Hey readers, it’s your author Mr. Matt Matt himself, checking in from a humble computer in Queens. As you’re aware, I never update this site. Part of it is that American soccer continues to grow, and I don’t think it’s that bad. You can say that Americans play sucky soccer, it’s just that we’re not as bad as five years ago.
The other part is that I’m at a point in my life where I want to write, it’s just that I don’t have enough time. I also for some bizarre reason want to keep learning a foreign language I’m interested in. It’d be one thing if it was Spanish, but it’s Cantonese and that takes a ton of time to study. When I first started this blog I thought if I kept writing then I would build a good base of readers to maybe write a book or create some other website to draw revenue from. And then I realized there are hundreds of other internet blogs detailing growth numbers and the latest MLS news.
The league is about to be broadcast further out into the world and I wouldn’t be surprised (I really wouldn’t!) if Don Garber announced the signings of Chicharito or Xavi.
MLS is doing okay, American soccer is stable for now. But I have to figure out a way to bring in extra money in my neck of the woods. Or maybe get so fluent at Cantonese my life will continue to progress upward and everything might just take care of itself.
If you want to write to me with advice or thoughts on me writing for Suckyball, or just to say ‘What up, I liked that you did [whatever]’ you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I should write back.
Thank you 晒,
PS I never watched Mad Men but I thought the image above was appropriate for a blog almost at its end.
Hello out there Suckyball readers! I hope you’re having a relaxing off-season and you can wipe the sleep out of your eyes after your winter hibernation. I just finished watching the U.S.A’s win over Panama and I decided to brush the cobwebs off this site and put forth some Suckyball predictions for 2015. One of the most enjoyable reasons I enjoy writing this blog is that because I don’t get paid for it, or have any editor or major news outlet to please … that means I can write whatever I want at any time.
1. Chris Wondolowski is beginning to lose his mind.
I get it. He missed a play in the World Cup last year and Klinsmann doesn’t trust him as much. So one of the first things Wondolowski does in USMNT uniform today was getting in a shouting match and drawing a yellow card. Believe it or not the USMNT has substantial depth this year and Wondo, as much as I want him to succeed, just looks average out there. As always, I wish him the best, but he’s not going to be an MLS golden boot winner any time soon.
2. If you think about supporting NYCFC just stop, please.
There might be a chance the Red Bulls drop close to last place but I’d rather support them then this sham farm team dressed up as a contender. Is it wrong to imagine Yankees stadium supporting maybe 10,000 fans when the Philadelphia Union comes into the Bronx? The crazy thing is that there’s a good chance the Red Bulls get sold and might turn into some team called New Jersey FC (but I would still support some wacky team called New Jersey FC or the Cosmos compared to the new MLS expansion team!). It feels like NYCFC ownership paid $100 million dollars to Don Garber & Co. so they could do some dodgy, mysterious accounting work and save $150 million in England. Will they succeed? Maybe, but at least I’ll get to see the Galaxy and Sounders knock them around a bit in their first year.
3. ESPN is still treating America’s soccer audience like they’re eight years old. I must’ve heard today that America hadn’t won in maybe six or seven games and today was a MUST WIN against Panama. It was sooooo important for Klinsmann to win this game so America could get back on track??
It’s a friendly!! The Gold Cup’s first matches aren’t even that important so why is some cash grab at a not even filled Stub Hub Center today a must win? Call a friendly a friendly and don’t deceive the audience that somehow Klinsmann is on the hot seat. He’s not sweating and has maybe four or five newer players stepping up to make his life easier.
4. This year will continue the trend of ‘Super Clubs’ breaking away from the others in MLS play. No, they won’t be Manchester United or Chelsea but Seattle, L.A., New England and another cash rich club (Hey Toronto wake up) will go for the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup. Some owners figured out how to play the system a bit better and know how to use their money, that means the other ownership groups will just have to take it on the chin.
5. Dear Orlando FC, don’t be upset if your team is close to imploding.
Right off the bat this team signed Kaka and is trying to sell over 60,000 tickets to their first game:
I love that they’re attempting to make a name for themselves already, but MLS teams are no joke. As I mentioned before, a team like Seattle or LA isn’t going to let Kaka make easy passes. Instead they’re going to have Obafemi, Robbie Keane, Jozi Altidore, Michael Bradley and the like push through and put shots on goal. It’s their first year, and for some reason I want them to at least be stable.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I want them to do better than NYCFC.
Anyway, to end this post I’ll predict who will step up, and who will trip up in the 2015 Suckyball season. I’ll come back at the end of the year to look it over.
Michael Bradley TFC – One of these games he’ll have to wake up and start assisting on goals, or at least make the play-offs.
Mix Diskerud NYCFC – He’s making a fair bit of change now and there will be a ton of attention in the Big Apple. He better take advantage of it. If you can’t do well with David Villa (and Lampard) giving you passes then I don’t know what to tell you.
Lloyd Sam NYRB – All the spotlight will be on Bradley Wright-Phillips but Sam put together a decent season last year. With Henry out of the picture the Red Bulls are expecting Sam to juke more defenders and handle a larger burden.
Luis Gil RSL – He dribbled past three or four defenders today and looks like he’s about to turn the corner with his career. He has the experience against top MLS teams he just has to make the same jump Zardes did. He’s 21 and if he plays well enough, maybe he can go to a foreign club (or at least get a decent pay raise).
Jozy Altidore TFC – There are no more excuses for this guy. He’s not at Sunderland and he’ll have plenty of passes going his way. He’s great at getting around defenders and having a good shot, but there’s so been much invested in his development that if he plays mediocre it’ll be considered a waste of talent.
Dax McCarty NYRB – I want Dax to succeed so much and prove me wrong, but the way he plays the game can be too rough at times. If he gets injured again the Red Bulls are in trouble and won’t get very far. Cahill’s not there to take attention away and mid-fielders are going to try hacking him down. Dax, best of luck but there’s a bulls-eye on you now (pun intended)!!
Jason Kreis NYCFC – Sure, why not put a coach here? I get that he’s a legend at RSL but I get this feeling in my stomach that he’s going to end up losing his mind (like Wondolowski). Manchester City won’t give him what he wants, his players will play on converted baseball fields half the time and he’s going to have to deal with NYC’s media far much more than he’d like. I don’t think this year will be a disaster for him, I just think he’s put in a tough spot and reporters will ask why NYCFC isn’t always in the top five. Good luck Jason, you’re going to need it.
Okay everyone, I’ll write more later, stay warm and get ready for the last days of winter!!
I’ll jump right into this as January 2015 is here and there’s an exciting new year of American soccer ready to come forward. Here are some quick things to look forward to as MLS and American soccer get ready for another year of playing ‘How can we gloss this over?!’
- The ‘Big Apple Derby’ between the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC is going to start with two important players. The first is ‘Not Frank Lampard’ and the second is ‘Not Gerrard’. You see, as you know, Lampard is playing well now for the MCFC mothership and isn’t allowed to be beamed down to the lowly sister club when a Premier League title is close at hand. So, in short, this first major tri-state derby is looking like a dud unless David Villa scores a hat-trick (if he even plays!). The Red Bulls can at least can brag by saying ‘Well, we never promised you guys anything did we?’ and their fans will accept it. But I do want to point out that I hope Gerrard signs to play for the Galaxy so at least one major signing can happen in a sleepy off-season.
- Orlando City appears to have at least an interesting team if you look at recent signings. I’m hoping KaKa won’t get injured two months into play by some untrained, clumsy MLS mid-fielder but there’s also Brek Shea, Aurélien Collin and Donovan Ricketts. Will they lose money? Probably. Will they compete for a title? Probably not. But hey, there’s Kaka right?? He’s not playing for Manchester City and at least he APPEARS interested in MLS. Don’t you want to buy his t-shirt yet?
- Tim Howard might be jumping the shark. I know that analogy might not work for athletes, but America’s favorite goalkeeper is injured now and as I mentioned before has complained of burn-out. If I was a goalkeeper who just received a nice paycheck from a new book and have to face the world’s best strikers every week I wouldn’t mind a break either. It just doesn’t look good that he might’ve passed his apex and now has to wait about a month to play again. Get better Timmy!!
- The Red Bulls, one of the Too Big to Fail teams, are going into the New Year with ‘Not Thierry Henry’ and are having a hard time signing others. Of course they’re probably not going to sign Daniele De Rossi even if rumors persist (source here: http://www.empireofsoccer.com/reports-daniele-interested-31111/). How can they try and sign one of Italy’s best players when they’re having a tough time keeping Tim Cahill? It looks like the well is running dry with MLS and big name stars this year.
But hey, look Kaka!!
So in conclusion, at this point MLS is fielding these stars for the 2015 season: Not Thierry Henry, Not Frank Lampard, Not Landon Donovan and Not Daniel De Rossi. Is any team going to sign Drogba yet? If David Villa was swindled into putting on an MLS shirt then maybe Didier would give it a shot .
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I’m typing this about an hour before ESPN presents the 2014 MLS Cup and here are a few thoughts from your semi-jaded, skeptical, soccer loving/hating auteur ….
– As much as MLS wants to back away from the All-Star game, there’s a great chance that the Bayern Munich friendly will draw in a lot more viewers than today’s final. Over 800,000 people watched Pep Guardiola blow a gasket when his team didn’t beat the MLS team by two or three goals. Because MLS won’t be quiet about ratings and television coverage they’ll be
forced willing to keep bringing in huge teams for the All-Star game. In the meantime the MLS Cup Final will have to move forward and keep crossing their fingers they’ll have Dempsey, the LA Galaxy or other media friendly match-ups.
– I’m wondering if Donovan will be like Brett Favre and try and come back next year. Crazier things happen in MLS happen all the time, so is this really his last game? He had a great year, helped lead his team to the Championship game and then … that’s it? No Mas? He can still make plenty of money to go on extra Cambodia escapades, what’s another year if it’ll help him settle a better bank account? If he had a rough year, fine, he goes away. But it’ll be weird next year to see Donovan on the sidelines after he was the face of the league for so many years.
– Robbie Keane’s awesome, I wish him the best. But if you think about it, Brandon Wright Philips and Lee Nguyen might’ve been more deserving for the MVP award. The issue is that if MLS makes a decision to hand out the award to BWP or Lee Nguyen than that’s making team owners pay more for them (whereas Keane already got paid earlier in the year, LA’s sitting fine). BWP and Nguyen exceeded all expectations and got paid a lot less than Henry, Jermaine Jones or Dempsey. If they won the trophy then that’s extra ammunition for their agents in the next round of negotiations. Don’t forget that Wondolowski scored a ton of goals, received the MVP award, got a huge pay upgrade and then made San Jose ownership look on in disbelief as their team failed to make the play-offs. No, this time the MVP will go to someone who already has enough money and won’t ask for even more.
– Bruce Arena dropped hints than LA is looking to sign an ‘Elite’ player for next year, who would be an upgrade to Donovan.
The next DP signing for L.A. will be a major signal of the direction the league is going. The last true big name DP was Dempsey, but keep in mind he was familiar with MLS and was hitting a brick wall in England. Jozy Altidore won’t be a bigger name than Donovan, even Frank Lampard isn’t going to be a huge signing (and he might not even play for NYCFC’s first full season)
The next LA Galaxy DP will either have fans saying ‘Wow, that’s a huge sign that MLS is growing!’ or something like ‘Drogba’s a great signing, but how old is he now?’
– No matter how dismal the ratings are for today’s MLS Cup, MLS has to be proud that Robert Kraft woke up and found out that his franchise had another value besides either a tax write-off or potential sale to a gullible business man. Will they get a new stadium? Probably not. Will they do this every year? Probably not. But I’ve written about it before, an American sports league is on shaky footing without a strong Boston presence.
My prediction before gametime: I have no idea but I’m hoping the two teams don’t foul eachother like some crazy UFC fight on a grass field. It happened last year and it might happen again when Jermaine Jones tells Donovan “Whatever bro, I played in Brazil and you didn’t”
………… and as a last request, can Don Garber work on some version, however, small of an interesting half-time music show? If you have such a big shot league than a major celebrity singing the national anthem could be doable at least. Come on , be American!!
Hey readers, I’m glad to be able to write to you again. This post comes again at a time where American soccer continues to push forward no matter how many times people continue to talk about the NFL’s invincibility or how people just won’t get soccer. Next year will show even higher MLS ratings and thus soccer will become an elephant in the room as your neighbor, parents and co-workers talk about the NFL ‘Being Dominant in America’ even when more and more people talk about MLS, or La Liga, or even the NASL if your local city has that team. It’ll be like a cliche sitcom where the main character states ‘No way I’m going there! There’s no chance you’ll see me going there!’, and then after commercial break that same character will stand in the exact spot they claimed they wouldn’t be as a cheap laugh track starts.
So let’s go forward with a few stories as Americans continue to state: We won’t watch soccer! Soccer won’t catch on!! ….. (well, we don’t watch Barcelona that much!!)
Exhibit A: The NFL’s tactics of convincing parents that American football is unsafe are just not working.
There’s a graphic on the page that shows the numbers of teenage players for different sports with year by year analysis. Soccer, of course, has more and more teenagers playing due to increased soccer awareness and by extension parental support. American style football however is decreasing by a pretty large amount. The article is well written and points to a few valid theories as to why American football is losing players, the most prevalent being brain damage.
So, in short, soccer is convincing parents that their kids won’t mimic bashing their heads into brick walls or simulate running full speed into telephone poles. That’s pretty good news for American soccer right?
Exhibit B: http://www.sbisoccer.com/2014/10/sponsor-telecom-payments.html
There’s huge hype this year about new MLS business deals and jersey sponsorships. Try not to believe everything you read as one team pretty much put a sponsor on their jersey for FREE this year. The Colorado Rapids hooked up with an Italian company named Ciao and is suing them for late payments. It’s pretty much the same as suing a broke person for $800,000 because they would advertise magic beans on your soccer jersey. Ciao is in financial trouble and delaying requests from the SEC to look into their business. As a result the Rapids front office has 800,000 pies on their collective face even though Garber spouts off on tremendous growth, attractive investment chances, ownership commitment and foresight, new expansion etc etc.
Exhibit C: Even successful teams are still bleeding cash or losing star players.
Here are the remaining MLS remaining play-off teams and their financial situation. Before I dig into their financial world suck-ball I do want to state, again, I wish them nothing but success and hope they continue to push forward into greener pastures!
The NYRB: My current favorite team is expected to lose it’s best player (Thierry Henry), and also might be forced to sell another star player (Wright Philips) because this team just can’t get make any money. Don’t believe me? They might sell the team because they set an entire mansion of cash on fire over the past five years.
Even as Garber states again and again that the team isn’t for sale, two years ago he said the exact same words regarding Chivas USA. Long-time MLS fans have learned by now that EVERYTHING is for sale (players, teams, jersey sponsors, Golden Boot leaders, coaches etc)
The LA Galaxy: This is Golden Boy Donovan’s last year playing in MLS and Robbie Keane might not make it another two years (even if he’s been playing out of his mind recently). One good aspect of MLS Ownership is no matter how bad the Galaxy become in five years, they won’t get relegated will they? I’m expecting a major signing next year but for now enjoy the Donovan era for its last remaining games. Also a few other people pointed out that Donovan might turn into Soccer Favre, if that’s the case enjoy the 2015 circus that will come along with it.
New England Revolution: No one was more surprised than Revolution supporters themselves when team management signed Jermaine Jones this year and drove a Red, White and Blue dagger into the hearts of Chicago Fire fans. Unfortunately the ratio of Brady to Jones jerseys might be 50,000 to 1 or some crazy number. I find it hard to type anything negative about this team because it went from a putrid joke of running a franchise into …. something not so putrid and less of an embarrassment. This team is like the kid about to be picked last in a basketball game and then pointing at the weaker players and asking Seriously, are you going with them??
DC United: This team can’t wait to fleece tax payers of dollars and build a stadium on the back of a city that can’t support it. Both the Red Bulls and the Chicago Fire built new stadiums that still aren’t major drivers of economic growth and now DC United thinks that with a brand new stadium all of a sudden their team will be able to compete with the Sounders.
By the way, the DC government transparency in selling this new stadium idea is ridiculous and absurd. No one could read the new stadium report besides council members and also the report was written by a company that would be a developer for said stadium. Unbelievable!
Seattle Sounders: I really don’t have anything negative to write about a team that won both the Supporters Shield and US Open Cup. Dempsey has stated that he’s getting burned out by running his legs on fake grass, but if he wins the MLS Cup with Obafemi this year then all of his millions would’ve been worth it. It’s pretty rare that a cash rich team can walk the walk of being an actual Super Club, and they even signed Oba for more years.
With all that said … I really don’t want Sounder Fans to enjoy winning an MLS Cup this year. It reminds me of seeing a hipster with his dog on a Brooklyn bound subway. That dog was sporting an annoying sharpie created mustache and smiling… ENOUGH IS ENOUGH YOU GUYS!!
FC Dallas: This team did everything it could with a weak payroll and an obvious lack of star marquis players. I really can’t dog on this team too much even if their jersey sponsor is an obvious pyramid scheme and seller of snake oil. As crazy as it sounds, the Colorado Rapids office would LOVE to have a pyramid scheme as a jersey sponsor right now. Even if the Seattle Sounders tee off on Dallas next week you can consider this year a success.
Columbus Crew: Hey, don’t believe Suckyball when it says that current Columbus team ownership wants to lose money to make money. Just read what their ownership said about their TV Deal:
This was also not a decision about financial gain. We will be investing over $500,000 to produce, air, and promote Crew matches in 2014, which far outweighs our return.
This is a team where new ownership pulled a 180 degree turn on their design logo (which had to be done according to some fans), redid their entire TV deal to confuse their fanbase and also fielded a roster devoid of star players. But hey, at least Barbasol didn’t bounce their checks.
And finally …..
Real Salt Lake: This team is a perfect example of MLS success. Of course it’s sponsored by a pyramid scheme in Life Vantage, but as mentioned before, at least the checks clear. The team also continues to be a successful team despite no one making big deals about it. Most headlines focus on Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey. And even though I don’t see any huge advertising pushes with Kyle Beckerman or Nick Rimando as the leading man, but this team shows up to play.
2008: Won Conference Semi-Finals
2009: Won MLS Cup
2010: Reached the CONCACAF Champions League Final, which they lost … but still, MLS teams haven’t done better since.
2011: Won Conference Semi-Finals
2012: Qualified for play-offs but made Conference Semi-Finals
2013: Reached MLS Cup
2014: As of this writing reached Conference Semi-Finals
This is a decent club, always trying to squeak out results despite modest payrolls and even though ownership is losing money they’re not sloppy enough to get swindled by Italian telecom companies. This is a GREAT club to represent MLS even if TV ratings take a nose-dive if they reach the MLS Cup.
In the meantime, how awesome would it be to watch the RSL Lion put up a fight with the new Orlando City mascot? The MLS must be the first league I know of to have two identical mascots and not have an issue with it. Could we please get the new L.A. team to have the same mascot as the LA Galaxy? Please?
There’s a common English phrase ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ that I think at times is a perfect description of MLS over-hype. Everyone agrees that MLS is getting better, everyone thinks that American soccer has room to grow … the issue is WHEN will this occur? Will it be 2016? 2040? Never?
A good example is when a regular MLS fan has the opportunity to watch a game with someone who never watches MLS games. Chances are the new American viewer already knows about English teams, it’s just they’ve never bothered to invest time into researching American teams.
To make this short, I’ll provide a short summary of my experiences watching LA and Seattle fight for the Supporter Shield. In a way, you can consider this game as a fight to be the #1 team in MLS.
1. Dempsey and Donovan were the only two recognizable stars, but one is retiring and the other says he’s playing too much. I tried to talk up Zardes but Zardes can’t dribble all that well yet and hasn’t done anything internationally, he didn’t make any highlights yesterday. I also mentioned Yedlin was going to Tottenham but he’s pretty much a defender and it’s not like Tottenham is a super team.
2. Passes didn’t connect, players kept receiving yellow cards and the Swansea vs Leicester City game seemed like El Classico in comparison. Seattle vs LA was a flashback to last years MLS Cup where KC and Real Salt Lake fouled each-other into oblivion and went to penalties. I’m not saying that MLS doesn’t have technical ability, it has some but that takes a backseat to securing field position and pressuring the ball.
3. There’s a huge difference in game speed between European play and American play. This is an elephant in the room because you can’t throw money at a player and expect them to play faster. If you sign two big-name foreign players and stick them with a slow team, the entire team is still slow. And when I’m talking about game speed, I’m not talking about English soccer, I’m talking about European Champions League play at the top levels. Almost every pass is connected and players truly have to go around like race horses for over an hour. Klinsmann isn’t trying to get American players to be satisfied with English play, he wants a few of them in Champions League play.
So yeah, good luck with trying to convince your friend about the MLS Supporters Shield when passes fly off into the crowd and a player would rather kick shins than try and defend better. In the meantime ……
I TYPED BEFORE AND WAS RIGHT – MLS IN CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WOULD TRIP ON THEIR SHOELACES.
1. NYRB sent out B teams everywhere and were afraid of injuring millionaire players. I don’t blame them but the team’s depth was thin. They were eliminated.
2. Portland was part of a rule change that allowed them to play in the tournament. Otherwise RSL would’ve played (and maybe succeeded). The Timbers also were eliminated.
3. Sporting KC is the defending MLS Cup Champion, they were eliminated as well.
The two MLS teams allowed into the next round are Montreal and DC. One of them is IN LAST PLACE of the MLS right now, the other was IN LAST PLACE last year. You can’t write this. It will be a miracle if DC United pulls through and succeeds this tournament. Good luck for the next round MLS!!!