Is Televising the SuperDraft Smart?

Here’s a question: how many articles/posts/message board items have you read since last Friday that questioned the value Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs get through the SuperDraft.  Jamie Trecker posted a mildly frustrated kick-around on the subject just this morning over on Fox Sports and it covers familiar ground – e.g. not-ready-for-primetime players; the soft perversity built into the balance between value versus talent, the growing importance of the transfer market, etc.

Those points not only matter, they raise a pretty obvious question: does having this event on television actually help MLS?  If the majority of players who enter the league through the SuperDraft aren’t tomorrow’s stars, does the event create hype or fizzle?

I don’t know.  Maybe a single event is all the league can squeeze out of ESPN.  If that’s the case, though, perhaps MLS would be better served by going to, say, Fox Soccer Channel and pushing for a weekly half-hour program that starts in, oh, mid-January or even February and goes where the news really seems to be in the off-season: the transfer market and trades within MLS.

After that, the league can do with the SuperDraft what they’re doing with today’s supplemental draft.  And that would be burying it….very, very quietly.

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Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley with Number 13 and a ticket to Hamburg?

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Most recent goal vs. VVV Venlo – match recap

It’s Bradley’s 13th in all competitions (to go with 3 assists), 9th in the Eredivisie which puts the young 20-year old at 10th on the Eredivise scoring charts and only two goals less than Afonso Alves who is awaiting a transfer to the EPL. Between Bradley, Miralem Sulejmani, and Daniel Pranjic Heerenveen has a young core that is gaining suitors with each and every game. The Frisians will next play De Graafschaap this coming Saturday. Bradley will look to add to his total and Heerenveen’s second best offense in the league against yet another Eredivisie relegation battler.

Apparently, his 9 league goals tie both Eric Wynalda (Saarbruecken and Brian McBride (Fulham) for most goals for an American in a European league. More impressively, however, his overall total of 13 surpassed McBride and DaMarcus Beasley (when he was with PSV Eindhoven) for most goals scored by an American in all competitions. Not bad for a 20-year old.

Michael Bradley and Heerenveen have decisions to make, however, as Bradley – whose contract expires in the Summer of 2009 – has loosely indicated that he wouldn’t mind testing the waters. Heerenveen – in an effort to save face and forture – thinks that if that is the case, they would like to cash in on his rising stock instead of getting nothing for a free transfer. Apparently, the leading suitor is HSV (Benny Feilhaber’s former digs, and where Preston Zimmerman is right now) who reportedly is ready to offer the club a multi-million dollar deal for Bradley. Spox.com in Germany goes on to dub him the possible replacement for Rafael Van der Vaart…wow.  Van der Vaart is possibly on his way out of the Bundesliga club to Turin to link up with Juventus.

We will keep you updated.

EDIT: Great article from Big Apple Soccer on Michael Bradley’s intentions.

Coming to NYC (or Thereabouts): Osorio-Ball!

And what’s that, exactly?  Consider this (from a nice, informative Q & A with the man; interesting stuff on tactics in there by the way):

USSoccerPlayers: How were you able to turn things around so quickly in Chicago last season?”

“Osorio: We defended very well.  It’s not a coincidence that in the last ten games of the regular season, we conceded only eight goals.   It’s hard to lose games when you give up such a small amount of goals.  What we did was defend properly as a team and scored one or two goals, which was just enough to win games.  Teams like Chelsea have been doing that for years and with much success.”

So, yeah, get excited Red Bulls fans.  Woo-hoo.  Hmm…maybe the Rapids won’t be the hardest team to watch next season…

Rapids on (Hilgen)Brinck of Better Defense

Sorry.  This will be the only visibly strained pun of the day.

Enjoy this press release announcing the Colorado Rapids latest signing: Chase Hilgenbrinck, a defender who has, to this point, played in Chile.  But he’s from Illinois…and you can’t get more American than that, dammit.  And I wouldn’t be doing my bit unless I flagged Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo’s attempt at hyping the signing:

 “Chase will use his speed and experience to help us continue to bolster our defense that gave up the third fewest goals in the league this past season.”

So…yeah…a defender.  Oh, good.  Exactly what’s needed in Colorado.

Chicago Wants Fabric Pancakes

Believe it or not, I used the above as a memory device for the Chicago Fire’s latest apparent transfer target: Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) Fabrice Pancrate.  Red Card’s write-up describes him as offensive help, able to play wide in midfield or up top.

Now…what’s the obsession with PSG this off-season?  Do I care?  Just give us some dudes who can play and I’m happy.

African Nations Cup: Egypt and Zidan play ‘hot potato’ with Cameroon

2nd batch of round robin games start today in Group A with Ghana facing Namibia and Guinea vs. Morocco.

GROUP AStandings

Morocco 5, Namibia 1

Soufiane Alloudi scored a hat-trick in the first 30 minutes to deal with an easily over-powered Namibian squad. Unfortunately, the Moroccan-based player’s effort cost him as he left the field early and will miss the second round robin tie vs. Guinea today. No worries it seems with a strike force consisting of Marouane Chamkh and Tarik Sektioui that will look to pick up the slack.

Ghana 2, Guinea 1

Sulley Ali Muntari’s 89th minute strike surprised every one as the hosts started their tournament off right. It was back-and-forth most of the game and primarily an attacking affair which took its toll on many of the players. With 30 minutes to go, the game switched to general long range strikes, mainly off-target. Ghana are going to have to be a little more convincing if they’re going to get by Morocco in the third round of games. Maybe their new jersey sponsorship deal with Puma will help.

GROUP BStandings

Ivory Coast 1, Nigeria 0

Salomon Kalou’s individual effort sparked Ivory Coast’s win over one of their biggest Group B threats. Portsmouth’s John Utaka, Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel, and Newcastle’s Obafemi Martins were virtually nonexistant for Nigeria. Both still have Mali to deal with.

Mali 1, Benin 0

A rather unconvincing win for Mali. Frederic Kanoute converted a 49th minute penalty kick for the win, but the true playmaker was the other Sevilla man, Seydou Keita who ripped through a porous Benin defense with no goals to show for it. 

GROUP CStandings

Zambia 3, Sudan 0

The Zambians organized themselves to reduce to Sudan’s 32-year return from African Nations Cup absences to crap.

Egypt 4, Cameroon 2

Thanks to a Mohamed Zidan brace – and his now infamous ‘hot potato’ goal celebration – Egypt took care of their only real competition within the group. Not that Zambia shouldn’t be taken seriously, but Egypt showed they are ready to repeat. Samuel Eto’o got very little going for the Lions, even though he provided the brace that made it even remotely close (not to mention moving one goal away from breaking the African Nations Cup all-time scoring record of 14). Zidan has my vote for best player in the first round of games. Although his teammate Hosni Abd Rabou – who scored two as well – could compete. A very entertaining match as I watched this at George Payne’s in Placa Urquianona in Barcelona.

GROUP DStandings 

Senegal 2, Tunisia 2

Fulham’s Diomansy Kamara is firing on all cylinders for his country, even if he isn’t for club. His goal in the 66th minute ensured at least a point from a tough clash with the Tunisians.

Angola 1, South Africa 1

Everton’s Steven Pienaar provided the creativity, but it was substitute Elrio Van Heerden who guaranteed a point for South Africa against an Angolan team that looks as resilient as in their 2006 World Cup appearance. Alberto Manucho struck early for the Angolans, looking to take a little away from the “experimental” South African squad (meaning young and inexperienced), but three points weren’t to be had.

La Liga Para Todos: 6 Months In Jail, Real Madrid Wants You, Tamudo Out

—After a brew-ha-ha in the Deportivo camp, Uruguayan keeper Gustavo Adolfo Munúa was sentenced to 6 months in jail for what the the judge found to be an act of ‘agression’ and not the cause of a fight.

The fight was between Munúa and Dudu Aouate, the other keeper for Deportivo. According to what I can find, the two had a little mix up after Munúa was named the starter, and yadda yadda yadda Aouate was sent to the hospital with a nice shiner and in need of 8 stitches to close up his wound.

I can’t find a simple picture of the eye, but go here and scroll down till you see it. It’s pretty impressive. I guess fighting your own teammates is becoming ‘cool’ with the Arsenal ‘Royal Rumble’ yesterday.

—Rumors Rumors Rumors!!! Oh boy Cristiano Ronaldo is going to Madrid OMFG!!!1!!!!1!!

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Oh wait, that’s…his…mom.

But really now, Real Madrid said they were going to sign anyone pretty much under the sun lately and haven’t signed a single person.

It’s obvious that Real Madrid are a big money team, and are always looking to go after big name talent. Instead of focusing on Ronaldo, they went after his Mom yesterday. And low and behold, on the cover of AS was Cristiano Ronaldo’s mom saying

Before I die, I want to see my son in Madrid’

Sure you do mom, sure you do. He’s set up with Manchester until 2012, but maybe in 2013 his mom will have her wish.

—Espanyol striker Raul Tamudo is out for 2 months after breaking his left arm.  He will have surgery this week and then recoup his injury on the sidelines.  As if Espanyol doesn’t have enough trouble with Kameni out for the ACON and De la Peña and Albert Riera both out with injuries.

—Real Zaragoza have a new coach already after the resignation of Ander Garitano 10 days into the job.   Javier Irureta was named the head coach until the end of the year.  Recreativo will need the guidance of Irureta to get out of a mid-table rut this season.