Daily Sweeper, 09.05: Ivan Gazidis’ Shame; More USOC; Bradley; WUSA

– I’m a little shocked at how few people picked up on the wholesome whack-job on Major League Soccer’s Developmental Contracts that Kristian Dyer wrote for ESPN. Then again this is kinda old news, so maybe that’s it. At any rate…

A good place to begin is looking at some details I didn’t know about regarding how those contracts are structured:

“The contract, in part, holds that the player will be paid at the ‘rate of $1,075 per month gross of taxes’ from March 1 to Dec. 31. In addition, the contract spells out incentives that can be earned as follows:

“1. MLS team 75 percent start: $5,000 if you start in 75 percent or more of the MLS league season games (including MLS regular-season and playoff games but not including the U.S. Open Cup or other tournaments) of the MLS team to which you are assigned.”

“2. MLS All-Star: $5,000 if you are named to the official MLS All-Star team.”

“3. MLS Rookie of the Year: $5,000 if you are selected as the official MLS Rookie of the Year.” Continue reading

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Post Your Power Rankings – here

I need them.  To make my Major League Soccer (MLS) collective rankings.  The more power rankings I get from all y’all the merrier.

If you post ranking on your own site, just drop in a link and I’ll roll ’em in with the rest.  If you don’t – or if you don’t have your own site (what?!) – just post your rankings in the comments below…and babble all you want.  Don’t cost nothin’…

MLS Week 22 Power Rankings: The End Is Near…and that matters

Something – perhaps rumors that the 2007 regular season will one day end – has me thinking of the rankings differently this week; I blame the article I read yesterday telling me the Houston Dynamo has only six games remaining. Fresh concerns about fundamentals and personnel – e.g. the quality of the defense or the presence of a “difference-maker” on a roster, crucially, one well integrated into the team – now creep into the picture on the theory that the time to get things right was yesterday.

Well, at least that’s what I’m telling myself as I pull these things out of my butt. Here goes… Continue reading

US Open Cup: MLS Recovers…Sort of

Looks like we have an all-Major League Soccer (MLS) final for the Lamar Hunt Kelloggs’ Rice Krispies U.S. Open Cup (LHKRKUSOC) on our hands – though it didn’t look that way till very late with both MLS teams relying on overtime to get through the semifinals.  Moreover, judging by FC Dallas’ win, one could argue the top-flight teams relied a little on a seemingly superior talent for conning the ref for their chief competitive edge.  I’m not talking egregious examples, mind you, but that’s kind of the point; it’s a subtle art and FC Dallas, at least, certainly had it down.

Could that really be the final piece to building a better professional?

I didn’t see the New England Revolution’s (slim) win over the USL-1 Carolina RailHawks and can therefore only pass on what I read: ‘twas a tight game, not unlike Dallas’ (slim) win over the Seattle Sounders…speaking of which…

The notes I took on last night’s game didn’t merit posting – I can’t say whether that’s down to the game or where my head was last night.  On the other hand, I can say the fact that few would mistake this game for a classic came to me around the end of regulation.  Was it close?  Certainly, though that applies to any game settled in overtime.  Hard-fought?  On one side, yes; that would be the Seattle side.  Whether Dallas suffered from fatigue or complacency I never quite pinned down, but they adopted a static, ball-watching approach that amounted to passing the ball to a succession of their players to watch them run at Seattle’s defense (e.g. “Here’s the ball, Juan.  You run at ‘em and we’ll keep an eye on things back here.”  “Here’s the ball, Arturo.  You run at ‘em…” etc.).

Both sides had their chances, though I’d give Seattle the edge in quality and menace over the game’s first 60 minutes.  Leighton O’Brien certainly kept Dallas’ defense busy as did (I think this is his name) Sebastian Le Toux and Taylor Graham (I watched extended stretches without sound, so I’m a bit weak on the names).  Dallas did have their forays toward Seattle’s goal, but it definitely took them a while to either warm to the task or get used to Qwest Field’s turf.  By the end of the game, though, Dallas’ attack gained momentum and urgency, even if the organizational side of things made only rare and feeble appearances.  All the same, the slightest whiff of the inevitable attended Dallas’ first goal.

Two more goals came – one a penalty-kick that simply had to be called, the other pulled back by Seattle too late to make a difference – but the first one decided it.  Hell, one could say Seattle hitting the crossbar once and failing to capitalize on multiple corners decided the game.  Dallas, to their credit, scrambled bodies across the defense when it counted, Sala came up big enough, and the MLS club even offered a half-competent attempt at killing off the game in the overtime period – though it’s here where the ref’s love of theater entered the game.  Dallas players not only made the most of any contact, but conjured a few game-delaying performances where no contact was made.  The online feed came from a Seattle broadcast and the Sounders’ homer announcers howled and laughed through all this.  And it was cynical, to be sure, but it also worked.  So, yeah, welcome to the Big Time, rubes.

Taken together, MLS upheld the top-flight’s reputation, if only just, but at least one of the finalists hardly covered themselves in glory in doing it.  As for Seattle, they argued more forcefully than any club in the country that the gap between the best of the USL and MLS isn’t as big as we might think it is.

And that was with a designated player (Denilson) on the field.

(Dang it.  I did want to mention one possibility here; it occurred to me as I watched that the introduction of Denilson might be at least a partial culprit for the timing and movement issues in the Dallas.  Then again, they looked just plain lazy/tired with fair frequency.  At least Denilson and Toja combined well here and there.)

Under-17 World Cup Finals: 1 in, 1 to go

Spain 2, Ghana 1

The Ghanaians will be hard-pressed to walk away from this one not feeling a bit odd. The game was truly equal, but it all came down to which team had the difference-maker. For Spain – Bojan has been that guy, all tournament. Yesterday’s semifinal was no different as it was his strike with 5 minutes to go the second extra-time that beat a Ghanaian squad most known this tournament for ejecting Brazil in the early knockout rounds. Speaking of ejections, Bojan – the gamewinner and an extremely promising Barcelona product – found himself ejected at the 120′ mark after accumulating two cautions. The game was presumably over and Ghana’s promising run came to an end, but not without already having a tremendous impact. Two players really stood out and many are poised to snap them up as future prospects – so watch out for the names – Ransford Osei (5 g) and Sadick Adams (5 g).

Germany vs. Nigeria TOMORROW

The last match-up today sees Germany as the favorites as they defeated a strong Ghana 3-2 in the first round as well as the revived American team and a tough England squad. Nigeria, though, has progressed through a minefield of a talent as well beating Argentina in the quarterfinals and dispatching of France in the round-robin stage. The Germans are led by Richard Sukuta-Pasu (4 g), a Leverkusen product, and a wise-way-beyond-his-years Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich – go figure – product), while Nigeria’s Macauley Chrisantus (6 g and tourney leading goalscorer) is making the kind of noise that German Bundesliga teams really like and aim to invest in. If the 17-year old can find enough chances and turn this thing into a shootout, I bet you Nigeria will come out on top. If the Germans hunker down and defend like they know how, it’s a Germany/Spain final. The way this tournament has been, however, favors the shootout and Nigeria in the final.

10 Bright Spots of Week 23: Benny O thinks he played RBNY, the Argies barge in, and Angel keeps pace

from Because I Think Way Too Much About Soccer…