MLS 2008 Western Conference Preview: Contenders, Dark Horses, Filler, and C.H.U.D.s

Having already unloaded all my caveats in yesterday’s Eastern Conference Preview, there’s nothing to do here, but get to it. For your convenience, here are the resources borrowed and applied in creating what comes below: WVHooligan’s most current list of off-season player movement and Climbing the Ladder’s best guess at starting elevens for Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Western Conference sides. The same labels will apply as well: Contender, Dark Horse, Filler, and C.H.U.D. For your convenience, here’s a copy/paste on the meaning of the terms from yesterday:

“The first two are pretty obvious – e.g. ‘Contender’ attaches to a team with a clear shot at the title, while ‘Dark Horse’ flags a team with the talent and depth to steal the title, but only provided good form and luck through ‘08. For ‘Filler’ teams, the playoffs are within reach, but the title…well, it ain’t gonna happen. Finally, ‘C.H.U.D.s’ – aka, ‘Cannabalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers’: these are the teams that will suffer through a season in the confines of MLS’s cellars, only coming out from time to time to feast on the flesh of the living.”

So, let’s get to it…teams are listed in descending order from Contender to C.H.U.D. Continue reading

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MLS Results and Moves: A Soft-Lens Impressions

Having been “underground” when Major League Soccer (MLS) Roster Compliance Day came and went (and, to celebrate, I threw out tons of crap, just like the teams I like!), motivation to soberly analyze all those rosters isn’t coming; besides, fans and fan sites have probably did all this to near-death earlier in the week. Moreover, not knowing much about the players coming in, I’m not really equipped to do a hard-data write-up. As such, a looser approach feels more appropriate – or, as I put it in the title, a soft-lens impression, which I’ll form based on what I recall of each team’s results (I’ll provide links when I have ’em) and the moves each team has made so far. I’ll be using Soccer America’s round-up of off-season moves for this last bit.

And away we go…

Continue reading

Pre-Season Results: I Think Bueno Said It Best

MLSnet.com rounded-up a couple pre-season games from yesterday.  In order of least to greater importance/coverage:

Toronto FC 3-1 U.S. U-17s
Seeing as MLSnet.com’s report is the only place I read about this game, they get the link.  Then again, what’s to get excited about?  Men beating up on teenagers…old news this pre-season.  The line-up has some interesting points, specifically, who isn’t lining up for TFC: Danny Dichio, Jeff Cunningham, Ronnie O’Brien…basically, most the names the  average fan would recognize.  Must be testing trialists and bubble players?

Chivas USA 1-0 DC United
Sure, you can read a bit on this one through the link above, but that doesn’t bear Luis Bueno’s eye-jab of a headline: “Chivas trialists beat DC.”  That’s got to feel swell for DC fans (about as well, I suspect, as tales of freak injuries, recovery and uneven fitness).  Anyway, Bueno’s piece also covers the game, particularly an on-field incident what sounds like a “forward’s tackle” on Jesse Marsch by Luciano Emilio; fortunately for DC fans, no retaliation came…which would have given them more distressing news to digest.  Another write-up on the game came from Nick Green of 100 Percent Soccer, who liked what he saw of Chivas going forward.

For what it’s worth, this last game constitutes one of the more interesting results of the pre-season.

BONUS: What I don’t know about current pop culture can be could fill an oil refinery large enough to solve the United States’ importation of foreign oil.  As such, I didn’t know who Heidi Montag is/was…but, now that I’ve seen and heard her first foray into singing stardom, I’m missing that blessed ignorance horribly.

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

Off-Season Progress Report: Mime’s A-Wastin’

For good or ill, here’s the plan for this and future editions of the Off-Season Progress Report. Every Friday, I’ll list all the player moves, trials, and rumors (with a snowball’s chance in Hell of coming together…and some that don’t) that appeared on my screen over the previous week. This feature will continue until – I believe – March 3, when Major League Soccer’s (MLS) teams must have their rosters down to 28 players, as required by league rules.

One category, the trialists, is a little more complicated than the others. To begin, I’m assuming that anyone drafted between the SuperDraft and supplemental draft – all identified here – is, effectively, on trial. I imagine some draftees have gone home already, but ignore them until the final cut comes along…and I may not acknowledge it then (too much to know, frankly). As for all other trialists, I can only name those whose names I’ve seen and I’m confident I’ll miss a couple players per team….all while blaming your team for failing to get out the good word. Given the gap, however, I welcome any and all additions to the record; drop ‘em in the comments field or send to me an email (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com).

OK, that’s that. All the movement I saw (or cared about) appears after the jump. Current rosters for all teams are embedded under each team’s name. Continue reading

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 Off-Season Progress Report…Well, Most of One…

Thought I’d take some time today to update the latest off-season player movement around Major League Soccer (MLS). I’ll cover every MLS team down below, talking about which players the club has signed – as recorded on their respective rosters – but will only cover changes that have happened since my first off-season progress report. That said, 1) I’m away from my usual post and the notes I keep there, which means 2) I’m missing some details on some rumors, players trials, that sort of thing.

Getting back to that first off-season report, when I typed up each team’s list of incoming players, I divided them into players coming in by transfer and those “acquired” via the Super- and Supplemental Drafts. The approach for this update will look a little different. Judging from what I’m seeing on the rosters and a player movement round-up run on Soccer America on February 5, teams have signed some, though nothing like all, of their draftees. To account for that, drafted players whose names appear in their team’s official site roster PLUS any player a given team brought in via transfer will be listed as Signed. I’m assuming players in this category to be part of the team at this point.

The other two categories I’ll use are Trialist/Wish-List and Out. The first category includes players named in various sources as being associated with a given team, whether through an invite to camp or by rumor; in the cases where the names are either obscure or low-profile (no offense), I might just provide a link to the source. And the “Out” category is what it is: players who have left the team since the first off-season progress report.

As implied above, there will be holes in this. I’m operating from memory on a few calls. Further, some teams simply enjoy better coverage – among them, teams like the Kansas City Wizards (thanks to Hillcrest Road) and FC Dallas (thanks to FC Dallas Updates); those blogs cover everything down to their players’ stool samples. Other teams (think Colorado) are just hard to find because the front office in question just seems to hate their teams’ fans. But I’m mentioning my blindspots mainly by way of welcoming corrections in the comments. If I missed something, let me know and I’ll get the new information in the main post as soon as I can. If you don’t want to use the comments, don’t be shy about emailing information to me (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com).

Good god, that’s a lot of preamble. A final thing or two and I’ll get to the goods. One, each team’s current roster is embedded in their name. Two, of course I’ll comment on where I think each team is…that’s just a given. No grades, though. Not this time.

Here goes (fixed it!): Continue reading