MLS Daily Sweeper, 03.25: Temptation + Yanquis Chatter

– Damn the MLS Newsstand for linking to so many articles from Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.  All those tempting articles, each boasting a teasing title more tempting than the last: “Leading the League’s Expansion Drive”; “Agent Business Evolves as Sport Grows”; “Talks to Start Soon on New Labor Deal.”  I gave up plenty of information – too much, in fact, and given how far I went, they probably already have it – before panicking at the fine print on Street & Smith’s (non-) privacy agreement (e.g. “We reserve the right to announce your browsing history to your mother on national television….and she will cry…”  and “Please forward your child’s name, a photograph, and a short list of things that will lure him/her into a car with strangers.”)  Anyway, those sound great…I’m sure I’ll cave later…damn them.

– I know all y’all know about tomorrow’s friendly between the U.S. Men’s National Team (Yanquis) and Poland.  But I thought I’d pass on what I counted as the most interesting items on that – for instance: Soccer America’s piece calling on Bob Bradley to seek alternatives to perennial automatic Landon Donovan; ESPN.com’s preview (from Jeff Carlisle) which features a public flaying of Benny Feilhaber’s attitude, courtesy of Mr. Bob Bradley (to which Feilhaber should retort, “Well, well…Donovan is your security blanket…so there!”); finally – and this only related because the main article is about the Yanqui roster for the Poland game – the draw for the Beijing ’08 Olympics is on April 20.  I didn’t know that till then…it’s possible I’m behind the curve.

– Lastly, but not leastly, did anyone else know Shalrie Joseph coulda/mighta played for our beloved Yanquis?  Thoughts on this less-than-relevant revelation?  Here’s mine: as much as I believe Joseph would be an upgrade as a deep-lying, central mid and as much as his physical presence would truly be something, we’re pretty stacked in that position.  So, yeah, I’d like him to be there, but it’s not the end of the world that he isn’t.  I just wish Dwayne DeRosario 1) was American instead of Canadian, or, 2) that he hated being Canadian and loved the U.S. of A.  Anyway, good luck in qualifiers, Shalrie.  I’m pulling for Grenada.

So…right…that’s it.  I mean, no one’s going to vote to call Seattle’s expanion team “Seattle Republic.”  Otherwise I’d have to say something about that.

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MLS Rumor Watch Update (0-1)

I’ll attach the site’s record to each update, just to let you know where things stand. And, for the record, I’ll only be clocking the rumors that MLS Rumors rates 4 or higher. Here are the latest. I’ll keep the Rumor Watch updated as they come to me (as opposed to breaking…I can lag behind).

So, with the site currently rocking a losing record (damn that John Spencer!), here are the latest rumors in the hopper:

Avery John (+ some cash and junk) to Columbus from New England: rated 4.

Alecko Eskandarian to Chivas USA from Real Salt Lake (hmm…where to put the cash and junk? The thing is RSL gets the cash/junk; Chivas just gets Esky): rating 5.

Seattle’s MLS team will be called Emerald City Seattle FC: rating 4…and, CHRIST…fucking awful name.

Claudio Lopez to MLS; MLS Rumors names KC or DC as likely destinations, but I’ll give them a wider berth and leave it at any MLS team: rating 5.

Gonzalo Martines to DC United: rating 4.

Shit, they’re busy today. That’s all of them that ain’t rated 3 or lower, or that don’t carry a rating at all.

UPDATE: It occurs to me now that, during the heavy-traffic off-season, I should just set up a link first thing in the morning and update it throughout the day.  Here’s the latest:

Jay Jay Okocha to the Columbus Crew.

Another point: this, along with the way MLS Rumors used the word “confirmed” in their post regarding Gonzalo Martinez and Jose Carvallo to DC gets me wondering whether the site merely wants to confirm that the rumor they’re passing on exists versus the likelihood of the rumor becoming reality; it’s a little of both in post, especially when you click through to the Steve Goff post to which they refer; Goff is just waiting on confirmation from his local sources.  For the record, I’m going with the latter – e.g. assuming they’re rating the expectation the rumor will come to pass.  If all they’re reporting is the occurrence of talks, that’s not a very high bar.

Dai…er, Weekly Sweeper, 11.16: Things That Are Wrong + MacGyver Lives in Africa

Maybe this would be better as a weekly feature…while I’m pondering that, here’s the most interesting stuff I saw in this, the final week of 2007.

– Apart from sharing his memories from MLS Cups past, Ives Galarcep reported today that we can expect to see Fernando Clavijo back at the helm for the Colorado Rapids in 2008. This is the thing that is wrong…well, one of them. COLORADO RAPIDS FANS: Boycott this team, cancel season tickets, etc. And when you do, call the front office to tell them exactly why you’re doing so. Contempt doesn’t have to be a one-way street.

– Turning to the other wrong thing, tucked into a Seattle Times primer on MLS arriving in Seattle is more talk of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) letting a second-division Seattle Sounders carry on…in Poulsbo, Washington. While a bad idea on a number of levels, it poses additional problems for Portland Timbers fans. To which team will they direct their unconditional hatred, the MLS Seattle team or the weird transplant USL-1 incarnation they’ll play week in and out? It ain’t right, I tells ya.

– Luis Arroyave confirms my suspicions about the parties around MLS Cup. It’s the dude party stuff I’m referring to.

– With the expansion draft coming next Wednesday (right?), a few sites (including this one) have kicked around notions about which players from their team they would release and expose. WVHooligan goes the extra mile and plays the game with all 13 teams. This is a two-parter: Eastern Conference and Western Conference. This is a pretty good way to start getting your head around this stuff.

– Inching as we are toward the time when we’ll all start looking back on the 2007 season, I thought I’d flag a good one in case anyone missed. It’s going to be tough to top Who Ate All the Cupcakes 2007-in-review post. Let’s hope it’s not their last.

– Finally, before getting to the run of random crap with which I like to close my Fridays, enjoy this beauty goal kick from some random indoor game.

Now…on with the crap! Continue reading

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?

MLS Expansion: Double-Down on PAC NW & Beyond

My local paper reports this morning that Major League Soccer’s (MLS) top officials are again eyeing the Rose City’s potential as an expansion market. While nothing definitive appears in the article- for instance, no talk of negotiations, advanced or otherwise – it’s easy to disregard this as a simple means of keeping the lines of communication open. Indeed, the official line on the visit boils down to providing MLS Commish Don Garber with a chance “to see [PGE Park] in ‘game condition’ for a significant event.”

Reality aside, however, just seeing the reefer to the headline on the top of The Oregonian’s sports section set some wheels to spinning in my head – and those along somewhat urgent lines. Between Merritt Paulson’s (perhaps throw-away) figure on what it would cost to get the Portland Timbers’ PGE Park up to MLS standards and with a Seattle team to MLS looking powerfully firm for a rumor, it occurs to me that the future is now for Portland getting an MLS team.

Let’s separate this to make it prominent: Portland should get a Major League Soccer franchise in the same round of expansion that takes in Seattle, which looks to be 2009.

Clear self-interest aside (self-interest? where!?), a couple things recommend getting the Pacific Northwest “toe” in the national footprint in place all at once. To begin, if Seattle plays in one league and Portland in another, the risk of the rivalry between them losing its bite grows with each year – e.g. Seattle gets fixated on, say, San Jose, while Portland starts worrying about Vancouver’s Whitecaps. Pull both teams into the league at once and – Whammo! – enjoy the eye-gouging basement brawl between two expansion teams already entangled in regional rivalry. Second, the simultaneous move not only folds the Pacific Northwest region into league with a bang, it essentially wraps up the Western coast footprint. After Portland, Seattle and San Jose, where else does MLS go in a 18, or even 20, team league?

The last piece provides a nice segue into the larger question of expansion: where does MLS go to get its 18 teams by 2012? Continue reading