Let's see.. a couple weeks ago.. we were panicking.
First it was the tie against RSL where we dominated.
Then it was the game against Columbus where we blew a 3-1 lead.
And things were about the same on the USMNT side. With a new coach, and perennial favorites Mexico looking to chop us down, were we going to lose our stranglehold on the ugliest trophy in the Beautiful game?
Well.. coming into this weekend, Maalox was being chugged by the gallon and Rolaids tablets were being eaten like Tic Tacs..
Then the Revs stepped up and dominated Toronto from whistle to whistle, and the Reds left Gilette for the 2nd straight time without a goal, losing 3-0 as Dorman (2) and Noonan laid a kickin in to our Northern neighbors..
And spurred on by the Greatest Gold Cup Goal EVER, the USA defeated Mexico 2-1 to lift the Gold Cup once more.
By the way, if you didn't see the Benny Feilhaber goal live.. watch it tonight (replay at 11 PM on FSC), or catch it on YouTube or something. it is definitely a must see goal. Complete and utter class.
edit: Thanks to the fine folks at BigSoccer, here's a YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qETrlNYxjyM&NR=1
So.. crisis averted.. at least for now.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Let's see.. a couple weeks ago.. we were panicking.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
20 People Who Rocked The Fort: The Twenty Most Influential People In New England Revolution History
The Blue Blooded Journo blog is pleased to announce a contest to determine the twenty most influential people in New England Revolution franchise history.
Somewhat borrowing the name and spirit of a similar undertaking by Liverpool fans last year, this will be 100% fan determined. The voting will take place by email and the results will be released in a similar fashion as the Top 100 Red Sox Project. In other words, there will be a few articles every week featuring each of the people chosen starting with #20 until the entire list is revealed.
The rules are simple. Send in a list of your top ten followed by a list of up to ten people (in no particular order) who you feel deserve honorable mention. The scoring will be as follows:
1. 35 pts
2. 25 pts
3. 20 pts
4. 15 pts
5. 12 pts
6. 10 pts
7. 8 pts
8. 7 pts
9. 6 pts
10. 5 pts
Honorable Mentions: 1 pts
This will make the order or your top ten list extremely important, so choose wisely.
The list will obviously be player dominated. However, coaches, front office personnel, press/media types, etc... are all fair game if you feel they are responsible for making the franchise what it is today. Voting commences immediately and will end on Sunday, June 24.
All Revolution fans of all shapes, sizes, and experience are invited to participate. Also, if you are just a fan of MLS and feel you have enough of a grasp on Revolution history, by all means cast your vote. Please limit one vote per person.
If you want to add comments to your list, feel free to do so. There's a good chance those comments will be included in their profile if that person made the list.
Send your votes to BlueBloodedJourno@gmail.com
But wait, there's more! The person whose top ten most closely resembles the actual top 10 will receive a free t-shirt of their choosing from the soon to be reopened Blue Blooded Journo supporter t-shirt shop. Tie breakers will be determined by honorable mentions on the list. You don't need to send in your contact info with your list. I'll contact the winner when the results are tabulated.
So get your votes in. This is a great way to honor those who have given us, the fans, so much to cheer (and cry) about over the 11+ years of Revolution soccer.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Nobody comes to Blue Blooded Journo for politics, and I mean nobody. In fact, a lot less soccer fans would stop by and a lot more wackos with their high horses on soapboxes would if I ever began spouting off my brand of politico. That's something I do my best to avoid. However, I'm making an exception this time after reading about what occurred at the friendly between RSL and the Chinese national team last night in Salt Lake City.
According to a first hand account on the Fire John Ellinger site, several RSL fans and Tibetan ex-pats were told to put away their ROC (Taiwan) and Tibetan flags. This was followed by someone who appeared to be a PRC political officer demanding the flags be removed and a Tienanmen Square protest banner be taken down. The game was actually stopped in the 60th minute with the Chinese team threatening to walk off the field. One fan was booted from the stadium and several people were asked to relinquish their flags to security even after they stopped waiving them.
I'm usually hard on RSL management, but I can't blame them for not seeing this coming. In my opinion, they were just reacting to a situation in which they were blindsided. If they did nothing, the Chinese team may have walked off the field and it could have created an international incident. However, this does raise some issues in regards to freedom of expression.
In this country, you have the right to speak your mind, but you don't have the right to be heard. In other words, you can't interrupt a funeral of a fallen soldier to yell "I'm happy he's dead" if you are a hippie and you can't walk on stage at a comedy club and preach the Bible just because you feel the audience needs saving. However, you do have the right to non-intrusively voice your political opinions, which is what occurred last night. In China, you absolutely can not speak out against the government. Even if it's in a social setting, voicing your opposition will result in you getting "taken away" by the police.
So why does China get a free pass on the world stage? Besides the normal grievances by Amnesty International, little is said about these basic human rights violations. The reason is that, although it still has an authoritative political regime, China has moved to a strong free market manufacturing-based economy. The world's largest economies rely on cheap goods from their country. In return, China does the right thing and reinvests it's surplus cash in foreign government bonds, thus stabilizing the world's currencies. If they hadn't done this, there would have been crippling inflation in China and erratic fluctuations in world markets. China has also allowed foreign corporations to take up shop in their country and participate in their growth. In other words, China has been a a good economic partner to the world and there is a symbiotic relationship which world leaders don't want to break up.
Politics and soccer are no strangers. Opposing fans will often use such issues to dig into their opponents. Mostly, it's done just to get a reaction and throw them off their game. Supporters, for the most part, do not have political agendas. They just hate their opponents on gameday. The most vivid example of this for American soccer fans would be the 2005 World Cup qualifier in Mexico. Their fans were very vicious with their "9/11" and "Osama" chants. There was enough animosity to fill three dump trucks, but that was all about riling up our players as opposed to advancing a political agenda.
However, there have been rivalries down the years which have had deep political roots. Rangers-Celtic, Barcelona-Real Madrid, and River Plate-Boca Juniors are some of the more famous ones. Opposing fans have had conflicting views on important issues and these rivalries have reached a boiling point resulting in bloodshed. To Americans, this is a foreign concept. The only thing like even remotely close to it in American sports would be the Canadiens-Maple Leafs rivalry a few decades back and that has mellowed out over the years.
Getting back to last night, protests have been an important part of American culture since the 60's. We in this country take pride in the fact we can voice our opinion as a group when we feel it is necessary. We also know the rules and often work within the system to ensure our voices are heard, yet no one will have their own civil liberties violated in the process. What went on last night wasn't large enough in scale to cause a disturbance. RSL has every right to remove anything they feel is offensive. However, a simple flag isn't offensive unless it's a symbol of hate. I guess the Chinese officials were taken aback by the fact they weren't allowed to take those fans into custody, which is surely what would have happened in their homeland. Sorry guys, that's not how we do things here.
Take this opportunity to educate yourself on the history of Taiwan and Tibet, as well as human rights violations in China. The 2008 Olympics are in Beijing and the world will be talking about these things soon enough. Just be sure they aren't trying to pull the wool over our eyes when they do.
Last night, the US national team won their Gold Cup opener by defeating Guatemala 1-0. The lone goal came from a Clint Dempsey tap in which was set up by a Taylor Twellman pass:
This begs the question: why couldn't they do that enough here? Dempsey featured as a forward with the Revolution in his fair share of outings with the team. He was mostly used as a midfielder, but saw extensive time at forward in 2004 and 2006 due to injuries. The results were comme se comme sa with the Revs attack usually looking inept. This was especially true last season with Deuce and TnT pairing up top with Pat Noonan spending so much time on the DL.
It's good to see Twellman delivering a nice set up like that. Let's hope that's the start of a trend, not just an aberration.
In other former Revs news, Pepe Cancela scored a goal from the spot in Colorado's 2-1 loss in Houston last night. This game ran opposite the US game and also featured Dwayne DeRosario calling part of the game from a sports bar via his cell phone. DeRo was in Miami with the Canadian national team and couldn't make the game for his club. I hope this shines the spotlight even more on MLS's reluctance to schedule a few weeks break every June to allow for international competitions.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
There's a comforting nature to the MLS season. Just about every weekend, the Revs will be playing someone, somewhere. Sure, there's sometimes midweek games, which are an added bonus, but every weekend, you will find me in the Fort, or in front of the TV, cheering on the Revs.
This weekend, however, the Revs are off. This is undoubtedly a good thing for the Revolution. Between the call ups for the Gold Cup and the recent off-form of the Revs, a week off to recharge the batteries is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.
But for their fans, there's a huge Revolution-shaped gap in our weekend plans. What the bloody blue blazes are we supposed to do with all this free time? I've put together a list of things that Revs fans can do to pass the time this weekend.
5) Watch Real Madrid versus Zaragosa (3 PM, GolTV. Six Months ago, David Beckham's coach promised that he would never play again for Real Madrid. The chairman basically called Beckham an overpaid fraud and said Beckham only signed with MLS because no REAL team would have him. Excuse me boys, would you guys like ketchup or A1 with your crow? Real Madrid win La Liga if they win their last two games, and it would be the biggest FU ever if Beckham (who has done all the right things lately, both on and off the pitch) leads them to a title before leaving.
4) Follow the Gold Cup (USA games on FSC, rest on Galavision/Telefutura). The North American country championship kicked off yesterday with two games, and the USA will have probably played their first game by the time you read this. The big 3 in CONCACAF (US, Mexico, and Costa Rica), may have just been joined by Canada, who defeated Costa Rica 2-1 yesterday.
3) Yard work and chores (Just kidding)
2) Root for Chivas USA (FSC 8 PM Saturday) Why? Because they're playing Chicago, who snapped a five game losing streak last weekend. Rooting for the Goats feels unnatural, but at least it's MLS on TV.
And the #1 thing to do to cure the Revs Off Week Blues?
1) DRINK HEAVILY. After all, we have five games to get ready for! (Doubleheader Tuesday Night, Tripleheader Saturday Night)
I was a little surprised when I didn't see Avery John's name on Trinidad and Tobago's Gold Cup roster. It would have been nice to see him play in more international matches after the Soca Warriors' brave display at last year's World Cup. I just figured that their national team program was going to break in some younger players and Avery John's time had past. He is 32 years old, after all.
However, that isn't exactly the case. According to Frank Dell'Apa in today's Boston Globe, several T&T players have been blacklisted because they want the money that had been promised to them from last summer.
After doing some digging, I came across this article in the LA Daily News explaining the situation in greater detail. There are some shenanigans going on down there:
"The dispute stems over a three-tiered agreement between the players and the T&TFF that was signed before the team qualified for the World Cup, according to Townley.
It called for a 50-50 split of the FIFA participation award of $7 million Swiss francs (about $5.5 million in U.S. dollars), a 50-50 split of profits from warm-up matches leading up to the World Cup, and, most lucratively, a 50 percent cut for the players of licensing and endorsement deals the federation would receive.
The T&TFF has told the players it was necessary to deduct expenses and set aside funds for 2010 World Cup qualifying, and they've distributed all that's left - about $5,000 apiece.
A big problem, says Townley, is that nobody's really sure what the players should be getting. He said an adidas press release touted an $11 million agreement with the T&TFF, but the federation produced paperwork showing less than $300,000 income from the deal."
The least surprising part about this ordeal is that veteran soccer bureaucrat Jack Warner is behind this whole mess. Whenever there's a financial scam involving CONCACAF, he's usually there. Whether it's vastly overselling games in his native Trinidad or scalping World Cup tickets which should have gone directly to supporters, Jack Warner has greatly abused his authority while climbing the ladder of soccer's governing bodies. He's currently a vice president with Fifa as well as president of CONCACAF.
It's good for the Revs to have the services of Avery John during the month of June. Although he hasn't seen a lot of action as of late, he should be starting at left back when James Riley moves to central defense in Micheal Parkhurst's absence. However, seeing him miss out on one of his last chances to represent his country in a meaningful competition is quite a shame.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
As of this season though, we revolutionaries have found a place where we can go to watch the Revs with like minded comrades. This place is The Swan in
After selling the Kendall Café in 2004, having owned the property for 10 years, Michael Tallon watched his former property close. He then decided to buy it back and renovate the space into the more upscale Swan. It seems fair to say that when he was going through the renovation process a soccer pub was not the final goal, but that being said, given the chance, I really would not change a thing about it. Michael also seems not to mind his establishment becoming the adopted home of die hard Revs fans, as he bought a round at the bar for all in attendance at the first game of the season.
Firstly (and most importantly) The Swan has an excellent beer selection with around 20 beers on tap and features a full bar. Drinks are very reasonably priced with the average pint being 4 dollars, but be sure to account for leaving a large tip as you are certain to be impressed by the very attentive, friendly, (and cute) staff. For the discerning beer drinker The Swan serves Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Hoegaarden, and the Boston staple Sam Adams (seasonal brew), amongst others. And for the more frugal beer drinker there are two dollar pints of Pabst Blue Ribbon and bottles of Narragansett, which brings me to my next point…The Swan is conveniently located within walking distance of public transportation. (Kendal Sq. stop on the red line)
For those who build up a hunger while cheering on the Revs, The Swan also has a late night kitchen. The food is definitely a step or two above typical bar food. My personal routine during a game is the basket of onion rings and a pint of Sam Adams to start the game off. There are even patrons who come to The Swan solely for the food, a claim which I doubt many other soccer pubs could make. It often makes for an interesting interaction when a dinner is forced to wade through the sea of blue and beer to make it to the much more subdued dinning area in the back.
The Swan has been so gracious and accommodating over the course of this season that many of the game day regulars, myself included, have started grabbing a pint and some food there even on non game days. This Thursday (6/7) there is a group of us who are planning on watching the US v Guatemala game there, which will mark my and most others first non-Revolution soccer game at The Swan and hopefully another step in the development of a long lasting relationship between Revolution fans and The Swan. See ya there. Viva la Swan!
233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave
Revs supporters at The Swan for an afternoon away game last month
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Real Salt Lake was fined $5000 for making these comments about attempting to aquire Shalrie Joseph. They were also fined $20,000 and lost a 2009 pick to FC Dallas for illegally hiring a goalkeeping coach!
Seriously, what the heck is going on in the Real Salt Lake front office? They have a very strong fan base by MLS standards, but how long will they continue to support a substandard team run by incompetents? They appear to be in a rebuilding year, which is very funny considering they were never good in the first place. It's more of a dismantling year. Whoever thought Freddy Adu was ready to put an MLS team on his back and lead them to glory should have their head examined. His presence has only negated their only other creative source on the team, Medhi Ballouchy. Then, they traded away their only true scoring threat in Jeff Cunningham. Dave Ellinger was kicked upstairs, but does that mean he'll still be doing the drafting?
And we only manged a draw to them last Saturday? Dear Lord.
Well, exciting to me at least.
If you have noticed, there is a list of contributors where my profile used to be. The Blue Blooded Journo blog is currently in the process of adding contributors in order to better the coverage and commentary of the site. David "SirFozzie" Yellope has already written a pensive piece on the Gillette Stadium field surface situation. He'll be popping in every now and then to offer some of his unique viewpoints. The other new name on the list is Jimmy Chowda. That's actually me. I'll be using that name from now on unless I'm making some sort of site announcement.
A few other contributors will be added shortly. The goal is to make Blue Blooded Journo the place on the web for alternative New England Revolution coverage. We hope to provide more detailed game coverage in the future, articles on the supporter culture, and much more satire than there has been in the past.
I am still looking for more contributors. If you are a Revs fan, or maybe an ex-pat from the area, and you are interested in making regular or irregular contributions to a blog with a growing readership, send me an e-mail. Here's some of the things I would consider welcome additions:
* Statistical analysis (google docs works seemlessly with blogger)
* Previews and/or game reports (more actual coverage than the "impressions" I usually give)
* Rants (angry or comedic)
* Revs historical pieces (past game reports, where are they now, etc...)
* Mediawatch (headline links with comments)
* Supporter culture and issues
* Anything else that would add to the site: power ratings, predictions, player pieces, opposition scouting, etc...
Also, I plan on running a contest or two in the near future. The t-shirt shop will be reopening soon and I've been compiling some obscure Revs facts for a potential trivia contest. I'm also seriously thinking about running a banner design contest. This blog is monetized, and I've been looking for ways to use that money when I get paid for it. (Editor note: artificially generated clicks will result in those accounts being closed. Clicking a link that you are generally interested in will not). I feel one of the best ways to use the money generated at a fan blog is to spend it on something that will add to the atmosphere on gameday.
Again, if you are interested in participating in the fun, give me a holla. For the reader, stand by for bigger and better coverage.
Fantasy Soccer Bootroom will be back in full force next week. In the meantime, here's a guide to help you maneuver through the month of June, a month filled will international call ups:
CONCACAF's Gold Cup will be the first major drain on your fantasy roster. Players are already in their respective camps. Right off the bat, if you have any players from Toronto, check the Canadian roster because they have a bunch of them. The US roster has been well talked about, but there are a handful of other MLS players on other teams:
New England: Taylor Twellman, Micheal Parkhurst, Steve Ralston
Chicago: Ivan Guerrero, Justin Mapp
Toronto: Greg Sutton,Chris Pozniak,Marco Reda, Adam Braz
Kansas City: Eddie Johnson
Chivas USA: Brad Guzan, Jonathan Bornstein
Columbus: Frankie Hejduk
Colorado: Roberto Brown, Pablo Mastroeni
LA Galaxy: Landon Donovan, Ante Jazic, Kevin Harmse
Houston: Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne DeRosario
FC Dallas: Carlos Ruiz
CONCACAF GOLD CUP SITE
Although the Gold Cup doesn't end until June 24, some of the US players may have an opportunity to play in their MLS games. The Revs may catch a break on June 16, when they host the Columbus Crew as part of a triple header. If the US wins their group, they will be a part of that triple header and there is a good chance at least one of their players will be available. The same could be said for the Crew's Frankie Hejduk. The other quarterfinal date is the following day in Houston. Unless I missed something, the only other matchday which is shared with MLS is on June 9, when LA and Dallas play at the Home Depot Center.
The other big drain on your fantasy team will be Copa America. The US roster was once thought to be a B team, consisting entirely of MLS players who weren't called up for the Gold Cup. However, it appears that many European-based players have asked to be a part of that team and Bob Bradley is keen to have his captain Landon Donovan there. That is something to keep an eye on as the rosters are due to be submitted shortly.
The U-20 World Cup will also be in the month of June and a few MLS regulars, most notably Freddie Adu and Josie Altidore, will be participating.
So which teams will benefit from this competition? Well, for starters, Red Bull New York will only be losing Josie Altidore to international duty (World Youth Cup) unless Juan Pablo Angel plays for Columbia during Copa America. They also have a lot of games in June and if they continue with their current form, they will surpass New England and Kansas City and be top of the table by month's end. DC United should also be relatively unscathed and could make a run. Look to add players fro those teams during this stretch to survive this tough period.
Fantasy rosters are due in today, because NY is playing in Toronto tonight. So be sure to get your rosters fixed before then.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Over the last ten years, the teams occupying Gillette Stadium have tried every trick in the groundskeeping book short of sacrificing a live goat to keep the grass field at Gillette from turning into a sandbox worthy of a Cape Cod beach.(I'm sure if they thought that it would have helped, they would have done that too!). (click title to read more)
So late last year, after trying everything, they did the unthinkable. They tore up the grass field, and put in a blend of Field Turf.
"Unthinkable!" We thundered.
"A Moral Outrage!" We blustered.
"A defacement to the Beautiful Game!" We yelled.
"We'll never host a US game ever again!" We cried.
Some anonymous wag on a Revs forum board (that has absolutely nothing to do with the writer, honest), even changed his signature to read "If you can't smoke it, you shouldn't be playing soccer on it"
But did it matter? Nope. The Pointy Ball coach was tired of not only the horrid field conditions, but the insinuations that it was all a devious plot to give the Pointy Ball team an advantage.
So... fast forward to this season. We watch the revs, and are ready to collectively condemn the team the first time someone so much as gets a rug burn, never mind turf toe...
And it's really not that bad. In fact, It plays true, and with no hidden bounces. It turns out the team plays well on it.
And then, a couple weeks ago, the announcement that for six weeks, the good old grass days would be back.
It seems that the international teams of Bolivia, Ireland, and the various CONCACAF sides that make up the Gold Cup don't want to play on the fake stuff any more than we did when the announcement was made.
"Huzzah!" We yelled
"The good old days have returned" We shouted to the rafters.
The Beautiful Game is Beautiful again! We cried!
Unfortunately, the pain in the grass has returned. The field was already coming up in huge tufts Saturday night, and I lost track at 15 of the number of weird bounces that the ball took off the grass.
And worst yet, the Revs look lost playing on it.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is a highly sub-optimal sitaution. The grass is just laid out over the turf. But still.. if you can't keep grass for six weeks, you can't keep it at all.
So here's to the 16th coming and going, and the return of FieldTurf. (at least, until someone gets injured.)
Monday, June 04, 2007
Depending on which day it is, MLS commissioner Don Garber will tell you different benchmarks and timetables for expansion, as well as which cities are in the lead. A few weeks back, he said there was no timetable, and threw out a few cities he felt were in the lead.(click title to read more)
"San Jose is at the top of the list," Garber told me. "Then Philadelphia and the Pacific Northwest. The good thing about expansion is there is no deadline."
Fantastic. The fact is, MLS is nearing the end of it's drive to build the league's infrastructure. They say they are stopping at either 16 or 18 teams to "take a breather" for a host of plausible reasons. Besides the grueling political struggles they have grown tired of, rapid expansion isn't wise both financially and from a quality of play standpoint. The problem is, this will leave huge gaps in the footprint MLS has in this country. Soccer United Marketing, the wider-reaching marketing arm of MLS, will also be left out of several key markets. The scramble to win the lottery for the last three spots, which will have everything to do with what the ownership will be and nothing to do with which markets will be best for the growth of soccer in the US, will leave some important markets out in the cold. (click title to read more)
The solution to this would require MLS to take another major step in developing the game in this country. That would be creating a second division. With a second division, it would make it easier to attract investors to MLS. They wouldn't be required to construct expensive stadiums, their expansion fee would be much less than the $15 million Toronto FC paid last year, and they would have the financial stability and marketing power which comes with being a part of MLS. From there, any expansion to the first division would come from existing teams in the second division. They would have to meet tougher stadium requirements, have successful attendance figures and financial results, and then pay another expansion fee for the "economic promotion" to the top flight.
The right time to launch something like this would be when MLS expands to 16 teams and then takes that breather Garber talked about. For the sake of argument, let's say that San Jose, Las Vegas, and Seattle get teams (completely random). MLS would still be out of large markets like Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Atlanta. The league has talked to investor groups in the past about having teams in those cities. Most of those groups need a lot of public assistance to build a suitable MLS stadium. A few USL-1 teams like Charleston and Atlanta have privately funded small soccer stadiums without affluent ownership groups. This would be much easier to accomplish than the prolonged political dances and backroom deals associated with building a 20-25k stadium.
If this were to be successful, at least handful of USL-1 teams (and maybe a USL-2 team like Charlotte) would have to jump ship and become charter members of the new division. USL has a goal to be a competitor of MLS, but that's just not going to happen with SUM's monopoly on top flight soccer. USL could go on to form regional leagues like USL-2, which is based in the east. They do a great job in player development, and can continue to do so with the PDL and semi-pro leagues.
Absorbing those teams would be a little tricky. For those of you hoping for a quick death to MLS's single entity structure, it'll be a long time before that will come to an end. For this to work, the players would have to sign with the league. However, the ownership groups would probably have to remain separate. Current MLS owners probably don't want to absorb any more losses. Also, a prime target for this would be Montreal. They are actually set up as a non profit organization. Their new stadium is being funded partly by grants given to such groups. Jumping into a system set up like MLS would negate their status and could cost them millions. So, something would need to be worked out. In return for joining, those teams would get a disciplined cost structure in exchange for long term security.
USL teams I feel would make the initial switch to MLS: Rochester, Montreal, Atlanta, Charleston, Portland, Vancouver, Puerto Rico, and Carolina.
The key to pulling this off is to prevent the stigma that all it would be is a minor league. I'll go into the semantics of promotion/relegation later, but if that were to ever have a chance of happening, MLS-2 would need to be both economically viable and relevant. There's also the fact that most teams would never earn economic expansion to MLS-1, so there would be good cause to make this division prestigious enough to attract investors.
My idea for this would be quite revolutionary. After the initial one or two seasons (shakedown period), I would begin having the top two teams earning a place in the MLS Cup playoffs. The division would be immediately relevant and would reward the top two teams with a home game against one of the top two teams in MLS-1. It would also create a David and Goliath situation which is always interesting television.
Also, they could start running a league cup during the preseason in warmer weather cities. They could maybe expand that in future years and give the winner a place in Superliga. Throw in the usual rounds of US Open Cup action and all the MLS-2 teams would have some competitive games against the first division clubs and a chance to win some of the biggest trophies in American soccer.
So how would economic expansion into MLS-1 work? Well, the clubs would first have to get the approval from the league. Teams would first need to show superior fan support, have control over key revenue streams in their stadiums, and have set up both a reserve team which competes with MLS-1 sides and a youth pyramid structure with the potential to produce home grown players. Then they would need to pay a promotion fee, maybe over a number of years, and then they are in.
The key to this is that MLS-1 would be getting strong ownership groups, not someone with a bag of money unaware of what they are getting into. This kind of expansion would work well in expanding MLS-1 to 18, and then maybe 20 teams.
Second Division Setup
MLS has over a decade of experience keeping afloat a fledgling league, so it knows the tricks of the trade. This will come in handy during the first few years of MLS-2. For instance, there would have to be an unbalanced schedule to save money on travel costs. With a little luck, it could look something like this after a few years:
Philadelphia, Montreal Impact(USL-1), Rochester Raging Rhinos(USL-1), Carolina Railhawks (USL-1), Atlanta Silverbacks (USL-1), Charleston Battery (USL-1), Puerto Rico Islanders (USL-1), Portland Timbers (USL-1), Vancouver Whitecaps (USL-1), Phoenix, Milwaukee, Miami FC (USL-1)
(Assuming the three cities I mentioned earlier were already in MLS-1, I just threw in the USL teams I think would make the initial jump with some strong candidate cities.)
If you look around the world, nearly every national league has a ladder system with promotion and relegation. For the most part, this was brought about because the supply of top fight capable clubs exceeded the demand when those leagues were formed over a century ago. It's nearly impossible to set something like that up from scratch here. Believe me, if they were forming the top flight in England today, it would look more like the NFL than the EPL. Financing would be easier and the owners would be assured to rake in gobbs of money without worrying about relegation. Granted, the ladder system is an important part of the footballing culture in those nations, but it was brought about in another time. For American soccer, you just couldn't relegate Red Bull New York to the USL to bring MLS to Puerto Rico. However, there are a few more modern examples of soccer leagues setting up pro/reg.
The best example of how to set up a second division is the way the Japan's J-League did it in 1999. Essentially, there was already a great number of serious amateur and semi-pro clubs in the country. The J-League invited the ones who qualified to form J-2 with immediate promotion and relegation. This allowed some of the smaller market clubs time to build and they are now mainstays in J-1. While this kind of setup would make things very interesting in MLS, I just don't see it happening without a successful second division already established. Even then, teams would still need to economically qualify for top flight status and probably pay a one-time promotion fee.
Besides providing a breeding ground for future top flight clubs, a second division would benefit American soccer in many other important ways. First off, MLS-2 would be a heck of a lot more visible than USL-1 is right now. First division clubs would have better access to game footage and the scouting network which the league is currently building would be greatly enhanced. MLS-1 teams could loan out some of their younger players to MLS-2 teams and vice versa. There would also be more coaching positions in MLS for prospective managers to prove themselves.
The expansion sweepstakes are tough and could yield some peculiar results. There are just too many prospective markets where MLS could be successful. Why leave up to political circumstance which fans are blessed with teams? A second division would be the answer to enlarge MLS's footprint in the US and Canada. It's the next logical progression in establishing a world class infrastructure, anyway. When the mickey mouse antics of growing the league to 16 teams is finally accomplished, they should give this idea a shot.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Going by last night's box score, it would have appeared the Revs put on a stunning offensive performance the way Manchester United dominated inferior opponents during the past EPL season. You would be led to believe Real Salt Lake's keeper made a plethora of world class saves and the woodwork played an important role in robbing the Revs of all three points.
That wasn't the case.(click title to read more)
Although the Revs were clearly the better team, they didn't produce many (if any) clearcut chances resulting in the team being held scoreless for the first time since the opener. Sure, the Revs outshot RSL 23-8 (13-2 on goal). However, most of those shots had little chance of finding the back of the net. In fact, the shots stat was padded by numerous scuffed balls and even some poor passes. The Revs even played a man up for over ten minutes and couldn't produce a game winner. (click title to read more)
There were some positives from the game. The Revs did dominate the midfield. Salt Lake had no answer for Shalrie Joseph who muscled around his adversaries all night. It was also very satisfying watching Steve Ralston strip the ball away from Freddy Adu on numerous occasions. Micheal Parkhurst had another classy performance anchoring the defense and rookie Bryan Byrne didn't embarrass himself during his first MLS game. In fact, after he was wrongfully given a yellow card 17 seconds into his debut, he drew a red card from Ritchie Kotschau who had just made his RSL debut. I got a chuckle, which is always positive.
The Revolution moved the ball forward much better than last week, but they still seemed rather lethargic at times. Andy Dorman wasn't invisible like in previous weeks, but he clearly suffers from a lack of confidence as he failed to take the ball at the RSL players. He touched the ball off to teammates with decent efficiency, but that took him out of the attack far too often. Andy has the potential to be that spark the team needs, but he's just not playing up to last year's form.
Khano Smith embarrassed 2005 #1 draft pick folly Nick Besagno twice down the left wing which seemed to scar him for life with the way he was defending afterwards. However, Khano's success rate was hovering around the Mendoza line. By success, I mean the plays resulting in an offensive threat or a safe pass back to a teammate versus him getting the ball, stopping, sizing up his defender, and proceeding to look remarkably foolish on way to losing the ball. Twenty percent ain't going to cut it. I also take issue with the fact that the game stands still when he gets the ball. The opposing team has a chance to get back, mark the forwards, compare Mormon law with blue laws, eat a sandwich, and determine what needs to be done to make Gillette feng shui compliant all while Khano is determining if he's going to try and beat Besagno down the sideline to the left or down the sideline to the left (I think he has another move which involves going left down the sideline). The stipulation the FO has put forward for getting a DP has been a player that will attract fans and win us a championship. If I were Steve Nicol, I'd get on the phone with Ryan Giggs's agent and Sir Alex figuring out what would need to be done to get him in New England. I'm guessing $1-2 million, a decent salary, and releasing him for a testimonial in Manchester during August. Get it done. Substitute Giggs for Smith last night and tell me the Revs don't easily win that game by three goals.
This was the second straight scoreless game on the road for RSL, which can be seen as encouraging. However, I have to ask RSL fans where the heck they are going to get goal production from? They traded away Jeff Cunningham who looked dangerous in Toronto's 2-1 win over Colorado. You can't mistake Salt Lake's attack for anything dangerous last night.
The Revs stumble into the bye week with only one point from their first two games of the home stand. What ever happened to the whole "Fortress Gillette" concept? Luckily, they are only one point back of Kansas City who beat a 10-man New York side last night. Things are really heating up in the east. Can New England stay in the kitchen? We'll see.
Soccer New England
New England Soccer News
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Yesterday marked the return of David Beckham to the England lineup against world powerhouse Brazil. Earning his national team spot by producing a run of good form to finish out his Real Madrid career, Beckham seems to have sealed his place for the important forthcoming Euro qualifiers. (click title to read more)
Should MLS be worried? After all, AEG put up big money to bring him to LA and every other team altered their ticket structure to account for his arrival. Heck, the league even drafted the schedule so everyone could get to see Old Spice. Andrew Hush wrote a brilliant piece sizing up the situation before yesterday's game. The last two lines are foreboding:
It remains to be seen whether 'David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy and England’ is a passing trend or something we have to become used to. After all, if he flops over the next five days in the red, white and blue, LA has nothing to worry about.
Well, it looks like they have something to worry about. As Hush's article points out, LA can refuse to let Beckham play in any friendlies unless they are on Fifa sanctioned dates. So, we here in New England who would like to catch a glimpse of the svelte soccertarian should have no fear. However, the upcoming Euro qualifiers will eat into the Galaxy's home schedule, which is already sparse during Beckham's first season. That has to be a hard pill to swallow for those who bought season tickets expecting to see him regularly. Most hit would be those who have had season tickets, and only endured the outrageous price hikes because the team signed Becks.
There's another scenario that LA has to worry about. If they fail to make the playoffs, Beckham will have 5 1/2 months off from MLS action. That's not a schedule conducive to a footballer getting prepared for the second biggest international competition in the world. He'll probably want a two month loan to an EPL side to stay sharp. That would probably conflict with the Galaxy's Asian trip scheduled during the offseason. The team would lose out on millions. If Beckham was prevented that opportunity, it would lead down a slippery slope leading to a disgruntled Beckham buying out his contract. AEG would recoup it's money, but the embarrassment for MLS would take years to recover from.
Alexi Lalas stated yesterday that a loan was out of the question. Of course, that's just Alexi trying to sound important. The decision won't be up to him. Beckham will choose his destiny. What he chooses is the question.
Friday, June 01, 2007
According to this article, Landon Donovan is poised to turn down an invitation to grace the US national team's presence in Copa America later this month. Invitation? Since when did the captain of a team need an invitation? Any player with half a pair just needs his marching orders and he's off to play for his country. (click title to read more)
The reason he wants to stay (according to him) is that he's already going to the Gold Cup and his club team, the LA Galaxy need him. Hey Landon, you're team has needed you during the first six matches this season. They needed more than the five points you have delivered for them.
The real reason he doesn't want to go, besides the lack of testicular fortitude, is that he doesn't want his club team to be usurped from him by David Beckham. Here's a news flash for you: it's already Beck's team and he hasn't even stepped foot on an MLS pitch yet. Get over it.
The only thing that really pisses me off about all this is Landon Donovan is the captain of the US team. Supposedly, coach Bob Bradley will be bringing 10-12 players from the Gold Cup roster. This runs contrary to the belief he would be bringing a completely new B team to the event. In fact, some European based players are also willing to stick around, especially players like Jay DeMerit and Frank Simek, whose clubs were relegated and need to earn a place on the team. A team Landon Donovan has no business captaining. Even our boy Clint Dempsey wants to be on the Copa America team and his Fulham side will need him to stay up next year
If I were Bradley, I'd sit Donovan during the Gold Cup to teach him a lesson.
It's gut check time. This is where we see what kind of mental toughness this New England side has. Coming off a very sloppy 4-3 defeat at the hands of Kansas City, the Revs will look to go into the bye week on a high note against Real Salt Lake. (click title to read more)
On paper, this looks to be an easy victory. The Revs are tied with Red Bull New York with 17 points at the top of the table with New York having a game in hand. Salt Lake is winless and holds the worst record in MLS. However, RSL seems to have battened down the hatches, and will look to do the same in Foxboro on Saturday. They held Chicago scoreless on one of the slowest surfaces in MLS last Sunday and will try to repeat that performance on the slowest surface in MLS. If they can slip in a goal, they can steal all three points.
Real Salt Lake recently traded away their biggest scoring threat, Jeff Cunningham. This should be a relief to the Revs as he carved up the New England defense last summer in a surprise 3-1 away victory played under similar circumstances in regards to the build up. In that one, RSL was on a horrific losing streak and the Revs seemed poised to break out following a return to health of several key starters. What occurred instead was Cunningham ripping New England a new one, continuing a summer of substandard play.
In return, RSL picked up our old friend Alecko Eskandarian. He's still waiting to "get his revenge" on Matt Reis for that collision which gave him a serious concusion. In the past, that has resulted in him franticly rushing shots. Let's hope that continues. I'd be reminisced if I didn't mention Freddy Adu. Lately, he's taken a back seat to other young players such as Josie Altidore. Moving to Utah didn't really help matters. He's not good enough to dominate games, so the thought process behind sending him somewhere that it would be "his team" seems to have been in error. He's never done well against New England (probably due to lack of size). The New England midfield can't let him control the ball, but I don't expect they will.
As for New England, there's a few questions as to which players will get the call. Avery John has been riding the pine as of late. With KC's four goal outburst, it would make sense John would get the start. Daniel Hernandez played 60 minutes in the 3-0 reserve team victory over KC on Sunday. With Jeff Larentowicz's form slipping and Shalrie Joseph's knocks, I wouldn't be surprised to see him make his season debut.
The real question is if Nicol now truly favors Adam Cristman over Pat Noonan up top alongside Taylor Twellman. The Revs attack seemed to come alive when Cristman came into the game in the second half last week. However, Noonan's still a better passer. The problem I have with Noonan is he seems to disappear at times. Cristman lets everyone know he's out there by continually banging bodies. This has helped free up Twellman from time to time. It's a tough decision. If I had a choice, I would start Cristman and sub in Noonan for this one. Noonan will be called upon to play 90 minutes when Twellman's gone playing for the US in the Gold Cup. I would want to keep the injury risk to Noonan at a minimum if I were the gaffer. It'll be muggy on Saturday, so we'll probably be seeing a lot of both of them.
All this is pure speculation. In reality, all those players probably had to earn back their spots this week after last game's debacle.
SL Trib (best. abbreviation. ever.)
Cristman Vs Noonan
Brad Feldman (more from revolutionsoccer.net)