Friday, November 21, 2008

How I felt after the Red Bulls game

Target Practice - video powered by Metacafe

Through after almost two weeks, I'm doing much better now and totally focused on Firpo Wednesday night.


(This is Michael Ballack in an adidas ad for the Predator boots.)

Though this one with Xavi Alonso and Steven Gerrard is even better:

Clay Pigeons - video powered by Metacafe
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

FCD notwithstanding, it's tough not to root for the big guy

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Kenny Cooper is the only FC Dallas player I fear. For me, he's completely shrouded in what I've always called the Pete Rose (pre 1987) Effect. The guy who you can;t stand to see playing against you, but who you'd give your left, er, arm to have on your side.

Fortunately, being an American, I got that last night. And of course, that free kick from Freddy Adu was a marvel to behold. I still think Adu will not prosper abroad, though could have a Landon Donovan-style career in MLS.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dynamo Park demonstration Thursday

The season may have only one game left, but Dynamo fans are all needed to head out to the new stadium site Thursday. Here's an e-mail that is making the rounds.


The final funding for the Houston Dynamo stadium to be built east of downtown surrounding the intersections of Dowling and Rusk depends on Harris County Commissioners voting to participate in TIRZ 15. (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) The proposal is that the first $10 million of additional economic dollars generated by the stadium for Harris County taxes would be invested in the stadium. After that all the tax dollars generated for the County by the new development would remain with Harris County.

Harris County Commissioners want public support to encourage them to vote to participate in the TIRZ. (The County is presently participating in six TIRZ so this is not a unique request.) The negotiations to build the Dynamo stadium have been ongoing since January, 2007, and if WE DO NOT HAVE THIS FINAL FINANCIAL INCENTIVE APPROVED BY DECEMBER 31st, the Dynamo will be forced to consider alternatives offer outside of the city!

A Press Conference to show the County Commissioners that the public supports their participation in the TIRZ will be held THIS THURSDAY, November 13th from 10 - 10:30 AM on the stadium site at the corner of Dowling and Rusk Streets. PLEASE attend this short but VERY important conference and please encourage EVERYONE from your business or neighborhood to attend! WE NEED TO PACK the city block so we can make the County Commissioners comfortable to vote FOR the TIRZ! I cannot stress the importance of numbers at this event enough--PLEASE help us!!!

ALSO, we have a petition online that we ask you and ALL your staff, friends and neighbors to sign. Just click the link below and fill in the short form. It will take only a minute and it will directly impact the future of the East End!

We have more than 1500 signatures on signed petitions already, but we need THOUSANDS!!! PLEASE pass this note on to your mailing lists, and everyone you know and ask them to sign the petition and attend the press conference!

Help us give the County Commissioners the support they need to give us the stadium we need! Thank you--YOU ARE A TRUE EAST END FRIEND!
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Friday, November 7, 2008

Insert glowing commentary about the Dynamo here

I would love to, really, but seeing as how just about everyone handicapping Sunday's game in the blogosphere is talking about how the Orange will be dominant at home in front of 30,000+ fans, I think the best thing to do is repeat the winning mantra of earlier this week:

Fired Up!
Ready to Go!

and then there's this one from the May win over NYRB at The Rob. See you Sunday!

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

What do you think about making Away Goals count more?

As most of you probably know, in most leagues around the world that play two-leg series, away goals are the first tie-breaker. This really does completely change the complexion of first-leg games. Now to be perfectly honest, I have always opposed implementing this rule in MLS games. But after reading this excellent, excellent column from Pat Walsh at, I have changed my tune.

(And I am not just homering this because it would benefit Dynamo. The truth is we got hurt by away goals earlier this season by "losing" the mythical cannon (biggest open secret around here, it does not exist) to fc frisco due to away goals after all three games ended in ties.)

Check out this great column:

Walsh’s Word: MLS Needs The "Away Goals" Rule

By Pat Walsh

What a bland weekend of MLS soccer last week was. Four playoff games, three of which were nationally televised -- and just five goals.

In the past five years, the first legs of MLS’s Conference Semifinals series have never provided more than two goals per game. This is due in large part to the away teams playing defensively, looking to win at home in the second leg.

Of course, that’s their prerogative. Steve Nicol has been a master at this tactic over the years. As a result, New England has advanced to five straight conference finals, every single one since the current MLS playoff structure was implemented. Only once in that time did the Revolution play their first leg at home.

While the Midnight Riders can celebrate that success, it doesn’t mean the casual fans of the league are enjoying the ride. The rest of us around the country are subjected time and again to first legs in which each team seemingly would be just as happy to have the coin flip determine whether the game results in a draw or a one-goal win for the home team. Then each can go about preparing for the more important second leg accordingly.

But, unlike NBA playoff games, the first halves of these series can matter.

The remedy to this scenario is simple: the away goals rule. The widely spread reason for not using this tiebreaker is that the casual American fan will not understand the concept of the away goal rule. I don’t buy it.

This is a land in which NASCAR has grown dramatically in the past decade, roughly the same time as MLS has been in existence. Casual fans of the driving-in-a-circle sport have quickly grasped the complex system of bonus points for the sprint to the cup, or whatever it’s called these days. Is the away goals rule more complicated than that?

Here’s the real danger. After an amazing season that provided a great playoff race, the postseason is not building on that success and positive energy.

The playoffs are the time that the major leagues draw in the casual fans. Case in point, the aforementioned NASCAR amended its rules in 2004 to provide its fans with a playoff system. Even the PGA has jumped on board, instituting the playoff-ish FedEx Cup last year.

But in MLS, the playoffs -- especially the first legs of these conference semifinals -- are the worst of times, not the best of times.

In five years under the current format, only once have all four first-leg matches averaged two goals. Last year hit rock bottom as only three goals were scored on the first weekend.

This year wasn’t much better with just five goals over the four games. Of course, Yura Movsisyan’s cheeky backheeled goal will be remembered. And Steven Lenhart’s last-second tally provided a great finish in Kansas City. But those moments were too far and in between.

Let’s compare those numbers to the UEFA Champions League, which goes to two-legged series from the round of 16 through the semifinals. The past three years, the first leg has been the higher scoring leg, averaging well over two goals per game. That’s not to say there’s a flip flop and no goals are scored on the return leg as even those games averaged at least two goals per game. But it shows that if the team that plays away in the first leg has more incentive to score, they will look to get into the attack and the games will wind up with more goals.

This isn’t to say goals will lead to better games. But goals are good for the casual fan. More importantly, goals and the initiative to create more goals gives the games the kind action that draws in casual fans, like Javier Morales’s playmaking and vision in setting up Movsisyan’s goal. Then again, Real was at home, meaning they had the pressure to score, which helps explain their constant attacking mindset, especially compared with Chivas USA’s seeming reluctance to cross the midfield stripe.

Of the other away teams, Columbus and Houston went forward the most and were rewarded with the only two road goals, both after the 85th minute. Chicago rarely tested New England’s Matt Reis in their 0-0 draw, confident they would finish off the Revs this Thursday at Toyota Park.

Had Columbus, Houston, Chicago, and Chivas known that an away goal mattered even more, there is a good chance they would have pressed from the beginning. Instead, we didn’t see the best out of the some of MLS’s best teams because the risk was more than the reward was worth.

And it is the casual fan that loses the most.

Pat Walsh writes about Major League Soccer for
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