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Major League Bumps in the Road

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Hello again everybody, I’m sorry for the delayed update but you’ve forgiven me in the past when lapses like this happen.  I assure you that, no, I’m not in any trouble or decided to give up on watching soccer.  In my experience soccer hipsters (which I guess you could label me as) don’t go on to a new sports fad.  No, the soccer hipster will continue to watch soccer but then not get surprised or excited when the same things happen over and over.  For instance, after a great world cup showing American soccer is sort of going into a rough patch?  No matter how many times Nike or ESPN tell you that American soccer is going to fight for a World Cup Championship in ten years, coach Klinsmann has to worry about today.  And also Don Garber has his hands full with MLS issues.

 

Here, I present to you some reasons why American soccer is going to get a little less better for the next couple of years, and a bit more sucky ….

1.  Tim Howard wants a break from American soccer …

tim howard

This news came up last week and for the most part Americans have been supportive.  His reasoning is that he needs some time off to focus on Everton and see his family a bit more.  He said he’ll return in a couple years and try to compete for major tournaments.  But doesn’t this remind you of someone else who said he needed a break and was just feeling a bit burned out ….

2.  Donovan is making this his last season in MLS.

Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy

Hmmmmm, it seems Landon’s vacation in Cambodia gave him enough perspective and peace of mind to hang up his cleats and call it a career.  I’m not here to demean him, he set record after record for both the MLS and the USMNT.  Now I have to wonder who will become LA’s next major star?  This is a big loss for MLS and it’s not like they can create a player like Donovan in a two year span; for as much negative press Landon received over the past two years no one can take away what he did for the league and in the 2010 World Cup.

Let’s continue on with some harsh truths ….

3.  Thierry Henry is in his last or next to last year.

Tottenham Hotspur v New York Red Bulls

He’s killing it still, of course, and broke the all-time assist record for NYRB this year.  And in a bizarre twist the management office of NYRB claims that they’re done spending huge sums of money that were the main reason he was here in the first place.. so, sorry Xavi whoever was next in line.  The Red Bulls are making a transition to ‘moneyball’ franchise to please their Austrian overlords and even Cahill’s contract looks like too much weight on their shoulders.  I’m glad I enjoyed a deep pocket NYRB franchise while it lasted.

4.  Don Garber is having health issues, and it’s very unfortunate.  I wish he’d get better and it’s going to be tough on a league to find a leader to do what he’s done.  I wasn’t there but MLS had been in a dark place when he had to revive it from the dead.  And now, at an important time, Garber has to be away from MLS as it stumbles along with major hurdles about salary caps, new expansion teams and rebrands.

And wait a minute …

5.  Clint Dempsey is getting tired and needs more rest now???

dempsey

http://www.sounderatheart.com/2014/8/21/6052189/clint-dempsey-tired-sounders

Maaaaaannnnn?! Can’t MLS pay someone huge exorbitant sums of money for a famous player and then run them into the ground with travel and USMNT appearances for three years straight?  Why can’t an older player train with a German fitness freak, have his nose broken and then still succeed against younger players on difficult fake turf?  And win a major trophy?!  The NERVE!!!

It it’s any consolation Sounder fans, Dempsey’s work output reminds me of David Beckham when he was a traveling circus for MLS.  Of course Dempsey doesn’t have close to all Beckham’s global hype and attention, but he’s a strong player with a drive to succeed (even when his health and fitness weaken a bit over time).  Beckham in the end did win an MLS Championship, but he was limping on the field and had to endure dangerous MLS mid-fielders trying to sweep his leg every game.  Clint I think has a few more years in him, but America did ask a lot from the guy (at the very least he got paid, and he might even do something with his rap career).

6.  Remember the crazy management office of Toronto spending a ton of money for Michael Bradley and Defoe?

Jermain Defoe hopeful Toronto FC move will help World Cup chances - video

The man who put that together, Tim Leiweke, is leaving the the team because …. hey, I have no idea why and here is the link below.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2014/08/21/toronto-fc-honcho-tim-leiweke-announces-intention-step-down-presidentceo-pos

Is it because of the L.A. rebrand?  Is it for the new L.A. stadium?  Was he avoiding crack smoking mayors knocking on his door?  Did he have beef with Drake?

No one can tell but a team like Toronto had been known in the past for always having a disorganized management office.  And this whole situation of spending a ton of money and then just quitting the position shows how difficult it is to run a team, let alone an entire league.

7.  America is getting thin with their international stars.

One feather in MLS’s cap is that they would ship a player out to a European league, and when that player succeeded MLS was now in a position to pay him good money to play at home.  Donovan did some time in Germany, Dempsey played in England and Michael Bradley played in Roma.  Even DaMarcus Beasley did solid in Mexico and now plays in Houston after a well played World Cup performance.

But now MLS doesn’t have that many big name international stars.  Some, like Yedlin from Seattle, are about to start their career across the pond but it’s not like they can resign him for millions of dollars in 2015.  Tim Howard, as mentioned above, would be a very expensive goalie to fill your roster with.  As much as I support NYRB, I don’t think paying a goalie a ton of money is a great club investment when he has to stay in one area for the entire game and can’t make goals all the time or create assists.  I think Tim Howard’s  great as much as the next guy, but can he be a huge signing for MLS in a couple of years?  I doubt it, even though he’d be a huge help for any team.

And Altidore?  Dempsey was a great signing because he succeeded against top teams and got a ton of European playing time.  Americans are ecstatic if Jozy plays more than twenty minutes in a game and maybe, maaaaaaybe creates an assist.  Jozy Altidore scoring in the Premiere League is like snow in California … maybe it happened before but no one is betting it’ll happen again.

So … in conclusion ……. MLS will have to brainstorm quite a bit to right the ship as it moves on into 2015 and welcomes Kaka, David Villa and Frank Lampard.  I’m sure MLS will make money, but the American soccer landscape will lose Donovan and maybe even Dempsey after a couple of years if Seattle’s turf does it’s worst to his legs.  I’m not saying MLS is in trouble, only that all the over-hyping and ‘I Believe That We Will Win!’ songs won’t turn this nation into Brazil  Germany in the next few years.

America has a long way to go and a few more stars to develop.

A Manchester City – Liverpool hangover diary

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Manchester-City-v-Liverpool-620x400

This past week I had a great time seeing Manchester City and Liverpool play a friendly (that “wasn’t a friendly”) at Yankee Stadium.  What follows are my thoughts and observations from a night drenched in alcohol and the loud screams of the new American football supporter.

6:00 PM – As my wife and I wait for the oncoming 4 train to the Bronx I’m struck by the ratio of Liverpool fans to Manchester City fans.  It’s 9:1, favoring the boys in Red.  I don’t see anyone wearing a light blue shirt like myself and I keep looking around the crowded platform for anyone who might defend me in case some knob-head fans try to start questioning why I support Manchester City.  As the station keeps filling I can’t help but see Gerrard jerseys filling up the space.  I’m blinded by Liverpool crests and as I shove myself into a crowded train I find someone who just might be wearing a Manchester City jersey and won’t be annoyed by me ….. except he’s wearing an Arsenal jersey.

My blue shirt asks Why Always Me?, as a nod to Mario Balotelli’s hat trick against United.  When the train rumbles itself into the Bronx I am a speck of blue in a field of Red.  Yeah, seriously, WHY ALWAYS ME?

6:15 – My fears of Red vs Blue hooliganism are put to rest when I get the feeling that despite 90% of the fans are Liverpool fans …. 90% of everyone are non-violent Americans like myself with light connections to Europe.  No one is arguing or giving menacing looks to anyone.  This is pretty much a plastic fan, tourist haven for anyone who has watched more than two Premiere League games and can tell the difference between Manchester United and Manchester City.  When a loud gang of Liverpool fans walks around singing Liverpool chants, it’s more because they like chanting, and not because they want to single out Manchester City fans … (because there are no Manchester City fans)

6:30 – I’ve been forced to wait in line for a Manchester City scarf at a small merchandise location staffed by 65 year old, slow as molasses,  Yankee employees.  There are just four merchandise staffers who have to put up with about 150 crazed fans like myself who are in no line, no organization and who have been given no directions on how to wait.  As kick-off looms closer, everyone is getting impatient and desperate to get Gerrard shirts and Liverpool hats.  All I want is a Manchester City scarf and the impatience of a New Yorker begins to scream out of my throat

MY WIFE WAS HERE FIRST!!! WE’RE NEXT!!! HEY, KEVIN!!! KEVIN!!! WE’RE NEXT OVER HERE!!!!

MANCHESTER CITY FANS SHOULD GET PREFERENCE!!! THERE’S A DEAL WITH THE YANKEES!!! A SCARF!!  I JUST WANT A SCARF!!!

JUUUUUUUST A SCAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRFFFFF!!!!!!!!!  JUST A MANCHEEEESTER CIIIIITTYY SCAAAAAAAAARRRFF!!!

WE WERE NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXXXT!!!!!

25 minutes later with scarf in hand, and dignity out the window, we could get down to the field and indulge in $12.00 beers and $25.00 food.  The greed of the Yankees is something only a resident in a big city can fathom.  The Yankees hired the slow, dementia touched staffers on purpose to drive up demand of merchandise and slow everything down.  The Yankees paid them minimum wage.  Also the beer doesn’t come with any covers; you have to balance it steady like you’re a busy waiter and pray to everything above that no stray beers runs over the top.

7:45 – After half-time I start to get liquid courage and don’t mind yelling at the players from my seats.  Some of my deep observations include yelling that Joe Hart looks like the star from Dawsons Creek (which he does, but the point has been made before).  I then yell out that Manchester City doesn’t depend on a biter (like Suarez) …. but in fact neither does Liverpool now that he’s gone on to Barcelona.  I stop yelling gibberish when I realize I might be annoying people.

9:30 – I’m waiting in line for the restroom when I decide to whistle Blue Moon.  The song vibrates off the tile and amplifies the tune and I hear someone behind me ask ‘Who’s whistling that?’.  I turn around and it’s another Manchester City supporter.  My confidence skyrockets (although I doubt any of the American Liverpool fans know anything about the connection between the Blue Moon song and Manchester City.

9:45 – As the game ends people walk by and compliment me on my Why Always Me shirt and I head back to the train as a contended, inebriated Man City supporter.  A group of Everton fans start calling out to Manchester City fans as they walk out, saying ‘Thank you for not supporting Liverpool!!!’  It’s a great feeling to delude myself into thinking that I’m a hardcore Manchester City fan, but I know the feeling is ephemeral.

Most of us Americans can trade Premiere League identity as easily as putting on a new jersey.  Does it make any sense that I have an Everton jersey back home but I feel like I’m best friends with Liam Ghallager because of my new Manchester City scarf? Why do new soccer fans get attached to a far-off team and then decide to follow another when the feeling gets cold?  My wife doesn’t know anything about soccer and asked me to let her know when to boo and when to applaud.  Are new American soccer fans that different from her in that we have to follow the leads of others to enjoy European soccer the most?

10:00 – I’m on the subway back to Queens wearing my new blue scarf and speaking Cantonese (I’m not Chinese) because I can talk about unsuspecting Liverpool fans right in front of their faces, life is good.  But something is annoying me on my great trip back home.  There’s someone who attended the game, but he’s not backing Liverpool or Manchester City.  No, this guy is wearing a NYCFC SHIRT!!! 

For some bizarre reason I hate this guy.  NYCFC doesn’t even have a team and he’s supporting them over the Red Bulls?  What, Thierry Henry’s not good enough and two press conferences from David Villa and Frank Lampard are enough to make you support Yankee soccer?  I can see myself supporting Manchester City, but NYCFC?  I can watch a friendly on a baseball field, but I have a long way to go before I just drop the Red Bulls and the Metrostar connection.

The irony in the air is thick as I turn my nose up at this NYCFC fan and move on with my fresh Manchester City scarf that I might forget about in two months; new American soccer fans are just trendy bastards.

 

Pick your poison

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kaka

 

First off, I’d like to thank the thousands of Arsenal fans who descended into New York city yesterday and flooded the subway systems with proud gunner logos, fresh jersey purchases and a foul stench of naive English soccer sycophants.  Thank you, a thousand times over, for making me more a Red Bull fan than I should be.  There must’ve been 100 Arsenal fans for every 1 Red Bull fan and even though I’m a fan of ‘the Ghost‘ Ozil, I just can’t wrap my head around getting crazy for a team I have no connection with.  All those Arsenal fans yesterday weren’t from England, and I’d be surprised if most of them were from New York.  These Americans must’ve flooded in from different parts of the country just to watch Mesut Ozil and other important players NOT step on the field.  I understand the significance of MLS friendlies and the cash grab they entail, I get it.  But if you live in New York or close to it, are you really going to pick Arsenal as a favorite team despite no connection with London?

Which brings me to the subject of this post, what MLS team should you follow if there’s no MLS team close to you?  Everyone keeps talking about the World Cup being great for America and the growing numbers of American soccer fans, but that means that new people will have to pick a new team and support it.  Are you one of those people?  Confused about the stereotypes for each team?  Well, read on and get closer to the essence of Major League Soccer.

1.  Red Bulls

Positives: They’re like the Knicks in that they’re a true, original New York team and they’re never guaranteed success.  Even last year when they won the supporter shield they were more lucky than deserving, not that I’m complaining.  They’re an MLS original and they SHOULD have enough cash to bring over solid players.  But, if the money train stops, and it might, then they might not even make the play-offs.

Negatives: The name itself is embarrassing and I don’t think they’ll change it.  No matter which way you spin it, this team is a pretty much a write-off for a sports drink company.  If you’re not a New Yorker follow at your own risk.

2.  Seattle Sounders

Positives: I can’t imagine a year when they can be bad when they’re backed by Microsoft and 500,000 crazed hipster fans.  While New York has their own new stadium, they have to bring in Arsenal to fill much of it.  The Sounders will pack it to the walls against last place MLS teams.  Seattle is becoming an large emerald in Don Garber’s golden ring of Major League Power.

Negatives: The fans can be deluded enough to think they can beat major European teams just because the stadium gets so crowded.  If a Seattle fan has been watching soccer for one year they think the team can catch up to Tottenham in five years and beat Mexican teams day in and day out (well … about that Tottenham thing ….).  If you don’t live in Seattle and decide to support this team then just reason it out that you support Clint Dempsey, otherwise you’ll seem like a two-faced glory hunter.

3  L.A. Galaxy

Positives: They made the monumental deal to land David Beckham and push the league a little bit more in the spotlight.  The league wanted them to be a ‘Goliath’ so they were very successful a few years ago and now command a good deal of respect just based on their history.  They’re also coached by Bruce Arena, a former USMNT coach.

Negatives: Beckham retired and Donovan might retire soon after.  The management team who made the team so important before broke up this year and now I doubt they’ll sign another big name.  They might be a stable team to watch, but they’re not guaranteed success.  It reminds me of the Lakers having issues and missing the play-offs with Kobe and Donovan getting older and swearing to everyone they can still play.  They CAN play well, but will they CONTINUE to play well?

4.  The team closest to you

Positives: You are in the bottom floor of an elevator that can only go upwards.  If your local team is mediocre now or just downright bad, who’s to say it won’t change in a year? Even DC United has hope when the league makes a habit of taking decent players and then shipping them off to random arbitrary cities.  Your local team won’t get relegated will they?  This league is so young that if you decide to support a small upstart, even if it’s NASL, you’ll get to be a part of history down the line if it gets stronger (or signs Kaka of all people).

Negatives: If you decide to go local you face a serious risk of hating management for non-performance.  Some teams get upset by not having a legit stadium, others by never signing big name stars.  Also if you decide to follow a team there’s a chance it might be re-branded as a different entity.  If you want to brag about being a true fan that can take abuse and neglect, you better get ready to get abused and neglected.

5.  Real AMERICAN ‘Good Management Teams’

skc

Positives: Examples of these teams are RSL and SKC because their management offices outright specify that they’re not going to sign big name players when they can develop talent and a strong fan following all by themselves.  SKC changed itself from ‘The Wiz’ and put together a new stadium in addition to signing two rising USMNT players.  RSL is praised for being a solid team on a very cheap wage scale compared to Toronto or NYRB.  Also notice how both of these teams were in the MLS Cup final last year.

Negatives: There’s a quote about David Stern that his idea of the perfect NBA Final was between the Lakers and the Lakers.  As much as it’s not talked about MLS executives are trying to woo Mexican fans as well as Europeans to get more revenue but because RSL won’t be crazy enough to sign Chicharito or Frank Lampard it means across the pond they’ll get ignored.  People in France know Henry, they don’t know Kyle Beckerman (even though Beckerman had a strong World Cup and raised his game).  It’s good to support a team for good coaching and management, but certain teams just don’t make an interesting final to advertise, even if the play on the field was of decent quality.

6. NYCFC aka the Poseurs Paradise

nycfc villa

Positives: If you live in upper Manhattan it’ll take you twenty minutes to get to a glorified baseball field so see your local team.

Negatives: NYCFC is sort of the opposite of the ‘Good American Management’ teams because it’s all set up by an English team in the first place and they just signed David Villa and Frank Lampard.  With that typed, I hope Lampard gets in a fist-fight and brawl with an underpaid player when Frank realizes that MLS players have to make up for bad technique by bad slide tackles, ankle busting stud attacks and cheap elbows to your neck.

Let me also state that I’m a bit bitter that NYCFC has a good chance of making the Red Bulls irrelevant and all they had to do was overpay a few players and set up a business deal with the Yankees.  Well done NYCFC, you’re going to prove that money buys success and make me feel even worse for supporting Manchester City over Liverpool this Wednesday.  You make my hypocrisy visible and apparent and it’ll hurt more when you win.

 

7.  The other option is …. stick with a foreign club!!

henrybeckham

Foreign clubs can be watched with an internet connection or with NBC Sports, Fox, Univision or ESPN.  The other leagues have better players and also can play in the UEFA Champions League.  Not only will the games be more intense, but Jurgen Klinsmann himself wants American players to ship out and play for them.  Go ahead Suckyball reader, you can buy that new jersey and support any European or Spanish based team you want.

I’ve written it before, there’s nothing wrong with supporting a foreign team to get into soccer if you’re American.  Would we hold it against a teenager in Germany if he watches the NBA’s basketball instead of the Spanish leagues?  Eurosnobs can be a little annoying, but I’d rather talk soccer with someone who follows Bayern Munich instead of someone who never watches soccer.  It’s a large world getting smaller every day, is there such a thing as soccer fan court presided over by a loyalty judge?

Positives: Foreign clubs have more history, better talent and huge followings that dwarf even Seattle’s proud fan base.

Negatives: If you buy a foreign jersey and walk around Red Bull Arena, and YOU’RE A NEW YORKER, then local snobs will assume you’re annoying and fake, even if you’re really not.

 

 

 

 

Something rotten in the state of the Bronx

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nycfc villa

I’m back!! Your humble scribe has been caught in the excitement of global ‘futbol’ and has been away from penning Suckyball for a good while.  It’s about that time for me to return to update again on the state of all things ‘Sucky’ with American soccer.  No, I won’t harp on the fact that the American team would’ve gotten thrashed by Argentina, the Netherlands, Columbia or Germany (again).  The USMNT played pretty much how I predicted they would play: they were thiiiiiis close, and they put up such a cloooose fight.  But I’m not here to degrade them as other countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal went home early and they didn’t have someone as amazing as Tim Howard playing goal keeper.

No, the reason I’m writing on the eve of the World Cup final is because next year NYCFC will invade appear in the Bronx and distract everyone into believing that MLS 3.0 is on par with La Liga or the Premiere League (when nothing could be further from the truth).  NYCFC, in my view, is a calculated cash grab by the Yankees and Middle Eastern oil powers that in my opinion will crash and stumble just like other European attempts into MLS.  They’re not guaranteed anything in MLS no matter how many dollar signs they dance around the Bronx.

You can read all about the ‘Goliath’ team here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_FC

So why the vitrol on something that’s supposed to bring more attention to New York?  Here I’ll break down the reasons for skepticism.

1.  Since when did New York deserve more attention?

I’ve lived here for six years and I’ve seen Barclays center open up for the Nets, I’ve seen the Giants and Jets both fight for Superbowl spots, in addition to Met-Life Arena even hosting the most recent Superbowl.  New York has seen the Red Bulls play strong enough to win an MLS Supporters Shield, and then I saw the same city not really give them any credit for it.  The crazy hockey fans here make huge deals out of Ranger play-off appearances and a ton of Spike Lee-ish Knicks fans believe that year after year Carmelo is a strong enough player to make a Finals appearance (but I don’t think that Spike Lee himself believes that, only a million of other Knickerbocker fans that still keep hope with Zen Master Phil Jackson supporting the team) … ..

And all these sports situations don’t even include or acknowledge the ubiquitous, omnipresent New York Yankees baseball logo that comes at you at all angles from sports pages, ESPN Sportscenter recaps, Jay-Z’s lyrics, Times Square gift-stores and now even the new press announcements from NYCFC itself.  The worst irony is that this Yankees hat is my favorite to wear, because when I wear it I’m telling the entire Tri-State area that I support all things New York, and this city agrees with me.

The city that never sleeps accepting NYCFC is not the same as another city taking in a new flashy and trendy sports team.  This isn’t Oklahoma City turning into Durant’s Thunder Town or Seattle getting Sounder fever.
Let me put it this way – Tim Cahill went Beast mode for Australia this summer and scored this:

… and New Yorkers thought … ‘Oh yeeeah, Cahill plays for the Red Bulls ….. too bad I’ll never go to a game there’.

 

2.  NYCFC WILL PLAY ON A BASEBALL FIELD!!!

Try and think of all the monumental over-hype that will come next year as David Villa  and other potential big names start playing in the Bronx.  The NYCFC ownership has been hemming and hawing about ‘beautiful play’ and ‘Barcelona-type passing’ that they’ve been ignoring that the often ignored Red Bulls have been trotting out European legend Thierry Henry himself to the shrugs of MLS fans.  The league has been getting stronger for the past decade and doesn’t need to bow down to Europe (that much) when it comes to style …. especially for a team that will play on a baseball field!!!  Also as a side-note, the MLS All-star team will get blasted this summer by Bayern Munich … but so would Barcelona too you think?  Barcelona isn’t that Barcelona anymore … the NYCFC owners should just start saying they’re expecting to play German soccer or Munich-style offense.

I can take back this negativity if NYCFC makes an announcement for a new soccer stadium in a few years, but I don’t see that happening.  New York real estate can be an expensive, treacherous snake pit and even if oil rich owners have a blank check then you can count on New York businessmen to make the whole situation as expensive and head-ache inducing as possible.  In the meantime ….. your great, powerful, MLS megabrand of NYCFC will play on a dirt baseball field for their early incarnation.

3.  The Red Bulls have a history that connects to earlier New York soccer.

While that link is tenuous, it’s real.  The Red Bulls were the New York Metrostars and that team fielded a young Tim Howard and Michael Bradley and was even coached by former USMNT team coach Bob Bradley.  The Metrostars developed some guy named Mike Petke who then stuck with his home-team after retirement and became the respected RBNY head-coach last year.  The Metrostars were an MLS original franchise that also went through the same difficult pains that the Galaxy would go through as they gave a ton of money to an international player (Beckham) only to watch the team middle and flop.  The Galaxy and Red Bull both got their acts together for better performance, but even brand new Red Bull Arena still doesn’t sell-out even with the likes of Henry, the pre-mentioned Super Cahill and MLS’s number one goal scorer (Bradley Wright Phillips).

This is a harsh statement to make, but if you think NYCFC will save the league from being too American or weak you’re ignoring the past.  L.A. tried being European, NYRB tried being European, Seattle is trying to buy a title as an American/African/whatever it takes to win team. NYCFC will have to get in line with everyone else.

4.  If you’re a New Yorker who will support NYCFC your levels of hipster-amateur-neophyte soccer lover will be off the charts.

Wow, New York has a team that’s in a real New York borough ….. but the Giants and Jets play in New Jersey,  and there’s not that much of a travel time difference from either the Bronx or New Jersey from mid-town.  (Cough, remember, baseball field!!)

Wow, NYCFC will be ALL international stars …. David Villa is a great player, wonderful player, but he’s ONE player for a team that’s signed just three new players as of this month.  Sure, Frank Lampard might play for them.  But isn’t he the same player who mocked the World Trade center attacks and now you’re cheering for him represent NY?  If NYCFC sign Messi, Ronaldo or even James Rodriguez then I might support them, and that’s saying something.

NYCFC has tons of money and will buy an MLS Championship!!! The weak teams are DONE for ….. You don’t think NYRB, the L.A. Galaxy, Seattle or even Toronto FC have tons of cash to throw around? Part of the new MLS ownership line of thinking is forgetting about the salary cap all-together and just buying whoever you want.

 

 

NYCFC isn’t going to change soccer history here anymore than the Nets moving to Brooklyn will change the history of the NBA.  They’re both business decisions meant to take advantage of an immense, crowded world city and its wealthy and (at times) shallow young fans.  The Metrostars did change history at Giants stadium and I wasn’t even there to root for them.  They live on through NYRB soccer and are now supported on the fringes, out from the sight of most New York media and outright ignored by ESPN.  You can’t ask me to support NYCFC when NYRB has given me enough of a soccer experience to not cast them aside like they’re nothing to anyone.

WOW, NYCFC AND NYRB WILL HAVE A BIG COOL ‘APPLE’ DERBY !!! ………..   Now this, derby thing, I can agree with.  But, I’d rather watch them play it out in a real soccer stadium instead of the dirt-filled, misshaped, awkward baseball field meant for someone else’s powerful team.  NYCFC, I hope you lose ten derby games in a row to NYRB for the near future.

World Cup hype-fest part 2

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Right when I thought that Americans had stopped caring about soccer for maybe five minutes … Beats by Dre dropped an advertisement for their headphones with major international cameos.  You don’t believe me? Here:

I think the stereotype of the hipsterish, smug Eurosnob is getting shoved aside by Lebron James and his corporate brethren.  Did you expect Serena Williams and Stuart Scott to be involved? I was also shocked to see Little Wayne display an expensive chain with a soccer ball on it.  But hey, you have to find new listeners somewhere right?

When American audiences and Apple itself have given the company new millions, the next logical step is sending Beats By Dre to places like Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany etc.  I had a feeling that American advertisers would start spending a ton of money to hype up this World Cup, but I should’ve realized that their marketing push would reach outward across the entire world, not just the small fifty states.

And how weird was it seeing Nicki Minaj in the same video as Chicharito?

 

…. But at least MLS received a nod with Thierry Henry acting the part of un grand souteneur. Bon Chance America!!!  Enter the jungle!!

Over-analyzing an MLS Insider video: NYCFC

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Next year NYCFC will debut and as a New Yorker I’m interested in how the league will publicize them.  To start with, I haven’t seen any real publicity besides the other video where the players kicked a kid’s soccer ball in the Chelsea neighborhood.  Whereas team management did put up a giant ad on the back of a building sometime ago, most New Yorkers didn’t take notice because it wasn’t featured on Yelp or the Food Channel. So when MLS Insider decided to focus on Jason Kreis and his move to become a ‘City Man’ my skeptical side took over.  This video has to be nothing but a glossy publicity ad to an apathetic public.

So let’s look deeper ….

0:00-0:52: Kreis reveals his concerns about becoming manager of a team with no players and watches a few Manchester City players practice.  By now there hasn’t been mention of any signing and possible fans have to just hope they’ll have someone like Nasri who’s featured in a slow highlight montage.   The director is using Nasri to show ‘The City Philosophy” (more on this later).

And then for a bizarre reason Kreis fawns over Wembley Stadium instead of the Etihad.  It’d be like a coach of ‘Yankees London’ talking about how great Fenway Park is in my opinion.  The whole tone of the video so far is Kreis’s European Workation.

:53-1:20: Kreis’s career in a thirty second nutshell.  Of course Kreis gets my respect for being a lifelong MLS Company Man but I’m surprised his team didn’t do a bit more looking back at what they had.  Bad luck was a factor along the way as any regular RSL fan will admit.  First RSL was peaced out of the CONCACAF Champions League Final a few years back when they were the closest team in MLS history, then they gave away the US Open Cup to a weak and delirious DC United team, and just last year they lost on penalties in last years MLS cup.  For a team that’s been so strong Kreis had to weather some tough losses.

1:20-2:28: Kreis explains that it’ll be difficult for him to return to Salt Lake after not only being their fist draft pick but then coaching them past Donovan and Beckham to an MLS Championship.  I’d like to point out that Jason’s lisp went away a bit. I don’t know if he intended to speak better for this video or what the situation was that changed, but it’s better for the league when an important coach like him has clear speech.

2:28-3:00: I’m supposed to think Kreis is just a regular guy learning the ‘City Philosphy’ when he’s driving around Manchester in a Jaguar?? If you look closely at the steering wheel he is indeed James Bonding it around England.  Is that the City Way they keep going on about? If you do well with Manchester City’s owners they’ll give you a new Jaguar so you can break off the mirrors learning to drive proper? Maybe it’s a rental car, or a nice car to borrow from a club executive, either way well played Mr. Kreis.

3:00:3:48: Kreis looks over the Elite Development Squad players and U21’s.  Because when I think Manchester City … I think of developmental players and not well compensated gun for hire internationals??

3:48-4:56:  Let’s meet Patrick Viera, not only a retired champion footballer but someone ‘interested in getting Kreis’s opinions’.  I was confused by this segment, were they asking Kreis’s opinions on possible NYCFC players? Or are we supposed to believe that Kreis is now privy to major decision making for the youth portion of a club very close to winning a Premiere League Championship? Do tell Jason, we’ll discuss which striker will move up to the first team after tea time.

4:57-5:30: City’s Philosphy is the same as Barcelona’s.  And by that he means possession orientated soccer? Or does he mean using unknown amounts of oil money to sign players like Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli? For every player on the Elite Development Squad forgive me if I think there are four being scouted from rival teams.  As any English fan will tell you, City rose to power the same way Chelsea and Manchester United did during the later 90s.  $ucce$$ follows the teams with enough cash to pay for it. No matter what this MLS Insider/Adidas video tells you always remember that NYCFC paid the highest amount of money for an expansion fee in the history of the league and Garber might have to wait another thirty years to match it.

5:30-5:53: The CEO of Manchester City states that if you watch any Manchester City or NYCFC team then you’ll know them by the beautiful, fluid Barcelona-like passing.  It’s interesting that this is brought up right before Jason Kreis mentions he has to win.  You know, Arsenal played some great looking soccer at the beginning of this year but pretty much is being ignored.  In my opinion Manchester City can pass it around like thanksgiving dinner all night but a true Manchester City funded team has to win.  NYCFC will be held to the same standard, just like NYRB and the Galaxy have had to find out.

5:54-6:52: Jason states that his job is difficult because a lot of the younger players haven’t seen much playing time in the first squad and he doesn’t know who to choose.  Suuuuure.  Because every MLS manager would hate having ten youth squad players from Manchester City and access to 3 major international designated players.  Good luck Jason, we all know how difficult it is to drive around in Jaguars and pick out Elite Development Squad players.  You’re just a regular coach in a difficult task like Chelis had been when he was asked to manage Chivas USA a few years ago (this is major sarcasm).

6:52:-7:23: If we took Leonel Messi, put him with the worst team in MLS, would they still be the worst team in MLS?  I get the point that Kreis is making but if you look that statement it literally makes no sense from a competition or financial standpoint.  No way they’d be the worst with Leo Messi! Is MLS that bad that even with the addition of one of the world’s greatest players the team would still be a disaster? Right now Montreal is dead last after 5 games.  We’re saying Marco Di Vaio and Messi wouldn’t do anything? How many season tickets would be sold in Montreal? Ce n’est pas une problème!!

I think Kreis is taking a slight shot at the Galaxy and Beckham with this statement, but for all given purposes, teamwork wins games.  And there’s no ‘I’ in team or City Manchester is there?

7:23-8:49: Kreis is shown walking around an empty stadium taking everything in.  There’s a few logo shots of the Manchester City crest and Kreis hopes to have ‘just a portion’ of the culture to trickle down to NYC.  He’s not kidding, right now NYCFC will have to share a stadium with the Yankees and their New Jersey rivals just took a major step forward by winning the supporters shield last year.  New York is RBNY territory and NYCFC is just a tiny blip on the radar.  Kreis is smart enough to mention that success might come 10,15 years down the line.  But Jason, as a head coach in business with Manchester City, do you think that’s enough time for you to stay on the job?

In short, my only inklings of NYCFC are from a Youtube video posted about five months ago and the random online news story about where they are trying to play.  Their search for a possible stadium location  now includes a Yankee Stadium parking lot and also parkland in Queens that major politicians aren’t allowing until they get major bribes  more local activist support.  I haven’t heard anything about the team in local news, I haven’t heard my friends talk about it at work.  I haven’t heard about NYCFC on the radio or in major talk on ESPN or NBCSN.  In short, it’s a bigger news story in Manchester than it is in NYC.  We’ll see how the team develops and when they sign their squad.  But for now most MLS fans will have to wait for short videos to pop up that make Manchester City seem like Christmas morning.

MLS Teams are the walking dead in CONCACAF next year

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Tottenham Hotspur v New York Red Bulls

 

This year both the San Jose Earthquakes and L.A. Galaxy botched two very close opportunities to advance past their Mexican counterparts in this years CONCACAF Champions League.  Although not the end-all & be-all of American soccer, this tournament is a bell-weather event that MLS headquarters keeps focusing on winning.  Although the Galaxy came within a goal of moving on San Jose was even closer than that; one sole kick in the final shoot-out would’ve let them advance.  In the end both MLS teams went home empty handed.  To pour salt in the wound, they won’t even be able to compete in next year’s tournament.

So now, without further ado …. Your 2014 CONCACAF Champions Leage MLS Representatives!!!

The New York Red Bulls!!

Captained by a legendary striker that’s playing in perhaps his final year, the Red Bulls have a very strong chance of not even watching King Henry step on any tournament field.  Not only do some of the CONCACAF first games take place in Caribbean countries but it would be bizarre to watch the likes of Cahill and Henry jog around an empty track stadium against much weaker competition.  In comparison, L.A. had been frustrated by  having to travel mid-season and starting million dollar players against opponents not afraid of slide tackling them with the backing of non-caring referees.  At least when Cahill is fouled in America a needed whistle is blown, but I doubt the Red Bulls will get any preference when some of the Red Bulls could BUY the other squad outright.  Traveling in this tournament is rough enough, and Henry has already spoken out against his needless traveling to places like Seattle or Vancouver.

My final take: Petke will have his hands full with a squad that’s right now lucky to tie a team like Chivas USA.  Later this year when the interleague tournament gets underway he’s going to get another crash course in coaching.  How to balance travel, squad, field adjustments and hotel accommodations.  I wish them luck but my Suckyball sense is saying it’ll be tough to deal with some of the Concacaf non-sense with Henry’s status up in the air and Cahill getting World Cup wear and tear.

Next up …

DC United!!!

What better representative of MLS than a squad that grabbed the LOWEST amount of possible points last year?  Later this year there’s little chance of signing any outstanding players and they’ll have to hope Eddie Johnson can somehow pull out miracles against high-caliber Mexican teams.  If Donovan and Keane couldn’t pull it off, I have little reasoning to think that D.C. United breaks down any doors.  The only reason they made it into the tournament was winning a U.S. Open Cup final that they had no business being in because of their ugly season results.

My final take: Do they deserve to be in the CONCACAF Champions League? Yes, of course, they earned it.  Do they stand a chance against the top Mexican clubs licking their chops against them? …..  Good luck United, go in peace and play your best!! Take your vitamins and pray hard brothers!!

Portland Timbers!! 

The Timbers might have the best chance of pulling through, but keep in mind they were allowed in because of a rule change right before the MLS Cup.  Diego Valeri and Nagbe are decent players and I can see them putting in the ground work and surviving the travel to far away games.  Portland has every motivation to take this tournament serious, because Seattle won’t be in it!!

My final take: I don’t have a crystal ball but Portland’s ownership and financial backing wouldn’t consider the tournament a write-off.  They’ll be in it to win it, and I would hope Valeri lights up the Central American competition.  L.A. and San Jose missed major chances to build up goal leads against Tijuana and Toluca, pretty much every 10th shot was hitting goal post.  Diego Valeri doesn’t even have to score, just pass it to the right Timber sprinting down the flanks.

And now …. your MLS Champion and a returning team …….

Sporting Kansas City!!!

skc

MLS’s best team not only led the league in fouls last year and then somehow limped into MLS Cup victory, but they also got smashed by Cruz Azul 5-1 in a quarter-final match.  After the game they sure needed Blue Cross (Cruz Azul, get it?) to carry them out of Mexico because Graham Zusi and company had a melt-down as every defender forgot how to play.  It might not be pretty again in next year’s tournament.  Of course Zusi is stepping up as a great American player, but SKC just doesn’t click when forced to stand toe to toe against Mexican clubs. This year they’ll probably do well in MLS League play but this CONCACAF tournament can get grueling.  You’re traveling to far off locations, in the middle of a World Cup year, testing 2nd and 3rd string players and your final present is Mexican clubs not only at the top of their league but also in mid-season form.

My final take: SKC is Don Garber’s poster child for a successful team.  They have decent fans, in a soccer specific stadium and their city appears to embrace them.  But come on, do you think Mexicans are afraid of them?  They might need to sign more players which brings me to ….

Toronto FC!!

A top 5 USMNT Mid-fielder? Check. A top English striker who doesn’t mind moving to Canada? While we’re at it you might as well throw in the Brazilian national team goal keeper …. why not? Check!! The ownership of Toronto FC not only got invaded hired a major power player from the L.A. Galaxy (Tim Leiweke) but they also received his expert advice in putting together a winning team (making sure giant checks don’t bounce).  All TFC has to do is win the Canadian Championship and they’re in, where they can beat up on DC United and NYRB’s 3rd string team.  If this happens even more Loonie money will continue to pour in and TFC just might sign a Chelsea player to complete Don Garber’s fantasy signing.  You can find out more information about the Canadian Championship here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Canadian_Championship

Which brings me to final conclusion.  Out of all the possible MLS teams coming up in late 2014, why does it make perfect sense that the favorite team to go further into the Concacaf record book than any other MLS team won’t even be American … but Canadian??  At least we might be able to see Jermaine Defoe drop some CONCAGOALS in the process.

Here’s a Youtube video showing why Defoe’s investment might not seem so crazy, courtesy of DC United’s defense:

 

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