MLS: The Collective Rankings, Final Edition: Contenders and Makeweights

As alluded to in the preamble to my most recent power rankings (link below), I think the looming end of the 2007 regular season has pushed these things to the point of irrelevance.  As such, I’m putting the Semi-Detached Pundit Collective on ice till the 2008 season.  I’d like to thank all the participants – witting and otherwise – for compiling one version, at least, of conventional wisdom on how Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 13 franchises stack up against each other.  I found compiling these educational and hope people reading them did as well.

Moving to the practical, the early posting means I’m going to miss Sports Illustrated’s rankings altogether – and the earlier than usual posting could also screw over MLS Underground (who, I think, usually have their rankings posted by now) and Fire_Juve10.  With regard to those last two, sorry to jump the gun, but between struggling to see the relevance of these, the belief that the time has come for other projects (must start cranking out seasons-in-review, must make time…), and a couple circumstances best not gone into, getting this over with seems a good idea.  And, while you’re at it, put the general malaise down to my sense that the data below won’t tell us what we actually want/need to know about MLS right now.

Here are the participants for this final pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
My Soccer Blog
WVHooligan
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Goal.com (Kyle McCarthy)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)
Fullback Files
Tim (the Enchanter)

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

1. DC United, 1.0 (#1 X 9; last week, #1, 1.0)
2. Houston Dynamo, 2.6 (#2 X 5; last week, #3, 3.5)
3. Chivas USA, 2.7 (#2 and 3 X 4; last week #2, 2.0)
4. New England Revolution, 4.1 (#4 X 6; last week, #4, 3.7)
5. Chicago Fire, 4.8 (#5 X 6; last week, #5, 4.9)
6. FC Dallas, 6.6 (#6 X 5; last week, #6, 6.4)
7. Red Bull New York, 6.9 (#7 X 5; last week, #7, 7.4)
8. Los Angeles Galaxy, 7.7 (#8 X 4; last week, #8, 8.1)
9. Kansas City Wizards, 9.3 (#10 X 5; last week, #9, 8.3)
10. Colorado Rapids, 9.8 (#9 and 10 X 4; last week, #10, 10.7)
11. Columbus Crew, 11.1 (#11 X 6; last week, #11, 11.0)
12. Real Salt Lake, 11.8 (#12 X 5; last week, #12, 11.1)
13. Toronto FC, 12.8 (#13 X 7; last week, #13, 13.0)

– DC’s #1, blah, blah, blah.  Seriously, who apart from DC’s fans actually want them to win the Cup?  It feels like 1997 all over again.  If, by some miracle, DC plays Colorado in the final, I’ll boycott the game.

– This isn’t to say DC hasn’t earned the top spot.  They have.

– I’d say the most interesting thing in this week’s rankings comes with the only – I mean, literally, only – change in the order from last week: Houston and Chivas flipped.  But note the numbers: 2.6 for Houston, 2.7 for Chivas.  Looks like the SDPC has high expectations for Saturday’s game (which will air on FSC).

– The last thing that bears commenting upon is the balance between contenders and makeweights.  I think the list of outright contenders ends with Chivas USA; New England has looked shaky down the stretch – and the rankings reflected as much – and Chicago is in the mix thanks in part to a couple wild-hair calls from clowns like me (I plugged ‘em in at #3).  Call those two “bubble contenders.”  No one expects much, I don’t think, from the teams south of Chicago in the rankings, albeit with LA standing as a possible “hot-team” exception.  I’d say the 1.8 gap in average between Chicago and Dallas speaks to a general perception that teams on the wrong side of that are mainly there to make up the numbers.

– Assuming LA doesn’t make it (and I think they won’t; who’s with me?!  CHARRGE!!), here’s my pick for the one team in the “makeweight” category I can see surprising anyone: FC Dallas.  Is that crazy?  Probably.  Did I just jinx them?  Again, probably.  No hard feelings, right guys?

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Surgery, black day in England, 15 minutes of fame

This may be the most random post ever, but since it is anything goes here at Center Holds It it’s A-Ok.

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Surgery

I haven’t been around lately as I’ve been laid up with an ankle injury that has consumed my life. But that’s normal for me.

I’ve had ankle problems since 1997 basically (and I’m only 24!). For the last 10 years, my ankle has been swollen to the size of a softball more often than not. I roll my ankle walking, playing golf, not even to mention playing soccer.

What you see above is a picture from my MRI. I went to an ankle specialist today to meet with him, and he looked at my MRI and said. ‘Oh yeah, I can see the problem right there.’
I said ‘What can you see?’
He said ‘See right there (pointing) you have no ligament attached to your ankle.’

Awesome.

If you look on the picture on the left hand side, the black rope looking thing is my ligament that goes on the outside of your ankle over the bone to hold your ankle from rolling over and providing general stability. See at the top where it is not attached. Yeah, that is supposed to be attached on the side of the bone up a ways from where it is now. The sad thing is the ligament has probably been unattached for years, but they never did an MRI in my first surgery in 2002. Grrr.

So I have to have what’s called a Brostrom Surgery, where they reattach the ligament to your ankle bone with screws and anchors so it becomes stable. Based on what I’ve read it seems to be pretty painful, so that doesn’t look fun, When it’s all said and done, I should be back to playing soccer in 4 months fully and won’t roll my ankle anymore playing golf, walking, etc.

Has anyone out there in the CHI community had Brostrom surgery? Just wondering what your experinces are. Mine is Dec 17th which means I’ll be blogging like no other come December.

Black day in England

Wow, way for England to blow a 1-0 lead and go down 2-1. They looked terrible and my god, Paul Robinson is absolutly shocking in goal. He should have held on to the rebound on the first goal. When will someone wake up and realize that he is terrible. I have to say I didnt see the second goal as my non exactly legal feed of the game in Mandarin Chinese was interrupted by my homework. A plagued Scottish side also went down 2-0 to Georgia (yes, that’s not a misprint). Amazing, you beat France, in France, and then lose to Georgia. Wow, if that isn’t shocking I don’t know what is.

15 minutes of fame

I find the Baker and Kelly podcast to be one of the funniest things I listen to. A few weeks ago they wanted emails about amazing halftime-fulltime speeches. I sent them in an email about my high school soccer coach and it got read on the air. Simply for the fact at they put it ‘because he’s from Niagara Falls’. So when they talk about Ryan Knapp, thats me. If you download the latest podcast from last weekend titled ‘Niagara, Whitesnake….’ Around 11 minutes in they read out and discuss my email. It made my day driving home from Ohio State last weekend.

DS, 10.17: Before the Post-Season*; Chicago Could Be Better; Chivas Ain’t Dead Yet

I have to post the Daily Sweeper early, so’s I can go into hiding from the soccer world, thus leaving open the possibility of watching the U.S. v. Switzerland on tape-delay.

* I have some kind of psychological resistance/distaste for the word “playoffs.”

Moving on…

– Though I’m posting MLSnet.com’s useful enumeration of the varying alternate realities-to-be that will define who makes the 2007 post-season, I have to confess my total inability to read it to the end without going cross-eyed.  Wake me up Sunday…

– In his most recent, post-season-themed First XI, Bob Bradley snuck in a question worth considering:

6. To play? Or rest? The question of the week for D.C., New England, Dallas and New York is ‘how seriously do you take the game?’ While many would argue that those clubs should be obligated to put their best teams on the field, I’d ask ‘why?’ Why risk an injury to a player when there’s nothing you can change in the standings?”

For the record, Bradley goes on to vote they should rest their players.  I disagree with him with one exception: ‘d rest my players if I was DC.  As for the others: New England, having lost their last two, could really use a win – outright bullying Toronto would go one step better; Dallas and Red Bull need to get their shit wired on defense, Red Bull even more so given recent changes in their back line; on top of defense, Dallas could use more on-field time to get their post-Denilson offense on track.  So, yeah, I’d start my first team if I were were Steves Nicol and Morrow and Bruce Arena.

– Luis Arroyave’s Red Card reports that Ivan Guerrero and Justin Mapp won’t be available for Sunday’s game against LA.  Just think how much better Chicago could be with both those players healthy…damn.

– Luis Bueno answers the fretting about Ante Razov’s absence from Chivas USA’s starting line-up.  Laurent Merlin ain’t such a bad second banana, even if playing requires a change in approach at a less than ideal time.  I think Luis may be on to something.

MLS Expansion: Double-Down on PAC NW & Beyond

My local paper reports this morning that Major League Soccer’s (MLS) top officials are again eyeing the Rose City’s potential as an expansion market. While nothing definitive appears in the article- for instance, no talk of negotiations, advanced or otherwise – it’s easy to disregard this as a simple means of keeping the lines of communication open. Indeed, the official line on the visit boils down to providing MLS Commish Don Garber with a chance “to see [PGE Park] in ‘game condition’ for a significant event.”

Reality aside, however, just seeing the reefer to the headline on the top of The Oregonian’s sports section set some wheels to spinning in my head – and those along somewhat urgent lines. Between Merritt Paulson’s (perhaps throw-away) figure on what it would cost to get the Portland Timbers’ PGE Park up to MLS standards and with a Seattle team to MLS looking powerfully firm for a rumor, it occurs to me that the future is now for Portland getting an MLS team.

Let’s separate this to make it prominent: Portland should get a Major League Soccer franchise in the same round of expansion that takes in Seattle, which looks to be 2009.

Clear self-interest aside (self-interest? where!?), a couple things recommend getting the Pacific Northwest “toe” in the national footprint in place all at once. To begin, if Seattle plays in one league and Portland in another, the risk of the rivalry between them losing its bite grows with each year – e.g. Seattle gets fixated on, say, San Jose, while Portland starts worrying about Vancouver’s Whitecaps. Pull both teams into the league at once and – Whammo! – enjoy the eye-gouging basement brawl between two expansion teams already entangled in regional rivalry. Second, the simultaneous move not only folds the Pacific Northwest region into league with a bang, it essentially wraps up the Western coast footprint. After Portland, Seattle and San Jose, where else does MLS go in a 18, or even 20, team league?

The last piece provides a nice segue into the larger question of expansion: where does MLS go to get its 18 teams by 2012? Continue reading

EPL Daily 10.17: Goodbye Sammy Lee; Terry out; Brad Guzan targeted by Gunners?

Less than a year after taking over at Bolton, Sammy Lee has parted ways with the Wanderers after just 9 EPL games in charge. Pretty easy to see why – when you have Nicolas Anelka, Kevin Nolan, Gary Speed, El-Hadji Diouf at your disposal and somehow ALL are underperforming at the moment, it is time to move on. Mutual consent is the word on the street and no word on the replacement as of yet. Bolton – in European contention last season at this time – sits right above league whipping boys Derby. Did anybody else think Lee’s appointment was a bit of a hasty one to begin with? He has a superb knowledge of the game, but can’t man-manage worth crap. It could be that he was faced with big egos like Anelka and Diouf from the get-go, but almost every EPL manager has to deal with that. Wonder where he’ll end up next.

John Terry is out against Russia for England’s second-to-last Euro 2008 Qualifier. Wayne Rooney has stated that not qualifying for Euro 2008 would be devastating and Terry’s injury certainly doesn’t help, but injury problems have plagued England as of late and yet they have still come up with results. A win versus Russia potentially guarantees a qualification and without Terry – Sol Campbell comes in. Don’t mean to jinx anybody, but England has been looking good and were without Terry against Estonia. Therefore, if the offense is firing – Campbell is more than capable of shoring up an ailing defense.

Apparently, Chiva USA’s Brad Guzan is being scouted by Arsenal and it looks like he is at the top of their keeper shortlist with a goalkeeper at 30 and 38 years old. Lehmann is ready to go and Almunia has been decent lately, but Guzan – 23 years old – would be well-suited for a career in the EPL and as many have seen, although he has been improving, Guzan has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential. At 6’4″, 215 lbs., Guzan possesses the size to be a goalkeeper but it’s his ‘wise beyond the years’ knowledge of the game that is extremely appealing to EPL scouts. An American in goal at Arsenal? That would cover three of the Big Four – Friedel at Liverpool, Howard at Man Utd, and Guzan?? What do you think of him? Does Guzan have the tools to make it across-the-pond? Other news from the Emirates is that the Gunners have launched a $20 million bid for the apparently unsettled Olympique Lyonnais striker Hatem Ben Arfa (Karim Benzema stealing all your thunder)?