Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Would, could, should MLS go to San Antonio?

In recent days I have run across a few posts talking about San Antonio getting back in the MLS game after soon-to-be former alcalde Phil Hardberger gets his you-know-what replaced in May's mayoral election.

The best piece on this, including historic background and comments from all four mayoral candidates, is to be found in this piece by TJ at MLS Daily. Another nice one by Jason D is over at Match Fit USA here.

As a former resident and frequent visitor to the Alamo City, I have to say I find the idea appealing to say the least. For all the reasons TJ and Jason cite, San Antonio would be an ideal market. I have no desire to go over them all, but my favorites they point out are:

<> How much better a market SA is than, say, Portland;

<> The instant triangular rivalry with Dynamo and Frisco (see the NBA template for how this would work); and

<> How close San Antonio was to getting the franchise that eventually went to Toronto.

To this I would add how great it would be to have two away sites within easy reach, and Robertson West would be even closer than Robinson North is now, not to mention in a FAR better city.

Though I have to say, I am getting a little leery of all of this expansion. So I actually would rather see las chivitas move to South Texas (CD Chivas SA?) than a brand new team. Heck, I'd even rather FC Frisco move to SA than have a brand new team. Don't laugh. Did you see how many showed up for that home opener, an "announced" gathering of 6,000 mostly bored popcorn vendors and front office staff.

As Jason writes:

As long as the ownership group is solid, and the team and city can come to an agreement on getting a SSS built as soon as possible, San Antonio has all the making of a fantastic MLS market.

The league needs to pick it spots, not punch above its weight, and be sure that the markets it enters have the proper characteristics and infrastructure in place for soccer to be a success. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and neither will the efficacy of a Major League Soccer franchise in San Antonio; but the city certainly has the makeup, the character, and the potential to be among the next great expansion stories.

The main hurdles I can see are working with San Antonio's historically dysfunctional city government in getting a soccer-specific playground built. You think this whole El Franco Lee/Sylvia Garcia thing is bad here? Believe me, you have no idea. I only WISH there were someone to bribe. If only it was that easy. With San Antonio, it's all about getting the fix in, and you have to fix every single little group or the whole thing will fall apart in the most surreal way possible.

Also, there's a reason San Antonio is pretty much terra incognita when it comes to major sports (the NBA excepted). The place is wonderfully and quirkily schizo. It is the seventh-largest city in America, second only to Houston in Texas (third to Houstopolis and the metroplex) and yet, if you were to ask people who live there, they'd tell you about how it's just the nicest little town. This is sweet and all, except that this conception of the place extends to problem-solving, urban planning, etc. etc., which makes the place even more dysfunctional. It is a major city that thinks of itself as a minor town. San Antonians will not support the big money beasts of MLB and the NFL, though they seem to make an exception for the NBA. Winning championships will do that for you, I guess. MLS? I think San Antonians will support it as long as it stays community-oriented. That will be the key to any franchise there. Come across as big time and SA will turn its back on you, or worse, just stay away.

But I do not come here to bury San Antonio with damnations. It is frustrating, agonizingly so, but I fell in love with it when I went to college there (Trinity University, Class of'87. Go Tigers!), met my wife there and consider it my second home. It's a wonderful place to be. I would love for the place to have an MLS franchise, because its size, Hispanic identity and geographic location make it ideal. So, you go SA. Get that team.

And then my Orange will come there a couple of times a year and we'll kick your teeth in. Nothing personal, of course. Read more!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just the highlights Ma'am

Nice package of the US/El Salvador 2-2 tie from US Soccer with no commentators. Read more!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Feel bad about Dynamo? At least you're not Artur Boruc

Maybe Top 10 or Top 5 worst own goals ever. Read more!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The future? Let me tell you about the future

So here are my quick predictions for the weekend. Taking after bloggin' buddy Jeff Bull, I've decided to make these predictions without investigating any factors whatsoever, what Jeff calls the "Bubble Boy" approach.

So entering my bubble and armed only with the schedule, this is what I see happening in MLS Week 2:

Toronto at Columbus: 4-2 Crew. At the Trillium Cup, De Rosario, in his final game before suffering an injury playing on BMO's artificial surface in his home debut, scores twice, but the Crew drive willy-nilly through that porous defense to win.

Chicago at DCU: Fire win 2-0. DC owners give Soehn his own personal red card with five minutes to go in the game. Christian Gomez named player-coach.

New England at New York: Revs 3-1. Where was this New York team in November last year? Man, they suck.

KC at Colorado: 0-0. Davy Arnaud learns that those kinds of long distance bombs just climb and keep climbing in that rare air of Denver. When those blasts don't go in, KC realizes they have no offense. Colorado on the other hand, has always known this about themselves and feels lucky to escape with the draw.

Dynamo at SJ: 8-0 Orange!!! Just kidding. Actually, I see Dynamo having a tough time scoring with no Kei and no Ching and Stewie looking sluggish. So my actual prediction is a glad-we're-out-of-there 0-0 draw. (But I'm rooting for 8-0, as well as some tough justice meted out to Nick Garcia in KK's absence.)

RSL at Seattle: 2-1 RSL. You know, I'm getting a little tired of all this Sounders' dream season stuff. Screw Seattle. RSL wasn't in the Western final by accident last year. Ljundberg gets Seattle's only goal on a penalty.

las chivitas at Frisco: (Hmmm, trying to figure out how to predict a result where they both lose. Darn!) 1-0 Amerigoats before a stirring national TV crowd of 3,000 vendors and front office staff.

And these special predictions:

USA 2, El Salvador 0: Chingy and Lando get in there early

Mexico 3-1 Costa Rica: I still think El Tri is in deep, deep trouble of not qualifying this year, but not in their first home qualifier of 2009 against this team. Nery's rant fires them up.

And courtesy of Keeper Notes, here's the upcoming schedule of live footy on TV:

World Cup qualifying
Iran v Saudi Arabia, 9:30 am, Fox Soccer Channel
Wales v Finland, 10 am, GolTV
Germany v Liechtenstein, 2 pm, GolTV
Slovenia v Czech Republic, 2:30 pm, Fox Soccer Channel
Uruguay v Paraguay, 3 pm, ESPN Deportes
Spain v Turkey, 4 pm, GolTV
Mexico v Costa Rica, 5:30 pm, Telemundo
El Salvador v USA, 8 pm, ESPN2 & TeleFutura
MLS: FC Dallas v Chivas USA, 2 pm, TeleFutura
WPS: Los Angeles Sol v Washington Freedom, 5 pm, Fox Soccer Channel
Wednesday, April 1
World Cup qualifying
Australia v Uzbekistan, 4 am, Fox Soccer Channel
North Korea v South Korea, 6 am, Fox Soccer Channel
Kazakhstan v Belarus, 9:30 am, Fox Soccer Channel
Czech Republic v Slovakia, 1:30 pm, Fox Soccer Channel
Wales v Germany, 1:45 pm, GolTV
USA v Trinidad & Tobago, 6:30 pm, ESPN2 & Galavision
Thursday, April 2
MLS: Real Salt Lake v Columbus Crew, 8 pm, ESPN2
Saturday, April 4
EPL: Newcastle v Chelsea, 9 am, Fox Soccer Channel
EPL: Fulham v Liverpool, 11:30 am, Fox Soccer Channel
MLS: Toronto FC v Seattle Sounders FC, 3 pm, Fox Soccer Channel
MLS: Houston Dynamo v DC United, 6:30 pm, Fox Sports Houston, KHOU 11.2, TV Informa
All times CT. More at livesoccertv.com. Read more!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Luck classy. The city and county? Not so much

So yesterday and today there has been a rash of stories about the impending deal regarding the construction of Dynamo Park. Best review of all stories here.

No reason to go over all of those stories, but there is one particular storyline I am finding inescapable and highly disturbing. One one side we have Oliver Luck saying, "Hey, we've got financing. We've got 90 percent of this deal done. It's looking amazingly positive and we can probably start this fall."

Then you have the city saying " " which is he sound of one hand clapping also emanating from Sylvia Garcia's office. And then El Franco Lee following up with "We got nothing. I got no plans. Wha?"

So the questions I have are:

What the you-know-what are the city and county doing with this? Oliver Luck was offering positivity and inclusion. How hard is it for the city and county, no matter the actual state of the deal, to say: "Things are indeed looking positive. We've got a few issues to iron out still and no deal is done yet. But we're really looking forward to working with the Houston Dynamo on this deal and finding common ground." There now, is that so difficult?

What in the world are those clowns thinking? A little positivity can go a long way here.

The thing is, they are not stupid. They responded the way they did for a reason. What reason? What do they gain from looking like a bunch of hard asses? With what group?

Second, I'd like to give big kudos to Oliver Luck for offering a gold-plated handshake. Just because the city and county responded like a bunch of stumblin' and bumblin' 2-year-olds is no reason not to stay positive. That guy is now and always has been pure class.

Stay positive and classy in all this Oliver. Show these goofuses how it's done.

Read more!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dynamo trialist John Pelu video and some thoughts

Saw on Soccer y Futbol this morning that former Swedish youth internationalist striker (!) John Pelu is on trial with Dynamo. Here's what Bernardo wrote:


The Dynamo have Swedish player John Pelu on trial as the team continues its search for a forward to replace Nate Jaqua, who is now with Seattle.

Pelu, 27, joined the Dynamo for practice Thursday and will be with the team through at least early next week.

His role during workouts was limited because the team's focus is on preparing for Saturday's home opener against the Columbus Crew.

Pelu, a Burkina Faso native and former Swedish youth national team player, last played at Rosenborg Ballklub in Norway.

Looking at the video, he seems to have nice pace and a quick first touch. Physically, he resembles Freddy Adu to me, which can be both a good and bad thing, I suppose.

I wonder if Dynamo is starting to get a name as home to African nationals. First Ngwenya, then Kamara, possibly this Akinbiyi guy from the other day's rumor and now Pelu. Personally, I think that would be great. Though The Rule of St. Dominic is very simple here: Shoot, score, defend, win! Read more!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Possible incoming striker?

Saw this today courtesy os Mister3D's Google Reader feed and thought it merited a shout. (The link is here.) What do you think? My first thought is perhaps it's no big deal, but then again, so was the Joseph Ngwenya acquisition at first...

Here's the dude in question in action courtesy MLS Rumors and what follows is the first story I saw:

Ade Akinbiyi has continually been in the news about a potential move away from Turf Moor but what would he think of playing for Houston Dynamo in US Major League Soccer?

The Daily Star report today that Akinbiyi is wanted by Major League Soccer side Houston Dynamo.

Houston Dynamo's home is the 32,000 capacity Robertson Stadium, located on the University of Houston campus in southeast Houston, Texas where they have played since their creation in December 2005.

Ade Akinbiyi will be out of contract in the summer and is widely thought to be playing his last season for the Clarets.

His opportunities have been limited this season, although he will be remembered for scoring that vital equalising goal against Chelsea in the Carling Cup at Stamford Bridge

He has started only one game this season, away to Barnsley in November last year being named on the bench 22 times and coming onto play in 14 of those matches.

In recent times, with Paterson and Thompson vying for the striking roles and young Jay Rodriguez biting at their heals, there has been no opportunity for Akinbiyi to be even named on the bench and he hasn't made the sixteen now since the FA Cup 4th Round Replay against West Brom on February 3rd.

He was linked with numerous loan moves earlier this year including Ipswich, Gillingham and Blackpool but none of them came to fruition.
Read more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kamara suspended for two games

This just moved on the AP wire:

NEW YORK (AP) — Houston Dynamo forward Kei Kamara has been suspended for his team's first two regular-season games and fined $500 by Major League Soccer for "inappropriate" comments to an official following a preseason match on Feb. 15.
He will miss games against Columbus on Sunday and San Jose on March 28.

This Kamara suspension is horseshit pure and simple. It has to do with his continuing feud with Nick Garcia and it flaring up during that preseason game out there. Did Garcia get suspended? No.

Total and complete nonsense. I hope, and I mean this in a totally nonviolent way of course, that someone picks up where Kamara left off in the San Jose game and educates Garcia about what it means to feud with a Dynamo. Read more!

A rally call going into the week

Earlier today I was involved with a little e-mail go-around regarding the other team in Houston that plays about the same time as Dynamo. This is what I wrote:

Look, old and worn-out Pudge or no, and Berkie's sense of humor or no, let's not kid ourselves here about how good or bad this team is. The Astros are at best mediocre, who, barring some fairly major personnel moves, will be lucky to be anywhere near even wild card contention this season.

This is not to send out a bunch of negative waves or anything, and you know me, I have certainly rooted for worse Astros teams than this one looks likes it's going to be, and will again and again and again, but you can completely toss out the spring training record (as you should in any case) and the reality is unchanged. This is a franchise that has not found its way back to the elite since Hunsicker left. And I have no reason to think this season will be any different. Too may ifs, too many maybes. Not enough soliditiy in the lineup or staff.

But hey, this is par for the course for the Astros, and they've always seemed to at least be in the race until a week or so or less in the season, but I'm getting just a little tired of being satisfied with that. I want that team to win early, late and often, and if they don't then changes need to be made to make that happen. Otherwise, what's the point?

So why would I include this note here on this blog? Very simple. Ever since my fall off the donkey conversion to MLS and all thing Orange, I have been a mostly happy guy. And why is that, because for the first time in my life as a sport fan, my team became one that focuses on building a winning coalition, who isn't content with competing, who never, ever, ever as an organization lays back and just says, "Well, this is alright then."

With Dynamo, I never have any sense that this is a team that is satisfied with any stat other than trophies won. Furthermore, in 2007, the feeling was clearly "Two is not enough." Since 2008 "Four is not enough." Losing to Atlante in a tie that was very winnable grates on this team and grates on all of us as fans. Last week on Glenn Davis' program, Dominic Kinnear mentioned that the loss to RBNY last November still "turns his stomach just thinking about it."

Now you know, I don't have enormous amounts of expectations out of my chosen team, but definitely having the head coach almost go into dry heaves at the thought of a very avoidable championship tourney loss four months ago is among them. Like I wrote above, I want my chosen team to win early, late and often. I want them to pour every waking moment into winning. This is not amateur hour here. I want them to use every loss, every near miss, even every barely a win that was almost a loss as motivation to make sure it never happens again.

Does this make my Steinbrenner-esque? Whatever. Playing for the fun of it is for amateurs, and rightfully so. When I play, that is absolutely what I'm playing for, just the fun of it. Winning is gravy, but having fun with my friends and kids is what it's all about.

But I am not a pro. When you're a pro, there is only one measure of success. And that, my friends, is why I am and continue to be such an ardent fan of the Houston Dynamo. This is a franchise that is focused on the one stat that matters, winning. Win then. Win now. Win all the time. Just win. As Patton said to the Third Army: "I don't want to get messages back that we are holding our position. We're not holding onto anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly...."

Now of course, no team wins all the time. What I expect is the utmost striving for that one goal. And in Dynamo we seem to have a franchise as a whole that puts out that effort all the time. Not just on the field (which, of course, is where it's most visible and counts the most), but the management staff of Luck, Canetti and Kinnear and everyone else.

So let the Astros put together a ramshackle team built on hopes of overachievement every single season. Let the Texans do, well, whatever it is that team does. And let the Rockets try mightily to recapture the magic of 1994-95 (at last the Rock-heads HAVE something like a championship tradition, unlike the other two). My faith and hope with the Dynamo is being rewarded by a franchise that is showing me the love of championship competition. Go get 'em Dynamo. Dale-effin'-Dale.

And that is why this game right here is the greatest in team history, even above the championships. Never quit. Never surrender. Always. Always advance and win.

Read more!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How do you feel better after surgery? Turn to the Bhoys

Starting my second day of recovery from hernia surgery, I have had a steady diet of footy this weekend, capped today by Celtic's 2-0 win over some team or other in blue (also from Glasgow, Wangers? Strangers? Something like that) in the Co-Operative Insurance Scottish League Cup.

After 0-0 in the full 90, it was the Irish who delivered Celtic in extra time two days before St. Patrick's Day, Darren O'Dea with a fine header and then Aideninho McGeady drawing and then putting away a penalty seconds before time. Mon the Hoops! Mon the Bhoys!

Full story is here.

Now all I need is for Dynamo to take out Columbus this weekend and my recovery will be complete! Read more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dos a Cero, Cruuuuz, Mexican woes, UCL, stadia, DDR and more

Some quickie blog thoughts this fine, rainy morning:

<> Dynamo third round draft pick Danny Cruz of course is on the U-20 national team mentioned above, who now move on. It leads to a certain question: With Geoff Cameron and now Cruz coming in the third round, why would Dynamo ever pick in the first two rounds? And if we keep growing our won in the Dynamo Academy ala Tyler Deric, it just continues to underline what a joke the SuperDraft has become. College soccer, with its unlimited substitutions, in the US? The heck with that.

<> Today's Champions League schedule:
3:30pm- ESPN2/ESPN360- Inter Milan at Manchester United (first leg finished tied, 0-0)

3:30pm- ESPN DeportesESPN360- Lyon at Barcelona (first leg finished tied, 1-1)

3:45pm- Setanta USA/ESPN360- Arsenal at AS Roma (Arsenal won first leg, 1-0)

3:45pm- ESPN360- Atletico Madrid at FC Porto (first leg finished tied, 2-2)

6pm- ESPN Classic- Lyon at Barcelona

6:30pm- Setanta USA- Lyon at Barcelona

8:15pm- Setanta USA- Arsenal at Roma

10pm- Setanta USA- Atletico Madrid at FC Porto

Why can't I get Setanta at home with Comcast? Anyone out there know?

<> Just as the US is qualifying, the Mexico U-20 lose to Canada 2-0 and won't even qualify. Ives hosted a discussion about this here. Dos a cero, or, if you look at Mexico's record in this qualifying round, Cero a dos. What is going on with Mexico and the national teams. As Ives wrote, the big squad has gone winless in four straight World Cup qualifiers. Now this. What kind of howls of pain are we going to hear emanating from just south of us if Mexico does not qualify for South Africa and the US does? What about is El Tri does not qualify for the Gold Cup final? It is very possible -- and I'm not saying it's going to happen -- that this could be a watershed year for Mexico, and not in the way they want.

<> So just why didn't Omar Bravo sign with Dynamo? From what we've heard from Chris Canetti on Glenn Davis' show earlier this week and on MyDynamo.net, the deal was all but done and then before anyone knew anything, the guy has signed with Tigres. You know, I'm just a little bit tired of high profile Mexican players flirting with MLS and then suddenly turning their back. So from now on, anytime there's a rumor about a Mexican player coming to MLS, I will adopt the attitude of "Yeah, right." Why doesn't Dynamo have more hispanic players? Point the finger to the south because it's not for lack of trying.

<> I'm loving the UEFA Champions League. That Chelsea/Juve game yesterday was one for the ages. Too bad the one I was watching live, Liverpool/Real Madrid was such a dud. Oh well.

<>Dynamo Park. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick...... Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. And while I'm repeating that mantra, I'm all over these wonderful videos and photos of the in progress Red Bull Arena in New York. Check out these links from The Offside Rules here, here and here. SF calls it rat own: Stadium Porn.

<> Who dat, eh?

Read more!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eddie Robinson and the Revenge of the Kneeds

So fresh on the heels of the Atlante debacle, we find out that Eddie Robinson will be out "indefinitely" after undergoing surgery on the cartilage of his left knee. (Story here, Bernardo Fallas' take here and Ives' take, along with a quick look around the Western Conference here.)

Bernardo says Robinson is likely out 4-6 months, while Ives is somewhat more optimistic, tagging the return at six weeks. But you know what, 6 weeks or 6 months, Dynamo will have to do what they did a lot of the time last year, get along without Eddie Robinson. Poor guy, ever since he scored against Sweden earning his first cap for the Snakes in January 2008 it's been pretty much downhill. He's one fierce dude out on that pitch and of course Dynamo will miss him, but it does bring up some interesting possibilities.

First, I have no doubt that all three of Atlante's goals the other night would probably not have happened had the center mid combo of ERob and Boswell been on duty. But with both out, the result was somewhat predictable. But that's not going to be the case, now is it, when Columbus comes a'callin' in two weeks. Bozzie will be there. I foresee a backline like this:

Capt. Wademerica--Julius James-Boz-Mulrooney with Hainault, Waibel and Chabala available off the bench (though not necessarily in that order) and possibly Geoff the Giraffe Cameron in the mix as well. The upshot here is that we're going to get to see Orange Julius that much faster than we at first though, and that might not be all that bad of a deal.

To be sure, James is not Robinson. But then again, with his injury woes over the last year, Robinson hasn't been Robinson, has he? So is it unfortunate? You betcha. But Dynamo were best in the West last year mostly without Eddie, so catastrophic it is not.

And, remember, a return in either June or August means we get a fresh Eddie right when we'll need him most. So I'm not crying any tears just yet. Hainault obviously gets the signing deal now, though he looked only mediocre against Atlante. And the No. 1 goal remains a forward, sooner rather than later.

What's your take? Read more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bhoys go 3 up on Rangers

Celtic 2 Kille 1 - video powered by Metacafe

Check out the nifty run in traffic from "Skippy" McDonald for the sick, sick winner. Now with this win over Kilmarnock and Rangers' spirit-killing injury time penalty kick 1-0 loss to Callie, the Hoops are back on top of the Scottish Premier League en route for their fourth consecutive title. Read more!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

For your footy reading pleasure, Temples of the Earthbound Gods

In a new book, entilted TEMPLES OF THE EARTHBOUND GODS: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, my and Playtherapy's fellow Trinity University alum Dr. Christopher Thomas Gaffney takes a look at South American culture and society through the lens of the country's football stadia. Here's the down low lowdown from the press kit:

In Rio de Janeiro, the spiritual home of world football, and Buenos Aires, where a popular soccer club president was recently elected mayor, the game is an integral part of national identity. Using the football stadium as an illuminating cultural lens, Temples of the Earthbound Gods examines many aspects of urban culture that play out within these monumental architectural forms, including spirituality, violence, rigid social norms, anarchy, and also expressions of sexuality and gender.

Tracing the history of the game in Brazil and Argentina through colonial influences as well as indigenous ball courts in Mayan, Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Olmec societies, Christopher Gaffney's study spans both ancient and contemporary worlds, linking the development of stadiums to urbanization and the consolidation of nation building in two of Latin America's most intriguing megacities.

Gaffney, who now hails from Durhan, NC where he writes the blog Geostadia or the Geography of the Obvious, knows whereof he speaks. He was a four-year player for the Tigers in college and eventually had a career playing on four continents, including winning the 1997 Taiwanese Footballer of the Year Award.
This book looks fascinating to say the least. South American football is one of the least understood areas of the game, what with all the attention paid to the European experience. Most stories are about how these players will fare for the national teams and their foreign club squads. Very little work takes a gander at South American futbol in situ, and if you were to ignore the stories that focus on institutional corruption, financial catastrophe and riots, I think there would be pretty much no stories at all. So Gaffney's work is that much more important for those of us interested in global football culture.

Gaffney will be signing copies of the book at The Twig Book Shop, 5005 Broadway in San Antonio, Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m.

If you're interested in buying it directly from the University of Texas press, who published Gaffney's book, click here. Cost $55, hardcover with dust jacket, though ordering it from the site, there is 33% website discount, which brings it to $36.85. I've bought mine already and it's in the mail. Read more!