DS, 10.11: Chivas Notes; Single Table Rumors; It’s Gotta Be St. Louie + More

There’s so much good stuff out there today…let’s just say I had to cut more than I wanted up to and including those Seattle announcement rumors (crap…there it is; for the record, I don’t buy them). Moving on…

– A half-mysterious injury to Maykel Galindo makes for one of the less-reported items coming out of the Chivas USA camp. As much as that impacts tonight’s game against FC Dallas (great preview), there’s the longer term to consider – as in what this does to Chivas’ MLS Cup chances.

– “Operation: Improve MLS” gets a quantity of suggestions equal to or, possibly, exceeding the number to fans of the league. Believe me when I say I’m not making fun; I come up with an idea per day on my own. But the hoariest of these tinkerings got new life today when the ever-entertaining MLS Rumors floated another one about MLS going to a single table in 2008. It occurs to me now that I should one day track MLS Rumors’ record against reality, but for now, I’m just going to point readers to a semi-formal single table v. status quo poll set up by the Toronto FC Offside. Let’s just say I surprised myself with my answer:

“I never thought I’d write (or say) this, but I’m going with the playoffs. I think it was Craig who helped me see the light. At the same time, I’d shrink Craig’s playoff pool, even as I have to admit that in a 20-team league, eight teams making the playoffs wouldn’t look f-ing ridiculous as it does with 13 teams. Fundamentally, though, I like how baseball, the most patriotic of all American sports, limits the post-season party to a few teams. I’d go with a four-team post-season, two from each conference. We’re looking for the best of the best, right? “

Inexplicably absent from all that is the central reason for sticking with the status quo: the U.S. is f-ing big y’all; conferences make sense given that reality. Whatever you think, All y’all should head over to join the fun.

– In one of my favorite pieces of the day, Bill Urban wrote up all the reasons why David Beckham should NOT make a “glorious return” for LA Galaxy’s post-season run. My favorite line:

“Instead of admiration for their surge into playoff contention, the work the Galaxy players have done to get into that position would be cheapened, denigrated, and lost in the media spasms of the Return of the King.”

Yes, yes, yes. One other thing puzzles me – and I noticed it from the earlier Beckham games: what the hell was Pete Vagenas doing riding pine when Beckham is on the field? That doesn’t add up for me.

– Whoops. Botched my order. More good news out of St. Louie, though of the variety that comes short of guarantees. Even so, I don’t know how they don’t become MLS’s 16th franchise, I really don’t…which isn’t to say I’ll be surprised when they get skipped (and Portland is out there as well; a lot of people are picking up on that today; sorry, no links though).

– Finally, I didn’t think I’d like this, but it left me grinning so it must be good, right? Dave Martinez, who toils (what other verb applies when it comes to Red Bull?) on the Red Bull New York Offside, got to play FIFA ’08 with Josmer Altidore. An entirely charming story, as well as a good interview, came out of that….and, yeah, he’s a nice kid and all, but I think Jozy is a bit nuts for thinking Red Bull has a shot at MLS Cup.

For the record, I’m still rocking the Stone Age with FIFA 2004 – and I suck at it. FIFA ’08 sounds too hard.

MLS Week 28 Collective Rankings: Theories to Be Tested

There’s so much good, good stuff and so many angles to size in the data put out by the Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC) this week that I hardly know where to begin.  May as well start with the easy stuff: it’s an eleven-pundit pool thanks to Ryan Hunt making the deadline and the discovery that Goal.com’s weekly wraps end with power rankings (c’mon, people, I can’t find all this on my own).

Moving to the good, good stuff, I think the pundit pool has finally reached decent consensus on where each of the 13 teams belong; allowing for the exception of Houston and New England, each Major League Soccer (MLS) team was assigned the rank they hold in the standings by the most pundits.  To wrap all that up, DC remains undisputed #1, but no less significantly, Chivas stands as undisputed #2.  After that, you’ve got Houston virtually tied with New England, which proceeds to a middle passage that begins with Chicago before meandering past the twin make-weight, playoff-bound mediocrities known as Red Bull and FC Dallas; from there, we rubber-neck past the LA/KC tangle for last-playoff-place honors before running into the tight tangle of half-starved urchins – Colorado, Columbus, and RSL – with faces pressed hungrily and hopelessly against the playoff glass.  And, left out skulking in the cold sits Toronto FC at lonely #13.

But still another angle presents itself.  Anyone who compiles rankings makes a claim or claims of greater or lesser eccentricity, an outlier of a vote as to how a given team will stack up against another.  Each of the 11 pundits in this week’s pool took one of these wild stabs (well…more or less wild) and that’s what I’m going to look at after the rankings: each pundit’s “pet” theories and whether they will hold up against the cold, clear evidence of Week 28’s results.  Call these The Eleven Theories to Be Proved, each of which will face trial by soccer in one of this weekend’s tilts.  (NOTE: The individual authors may not see their text as I see it; just let it be known I’m parsing each author’s numbers without their input or guidance.)

If that doesn’t make sense, here’s to hoping it will below.  I’m a bit smitten by the numbers today.  As for the mechanics, the usual stuff applies: in parentheses after the current week’s ranking and average, you’ll see the most common ranking for each team (e.g. three #1 votes, which will show below as “#1 X 3”) and the previous week’s ranking and average.

Here are the participants for Week 27’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
MLS Underground/American Soccer Daily
My Soccer Blog
Sports Illustrated (Ryan Hunt)
Goal.com (Kyle McCarthy)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)
Fullback Files
Tim (the Enchanter) & Fire_Juve10

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

Celtic fined 25,000 Pounds and Dida gets a 2 game ban

Breaking news on the Celtic-Dida debacle.

Celtic will be find 25,000 pounds and Dida gets a 2 game Champions League Ban.

More on The Other Football here

Rising Stars: 3 Coasting Under the Radar

Tulio de Melo

Tulio de Melo

Club: Le Mans (Ligue 1 [FRA])
Birthdate: January 31, 1985

This 22-year old Brazilian has been shipped around from Atletico Mineiro in Brazil to AaB in Denmark and now Le Mans in France over the past couple years. His production has doubled since arriving in Ligue One striking for 6 goals in 9 total appearances, putting him at 2nd on the scoring leaderboards behind the even younger Karim Benzema of Lyon. He scored 4 in the first three Ligue One games and, along with Grafite, is a big reason Le Mans sits in third this season after finishing 12th last year.

Solomon Okoronkwo


Club: Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga [GER])
Birthdate: March 2, 1987

20 years old and part of a Nigerian youth resurgence that is starting to pay dividends for leagues abroad. Okoronkwo started training with Hertha in 2005 and has slowly worked his way into the senior set-up. In 2007, he’s had 8 appearances – 6 as a sub – and has acted as the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Germany scoring three times so far this year. Tough as nails and – occasionally a bit dirty – this guy has the work ethic of Taribo West mixed with the finishing and toughness of Yakubu. Keep an eye out as he is expected to keep his first-team spot and will surely fill in where Marko Pantelic falters. Recent news on the Nigerian.

Marcus Berg

Marcus Berg

Club: FC Groningen (Eredivisie [HOL])
Birthdate: August 17, 1986

Four goals in his first six games in the Dutch Eredivisie is either damn good luck or something special must reside in this kid. At 21-years old, he made his mark at a young age for IFK Goteborg scoring 14 goals in 17 games his last season there. That feat caught the eye of Groningen – well renowned for their eye for future talent – who snapped Berg up in the summer transfer window not for cheap but so far, well worth the $5 million spent. He was brought in to replace a prolific Luis Suarez and Berg has so far fit the bill, but those who have him on the Swedish national team radar compare him to the equally prolific, former Villan Marcus Allback who still plies his trade for his country. Further information.