Red Bulls: Goodbye de Grandpre, Angel to sit Saturday?

Michael Lewis over at Big Apple Soccer reports that Juan Pablo Angel is questionable for this Saturday’s match-up vs. FC Dallas.

Ives Galarcep finally got Juan Carlos Osorio to admit his interest in Jorge Alberto Rojas, the second most-capped player in Venezualan history. He also mentions that Chris Innes should be signed. He organizes well, holds the line, and is dominant in the air.

Marc de Grandpre has officially resigned as Red Bull New York’s Managing Director. He is one of few that survived the Red Bull takeover and spent 9 years with the team. Why now? Apparently, a offer to good to refuse was tabled for some other position in the business community.

26-year old defender Alex Yi – who has been a staple in the back four for Dallas over the past couple of seasons – has retired due to continuous hamstring injuries. Moor, Davino, Wagenfuhr, Wagner, Rhine are all healthy so it’s not like Dallas will be really hurting on Saturday.

Kevin Goldthwaite is honored with The Offside Rules’ first-ever “Goal of the Weak”. It showcases the week’s goal lacking the most aesthetically. I can’t argue. A goal’s a goal though…right?

 

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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

Red Bull New York 2007 Review: An Atypically Typical Year

Red Bull New York
Record (W-L-T): 12-11-7; 47 GF, 45 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

Overview
All in all, and perhaps a little sadly, this was a pretty typical year for Major League Soccer’s (MLS) New York franchise: uneven, unsettled, and, as always, unrewarded.  But a couple oddities put a fresh twist or two on the familiar: a start to the season strong enough to convince a few that the team had rounded a corner; the simple, frankly shocking presence of a reliable scoring tandem; finally, the year of the designated player, the Year of the Bruce and how those factors interacted.  In a sense, then, the narrative for 2007 was all wrong in that it offered Red Bull New York something positively foreign: hope and promise.  That they kept that alive until, arguably, August inches a little bit further from the “typical.”  But Red Bull’s season ended as they always do, which means that even if things didn’t quite go to Hell after August, they got close enough to make legible the famous statement about hope posted on the gate.

Now, where does that leave us?  It was a typical year, but it wasn’t?  Damned unsatisfying, that, but it seems accurate.  For instance, in the typical column you had Clint Mathis back with the team and starring in the early going (not to mention getting sent off twice by early June – neat trick for an offensive player).   In the atypical column, the Red Bull roster featured one of the hottest American prospects in Josmer “Jozy” Altidore and one of the league’s deadliest forwards in Juan Pablo Angel.  Back in the typical column, Bruce Arena played the role of high-profile coach, while, almost tragically, Claudio Reyna played the too-familiar, over-priced under-achiever. Continue reading

Daily Sweeper, 11.7: The Process of Winding Down

I’m coming across quite a few stories today that read a lot like post-mortems. Seemed like a good theme. Before getting to that, however, I want to flag my personal highlight of the day. The Offside Rules found a video of ESPN goofball, Rob Stone, eating one hot motherscratcher of a chili pepper. It’s possible, of course, that Stone is a chili wuss. But, thanks to a local farmer’s market, I’ve fought through my share of chili-eatin’ challenges and the kind of pain he experienced looked familiar. Seeing as he ate “the hottest chili in the world,” I’m guessing he saw God. My personal worst was a Jamaican Chocolate pepper or one particularly surprising habanero – e.g. the ones that are so frickin’ hot you can smell it. Let’s just say my body coped with the experience by attempting to vomit.

OK, enough gawking: on to the goods.

– Credit to 3rd Degree for getting me in this frame of mind. Buzz Carrick wrote a tidy little behind-the-scenes at what professional players – or, FC Dallas players at least – do ahead of and during the off-season. Do note the absentee.

The DCenters offered a great suggestion for a tribute to potential retiree, Joshua Gros. For those unfamiliar with the reasons why such a young player would retire, concussion is the word with “repeated” and “multiple” serving as highly relevant qualifiers.

– Now, the biggest winding down of them all: Red Bull New York, where there are clearly a couple burners running at once. The New York Times’ Goal blog captures the mood fairly well – particularly in the second paragraph – but, as expected, Soccer By Ives gets the details. Red Bull fans in search of a silver lining have one in Juan Pablo Angel’s apparent happiness with life in NYC; looks like he could be sticking around. Another Ives post casts a wider net over who may or may not stay around. The one that caught my eye: Clint Mathis. Yeah, I’m a Mathis whore (yessir, I’ll wear the suit tonight), so I’d be perfectly happy to gamble that he could find, as Ives puts it, “inspiration” with either New England or Columbus or some other team I enjoy following. Sign him up, Mr. Nicol. Seriously, you know you’re worried about Andy Dorman…

Naturally, a couple people are looking forward today. Moving on to that part of the post…

Down the Byline, proudly carrying the Kansas City Wizards’ torch in the soccer blogo-verse, gave a local’s perspective on the Kansas City Wizards’ quonset set-up for the next couple of seasons, CommunityAmerica Ballpark. To quickly sum up that perspective: he’s OK with it. If nothing else, the Wizards could stand a smaller venue. And, in a later post, M (the author), brought the feisty to address some of the general commentary on the move and with the opinion that Major League Soccer (MLS) should move the Wizards franchise out of KC, in particular. It could be he’s responding to (good) lines like the one in du Nord’s Tuesday round-up:

“Bob Luder of the KC Star reports that the Kansas City Wizards are going from NFL-Way-Too-Big to Minor-League-Baseball-Awkward in their stadium situation.”

For the record, I only know KC has some place to play and I’m OK with that. Badly as the franchise struggles with butts in seats, the league would be weird without them.

– The last item today comes from something Soccer Source found in an “ESPN France” (or whatever the hell they call it) write-up on a few French soccer players’ experiences with soccer in the U.S.:

“Interestingly enough, the story predicts this is due to change. It quotes Michael Wiesenfeld, Merlin’s New York-based agent, who anticipates MLS will add a second designated player in time for the start of the 2008 season. Wiesenfeld also predicts that the minimum wage for players and salary cap for teams will both treble in 2009.”

If the source on this wasn’t an agent, I’d headline this bad boy under a title reading “All Problems Solved.” And I’m referring, there, to the stuff about 2009. Expand the roster size, rock a firm-ish salary cap and ditch single-entity and I’ll be a happy monkey.

That is all. (Oh, and I’ll pound sand right up yer ass. (Reverse the order and name that band and song!))

MLS Conference Semis: It’s a Wrap

As The Hives sang not so long ago, hate to say I told you so. Before you think I’m feeling cocky, let me just confess right now that getting all Saturday’s picks dead right cost a tiny sliver of my soul. I didn’t read the document all the way through, but I’m pretty sure it was just a sliver I sold.

But no one wants to hear about my triumphant stand atop the table of the Center Holds It/Who Ate All the Cupcakes Playoff Picks Duel (see the sidebar; god bless those Cupcakes lads…so on top of things). No, people who come to this site come to read about the games. So, let’s get to ’em…very, very briefly. I mean, you know what you saw, right?

Houston Dynamo 4-1 FC Dallas

Curse the damned distractions in my life, but did I see that correctly? Did Arturo Alvarez really whack the Houston player in the pills? That’s a guaranteed sending-off, son, not to mention drawing the silent, collective condemnation of all male viewers. Oh well. A Houston win was always just a matter of time; the extra man only made it more emphatic. The personal highlight for me? That tasty through-ball Dwayne DeRosario slotted to Brian Ching. So, FC Dallas season ends where it usually does. Even so, you have to feel they feel better about losing this one than the past few to the Colorado Rapids; being on the wrong-side of a Texas ass-kicking can’t hurt nearly as bad as getting out-coached by Fernando Clavijo…twice…oh, the humanity. I could write more, but the bottom line reads pretty straight: this series was over the minute Houston leveled the aggregate.

New England Revolution 1-0 Red Bull New York

The game doesn’t deserve analysis. It deserves the finger. The rare moment of brilliance – well, not brilliance, so much as the odd bright spot – typically came to nothing. My personal highlight? Bruce Arena having the good sense to pull Juan Pablo Angel. Don’t trifle with head injuries. The toothpicks propping open my eyes snapped more than once, though. And New England’s goal…well, that just had to be heartbreaking for Jon Conway.

Chivas USA 0-0 Kansas City Wizards

As if proving the adage about some goalless draws providing more entertainment than wins and losses, this one kicked the holy crap out of the above. Too many things jumped out at me to record in this space, but the real kicker was how frustratingly far Chivas seemed from scoring – and that’s in spite of hitting the post on several occasions. Oxy-moronic (or, perhaps, just plain moronic) as that sounds, I’m trying to get at something deeper: to dominate possession and aggression to that extent without scoring takes some doing. Maybe it was Chivas’ apparent yen to score from within the six-yard box that did them in; they tried so many times to pinch inside, even when playing from the flanks; maybe it’s their trouble with getting in crosses that forced this. To name names, I have never been so underwhelmed by Francisco Mendoza, the worst culprit for the troublesome offensive habits described above. Going the other way, Eddie Johnson looks somewhere between eager and sharp – good news for Wizards fans. In fact, KC looks like they’re playing as well as they ever have this 2007. Doubtful as it may be in the end, upsetting Houston isn’t beyond them. They’ll need to tighten up things at the back when they face a team that knows how to fire in crosses – one that lives on them, in fact.

Well, that’s all from me today. Looking forward to the conference finals.

DS, 10.30: Bruce-Gate Over Already?; The “Don Garber” Ball; Predictions Fun

With the soccer blogging world struggling for content today, I figure an early edition is in order.

– Few things bring the fun like a he-said/he-said, something happening over the little to-do over Red Bull’s coach Bruce Arena’s seemingly alleged call-out of Juan Pablo Angel after Saturday’s draw with New England.  Soccer Source, an attendee at the post-match presser, provides the full-text of the quote, which, as he points out, is qualified out of “bitch-slap” territory.  Then again, as things work with retaliation versus instigation (just ask Ricardo Clark), the “Arena bitch-slap” lives on: toward the end of Pat Walsh’s Goal.com write-up on The Bruce’s reputation-spraining stint with Red Bull, Walsh faults Arena for driving “a knife into the back of his unsuspecting MVP candidate.”  I’m not really knocking Walsh, so much as marveling at the magical life-cycle of a media myth.

– I didn’t find much of interest in Don Garber’s Q & A session with Sports Illustrated’s Jonah Freedman; the man – that is Garber – is simply too slick to say anything interesting without timing it just so, never mind something shocking or offensive (I’m also guessing I’m the last man to have read the thing).  At the same time, the Garber Years really have been something else – so much so that I predict the following: the future powers-that-be will rename the Alan I. Rothenburg Trophy for Garber.  Oh yeah, I’m feeling saucy today.

– I’ll end (this post) with something of an itsy-bitsy cheap shot – though not one actually intended to insult.  I don’t spend much time on Fox Soccer’s web-site; it just doesn’t it for me.  I meandered over today, perhaps out of boredom, and finally read Keith Costigan’s 2007 playoff predictions.  As noted above, I’m hardly belittling Costigan’s powers of prognostication – especially given how hard I’m struggling with my second-leg picks – but I do find something funny, say, in his expectations of a goal-fest between New England and Red Bull.

OK then….I’ll just keep biding time till Thursday…just like the rest of you.

Then again, I expect I’ll have my picks for the second leg posted by the end of today.

DS, 10.29: Big, Brimming Bowl of Post-Season Links/Chatter

Seriously, what else is there to talk about? The ever-shady FIFA’s decision to end the rotation system – or, as they call it in Geneva, après Brasil, Le Free-for-All? How ‘bout the Portland Timbers beating up on Toronto FC on Sunday night? Nah…it’s gotta be the playoffs.

– A good number of people seem to be lining up for kicks at the set-up after the first leg of the MLS post-season – and, for the record, I find it kind of relieving to know I wasn’t the only one to almost fall asleep (screw it; I actually did) at one point. Some of my favorites:

“It’s just odd that we spend six months and 195 games building up towards this — a long Saturday night of anti-soccer ruled by the tactics of fear and caution.”
– Ian Plenderleith, USSoccerplayas.com (LINK)


“We entered the playoffs without a single team carrying anything resembling momentum. It was more like eight runners stumbling towards the finish line and struggling to push through the tape. Combine that with the dour playoff psychology of ‘not losing’ and you get 3 goals in the opening round of matches. Ugh!”
– Um…Mr. Fullback, The Fullback Files (LINK)

Good plugs to be sure, but few crystallized the blue-balls mood of the weekend so well as The Beautiful Game. Open this link and enjoy.

The uninspired opening weekend has a couple people talking about changing the post-season formula (again); for instance, Soccer by Ives suggests a return to best-of-three series. For the record, WVHooligan’s drew epperly doesn’t think that would matter all that much. Here’s my two cents – and it’s informed by a lot of the same bitter-tasting shots of reality cited by mr. epperly: if everything must stay the same, make the playoff single-elimination from start to finish with the higher-seeded team hosting. Nice, neat, and simple as you please…next! Continue reading