Back in the summer, when Clint Dempsey’s future hung in the balance of a transfer market that undervalued Americans (we were sure of it) and the future of American soccer (read: our World Cup hopes) hung with it, there wasn’t much concern that whatever happened wouldn’t work out for the Texan. He’s Clint Dempsey. “Badass” where you start with the descriptors, moving up from there.

Clint proved himself at Fulham. He deserved to move on to a bigger club in the Betfair Premier League. Naturally, he wanted Champions League soccer, and had said so many times, so the expectation was that he would garner interest from a team in the English top four. Until the drama had played itself out, however, we didn’t know that he’d land at the one club in the English top four not playing Champions League football. Good enough to qualify in any other year, Tottenham had the misfortune of finishing fourth just as Chelsea decided to win the European title with a decidedly underwhelming team.

Still, Tottenham. Not bad, right? Hardly a disappointment to be there and not say, Liverpool, who is not only not a Champions League club at the moment, but looks to have a hard road ahead back to their former lofty status. Spurs has a new coach in Andres Villas Boas, and Clint would have to prove he could play in a team featuring a significantly higher level of talent than he was used to at Craven Cottage, but he’s Clint, remember? “Badass” is his baseline. Badasses don’t ride the bench. Badasses get on the field, and badasses score goals.

Sitting here, a handful of months later, it looks like Clint is facing another battle to prove himself on all fronts. There are rumors that AVB didn’t necessarily want him, that the club panicked when other deadline deals fell through, and a club legend is questioning Dempsey’s talent. Clint’s still a badass, but the degree of his badassery has taken a hit or two. There is no grace period here; Tottenham has aspirations and spent a lot of money to turn near-misses into establishing themselves among the Premier League elite. Sitting fifth through just more than a quarter of the season, Spurs has much more work to do if they hope to challenge for a place in next year’s Champions League.

It is early. But Clint will find, along with his millions of American fans sitting here hoping for him to continue his uninterrupted run of year-over-year improvement in production since his move to England, that the clock moves faster at a bigger club. Fulham’s dreams mostly consisted of staying up, with any finish above 18th place a bonus. Mid-table is massive. A Europa League run is gravy. Clint’s goal-scoring was important at Fulham, but the microscope was much kinder to his flaws. That won’t be the case at White Hart Lane, where every player is open to rampant—and sometimes unfair—criticism because Tottenham’s goals are much bigger.

Dempsey has dealt with plenty of personal pressure over the course of his career. Constantly proving himself to manager is old hat at this point. But this kind of larger pressure, the kind that will follow him into the lineup as Spurs fans and the English media bear down on a new coach (with his history of failure at Chelsea) and a team from whom fifth place is failure, is new.

We don’t have any real reason to doubt that Clint can handle it. He’s badass, after all. But it might be a little rougher going than both he and his fans are used to for awhile.

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Despite the pleasant moniker bestowed upon these contests by FIFA, international “friendlies” between the United States and Mexico are usually about as chummy as a night out with Drake and Chris Brown at a New York City night club… meaning you’re pretty much guaranteed to see more than the necessary share of testy exchanges and hostile attitudes.

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In light of today's news that the revived New York Cosmos will be joining the NASL in 2013, it seems appropriate to repost this piece from November of 2010. In it, I attempt to capture some of the angst fell by Red Bulls fans as the Cosmos revival picks up steam and draws attention away from their club.

Originally posted November 4, 2010.

by Jason Davis

In the universe that is New York City's soccer culture, gravitational pull is not a matter of new stadiums, flashy signings, or success on the field.  It's a matter of history.

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At one point, there was a half-assed plan to repost old posts, both in a transparent bid to keep MFUSA going, and because I honestly believe there are things worth revisiting in the archives. This is one of those, a post by Jason Kuenle about a USMNT fan base at odds with itself. It's more than relevant as Jurgen Klinsmann attempts to make a hard right turn with the team and program, so I present to you now.

This was originally published on June 16, 2011.

By Jason Kuenle

In two weeks time, we’ve seen opposite ends of the US fan base. We saw this piece by Chris Ballard on this site while nearly simultaneously seeing an uptick in the usual twitter vitriol as the US has struggled in the Gold Cup. Perspective is a funny thing.

I’m not going to pontificate on changing perspectives. People believe what they believe because of the values that they hold shaped by what they have experienced. Changing values is an exercise in futility and no person has experienced what another has. But the contrast between two opposite viewpoints deserves a bit of attention.

Those who have followed US soccer over the last twenty years have really only seen two true tournament failures in the US’ ascent in the footballing world, the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. Both of these instances were followed by coaching changes that coincided with the US “getting back on track” on their inevitable rise toward the top. Or at least that’s the narrative that is often told. The struggles here and elsewhere in Bob Bradley’s tenure make it easy to make his departure the beginning of the next upswing of the USMNT.

That narrative influenced part by increasing US success in soccer and part by general success of the US in everything else is a powerful one that rings true for most American fans. There is a manifest destiny aspect to it all; with the right player selection, the right tactics, and the right manager the US would have…choose your expected level of international success.

Contrast that with this quote from Chris’ post: “I had been keeping an eye out just to see how she was doing, but even though so far she’s not reached the levels of achievement as some, I just find that I have more fun with her than I ever did with you [England]. I see great potential, and I’d like to be along for the ride.”

But commonality may also be found in Chris’ words, “Every two or three years you say that you’re going to change; that this time it will be different, that this time you’ll repay my faith in you, but each time I’m let down badly. I don’t really think this is your fault – I’m sure you genuinely believe that this time, things will be different – but I feel like I need to protect myself from the constant disappointment.” He, of course, was talking about England, but two see those words from a US fan would not be out of place.

Results often determine the narrative. Opportunities taken or lost determine results. In a game as fickle as soccer, drastic swings in narrative can come from an inch here or there. In my perspective, almost all US successes and failures can be attributed that way. Without the right scorelines in matches that the US wasn’t even involved in, the knockout round successes in the 2002 World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup don’t happen. By finishing routine chances in the Gold Cup, the US could have drawn Panama 2-2 and beaten Guadeloupe 3-0 or 4-0. When those inches fall our way, the US does well, when they don't, red flags rise.

Potential is a dangerous thing. It presumes the ability to do great things, but without the guarantee or even probability of success. For those who see the US' potential but are unsure of when or how it will be fulfill, the first quote from Chris is most fitting, but for those that expect US success now, Chris’ second quote rings truer. The choice between the two is one of perspective.

The world loves to place a bet, with football being one of the biggest sports that people put bets on. It only makes sense that while there is no football to place a bet on many of these same people like to play at online slots at places like in order to get the same thrill of watching a game with money lying on it.

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Despite the 2011-12 season just drawing to a close and Euro 2012 and the Olympics on the horizon, a raft of leading European teams are planning their warm up games for next term. With an increase in popularity in the game across in North America, it has been the trend for pre-season friendlies to be played in the United States and Canada, and this summer it will be no different. Despite the fact that Barcelona and Manchester United will not be heading stateside in the build up to the 2012-13 season (see the latest football odds), plenty of other European giants are.

Chelsea American chairman Bruce Buck will have had a say in deciding to take the Blues back across to North America this pre-season, and the Stamford Bridge club will play four games in USA in July. Starting on the west coast in a game against the Seattle Sounders, Chelsea will also play big-spending Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and the MLS All-Stars team.
  • 18th July - Chelsea vs Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle
  • 22nd July - Chelsea vs Paris Saint-Germain, Yankee Stadium, New York
  • 25th July - Chelsea vs MLS All-Stars, PPL PArk, Chester
  • 28th July - Chelsea vs AC Milan, Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Aston Villa Again with an American chairman at the helm, Villa will play three games in the United States in a whirlwind trip stateside in July. Games against Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers should test Alex McLeish's men.
  • July 18th - Aston Villa vs Philadelphia Union, PPL Park, Chester
  • July 21st - Aston Villa vs Chicago Fire, Toyota Park, Chicago
  • July 24th - Aston Villa vs Portland Timbers, Jeld-Wen Field, Portland
Tottenham Spurs are set to go face-to-face with former striker Robbie Keane, David Beckham and former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry this summer. With Brad Friedel in the travelling contingent, the north London club will hope to use the trip to stoke up some additional support from fans stateside.
  • July 24th - Tottenham vs LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson
  • July 28th - Tottenham vs Liverpool, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
  • July 31st - Tottenham vs New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison
Liverpool The Fenway Sports Group take their Anfield side across for a pre-season tour of Canada and United States this summer, with a glamour friendly against fellow American-owned side Roma one of the highlights.
  • July 21st - Liverpool vs Toronto, Rogers Centre, Toronto
  • July 25th - Liverpool vs Roma, Fenway Park, Boston
  • July 28th - Liverpool vs Tottenham, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Real Madrid The newly-crowned La Liga champions will cross the Atlantic to test themselves in pre-season, and try to increase their popularity with American fans with Barcelona not travelling stateside this year.
  • August 3rd - Real Madrid vs LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson
  • August 5th - Real Madrid vs Juventus, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
  • August 8th - Real Madrid vs AC Milan, Yankee Stadium, New York
Juventus The rejuvenated Turin giants are always a big draw for American crowds, and will once more return to the United States this summer. Their full plans are yet to be revealed, but the following friendlies have been confirmed.
  • July 28th - Juventus vs DC United, RFK Stadium, Washington
  • August 5th - Juventus vs Real Madrid, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
AC Milan It will be a summer of rebuilding for AC Milan, as old heads Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Filippo Inzagi and Clarence Seedorf will leave the club, and American fans will be keen to see any new signings. Again, Milan's plans are still to be set in stone, but the following are confirmed.
  • 28th July - AC Milan vs Chelsea, Sun Life Stadium, Miami
  • Two games in Philadelphia - information yet to be released

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The MLS has another chance to show its pedigree and monitor its progress when the division’s best take on English Premier League powerhouses Chelsea in the All-Star game on July 25.

This free bet site backs the west London outfit as favourites to show their class and win the fixture at PPL Park, however the hosts will look to take inspiration from their 1-0 victory over the Stamford Bridge club six years ago, and win oncemore.

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Here's a thing I've decided to do, despite the fact that MFUSA is no longer a viable soccer blog; re-blog things I've written in the distant past. Sometimes they'll be MFUSA pieces from the 3+ years of the site's existence, and sometimes they'll be things I wrote for other outlets. In this case, I'm posting a column I wrote for the defunct (and no longer extant, so there's not even a link) MLS Daily on the Sounders debut in March of 2009. Enjoy, or not. - Jason 

For Major League Soccer, success is often measured in small victories. It’s a few teams in the black, able to claim they are no longer money-hemorrhaging ventures. It’s a player sold to a richer, stronger league for a relatively modest sum. It’s television ratings or attendance numbers that would be disappointing for other American sports products, but represent progress for a league struggling to gain mainstream traction. Often, success for MLS is barely viewed as such by those unwilling to believe that soccer has a future in the United States.

But last night, in a northwestern American city with a long and rich soccer history, success for Major League Soccer was undeniable. It was unqualified, unabashed, and unburdened by any of the usual caveats. The newly minted Seattle Sounders took to the pitch at Qwest Field in front of 33,000 singing, screaming, scarf-wielding fans, all eager to watch their hometown boys pull off a victory in their inaugural match. After weeks of ever-increasing buildup, expectation and talk, the Seattle Sounders and their supporters did something that is so rarely accomplished in American soccer circles: They lived up to the hype.

In the stands, the Sounders fans created a proper soccer atmosphere with a distinctly American feel. Loud, engaged, and enthusiastic, the crowd seemed less trend-following neophytes and more fully committed converts, ready to follow their new team wherever the journey might take them. While one game does not build a reputation, and the Sounders fans will need to prove themselves over the course of time, they have already shown that Qwest Field will have one of the most appealing stadium environments in all of MLS. Last night’s atmosphere, which was undoubtedly more impressive in person, added a palpable buzz to the television broadcast, an element that is so often missing from MLS matches.

On the pitch, the Sounders thrashed the New York Red Bulls, MLS Cup finalists only a season ago, by a score of 3-0 and did so in fully dominant fashion. Columbian wunderkind Freddy Montero put home two of those goals, a performance that is sure to set off wild speculation about the young striker’s potential haul in his rookie season. Ageless goalkeeper and hometown hero Kasey Keller kept a clean sheet, and youngsters like goal scorer Brad Evans and first overall draft pick Steve Zakuani played prominent roles. Everything went right for the boys in Rave Green, and the newest franchise in MLS got off to what can only be described as a "rousing" start.

The most important victory however, despite the Sounders resounding win, had nothing to do with the play on the field. The real triumph, the real parade worthy achievement that everyone should be talking about, belongs to Major League Soccer. Both as a professional sports competition and as a bankable entertainment product, MLS emerges from Seattle’s big night a more polished version of itself. Through innovative marketing, word of mouth, and a community-wide interest in the game that defies the typical American attitude, Seattle Sounders FC and the people of their city have set a new standard for soccer in the United States. Their success is now not only the new bar for the rest of the league's franchises, but also a public relations coup for MLS, a selling point for future endeavors, and a shining example of what can be achieved despite soccer's pauper status on the American sports scene.

Major League Soccer has chosen leverage its moderate success into rapid expansion, a strategy that could easily backfire in a faltering economy. Instead, Seattle’s big night seems to validate the league’s efforts, and only serves to heighten the anticipation that will build for each successive new entry into the league. Philadelphia, Vancouver, and Portland will benefit from the lessons learned and the success achieved in Seattle; if properly marketed as the Sounders were, we’ll be talking about similarly exciting nights in each of those cities when their big moments come. America’s first division soccer league can now move forward with a new pleat in its cape, a new mark in the win column that even the league’s most vocal doubters cannot ignore.

To be clear, last night’s victories, both in the stands and on the pitch, most properly belongs to the city of Seattle, an American city that has wholeheartedly embraced the world’s game on a scale rarely seen within these borders. Still, Major League Soccer, both as a league and as an enterprise, will quite rightly bask in the afterglow, ready to move into its future even more confident that soccer can succeed in America. If the doubters scoff, if the naysayers sneer, if the unconverted claim that the game will never make it and that Americans simple won’t pay to watch it, those of us in the know can point to Seattle’s big night and say, “See?”


The first few months of the Jurgen Klinsmann era certainly had its ups and downs, but that should be expected. When a new coach is brought in, he needs time to see what he has to work with, to implement his philosophies, and to see what works and what doesn’t, and as impatient as some are to see instant results, that process is still very much in its infancy for Klinsmann.

But after ending 2011 with an away win against 2010 World Cup foe Slovenia, there is positive momentum, and with 2014 World Cup qualifying and a slate of friendlies that’s already set to include matches against Brazil and Italy, two ties that are sure to attract a lot of football betting, we’re going to learn a lot this year about where things are headed and who’s in Klinsmann’s plans for now and for the future.

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