Soccer on TV: How It’s Done and How Many Watch*

* OK, one game.  I’ll get to that below…no complaining; you see how I ordered these things in the title.

USSoccerplayers.com ran a nifty interview with a guy named Michael Cohen.  He’s the…let’s see…executive producer for Major League Soccer (MLS) and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) – basically, he coordinates what gets on the air soccer-wise.  Or something very much like that.

It’s an interesting piece, not least because it’s covers things that aren’t often noticed, but two items most interested me in that interview.  In no particular order…and these are both Cohen’s answers to questions:

“In a perfect situation, we’d have flexibility in our schedule.  Maybe that will come down the road when we have all the stadiums under our control.  Then, if we have something scheduled in September or October, then we can make that switch.”

Whew.  Thank god they’re thinking about that. Wasn’t always sure.  Hopefully, we get “down the road” fast; there’s nothing worse than watching two teams that have made the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season when you know there’s another, hotter game being played.  Next: Continue reading

WTH? Who’s the Worst Player in MLS? An Informal Poll

Don’t know why this idea came to me now…maybe it’s something to do with typing out Jovan Kirovski’s name in the post below that has me thinking about it just now…but who is the “worst player” in Major League Soccer (MLS)?

That I put that in scare quotes says something. When I say, “worst player,” I think I’m looking at something different than straight-up competence and quality. In other words, I don’t really think Kirovski is the worst player out there – e.g. I’m confident he can play circles around every rookie and suspect he’s even on the high side of average in terms of raw talent…though definitely not speed.

If, however, one combines salary and production versus expectations, he’s an excellent candidate for the dubious honor. And, um, no offense to Jovan…who I’m sure if perfectly nice and decent.

So, that’s my pick and my rationale. Feel free to vote for your candidate below and provide your thinking for the record. There is no prize or correct answer.

BONUS MATERIAL: I’ve been a little slack on these this week.  Haven’t had time for my usual patrols around the Web.  Still, some of the reading I do gives me the chance to go a little high-brow with this stuff…like quotes from historical figures.  The one below comes from Charles Maurice Talleyrand-Perigord, a complicated figure once described by Napoleon Bonaparte as “a pile of shit in a silk stocking.”  Talleyrand lived to see a couple French Revolutions and, in general, didn’t think much of the first, bloody affair.  Here’s a quote he sent by way of introduction to London in his role as emissary; curiously, he used the phrase to describe the death of France’s martial ambitions…right around the time those really kicked into gear.  Still, good quote, great sentiment:

“We have learned that the only policy suited to free and enlightened men is to be sovereign over one’s own affairs and not to have the ridiculous pretension of imposing it on others.”
Citizens, Simon Schama, p. 680

Rapids TSII: Yin-Yang on Gomez

So, Christian Gomez…was it DC United pulling another one over on a desperate Western Conference club or a big fat win-win for all concerned?

I have no idea.  That’s why we play the games, right?

That said, I think there’s some truth to Ives’ point (who authored the “pulling one over” item) that Colorado was more than one player away from competitive…though others think this moves the Rapids to Contenders-ville.  I also think the fact that Gomez plays a similar “mid-forward” role – only well – opens up the possibility of, at last, forcing odd-duck Jovan Kirovski to find a useful role on the field…which isn’t to say he’ll be able to…

Crew TSII: Trialists on Trial; Cinderella Over Columbus*

The Columbus Dispatch, which really seems to have upped its coverage from just one year ago (way to go, whomever made that happen), posted something about a pair of German trialists for the Columbus Crew: Lars Ricken and Roman Friedli.  So, I’ve already confessed to some dubiousness regarding Ricken; as for Friedli, well, it depends on one’s opinion of the – let’s see – Swiss first division.  On the upside, neither player is being considered as designated players.  Given that, I can’t see the harm in a try-out.

* A Bob Hunter column got the old Cinderella song “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” stuck in my head (and why is “till it’s gone” in parentheses?  Tom Keifer doesn’t sing it as an aside…).  The Columbus area columnist is concerned that the club’s failure to land a local owner could wind up sending it to one of city-suitors for a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.  St. Louis, Vancouver B.C., Miami, Portland….yeah, it’s something to think about…

Pre-season Results Update

Figuring when and how often to run these little updates is tricky business.  As of Monday, I was going to run with weekly, but the information goes stale after a day or two – maybe the fact, apart from getting fans excited and players firt, the games don’t accomplish much plays a role in that.  Another thing I considered just this morning: posting a weekly rundown of each clubs’ record in pre-season.  That may yet come together, but I’m really dreading back-tracking through the posts.

So, posting as they come seems best….allowing for time off on the weekends (when I actually take it).  And, thanks to the second half of Soccer America’s pre-season results/schedule update, I should have a pretty good bead on coming events.

For today, though, coverage will go back to the several past games that happened since, oh, Sunday; expect the rolling updates to commence tomorrow morning/afternoon.   In no particular order…

Toronto FC 0-0 Odense BoldKlub
Toronto’s Globe and Mail provided pretty thorough coverage of this one…well, for a preseason game.  Do check the “TFC Notes” at the bottom of the page for word of good vibes between Jeff Cunningham and Danny Dichio and some other stuff.

Chivas USA 2-0 UCLA
Obviously, Chivas ought to win this one.  Unfortunately, coverage of this one looks more like what you’d expect for a Major League Soccer (MLS) pre-season game.  Oh well, at least 100% Soccer and Chivas’ official site provided something; in their defense, the event was closed-door (um…why?).

Kansas City Wizards 1-1 DC United
Steve Goff’s Soccer Insider provides for DC’s side of the draw, while Hillcrest Road picks up KC’s.  Both pieces provide some bonus details on line-ups, performance, recovery from injury, etc.

Chivas USA 1-0 Red Bull New York
I’m sure the official site’s have something, but Soccer By Ives’ report carries word and photographic evidence of a, frankly, shocking cameo for RBNY.

Coming tomorrow (i.e. games today, so I’ll post on ’em tomorrow)
Chicago Fire v. Columbus Crew
San Jose Earthquakes v. Houston Dynamo

Expect special treatment for the Columbus game…

MLS Philly: “The Stars are Aligned”, Expansion Inching Closer

I know, I know. Yet another article about how the deal is so close, but not quite there yet.

This one is a little rosier. And the coverage on the deal in the Philadelphia Inquirer has now gone – dare I say – daily? (well, three days in a row that is). Or does Domenic Pileggi’s editorial count as one?

Yesterday’s article was a back-and-forth between city officials, members of the ownership group, and a bunch of pessimistic sports economists.

Today’s – however – is much nicer to look at as “Sources” say that it is not about the “if”, “hows”, and “whens” anymore.

People familiar with the work accomplished during the last two weeks – since Gov. Rendell announced the award of state funding – believe the Philadelphia bid has assumed an aura of inevitability, capable of being derailed only by an impossible-to-foresee cataclysm.

“It’s definitely Philly,” said a Major League Soccer source, declining to be quoted by name in advance of an official announcement. “It’s the market size, the ownership group. These are wealthy people. They’re going to be strong owners.”

For many, the appointment of Nick Sakiewicz really cemented that ‘aura of inevitability’ around the deal. I’m still treading lightly as I don’t want to get my feelings hurt, but damn will it be a good day if and when this team is announced.

Should I dare to ask for predictions? If a team is announced for 2010, who will be MLS Philly’s coach – prospects? Who will be their first signing?? Former SJ product (Delran), Peter Vermes as Coach?

Notable Philly-based Players

Bobby Convey [Reading]
Chris Albright [New England]
Dan Gargan [Colorado]
Jim Curtin [Chivas USA] – from Oreland, PA
Jeff Curtin [Chicago]
Jeff Larentowicz [New England] – captained FC Delco, Chestnut Hill Academy
Danny Cepero [RBNY] – UPenn graduate
Jeremiah White [AGF Aarhus] -FC Delco Alumni
Chris Wingert [Colorado] – FC Delco Alumni
Jeff Parke [RBNY] – Drexel graduate

Miss any?

In “Investment Mode”: A Primer Made Possible by Way of New England

“Profitability is a function of what you spend, not necessarily of what you make. Our revenues are growing, but we are investing massive amounts of money in building the league. We are in an investment mode; it’s the best way to describe it.”

That came out of Q & A the Houston Chronicle ran with Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner, Don Garber, in this morning’s paper. Count it among the several items out today that (I’m enormously flattering myself, but…) follow-up on my shrill rant about MLS players being treated like rented mules. In a curious coincidence, a slew of articles out of New England describe the pitfalls facing MLS as it moves into what Garber calls, in the same interview, “the sort of second year of the relaunching of the league.”

Let me pause to chuckle. I’m just getting to a spot in Simon Schama’s excellent history of the French Revolution, Citizens, where the regular calendar gave way to the revolutionary. Ahem…tee hee hee….”year two.”

Getting back to the task at hand, that same piece saw Garber provide a kind of explanation of the logic behind MLS’s investment strategy: Continue reading