A Little MLS Salary Work: Top 15 Raises

TOP 15 Raises

1. Arturo Alvarez (FCD) – 406%, $32,819 to $166,250
2. Seth Stammler (RBNY) – 240%, $30,870 to $105,000
3. Matias Mantilla (RSL) – 218%, $48,000 to $153,000
4. Guillermo Barros Schelloto (CMB) – 183%, $150,000 to $425,000
5. Ryan Cochrane (SJE) – 158%, $51,149 to $132,000
6. Alan Gordon (LAG) – 135%, $30,870 to $72,504
7. Will Hesmer (CMB) – 127%, $30,870 to $70,000
8. Steve Cronin (LAG) – 116%, $34,728.25 to $75,000
9. Javier Morales (RSL) – 100%, $120,000 to $240,000
10. Ned Grabavoy (SJE) – 100%, $45,050.25 to $90,000
11. Collin Samuel (TFC) – 87%, $90,000 to $168,000
12. Christian Gomez (COL) – 78%, $216,000 to $385,000
13. Jon Conway (RBNY) – 77%, $65,000 to $115,000
14. Shalrie Joseph (NER) – 76%, $170,625 to $300,000
15. Brad Guzan (CHV) – 70%, $52,237.50 to $88,974.38

This is neglecting the upgrades from developmental contracts to the league minimum for Colin Clark, Stephen Keel, Joe Vide, Brad Evans etc.

So what do ya think? Alvarez has been a big part of FC Dallas for a good while now and it’s about time it jumped – but over 400%?

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FC Dallas 2007 Review: Succeed…Choke…Repeat

FC Dallas
Record (W-L-T): 13-12-5; 37 GF, 44 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

Overview
Some recent constants held for FC Dallas in 2007: lead the Western Conference in the early-mid part of the season – check; head into the post-season like a pack of whipped dogs – check; consequently, lose in the first round – check; have at least one offensive player enjoy a stellar season, Arturo Alvarez’s 2007 to Kenny Cooper’s 2006 – check; have the work of the offense compromised by a shaky defense – check…well, sort of. A lot of similarities tied the campaign just past to the one that came before and upgrades in personnel, changes to the coaching staff, none of it seems to matter.

It’s got to be the grand narrative – the whole pattern of “succeed…choke…repeat,” familiar since 2005 – that most pains Dallas fans and players. It’s like the definition of insanity – e.g. doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results – except Dallas should have a choice. You’d think the coaching staff would order the players to take it easy during the first half of the season, have them rest through August – something – to switch it up. But the pattern persists and has over the past couple seasons.

For all the similarities, some changes did occur on the detail level. Combining an exciting offense with a dodgy defense has been part of Dallas’ reputation since Carlos Ruiz joined the club. That was definitely part of what I expected to discuss when I sat down to type this review. Even knowing Ruiz had an off-year and that Cooper went down after June 9, seeing a meager 37 goals still came as a shock. What about Juan Toja’s arrival? Alvarez’ breakout season? It’s not until you get down to individual stats (all available here) that it adds up, beginning with the fact that Ruiz’ seven goals led the team. This team, possessed of so many well-known weapons, finished fourth from last overall in scoring. Continue reading

MLS Conference Semis: It’s a Wrap

As The Hives sang not so long ago, hate to say I told you so. Before you think I’m feeling cocky, let me just confess right now that getting all Saturday’s picks dead right cost a tiny sliver of my soul. I didn’t read the document all the way through, but I’m pretty sure it was just a sliver I sold.

But no one wants to hear about my triumphant stand atop the table of the Center Holds It/Who Ate All the Cupcakes Playoff Picks Duel (see the sidebar; god bless those Cupcakes lads…so on top of things). No, people who come to this site come to read about the games. So, let’s get to ’em…very, very briefly. I mean, you know what you saw, right?

Houston Dynamo 4-1 FC Dallas

Curse the damned distractions in my life, but did I see that correctly? Did Arturo Alvarez really whack the Houston player in the pills? That’s a guaranteed sending-off, son, not to mention drawing the silent, collective condemnation of all male viewers. Oh well. A Houston win was always just a matter of time; the extra man only made it more emphatic. The personal highlight for me? That tasty through-ball Dwayne DeRosario slotted to Brian Ching. So, FC Dallas season ends where it usually does. Even so, you have to feel they feel better about losing this one than the past few to the Colorado Rapids; being on the wrong-side of a Texas ass-kicking can’t hurt nearly as bad as getting out-coached by Fernando Clavijo…twice…oh, the humanity. I could write more, but the bottom line reads pretty straight: this series was over the minute Houston leveled the aggregate.

New England Revolution 1-0 Red Bull New York

The game doesn’t deserve analysis. It deserves the finger. The rare moment of brilliance – well, not brilliance, so much as the odd bright spot – typically came to nothing. My personal highlight? Bruce Arena having the good sense to pull Juan Pablo Angel. Don’t trifle with head injuries. The toothpicks propping open my eyes snapped more than once, though. And New England’s goal…well, that just had to be heartbreaking for Jon Conway.

Chivas USA 0-0 Kansas City Wizards

As if proving the adage about some goalless draws providing more entertainment than wins and losses, this one kicked the holy crap out of the above. Too many things jumped out at me to record in this space, but the real kicker was how frustratingly far Chivas seemed from scoring – and that’s in spite of hitting the post on several occasions. Oxy-moronic (or, perhaps, just plain moronic) as that sounds, I’m trying to get at something deeper: to dominate possession and aggression to that extent without scoring takes some doing. Maybe it was Chivas’ apparent yen to score from within the six-yard box that did them in; they tried so many times to pinch inside, even when playing from the flanks; maybe it’s their trouble with getting in crosses that forced this. To name names, I have never been so underwhelmed by Francisco Mendoza, the worst culprit for the troublesome offensive habits described above. Going the other way, Eddie Johnson looks somewhere between eager and sharp – good news for Wizards fans. In fact, KC looks like they’re playing as well as they ever have this 2007. Doubtful as it may be in the end, upsetting Houston isn’t beyond them. They’ll need to tighten up things at the back when they face a team that knows how to fire in crosses – one that lives on them, in fact.

Well, that’s all from me today. Looking forward to the conference finals.

DS, 10.11: More FCD v. Chivas, DP v. Salary Cap, Pennies From Heaven for LA, and Bachelors

I’ve really got to work on  tightening up my titles, making them more thematic.  Till then, though, expect sprawling lists…

– Naturally, people are following up today on last night’s draw between FC Dallas and Chivas USA, though no one took quite so much offense to Brian Hall as I did…probably on the logic than bad calls from American refs are the norm.  Then again, Ian Plenderleith seized a bit of dudgeon at a blown offside call that nullified a legitimate goal by Francisco Mendoza.  Now, Plenderleith has this right on three critical levels: 1) it was a blown call, 2) that no righteous anger followed, and 3) refs really don’t read the rule correctly.  And he’s correct in pointing out that these calls both cheapen the game and that they somewhat mysteriously roll right off our backs; I mean, I didn’t remember the blown call till this morning.  What did I remember?  That Mendoza later missed a close-range header…that and Arturo Alvarez’s hair’s-breadth miss in injury time.

In other news from last night, Chivas’ Ante Razov left the field wounded, a tough break for Chivas, especially with Galindo operating at less than full strength.  Also, as MLSnet.com’s write-up on the game pointed out, Adrian Serioux doesn’t look so bad in Dallas’ midfield.  You know who doesn’t look so good?  Denilson, as  alluded to in the Fullback Files post-game wrap under the section titled “Send in the clowns.”  More to the point, think of where Dallas looked more effective last night: Arturo Alvarez’s right side or Denilson’s left…or, less euphemistically, the place where promising attacks go to die?  The Brazilian stoops low as the worst DP signing so far.

– Speaking of which, a couple reports suggest that the league is considering adding a second DP slot for each of MLS’s teams (credit (or fault) Luis Bueno for finally getting this issue in my head).  The conversation so far consists of a Jeff Carlisle piece that dubs the rule “a clear success” and a Pat Walsh article that’s is less satisfied and leans against the league doubling down on the rule.  I line up behind Pat Walsh and question the use of “clear success” – at least on the field.  The only designated player I would accept as a clear improvement over the general MLS mob would be Cuauhtemoc Blanco – all the others come with a variety of qualifiers (e.g. Luciano Emilio, a non-DP, stacks up just fine against Juan Pablo Angel; both Claudio Reyna and David Beckham have suffered on-off availability, though Beckham definitely delivered the dinero; Denilson does a poor imitation of Arturo at – what? – five times the cost?).  Basically, most of MLS’s best haven’t been DPs; if I had a vote, I’d say just raise the cap (as Steve Goff says seems likely about 4/5th the way down the page) and hold off on adding another DP slot.

– Looks like LA’s deal with the devil is still working: Toronto FC comes into this weekend’s game with a mix of youngsters, absentees, and gimpy players.  Hmmm…on second thought, change “pennies from heaven” into “Nickels Kissed by Satan.”

– Looks like we have a stupid-good weekend ahede

– I’ll end with a bit of fun.  Hearing about (the now-unemployed) RSL defender Jack Stewart’s inclusion among Cosmo’s 50 Hottest Bachelors, the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Arroyave responded by posting a bachelor profile of his own…one that suggests eerie similarities between his personality and mine (especially the pick-him-up pointer).  Still, differences exist so, in hopes of moving this concept to the amateur soccer ranks, here’s my Cosmo profile (sorry, ladies; profile aside, I’m a taken man):

Name: Jeff “Balding Adonis” Bull

Hometown: Portland, OR

Occupation: Office Pinky at undisclosed location, though not an employee of Dick Cheney.

Personality Profile: Mildly paranoiac, often silent due to the parade of unmentionable thoughts rattling through brain, and I make me laugh, though no one seems to join in.

Girlfriend Must-Have: General and profound stores of patience because the many, many pointless thoughts in my head distract me from the business of daily life; a willingness to endure aforementioned parade of unmentionable thoughts – I recommend a steady diet of drugs and booze to facilitate the latter.

Pick-Him-Up-Pointer: A total absence of ambiguity in communication and courtship.

Favorite Female Body Part: The body, by which I mean the whole woman; I find disembodied parts off-putting.

Turn-Him-On-Tactics: Anything this side of active or passive shunning.

Why Do Women?: I know exactly zero women who do anything that Cosmo purports their readers do.  That’s in spite of having three sisters (and no brothers), one wife, and two daughters.  All of them continually amaze me with their superior talents for functioning on a day-to-day basis.

Revs Break Duck Over Dallas’ Heart

It wasn’t till Taylor Twellman’s post-game interview, when he smiled about seeing “Rally” (Steve Ralston) and “Heapsy” (Jay Heaps) in the first flush of final victory the New England Revolution had ever known, that real contentment about the state of things filtered in. Even if a sprinkling of New England fans made the trip to Frisco to share the moment, trophy ceremonies in disinterested, or even hostile, environments lack for the due fullness of joy. But calm, happy expression on Twellman’s face and the realization that Ralston, Major League Soccer’s (MLS) answer to Cal Ripken Jr., would collect at least trophy in his relentless career bridged the gap between what I hoped to see and what I got. Call it the difference between a cozy little wedding and a drunken tear through a Vegas chapel: both can make you happy, but one is definitely more fun.

As for FC Dallas, it’s something more than there being no joy in Frisco. A suicide watch might be in order.

In practical terms, I caught about 65 uninterrupted minutes, I saw three goals scored, heard the noise that attended the other and caught the replay, and still have no clue how New England scored their third, or who did the scoring. My apartment building – God bless it and the nuts who live there – was evacuated when the fire alarm went off, something that happens way more often than it should. Based on as much of the game as I saw, though, the story line going in held up – e.g. the Dallas’ defense would sabotage their offense. And thinking of that defense only reinforces all the questions about why a team desperately in need of defensive solidity went and bought a circus animal named Denilson.

The Dallas defense committed something worse than sabotage, really – at least where the two New England goals I saw were concerned; we’re talking Rube Goldberg goals, improbable progressions of events concluding with finishes so easy you’re almost willing to buy the mouse-trap. I’m wondering whether Steve Morrow even bothered yelling at his defenders; after all, what would Dallas’ defenders learn from abuse what they don’t already know? What’s the sense of piling pain on top of humiliation?

The real tragedy is one glorious goal the Dallas’ defense canceled out. When Arturo Alvarez picked up the ball on the touch-line near the cameras, you knew something good would follow. But something better still came as Alvarez rushed toward the Revolution goal and launched a shot past Matt Reis that defied centuries old laws of geometry. After pulling that one out of the top drawer, I’m betting Alvarez had the sadly sparse Dallas crowd on its feet when, a few minutes later, he took off on a run straight through New England’s center. That Alvarez enterprising wizardry came up just short typified Dallas’ night: good, but painfully short of good enough.

Getting back to New England, even as they didn’t look so special at any time I watched, I got to wondering about what this win will do to the Revs’ still-live bid for MLS Cup. Even with everyone pointing to DC United and Houston, or even a Chivas USA team that seems to be fading, the prospect that anyone watching had just watched a kind of exorcism occurred to me. What kind of a lift could New England get from this?

Well, that’s me waxing poetic. I had a couple nuts-n-bolts points to pass on in the form of player ratings – though with a little twist. It occurs to me that when a given player turns in an unremarkable performance, it makes sense to not remark upon it. With that in mind, I started writing down the names of people and/or entities that did bear pointing out. Here’s that little role call: Continue reading