of the other teams listed moved into new digs in Baltimore. To include Philadelphia and New York on the list is farcical.

Excuse the incomplete thoughts - I thought it important to post something on the survey, but am pressed for the time to spit them out in a more coherent form.

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- Ben McCormick

Juergen Klinsmann came to the US National Team with some big ideas. He preached patience, saying he was going to need time to experiment with several different kinds of lineups, formations and tactics. If given time, he justified, he would find the right combination of players to play an attacking style of soccer that was uniquely American.

Then what’s all this “we don’t want to shake up the core structure of the team too much” crap?

Three matches into his USMNT managerial tenure, Klinsi has already found the core of his squad. Through five matches, Klinsmann has capped a total of 26 players with only Danny Williams earning his first ever cap for the US national team. Bob Bradley capped 37 different players in just his first four matches.

For someone who seemed to be preaching sweeping changes, a lot seems to be staying the same. While we continue to see many of the same old faces, young guns like Mix Diskerud, and Josh Gatt can’t even get a sniff of camp.

Logically, all three fit the Klinsmann call-up criteria: starting every week for their clubs at a respectable level. Josh Gatt is first XI for the soon-to-be Norwegian champions and Diskerud has amassed 75 appearances for Stabek in Norway since his first team career started in 2008, becoming one of Stabek’s most important cogs. Diskerud and Gatt also are rumored to have clubs in the very best European leagues after them

So what gives, Juergen? These players play at positions with anything but certainty when it comes to the USMNT, so why aren’t they getting their chance?

At first instinct, you might say Klinsmann doesn’t value youth. Not true. To the contrary, Klinsmann loves youth in his squads. 11 of Klinsmann’s German 23 man roster for the 2006  World Cup were age 25 or younger.  Also, on his scouting trip to Germany last month, he took time out to observe and talk to Joe Gyau and Charles Renken, two American youth players at Hoffenheim. Simply, he certainly does not shy away from young players.

When Klisnmann was hired, he said he would establish a new soccer culture. He’s European-ized things about the national team like assigning the starters numbers 1-11 or putting his initials on his coaching clothing. Aside from the fashion changes, though, the biggest change Klinsmann is trying to hard wire into the new American soccer culture is the vitality of the youth national team system.

It’s no secret Klinsmann spearheaded the effort to streamline and invest in the German youth national teams during his time as the German manager. Such efforts on his part resulted in players like Thomas Muller making near-seamless transitions into the full national team. Based on these successes, I pose he’s making a similar effort in the United States.

Skeptical? Wondering why he would spend so much time on the youth teams when the senior team is reeling? You’re in good company. Here’s my best attempt at justifying investing in youth.

The obvious first question to ask is, “why is investing in the youth system important to the full national team?” Let’s take Spain for example. Within 14 months, Spain won the World Cup, the U-21 EURO and U-19 EURO tournaments.  Needless to say, they’re a shining example of what a youth program should be about.

Having said all that, try and guess how many members of Spain’s World Cup winning squad never made an appearance for a youth national team. Go on, guess.

I give up. Zero. Not a single member of their World Cup winning squad went without making an appearance for a youth national team. In fact, the average number of youth national team levels represented by a player on Spain’s World Cup team was 3.5.  Andres Iniesta represented a team-high seven levels followed by Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres with six. Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Juan Mata and David Silva follow up with 5 and three others have represented four levels.

What’s the largest number of levels a 2010 US World Cup player represented? Three. Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Jonathan Spector and Jozy Altidore played at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels. A quarter of the US roster never appeared for any youth national team. Putting that in perspective, only a quarter of Spain’s World Cup roster appeared at less than three youth levels. Four players represented one level and two represented two levels.

There are many excuses for this disparity. The size of the United States makes identifying top talent at the U-15 and U-17 levels extremely difficult. Additionally, Spain has eight total youth levels players can represent whereas the US only has five. It’s unreasonable to expect Klinsmann to establish new youth national team levels, but he can do our YNT system a big favor by synchronizing those levels. This means, ideally, once a player ages out of or becomes too talented for one level, they can transfer into the next level seamlessly.

All of Spain’s youth teams play a similar style, making that transition easier for players. This concept is severely lacking in the US. Since Bob Bradley was hired as national team manger (and arguably before that during the Bruce Arena era), the United States have played a defensive 4-4-2 style with the full national team, attempted Dutch total football at the U-20 level and played a Latin-American 4-3-3 style at the U-17 level, all at the same time.

Given Klinsmann’s sweeping changes to the playing style of the full national team, it’s easy to understand the attraction of calling up a young player who has already gone through the growing pains his new system rather than bringing in a new player who is entirely unfamiliar with it, making a synchronized youth system all the more alluring.

On that same note, the common denominator between the 2010 Spain and US World Cup rosters is the players who represented the most YNT levels appear to be among the best the national team has to offer. Sure, some players are late bloomers (Maurice Edu) or come out of nowhere (Jay DeMerit). Heck, David Villa played at just one level of the Spanish YNT system, but the point remains largely the same, exposure to the same system from an early age produces the best players. Remember, Iker Casillas, Fernando Torres and Andres Iniesta lead Spain in levels represented and Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and DaMarcus Beasley lead the US.

With the rumors of Caleb Porter’s hiring as the U-23 manager and Tab Ramos as the U-20 manager with a possible U-18 appointment still on the way, Klinsmann appears to be starting the process of synchronizing the US Soccer system. Like Klinsmann, Ramos and Porter favor attacking styles with emphasis on possession.

Guys like Diskerud and Gatt may not be snubbed by Klinsmann at the full national team level because of lack of skill or whatever other excuse there is, but rather he wants talent at his youth levels. Give Gatt and Diskerud two or three camps at the U-23 level and watch them transition into the full national team like they’d been there the entire time.

With the full national team, Klinsmann is trying to teach an old dog new tricks, and he knows it. Trying to get players already in their mid-20s or early 30s to play a style unfamiliar to them is like pulling teeth. Where Klinsmann is likely to leave his indelible mark on US Soccer is in introducing the new system to players as early as possible in their careers through the youth national teams.

So instead of lumping Gatt and Diskerud in with the old guard, Klinsmann may well be saving them to learn the new system along with the other young, promising and talented Americans. Don’t be surprised to see guys like Juan Agudelo or in some cases Tim Chandler, Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea go to U-23 camps when there is a full national team camp going on. This way, he can bring the youth through all at once after the Olympics, all entrenched in the system and ready to contribute to his style.

All of this requires a tremendous amount of the patience Klinsmann asked for when he was named manager of the USMNT. Given the track record of success for those countries who commit to the youth national team system, I’ll grant him that patience.


- Jason Davis

The world is abuzz this morning with the shocking revelation that "foreign" English Premier League owners would like to see an end to relegation. Among the league's foreign ownership are several Americans, most notably the Glazers at United, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa, and Fenway Sports Group at Liverpool.

I used the word "shocking" - as in its meaning of "surprising" - facetiously, of course, because rich businessmen acting as rich businessmen do proposing to do away with risk is perhaps the least shocking thing you'll hear about this day/week/month/year/decade/century/millennium/whatever is after millennium.

Once we accept that a push for the end of promotion/relegation will always be bandied about by people risking millions of dollars on a soccer club, the better we'll sleep at night. That's not a defense of the owners, or an indication that my personal opinion is that pro/rel should go away in England; quite the opposite, actually. The movement between divisions in English (European) soccer is one of the things that makes English soccer attractive. An end to pro/rel would be tantamount to throwing more than a century of history into the garbage, without regard for how the upward and downward mobility of clubs shaped not only the English game and the biggest clubs of the present day, but the way the sport is played and administrated the world over. Promotion and relegation are as much a part of English soccer as chronically rain-soaked fields, the Boxing Day schedule, or the FA Cup. Taking it away would be a crime.

Ownership in any sport is a risky proposition that is rarely a money-making endeavor. Buyers have an obligation to understand what it is they are buying, and the rules and limitations that will dictate their level of risk. When it comes to soccer in England, acknowledged acceptance that promotion and relegation are a part of the sport - and not just a rule to be changed because it is inconvenient - should be at the top of the fit and proper persons test. Pro/rel is and always will be more important than anyone who controls a club. Ownership is temporary.

The issue of the Premier League and the potential abolition of pro/rel affects me as an American soccer-first American in a couple of ways.

First, reconciling my strong disgust with this "news" (again, it's not shocking as in "surprising", but it is shocking as in "troubling") with the fact that Major League Soccer doesn't have pro/rel, probably won't have pro/rel, and - in my opinion - doesn't need pro/rel, at least not for the foreseeable future. What's good for the goose is not good for the gander, not because pro/rel isn't inherently fascinating and enthralling, but because the environments in which the two leagues operate is so different. That aforementioned history doesn't save English teams from dissolution, but it does allow the country to support more professional clubs in a nation of 50 million than the United States could ever hope to prop up, even ephemerally. Culturally speaking, soccer's footing in England is so solid that while the market may be saturated (to the detriment of small and non-League clubs), possible relegation is a fact of life, a storm to be navigated, and in some cases, an integral part of the character of certain clubs. Man City of 2011 has a different feel if they weren't in the Championship ten years ago. MLS has none of the safety nets, does not have character tied to a system built before communication changed the complexion of the sport globally, and exists in a country that has none of the ingrained sensibilities necessary to supporting pro/rel as a reality. If you're American and you love pro/rel, and you're convinced it wouldn't affect your interest in your club or the level of your support, you're the exception, not the rule.

England should have pro/rel, and America should not. That's a pragmatic determination, and does not mean that I would not want pro/rel in the US and Canada if conditions were different.

Second, the inevitable saddling of Americans with the leadership of the movement towards eliminating relegation from the Premier League, and the reflective shame that engenders in me. Yes, I'm the type that will see screeds against American ownership and their evil plans and feel the burn of flushed cheeks, simply because I happen to share a nationality with the men being castigated for their greed. It doesn't matter that I have more in common with the average English football fan than I do with the Henrys and Lerners of the world. Somehow, I'll still feel some minuscule inkling of responsibility, with the requisite knot in my gut reminding me that they villains in all of this are my countrymen. "Americanization" is a dirty word, and as I'm American, it refers to me.

Of course, it's not just Americans who would benefit from an end to the specter of relegation. Several clubs are owned by Asian concerns who could very easily be at the forefront of the push to change the rules. That won't sway most of the English-soccer loving public, English and American alike, from pinning blame on Yank owners. Fingers are being pointed this way. We've got franchises, Americans owners would no doubt love the business-first aspects of the franchise system to take hold in England, so the whole thing is an American plot to undermine proper football. Americans suck, don't know shit about soccer, and should just go back to their pointyball game.

Look at my straw man. Isn't it beautiful?

The grain of truth in all of that insanity is that Americans will be blamed, in large measure, if the Premier League locks down. I'm not positive how likely such a thing is in the near future, and I wonder about the fairness of which bottom-half teams gets a spot and who gets left out (will it be based simply on who is in the Prem at the time, or will there be some metric applied to deciding who gets a spot?), but it seems inevitable that the issue will remain in play as long as businessman are businessman, regardless of where they originate. The problem with the free market is that people without the proper respect for institutions like pro/rel are free to buy clubs.

From the AP story on today's shocking revelation is this from League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan:

“If you look at sports all around the world and you lot at sports owners trying to work out how to invest to make money, you will find that most of them like the idea of franchises,” Bevan said. “If you take particularly American owners, without doubt, there have been a number of them looking at having more of a franchise situation and that would mean no promotion or relegation."

Talk of the end of promotion and relegation is enough to panic millions, and it comes in an American accent. I'm not too proud to admit this causes me distress, even as I believe the Premier League might have been headed in the same direction without any American influence.


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Podcast: Free on a Bosman V

Sunday, October 02, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

The last one. Number five. Jared and I close out the buildup to the debut of The Best Soccer Show on the North American Soccer Network with talk about the USMNT roster and MLS. The debut of TBSS comes with giveways, sweet ones, so make sure you listen to learn how to get your chance at a copy of EA's FIFA 12 and Bumpy Pitch gear.

The new show has a Twitter feed @bestsoccershow and a Facebook page, so be sure to follow and like respectively - details for the contests are on the Facebook page.

Please share this link until you just can't share it anymore. The Best Soccer Show debuts at 8:30 PM EDT on Saturday, October 8th.

Available through the old MFUSA iTunes feed.

Download directly here.


Podcast: Free on a Bosman IV

Sunday, September 25, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

The fourth installment of the Free on a Bosman program, enumerated with the classy Roman numeral desigination, is here for your enjoyment.

Jared and I start with the good news and the bad news around the USMNT. Just when Holden gets back, down goes Torres. Gooch is playing well (maybe?), and youngster Tim Ream is mostly not.

We hit MLS topics, including the hypocrisy of DeRo avoiding suspension for his dive, Marquez's comments and suspension, and the state of the playoff race.

Also, Bob Bradley, Michael Bradley, emails, and more.

Be sure you check us out on Twitter for updates. @mfusa @jrodius

The new show also has a Twitter feed @bestsoccershow and a Facebook page, so be sure to follow and like respectively. You're gonna want to. We have stuff to give away.

Please share this link as violently and liberally as you can. New show launches in two weeks following the USMNT game on Saturday, October 8th.

Available through the old MFUSA iTunes feed.

Download directly here.


Expansion and the MLS Meta

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

In 2011, after Seattle and Philly and Portland and Vancouver and Montreal and the wave that came before them (yes, San Jose counts) and all of the talk of candidates and fees and ownership groups and stadium plans and color schemes and whether names should be "historical" (since 1975!) or "euro" or plain old American city-and-nickname, I'm tired of expansion. Or, rather, I'm not tired of expansion, I'm over it as a major part of Major League Soccer's future, which means I'm over writing about it. Actually, I'm almost certain that my attention has shifted because there are now enough teams and enough stability that MLS has hardened around the edges and has the consistency of a "real" league.

But the expansion talk continues, whether I remain actively engaged or not (my interest, surprisingly, has no bearing on the rolling expansion train or the discussion surrounding it...who knew). The country is big, MLS will continue to be in the growth phase - in one area or fifty - forever, and there is STILL no team in the Southeast. Oh, and MLSHQ continues to publicly covet another franchise in New York, either because they themselves are sick of having to trek over to Jersey to see a game,, that's probably it. I hear the PATH trains are a disaster.

A Sneak Peek At the New Podcast

Monday, September 19, 2011 | View Comments

Podcast: Free on a Bosman III

Sunday, September 18, 2011 | View Comments
The third installment of FoaB has Jason and Jared talking about the rumors surrounding Timmy Chandler, Klinsmann effort to find dual internationals, Jozy, Beasley, a round up of MLS and the playoff race, the MLS A-Team and much more.

Be sure you check us out on Twitter for updates. @mfusa @jrodius

It might be a good idea to check this and this out as well. 

There's date and a name, plus a few places to get connected with the new show before it starts. Go forth and spread the word.

Download the show directly or get it on the MFUSA iTunes feed.


Segment 1: Summer of the Beatdown (Bru Lei) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Segment 1: Football Boys (Concrete Schoolyard) (My Mind) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Segment 2: Hey Young World Instrumental {6th Sense} (6th Sense) / CC BY-NC 3.0
Segment 2: Them Never Love No Bans - DnB Mix (Germany) (Hot Fire) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Segment 3: Journey To The Moon (DjCode) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Uh-Oh: Landon's Getting Older

Friday, September 16, 2011 | View Comments
-Ben McCormick

One of the most common questions any US Soccer fan asks is who is going to replace Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey when they retire. They have held the attack together for the past few years and fast approaching is a time when the US will have to rely on someone other than “Deuce” or “’Cakes” for a goal when they need it.

The scary thought is this process might be happening a bit faster than we all thought. Dempsey is still performing at the highest levels and he shows no signs of slowing down, but Donovan on the other hand, is a different story.

Sure, his MLS scoring record this season has been stellar, but I would expect that from a player of his caliber playing on a MLS team that may go down as one of the best in MLS history. Where it has been noticeable his speed may be slowing a half step, though, is in his performances for the USMNT this year.

Soccer Sunday on Fox

Friday, September 16, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

As one of those interminable people constantly worried about the popularity of soccer in the United States, I should be thrilled that Fox is giving the sport a run on their flagship over-the-air behemoth of a network starting this Sunday. Manchester United and Chelsea will be shown, on tape delay, right smack in the middle of the usual National Football League window. The footballs are colliding, gigantic robot-style. Most of us (meaning soccer fans who read blogs, soccer previews, and obsessively track every little detail) will have already seen the match or couldn't be bothered to watch either showing. Nevertheless, it's something of a landmark occurrence.

I suppose the thinking is that Fox will take this valuable property to which they hold the (not exactly cheap) rights and double-dip by sticking it next to the country's most popular sport. It certainly can't hurt soccer's popularity, and might even win over a good amount of new fans. If nothing else, it's a sign that soccer's value as television property is on the rise.

Davis & DuBois: Free on a Bosman II

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

Jared and I are back, with Free on a Bosman, our interim show while we build up to our new show, for which details will be released slowly over the next couple of weeks. Still with me?


In this edition, we talk 9/11 (hafta), Bobby Rhine (again, hafta), the US loss to Belgium and the state of the team at the moment, the MLS playoff picture, and more. Apparently Gooch played this weekend for Sporting Lisbon. We talk about that, too.

Please remember that the show doesn't have a regular iTunes feed while we're in the interim phases. You can, however, get the show at a long forgotten iTunes feed under the Match Fit USA banner (hey! old logo guy!) at this link right here.

Other ways to listen can be found below. Here's a half spoiler: we drop the date of our upcoming new show's debut. Woohoo.

Help spread the word on the new show by sharing this episode of the interim show via the handy sharing buttons below. You can follow both Jared and me on Twitter for further updates as events warrant.

Jason (@mfusa) on Twitter

Jared (@jrodius) on Twitter

Download it directly

Style, The Image of Character

Saturday, September 10, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

The theme most prevalent thus far in Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure as USMNT head coach - all month and change of it - is the movement towards integrating America's abundant Latin soccer influence into the team. In part because Klinsmann has made it his cause cause célèbre (in concert with imbuing in the team a more attacking, fluid style - more on that in a minute), we can't go more than a few hours without a new piece waxing on about it, without the Paul Gardners of the world bellowing "FINALLY!" at people on the street, or without the overarching generalizations that are part and parcel of sweeping soccer-style speak.

There are only so many ways to describe the possession-based, pass heavy, high pressure, attack-minded style of play that Klismann is intent on imposing on his new team. Barcelona and Spain play the celebrated "tiki-taka", and are the undisputed champions of the modern standard. On this side of the world, it's called the "Latin style" due to the regional influence of Mexico, where possession is valued from the youngest levels of the game all the way through to the national team. Forgiving a nuance here or there lost on 95% of the soccer-viewing public, they're essentially the same thing, an idealized way of playing that embodies more of the "beautiful" in "the beautiful game" than any other style. Hence the appeal, and why Klinsmann's experiment has bought him patience on the part of the USMNT fan base. It a seismic shift. Those only happen slowly, with plenty of upheaval.

We May Have Gotten Ahead of Ourselves

Wednesday, September 07, 2011 | View Comments
-Ben McCormick

Admittedly, it’s been awhile since my last post, so I’ll take a brief moment to toot my own horn. Fabian Johnson was stealthily called into the US squad after my piece on him. Is Juergen Klinsmann reading my writing? Probably not, but still, instant gratification feels pretty good.

On to more pressing matters. For the first time since 1980-something, the USMNT is three matches into a new regime without a win.  Oh heavens no, what ever are we going to do? What use is an attacking style that doesn’t score goals?

Slow down. Let’s put this in perspective.

Juergen was hired with precious few days to prepare for a friendly against Mexico.  He spoke of the growing pains that would occur, almost promising fans there would be speed bumps on the road to qualifying, and Mexico looked to be as tough of a match as any US fan could ask for. In the words of a friend of mine, “no good can come of this,” and yet, somehow, it did.

New Podcast: Our Big News and USMNT

Sunday, September 04, 2011 | View Comments
Jared and I aren't doing the American Soccer Show anymore, but that doesn't mean we don't feel the need to give you something involving our voices between the old show and the new one.

Entitled "Free on a Bosman" because Jared thought that was clever, this show is partly an update about our future and partly about the USMNT.

We beg of you to please help spread the word on this pod; people who just waited for the American Soccer Show iTunes feed will have no idea this show exists without everyone pitching in to spread the news as wide as possible. Hit the "play" button below to listen.

Download it directly

Again, please use the handy social sharing buttons at the bottom of the post to post this on every social network you're on - the better to let everyone that listened to us on The American Soccer Show know about it. Make sure you follow both myself and Jared on Twitter to get updates on where and when we'll be landing in our new permanent home.


- Jason Davis

Where have I been, you might be asking. What have I been up to, you've surely thought. How come the frequency of MFUSA post has so much in common with the frequency of Chad Barrett goals, you can't help but wonder.

Well, I'll tell you. There's just a lot going on that keeps me from writing here as often as I'd like. But since you don't want to hear excuses, I'll stop making them. Just look for my stuff at KCKRS and US Soccer Players and bear with me.

I have news.

As of today, Jared DuBois (my co-host) and I are no longer hosts of The American Soccer Show.

That does not mean we are ending our podcast careers, just that we won't be the hosts of that particular show moving forward. The American Soccer Show belongs to the Champions Soccer Radio Network, so the name and the hosts are necessarily separate. There was an incarnation before I took the reigns with Zach Woosley in 2009, and there will surely be another incarnation now that I'm moving on.

Because that's what this is - Jared and I moving on. Details will follow, so please keep your ears to the ground.

Let me go ahead and take this opportunity to say that being a part of the CSRN family was a great experience for me as a podcaster and soccer fan. Jared and I have nothing but good things to say about the shows on that network and the people working behind the scenes to make it go. The decision to stop doing The American Soccer Show wasn't easy.

I made some very good friends through my association with CSRN, and wouldn't trade my stint there for the world. In this case, we were just presented with an opportunity we couldn't pass up.

Keep in mind that this means there won't be an episode of The American Soccer Show next week, at least not one featuring me and Jared. We do, however, expect to record a special show that will be available here at MFUSA and perhaps one or two other places. Again, keep your ear to the ground and to our individual Twitter feeds (me here, Jared here). This is most crucial for those of you that got the show through the AmSoc iTunes feed.

- Jason Davis

Robbie Keane landed in LA yesterday. The Irish forward was greeted by a small collection of Galaxy supporters sporting scarves and (I imagine) chanting his name. I'm in danger of making this blog a little too Keane-heavy, but as I do see his signing as a seminal moment in the history of a league with the reputation of Scrooge McDuck when it comes to transfer fees, it's a hard development to ignore.

The "Welcome Robbie" contingent reportedly surprised Keane, who was no doubt expecting the anonymity footballers typically enjoy in the States (though, with his wife on his arm, it's not like he could go unnoticed). Rather than point to that fact and turn it into yet another "the game is growing" pillar, let me instead focus on the tenor of the crowd.

A Win In Mexico

Thursday, August 18, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

An American club went to Mexico and won a game last night. We should be doing back flips, right? Throwing ragers, cracking the seal on our best bottles of special edition liqueur, inviting the breakers of "The Streak" (FC Dallas, in case you hadn't heard) to our homes to eat our food and sleep with our wives. Finally, finally, FINALLY, the nightmare is over. MLS CAN win in Mexico, and now we have the proof. Everyone breathe.

Of course, because of the circumstances, what should be a day of rampant and debaucherous celebration is instead a ho hum Thursday with a couple of half-hearted attempts to fire up the fan base. It's really not much of a story, even though FCD's win was the first of its kind in MLS history. Hyndman and company slayed the dragon. Marvin Chavez is an American soccer hero.

Erring on Eddie

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason  Davis

So Eddie's not coming, and the story is now less about whether or not he'd work for - or be wanted by - an MLS team, and more about the PR mess the premature announcement of his signing has become. Trust the league, that Eddie had all but signed on the dotted line and chose the eleventh hour to back out, or believe Eddie and agent Richard Motzkin that there wasn't a firm deal and someone in New York jumped the gun?

It's funny that the signing of a middling American striker with fewer goals to his name in the last two and a half years than clubs has caused such a furor. It's summer in MLS, the playoffs are looming, and everyone is desperate enough to see even Eddie Johnson as a potential solution. MLS has changed, but MLS hasn't changed at all.

Introducing the DYP

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

There was a conference call I wasn't on this afternoon. I hear that MLS ExViceP Todd Durbin talked about developments on the player acquisition front. Some of it was of the "Hey! Look at what we did!" variety. Some of it was to announce a change in the Designated Player rule that will allow clubs to identify and sign younger players above the usual salary limits. A tiny bit of it was to reveal that the league has signed Eddie Johnson and that GAM will be allocated by the usual means at some point in the next two days.

Whatever the breakout of time spent talking about each topic actually was, it's the new twist on the DP rule that is obviously the talking point. Owners are naturally adverse to risk, which younger players that require DP designations (usually due to transfer fees hitting the cap) are. Who knows how many times coaches have returned from trips to Central and South America giddy over a young player their club could have had for a reasonable fee, only to be told the cap hit would be too large or the club is holding on to DP slots for "accomplished" names. Maybe not that often, but it certainly happens.

That CCL Thing

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

So here we go again. Two MLS teams start their CONCAChampions campaigns tonight. After the thrilling, but ultimately disappointing, story of Real Salt Lake to start the year, the tournament that has remained such an MLS bugaboo is back to twist our gonads.

MLS has five teams in the group stages, a new high. Presumably that means a better chance that one or two of those teams can make strong runs deep into the tournament, though some of that will be down to luck. A couple of these clubs have fairly daunting task ahead of them just to make the knockout rounds. Real Salt Lake was a special team through the 2010-2011 tournament. It remains to be seen if any of the MLS clubs in this edition are worthy of that label.

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- Jason Davis

Well hello, Robbie Keane. Come on in. Apparently someone is willing to stuff your pockets full of cash on the chance you'll score a bunch of goals and they'll finally have a championship in LA to go with all that spending.

I'd call LA desperate, but since there's no chance AEG is running out of money anytime soon, I'm not sure the label applies. The Galaxy went all-in on 2011 before the season even started. Since Angel was a massive flop, signing Keane is just about the only way they could have increased the pot. It's not a little bit of money. And they had to pay a transfer fee as well.

AmSoc 86: Mind Your Business

Monday, August 15, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

Sick of my voice yet? Wait, don't answer that.

Jared and I, in our usual time slot, have a new American Soccer Show for your listening enjoyment.

We hit on our impressions of Klinsmann's debut, address a few of the more notable performances from Wednesday, talking about the good vibes that everyone is buzzing on, and consider the next steps in the next round of friendlies.

We move to the news of Major League Soccer's new TV contact in segment two. I have a chat with Ben Berger of before Jared and I flesh out some announcer candidates. We move on to a couple of emails - including the frustrating suggestion that Brek Shea HAS to play in Europe to become a great National Teamer - then chat about all the news swirling around Philly like Freddy Adu's debut and Juan Pablo Angel's potential move.

We close the show talking about Beverly Hills 90210 (guess who brings it up), Chuck Blazer and other things.

Thanks, as always, for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

The Little German That Should

Saturday, August 13, 2011 | View Comments
-Ben McCormick

Say what you will about the positives Juergen Klinsmann has brought to the USMNT, there are still some things he can't change, like the US player pool...or can he? Although he may not be able to magically produce eleven world class American players, he is in a unique position to cure one of the US's most painful ailments: left back.

Enter Fabian Johnson, the 23 year old German-American left back at Bundesliga club Hoffenheim. Only a couple short years ago, Johnson was playing for the German U-21 team at the UEFA Championship, having just completed another solid season at 1860 Munich, starting 33 matches, scoring two goals and notching seven assists in the process. He then made the big jump to then Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg where his promising career hit a sizable speed bump.

In his first season at Wolfsburg, he played in ten matches, starting only six. The following season, he played in just seven matches, with Wolfsburg's lack of European competition putting the squeeze on his playing time.

At the beginning of this summer, he transferred from Wolfsburg to Hoffenheim for €600k, where general manager Ernst Tanner expects big things, calling Fabian a "very talented and very versatile full-back."  And Johnson is already fulfilling those expectations.

- Jason Davis

A little bonus American Soccer Show action for you. After getting together with Jared to chat with Brian Straus of The Sporting News, we decided it was a good idea to put out a bonus episode rather than hold on to it over the weekend.

In here is a lot of great stuff from Brian on Klinsmann's debut, the new feeling around the team , Freddy to Philly, and more. After finishing up with Brian, Jared and I stick around to chat a bit about the news that Robbie Keane could be headed to LA.

Thanks, as always, for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

A New Mien for the Job

Thursday, August 11, 2011 | View Comments
- Evan Rosenthal

The demonstrative enthusiasm Jurgen Klinsmann brings to US Soccer was palpable last night from my seat in the second row behind the United States bench at Lincoln Financial Field. For those who felt that Bob Bradley was robotic and displayed little emotion and joy for the game, the first match of the Klinsmann era at least showed that there will be some smiles and fun in the US camp. Seeing the new coach standing prominently on the sideline in support of the players, rallying the team to put higher pressure on the Mexican defense, celebrating the goal, and greeting the substitutes with affection like a proud father, I was heartened by the new direction of the US Men’s National Team, and hopefully the entire program.

Editor's Note: This is the second post by US Paralympic Team pool player Jasper Wilson on the American attempt to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic games in London. For a primer on the team and the rules for what is also called CP Soccer, see Jasper's introductory post here.

- Jasper Wilson

The U.S. Paralympic Soccer team's qualification for the 2012 Paralympic Games is akin to a World Cup qualification for the other national teams of US Soccer. The team is quite young (it was the youngest squad at the Copa America and one of if not the youngest at Worlds) making their accomplishment of qualifying for the Paralympic Games that much more impressive.

The Day After

Thursday, August 11, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

I'm struck today - after my maudlin ramble last night that was mostly down to putting fingers to keyboard at halftime and then changing course mid-stream - by the thing on which so many people are focused after the Americans managed to salvage a draw against Mexico last night in Philadelphia. It's not any perceived change in philosophy, or the play of any individual player, but the attitude of the new head coach. Jurgen, he's ebullient, and people are smitten.

The Debut

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

You're a rational person. You understand how this game works, with its subtle interminable nuances and unruly moving parts. You understand that change is rarely quick, is never easy, and doesn't happen merely because you wish it to, and particularly not on this level with its stop-start nature. Executing a fundamental shift in approach and philosophy is a like turning around a speeding vehicle going 100 mph; if you want to do it without putting yourself in the hospital you have to do it gradually, and with patience.

by Evan Rosenthal

Claudio Reyna, the respected former player and current Youth Technical Director of U.S. Soccer, recently presented the U.S. Soccer Curriculum to help guide coaches towards the ultimate objective of producing professional American players capable of seriously competing for a World Cup. The comprehensive, 123-page document, covering almost every aspect of the youth game, foremost stresses “development over winning” for soccer clubs across the nation. No experienced soccer coach would argue with the philosophy or content of the plan. Yet the great difficulty is the implementation: how to actually go beyond words and take that step onto the playing fields across the country.

This review originally ran a couple of weeks ago, and is being re-posted due to Storelli Sports launching their website. 

To most of us, goalkeeping looks fairly simple; stop the ball, by whatever means necessary. There's more to it than that, of course, but since keepers are mostly judged on their ability to perform that one task, shot stopping is paramount.

-Ben McCormick

August 10 is going to be like leaving for a family vacation somewhere far away.

The bags are packed, you and the rest of the family are crammed into what space is left, and daddy Juergen is going to put the family truckster in gear and leave the driveway, ready for the long road trip ahead. Before the car leaves the driveway you ask him if he needs a map, to which he says, "don't worry, I know where I'm going" and you have no choice but to trust him.

This is a fairly common and often humorous situation, a man not asking for or seeking directions. In addition to being a joke that usually ends with elbows in the ribs of husbands and fathers everywhere, it also serves as a good metaphor for where the USMNT is right now. We know where we want to go (Brazil 2014 with a uniquely American playing style and youth system to match) and who is in charge of getting us there, but the journey itself is difficult to predict.

- Jason Davis

Here we go, the first American Soccer Show of the Juergen Klinsmann Era. How will this era differ from the last era, which was just a somewhat more successful version of the era before it. Klinsmann, bringing the revolution?

Jared and I cover most of the relevant questions surrounding Klinsmann's takeover. What level of control does he have? What changed? What does Klinsmann have in mind for the team, the system, and the future? And how the hell will he get from Point A to Point B?

We go on and on about players that should benefit from the change of coach.

There's a bit of discussion about Bob's legacy - not much, because no one seems to care - and how he'll be viewed by history. Bradley certainly had his moments. Only time will tell if how people appreciate him changes. Jared proceeds to accuse me of "pissing on the parade." Obviously we argue about that for a bit.

The World Cup qualifying draw is done. The US should have an easy time of it their first round of CONCACAF qualifying. The lack of serious challenge should buy Klinsmann some extra time to flesh out his team.

Finally, towards the end of the second segment, we move on to non-Klinsy subjects. MLS All-Star Game, including Jared's plea for an MLS Rock n' Jock, and taking stock of the format. Changing would be...pointless? Needless? Jared makes the argument that things have gotten stale. Is that it? Eh, I don't know.

Red Bulls in New York, and how fans should feel about winning a fake trophy. Congrats?

We close the show with a lengthy 3rd segment that includes emails and various odds and ends, including a bit of #whosmore90s.

Thanks, as always, for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account and the CSRN network account.

You can follow me @mfusa and Jared @jrodius as well.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated. It just takes a few minutes and will help us climb the charts or something. Only 26 more ratings til the completely arbitrary round milestone of 100.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

Who's Your Coach?

Friday, July 29, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

It was never easy with Bob Bradley. He tested our patience constantly, made things complicated, failed to ever give us reason to feel comfortable with this stewardship of our beloved national team. He mumbled, hmm'd, hawed, and fussed his way through each and every press conference he ever gave. How a coach performs for the press has nothing to do with his ability to successfully coach a team. But it doesn't get motors running in the fan base, either.

-Jason Davis

Here's the podcast of last night's live special edition of the American Soccer Show entitled "Bob Got Fired." Things as big as Bob Bradley getting fired don't happen too often, so Jared and I hit UStream by popular demand (meaning like 3 people asked).

Brian Sciaretta (a Twitter must-follow) from Yanks Abroad joined us off the top to give his analysis of the situation. Amazingly, this move didn't surprise Brian.

Most people think it's Klinsmann; we get Brian's thoughts on Jurgen's credentials and what the staff might look like, wonder where Bob might go, and who it might be if it's not Klinsmann.

There's a brief interlude due to some technical difficulties, and when we come back it's Jared and I giving out thoughts, taking calls, reading emails, and attempting to figure out what the hell just happened and what the hell might happen next.

Thanks, as always, for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account and the CSRN network account.

You can follow me @mfusa and Jared @jrodius as well.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated. It just takes a few minutes and will help us climb the charts or something.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

Live American Soccer Show tonight at 9 ET/6 PT to cover the departure of Bob Bradly as USMNT head coach.

Go to the American Soccer Show UStream page to listen.

Spread the word.

Unstuck by the All Star Game

Thursday, July 28, 2011 | View Comments
-Jason Davis

There's another MLS All-Star game in the books, and it's left me feeling a bit detached. Unstuck. Like I'm floating in time, untethered. This must be how Billy Pilgrim felt.

We just did this last year. I remember the conversations, the resulting blog posts, the excuses/justifications/criticisms/rants/re-thinks/polls/screeds/polemics, the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing and disgust over the dire performance put on by what is supposed to a collection of the best players MLS has to offer against a Manchester United team that has yet to play a match that counts. Oh deary me, MLS looks bad.

United States of Liverpool?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | View Comments
-Ben McCormick

For many reasons, there are not many Liverpool fans that will take kindly to being dubbed, "The New Fulham." That, however, is exactly the title they are setting themselves up for by going on something of an American shopping spree.

A few weeks ago, Brent Laham reported US U-17 captain Marc Pelosi had received an offer from Liverpool to join their academy ranks. For those who see that as not all that impressive, the minuscule numbers of players who successfully transition from the academy to the first team being what they are, it should be noted professional international transfers aren't allowed until a player turns 18 under FIFA law. Pelosi's deal looks to be similar to that of Sebastian Lletget of West Ham, who signed a two year academy deal before signing a professional contract on his 18th birthday. Pelosi qualifies for an EU passport through his German heritage.

The most recent development, and perhaps the most surprising, is that of Villyan Bijev, a Bulgarian-American from California who went on trial at LFC a couple weeks ago. In two matches with the Liverpool U-18 squad, Bijev scored five goals and notched two assists. His impressive performances prompted the club to offer him a five year professional contract, with three guaranteed years and two club option years. It was reported in Bijev's native Fresno, CA this deal was done, backed up by Greg Seltzer over at No Short Corners. Bijev was set to play at the University of Washington before signing at Liverpool and, per Seltzer, due to Bulgaria's transitional status as a member of the EU, he will immediately be loaned to Genk of the Belgian Juliper League. On January 1, 2012, Bijev's Bulgarian citizenship will land him a UK work permit through the EU.

AmSoc 83: What's More 90's?

Monday, July 25, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

It's that time again, time for Jared and I to talk about random pop culture questions like "What's more 90's"...I mean cover the week that was in American soccer. We start out this week hitting on Jared's day at the World Football Challenge (ahem - meaningless friendly - ahem) and the carry over effect on WPS from the USWNT run and thoughts about soccer owning summer. Things move to a few USMNT possibles, including the guy with the cool name in Tijuana, before some thought is given to considering the movement (or lack thereof) of some of the established guys.

Then Travis Clark of and joins us to talk about the kid that went to Liverpool (Villyan Bijev) and the upcoming Milk Cup. Things close on Alvaro Saborio and diving. Check that precedent.

Thanks for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page (we've just hit 400...woo!) and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account and the CSRN network account.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated. It just takes a few minutes and will help us climb the charts or something.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

*Fixed a link. Oops.

Jasper Wilson gives us an introduction to a US national team you might not know about - the US Paralympic Team. In the first of a series of entries on the team and their qualification for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Jasper lays out the facts of the sport also known as CP Soccer. Jasper himself is pool player for the US team.

- Jasper Wilson

The US Paralympic Soccer team recently returned from the CPISRA World Championships in Holland where they finished 8th out of 16 teams. Their performance qualified the team for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

- Keith Hickey

Like many of you, I watched the Final of the Women's World Cup yesterday. It was a pretty damn heartbreaking loss. To go up like that twice, it just seemed like destiny. These were our girls, out there representing our country. They were supposed to come home to magazine covers and Letterman appearances and Wheaties boxes. And then it all went horribly wrong.

That's not Jared, but it could be.

-Jason Davis

Jason. Jared. So You Think You Can Dance? tapings and Jared stepping out on AmSoc. Drama. Well, not really.

Jared and I, having done the show before the USWNT's loss in the World Cup final, talk about other things. First, it's Jared's super awesome week, reality dancing competitions and guest spots on other soccer shows included. Then it's on the SUMMER OF SOCCER! FRIENDLY SEASON! Questions related to visiting foreign clubs abound, including but not limited why MLS is okay playing league matches on crap artificial surfaces but throws down the real stuff for the Euro clubs.
Then we move on to Michael Bradley's run in with Eric Wynalda, Wilmer Cabrera's comments about the U-17s, and some emails on topics like POSERS and the mythical "MLS snob."

We close things out with thoughts on Jozy's move to Holland and the Commish's All-Star picks (RABBLE RABBLE).

Thanks for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page (we've just hit 400...woo!) and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account and the CSRN network account.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated. It just takes a few minutes and will help us climb the charts or something.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

-Ben McCormick

A year ago, the United States won the 2010 Milk Cup in convincing fashion with a 3-0 victory over hosts Northern Ireland. On July 25, the Americans will begin their title defense when the U-18 national team takes on Israel before playing Mexico on July 27. The knockout rounds will start on July 29.

-Chris Ballard

If you’re a season ticket holder at pretty much any MLS club, the chances are that you’re looking forward to this summer’s run of friendlies against European club teams. Or maybe; you’re not looking forward to it - it’s possible you’d rather see your team concentrate on actual competition.

To most of us, goalkeeping looks fairly simple; stop the ball, by whatever means necessary. There's more to it than that, of course, but since keepers are mostly judged on their ability to perform that one task, shot stopping is paramount.

- Jason Davis

Last week got away from me, and I completely forgot to post show 80. If you missed it, here's the link to the show's blog page.

But here's show 81. Jared and I convened immediately following the US Women's National Team's amazing win over Brazil in the quaterfinals of the Women's World Cup. We couldn't possibly bury the lead, so we fired out of the blocks talking about the game and the USWNT with Joan Stewart of Cross-Conference. We talk about the match itself as well as the issues facing the US in the women's game, before resolving just to revel in the victory. I don't exaggerate when I say it was one of the most enthralling sporting events I've ever watched.

Segment two begins with some talk about the notion that Mexico's young talent somehow puts pressure on the US - like we're directly affected by Mexico having talent at the U-17 level. Jared and I go back and forth, and while I agree Mexico is wining the battle at the moment, I don't see how that implies the US has to "respond." We should always trying to get better, regardless of what our rival is doing. Listen as I make an analogy about spinning wheels...

We also wonder why US Soccer would schedule a USA-Mexico friendly so soon after the deflating loss in the Gold Cup final.

Jared rolls into a talk about the value of the MLS All-Star Game. There's only so much the league gets out of the event, and it might not work anymore. There's a Catch-22 in there, with MLS needed to bring attention (and cash) to the league while maintaining a sense of competitive legitimacy. The All-Star Game rides the line.

Refereeing in the league continues to be a problem, and while it's dead-horse territory, recent matches bring it back as a topic for discussion. Should MLS be looking to take over the refereeing situation? Jared wonders if letting USSF handle it gives MLS a measure of deniability. That doesn't fly for me.

We close segment two with an email. There's pro/rel stuff in there, but it's really about snobbery and whether Americans who ignore MLS are right to. Listen for our answer, though I'm sure you can guess.

Finally, we take a stab at a couple players who might surprisingly show up in the 2014 World Cup team despite being relative unknowns right now, on the suggestion of a listener at the Facebook page.

As always, thanks for listening. Make sure you like and comment at the Facebook page and hit us up on Twitter via the AmSoc account and the CSRN network account.

Rating and comments in iTunes are always greatly, greatly appreciated. It just takes a few minutes and will help us climb the charts or something.

Visit the show website for other links of interest.

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