MLS: ___(#) of _____(s) for Week ___

So…in some background chatter, I decided to work a concept similar to Breton’s “10 Bright Spots” posts – check out his latest entry from today. Originally, it was going to be “5 Black Eyes from Week ____,” – e.g. five bad performances, bad decisions, or instances of bad behavior – and it was intended to give the flipside to Breton’s posts. But when the time came to name names, I couldn’t quite nail down 5 black-eye-worthy items; three didn’t feel too bad, mind, but it ain’t five. Given that I decided to add a couple secondary concepts to the mix: talking points and minor mysteries. This may change next week – hence the blank-laden title – but I will get this concept nailed down by Week 5…promise.

Without further ado, here are four black eyes plus one point of interest for Major League Soccer’s Week 2:

1) Parkhurst’s Howling Thursday: I didn’t see the Chicago Fire run straight over the New England Revolution, but I saw enough in the highlights and read enough stray comments – though Lord only knows where – to believe the typically steady Michael Parkhurst suffered a fit of the horrors late last week. Can’t see a repeat happening…but what if it does? Continue reading

MLS Week 1 Power Rankings – HA! (+ do post your own rankings)

I’m torn between two images for this first edition of the Major League Soccer power rankings. This one captures what rankings, oh, #2-14 look like to me:

This one, on the other hand, gets to how making each of those selections felt:

So, yeah, confidence is low, people, so low in fact that I put fairly little stock in what appears below; I blame the whole Week 1/too little information thing.

Rankings and jabbering aimed at justifying them appear after the jump. And, as always, the previous week’s ranking appears in parentheses after the current week’s rankings. This will go into the collective rankings – look for those Thursday – along with several others I have already found. Anyone is welcome to submit power rankings of their own into the comments (or to email them to me; jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com) and those will go into the collective mix as well.

Now….the rankings….accuracy, validity, hell, even intelligence, not guaranteed: Continue reading

Notes from MLS Week 1: An Invitation for Answers

OK, peoples: here’s the deal. While I can watch only so many games, I review the highlights for all of them. Naturally, this provides only three to four mintues worth of information and perspective on a 90-minute event. So, for the games I don’t watch, I’m just going to post a series of impressions and questions the day after and invite anyone so inclined to fill in the blanks. The idea is to make me smarter about what I’m watching every week.

My comments appear below: have at ‘em. MLSnet.com match reports are embedded in the scoreline; yeah, I could read those, but they’re boring; I trust all y’all to give me better dish. Continue reading

2008 MLS Pre-Season Power Rankings: Science!

I’ll begin by apologizing for the constant need to explain my posts and myself. Sorry.

Welcome to the first, and first-ever, Major League Soccer (MLS) pre-season power rankings I have ever compiled. In the past, too few teams playing meaningful games equaled too many unknowns, so I didn’t see the point. I don’t really now….good times, aside. Oh, how we’ll laugh when we look back. That confessed, I’m going to embrace this form wholeheartedly and dress it in the available trappings of science.

I’ll begin with methods, a problem I never resolved during 2007 (mainly because I caught the issue too late in the game). By judging teams on different criteria at different points in the season, I tarnished the results. I started, if memory serves, by ranking MLS clubs based on form – e.g. a broad-brush impression of which team would beat which on the Saturday ahead. By the end of the season, however, I altered the formula to address something that seemed more important: the teams I believed would make the playoffs took the top 8 spots and I placed the teams I thought would go deeper in the post-season nearer the top, regardless of form. I move that the last organizing principle be branded as stupid and relegated to the Hole of Non- and Never-Existence.

With that in mind, the methods employed in the season ahead will adhere closely and permanently to those that first guided me – that is, I expect the team above to beat the team below 6 games out of 10 at a minimum; a brief explanation of my thinking will follow each team listed and each post will close with a discussion of trends and points of interest – assuming any come to me. With consistent methods in place, sound results, analysis, and conclusions should follow – if only logically…and internal logic at that. And – voilà! – we have science…of a sort.

And, later today, I’m going to up the science a little more by roping in all the pre-season power rankings I have seen so far in order to revive the Collective Power Rankings from last season. But, after the jump, I’ll lay out how I see all 14 MLS teams entering this deeply fascinating 2008 season. It promises to be a wild one, (but, c’mon, we all know deep down it’s going to peter out into a dogfight involving the usual suspects…I mean, how many people are rating Red Bull New York…pssh). Continue reading

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

(It looks like I got a little ahead of myself down below…if only by implication. Expect the Western Conference Preview tomorrow and pre-season power rankings Friday. Which is how god intended it.)

Between the super-abundance of variables – some directly inter-related, some not – and the parade of blind-spots steadily unspooling behind me, any attempt on my part to provide a detailed and precise run-down of what will happen to each of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 14 teams between now and MLS Cup 2008 seems either silly, pompous, or slated for failure – or all the above. Given that, I’ll keep things loose. Rather than exactly predicting who will finish where in the standings, this preview, and the one to follow, stops short of ranking teams in the order they will finish, but instead places them into four broad categories. To make things still more vague, I list more than eight “playoff-capable” teams – and I’ll get to the name for that below – an obvious issue with only eight playoff slots available.

This is intentional…I meant “loose” in the first sentence literally…judge me as you will. But, before charging me with cowardice, consider instead that these are the fruits of parity.

To introduce the categories, each team will be tagged with a label: Contender, Dark Horse, Filler, or C.H.U.D. 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 in the confines of MLS’s cellars, only coming out for rare feasts on the flesh of the living.

As for resources, what comes below relies on only a few: WVHooligan’s most current list of off-season player movement and Climbing the Ladder’s best guess at starting elevens for the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Finally, if this seems a little weenie, don’t worry: I’ll make an ass of myself tomorrow when I post pre-season power rankings. Odds are I’ll do the same here in any case. Time to get on with the game…for clarity’s sake, teams are listed from Contender to C.H.U.D. Continue reading

MLS Daily Sweeper, 03.24: Resources, Riots, and Goal-Scoring Mysteries

Again…most go quickly…no photos, etc.

Climbing the Ladder – god bless ‘im – posted something wonderful: expected starting elevens for every team in Major League Soccer (MLS), broken down by conference (Eastern and Western).  I will be using those for my upcoming conference previews (Tuesday? Wednesday? just some time before Saturday)…unlike the, um, previews I’ve been saving for the past two weeks.  Also, go vote in his MLS survey.

MLS Rumors picked up reports of fan/security misbehavior during last week’s CONCACAF Champions Cup quaterfinal between Deportivo Saprissa and Atlante FC.  If you don’t trust MLS Rumors, there’s video in the post as well as a link to an article from Medio Tiempo…unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish and don’t have time for (the ever-comical) Babelfish, so will just pass it on and let you make of it what you will.  Assuming it’s all accurate, it’d be interesting if Saprissa got slapped with a stadium ban for the semifinal v. Houston.  It will also be interesting if they don’t.  Suppose that makes this win/win, right?

– This one is just a little fun.  Who scored the winner in the Kansas City Wizards’ win over Real Salt Lake?  Was it Jimmy ConradScott Sealy?  Drum-roll, please…by a score of two sources to one, Conrad has it!  The more surprising thing is how anyone confused Sealy and Conrad…

– Finally, fans of the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC: click those links and enjoy your gloom.  Hmm.  Not there yet?  Well, try this, Toronto fans!  And this, Chicago fans!

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