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…

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MLS Daily Sweeper, 12.13: A Contribution to MLS Underground’s New Direction; Stadiums; Collapsed Rumors; Parsed Trades

– For those who haven’t seen it already, MLS Underground is under new management and, with that, is headed off in a new direction.  And this isn’t so much a sharp right-hand turn as it’s a three-to-four-point turn with an e-brake slide.  Rather than deal in its former insider-dish/rumor-hawking stuff (and I’m still baffled by the commenter to the post who said “there are enough rumor blogs out there…says who?), MLSU is changing its focus to supporters’ groups, whether it’s history, circulating their songs, or making them go national.  It’s a cool idea.  So cool that it triggered something I was thinking about, maybe last night, maybe another night…or maybe I just dreamed it.

That can be found in the comment left by manlyferry – who happens to be me, though I’m leaning toward a change in handle (not yet affected): the basic idea – and I give this with my blessing to anyone who can get their shit together and get it off the ground before I can get my shit together and get it off the ground (should give you, oh, a decade or three; and that assumes it’s even possible, or even desirable) – is to build up a database on places for visiting fans, even away fans, to stay as they visit MLS and, what the hell, USL-1 cities.  These should be cheap options at most, free at best – e.g. places with people who are willing to put up other people (he writes, knowing he has no space of his own); but a simple guide to cheap hotels, contacts in the city to help people with getting around, etc.

The idea is to facilitate, say, summer tours for people wanting to follow MLS teams.  As I said in the comment, it’s like following the Grateful Dead, but without all the shitty music…yeah, you’d lose the drugs, but, on the upside, you get to keep your kidneys.  Pie in the sky?  Quite probably.  But a fella can dream, can’t he?

At any rate, cool concept for MLS Underground and tip of the hat to SF of The Offside Rules for making it happen. Continue reading

MLS Seattle sparks talk of MLS Philly

Funding Progressing Slowly                    MLS Narrows the Field

Couple things we find out from these articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Should know by the end of the year whether or not the stadium will in fact be built. In turn, we will know if MLS Philly will go through.

MLS Philly will most likely play in a temporary venue (like my second home of Franklin Field) until the completion of the stadium in 2010.

Main concerns slowing up the process: Does this negatively impact the taxpayers? Where is the real benefit to Chester’s residents – “Chester needs supermarkets, rec centers, and schools before it needs a stadium”

Chance that Philly will be announced tomorrow as the next franchise in Don Garber’s Annual State of the League Address? – Slim to none.

Good news? – The Senate Appropriations Committee authorized spending $45 million on the Chester Waterfront stadium and other developments.

Catch? – That doesn’t mean it WILL be spent for that, but it’s a step closer.

It all comes down to the state of Pennsylvania and whether they share the passion that Governor Ed Rendell, former Chester mayor Domenic Pileggi, the Sons of Ben, and the who MLS Philly investor group share. Call it FC Delco for all is care, just please give our Philadelphians our team.

Where Seattle Meets Barcelona

Everyone is flagging the Seattle MLS announcement, so, seeing as you’ve all seen/heard this before, I thought I’d play up the aspect that most appeals to me: the fan ownership thing, in which fans buy shares of the club. Drew Carey handled the announcement and, assuming he’s playing it straight (and we wouldn’t he?), fans who own a chunk of the club get to vote fer or agin’ the team president. That’s kinda neat, as I see it. More significantly, that kind of talk flies like one of those birds that migrates super-fucking-far on annual basis – e.g. very, very well indeed – in the Pacific Northwest. We pitch “progressive tents” at every opportunity in this neck of the woods.

Anyway, you can find a video clip of the announcement on GOALSeattle.com.

One last thing: somewhere during Drew Carey’s entrance, someone in the background blurts out “Say Portland sucks,” which kind of makes me titter given my comment on what I view as an entirely shared progressive culture in both cities. Having lived in both cities for 5+ years, I don’t see a whole lot separating them generally, which may explain the bitterness of the rivalry (certainly much more so than the half-silly, yet frequent references to a “rivalry that goes back to NASL days.” Yeah, it did…but with a 20-freakin’-year hiatus; just admit the hate is natural and stop trying to dress it up). At any rate, the Timbers Blog responds in kind…at least with the graphic that tops his post.

I can’t pretend I’m part of that scrum, of course. Hell, I may be living in Seattle in a couple months for reasons that none of you (should) care about (no, it’s not because an MLS team set down roots there; 1) I’m still holding out hope for a Portland team; 2) do you seriously think a married father of two can make his wife move for that?). In any case, I pack my weird brand of soccer whorishness wherever I go.

Whoops. One last, last thing: is it true, as reported by MLS Rumors, that Seattle’s MLS team won’t be the Sounders? Was this mentioned at the announcement? If so, how do Seattle fans feel about this one?

Daily Sweeper, 11.9: It’s Gullit, but Is It Worth It?; More About Last Night…and a little benign evil

“The essential quality for an MLS coach is making due – or, god forbid – excelling under the restrictions handed down from MLS HQ. As Walsh points out, the foreign coaches currently coming up in these searches worked for clubs who had seriously deep benches and who, given so much as the perception of need, could buy nearly any player they wanted. The question in MLS isn’t how well you can make a team perform with a World First XI, but how well you can perform when Eddie Gaven looks like your best offensive threat and Alejandro Moreno constitutes a serious upgrade.”

Some smart guy wrote that…well, it was me, actually, and just a couple days ago. And that makes me wonder why I was so wishy-washy-wait-and-see about the Los Angeles Galaxy’s decision to sign Dutch great Ruud Gullit as head coach in yesterday’s Daily Sweeper. If you want the above argument fleshed-out and improved upon, check out Andrea Canales’ piece on the Gullit “gire” (sorry) for ESPN. Getting back to me, the more I think about this, the more I think Gullit will struggle with the Galaxy. This isn’t a lonely position. Soccer By Ives expects to be underwhelmed, while some penpal of Sideline Views’ Andrea Canales’ predicts a one-year-and-out tenure before Gullit freaks out on the Galaxy’s unique brand of madness (it can only be unique when it’s centered on one man). Whether it was what I read or thinking about it a little more, put me down as predicting nothing spectacular. It’s nothing against Gullit. I followed the EPL pretty closely back when he coached Chelsea, then Newcastle, and that’s about what he got there.

For the record, I’m going to resist acting on the urge I had to change every “h” in this post to a “g.” Crap, that’d be annoying.

– Seeing as I’ve already said my piece on the subject, I thought I’d pass on a couple things about last night’s game. First, Blue Blooded Journo wrote up a happy thank you to the New England Revolution and his fellow fans and let me pass on my congratulations to him and everyone else from the West Coast posse, malnourished and feeble as it is; let’s just say, when the umbilicus attaching you to a team (can I call them “Mom”?) gets a little longer, the intensity wanes a bit. Being there matters, where the noise and atmosphere wrap you right up in the frenzy; ditto for the shared pain of the losses. Coming from the other side, Luis Arroyave turned his Red Card blog over to the fans (in the comments at least) for Fire Nation’s thoughts on last night. To attach a word to it: scathing.

GOALSeattle.com announced that a local pub called The George & Dragon will host some kind of MLS-related announcement next Monday. You can find details on the occasion in the post, but what you won’t find is this: prior to being the George & Dragon Pub, the same building was called The Midget Tavern, a place where half the trips to the (tiny) bathroom involved navigating around dudes either selling or snorting blow. My how times and places change…still, looking forward to the announcement.

– Bob Bradley announced the roster for the South Africa friendly. Rah, rah. Maybe I’ll get caught up next week. Now…not so much.

Turning, now, to the benign evil…. Continue reading

MLS: Philly Peeking Over the Crest?

Answer: yes, if one anonymous tipster is reading several signs correctly.  To flag some just-behind-the-scenes details to my colleague’s Philly expansion post below:

“-reportedly, Gov. Rendell has already agreed to the Philly MLS deal. He is just waiting for the Senate/House to pass the bill to sign it.”
“-The senate majority leader, former Chester city mayor, is a champion of the Chester MLS stadium project. He is fully behind it.”
“-The House appropriations chair is also 100% behind it.”
“-Both the chair and the majority leader are from 2 different parties, but completely agree this is a good project”

So, will it be the Emerald City (Seattle) and the City of Brotherly Love?

DS, 10.18: Cooling PDX Dreams?; LA v. RBNY TONITE (+ Cobi); Solo’s Apology; Odds ‘n’ Ends

– The middle section of Ian Plenderleith’s MLS News Review for USSoccerplayas.com revisits the MLS-to-Portland issue and, to be direct about it, brings out the wet blanket. I’m not criticizing – the man is entitled to his opinion and, odds are, he’s not engorged with soccer-lust for an MLS team in his hometown – but I read what looks like the same article from my local paper and came away with a glass-half-full vibe – though the emphasis belongs on the “half” part. And, in his defense, Plenderleith flagged the biggest trick – e.g. the money invovled in upgrading PGE Park, something that will be particularly hard to sell in terms of public revenues given that the city undertook renovations on the facility not all that long ago.

– As we all know – and I’m not talking about The Ankle – the LA Galaxy continues clawing out of its grave tonight when they take on a Red Bull New York side that should be more interested in going into the playoffs healthy than in keeping LA out. Previews abound, but I liked what I got from Goal.com and Martin Rogers’ preview for Yahoo! Sports as much as any of them; the passage where Rogers calls LA coach Frank Yallop “a good and decent man” particularly caught my eye…though I can’t say why.

Speaking of LA, I came across a weird passage in Andrea Canales piece for USSoccerplayas.com on LA’s (evil-infused) resurrection. Here’s that:

“’All along I’ve said in this league you need a steady team,’ said coach Frank Yallop, who maintained that he never lost faith in his players. Instead, he blamed injuries and a difficult schedule for the team’s struggles”

Only after reading that did it occur to me that LA’s (wicked, Faustian) resurrection actually coincided with said difficult schedule…so, earlier in the year then, it must have been the injuries….or they just sucked…right?

– Speaking of LA, there’s something fishy about Cobi Jones retirement – specifically, the occasional rumors that it’s not going to happen. But then you read something like this on the front “page” of Sports Illustrated’s site:

“The Galaxy are set to honor retiring star Cobi Jones on Thursday night…”

I mean, if they honor him, he has to retire…doesn’t he?

– I’ve read a lot of MLS regular-season end-game analyses lately. Hell, I’ve even written a few (well, loose interpretations of them, anyway). But I think Red Bull Rising turned in one of the best end-game posts so far.

– Speaking of great contributions to the collective mind, it’s hard to top Dan Loney’s reaction to the public apology from U.S. Women’s ‘keeper Hope Solo, which was posted on U.S. Soccer’s site.

– Finally, 3rd Degree posted one of those items for which I’m a real sucker: FC Dallas’ All-Time Top 10 Players. Just seeing Ariel Graziani’s name reminded me why I developed that soft spot for the old Dallas Burn…and he doesn’t even mention Alain Sutter (who, for the record, hardly meets the criteria for that Top 10 list).