Friday, March 30, 2007

Prodigal Son Clint Mathis Returns to Red Bull

The Red Bull, desperate for a striker with the proven ability to find the back of the net in MLS play, reacquired mercurial forward Clint Mathis from the Colorado Rapids.

With the season kicking off in a week, this deal, initially at least, could be seen as a panic move. We'll revisit this subject -- and much more -- over the weekend (when we've returned from our internet access deprived vacation).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday Morning Odds and Sods, Volume 6

Things are continuing apace in the Land of the Red Bull. Five newbies have signed contracts: 2007 SuperDraftees Dane Richards and Sinisa Ubiparipovic (dang, spelling challenge), and three 2007 Supplementals with local connections, Randi Patterson (Teaneck, NJ) Sal Caccavale (West Islip, NY), and Danny Ceparo (Baldwin, NY).

Here's a barrage of Bullet Points:

  • Dema Kovalenko scored in 1-nil win over Charleston Battery

  • March Madness: Reserves draw with Duke

  • From Big Apple Soccer Dave van den Bergh is goin' green

  • Kroenke winking in Arsenal's direction again

  • Editor's Note: Light posting due to Vacation/Less Than Perfect Internet Access

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    Two Tough: Donovan, Bradley Make Their Case

    One supposedly needs to win over fickle fans. The other is apparently Plan B for US Soccer Bosses. On Sunday, Landon Donovan and Bob Bradley answered their critics emphatically, and more importantly, showed their fellow US National Team members how to face adversity off the field and deliver where it counts -- on the pitch.

    Certainly there were many key contributors in the 3-1 victory over Ecuador before 31,000 at Raymond James Stadium -- a gutty Brian Ching and inspiring newbies Benny Feilhaber and the Coach's Kid among them -- but it was Donovan, wearing the captain's armband and the hoary memory of World Cup 2006 with steely resolve, and Bradley, somehow managing to look dignified on the sidelines despite the increasingly shoddy treatment and working conditions he's endured, who led the way on Sunday. Big time.

    This bodes well, not only for Donovan and Bradley, but for all fans of US Soccer. Despite the naysayers, these two guys are both very good at their jobs. And their teammates know it. So when they go out and beat a tough South American side so completely, this reinforces their faith in their captain and their coach, even if that faith is not forthcoming from others. And bonds like that are strong. Just like Donovan and Bradley.

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Red Bull Sign...Er...A Fullback

    There's some good news and some bad news coming out of Red Bull camp after the anticlimactic Media Day announcements (we'll get to those later). The good news is, the Red Bull have made a trade. The bad news is it's for fullback Hunter Freeman (hat tip to Soccer by Ives for original report), not the striker with a proven track record of scoring goals at a top level the Red Bull desperately covet.

    Nothing against Freeman, who could provide cover should Marvell Wynne and/or Todd Dunivant be drafted into US National Team duty this summer, but the Search for a Goalscorer (h/t Big Apple Soccer) is certainly a higher priority with the season scheduled to kick-off in two weeks and youngster Jozy Altidore, veteran supersub-type John Wolyniec and various trialists, newbies, draftees and attacking midfielders comprising the sum total of Red Bull scoring options.

    Media Day was limited to 1) a TV Deal with MSG short on specifics and long on hyberbole, 2) a sponsorship partnership deal with adidas and a healthcare company and 3) various and sundry public relations jive.

    On the plus side, MetroFanatic kicked serious butt with their coverage, featuring excellent Q&A's and headshots of several players, including Claudio Reyna, Dema Kovalenko, Marvell Wynne and Jozy Altidore. Check it out, fantastic... er ... fanatic stuff.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Tuesday Morning Odds and Sods, Volume 5

    Dog Pile on the Rabbit! Dog Pile on the Rabbit! One of the greatest films ever made, A Hare Grows in Manhattan, contains a scene where our hero, Bugs Bunny, is set upon by a group of snarling dogs, who all jump on top of our beleaguered protagonist, exclaiming "Dog pile on the rabbit! Dog pile on the rabbit!" Well, this past week was an off-the-field Dog Pile on the Red Bull Extravaganza.

    Ives Galarcep kicked it off with a column, citing unnamed sources, which claimed the Red Bull lost $14 million last year. Ives then blogged about the rather obtuse response from Red Bull Managing Director Marc de Grandpre. Soccernet chipped in with their version of de Grandpre's comments. as did Big Apple Soccer, who managed to get the Red Bull Front Office Honcho to correspond via email. Big Apple Soccer also reported the Red Bull thought its TV broadcasts of road games didn't actually need announcers at the match, but could be handled via monitors back home in New York. Not good.

    Two points:

    1) Ives and Michael Lewis have been doing great work on the local soccer beat for a very long time. It's their job to cover both on the field and off the field news, and the exposure of bad news or shady dealings is good for the Red Bull and Major League Soccer. Justice Brandeis was correct. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. These guys bring it.

    2) The Red Bull Corporation in general and de Grandpre in particular (all that's missing with this guy is the twirling moustache) came in last year and basically blew the whole place up. That inevitably results in hard feelings. But feelings aside, let's see how the season shakes out and the move to Red Bull Park in Harrison, NJ progresses before getting hysterical. The arrival of Bruce Arena, the construction of a terrific new soccer-specific stadium and the infusion of capital (how many other MLS owners have voluntarily splashed out $14 Mil in one year?) could very well result in The Rise of the Red Bull.

  • Hat Tip to The Offside Rules for alerting us to this San Diego Union-Trib article highlighting Qualcomm Stadium's mad soccer jones due to popular demand in Southern California. You stay classy, San Diego!

  • Interim US National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley (Man, when will we be able to stop typing interim? Enough is enough. Sunil, you listenin'?) announced his training squad for the upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Guatemala.

  • David Beckham Update: Becks gets lotsa love on the internet tubes.

  • The US Women's Nats won the 2007 Algarve Cup. You go girls!

  • Cobi Jones is hanging 'em up after this season.
  • Monday, March 19, 2007

    Straight Outta Brooklyn, And MLS?

    Brooklyn's in the house. But perhaps not for long. New England Revolution captain and resident hardman, Shalrie Joseph is either as fiery a negotiator as he is a midfielder, or he wants out of New England and maybe Major League Soccer altogether.

    The Brooklynite by way of Grenada kept it real with the Boston Globe stating, "I have been patient and I have been the good boy they wanted me to be, but I can't wait any more." Joseph's agent then provided the gory financial details before signing off with some good old-fashioned finger-pointing for those keeping score at home. "I have talked to Sunil [Gulati, president of Kraft Soccer] and Mike Burns [Revolution director of soccer] and requested to talk to Jonathan Kraft, but was denied."

    Interesting strategy, calling out the Bosses in the newspapers. There are three possible reasons for Joseph to play Meet the Press with the season fast approaching: 1) He wants the Krafts to cough up the money (his agent specifically mentioned Chicago's Chris Armas, who makes $325,000 per year, over three years), 2) He wants MLS to find him another team who will give him the "Armas Money," or 3) He wants MLS to trade him to Glasgow Celtic, who The Globe report offered $2 million for the former St. John's University star.

    Joseph is a charismatic, physical, crowd-pleasing All-Star, much like former teammate Clint Dempsey, who is now plying his trade with Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra at Fulham in the EPL. The Krafts of New England, however, don't get too attached to their players. Even Patriots. Unless of course, you're a Super Bowl-winning QB willing to restructure your contract to help the team stay under the salary cap, when you're not impregnating impossibly beautiful women. Then, they love you.

    Back to Joseph. Here's hoping he re-signs with MLS, at New England or not. Anybody who can cover as much ground on the pitch as he does, while having the local press on speed dial during contract negotiations, is our kind of player.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    "A Short Saying Oft Contains Much Wisdom"
    Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC)

    "That's our reward, to play at the highest elevation in Mexico." -- Dominic Kinnear, Houston Dynamo Coach/Avid Mountain Climber, relishing his upcoming trip to Pachuca's Estadio Hidalgo, which sits a mere 7,960 feet above sea level.

    "Now we know how they play; they're a dangerous team. But I think in Pachuca we can make things right." -- Enrique Meza, Pachuca Coach/Tactical Genius, belatedly realizing the MLS Champs were a dangerous team.

    "Things were a little chippy." -- Ben Olsen, DC United Midfielder/Provocateur describing the action at RFK Thursday night against Chivas Guadalajara.

    "EXPLETIVE DELETED!!!!!!!!" -- Entire, Enraged Chivas Squad, expressing their displeasure with Bearded Ben after the match.

    "I don't go a day or two without talking to Freddy (Adu), Danny (Szetela) or Timmy Ward. We all know it's going to be a challenge." -- Michael Bradley, US U-20 Midfielder, demonstrating team spirit and maturity when discussing this summer's U-20 World Cup Finals.

    "It would be an honor to work in a club like Real Madrid." -- Jose Mourinho, Chelsea Manager, demonstrating appalling disloyalty and puerile narcissism when discussing this summer's The Apprentice: Bernabéu debacle. Red Bull Rising Reminder: Fredo's goin' fishin'.

    "We want to help MLS increase the interest in soccer overall because if the interest in soccer increases, then interest in leagues like the Bundesliga increases." -- Christian Seifert, Bundesliga CEO, efficiently gets to the bottom line of the MLS-Bundesliga partnership.

    "Franz is the one who has brought us together and had this overall concept," -- Ivan Gazidis, MLS Deputy Commish, painfully name-drops Der Kaiser at the Miami Beach press conference.

    Speaking of beaches (see how I did that?):

    "We can give them a beach-head in the United States." -- Jeff Plush, Colorado Rapids Managing Director, on what Arsenal gains from the historic Gooner-Rapids partnership.

    "This injury isn't down to my age. It's the number of games played that causes injury. Look at (Franck) Ribery, (Claude) Makelele, (William) Gallas, (Patrick) Viera, they are all injured. Even Ronaldinho is 'dead'. Same for Deco. Or (Steven) Gerrard. This is not the great, the real Gerrard (this season). The players doing well now are those who played less last season." -- Thierry Henry, Exhausted Gunner, more concerned with the ridiculous fixture overload damaging the world's best players than the heretofore mystical, hidden beaches of Commerce City, Colorado.

    "New players are not expected to be shrinking violets, but neither are they supposed to throw themselves around like big-time Charlies." -- Unnamed Source, England National Team, throwing recently arrested Citeh midfielder Joey Barton under a double-decker bus.

    "Managers may hate penalty shoot-outs but fans love them." -- Brian Mawhinney, Chairman English Football League, considering replacing draws with penalty kicks or shootouts a la the current NHL and former NASL.

    "I would walk back from the United States to play for England again." -- David Beckham, Needs No Modifier, confirming he can indeed walk on water.

    "I just hope he buys dinner a few times." -- Chris Albright, Future Becks Teammate, attempting to lower the expectations just a bit.

    And in celebration of St. Paddy's Day, this old chestnut from the Greatest Oirish Soccer Player Ever:

    "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." -- Georgey Best

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    MLS Grit Trumps Mexican Guile

    Major League Soccer staked a claim to international respectability on Thursday night as the Houston Dynamo blanked defending Copa Nissan Sudamericana Champion Pachuca 2-nil and DC United stunned 11-time Mexican League Champion CD Guadalajara (Chivas) with an extra-time equalizer for a 1-1 draw in the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals. Houston now holds a two-goal lead going into the return match at Pachuca on April 5, while DC heads to Guadalajara on April 3 all even with Chivas.

    As significant as the results themselves are -- prior to tonight MLS teams were 1-7 against Mexican opponents in CCC competition since 2002 -- the fire, intensity and toughness of the American clubs was even more impressive. Houston did not have a great game, by any means, but despite defensive lapses and periods of frustrating ineptness, the Dynamo kept their cool in the face of withering, albeit predictable, Mexican "gamesmanship" and fought for every yard of Robertson Stadium. Eventually, it paid off as Brian Ching opened the scoring with his signature play -- a well-placed headball goal -- before substitute Chris Wondolowski iced the match at the end. Pachuca, for their part, whined like over-tired toddlers at Chuck-E-Cheese.

    DC's performance was a classic smash-and-grab job. Chivas dictated the tempo, came in studs high and defended like demons in their own third. Most teams would've accepted defeat when Omar Bravo's rather pedestrian header ricocheted into the net in the 63rd minute, but United, to their credit, are not most teams. In a sequence that summed up the night -- and the crucial, defining difference between the MLS and Mexican clubs -- Ben Olsen repelled a Luche Libre-style tackle/mugging and refused to be be baited into a retaliatory foul call to earn a free kick just outside of the Chivas box on the right. While Chivas continued jawing with Bearded Ben, Christian Gomez took his one chance of the evening with aplomb, placing the ball right onto the head of newbie Luciano Emilio for a game-tying goal which set off a frenzied celebration at RFK Stadium.

    So there you have it. The Dynamo and DC were stronger, mentally and physically, on the night. And if they can overcome what promises to be even worse behavior in two weeks (hopefully without the benefit of hometown officiating) they can close the deal. They can both reach the CONCACAF Champions Cup Finals. And that, my friends would be a major accomplishment for Major League Soccer.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Red Bull Check Out of Hotel California

    Yet another tie for the Red Bull in LA, this time a 2-2 draw against former captain Amado Guevara and Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center. Highlights for the Red Bull include a strong game by new captain Claudio Reyna, who played the full 90 minutes, assisted on the first goal and orchestrated two more gilt-edged chances. Todd Dunivant converted Reyna's corner for the first Red Bull tally and youngster Jozy Altidore bundled home a Marvell Wynne cross for the game-tying score.

    According to the report, Altidore played alone up top, with Reyna, Dema Kovalenko, Seth Stammler, Dave van den Bergh, and Dane Richards comprising the five-man midfield. The Red Bull are now 4-1-4 on their extended Road Trip preseason schedule, which moves back East for three matches in Charleston, South Carolina beginning on March 24 vs. Charleston Battery. Toronto FC (March 28) and Houston Dynamo (March 31) are the other two South Carolina opponents.

  • LA Soccer News: Jozy Altidore Interview

  • Soccer by Ives: Red Bull financially in the red
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    CONCACAF Semifinals Overture: Physical Graffiti

    UPDATE 8:30 ET: Power Outtage Postpones Dynamo-Pachuca
    SECOND UPDATE: Match Rescheduled, Thursday March 15

    Mexican players have elevated physical, dirty play to an art form. Like graffiti artists, they employ prohibited tactics, but the skill, daring and sheer audacity of their machinations strikes a chord with an admiring, forgiving public, which the "artisans" happily accept as an affirmation of their conduct. And the band plays on.

    As the curtain rises on the first-leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal round, the Houston Dynamo host Pachuca CF (tonight, 8:30 ET, FSC) and DC United entertain CD Guadalajara Chivas (Thurs, 8 ET, FSC). If Major League Soccer's 1-7 record against Mexican opponents in the regional club championsip since 2002 is any indication, Houston and DC are about to get trampled under foot.

    The US National Team, however, has dramatically changed the tempo against El Tricolor by fighting hard for every loose ball, challenging every shot and ignoring every provocation. The underdog MLS clubs would be wise to take note.

    With Dwayne De Rosario and Brian Ching questionable, Pachuca will go hard at Brian Mullan, Brad Davis and Paul Dalglish. Houston needs to reply in kind. In Washington, Christian Gomez and Luciano Emilio will get rougher treatment than Dick Cheney's hunting buddy. Again, DC must set a similar tone with Chivas striker Omar Bravo, minus the thuggery and yellow cards.

    Here's hoping the MLS clubs keep the score tight in these first-leg matches, putting all the pressure on the Mexican teams in the first week of April. Otherwise, US soccer fans will be sick again.

    Match Previews: | Soccernet

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Tuesday Morning Odds and Sods, Volume 4

    It's a MAJOR AWARD! Major League Soccer has leaked released information concerning a major announcement today, featuring such major luminaries as a German Bundesliga Big Shot, Don Garber (you already know all about him) and Ivan Gazidis (ditto) in a major resort at the major Sun and Fun City, Miami, Florida.

    If this major announcement is anything like the last one, where Alexi Lalas tried to pass off another Chelsea training trip to LA as the World Series of Major Soccer Stuff, or some such nonsense, we are seriously risking the evisceration of all meaning from the word major. It's as if MLS Bosses got together and decided, like Ralphie's Dad in A Christmas Story, that shouting, "It's a Major Award!" might obscure the fact that a butt-ugly leg lamp is ruining the feng shui of the front parlor.

    The major announcement is scheduled for 1pm ET today. Could a Bayern Miami franchise be on the way, with Cosmos legend, Der Kaiser himself, Franz Beckenbauer in charge? Is Landon Donovan gonna give Leverkusen one last shot? Stay tuned for the straight dope, but don't be surprised, if after hearing this major international news, you find yourself saying, "Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian."

    UPDATED, 2pm ET: Yup. What Ralphie's Dad said. MLS will school the Bundesliga on the virtues of the single-entity ownership scheme, while the Germans will reciprocate with "new ideas" on officiating. Yeah, you read that correctly. Officiating.

  • The Red Bull Park Construction Site Webcam is live. Don't look too close, or you may be called to testify before the Newark Grand Jury.

  • Big Apple Soccer breaks down the Amado Guevara Reunion.

  • The Crew topped FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt Pioneer Cup. The match was a real yawner, but they did raise some money for charity.

  • The ManU-Euro All-Star exhibition is slated for today, but the Zidane-Materazzi lovefest has been cancelled, as Zizou is in New York negotiating with Bruce Arena and Donald Trump. Ha! Made you look!
  • Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Messi Cleans Up Real Well

    Teenage winger Lionel Messi, wonderfully christened La Pulga Atomica, (The Atomic Flea), by an adoring Argentine Press, sent shock waves through the soccer world on Saturday, posting an incredibly stylish and immeasurably important hat-trick in a Barcelona-Real Madrid "El Gran Clasico" which truly lived up to it's name.

    It wasn't just that Messi became the first Barca player since mercurial Brazilian superstar Romario to score three times against Real, but it was how he did it. Check out YouTube to see for yourself, but his third goal, which ultimately knotted the match at 3-3 and denied Madrid the crucial victory, was pure genius. Ronaldinho dinked the ball behind the Real defense on the right, where Messi streaked in from the wing and promptly eschewed the quick snap shot at the near post that 99 out of 100 players would have made, and instead darted across the goal, from the right side to the left, against traffic and holding off two Real defenders, until he reached the point of almost-no-return at the far post, drawing the keeper out of position, before fluently cracking the ball back in the opposite direction, just inside the post from which he had just scampered away. As the Guinness Guys say, Brilliant!

    Also brilliant, was Gol TV's live broadcast of the match. With Real Salt Lake honcho Dave Checketts reportedly fronting a group purchasing a stake in Gol TV, let's hope Checketts doesn't break what doesn't need fixing. The option of catching this thrilling match, without having to shell out for pay-per-view or trudging out to a sports bar, is well-worth the five extra bucks a month for the Sports Pak. As long as Checketts and his Salt Lake investors steer clear of Roman Grant, this deal could be a boon for U.S. soccer fans.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    Baby Bulls Barely Beat Berkeley

    A collection of Red Bull youngsters, novices and trialists taught a lesson to the University of California-Berkeley Varsity on Friday, posting a 3-2 scrimmage victory at the Home Depot Center. Here's a game report, courtesy of Big Apple Soccer. Jozy Altidore, Joe Vide and Jerrod Laventure scored for the JV version of Red Bull squad, which included newly signed Kearny, NJ native Hugh MacDonald. In other news that has been long rumored, but not yet confirmed, Gio Savarese told Soccer America he was fired by the Red Bull.

    Crew Hit Jackpot, Win Robbie Rogers Sweepstakes

    They might not win much on the field, but the Columbus Crew are mad lucky when it comes to Major League Soccer weighted lotteries. Or they keep finishing in last place. We report. You decide. Regardless, the Crew picked up U-20 US National Team member Robbie Rogers, as the 19-year-old lefty attacking midfielder cut short his tenure with Heerenveen of the Dutch Eredivisie so he could return to The States.

    Columbus has cornered the market on the MLS Lottery deal, having landed Danny Szetela in similar circumstances over two years ago. With fellow former Maryland Terrapins Jason Garey and Marc Burch, and Team USA teammates Szetela and Tim Ward in Columbus, Rogers, a native of Huntington Beach, California, may not be totally devastated to end up with the Crew, instead of the LA Galaxy or Chivas USA. Yeah, right.

    Take note gang. Szetela hasn't exactly set the world on fire the past two seasons and Rogers, in his abbreviated stint with Heerenveen, never played a minute for the Big Club, which finds regular minutes from former MetroStar/Red Bull Michael Bradley, son of current Interim US Men's National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley. Rogers, Szetela et al are indeed excellent potential talents, but it remains to be seen if that potential will be reached under the tutelage of Sigi Schmid.

    Thursday, March 8, 2007

    To Play and Tie in LA

    Another draw for the Red Bull in the City of Angels. John Wolyniec scored the lone goal against the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday, and the curiously Hamlet-like Brian Ching (to play or not to play?) got one past Ronald Waterreus, who later stoned NotKenny Dalglish on a PK. The Dutch keeper also stopped Kelly's brother from converting the rebound via diving header.

    With the MLS season still a month away there's no reason to panic, but Big Apple Soccer's warning about the Red Bull's anemic offense is proving prescient. Wolyniec is hard-working and has a good nose for the goal, but as a starter? According to Soccer by Ives, Jozy Altidore hasn't staked a definitive claim to the fulltime striker spot and Ansu Toure has cooled off.

    So what to do? The guess here is the Red Bull will bring in a striker, despite their recent comments to contrary. It may not be a bigtime Designated Player type, but a guy who can be counted on to find the back of the net on at least a semi-regular basis will be added, if not right away, prior to the April 15 signing deadline.

  • More from Soccer by Ives: Chris Leitch In, Craig Capano Out

  • More Big Apple Soccer: Marvell Wynne Watch

  • Hat tip to MetroFanatic for heads up on Hugh MacDonald feature

  • H/T to MLS Underground for Soccer America's latest DP rumor

  • Toronto Star: Jon Busch, Conor Casey Join Great White Northerners
  • Tuesday, March 6, 2007

    Tuesday Morning Odds and Sods, Volume 3

    The Red Bull kicked off the Californication portion of their preseason with a nil-nil draw against the Beckhamless Los Angeles Galaxy. Claudio Reyna and Ronald Waterreus were spared any exertions after the cross-country flight, with Dema Kovalenko serving as captain.

    Newbies Sinisa Ubiparapovic (man, if this guy makes the team I need to set up a quick key), Dane Richards, Ansu Toure and Hugh MacDonald all got a run out after "making the trip." The rest of the Golden State schedule is as follows: Houston Dynamo today, University of California on Friday, March 9 and CD Chivas USA on Wednesday March 14.

    MacDonald, like Red Bull assistant coach John Harkes and former MetroStars Tony Meola and Tab Ramos, hails from Kearny, New Jersey and may land a developmental contract, according to the MetroFanatic. While we're tossing out "mays," Big Apple Soccer says Gio Savarese and the Red Bull may have severed their relationship.

  • The big news out of LA is the medical condition of the professional athlete who just signed a multi-million dollar contract with a franchise that claims to be from Los Angeles but really isn't. But enough about chemically-enhanced, cheating Angels. Let's discuss David Beckham. After suffering ligament damage to his right knee in Sunday's Real Madrid match, Becks will be on the shelf for about a month or so. The resulting hand-wringing and castigation, while entertainingly melodramatic, is more than a bit overwrought. Now that Golden Balls won't be battling through the next round of the Champions League with the Galacticos or desperately fighting his way into Three Lions contention, there's a much better chance that he will be healthy, rested and good to go for the Galaxy by July.

  • "A short saying oft contains much wisdom" -- Sophocles

    "They were getting their diapers changed, I think." -- Mo Johnston, Toronto FC, after two of his young players were late for training.

    "On the one hand we want to anchor Barca in the colleges and on the other form a partnership with a Major League club, maybe even in an official way with the Barca brand." -- Joan Laporta, Barcelona, winking madly in the direction of MLS while trying to maintain a modicum of decency.

    "If the club decides to sack me because of bad results that is part of the game. If that happens I will be a millionaire and I will get another club a couple of months later." -- Jose Mourinho, Chelsea, tossing decency, class and humility out the window while giving the finger to Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich.

    "I will never work for Sigi again. I will never play for him, never join his coaching staff." -- Jon Busch, former Columbus Crew goalkeeper, taking the subtle approach regarding his future job prospects with Sigi Schmid.

    "He's an easy target. He has a big head, wears tight shorts and wraps his wrists." -- Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City Wizards, explaining why he picks on fellow US National Team member Taylor Twellman.
  • Friday, March 2, 2007

    MLS Clubs Are Semi-Tough

    Both Major League Soccer squads in the CONCACAF Champions Cup advanced to the semifinal round on Thursday night, with DC United skipping past CD Olimpia (Honduras) and defending MLS Champ Houston Dynamo overcoming a one-goal first-leg deficit to edge Puntarenas FC (Costa Rica).

    DC's new Brazilian striker Luciano Emilio tormented his former teammates with two goals, including a particularly nifty tally where he showed steely calm in the box before nonchalantly slotting the ball home into the far corner of the net. At first glance, he's either an arrogant prima donna or a smooth operator with a clinical touch. It bears watching. Also, the RFK playing field was total crap. On the plus side, the Bobby Boswell website looks like it will either be lots of fun or ridiculously, mockingly awful. Either way, it's a win-win.

    Aggie Soccer Stadium, on the other hand, looked pretty good, but the game itself was a bit of a yawner. Although if the Dalglish striker for Houston was named Kenny, instead of Paul, it would've been a complete romp for the homeside. Dalglish the Younger did find the net once. Speaking of Dalglishes (see how I did that?) have you seen King Kenny's daughter and Paul's sister on the English version of Sportscenter? Not bad. It's a safe bet she'll never walk alone.

    Back to the tournament, which will feature an all MLS vs. Mexican League semifinal round. Dynamo will face Pachuca on March 14 and April 5. DC gets CD Guadalajara (Chivas) on March 15 and April 3. Pachuca currently leads the Clausura Group 2 table while Chivas is tied for first in points and one goal back in differential in Clausura Group 1. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions Cup gets seeded into FIFA's World Club Championship, which has become an annual celebration of Brazilian soccer.

    Thursday, March 1, 2007

    All Systems Go, Full Speed Ahead

    Red Bull Park in Harrison, New Jersey has overcome some construction issues and is moving along relatively close to schedule, according to former MetroStars GM and now AEG NY/NJ President Nick Sakiewicz. The indispensable Big Apple Soccer has the straight dope, but it looks as if Summer 2008 is still the target.

    Much like the Red Bull Park Project, Tim Regan has recovered from a physical setback and is getting ready to deliver for the Red Bull Nation. The passionate MetroFanatic has the latest from the Bubble, including the status of Regan's "Injury Beard."

  • We linked to a pretty cool Jay DeMerit photo gallery a few days back, and here's a hat tip to du Nord for the heads up on this terrific new offering, this time featuring more of our American Soccer Expatriates. Great stuff.

  • DC United and defending MLS Champs Houston host second-leg matches in the CONCACAF Champions Cup tonight. Both games are being televised on Fox Soccer Channel. Here's the tourney bracket.
  • The China Syndrome

    US Soccer is gettin' busy with China on several fronts as the Men's National Team is scheduled to play a friendly against the Chinese on June 2 in San Jose, while the fledgling Women's Soccer Initiative is attempting to leverage any buzz gained from the Women's World Cup 2008 in China into another shot at a professional women's league in the United States.

    Hopefully the "friendly" won't degenerate into a full-scale brawl like the one Queens Park Rangers and the Chinese Olympic Team had a few weeks ago. Check out the YouTube video. Not Good. Speaking of China and not good, have you checked the latest financial news? Double Not Good.

    You Go Girls! Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy were elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and fittingly will be the first all-female player class inducted to the Hall in Oneonta, NY on August 26. Congrats to Mia and Julie. Fawcett and Lilly should be next.

    The Kids Are Alright: Two oddball stories came across the internet tubes, one concerning two massive Spanish clubs bidding on an 11-year-old boy and the other regarding a girl getting ejected from a youth tourney in Canada for wearing a religious head scarf.

    Laureano Luduena is the young Argentine who in the past two years has reportedly scored 160 goals and Barcelona and Real Madrid are allegedly interested in purchasing the rights to this young man's soccer future. Too soon?

    The 11-year-old girl was wearing a hijab, which Laval, Quebec officials deemed a no-no, despite the fact the youngster had worn it without any problems in her own Ontario-based league. Too much?