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

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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

Kovalenko Photo Swap (RSL People, I’m Looking at You)

Pursuant to the contents of the post below (see: “Beckham, Evil”) and a comment left by Martek , as well as the contents thereof, I just had an idea for a contest – or, perhaps more accurately, an exchange.

As noted in the comments, my wife is a fan of Dema Kovalenko – less for what he does on the field (of which, for the record, she approves; a tough lady, that one) than how he looks off it.  She would like nothing more than a big photo/poster of Dema to grace the Shrine to Soccer that stands next to our computer.  And it occurs to me I’d rather start collecting things like that than the fan-fare I collected in the past: specifically, team jerseys and some scarfs.

So, here’s the swap: I have quite a few team jerseys of varying age and, probably, quality.  A lot of them are Liverpool (about 4 or 5), but I’ve also got a couple AC Milan shirts (an old-ish Weah shirt and another one…can’t remember), an Ajax away (I think; I know it’s Ajax), an old (and, frankly, ugly) Arsenal away shirt, a Bayern Munich jersey (looks home), and old DC United jersey with the old, um, Weimar-esque badge.  There are a couple more besides (I think).  Sorry to be vague on details, but I never wear the things so don’t remember too well what they look like.

The Bottom Line: I would be happy to exchange a couple, three, or four of these jerseys for a photo of Dema, ideally autographed.  It should be decent quality and about the size of an album cover, but we’d take larger gladly.  I’ll give more shirts for better quality and will get into what the autograph will say in the event I get any takers – and assuming someone could talk Dema into signing such a thing.  If it helps pique interest, I could take photos of the shirts (some never worn, others worn once, some twice at most) and post ’em.  Oh, and contrary to what it says in the post below, the picture of Dema needn’t be either hot or buttered…truth to tell, I don’t think I could look at something like that.

So….any takers?  You can either comment below or email me, though any negotiations would happen over email.

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

MLS Season Tickets Update – Thanks to SBJ

The Sports Business Journal will be doing a full MLS preview this year which should be real interesting to read in the next couple weeks or so. It really has been fun to see the amount of MLS/World Soccer headlines in there go up ten-fold over the past year or so. Just wanted to pass on this table of information to you regarding season tickets sold as of 2/17/2008. Might have seen this somewhere else, but there is some good stuff here..

TEAM

2008

2007

% CHANGE

Chicago Fire 2,759 2,553 +8%
Chivas USA 837 858 -2%
Colorado Rapids 2,968 1,866 +59%
Columbus Crew 3,227 3,190 +1%
D.C. United 5,976 4,721 +27%
FC Dallas 3,002 3,134 -4%
Houston Dynamo 4,116 2,205 +87%
Kansas City Wizards 1,539 464 +232%
Los Angeles Galaxy 7,915 9,308 -15%
New England Revolution 4,001 3,502 +14%
New York Red Bulls 3,170 2,391 +33%
Real Salt Lake 4,632 4,421 +5%
San Jose Earthquakes 3,822 N/A N/A
Toronto FC 16,641 12,435 +34%
TOTAL 64,605 51,048 +26.6%

We’ve already heard about Toronto FC selling out a second consecutive year, but let us look briefly at how announcements, stadium construction, on-field performance affects season ticket sales. Colorado Rapids are a pretty big surprise here, up 59% from last year at this time and there on-field play has been sub par at best, no real announcements this offseason. You can’t possibly contribute this to the signing of Christian Gomez? Some of the other teams are little more clear cut. The anticipation of a new stadium and a more aggressive ad campaign has helped the Red Bulls put more butts in the seats. Kansas City’s relocation to their minor league baseball stadium has already increased ticket sales ensuring that intimate stadium feeling they were hoping for. Is it possible that Houston’s successes on the field are translating intermittent fans into season ticket holders? Anticipation of a possible stadium deal as well as the talks between Oscar De La Hoya and the club (which hadn’t been confirmed by 2/17) could have been a factor as well.

It really is good to see New England on the rise in Gillette, D.C. up 27% in RFK, and the Red Bulls up in Giants making the Atlantic rivalries that much more important.

Couple questions to ponder though:

Real Salt Lake’s new stadium is coming, why no jump in season ticket holders? They still sit at the fourth-highest total in the MLS though…

What is Chivas USA doing wrong? Contenders in the Western Conference yet again this year and this still can’t get a fan base.

Does a decrease in the Galaxy’s season-ticket holders this pre-season mean that the Beckham Effect is losing influence?

With Seattle, according to Don Garber, past the 12,000 season ticket mark – where will they be come this time next year? How about Philadelphia?

MLS Is “Abroad” – Marinate on that for a minute

With a hearty hat-tip to du Nord, I read a bit about Indra Sahdan’s trial with Real Salt Lake.  A hint of the exotic draws me to the player – though, of course, I hope he’s still good – but the last line in the latest write-up really caught my eye:

“Finally, Indra reversed his earlier decision to leave.”

“He said: ‘At 28, this is my last chance of realising a dream to play abroad.'”

I never thought of Major League Soccer (MLS) as a destination for players.  But I suppose that depends on where you start.

And I give a mental high-five to anyone who can guess where I lifted the line “marinate on that for a minute.”  I’m thinking one source, one song to be precise.  And the context is totally different…

EPL Daily 2.27: Real Salt Lake finds themselves a doctor, don’t mess with the Spurs and Ledley King, Thaksin facing the music

KENNY DEUCHAR: Not many of you have probably heard of the 6’3″ Scotsman (and it took me a while to remember the name), but he could be Real Salt Lake’s younger version of Toronto FC’s Danny Dichio without the fiery rep. Deuchar is most well known for being the key man in Gretna’s rise from the depths to mediocrity. The “Good Doctor” was responsible for an unparalleled feat in Scottish football history – 41 goals in 41 games, 6 hat-tricks in a season, and he lived up to his stats by treating RSL GM Garth Lagerwey to a two-goal performance in a losing cause against Glasgow Rangers. Gretna hasn’t been able to pay their striker due to financial troubles and that led to Deuchar’s disenchantment with the club but loan spells with Northampton Town and St. Johnstone proved only marginally fulfilling. With RSL he’ll get his pay day (gasp!). Deuchar adds a target man, power and depth to a pacy, skillful set of forwards – Robbie Findley,  Fabian Espindola, and Yura Movsisyan. Oh, and the ‘Good Doctor’ bit? One of the perks of his signing with Real Salt Lake was that he would be able to practice (yep, he’s a practising physician) in a nearby medical clinic.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: The ex-Thai Prime Minister and Manchester City owner is set to return to Thailand tomorrow to face the corruption charges still outstanding. Shinawatra has been in some sort of a mid-life crisis – leaving the country for almost a year and a half, buying one of the most storied English football clubs, playing with it, and now realizing these corruption charges aren’t just going to go away.

Other tidbits:

George Gillett and Tom Hicks are reportedly close to selling Liverpool (almost a year after when they first bought the club) to the Dubai International Capital group. Both Gillett and Hicks continue to deny any intention to sell.

Sniffing the Touchline has all the photos of Tottenham’s post-Carling Cup Victory bash. Always knew Ledley King was a belligerent and crazy S.O.B. The best of it all is the fact that Juande Ramos gave his approval, allowing the guys to unwind after watching their team transform this year from disastrous to beyond passable.

David Beckham admits he isn’t ready to play for Fabio Capello’s national squad and is willing to wait. In better news, however, Fox Soccer Channel is rumored to have bought the English language broadcast rights to the LA Galaxy’s Asian Tour (3 games in South Korea, Hong Kong, and China).