Friday, September 24, 2010

Of broken fences and Houston Dynamo's late game destruction

I know the schedule still says that Houston Dynamo have five more games to play this season, beginning with tomorrow night's game at DCU, the only team right now that is worse than us. (And just who predicted that before the season?) But I think it's well past time to call time on the whole exercise, functionally at least.

Summing up my feelings for the season so far, it's simple. It sucks. Any more need to be said?

When I look back to last season, and it's weird rash of red cards, nine over all games in all competitions in a two-and-a-half month span from early August to mid-October, I thought that it was just one of those weird statistical oddities that crops up from time to time. Totally unpredictable, very weird and not admitting to easy explanation. "Whew," I thought. "At least nothing that weird will happen again."

And I was right, nothing that weird did happen this year. Instead, something even weirder did.

Most teams will lose a game giving up a stoppage time goal on e a season or so, maybe twice. The fact is that you just don't see that sort of thing very often. It happens and it always sucks to have it happen to you, but if a team is really bad, the losses will come early, often and not be restricted to the very back ends of games.

Or so I thought.

Dynamo have now had this happen to them four times this season. Four times! And are currently sitting on a two-game streak where this has happened to them. Not only that, but this is the team's second such streak this season. Here are the four:

May 29 v Phunions. Danny Mwanga leads the comeback for Philly's first-ever road win, 3-2. With this, though we did not know it at the time, we have seen what the rest of 2010 will look like.
June 2 v RBNY JPA with the stunner in what was pretty much the last action of the game, a 2-1 loss.
Sept. 18 v TFC. Dwayne De Rosario, who else, hammers us for a brace, the second with just seconds remaining in a 2-1 heartbreaker at home!
Sept. 22 v KC. Josh Wolff scores the killer in a 4-3 loss.

The links are to the videos of the game. Watch if you dare. I did for the purposes of this post and think I will have to wander around all weekend to get the images out of my brain (that is unless it happens again in RFK Saturday. Not trying to jinx things, just saying.). Just to even things out, those four games are two on the road and two at home. In three of the four, Dynamo lost leads, the last a two-goal lead!

But do those four games tell the whole tale of misery and woe? They do not. Chew on these other results:

Post 75th-minute losses
May 5: 1-0 loss to FC Frisco with Ihemelu goal in 78th

Post 75th minute goals
July 1 -- 1-1 draw with TFC with Gargan goal in 84th following Ching’s in 73rd
July 24 – 3-0 loss to Crew with Iro goal in 84th and Griffit goal in stoppage
Aug. 8 – Alvaro Fernandez in 88th in 2-0 loss to the Seattles
Aug. 21 – Wilman Conde in 81st in 4-3 win over Fire

Other notable dramatics against us
April 10 – Edson Buddle scores in 44th in 2-0 loss to the Gals at home.
April 26 – Fire’s Husidic in first half stoppage in 2-0 loss at Chicago.
June 26 – Rapids’ Conor Casey in first half stoppage of a 2-2 draw at home.

And against that lineup of stinging failure, we get these three that went to us:
June 26th – Joe Ngwenya notches one in the 79th in a 2-2 draw with Rapids.
July 31 – Brian Mullan gets one in stoppage that earns us a 2-2 draw with NYRB
Aug. 21 – Following Conde in the 81st, Chingy finds net in the 85th in 4-3 win over Fire.

In these 13 games right here, Dynamo went 1-9-3. In all other results this season, the team is 5-5-2. So if Dynamo is to be truly regarded as the worst team in the Western Conference, which a quick glance at the table right now shows to be true, you can see the results that have led us there.

Also revealing on the table is the fact that with 32 goals scores, Dynamo are tied for fourth in the Western Conference and fifth in MLS, hardly a worst int eh league scoring number. However, there are two goals on the field right? Over on the other end, Dynamo have given up 44 goals, the worst in the league. Only New England, at 43 is even close to us.

Now who on Earth would have predicted before the season that New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo would have the worst defenses in MLS? And that no one else would even be close? And of those 44, 17 have come after the 75th minute in games this season. That's 27 in Mins. 1-75 and 17 in Mins. 75-90+. AND THERE ARE STILL FIVE GAMES TO GO!!

So where does all of this lead? Well, that is the subject for further posts. But it's obvious the problems have not been in attack this season, very, very obvious. Read more!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Findley/Kljestan reign of terror must stop!!!!

I think Bob Bradley has it in for me personally.

I truly, truly just cannot believe this roster.

The list for the U.S. national team's friendly against Brazil next Tuesday night at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.....

GOALKEEPERS: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa).

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hanover), Clarence Goodson (Start), Jonathan Spector (West Ham), Chad Marshall (Columbus)

MIDFIELDERS: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Michael Bradley (Moenchengladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro).

FORWARDS: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca).

I am stunned speechless that BOTH Robbie Findley and Sacha Kljestan have been called in to the camp. Kljestan, I was convinced, had finally, finally run his course with the US National team after this past spring. The world Cup team was named and Kljestan was not on it, and so I thought, he would go the way of Freddy Adu and never wear the red, white and blue again, except perhaps at his next Fourth of July party.

As for Findley, my brain is still scarred with his performances in South Africa and the sure and present knowledge that Brian Ching would have done far, far better in every circumstance. (As Dan Loney wrote, regarding Findley's supposed speed advantage, "He missed those shots VERY quickly.")

And now, against Brazil in a friendly that we already have little chance in, to see both, BOTH!!! of those players going to New Jersey is almost more than I can bear. The only reason I want those two guys to go to New Jersey is to have a "rendezvous" with Tony Soprano.

And now, what do I know for certain? What do I know for absolute, you-know-whatting, cannot print in a family newspaper certain? I know that both of these players will see time, perhaps even, in Findley's case, start against the Selecao.

Bob Bradley, you are dead to me. Read more!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Testify LD! Testify

Here is today's money quote from none other than the current reigning Greatest American Hero (which I found on the always excellent du Nord:

"If you're in Denmark or Norway or Sweden, you're playing a little bit or you're on the bench, that's not helping you. If you're playing in MLS every week, that's a lot better than playing a minor role on some team in Europe. So if you have the opportunity to actually play games at some of the big leagues in Europe, great. But if not, you're hindering your development by not playing games." - Landon Donovan

I could not agree more. Now, to be certain, I am not a coach. I am not an athletic development expert. I also would never, ever begrudge anyone who's length of career is generally about 5-6 years from taking a massive short term payday.

However, the truth of what LD is saying is so obvious to me it frequently gets lost in the shuffle. Of course, players should test themselves against top competition. Of course players should always, always try to improve. But also of course, in the best of all possible worlds, there is someone who should be there to keep the player grounded to reality. And the reality of the situation is that for so many Americans, playing every or most games in MLS is far superior to riding the bench, and sometimes not even making the game sheet, on some team in Europe.

And the thing is that we all, all of us footy freaks, can come up with a long list of players right off the top of our heads that prove this statement to be true. Here's mine, and I guarantee both of these lists took me only about 20 seconds each.

Freddy Adu
Eddie Johnson
Sal Zisso
Dominic Cervi
Jonathan Spector
Joseph Ngwenya
(The list of players riding pines in Denmark, Holland, Turkey, etc.)
Kenny Cooper

Landon Donovan (arguable in the German experiments, perhaps not so much at Everton)
Brian Ching
Dwayne De Rosario
Joseph Ngwenya
Nate Jaqua
Bobby Convey

I am sure you have others who would qualify for this list. (Jozy Altidore perhaps?)

Now to be sure, there are many players for whom making the trip over there was very important to their development (Deuce Dempsey, Donovan in Everton, Brian mcBride, Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu, etc.), and others for whom the book is still out (Stuart Holden, Brad Guzan, etc.). But for so many players, MLS is a viable option. Playing is a viable option. Playing regularly is the way to develop. But more important perhaps, staying realistic is the most crucial thing.

So thanks LD for that little dose of reality. Read more!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From my foot, to your face, to our own goal

Truly, truly amazing. Here's the down-low lowdown from the Emerald Isle, where this piece of brilliance took place (via Yahoo):

An Irish football league player has scored a surefire candidate for the unluckiest own goal of all time.

Mervue United's Kenny Farrell was attempting to clear the ball out of defence in a tense match against Waterford, but his punt up field instead caught team-mate Mike Elwood smack in the face.

Elwood fell to the floor, stunned by the blow - leaving the players and crowd to watch in amazement as the ball ricocheted off his nose and arched back towards the goal, dipping just under the bar beyond the reach of goalkeeper Ger Hanley.

Mervue had kept their title-chasing rivals at bay until the own goal, but Elwood's misfortune opened the floodgates as Waterford went on to win 3-0.

No word on what pieces of anatomy flicked the other two goals into the net. I assume they came off of the feet, but then again... Read more!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three videos that are taking my breath away

My favorite is "Some Guy in Arkansas."

As for me, I was at home with Playtherapy and my two sons. At 1055 a.m. Central, I had a voice. At 10:58 a.m. Central: No voice.

Playtherapy's idea at about the 85 minute mark was for us to take our jerseys off and wear them inside out. We did and the rest is history. So you can congratulate him for helping make this whole thing happen.

As he told my son earlier in the game when he told me to pipe down: "But you know, they can hear us through that TV. They can hear us."

They can indeed. Here's a fabulous piece from Nick Green (link here), which is where I got this video, which seems to be making the rounds today.

In it, he quotes these Tweets. First from our boy Stuie Holden (who will always be a Dynamo):

Wow.. had goosebumps for a full five minutes watching this Video. The support has been unbelievable.....

And then from Mr. Donovan himself:

Not sure if you guys saw this but it brings tears to my eyes every time. Thank you all so much...we can't do it...

But my favorite is this part that Green quotes about President Obama's conversation with the team today:

And this - from a U.S. Soccer press release:

The day after the historic and dramatic 1-0 victory against Algeria that sent the U.S. to the round of 16 at the World Cup, President Barack Obama called the team and addressed the players and staff via speakerphone.

The President then congratulated the players on the amazing team spirit they showed during the unbeaten run through the first round of the World Cup and told them that while he was meeting with General Petraeus in the Oval Office, he could hear the rest of the West Wing erupt when Landon Donovan scored the game-winner.

The President then congratulated Donovan on the game-winning goal, asked Tim Howard how his ribs were feeling and asked Clint Dempsey how his lip was doing.

The leader of the Afghan War was being changed out and what was really happening at the White House? The US National Team beating Algeria, that's what! We have all, as a Soccer Nation arrived. As Nick Green says, Screw You Glenn Beck (and Jim Rome and on and on and on. Screw you all.)


And here are my other two faves from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World Cup 2010: Into Africa - US Beats Algeria
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

And now Steven Colbert:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
US Defeats Algeria
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

And by the way, here's the video from Lucky's Pub here in Houston. Amazing.

Finally, here's some info from the AP:

Wednesday morning’s United States vs. Algeria FIFA World Cup match on ESPN – in which the Americans scored a dramatic goal in stoppage time to earn a 1-0 win and a spot in the Round of 16 – is the highest-rated and most-watched soccer game in the history of ESPN networks, delivering a 4.6 rating (4.0 household U.S. rating), 4,582,000 households and 6,161,000 viewers for the two-hour contest (10 a.m. ET – noon).

The previous households record was set five days earlier with the U.S.-Slovenia match (June 18) – 3,906,000.

Excluding holidays, ESPN’s coverage of the U.S.-Algeria game ranks as the most-watched weekday morning telecast ever for ESPN, surpassing the U.S.-Germany World Cup match from eight years ago (June 21, 2002) – 4.4 rating and 5,335,000 viewers.

The game ranked as the highest-rated program of the day on any network among M18-34 and M18-49.

Through Wednesday, June 23 (40 games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2), the 2010 World Cup is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating (for the two-hour match window) — up 40% from 2006 (1.3). Household impressions are up 46% (from 1,389,000 to 2,025,000) and P2+ impressions are up 49% (from 1,789,000 to 2,658,000).

San Diego was the top market for yesterday’s Team USA game, delivering an 8.9 rating – all the more impressive considering the 7 a.m. local start time. Rounding out the top 10 were Baltimore (6.7), San Francisco (6.1), Washington, D.C. (5.4), Sacramento (5.4), Houston (5.4), Las Vegas (5.4), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (5.3), New York (5.3) and West Palm Beach (5.3). San Diego was also the top market for both the U.S.-England game on ABC (11.5) and the U.S.-Slovenia game on ESPN (8.5).

What is it with San Diego? And how long will it take for Chivas USA to move there since they just can not draw in Carson? Wild. Read more!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GO GO USA!!!!!! That's MISTER Donovan to you!

I can't stop watching this and I don't think I ever will.

That's Donovan, Mr. Donovan!

Read more!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Road to South Africa Parts 1-6

If you've not seen this series, then as an American leading into the World Cup, you owe it to yourself to do so. Very nice job from all concerned. Sit down and enjoy.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Read more!

Monday, May 24, 2010

US-England draw? Gallagher's the man

Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher says US-England will be a draw. Who am I to argue? Read more!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waka Waka. Time for some smiles around here

Amid all the bad news surrounding all things Orange this week, I think it's about time to remember this is a game that we all love very dearly. So here's the song Waka Waka: This Time for Africa, one of the official World Cup anthems, sung by Shakira.

(Shakira and football at the same time. What, I ask you, could POSSIBLY be wrong with that?)

Read more!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Third jersey? If Fredy the Flopper can wear one, anyone can wear one better

That right there is Fredy the Flopper in Seattle's new third jersey, kind of a Mountain Dew, making-love-in-a-canoe ("you-know-what-ing close to water) yellow thing. You can read about it at this link right here.

In this very space, there have been many discussions about Dynamo potentially unveiling a third jersey. And if I'm remembering right, someone even worked up a mock uni with a predominantly light blue color scheme.

Let me just say right now that I completely down with that idea and would love to see one if for no other reason because let's face it, if those guys in Seattle, who think they are somehow or other God's gift to the American game, are doing it, anyone else can do it better.

To be clear, I don't hate Seattle. I just hate the attitude that permeates the fans of that organization. I for one cannot wait until Portland and Vancouver come into the league so that the Sounder fans will have to suffer the fate of not even being the best team in the Pacific Northwest. Though of course, since the Timbers beat those guys on March 11, isn't that true already?

Of course, there's nothing I can write that's better than what Dan Loney posted. Awesome. "ridiculous garbage" Amazing.

And of course, Fake Sigi has it best:

"No. Just. Say. No." Read more!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nothing Rhymes With Orange. Video of the Dynamo Park vote

From Dynamo Supporters Alliance majordomo Eric Nordstrom:

Nothing rhymes with Orange
But I'm Orange til I die
From far away
once came to play
and always fight
like champions
there's nothing we can rhyme with
so we have to make it up
but Nothing Rhymes with Orange
May the Orange win the Cup!

Eric read that aloud today in Harris County Commissioners Court as the county voted to participate in the TIRZ, thus making certain that Dynamo Park can begin. Here's the Chronicle story right here.

April 13, 2010, on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13, Houston no longer has a problem. Read more!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dominic Kinnear's message to his squad

One thing's for sure, when Dynamo leave for the jungle wilds of Frisco this week, they'll be properly motivated.

Dale. Read more!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Serioux coming back to Houston

Just saw this on the WV Hooligan blog that Dynamo just traded to get the rights to Adrian Serioux. (And click here for the Toronto Sun's story on the deal.)

Personally, I think this is a great move as it really shores up the Route 1 defense while Geoff Cameron finds his footing in the CAM role. It also sends Brad Davis back out wide where his left foot can be put to the best use.

And, for those of you who follow the British media's fascination (and Arsene Wenger's whines about) with Stoke's Rory DeLapp's long throw-ins, here's the guy who did that before it was cool.

As long as Serioux can stay healthy, I think he'll be a beast in the center mid. Of course, my remarks the previous three seasons about him being an overly aggressive thug are now completely disowned. Lesson: Wear Orange and all is forgiven. :> Read more!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pelada, a footy happening you don't want to miss

NEW Pelada Trailer from Rebekah Fergusson on Vimeo.

I have heard so much about this move Pelada (formerly known as The Soccer Project), and was further intrigued when I heard Glenn Davis talk about it on his show the other night.

If you haven't heard of it, the movie was filmed in over 25 countries and follows two former college players, Notre Dame's Luke Boughden and Duke's Gwendolyn Oxenham -- and filmed by fellow Dukies Rebekah Ferguson (herself a Blue Devil captain) and Ryan White (producer) -- around the world as they kick the ball, any ball, around with firemen, prisoners, bootleggers and anyone else they can find. Watch that trailer above and tell me you don't want to head to Austin to see it.

And if you're a Dynamo supporter, there is indeed an extra chance for you to see it, though not necessarily at the first showing. The film was selected for this year's SxSW Film Festival and will have it's World Premiere on Sunday March 14 at 7:15 p.m., which also happens to be about 15 minutes after the Men in Orange close out their home-and-home with the Austin Aztex at the capital city's Nelson Field (Kick off, 5 p.m.).

Now unless you leave early (I know. I know. But some people actually do things like that. Wild.) chances are you won;t make the show. But never fear. There will also be screenings on March 15 at noon and March 19 at 3:30 p.m.

What you're seeing up there is the new trailer. Here's the old one, which is also just as cool:

Pelada from Rebekah Fergusson on Vimeo.

Read more!

Worried? Who's worried?

David Agrell at the MLS Insider says Dom's not scared, so why should anyone else be? Well, to look further into that question after reading Agrell's great piece (see it here), I think there are no reasons why DYNAMO fans should be scared. But the rest of the league? They may just start seeming to the team like each of them looks like a certain Harris County Commissioner.

Agrell's piece itself is a little dated, as Diouf, Walker, Kaku and Saiko are all gone now. But Francisco Navas, about whom I will be shocked if he does not make the team, and Lovel Palmer are still in the potential mix. As for Palmer, I'm hoping to see him against the Aztex on Sunday (what, you have other plans for what will be a beautful late winter afternoon in Houston?), but anyone who scores against FC Frisco is a gentleman and a scholar in my book. And by the way, we haven't had that Caribbean feel on the team since honorary Reggae Boyz (Far North Chapter) member Dwayne De Rosario was here!

So here's hoping both Palmer and Navas make it. One thing's for sure, it'll bring some youth and perhaps durability as well to what is suddenly no longer an aging squad.

Here's the article from Agrell in text form:



Houston boss Dom Kinnear has admitted his club is still in the hunt for a midfielder, despite boasting a roster stacked with veterans and
sprinkled with upstart talent.

The Orange (no, not the Oranje that yesterday trampled all over poor ol’ USA — and former Dynamo star Stuart Holden in particular) are
facing a 2010 campaign sans attacking midfielder Holden and defensive
general Ricardo Clark.

So, what about that holding position that Clark defined last season?

“We have Richard Mulrooney, who has played there before, and he’s one of the guys we missed at the stretch of the end of last year,”
Kinnear said. “I think Geoff Cameron can play in there, and he can also
play as an attacking midfielder.”

Cameron as an attacking midfielder? Cool — wouldn’t we all love to see more of those marauding runs?

“I hope that this year [Cameron] will be able to get a little more free and score some goals,” Kinnear added. “In saying that, you don’t
want him thinking every time he gets the ball he can run forward and
score goals. You want him to be involved in the build up. It’s
important that he does have some discipline in his game.”

Oh, ok. Maybe not all of us. Kinnear again:

“We’re also in the market looking for someone who can play in the midfield as well.”

Ka-ching! So, who have they had in camp this preseason? Who’s on the radar?

The breakdown:

Khadim Diouf (two-time All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention at San Diego State) … LĂ©andre
Griffit (French player who last suited up for Crystal Palace) … Samuel Appiah and David Walker (draft picks) … Blessing Kaku (well-traveled Nigerian with awesome name) … Francisco Navas (straight from the Dynamo Academy) … Shaun Saiko (Canadian U-20s with time at Middlesborough) … Lovel Palmer (a Jamaican who, according to, is a “fleet-footed player [who] will run all day for the good of his team.”)

And let’s not forget 20-year-old Danny Cruz, who’s been in top form in preseason.

All told, something tells me the ‘Mo are going to be all right this season. More from Kinnear:

“It’s difficult, but it’s comforting to know that if the season were to start, we’re not exactly looking at a huge hole. There are people we
can put in the whole that I feel can do a good job there.”

‘Nuff said.

Read more!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

By not striking, MLSPU may just win

Hmmm, are the players really this crafty? Consider these points:

Here's the statement from Bob Foose today:

“Effective at midnight tonight, our collective bargaining agreement with MLS will expire,” said Union executive director Bob Foose in a statement.
Foose added that, “while we expect that negotiations with MLS will resume at some point, there simply hasn’t been enough progress made in the negotiations to date to warrant an extension of the old agreement. We have advised our players to keep working for the time being, but as of Friday they will be doing so without a CBA. In the meantime, all options are being considered as the process continues. We are completely committed to forging real changes to the way MLS players are treated.”

And here's the statement from the MLS:

"During the last year, Major League Soccer has been negotiating with the MLS Players Union on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current CBA expires today and the Players Union would not agree to a further extension.

"We have told the Players Union that the League does not plan to lock out the players and we are prepared to begin the season under the current CBA while we continue to bargain to reach agreement on a new CBA.

"We have listened to the issues raised by the MLS Players Union and the League has made detailed proposals that have addressed these issues, including in the areas of economics, guaranteed contracts, options and the ability of a player to move to another MLS Club if he is released by his current Club. These proposals, which represent substantial changes from the current CBA, will significantly increase our spending and provide substantially more rights to the players."

Pardon me, but I do not trust the owners' statement in any way. They're not a bunch of lying liars, but neither are they on the whole up and up here.

The players have far more powerful weapons than a strike at their command, legal ones. But the fact is that if they don’t follow these paths during the season at some point, then they lose them. I wonder if they’ll strike the All-Star Game. Too bad, since it’s here in Houston this year.

My personal feeling is that without a CBA, the players are essentially playing according to whatever contracts they have. That would mean that after the contracts are over, then they are free agents. As free agents, if they all demand in their contracts that they will not sign deals that contain MLS’ allocation, non-guaranteed and reserve rights language, then by 1,000 cuts, they could accomplish these same ends, free agency and guaranteed contracts, especially if they can get the nascent NASL to agree to the same contract terms. And all of this can be done with concerted action, but no strike.

What do you think? Read more!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A conversation on the state of MLS/US and a look forward

Recently, Playtherapy (in between his rounds of Football Manager 2010) and I have been having a conversation on the state of the league and the future. Here is that conversation, which hopefully can bring some more comments and additions from everyone else. The conversation began with Playtherapy talking about the fantasy financial restrictions in Football Manager and bringing up the larger topic.

PLAYTHERAPY: One knock many across the pond have with playing MLS teams is the league structure. One guy sold Beckham for 4.5 mil and only got 500k for LAG, the league getting the rest.

I'm sure I'm playing stupidly as well, as I'm used to investing in youth, then sell for big profits later. This worked for Stavanger in a big way in the Norwegian league and helped us to achieve Champion's League success.

MLS may have achieved security- avoiding the NASL debacle, but @ what price? Holden went from being worth 675k (got lots of bids from England) to 1.5 mil. If I sold, I wonder what I'd actually get???

It may keep us sustainable, but it cheats club's abilities to better themselves financially.

MARTEK: You are absolutely correct. It's almost impossible to get an independent economic analysis of the situation. Without a doubt, the single entity structure is responsible for MLS surviving for the first 10 years. But right know, I would say that it hurts as much as it helps, the Holden situation underlining that perfectly.

The fact of the matter is that neither I nor anyone else who hasn't seen the books know if MLS or Houston Dynamo could get into that kind of bidding and still be able to make a go of it if single entity, and more importantly the salary cap, were abolished. The obvious lessons from other American sports (free agency = good; salary floors = good; salary caps = meh; revenue sharing = good; positive relationships based on mutual respect between labor (millionaires) and management (billionaires) = very, very good) don't always apply because none of them have to compete in an international player market that covers so many economic situations prevailing in so many markets. The complexity boggles the mind, and since we don't know exactly what the finances of MLS, SUM and USSF truly are, there is no way to make a rational judgment.

What we do know is that Association football in America is strong and growing stronger. From ESPN's commitment (sometimes questionable, but the dollars don't lie) to the sport, to the hundreds of thousands that turn out for international country and club friendlies, Americans are responding and the sport is clearly ready to burst onto the consciousness, or at least more ready right now than it ever has been since the Cosmos/NASL glory days. It is a fact that MLS attendances outdraw Serie A, as well as Ligue Un and almost every other league in Europe with the exception of the Bundesliga (NO ONE outdraws the Bundesliga. Bundesliga uber alles!!). If there's a successful World Cup this year (Two measures of success for American markets: 1. Great tournament with no shenanigans, terrorist, crime or otherwise; and 2. USA does well. Having just No. 1 might MIGHT be more than enough to make it a success in US markets.), then money could flow, and pressure might be exerted by ESPN and others to get MLS to loosen up and let teams spend more and grow more and compete in the international player market more.

If. Could. Might. We'll been down versions of this path before. Is this one different? You have more of a historical perspective than I. What thinketh thou?

PLAYTHERAPY: I agree- it's time for MLS to go beyond rules created for sustainability @ infancy. Soccer will surpass second tier sports in the next few decades. All it has to do is survive as the minority demographic change, making those WASP surburbanites so eagerly sought in the late 90's the minority.

When this translates into Nielsen ratings- we've arrived. This is the argument to just hold on and keep expanding- creating more TV markets.

Yet MLS has to evolve with what's going on in the outside. Clearly, the US marketed to the wrong crowd, to the soccer moms with the shootout and the game clock stopping during the stoppage of play. The thought was that us fans weren't sophisticated enuff to accept ties or the mystery of stoppage time.

This alienated us fans seeking soccer, not some PR fast food version. Soccer lovers have always been here, hence the enormous crowds @ friendlies- both club and international, or WC 1994. it's not the love of soccer that's missing- it's interest in the MLS.

That's key= especially with Fox Soccer, GOL TV, Mexican football, ESPN deporto (or whatever it's called), and other cable soccer offerings. Soccer lovers want to love soccer, not wince @ a poor quality facsimile.

The 2nd generation of those immigrants- legal or not (don't think Nielsen or advertisers care) are the key. SkyTV made the EPL what it is, and until MLS can deliver the TV and advertising numbers, having good attendances that beat other noteworthy ligas matter little.

Yet current league rules discourage quality home grown talent staying in the MLS once they've got a name. This is muy importante. For ongoing growth, we need to find a way to:

1. Keep americano talent here. This means some middle ground towards the labor union.
2. We need Mexican players!

The first problem may take a while but incremental steps need to be taken toward creating the foundation for keeping the Clarks, the Holdens, and the Dempseys here a few years longer. Keeping Donovan here as long as we have has been a major accomplishment.

As for Mexican players, we need to be very careful signing Mexican national team players far past their prime. For every Blanco or Suarez, we get several more Hermosillos, Campos' or Hernandez'. Mexican flops decrease interest. Who wants to wince as they see their favorite idol fail in a league thought to be weaker???

Houston hads the right idea with Landin (though I greatly disagree with the DP designation and think that's why he's still here). MLS teams need to sign quality Mexican youth. I would even add a provision for signing Mexican youth which is similar to the Gen Adidas players. Canada needs to be added to this as well and, in the spirit of NAFTA, Mexican and Canadien players should not be counted as internationals. While this might decrease the quality of our national team in the short run, it would greatly enhance the quality of the MLS, especially with expansion. Furthermore, it would improve interest, especially TV ratings.

Considering the Canadiens, it's only fair. I'm unsure if this rule has already been changed or not since Mo Johnston's lobbying.

It's TV where we have to compete. A good 2010 US world cup showing PLUS the WC retrurning here in the next few years would greatly increase interest temporarily, yet quality is what will make fans stay tuned in.

I like Jimmy Conrad's off season musing about promotion/relegation. The naysayers, forever worshipping @ the US sports model, forget:
1. Soccer is unlike other sports
2. We are starting from scratch in that we have a young league.
3. Unlike other sports, soccer here competes with the rest of the world. All I have to do is buy cable and switch channels to watch soccer abroad.
4. The same naysayers said we had to have shootouts, no ties\, and no stoppage time. We have actually done better without this.
5. Creating a relegation/promotion system actually creates a more solid domestic professional infrastructure top to bottom.
It also cements healthy ties between amateur and professional, something missing in the US purely becuase it does not need to exist.
6. Difference offers something new. The big three US megasports have lost touch with their audiences.
7. Maybe we should be open to other perspectives and possibilities. Remember, the critics said we'd never make it past the 5 yr mark. It wasn't the Americanization of the sport that caused this. It was the fans' love of soccer, which should always be kept in mind.

MARTEK: Hmmm. I still think the WASP suburbanites must be part of MLS' diverse audience. Don't cater to them, but they need to be made welcome. Lots of money in them burbs!

Good news from Mike Chabala's Twitter feed: ""I can't wait for training tomorrow, I'm gonna kick 6 people....It's gonna be awesome." -Eddie Robinson (my teammate)"

Now that's some Johnny Rocco action for you (Edward G. Robinson from Key Largo)!

All tweaks to the rules are stupid, which the NCAA must learn if the colleges are to be a true training ground of US talent. That's a whole other can of worms, and I hate that structure, but I honestly do not see any other thing happening right now.

Unless, unless, unless, unless, unless....

The new NASL/USL structure makes a truly viable second, developmental, tier.

But that being said, I still do not see promotion/relegation happening here. I think the truth of the matter is that if leagues around the world were being created from scratch, there's no way, NO WAY, that any owners would agree to that structure. In the US, relegation would not be a demotion for a year or so, with hopes to play well and return, ala Newcastle in 2009-10. It would be a death sentence. Do you think FC Dallas, were it to get relegated, would be able to survive that financially? Columbus? Kansas City? Or for that matter, Dynamo? (Maybe the latter. Maybe.) In order to have p/r, the league would have to guarantee that teams facing the drop would not lose more than a token amount of cash from league-wide rights fees and broadcast rights. In short, the second tier would have to be as financially solvent as the top. Can you see that happening? No way.

Don't get me wrong. I would love it, and I think American fans, both casual and not, would love it as well. But no one would love watching those teams go out of business, which I think is what would happen unless financial guarantees are made. And if those guarantees are made, what would be the incentive for teams to spend and win? So it gets circular. I think that it's a false equivalency to conclude that saying no to p/r is the same thing as saying yes to no ties/shootouts and clock stoppages. P/R speaks to the very solvency of clubs, unlike those other items. It is organizational, not game-related. If you can guarantee teams will not go out of existence due to p/r, then yes, make it happen. If not, then no.

You are correcto in that all NAFTA players should be counted the same. That to me is so obviously in MLS' interests, I am very surprised it has not happened. That should happen hand-in-hand with higher, or at least somewhat competitive, wage scales, the resumption of the reserve league and expansion of rosters. Also, teams should have right of first refusal to players developed in their academies (though perhaps losing this if those players instead go to college and play there?). If refused, then those players get to go in the draft along with collegians. Said academies should exist as an alternative to colleges and teams from academies should all play in the PDL at least, maybe higher in the pyramid. Have another draft that is high school only to give all teams equal access to the same players and prevent hiding, swooping in and hoarding. If the drafted high schoolers don't want to go to the academies/teams, then they can always go to college and reenter the SuperDraft a few years later.

Unlike many, I like the idea of drafting and think it is a cost effective and fair way to get unproven players in need of development into the system. I like the idea of socialistically leveling playing fields when it comes to development and revenues. Establish a salary floor to ensure that all teams have to pay out a certain amount in player salaries/compensation/development and make the only difference be who is better at using their equal resources. Make the differences be ones of coaching, playing, etc., not T-shirt sales, local TV revenues, gates, etc. Then the best organization wins, or at least comes close.

But all of this is money, money, money. Does it exist? I think it does, though I have no proof of same. What do you think? Read more!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dynamo Park to the Houston Galleria?

So Dynamo have begun looking to build a stadium on the city's near West side.

And Channel 13's report can be seen here:

Right now this looks possibly just too good to be true. I don't trust it somehow. But maybe I'm just being paranoid.

A truly fascinating idea and equally as good in many ways. This is not a suburban site, or at least not now. (It was a suburban site when I was growing up in Meyerland in the 1970s, but the only thing that proves is that I am old.) It's very urban and the one advantage is that it would not be competing with Minute Maid Park for parking on nights when both Ds are playing at the same time (Dynamo and the Dis-astros). It's also very close to many ethnic neighborhoods, of both affluence and not. And the freeways make it easily accessible.

However, would it be on or near a Metro rail line? I am not familiar with the Metro rail designs for that area, if indeed there are any. Anyone know?

I still prefer the downtown site, with the buildings rising in the background, but this is an intriguing idea to say the least.

TSU's involvement is part of the city's deal, right? Does this mean the city would be out of the picture? Or TSU? Do we really want the city out of the picture? That could be a good thing or a bad thing.

I really, REALLY hope this does not muddy the waters. The Westpark location is good, actually very good, but the downtown location would be better, though right now, I'm at a loss to go into a whole lot of detail on why exactly it would be better. So maybe this is something rare, some actual good news. Pardon me while I cower in fear and do not wholeheartedly believe that.

There is a discussion on the possible Galleria area site at Read more!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Landon Donovan in Mexican commercial

If you've not seen this yet, you should. Landon Donovan starring in a Mexican Lottery commercial. They loves our Landycakes south of the border something fierce! I am rolling over this. Read more!