MLS Newswire, 08.16: O’Brien, DPs…no, I can’t write The Name again

– Bad news for Toronto FC fans: Ronnie O’Brien may need to go under the knife. Things haven’t been good in his absence. (Is it the turf?)

– Big hats off to Bill Urban, who wrote the post I once started but never completed. What accounts for the ongoing success of the Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution (sub-question: good God, will we really have to endure a repeat of last year’s final?). One answer: it’s not spazzing through a series of desperate trades. It’s a good article. I do have one talking point to add: neither team has a designated player. Coincidence?

– In a day of raves – including one written by the same author – Andrea Canales wrote what could very well be the least heroic account of LA’s win over DC in last night’s Superliga semi.

Superliga, Beckham and Getting TV Right (bonus: Clavijo Rumors)

A couple weeks back, the Powers That Be – I don’t know, at Soccer United Marketing (SUM) or in Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Halls of Power – decided to air the Los Angeles Galaxy’s visit to Toronto FC’s BMO Field on the tiniest of chances that David Beckham would manage his league debut. We all know how that panned out: a decimated TFC squad fought a bland, confused, and Beckham-less Galaxy to a draw – e.g. a mediocre game at best aired nationally.

Moreover, showing that game came at the cost of giving ESPN2 the night off from broadcasting what would have been tonight’s Soccer Thursday broadcast featuring the New England Revolution versus the Colorado Rapids. Now, I’m not about to argue tonight’s game will top the TFC v. LA affair for quality – hell, I’m expecting at least a half-dozen blown sitters out of Taylor Twellman and an own-goal to decide the game – but that’s not the issue. The issue is that the sum of these various decisions amount to swapping one mediocre game for another; add to that the break-even publicity garnered from airing that first game (more people tuned in, but to a lousy game) plus disappointing the expectation that New England v. Colorado will air as planned tonight on ESPN2 (as evidenced by the language used in a post on MLS Rumors that Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo could (finally) get canned if his team doesn’t win this “nationally televised game“) and you have a situation where you lost more than you gained.

Moreover, wouldn’t it just suck if Clavijo lived to coach another day based on the technicality of this game not being televised nationally?

With that error in the past, it’s time to correct another one on its way down the pike. As Who Ate All the Cupcakes so eloquently put it, albeit in service of a totally different point: “Pony up for the rights to the SuperLiga ESPN, don’t complain afterwards” (and it’s a good post by the way; though it doesn’t hold a candle to this one posted on the same site).

On the back of Beckham’s superbly-timed and narratively-sublime goal and with the following factors coming together – a decent likelihood of Beckham actually being available for the game, the general success of the Superliga both at the gate (in the semis, especially) and among the American soccer community, the Galaxy being in the final of said competition, the lucky coincidence this final will pit them against, not just any Mexican club, but the best of them – I can’t think of a better candidate for prominent, national broadcast outside MLS Cup (which no one watches anyway).

My issues (and the post*) with the breaks in Superliga play aside, it’s getting some good love out here in the Web (* I hereby retract my opinions about killed buzzes; I enjoyed both semis; I do still think they should create a break in the schedule and play Superliga within it). Whether it’s other voices correctly attaching the word “shame” to the decision to forgo English-language broadcasts, rock-solid ideas for re-branding the event, or good, random chatter (about halfway down the page under the header, “The Man Makes Some Solid Points”; hat-tip, du Nord), the right people took an interest in this event – and in spite of some serious handicaps. So, next year, let’s stuff the “World Series of Football” back up the disgusting hole from whence it came and make Superliga the highlight event it ought to be.

But, in the here and now, here’s my essential plea: don’t make me watch the final over a piece-of-shit on-line feed. You pricks.

MLS “News” & Where We Learn About Trades

In my (stupidly) exhaustive travels around the Web today, I came across posts and articles about Cuban defectors Lester Mor and Osvaldo Alonso getting closer to signing with Chivas (sadly, after searching high and low, I can’t find it), confirmation that Real Salt Lake has signed two of the three Argentines who have trained with the club for a couple weeks – an event, by the way, that brought the unfamiliar sensation of “excitement” (as opposed to the more familiar morbid dread) to the Salt Lake area – and, elsewhere, still another rumor says the Chicago Fire have singed defender William Conde from Colombia. Even if this last one isn’t news, strictly speaking, one could at least describe an attempt to sign any player as news, right?

Go the the “news” web-page on, though, and there’s nary a mention of any of this – even the stuff that is straight-up news.  Hell, you can even go to  RSL’s corner of the official site and there’s nothing.  There’s nothing on Chivas’ bit either.  Or the Fire’s.  Call me old-fashioned, or even curmudgeonly, but player signings, and even pursuit, should be bread-and-butter news.  The way things are going, MLS’s official site will become the last place fans go to get news.  And for what?  Some weird corporate policy about maximizing the fanfare?  Leaving more room for Beckham crap? should be the first, most reliable place for straight-up news, not the last.  Hire more friggin’ interns if you  have to, guys.  Oh, and it’s past time to get back up to snuff on the MLS Newsstand.  That thing has been dragging behind events for a couple weeks now.

If you’re looking to hire someone, I’m available….

MLS Week 19 Collective Power Rankings; The Three Tiers Hold

Like sands through the hourglass, so the season keeps spilling along – and the Collective Power Rankings are there to make sense of it all. As you’ll see below, large swaths of the Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC) (which, actually, boasts a small number) has anointed a new #1. That, and other revelations appear below, as will my typical comments on some specifics.

I’ll start with a general comment on what I’m seeing among SDPC figures: the past week’s games, though relatively few in number, had a taffy-esque on the pundits’ views. While everyone ranks the same four teams in the top four, the same four teams in spots #5-8, and the same five in spots #9-13, the range within all three tiers went haywire. With this in mind, I’ve added a new feature to these rankings: I’ll list the most frequently-given ranking for each of Major League Soccer’s 13 teams – e.g. FC Dallas received 5 of 7 possible first place votes, a data-point I’ll indicate with “#1 X 5,” as in voted #1 five times. That will precede the ranking and average “score” from last week’s collective rankings.

One final bit of business: I realized that what I’m doing here is very (very, very) similar to what ESPN does in compiling their power rankings. And, for a time, by including pundits like Ives Galarcep and Andrea Canales, I inadvertently added more weight to their rankings – i.e. because they’re already part of ESPN’s pool, adding them again here means they’re counted twice, etc. etc. So, that will be discontinued. For the record, or at least according to their header, Luis Bueno isn’t part of ESPN’s count, so I’ll continue to use him (who’s always more of an Sports Illustrated man, in any case; speaking of, SI’s rankings arent’ yet up; c’mon, Ryan…we’re on deadline over here).

With that in mind, then, here are the participants for Week 19’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
My Soccer Blog
MLS Underground/American Soccer Daily
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)

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

Kieron Dyer: from Magpie to Hammer.

The ‘as some would see it’ under-achieving, English international midfielder had moved on mainly to be geographically closer to his family (a little Landon Donovan-ish, even in the same country). Still fetched a firm $16 million and his exit was imminent especially when Dyer was left out of Newcastle’s recent 3-1 win over Bolton.

Good move for Allardyce to rid himself of Dyer, who seemed to exude the very ‘underperformance curse of the Magpies’ that many argue exists. A month ago, the deal seemed done but hit a snag when Newcastle asked for more money. After the Hammers lost their opening match 2-0 against Man City, however, the money became a non-issue and neither did Dyer’s tumultuous history with Newcastle and the injury bug. Instead, Curbishley saw the fact he was, when healthy, a very effective player – not to mention an England international. Only time will tell if this deal pans out – what you think of this move? Who wins?

Dani Alves is NOT leaving…again

Okay, so I decided I won’t even try to report on what is going on with Dani Alves anymore.

Today, I woke up to the headlines on ESPNSoccernet reporting that Sevilla has rejected the offer for Alves saying it was in essence too low.

‘Sevilla would like to clarify, in relation to the news in various media stories relating to negotiations between this club and Chelsea of England for the transfer of the player to the London club, that Sevilla has considered the offer made by Chelsea to acquire the player as way below the level expected by the club (Sevilla).

So basically it is just a money issue now and now we play the waiting game.

So until I see Alves in a Chelsea kit at Stamford Bridge, being hugged by Jose Mourinho, eating fish and chips in the rain, thats all I have to say about that.

Yeah…That Goal…and Everything about It

“As soon as the free kick was given, I don’t want to sound too confident, but I felt that I was going to score as soon as I had the ball in my hands,” Beckham said afterward. “It felt good. Sometimes you feel like that, sometimes you don’t get any feeling. But tonight, I had the feeling that I was going to score.”

I didn’t see it till this morning – and one can find the video on MLSnet’s main page; no shock there – but, yeah, it finally happened. And exactly as The Powers That Be would have wanted it.

Returning to my bag of first-date/sexual tension metaphors, the American soccer public has at long last enjoy its first true, hot roll in the hay from one David Beckham and, in truth, it was pretty top-notch (for the record, I’m talking about the goal here, which I happened to see on a reasonably smooth video feed, as opposed to the game, which I did not.) On the other hand, the most interesting thing I saw in the video was watching Kyle Martino as Beckham took the kick. Watch closely and I think you’ll see Kyle studying the physical mechanics of Becks’ free-kick from the best seat in the house.

Shh…he’s thinking… (oh, Dreamcast! where did it all go wrong?)

Good as it was to see Major League Soccer’s highest-priced toy working as advertised, imagine the moment for the player. To be absolutely sincere about it, even more than the goal itself, I wanted to see some pure form of joy and relief – a moment of catharsis – that makes sports of all kind worth watching. All the contrived goal celebrations in the world don’t hold a candle to those rare instances of pure, genuine excitement; think Carlos Ruiz falling to his knees when he scored the winner for the Galaxy in 2002’s MLS Cup.

Did we get that with Beckham’s goal last night? I think so. If the man himself lacked in enthusiasm – and I don’t think he did – his dog-piling teammates made up for it.

Oh yeah…and I here DC United was involved in some way. Good for them. And, in the video, did I see a trace of smile on Troy Perkins face? Much like Kelly Gray, who I think was the first MLS player subbed out for Beckham, Perkins owns the strange honor of being the first ‘keeper to be “Beckhamed.”

With regard to that last paragraph, frustrating as it may be at times to have so many discussions and commentary wend their way back to Beckham, there’s no point trying to wriggle away. Love him or hate him, Beckham is the story and will be for a while.