Interview with Jesus Alvarado on Sevilla FC Radio Tomorrow

As I mentioned in a previous post I recieved an invitation from Jesus Alvaredo, who is a god amongst Sevilla fans, to be interviewed on his radio show ‘Sevillistas por el mundo’ on Sevilla FC radio.

I’m going to talk about why I became a Sevilla fan and why I write both on here and on The Sevilla Offside. The show will be on Sevilla FC radio (link to the website here. In order to listen, click on the bottom where it says ‘Haz Click Para Escucharnos’).

The show starts at 1:00pm EST (7:00pm Spain time) and Jesus and I will be talking for about 30 minutes. I’ll be sure to give a shout out to the CHI crew.

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I Never Thought I’d Say This: Pull the Plug on Superliga

Count Pat Walsh’s lament about the 2008 schedule just the latest in a long line of fretting about the gauntlet through which Major League Soccer (MLS) drags its players – and short of personnel, at that. Walsh’s piece isn’t much better or worse than anyone else’s, but I’d credit his for finishing the cumulative effect of all those other articles for what comes below.

The Superliga has to go. OK, perhaps that’s too strong. Let’s just say the Superliga really should go. If you wander deep into the archives of this site – I’d recommend July – you’ll see I’m a big fan of Superliga and generally view it as a bang-up idea. But with CONCACAF going to a league format for the regional club championship, it slips down a couple notches…to somewhere around cruel and unusual.

Barring major and – this is big – meaningful changes to the size and quality of MLS rosters, the league is priming all of us for some severely exhausted and sub-par soccer this summer. The Champions Cup will provide games against Mexican (and, better yet, other) clubs in games that count and that without requiring $1 million to keep bone-weary players running. Walsh proposes an out that could provide some relief – e.g. divvying up the job flying the MLS flag in Superliga among the league’s, um, lesser teams – but I’d argue that’s just straining to hold onto a concocted, even a redundant, tournament. So far as I’m concerned, the Champions Cup renders the Superliga redundant; add other tournaments – the Open Cup, to name one – and the whole set-up becomes unduly burdensome.

So, yeah, pull the plug on the thing.

The Crew Doubling Down? (Tripling?)

From my view on Ives Galarcep’s shoulders, I noted that Guillermo Barros Schelotto appears ready to stay in Columbus. Ives’ ongoing reporting on Columbus has other people sniffing around – chief among them the Washington Post’s Steve Goff and the Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mitchell. This may have less to do with coincidence than the faint buzzing issuing from Columbus.

On top of adding to the prevailing impression on Schelotto, Mitchell also gets Columbus GM Mark McCullers to open up about the Crew’s designated player (DP) slot. It sounds like the Crew is in the hunt for someone fairly specific:

“‘We do have a (designated player) that we are considering,’ McCullers said. ‘A European player, a forward who has had a significant number of caps with his national team. If we were able to land this player, we think he could be a player who can contend for the Golden Boot.'”

Significantly to what comes next, Mitchell suggests McCullers clarified “European player” as being a “native European” and a forward.

Here’s that: Steve Goff’s morning update names Jay Jay Okocha as a target for Columbus. Like a couple of the commenters to Goff’s post, MLS Rumors takes this to mean the Crew will use its DP slot for Okocha. But reading Goff’s post literally indicates this doesn’t have to be the case; McCullers description of the target player points the other way as well, both in terms of position and nationality. In other words, it’s possible the Crew is looking at a major reload on offense; three players if you count Schelotto as one that might have got away. And the thing with Okocha makes more sense if he’s a non-DP. Seeing as he has been a bit of a journeyman for a few years now and that he’s never really caught on at one of the big Euro club, I can’t see Columbus risking DP money on him….stranger things have happened, of course.

Still, big things are afoot – or at least attempting to be afoot – in Central Ohio. That goes double if there’s another veteran Big Fish out there the Crew is trying to land. Put it all together and I might have picked a good year to take a closer look at the Crew.

New Forward Tandem for the Yanquis?

Beat to the punch on this one…the only reason to read this post is the subtly different take.

A bit of U.S. Men’s National Team (Yanquis) news comes out of The Boston Globe’s report on Preston North End’s pursuit of New England Revolution striker Taylor Twellman (and I’ll get back to this*).  Here’s that:

“In yesterday’s training session, Twellman was paired with New York’s Jozy Altidore at striker during a full-field scrimmage.”

OK, that’s it.  Discuss.  Sounds good?  Bad?  Are the players too similar (ha!)?  My take: I’ve heard worse ideas by far.  Given our current options at forward, I say let ‘er rip – and give it a few games,  yeah?

Another interesting tidbit from the same article, one that gets to “my kind of players”:

“[Pat] Noonan looked sharp during the training session, pairing with Jeremiah White (AGF Aarhus) at forward.  ‘Pat is a unique player, there is a cleverness in his game,’ Bradley said. ‘It’s a matter of him staying healthy.'”

Here’s a not-so-dirty secret: I have always preferred Noonan to Twellman, even as I can’t argue with a straight face that he does more for New England.  But there’s a kind of weird savvy to Noonan’s game that, as Bradley points out, separates him from the herd.  Who knows?  Maybe that’s what makes his groin/other body parts go all funny.  Still, best of luck to him with his health.  Further, assuming his health holds together, I wouldn’t mind giving Noonan a long look with the Yanquis.  Bring the weird, Pat, lead us to glory.

* OK, the Twellman thing.  First of all, New England would be nuts to let him go; there’s nothing else to make of 101 goals in 177 games.  Coming at it from the other direction, assuming he really wants to go, I wouldn’t hold a Dempsey-esque tantrum against Twellman; one gets the impression that’s what it will take sometimes.  The bigger picture is that the man is in a deadly rut with this team; Twellman has done his part in the last two MLS Cups only to see things fall apart behind him.  As such, I’d recommend a change of  scenery, acknowledging all the while that this is not the thinking of a Revolution fan.

EPL Daily 1.10: Sissoko, Big Al and a new Magpie Boss, Hunt, Lita, Alves, Chimby, Defoe, and Downing

SAM ALLARDYCE: Sacked – well actually, Big Sam left by mutual consent – but yea, sacked. Who’s next? There are reports out there that Newcastle immortal Alan Shearer will take the post but he has already distanced himself. Everton’s David Moyes – Lucius Vorenus look-alike – was also put out there, but that’s already been shot down. Harry Redknapp, known to be linked to everything out there – including criminal charges – was next in line but that’s been refuted as well. Back to square one Mike Ashley (I’m sure he’s got other targets). As for Allardyce, he’s already moving on and ready to continue his career as told in a very ‘I’m on Oprah’ response to BBC’s questions.

MOMO SISSOKO: Sissoko to Juventus is certainly heating up and according to SkySports, it is very close.

AFONSO ALVES: The Brazilian goalscorer is most likely headed to either Manchester City or Middlesbrough in a deal reportedly worth $20 million. Other clubs interested include Turkish giant Fenerbahce. Alves could be a great purchase, but due to the many pundits’ varying opinions of the quality of play in the Dutch Eredivise, we won’t know until he puts on a different shirt. Then again look at Dirk Kuijt and Ruud van Nistelrooy (who just extended his contract with Real Madrid, one year). Either way, Alves has played his last game at the Abe Lanestra for the Frisians.

MIDDLESBROUGH : Speaking of Gareth Southgate’s side, they are desperate to hold on to young winger and English international Stewart Downing, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to do so as Downing’s ambition is getting the best of him (not a bad thing). Tottenham and Everton are in driver’s seat, biding their time and deciding whether to bid for the winger now or wait until his contract runs out in 2010.

CHIMBONDA/DEFOE: Tottenham fullback is keen on a move to Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. O’Neill is keen to bring in the back along with ostracized striker Jermain Defoe which instantly make them a Euro possibility for the second half of the year. Defoe could offset the loss of John Carew, sidelined in recent weeks with injuries. I wouldn’t expect either of the two to go for cheap though. Alan Hutton’s possible move from Rangers to Tottenham has put Chimbonda in fear for losing his right-back position and rightfully so.

MARLON KING: The Jamaican international is wanted badly by Roy Hodgson’s new-direction Fulham squad. An $8 million bid was rejected by Championship-side Watford making that move a bit more expensive. King has a strong track record for the Hornets having struck for 11 goals so far this year and Fulham are in dire need of a true striker (i.e. healthy Brian McBride) as David Healy, Shefqi Kuqi, and Diomansy Kamara haven’t done crap for the relegation battlers.

STEPHEN HUNT: Sunderland’s third try to sign the Irish winger, who has forced Bobby Convey into a different role at Reading, was met with a warning issued by manager Steve Coppell.

“It doesn’t matter. They can come calling every day – there is no positive response from us in that direction.”

That was Coppell turning down a $9 million bid for a guy consider marginal at the most last year. He has picked up his game becoming a clutch and go-to player for the Royals. Hunt has 5 goals and 3 assists this year. Coppell’s warning was a blanket statement as he doesn’t plan on parting with highly rated striker Leroy Lita either.

Slowly but surely, this transfer market is starting to pick-up!

MLS Rumor Watch Update (0-1)

I’ll attach the site’s record to each update, just to let you know where things stand. And, for the record, I’ll only be clocking the rumors that MLS Rumors rates 4 or higher. Here are the latest. I’ll keep the Rumor Watch updated as they come to me (as opposed to breaking…I can lag behind).

So, with the site currently rocking a losing record (damn that John Spencer!), here are the latest rumors in the hopper:

Avery John (+ some cash and junk) to Columbus from New England: rated 4.

Alecko Eskandarian to Chivas USA from Real Salt Lake (hmm…where to put the cash and junk? The thing is RSL gets the cash/junk; Chivas just gets Esky): rating 5.

Seattle’s MLS team will be called Emerald City Seattle FC: rating 4…and, CHRIST…fucking awful name.

Claudio Lopez to MLS; MLS Rumors names KC or DC as likely destinations, but I’ll give them a wider berth and leave it at any MLS team: rating 5.

Gonzalo Martines to DC United: rating 4.

Shit, they’re busy today. That’s all of them that ain’t rated 3 or lower, or that don’t carry a rating at all.

UPDATE: It occurs to me now that, during the heavy-traffic off-season, I should just set up a link first thing in the morning and update it throughout the day.  Here’s the latest:

Jay Jay Okocha to the Columbus Crew.

Another point: this, along with the way MLS Rumors used the word “confirmed” in their post regarding Gonzalo Martinez and Jose Carvallo to DC gets me wondering whether the site merely wants to confirm that the rumor they’re passing on exists versus the likelihood of the rumor becoming reality; it’s a little of both in post, especially when you click through to the Steve Goff post to which they refer; Goff is just waiting on confirmation from his local sources.  For the record, I’m going with the latter – e.g. assuming they’re rating the expectation the rumor will come to pass.  If all they’re reporting is the occurrence of talks, that’s not a very high bar.

Spencer Turns Down Fire; MLS Rumors: 0-1 (+ Ground Rules)

With a thank you to commenter Arriaga, I can report that MLS Rumors record presently stands at 0-1. He, in turn, picked up the report that John Spencer turned down the Chicago head coach’s job from the Houston Chronicle. (Here’s something interesting: I came across a Daily Southtown article, one dated January 10 (e.g. today…right?), has Dynamo CEO Chris Canetti still waiting on Spencer’s decision. Still, the Chronicle gets word direct from Spencer; looks pretty solid.) And, it has to be said, the reason Spencer gave is 1) sensible and 2) really gets you wondering about the Chicago organization*:

“‘(Tuesday) I got offered the job in Chicago, accepted it and sat down to try and negotiate a contract, but we couldn’t come to terms,’ Spencer said. ‘It wasn’t much more money than I (was making) here with the Dynamo, and I felt that to move my family to another state and all the upheaval and such, I just didn’t think it was worth it, so I turned it down.”’

One last note: MLS Rumors rated this rumor at 5, a number to which they attach the phrase “very good.” I haven’t yet thought through how I’m going to cope with the site’s rating system. I have at least one rumor in the hopper (Freddy Grisales to New England) carrying a 3 rating, which apparently equates with “possible.” I don’t think I’d ding ’em for that one, which strikes me as simple information sharing. So…let’s say any rumor rated 4 or higher enters the record…and I’ll be updating that shortly in a separate post.

So, given the above criteria – e.g. they attached a 5 to this rumor, a ranking they seem to attach to sure-ish things; and given the verb used (“your new coach is John Spencer”) – this one goes down as a miss. To float a theory, however, I’m guessing word reached MLS Rumors that the Fire had offered Spencer the job and they figured he wouldn’t turn it down…didn’t count on Chicago being cheap, I suppose.

* UPDATE: Getting back to the wondering about Chicago, I’m not just talking about them trying to low-ball Spencer – or at least offering something that Spencer regarded as low-balling – but something bigger that J Hutcherson alludes by way of saying who he (and I, to be fair) should have got the job: Dennis Hamlett.  Anyone they now offer the job to knows they’re second choice, but that’s something else again where Hamlett is concerned.  At this point, I wouldn’t blame him for telling the Fire FO to take a running jump at a flaming knife.  Unless there’s something I’m missing, this rivals Sunil Gulati’s coaching search for ham-handedness.