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 Post subject: MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:59 am 
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Location: Portland! (and about time!)
There's at least two other soccer fans here, and one guy who's schizoid about when he loves it and when he hates it.

Amidst rumors that this year's MLS All-Star game will feature MLS vs Chelsea (at RFK Stadium), let's update where we are here.

EXPANSION: 2005 is the target for two teams. Letters of intent have been signed by Chivas de Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara for a team not yet placed, and by Bart Wolstein for a team in Cleveland that doesn't have a stadium plan yet.

For the "Chivas USA" project (hopefully to be renamed at an earlier date), MLS is pushing San Diego and Houston, San Antonio is trying to push their way in, and Vergara is rumored to prefer either LA Memorial Coliseum OR be the second tenant at Home Depot Center. This battle will take a while. Last fall, Vergara (stupidly) wanted to start up in 2004, so don't be surprised if he stalls all through this season to get what he wants

Bart Wolstein has a plot of land in downtown Cleveland, but he wanted the city to fund a stadium on it. Cleveland turned him down cold. He's now trying to get Summit County to build him a park north of Akron. By the end of March, I expect Cleveland to give up, and Rochester, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City to step forward. Rochester is building their stadium right now... but San Antonio seems determined.

MLS wants to expand again in 2006. Really, we have to see how 2005 plays out first.

STADIUMS: This has become the interesting issue of the league. Not content with paying high rent to get lost in NFL stadiums, the league has already managed new homes for Columbus and Los Angeles. Developments are churning as we speak...

Dallas: ground broken in Frisco on a 20,000-seat stadium and soccer park due to be ready for the 2005 season.

Chicago: agreement signed with the suburb of Bridgeview for a 25,000-seat stadium to be ready for 2006. Reports have surfaced where an indoor golf entreprenuer claims Mob-style intimidation to get him to sell his facility in order to establish the new Fire indoor training facility.

Metrostars: GM Nick Sackiewicz has announced that the city of Harrison (across a river from Newark) will have their final vote on a redevelopment plan for an abandoned industrial zone in the last few days of March. The plan includes a 25,000-seat stadium for Metrostars as part of a retail and hotel complex. (Be warned that we've been down this road with Metrostars before... maybe not this far along, but there's a reason that American soccer fans make jokes about stadium announcements "in 60-90 days")

Denver: Stan Kroenke is rumored to have an announcement in April for a new stadium next to his Pepsi Center investment.

District o' Columbia: As DC baseball plans seem to be arriving at resolution (that being no team), the city's sports authority has promised to work with DC United on their own 25,000-seat stadium. For being the main tenant at RFK Stadium, DCU pays ridiculously high rent.

San Jose: suburbs are now competing to locate a new stadium for the Earthquakes, although San Jose State hasn't totally shut the door on keeping the team in town.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:06 pm 
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I wish Seattle could join that list. Seahawk Stadium was sold to the Public as a means to land a MLS team, but the installing of field turf was the end of that. I went to go see ManU/Celtic when they played here and had a blast! ;D


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:12 pm 
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Ah, how could I resist. Soccer and the topics of expansio and new stadiums! It's my nerd-dream come true!

Expansion: Chivas will come along for two reasons, money and a committment to soccer. I'm on record elsewhere for despising the name, but can let it slide so long as the club is not treated like a second-class citizen to the original club in Mexico. I suspect Houston will be the home, as well, as (from what I hear/read) the ties between the Chivas owner and the Texans owner suggests a fair deal can be struck for use of the Texans Stadium (Reliant Center?).

Rochester will also come along next year. Existing, strong fan base. New soccer stadium. Won't be the additional TV market that MLS would prefer, but it will be a secure franchise showing investment in the game.

Gumby's nod for Seattle may actually be closer than others think, IMO. As echoed by the fans on the Big Soccer board and others, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver share a northeastern level of appreciation for the game. Given the discord between Wolstein and Cleveleland, I suspect the northwest will be given a serious look. Portland may have an edge, in that the Timber could lure a soccer specific stadium out of some venture with Portland State, and the prospect of competing with minor league baseball as opposed to the Mariners might give them a nod over Seattle. But if the Seahawks owners were to own an MLS franchise, again the contract relations for use of an NFL stadium would be much more amenable (KC, Boston) and Seattle would be a great candidate. Similar stories have been suggested for Philidelphia.

(On that note, I'm among those who feels that MLS needs to ensure the viability of the A-League, as well. Swallowing the best of that league too quickly could (IMO) stunt the progress made with player talent and fan support in this country.)

As for the stadia, the most exciting thing about this is the sense of permanence. Future TV contracts and funding for other clubs can take heart in seeing this level of investment, and hopefully it means the league is in fact here to stay. I've always said, I don't need it to compete with the NFL, merely to have the level of respect as, say, the NHL of the early 90's.

And what about this year? Predictions? Too early right now, though I'm impressed with the Metrostars triumph in the La Manga Cup. I expect the Galaxy to rebound from last year's lazy start, and the balanced schedule at the HDC will help. Other random notes:

- Cory Gibbs was a great draft for Dallas, which sorely needed the defensive help.

- Columbus coach Greg Andrulius is on his last legs. There's too much talent in Columbus, not to mention support, for that team to miss the playoffs again. But it will be tough in the East, with seemingly everyone but Chicago, last season's eastern champ, imrpoving over the offseason.

- That last fact should bode well for the overall talent level in the league, which was perceived as below-average last year. Without the volume of key roster moves that changed every team like the previous offseason, I forsee a comeback for team chemistry.

- Landon Donavon is now officially racing Freddy Adu to see who'll be the next big American to prosper overseas. He'll make it to Europe first; I just hope he's using this season to continue strengthening his body. Demarcus should take notes.

- Which means, Taylor Twellman, here's your official call to stardom. Continue to keep your name in the highlight reels and you can assume the hat passed off by Donavon after this year. Then the future will hold more USMNT appearances and your shot at Europe.

- The All-star game should be an MLS vs. the USMNT affair on a regular basis. The rainout in DC was a shame as the early play and enthusiasm was great. While Chelsea would be nice to see, I'd like this campy, made for TV affair to at least foster more American talent and enthusiasm.

- - - - - -

Surely there's got to be a means to put the MLS on free TV during the weekend. With the myriad of women's golf, poker and X-games the networks are using to fill the airwaves these days, c'mon. The problem: Production quality. With all due respect to JP Dellacamra and the rest, the on-air calls and editing are decidedly poor compared to European affiliates. MLS should pay for their announcing crews to do some off-season training as well, particularly the editors.

OK, I'm done now. ECL kickoff in 90 mins!! Home winners around today, though Porto scares ManU.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:11 pm 
I wish OKC or Tulsa were higher on expansion lists. However since they aren't I'm actually torn as to whether I would like to see the league expand or whether I would like to see the league bring in more investors. I would like to see an 18 team league in a single table format, but I also want each team individually owned and operated.

Ultimately if Phil sells off all but one of his franchises which one does he keep?

Surely the talk here will be more civil than BigSoccer.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 9:05 am 
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Quote:
I wish OKC or Tulsa were higher on expansion lists. However since they aren't I'm actually torn as to whether I would like to see the league expand or whether I would like to see the league bring in more investors. I would like to see an 18 team league in a single table format, but I also want each team individually owned and operated.

I'm among those that love seeing teams encamped in cities without many other sports. Either Tulsa or OKC would be great, and I'm watching to see how the MLS preseason games playout in such locations. Don't know how the league will phase in the smaller markets, though, given their need for additional TV revenue and to further the concept of a national league. The committment to come in with the soccer specific stadium in hand would be a great boost to the OKC franchise though.



Quote:
Ultimately if Phil sells off all but one of his franchises which one does he keep?

Good question. Did he begin with one or two, and if so which ones? Something tells me he'd keep one for sentiment and one for investment value, should he have the luxury.

Haven't searched for this, but I'm wondering what the thoughts are from Mexico about Vergeras plans for an MLS squad. Some friends of mine in Austin hear claims that there's concern of his success doing one or both of two things: Strengthening American soccer at the expense of Mexican success or enough financial success that he could generate more income to use on the original Chivas. The former issue is a long term fear of losing Mexican players to a burgeoning MLS that might offer fair competition but better salaries and lifestyles. Don't know if that will happen, but we'll see.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 9:15 pm 
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Program note, everyone, as my beloved Gunners will be on ESPN 2 this week! Two London clubs squaring off, with Chelsea hosting the first leg.

Wednesday, 3-24-04 @ 2:30 PM
European Champions League semi-finals
Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Victoria Concordia Crescit! Onward Arsenal!!



Ahh, nothing quite like kissing your sister, eh Gunner? ;) Good luck hosting Chelsea and moving on.

I'm not to sure about Chelsea's new Russian owner. I'm a traditionalist as any one who reads my posts knows and this guy seems to be shaking things up a bit. What's your take?


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:57 am 
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For those of us futbol fans...

Tomorrow kicks off the latest MLS season, with thousands(!!) of folks tuning in to see what Freddy Adu will do once he steps onto the field. From the hype you'd think he's capable of flying and will score 14 goals while moving almost faster than the human eye can percieve! I pray that the league and others have not overplayed this card.

Anyway, I promised updated predicitions and thoughts, so here goes.

- Columbus may far better than expected (their annual motto?), but the more I read about Chicago and NY the more I feel the East will simply beat each up. The players at Columbus this year have more individual and collective reasons for wanting to excel, so I think they'll win a playoff round or two.

- Ditto for LA, which surely is looking back at last year and wondering what went wrong. If they start the year off stronger than last season, their confidence will build and the HDC will become a formidable play to play in.

- Freddy Adu will play tomorrow, though I don't see him starting, and he'll make one flashy highlight move. Don't see him scoring, but his enthusiasm alone will lead to some brilliance.

- For all that, San Jose will win. 3-1

- Calling all goalkeepers... The once deep pool of talent at this position has gone largely overseas. Combined with the influx of young strikers from throughout the hemisphere (let's all learn about G-Ray) should mean more goals this year.


Lastly, outside of MLS, I give you The Gauntlet: Thanks to some witless rescheduling by the English FA, Arsenal will have to play 4 games over the next 9 days! As fate would have it, Arsenal, currently first in the Premiership, will play those games against the teams ranked 2-5 right behind them.
1) Tomorrow vs #3 Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals
2) Tuesday against #2 Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter finals
3) Friday against #4 Liverpool in league play
4) Sunday at #5 Newcastle in league play

The last two games were each moved up a day to accommodate Newcastle's European matches for the following week, and an appeal to simply reschedule Liverpool has been denied. Arsenal's quest for all three trophies hangs in the balance this week. May they have the strength to persevere.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 1:56 pm 
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What do you think Adu's biggest weakness on the field is going to be? Will he have a difficult time with experienced defenders?

One thing that I think made Adu's (and his mom's) decision to sign with MLS easy is the fact that he WON'T be playing against the most experienced defenders in the world. Not that he'll be facing chopped liver, or that he'd be starting every game in Serie A, but it's safe to say that he has the chance to stand out more quickly and easily in MLS than in one of the bigger leagues. Pair that with a better overall standard of living than he'd find in some other league where he would be starting and suddenly the US of A looks like a soccer haven.

Adu's weaknesses, from what I've seen, have all to do with game experience and offensive strategy. TONS of young players have that problem, and it's almost a global epidmic in finding quality players who know how to build a team attack. He reads the game flow very well (why I suspect he's not 14), but now he has to be part of a team strategy and understand that his opponents will have planned to counter that. He's not sneaking up on anyone, anymore.

His physical toughness will need some work, too, but that will come. Faster defenders will body up on him a lot, knowing that for every time young Adu gets past them, there'll be other times where he'll be timid, weak, or prone to dribble into trouble while trying to escape one man. He did this several times while playing on the U-17 squad. I don't know if he's ready for professional fouls on a regular basis, or if the league and team will protect him like a star QB.

Adu is quite simply someone with great vision, speed and ball control skills for someone his age, even if he is 16 or 18. I'd put him somewhere between Kirovski and Beasley in talent, with slightly more imaginative/ aggressive dribbling skills. If he stays within his limits for now, he'll learn a great deal about game play and can take over more and more while applying those new skills in practice first and in the games second. A lot depends on what he wants to play, too. Too much time at the forward position and you get Van Nistelrooy (Captain One-Dimensional!!), whereas not enough time in the attack and you get a disgruntled Valderrama ("Win, shmin! Look at these moves!!") ;D

Keep in mind United is still "rebuilding," too. No Etcheverry, new coach, limited offense. They'll ride a lot of enthusiastic support from the fans coming to watch the wonderkid, but that could work against them if the team struggles early and often against a league where they're maybe the 6 or 7th best out of ten teams.

Then again, there's a lot of time for the guy to grow, and I'm just one man at a desk south of Atlanta. Sorry for the long windedness: I just love talking soccer! Enjoy the games for me, sir, as I'm too far and too booked to see any in person this year. :'(


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:37 pm 
Gumby, my apologies. I'd forgotten to respond to your inquiry about "Chelski's" Roman Abromovich. I like that someone is enthusiastic about investing in a club, and not necessarily one of the traditional giants. It could only help the EPL to have another perennial power. That being said, using so much outside cash to fund the operation is risky, and there are already concerns of Chelsea becoming the next Leeds by falling into FA administration for debt repair. We'll see. One thing is for sure, Chelsea would be hard pressed to add on/ build a new facility as a means for increasing revenue, so hopefully his accountants are sharp.

- - - - - - - - - -

And for all three of you who're interested, your MLS weekend in review (the penny version):

- 4 of 5 games with great crowds: 25,000 in LA, 24,000 in DC, 20,000 in Columbus and KC. So what happened with Dallas? Just under 8,000? I know the match-up wasn't great but come on.

- Adu. Great, he played, let's move on people.

- Surprise 1! DC looked good on attack.
- Surprise 2! Columbus looked awful in defense.

- Looking good: LA and Metrostars

- Shot of the week: Jovan Kirovski's game winner in LA. Hard, fast, straight. Perfect. His campaign ro regain the attention of the US coaches is off to a good start.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 2:03 pm 
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Thanks for the reply Gunner. the Chelsea situation will be fun to watch. I would like to see him pull it off. I think (not sure) that I will get to see them take on Celtic here at Seahawk Stadium this year. Hopefully they can put on a show as good as the ManU/Celtic match last year.

I think the Galaxy looks good this year, and the best is yet to come, IMO. Home Depot looks to be a nice stadium, though I've never been. With the demise (for what I see as a few years anyway) of the Dodgers and no NFL for LA sports fans to spend thier money on, the Galaxy has a golden opportunity to cement a following in SoCal. "The future's so bright they gotta wear shades" 8-)


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 3:00 pm 
Saturday
Manchester United 1, Arsenal 0 - Arsenal hits the post 3 times and is eliminated just one game away from the championship match against a Division 1 team.

Monday
UConn 82, GT 73 - Not only do they lose, they looked nervous and played lousily.

Tuesday
Chelsea 2 - Arsenal 1 - Arsenal loses to Chelsea for the first time in 17 matches, at home no less, and is eliminated from the European Champions League. Worse still, had they won they would've had to beat struggling Monaco to reach the finals instead of mighty Real Madrid.


I could just die.


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 5:07 pm 
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Location: Portland! (and about time!)
Ouch! Arsenal's playing, like, 5 matches in 9 days, right?

Ouch!

Dallas: played in a HS stadium somewhat north of Fort Worth last year, decided to return to the Cotton Bowl this year while the new stadium in Frisco is being built for next year... but most of all, they couldn't score in a Texas Brothel last year, and they couldn't stop 300 lb. me from scoring on them. They'll be better this year.


Last edited by pounder on Tue Apr 06, 2004 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 3:08 pm 
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Appears to be update time for MLS. It's probably a better subject to address than the National Team almost losing to Panama- freaking Panama- last night... and "we" deserved to lose that match.

I thought Gunner was out to lunch regarding Columbus, but they've put on a run lately to take control of the East. Los Angeles started strong, then took a long time to struggle before Kansas City finally overtook them. As we speak, top to bottom in the west is separated by 6 points, but it really looks like Columbus would have trouble making the playoffs from the west.

Freddy Adu is where he should be, learning and coming along slowly, drawing improved crowds where he plays.

Attendance is modestly better than last year at this pace, and September and October games usually draw surprisingly well despite the increased competition this time of year.

Chivas USA will play in Home Depot Center, and by initial appearances will probably outdraw the Galaxy (who lead the league in attendance this year to date).

Salt Lake City will be the other expansion team next year, playing in Rice-Eccles on the U campus, very likely with assurances that a new stadium will be built for the team. Guessing Salt Lake Wanderers, or plain Salt Lake City, since Dave Checketts promised a traditional sounding footy name.

Which reminds me- Dallas Burn will be renamed FC Dallas 96 in time to open their new Frisco home.

Chicago's Fire House will be ready in suburban Bridgeview in 2006. Approvals are actually completed for a new MetroStadium (probably won't be the final name) just out of Newark, with opening scheduled for 2006. The Denver suburb of Commerce City will vote on a new stadium / soccer complex for the Rapids on election day in November, due to open in 2007 if approved.

Meanwhile, rumors surfaced about San Jose and Kansas City relocating. Denials abounded in Kansas City, but San Jose officials practically fanned the flames while the team with the old boy wonder Landon Donovan still has trouble selling seats for the defending champions. Too bad Portland isn't in consideration, despite selling 10,622 seats in 13 days for the Open Cup match against San Jose back in July (it looked more like 14,000 in PGE Park, BTW).

[RANT] It's a crime that Salt Lake gets MLS and Portland doesn't, even though it takes an investor and a stadium commitment, neither of which Portland can seem to garner. Our media contacts have alluded to rumors that an effort would be underway if the city would deep-six the MLB effort currently underway (and which is promised to exist well after the Expos are sent to Washington).


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 Post subject: Major League Soccer
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 10:08 am 
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Location: Portland! (and about time!)
Kudos to the Columbus Crew, thought to be a fish caught in a turbine at the start of this season, now sporting a league record 16-game unbeaten streak. (Many of those are draws, to be honest) They clinched first in the East by beating Chicago Wednesday night.

Salt Lake City has a press conference tomorrow at Rice-Eccles Stadium (public invited) for the unveiling of the nickname, colors, et cetera. One fan website has found a clue or two of, ugh, Salt Lake City Alliance. Highlanders seemed to be a popular choice, I'd been led to believe that Wanderers was an option, Real Salt Lake was a silly option, and all of those are better than Alliance (even if it's designed not to be a mascot, so to speak). Ay ay ay.


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