MLS Daily Sweeper, 09.12: Playoff Push; Nats Chat; Awards; LA Sickness; Apology to the Women’s Game

– Ives Galarcep picks through the traffic jam rushing toward the seventh and eighth playoff spots. I think he’s got it about right – though do feel obliged to acknowledge the distinction between what is actually right or real and that with which I agree.

– Credit USSoccerplayers.com’s Ken Pendleton for writing a column that makes we want to reel off my favorite point about the comparative progress made by the U.S. Men’s National Team (“It’s been ten fucking years, people! It’s at least another 10 to water-into-wine, never mind raising the dead!”), but, picking through the aftermath of last weekend’s loss to Brazil, he makes a subtler point. This excerpt, which by no means does the whole piece justice, gets at a crucial distinction:

“Goalkeepers aside, however, the US still has not produced a player who merits comparison to Ronaldinho, Kaká, Robinho, Daniel Alvez, or even Diego and Julio Baptista, for that matter. In fact, a good case could be made that Ramos and Reyna, as well as Hugo Perez, had better balls skills and were more creative than any player that has come along since.”

In other words, this isn’t the stale gripe that we’re not improving exponentially; instead Pendleton acknowledges a general improvement while lamenting persistent shortcomings on an individual level. Can’t say I disagree with that a whole lot.  He closes with what needs to happen and, without putting unwarranted faith in the MLS’s plans for player development, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re headed in the right general direction.

– I don’t plug RSLFM.com, but that could be because I fear its slick layout. I mean, look at their preview for tonight’s game against DC United; it’s like a frickin’ media guide! What do you get outta me? The profanity-laced ravings of a bald guy on the wrong side of 35 sans eye candy.

– The end-of-year awards thing tend to pass me by…oh, hell with it; I think the awards are silly and I don’t get so much as the minutest flutter of satisfaction out of them; only games, trophies, and wins matter…which is probably why I never got wind of the Newcomer of the Year award. But, if you’re into this kind of thing, the New York Times’ Goal blog handicaps the Newcomer race. WVHooligan goes…let’s see…one…two…three…five better and handicaps all the awards.

– The latest report on the injury-ravaged horrorshow that is the LA Galaxy.

– Finally, earlier in the week I griped about the lack of parity in the women’s game (I’m not going to find the link, but accept full responsibility for my writing).  Grant Wahl, who certainly knows better than me, states outright this will be the most competitive Women’s World Cup ever…though only after unpacking an incredible amount of crap about Beckham.  So, I hereby acknowledge my knee-jerk ignorance.  And Dwight Schrute did a promo for them (hat-tip: The Beautiful Game); he’d never do that for me…in spite of me watching The Office religiously….

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Dang…Post YOUR Power Rankings here

Almost forgot to get this out here: those wanting to be a stone in the Collective Power Rankings Edifice can leave their rankings – or a link to their rankings – in the comments below.

And, whoops again, it’s Major League Soccer (MLS) we’re ranking.

MLS Week 23 Power Rankings: Formula MLS

A couple new things to flag this week: first, some major rearranging blew through the Top, um, 9 this week, the result of some sober reconsideration of a couple teams; second, now that we’re clearly in crunch-time I’m going to list the next “Week’s” game(s) for each team after I rank ‘em.  And, as always, last week’s ranking appears immediately after this week’s in parentheses.

So…what’s “Formula MLS”?  It’s pretty straight-forward: build a team that’s simultaneously athletic and hard-to-beat, top it off with a striker or two capable of a telling moment of magic.  This applies to more than one team below; not coincidentally, the teams that work this well hang around the top of the rankings.  Now…on to this week’s rankings:

1. (1) DC United
Back when I followed the Premier League, during those long, dark years when Manchester United couldn’t stop winning, it seemed like they never suffered a single injury and all their players looked fresh and rested every game – all the while, The Plague seemed to have walked off with half your team.  Things seem the same for DC this year, as if nothing can so much as harm them, never mind stop them.
In Week 24: Real Salt Lake (9/12; home)

2. (4) Chivas USA
What can I say?  I’m convinced: a solid team with a good mix of weapons up top spells success – they almost fit Formula MLS, but I detect a dash of something else.  They’ll be a seeded team, which, given their home record, should be enough to take Chivas to the second round of the playoffs.  But they do have to keep plugging away in the meantime.
In Week 24: LA Galaxy (9/13; home); Colorado Rapids (9/16; away)

3. (5) Houston Dynamo
As much as I believe they’ll hold on for one of the Western Conference seeds, these cats don’t convince.  The Dynamo works Formula MLS as well as anyone in the league, especially with Dwayne DeRosario out of sorts and Brad Davis injured.  As such, they rely on a “big body” to make it come together these days, which means they need Nate Jaqua to become/remain productive when Brian Ching is out.
In Week 24: LA Galaxy (9/16; away) Continue reading

Podcasts I can’t live without

I got an email the other day from a new soccer fan wondering where I seem to get all my soccer knowledge from.

Podcasts man, join the wave of the future!!

Whoever invented podcasts should get a trophy, really they should. It’s great, and gives me time to listen to tons of football news when I’m driving, working out, or even playing footy myself.

Here are the podcasts I listen to while I weep silently for the fact that yes, I too have a small penis. In order to access them, just open up I-Tunes and go to the Music Store and put the name in the search engine, hit subscribe and volia.

If you didn’t know how to do that before, how do you know how to use the E-Bays??

World Soccer Daily

It’s a two hour long show that is simply fantastic. It’s hosted by Steven and Howard, two British Expats who know loads about the beautiful game and are pretty funny too. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to this show, and if I find myself home from school one day, I call in or email too. They talk about football from all over the world and the callers can be entertaining too. The website for them is http://www.worldsoccerdaily.com

606 Football Phone-In

This comes courtesy of the BBC and is generally a 2 hour long show in England, but cut down to around 45 minutes for the podcast. Basically football fans phone in, usually stuck on the highway coming back from their team’s game, and they say what they have to say. It’s hosted by a plethora of funny English speakers. I love getting the random Scunthorp supporter calling in on his way home, it’s classic.

Baker and Kelly

Holy shit, I just got turned on to this podcast and looked like a complete moron on campus today while I was laughing my ass off for 45 minutes. Apparently this used to be a podcast way back when, but they stopped. They really didn’t talk much football today, but it was absolute quality. Some guy took the entire Manchester United team and compared their numbers with the worst 100 movies of all time.

The winner, Wayne Rooney was Meatballs 4, and shall now forever be known as such.

ESPNSoccernet Extra

This is an okay podcast without much really going on. They talk a lot of English football, which is good, but it’s more for information and not for laughs. Still a good listen.

Football Weekly on Guardian Unlimited
This show I like because they focus on more European leagues like La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A and have correspondents from the respective countries call in and discuss the league.

If anyone else like me listens to podcasts and have any more to add to the list, go ahead, add them in. And if you know a good MLS one, let me know too.

La Liga Para Todos Sept 11th–Palop signs for Sevilla, Happy Birthday Betis (cough cough), Pay me says Laporta

Lets get started shall we, I have too much homework to still do at 1:26am tonight.

—Andres Palop resigned for Sevilla a few days ago, but I just got around to reporting it today. He signed with Sevilla until 2011, essentially ending the now 34 year old’s career in Sevilla. He has expressed desire to end his career in Andalucia, thus his wish is our command. Palop has been essential in Sevilla’s success over the past 18 months and will be crucial in their run in the Champions League this year and in La Liga.

—That other team from Sevilla, Real Betis, turned 100 years old today. Feliz Cumpleaños Betis, but you still suck.

–The story that caught my eye today was always animated Barça president Joan Laporte saying that he is essentially sick and tired of having to loan players out for international duty without being compensated by their respective nations. He said ‘It is an embarrassment’ I don’t know about the embarrassment part, but it does throw a kink in things when one of your stars goes on international duty and gets hurt (ie Michael Owen in the 2006 World Cup) But for many it is a honor to play for their country, and it is one of the few chances that the players get to travel back home, so they take full advantage of it.

But as always La Palabra del día

Un crack-a great player, a superstar, someone that has immense talent.

Mira como juega Kanouté, es un crack.

EPL Daily 9.11: Fergie attacked!

Sir Alex Ferguson was attacked at a Euston train station in London on Monday afternoon. Apparently, Fergie sustained leg injuries but was able to carry on some 9/11 remebrance ceremonies the next day. Described as 40 or older – there was no word as to whether or not the attacker was Danish or insanely inebriated.

Other than that, quiet day on the EPL front. England boss Steve McClaren has signaled for some possible changes in the lineup against Russia tomorrow.