(My) MLS News Wire: Tu y Yo, Eloy, Eloy, Eloy

– The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas City Wizards added to Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Argie contingent with the signing of Eloy Colombano.  WVHooligan has some thoughts.  My thoughts: I’m more worried about these guys’ defense; I mean, they’ve got Yura Movsisyan.  And what does this/could this mean for Carlos Marinelli?

– The Screaming Eagles Podcast breaks down the MLS standings in yet another way: by points-per-game.  Seems like a good measure to me, at least for clocking streaks.  FYI, sez there that Toronto FC ain’t gonna make it.

– The author of the FC Dallas Offside concludes his debate on the designated player rule with the argument “fer”; “agin,” in case you missed it, came out last week…and I think his heart was more in that one.

Salvaging the S.S. Colorado

“The Rapids are not only competing with other MLS franchises, they’re competing in a crowded sports landscape in Denver. A beautiful new stadium isn’t enough. The All-Star Game isn’t enough. David Beckham visiting Commerce City isn’t enough. Winning needs to become part of the equation, even though winning in soccer is not always a sure thing.”
– George Tanner, FC Rocky Blog, 08.09.07 (LINK)

“Today I wish the Rapids ownership, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, would do something to make me believe they care about their club. Today I would not, under any circumstances renew my season tickets. Today I don’t want to go to Saturday’s Rapids game.”
– Bonji, College to Pros, 08.08.07 (LINK)

Those two quotes, just an ort of the frustration stuffed into the scathing posts from which they were lifted, get at the larger issue about what’s going on in Colorado these days – the first sentence Bonji’s comments, especially. It’s as if Kroenke Sports people don’t recognize that Denver is, and long has been, a struggling market for Major League Soccer. If it weren’t for the physical fact called Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, I’d assume Kroenke (it’s Stan, right?) cherishes hopes of so offending the locals that they would chase him to a hotter market. All the floundering, the baffling trades (Greg Vanney for Facundo Erpen; Mehdi Ballouchy for Kyle Beckerman) and flatly stupid tactical decisions pointed out by Bonji, not only didn’t improve matters, but had almost no hope of doing so.

When a guy like Bonji, who cares enough about soccer to start a blog about it, utterly loses faith (not to mention two reporters fighting for a blog at a mainstream outlet), the situation virtually demands some form of action, even action of the symbolic variety. The easy option involves throwing over the clown working the bottom of the lifeboat with the hand-drill: Fernando Clavijo. This constitutes the easiest way to own up to the rotten emanations wafting from Commerce City while still doing what must be done – e.g. playing out the rest of the season; you need a team for that, so you’re stuck with the players. No coach could possibly turn around the season – salvage, maybe – so kicking the job down to a caretaker coach won’t do much harm. But the crucial thing comes with the front office signaling to fans (abjectly as possible) that it’s been nothing but claret-and-blue turds on the field since late May and that the front office knows it.

If Kroenke wants to show real contrition, he’ll double-down by kicking off a Gulati-style (i.e. high profile) search for a fancy-pants head coach who can reshape the franchise in 2008 in the same press conference where he fires Clavijo. If he’s smart, he’ll bring tar-and-feathers…though, at this point, I’m not sure fans wouldn’t seize the pot and go after Kroenke.

You’ll Never Walk Alone…

On my way out the door today, but had to post this.

I’m not biased when I write…but when it comes down to it, I know what teams I am loyal to.

This guy should win an Oscar, highlighted by the ‘Walk on through the rain’ with Rafa standing in a monsoon.

Go Pool!

Open Cup: Revs Win (Hello Dignity!); The Future

Having missed the game, I can’t speak to anything but the final score with a whole lot of confidence, but, suffice to say, the New England Revolution reached the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (LHUSOC) courtesy  of last night’s win at home over the Harrisburg City Islanders.

The local media for each city doesn’t cite refereeing errors or anything of the sort, so it seems we can chalk this one up to superior play trumping heart.  Or, to paraphrase New England head coach Steve Nicol, taking the evening as a whole, the Revs felt comfortable.

For the record, this marks only the second time in club history that the Revs have reached the LHUSOC (or even the USOC) semifinals; the last time came in 2001…and they made the final that year…where they lost…to Los Angeles…again…  (The official U.S. Open Cup site has nifty records of the MLS era, by the way.)

So…with all the LHUSOC quarterfinals wrapped up, who would you (yes, you, the person reading this right now) dub the tournament favorite?  Is it the upstart Seattle Sounders?  The “upstartier” Carolina Railhawks?  Or do the MLS clubs, faith-abusing FC Dallas or the New England Bridesmaids…er, Revolution, hold the upper hand?

My vote: Seattle.  In all seriousness, I’d be crapping my trousers right now if I were either MLS franchise.  And I’m still waiting word on where the final will be played.

MLS Week 18 Collective Power Rankings

Welcome to the first edition of the Collective Power Rankings for Center Holds It. This continues a project I started on the old site, in which I compared all the power rankings for Major League Soccer (MLS) posted at various outlets on the Web and average them; the idea is to build a consensus view of where each of the 13 teams in the league stand. And, to reintroduce the old short-hand, I call the (unwitting) participants in the project the Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (or SDPC). As always, I’ll flag any details within the numbers that speak to me.

With the long hiatus between today and the last collective rankings (way back in Week 15…or maybe even 14), I’m not going to refer back to the previous rankings, but will do so again for upcoming weeks.

The number of participants fluctuates every week – for instance, I had only eight to work with this week, a comparatively small sample – but if you do rankings and want to your figures included in the average, just drop me a line and I’ll roll you in with the rest. For now, though, here are the participants for Week 18’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
My Soccer Blog
MLS Underground/American Soccer Daily
WVHooligan (damned accurate this one)
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
Sports Illustrated (Ryan Hunt)
ESPN (another collective)

And…drumroll, please….here are the collective rankings:

Continue reading

Sunderland means business…

Roy Keane undoubtedly knows the importance of having a good keeper and opted for the diva from Hearts, Craig Gordon. Along the lines of the Black Cats being a freshly promoted team, you would expect the fee to sit somewhere in the $3 million to $7 million range. Not the case at all as Sunderland have used the rest of their Premiership financial boost to sign the promising Scottish keeper for $18 million.

Craig Gordon, Hearts

In the process of the signing – a record was broken – albeit, one that we would expect to be broken by one of the Big Four. Highest paid transfer fee for a keeper – ever- in England. Not even Chelsea had to dig deep for Petr Cech (“obscurity”, at Stade Rennais) or – as we all saw – nor did Man Utd for Edwin van der Sar (‘age’). Roy Keane was around, however, when the Red Devils flopped $15.5 million on Fabien Barthez, which barely worked out for a year or so. Upside: Gordon is gooood and young, already a Scottish international. A piece you can build a team around – cause you’re certainly not going to sell him for profit. Downside: If you got the money spend it, but is $18 million too much for a keeper?

Here’s what Gordon thinks about it, from Skysports:

“Prices are going up all over the place and it’s a big story because it’s a goalkeeper but I expect the prices to keep rising.

“I don’t think I’ll be the most expensive for very long.”

Was Marton Fulop that bad?? Goalkeepers speak up.

Can someone explain this???

David Beckham is doubtful, but might play, but… huh?

Yet 45,000 strong — and, of course, ESPN’s cameras — will be there hoping.