Changes to the U.S. Open Cup…Good Ones

Steve Goff, that sly dog from the Soccer Insider, sneaked the following into his Presidents’ Day review of soccer news (and it occurs to me, only now, that this could be why things seem so damned quiet today):

“*The U.S. Open Cup schedule is much more compact this year. Pending USSF approval, the round of 16 to the championship game will be held over an eight-week stretch between July 1 and Aug. 26. No more late-round matches in the fall, when MLS clubs are focused on the playoffs.”

For what it’s worth, I like it. In the past, I have advocated such wackiness as making the U.S. Open Cup the pre-season tournament for both Major League Soccer (MLS), the United Soccer Leagues (USL), and, well, everyone. Yeah, it would stretch the calendar, but I don’t think we’re doing players any favors by stacking up the games during the season. In my mind’s eye, I’m seeing a mini-tournament to decide the winner that would look like an expanded version of the College Cup – e.g. a one site, perhaps 8, perhaps 16-team tournament, etc.

I’d still like to see that one day, but will take this compacting of the U.S. Open Cup’s schedule; the earlier dates don’t look so bad either. Sure, the Superliga remains a complication (that’s in July, right?), but I want to scrap that one anyway. But the CONCACAF Champions League shouldn’t be a huge problem. So, yeah, let ‘er rip and see how it works.

BONUS: Almost forgot this bit…then again, that could be from a lack of inspiration.  If you’ve ever seen Weebl’s stuff, it’s pretty clever.  The Estate Agent isn’t their best, so far as I’m concerned, but it’s still good for a laugh.  Oh, if you’re offended by non-human, animated nudity, or work with someone who might be, this is NSFW.

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Rapids TSII: (Borrowed) Line-Up Theory

View From The Couch (VftC) pieced together a plausible starting XI for the Colorado Rapids from a report on an intra-team scrimmage. This came, as all communications regarding the Rapids, from official sources.

By combining what looked closer to the first team from the two scrimmage squads with who he expects would take their place under ideal conditions, Jason Maxwell came up with the starting line-up listed below:

Bouna
Kimura – Petke – Erpen – Burciaga Jr.
Cooke – Mastroeni – C. Gomez – Clark
Kirovski – H. Gomez

And, for the record, Mr. Maxwell’s reasoning for including Jovan Kirovski are less to do with his preferences than insight gained from bitter, bitter experience.

The question, then, is the extent to which this is a functioning, even winning, line-up. Kirovski causes problems right off the bat, of course, but it’s the defense that really gets me scratching my head. I’ve never been even kinda, sorta sold on Facundo Erpen as a defender. Add Petke, who, as much as I view him as the pick of this bunch, isn’t a world-beater, and Jose Burciaga Jr., and one gets to wondering how many goals this bunch will surrender. A review of the roster unearths a couple options – Brandon Prideaux, certainly, as well as Dan Gargan – but the question of which players constitute upgrades on those named above follows quickly thereafter. Maybe this is just one of those things that must be tried and tinkered with between pre- and the early part of the regular season…and don’t tell me the regular season is too late; the playoff format means it’s virtually never too late. Continue reading

Pre-Season Results: RBNY Over Some Swedes (One that Got Away)

In a pre-season bout that Soccer America seemingly failed to notice (don’t see it in here), but later flagged, Red Bull New York topped Swedish Club IF Hammarby last Friday by a score of 2-0.   Word on that came tucked at the bottom of a larger, fairly useful Soccer America piece on which players look hot this pre-season…and that’s “hot” as in playing well, as opposed to prancing along all sweaty and desirable.

Turning to the “hot” Red Bulls, one would probably flag Juan Pablo Angel and reported new signing Oscar Echeverry, both of whom scored against Hammarby.

BONUS MATERIAL: All right, tough guy.  Read the tale of woe on the other side of this link and see if you can stop from weeping. It’s not the shortest thing you’ll ever read, so find some place where you have time to read it.  And keep tissues handy.  You’ll need ’em if you’re a normal, feeling human being.  That goes double for people with kids.

Pre-Season Match Reports: Too Many for One Clever Title

I just drank some African liquor…that came in a cellophane bag…so don’t expect much…

Truth to tell, I feel like I’m posting early – e.g. before the weight of the commentary and direct observations provides something for us to think about besides what team beat another and by how many. So…I’ll update what comes below as I see them over the course of tomorrow….which is today…assuming you live on the East Coast.

Here’s how this is going to work. MLSnet.com had their unpaid interns turn in the usual one-stop round-up, which caught the majority of this weekend’s games. So, if you see an item below that bears only a headline, that’s all I’ve got on it…and that means you should stop by the “one-stop” link earlier in this paragraph for all the information available at time of typing. Well, at least where all the sites I visit are concerned. As for the rest, if I have links and commentary therefrom to pass on, I will do so. And, as noted above, I’ll add to those stripped-down score-lines where future postings/commentary allows for it.

Here goes, in the order MLSnet.com’s piece listed the games. The ones they didn’t list will follow. Continue reading

Conde and Juan Carlos…serious man-love…

The (for-now) Chicago Fire’s Wilman Conde going public about wanting to ditch Chicago to follow Juan Carlos Osorio to Red Bull New York is, quite simply, fascinating. A couple reliable sources report the very open airing of this…well, cry for help…where one would think no such cry is needed. (Another less reliable, but highly intrepid, site flagged this as well…and, in the blink of an eye, took the speculation just that special little bit farther.)

Chicago fans, already suffering a bitter off-season, must feel something between spittle-flecked rage and the profoundest despondency on reading the news.

I don’t know how this one will end. I only suspect that it can’t end well. The hard thing, though, it’s been said now. Can’t really be unsaid, now can it?

UPDATE: ..and just minutes later. Luis Arroyave, banging away on his Red Card blog, weighs Chicago’s options. This is mainly a man thinking out loud…and there’s nothing wrong with that. If there was, I wouldn’t be here.

UPDATE: More informed thinking out loud.  (Whoops.  That’s not as in “more informed” as in he’s smarter and gooder than Arroyvave, but “more informed” as in there’s more of it and this cat is informed as well.  And it only occurs to me now that I’ve already linked to this article…this is what happens when I “post in my pajamas.”)