Posts Tagged ‘Major League Soccer’

Soccer is a business.  And like most businesses, it’s about results.  More wins lead to more points lead to more fans lead to more revenue.  I can understand this.  Romanticism makes way to pragmatism.  I can understand that.  Last year’s side didn’t always get the results.  However, the 2010 Philadelphia Union were very much an un-MLS side.  They created little triangles all over the field.  They kept the ball on the deck.  They passed their way out of danger.  In short, they played attractive soccer.  They created chances and with the help of Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga, even finished some.  Sure, at times they looked completely inept in the back and Seitzy made more than his fair share of howlers, but they were mostly entertaining.  Doop 2.0 on the other hand, so far, not so much.

I know, I know…they were away and three points on the road surely can’t be cause for complaint.  But am I the only one thoroughly underwhelmed and left wanting more?  I was greatly encouraged in the offseason by the signing of Columbus Crew midfielder, Brian Carroll, a player with a big engine and a wealth of MLS experience.  However, after week one I can’t help but wonder if this is just another player in the Miglioranzi mold- a guy who looks great passing the ball backwards and sideways but never really scares anyone going forward.  If Barcelona v. Inter last year in the Champions League taught us anything it’s that possession without penetration is just masturbation.  Setting up with two holding midfielders seems to be the modus operandi of Piotr Nowak.  Against the Houston Dynamo, the Union effectively employed three with the aforementioned Carroll and Migs joining Kyle Nakazawa in the center of the park.  With Mapp failing to get any chalk on his boots and tucking inside, the center of midfield was hopelessly clogged.  El Pescadito, admittedly much fitter than the last time he appeared on these shores, didn’t have the dynamism required to sufficiently trouble Houston’s back line.  With the superb Brad Davis keeping Sheanon Williams in check all evening, the Union were nonexistent in the final third.

The introduction of Danny Mwanga on the hour mark and a tactical shift from the manager injected a bit more life into the game but failed to result in any meaningful chances.  It was a bit more adventurous from Nowak but what about all the preseason talk of allowing players to express themselves?  The quote about wanting his players to not be afraid to “dribble out of trouble”?  It was a cluserf*ck in midfield, an aging relic spearheading the attack and a fortuitous goal off a long throw.  Where is the fantasy?  The spectacle?  Yes, it’s a results business but it’s also an entertainment business.  The two players I will always pay to see play are Xavi Hernandez and Paul Scholes.  Sure, nothing gets the pulses racing like Lionel Messi carving up defenders on labyrinthine run or gets you out of your seat like that Wayne Rooney overhead kick against City; but for me it’s the the sheer class and elegance of a deep-lying playmaker, a maestro pulling the strings, picking out the pass that no one else sees that makes the beautiful game just that.  Where is he in the Union side?  Exiled to the bench.  His name is Roger Torres.


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As some skeptics write about a potential Major League Soccer strike, it’s become common to say MLS is the only league many of the league’s players could make it in in, as if to say, “Strike here, and you won’t play anywhere.”

To that I say: BS.

No, I’m not saying all MLS players could find clubs abroad. Not too many clubs look for 33-year-old backup midfielders, and MLS has a few of them.

But MLS is no different than other leagues in this regard. Could every player in first division leagues in Denmark, Chile or Ghana find a club abroad? Not likely. Yet these are all World Cup-bound nations. MLS may not be the English Premier League, but after just 15 years, it can compete with second-tier premier leagues around the world. So can its players.

Just take a look at Philadelphia Union’s roster, and you can see pretty clearly that most of the team either has played in a foreign league or could do so if MLS disappeared. And because I was looking for some almost-happy soccer topic to counter the doom-and-gloom all about, I did.

(Remember, this is purely hypothetical, basically a parlor game, because I don’t think MLS goes poof any time soon. Basically, this is one of those “Stop hating on MLS quality” columns, in addition to striking down a false argument.)

Chris Seitz

A 2008 Olympian with youth international experience. The U.S. has a track record of producing starting goalkeepers for English Premier League clubs (Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, etc.), and Seitz may be the best American goalie prospect since Brad Guzan, who’s now at Aston Villa. Seitz could land at a lower-tier English club or in Scandinavia.

Danny Califf

He’s already served as captain and vice captain for Danish sides FC Midtjylland and Aalborg BK and has 23 national team caps. Enough said.

Shavar Thomas

The Jamaican national teamer could surely find a club in the Caribbean to sign with, even if in his home country’s small league. (more…)

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MLS released the following statement to Seattlepi.com in response to reports that the Players Union has voted overwhelmingly to strike if a new contract is not in place before March 25 season opener between the Seattle Sounders and Philadelphia Union:

Major League Soccer’s negotiating team, including Commissioner Garber, met for three days this week with the leadership of the Players Union together with George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

We have an understanding with the Union and the mediator that we will not publicly discuss what takes places during these bargaining sessions.

As such, we were disappointed to see comments from a number of players characterizing the status of the negotiations and the possibility of a strike.

The meetings this week were productive and we have scheduled a number of additional meetings. And while we can’t discuss what occurs across the bargaining table, we do believe that the players’ comments do not accurately reflect the proposals that we have made to address the players’ concerns or the productive nature of the discussions between MLS and the Players Union.”

Before information about the vote to strike was first reported by the Washington Post late Thursday afternoon, the Boston Globe published an article placing the potential impact of a strike in historical context. In 1979 players in the North American Soccer League went on strike at the peak of the League’s popularity. The NASL folded in 1984.

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Major League Soccer players voted to strike March 25 if they can agree on a labor compact with the league, the Washington Post reported today.

The players voted 383-2  to strike if there remains no deal on opening day, when Philadelphia Union visits the Seattle Sounders. No official word yet from the league or the union.

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Philly's unions are infamous. Read on.

Philadelphia Union sounds like a great name for a club, absent of context.

Too bad about the context.

A PSP reader sent me an email today titled, “Is my Seattle trip in jeopardy?”

He plans to fly to Seattle to catch the Union’s first match on March 25 against the Sounders. Now, he suspects there won’t be a game, thanks to the increasing likelihood that a players strike could delay the season after players and management left the bargaining table Wednesday without a new collective bargaining agreement.

So will they get a deal done? It’s 50-50. Labor negotiations often go down to a key deadline, because pressure increases on both sides to compromise. The key issue remains free agency, with players now unable to freely join another MLS club even if they’re released. If they strike, nobody loses like Philadelphia.

The sad thing is that Philadelphia sports fans should have known something like this was coming. Life as a Philly fan is a continuous cycle of kidney punches that hit you when you least expect it, but the bottom line is that you always should. It’s like Charlie Brown repeatedly going to kick that field goal, only to have Lucy pull the ball at the last moment. (more…)

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Roger Torres part of new Colombian generation (source: http://www.philadelphiaunion.com)

In signing young midfielder Roger Torres, Philadelphia Union are taking part in a growing trend in MLS: Bringing in Colombian talent, especially that of the young variety.

Colombia has boasted stars in MLS such as the colorful Carlos Valderrama and arguably the league’s current best player (while Landon’s in England at least) in Juan Pablo Angel.

However, recently it has been Seattle’s hotshot loanee Freddy Montero generating that Colombian caffeine buzz. You better believe a 21-year-old bagging 12 goals in 27 games in his first season on a new team in a new (read: better) league gets the attention of coaches and front-offices everywhere. Now while Union brass (and fans) may not be counting on the next Montero, they do see in Torres a player of great vision and potential in midfield, who will add to the team’s depth and also develop his game.

There is also a new trio of young Colombians that will be filling a far different role. (more…)

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PPL Park under construction, photos courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Another sponsorship deal for Philadelphia Union, with Coca-Cola and Dasani set to be the soft drink and bottled water sold at games. Meanwhile, you can see more photos of the Union’s stadium here.

U.S. international Stuart Bolden will get a contract extension at Bolton despite breaking his leg in Wednesday’s international friendly vs. the Netherlands.

The Seattle Sounders have signed Swiss international Blaise Nkufo, who has scored 111 goals in 213 games for Dutch club FC Twente. Big signing for the Sounders, otherwise known as the new favorite to win the 2010 MLS Cup.

Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore will share the same field Sunday for the first time since Altidore left MLS as Everton and Hull City face off. Here’s the weekend TV rundown.

Manchester United’s Michael Owen is out for the season after leaving Sunday’s League Cup final with a hamstring problem. When you’re Michael Owen. , hamstring injuries require operations.

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