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Posts Tagged ‘MLS’

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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Sounders Insider reports that the Players Union strike “will be effective 12:01 a.m. March 23 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached with the league.”

The media fallout from the news that the MLS Players Union has voted to strike is ongoing. There is some discrepancy in the numbers: while some report that the vote is 350 to 2 in favor of a strike, apparently based on the Washington Post saying “more than 350” supported the strike, seattlepi.com puts the number at 383-2, noting that the numbers are “more than the typical roster limit in the league, because clubs have not trimmed back rosters since no agreement is in place.” Here’s some of the best of the web so far:

In an open letter to the MLS and the Players Union about the possible strike, Match Fit USA talks to the Sons of Ben.

Amid all of the strike talk, let us not forget that, on Sunday at 7 p.m., the Union will face a MLS club for the first time in team history when they play FC Dallas at the University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium.

Seattle Sounders poor pre season form, Philadelphia Independence video, Landon Donovan, Charlie Davies comeback, and Manchester United gag players after the jump. (more…)

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As reported by The News Tribune and Soccer By Ives, Bob Fosse, head of the Players Union, has issued the following statement in response to the assertion by the MLS that comments by players regarding the strike vote are unproductive.

“Recent comments from players simply reflect the fact that the players are unified and, per the results of our strike vote, will not begin the new season if a new agreement with the league is not reached.  This is not a change in position by the Union and should not be read to reflect in any way upon what has, or has not, occurred this week in the meetings with the mediator and the league.”

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Two days of CBA negotiations ended yesterday with no agreement. The MLS and the Players Union will continue discussions with federal mediator George Cohen at a yet to be determined time.

Toronto FC defender Nick Garcia says MLS players are prepared to strike. “We’re anticipating not having the season starting [on time]. As of now, for us, we’re very far apart — even with the mediator there in D.C. We’re hoping things can get done, but quite frankly I don’t think we’re confident things will.” Great. Just great.

Bill Archer makes the interesting point that the Players Union desire for “basic rights” and concern about “restrictive MLS rules” only applies to American players given the foreign player quota.

Soccerlaw.com says that Landon Donovan’s success in England means that the MLS business model is at a crossroads with respect to contracts.

The rebel without conviction

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak says that the European model of football cannot be sustained: “I am a fan of the American model.”

2011 MLS expansion team the Vancouver Whitecaps hire Paul Barber, former executive director of Tottenham Hotspur, as their new CEO.

The Bleacher Report examines what’s new in the upcoming WPS season.

Clint Dempsey, recovering from a knee injury since January, should be on Fulham’s bench today in the Europa League match against Juventus.

David Beckham, who made his return to Old Trafford in AC Milan’s loss on Wednesday to his old club Manchester United, gets the loudest cheer of his homecoming for wearing an anti-Glazer scarf when leaving the pitch. Later he distanced himself from the gesture saying “I’m a Manchester United fan and when I saw the scarf I wanted to put it round my neck . . . It’s the old colors of United but, to be honest, it’s not my business. I’m a United fan and I support the club. I always will, but it’s got nothing to do with me how it’s run. That’s all to do with other people.” What a pillock.

Today’s Europa League matches are Hamburg v Anderlecht at 1 p.m. and Juventus v Fulham at 3 p.m. Both matches are on GolTV.

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With today’s announcement of an exclusive partnership with USL-2 side Harrisburg City Islanders, the Philadelphia Union has laid the ground work for a highly developed farm system. Already with a working partnership with PDL side Reading United AC, the Union have now established links to the college game (PDL) and to lower division professional soccer (USL-2). What does this mean to Union and Isles fans? What does this mean to the Philadelphia Union as a developing franchise? In short, it’s huge.

With the death of the MLS Reserve League and the chopping of rosters from 28 down to 24 before the beginning of the 2009 season, MLS teams were left with few options to get their young, developing players field time. And no matter how much you practice and train, there is a certain amount of confidence and calm that only comes with minutes on the pitch.

The Union will likely utilize the City Islanders franchise as a place to get their young talent game time, without having to sacrifce quality in their MLS starting XI. The City Islanders have done loan deals with both the Red Bulls (Danny Cepero, GK [Penn]) and D.C. United (Tiyi Shipalane, F) in the past, but have now signed to exclusively deal with the Union. This is big in terms of player movement back and forth, as well as the consistency of the system and proximity to Philadelphia.

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Luis Gil

Luis Gil, who recently played quite well in the U-17 World Cup, has decided to sign with MLS. Although Kansas City got him in a lottery earlier today, he has special considerations in his contract that could take him to Seattle, Real Salt Lake, or possibly another team. After hearing news that Arsenal and Real Madrid were interested in bringing him into their youth systems, I was surprised that MLS was able to sign Gil. After watching him play I was convinced that he had a great deal of ball control, dribbling skills, and strong passing. I think that he has shown the same skill level of Freddy Adu at a similar age. If he can develop his game and keep a proper attitude, then he could be a great asset to the Full Men’s team in the future.

He was 16 last year during the U-17 World Cup and he looked smaller than his opponents. I thought that it was a good sign that Gil found success through skill rather than through speed and strength. (more…)

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I was born into a Philadelphia sports family; I never really had a choice. I grew up nestled against my dad’s side watching Dutch, Kruk, and the Phils come up short in the ’93 series and tasted bitter defeat over and over again as Andy and the Eagles couldn’t win the big one. You learn to live with disappointment when you watch Philadelphia sports – the moments of joy and success that much better for having endured the near misses and the “there’s always next season” comments. But, as you experience fandom in the family or community setting, there’s a personal buy-in, a point at which “they” becomes “we” – a commitment that is difficult to duplicate. I learned to bleed with my teams and my fellow fans from a young age. But right now, my oft-absent optimism about Philadelphia sports couldn’t be greater – there’s a new team in town.

With the announcement of an MLS team to Philly, my passive observance of soccer became a subject I must master. I set Google alerts for MLS news, added favorites to my bar of soccer bloggers like Ives Galarcep, and hung on each announcement and word. No longer was I going to be a casual observer at Harrisburg City Islanders games, nor a hopeful and distant observer of America’s World Cup efforts – I was getting involved. While following the progress of the still unnamed MLS team, I happened across the Sons of Ben, the supporters group which helped bring the team to Philadelphia.

Here was a group of men and women who, though quirky and sarcastic, represented a level of excitement and committment I had seen few other places.  (more…)

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