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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2007: A Look Back on the Domestic (e.g. U.S.) Scene

The long-promised look back at 2007 in U.S. soccer unfolds below. The talking points – 15 in all (what? you wanted a Top 10? I’m nothing like that disciplined; see, I slipped to 17) – come in, at best, half-random order; put another way, I ranked these things a certain way, but it has as much to do with themes intelligible only to me, as opposed to significance. They also came to me after only 15 minutes (or so) thought, so odds are I missed a thing or two; feel free to add any omissions in the comments.

Right. Here goes…

1. David Beckham. May as well start with the elephant in the room (propped up handsomely next to his wife with the weird tits). Beckham garnered (OK, sucked up) enough attention to transcend even the rule that bears his name – that will come in a separate section – which is perhaps why his arrival sits on our collective stoop like some kind of wet turd the neighborhood kids were too lazy to set on fire. He came, we obsessed, he went down injured, and, with an exception here or there, his team did better without him on the field. Sure, he made the Los Angeles Galaxy, and Major League Soccer (MLS) as a whole, a chunk of change, but the whiff of an injured, conceivably over-the-hill player that attached to him also revived the Ghosts of the NASL. Better luck next year, Tiger (with stuffed shorts).

2 . MLS Overview: My belief that, in 2007, MLS actually felt “Major League” for the first time in its existence doesn’t strike me as a lonely one. It’s not so much that the league has arrived in terms of media exposure, money, etc., and it’s not as if problems don’t exist (refereeing, gridlines, playoff format, small rosters, payment structure, the Colorado Rapids, etc.) than things seem to be headed in the right direction, complete with a “Big Mo” tailwind. On-field play looks better than ever, stadiums are popping up at a steady clip, the scouting system looks more established, and we have yet to see what kind of talent the league’s nascent youth academies will turn out. Hell, the league could even be making more money than ever…not that we’d ever know that given how firmly they hold shut the books. So, yeah, good trends, people. Let’s keep ’em up. Continue reading

Daily Sweeper, 12.10.07: Et tu, Osorio?

As of today, I’m planning on running the Daily Sweeper feature at the end of the day. The odds of this changing are very, very low. But it makes sense, right? I’ll be “sweeping up” all the news from a given day, so it only makes sense that I wait till the day is over. Right?

– I suppose Ives Galarcep provides the big story of the day with his Soccer by Ives exclusive that has the Chicago Fire’s 2007 head coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, moving East to coach Red Bull New York. I’ll throw out the ESPN write-up he did, but the exclusive he posted in his “special place” contains the largely same information, only more of it. And the final paragraph of the exclusive contains a significant teaser as well:

“So who will coach Chicago now? Very good question…Assistant coach Denis Hamlett is deserving of an opportunity, as are several other MLS assistants such as Richie Williams, Paul Mariner and John Spencer.”

I find every last one of those names enticing on one level or another. Should be fun seeing who gets the job.

Getting back to Osorio’s move to Red Bull – and my provocative title – there is something a little sleazy about the whole affair, isn’t there? I’m all for employment mobility, but to jump to a rival and on such short notice? I suppose the first thing I want to know is how Chicago fans are reacting (don’t have time to visit BigSoccer, or I’d just tell you). I’d check in on Chicago’s players next – and hope that Luis Arroyave will fill in some blanks fairly soon. I only know one thing for sure: I expect a duller New York side next season. More successful…mmm, probably. Just make sure to bring amphetamines to the games with you; the combination of Osorio’s tactics and beer should be approximtely equivalent to downing a half-dozen doses of Ambien.

– I would link to something about Mo Johnston killing rumors about his stepping away from the head coach’s role and into the Toronto FC front office, but, seeing as I don’t think it will change anything….whoops. In all seriousness, I may not rate Johnston too highly as a coach right now, but will also admit he’s had some damned tough jobs. Maybe next year, right?

– For his ESPN gig (does he have another one?), Jeff Carlisle threw out five names for U.S. National Team coach Bob Bradley to consider. I like ’em all except that darn Eddie Robinson…just kidding, Martek! He names some names I’d like to see, but, given our left-side injury issues, I’d include another one: Brad Davis.

Goal.com’s Kyle McCarthy compiled a Top Ten List for 2008’s biggest busts. Was there ever any question about #1?

– And, finally, WVHooligan does a brave thing and makes some early predictions for the 2008 season. Yeah, one of ’em went sideways already (see the first entry above), and I think he’s placing way too much faith in the New England Revolution’s operation, but the rest hold up to reason pretty well. That includes his ominous prediction for a Houston Dynamo three-peat. I know I keep coming up empty when I try to think who will beat ’em…maybe someone will sign the right ace. (As a side-note, just watch: now that I’ve ditched ’em, 2008 will be the year Bob Kraft finally reaches the end of his stingy, little rope and goes big to build the team. Just watch.)