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2015 American Soccer Preview

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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.

nycfc villa

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!!


Happy New Year from Suckyball

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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:  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  .




Don’t believe the Hype

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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.

nfl logo

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:

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?



Getting other people to watch MLS

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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 ……


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!!!

O.A. MLS Insider on BWP

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I didn’t mean to write three acronyms in the title, it just sort of worked out that way; kind of like Bradley Wright Philips’s hot year with the Red Bulls.  So without further ado, I’ll over-look into an MLS Propaganda Insider video in absurd detail, make inaccurate projections and pretty much nit-pick on certain things I notice that seem to go under the radar.

Here is the video that was released this week:


Also, if you wanted to brush up on BWP’s career before MLS here is the Wikipedia entry:

It’s also important to note that after a middling season with Manchester City (before they became Manchester-Rich as God-City), BWP dropped down to the Championship and dropped again to League One.  So of course, what happened is that a decent striker from the 3rd division of English Soccer, gets on a plane to America and then becomes the GOLDEN BOOT LEADER.

So let’s start the video!:

0-20  Bradley compares goal scoring pressure with making pizza and within half a minute he gets my immediate and full respect.  Hard work?  Ehhh.  Pressure turns cheap rocks into diamonds?? Whaaaa?  What effort did you put in to lead all of MLS in goals and then put up a great highlight against Bayern Munich?  Well, me dad played footie and I watched him once or twice and it’s like putting slices of pepperoni on pizza!!

With this in mind Wondolowski should take up a cooking class for more of these metaphors to improve his game.  Dempsey had his ‘biscuit in the basket’ comment before, so maybe Wondo should start dumping tea into the harbor? Putting some guac on that steak?

20-1:30  One obvious reason for Bradley’s success is being born into a soccer playing family.  He relays the memory watching his father play at the age of six or seven and if you’re an American fan you wonder … which American soccer player has the biggest chance of having a child grow up to play well?  As bizarre as it seems, there’s a solid chance that either a player from the USMNT will sire a female star for the USWNT, or the exact opposite will happen where Hope Solo gives birth to a son destined for greatness.  I will give her son even more chances for soccer success if he is born in prison or some distant hipster socialist labor camp where he develops a tough as steel outlook on life (and CONCACAF).


1:30-2:10  Ian Wright Philips, aka IWP, talks about his son being more than just a ‘left foot and a header’.  Then he fights back tears.  How crazy is it that the son of an English Premiere League Legend is an MLS starter, on the same team as Thierry Henry (who ALSO is an Arsenal legend), leads the league in scoring and the Red Bulls are always fighting mediocre attendance?  And I admit that I’m being a hypocrite here! I had no idea that BWP was of genuine importance until I noticed in the middle of this year that his story was unique and rare in a league that seems to create its own controversy.  Either New Yorkers are a callous lot waiting for Messi to sign with MLS or Red Bull management couldn’t promote their way out of a brown paper bag filled with a dozen full Red Bull cans.  I get it that New York is a tough place to promote, but you would think that this story would’ve caught on a bit more.

It’s too bad because now I have to hear about the JETS and GIANTS more for the NFL football season.

2:10 – 2:50  MLS Insider puts up a stat says that he played for ‘four other English clubs’ before going to NY.  The video doesn’t mention he bounced around the third divisin; I’m not typing it to be negative, I’m typing it because he now leads the league in scoring ahead of Robbie Keane, Donovan, Dempsey and Wondolowski.

2:50 – 3:00  (phone rings) Hey, remember the guy who beat your dad’s record at Arsenal?  The one with the statue outside the playground?  Well, if you fly to NYC and train well enough you can play with him.  We won’t really give you that much money, but hey, you like pizza right?  Did anyone tell you a New York’s pizza?


3:00-3:30  Lloyd Sam drops the same media sound-byte that Dempsey gave us last year.  Sam’s in his prime?  Bradley is in his prime?  He’s 29 and although that can be a certified Spring Chicken by MLS standards, let’s not make it sound like he’ll stay here for a decade in New York.  Also Lloyd Sam is also the same age at 29 and I watch him play two or three times a month.  Sam’s prime needs to get ‘more prime’ or however that works.  Although he does have a few moves to juke defenders inside the box he’s still not Xavi by any stretch.

They’re both good players (and as always I wish them the best!), but the league is getting younger and they’re typical young New Yorkers who might happen to ‘retire’ soon after 30.

3:30-3:45 Is Sam speaking or is Don Garber?  You see how the league is getting stronger, so many people want to come here, the talent is growing etc etc

3:45 – 4:00  BWP ask a rhetorical question … could he have done better before in England?  He answers ‘Maybe’ but it seems like he’s saying ‘Yes’.  His time with the Red Bulls can be considered a second chance and I do think it’s good for the league.  Also, he was playing in one of the top leagues in the world.  I think if ANY American player gets time with Manchester City or in the Championship it would’ve been something to be proud of.

4:00-4:50  This portion of the video focus on Henry; and let’s ask ourselves, if there was an MLS Insider about Mike Petke’s initial years as a Metrostar … would they still have to heap praise on Henry?  I think it’s part of the MLS handbook that any video about NYRB is obligated to reference how great Henry is.

The thing is … Henry is still a legend.

4:50-5:37 And Henry is still a legend with a major French accent.  I forgive him, I’m pretty sure he also speaks fluent Spanish making him friends in three different media markets.  But I did spend a good moment wondering ‘What is he saying’?? Same general on the team?  Same general with the tee?  Same generation city?  

OOOh, same generosity.

5:37-6:38  I’m like man Enjoy …. I need to say this more in conversation, maybe even write it more on my blog.

6:38-7:34  This part of the video shows Henry acting annoyed and educating Bradley with improvements he envisions.  I’ve seen almost every Red Bull game this year and every RBNY fan has seen Henry do the same thing, in the middle of play. He’ll walk around in confusion and disbelief, while others run full speed, and then he’ll shake his majestic Arsenal legend hands toward the ground as if to imply ‘The ball was supposed to be here but it’s over there!!  Can I get some gen-er-osi-tee??‘  Red Bull fans put up with it because he’s their all time assist leader (and counting!).

7:34-8:32  Henry says that BWP is the man, BWP says Henry is the man and after that there’s a sweeeeeeeeeeeeet goal against Bayern.  And for the fourth or fifth time in the video BWP does his Irish Leprechaun hop.

8:32-9:15 BWP muses, that if you stop scoring you just keep going … and then you’ll score again.  That’s just how it works.  Well, I get the feeling he’s being a bit too humble here.  We can’t forget the fact that BWP stands a good chance of flying off to another league next year for a bigger paycheck and I doubt anyone would hold that against him.  By all accounts he could’ve still been playing in England’s third division by now if luck didn’t turn his way.  Instead he’s hanging out with Uncle Henry and maybe getting the MLS Golden Boot.  It’s not the La Liga golden boot, but boots are boots and plenty of people saw the All-Star goal.

Hey Bradley, when you get a few phone calls from Premiere League clubs paying you four times what the Red Bulls are paying you, don’t feel bad if you have to go back across the pond.  You’ve made your father proud and are were part of New York City while you were still young.

And I’m like man Enjoy.



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???


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.

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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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





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.