Friday, October 12, 2007

More From the RSL-BYU Game

This time of year, it's hard to get a good picture without better equipment than my son was using, but I did like this picture of RSL taking the field at the beginning of the game. Hopefully we'll get some better pictures at next week's game against UVSC.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

RSL-BYU Friendly

“We’re on the march with Watkin’s army …”, 850 BYU and RSL fans showed up to cheer for the two teams in last night’s friendly. A lot of the fans were faced with the tough choice of which team to root for. A small pocket of RCB fans were there with RSL flags, but were on their best behavior noting that “We don’t want to get kicked out of the game in the first ten minutes.”

There was a lot of friendly banter between the RCB contigent and the BYU fans, and the same feeling seemed to be present on the field. It was a friendly that lived up to its name, with no cards issued and very few fouls.

RSL came out on top on two goals by Yura Movsisyan (one in the 14th minute and the other in the 53rd). RSL played a number of regular starters along with several bench players, while a number of new faces were on the field for BYU to go with some of their familiar faces.

BYU’s Coach Watkins didn’t seem too put out by his team’s loss to RSL, saying:

It was a great opportunity for our young guys to get out there and to learn quickly. ... We looked a little disorganized out there, but we’ve only had five practices so far this fall. We’ll get better, back to where we were during the season.

One of the new BYU players getting time in the game was freshman, Derek Taylor. He called it a fun game, and added that he grew a lot as a player in facing a professional team. Taylor also talked about the big difference in facing RSL, “It was definitely an adjustment for me because everything was a lot faster in tonight’s game than what I’m used to as a player back home.”

BYU plays again on Tuesday, Oct. 16th when they welcome the UVSC men’s soccer team to the South Field for a friendly match. See you there.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

BYU Friendly in the rain

My son and I tried to go to the UVSC @ BYU friendly tonight. Instead of the game, we got some lessons in the realities of PDL soccer.

The game itself was cancelled. I had a chance to talk to a couple of team representatives about the reasons. It turned out that there were two big reasons:

  1. To protect the field: BYU is hosting a tournament on the field and with the bad weather they were concerned about it’s condition with an extra game
  2. Finances: The soccer team needs to pay for their use of the field, and with the poor weather, they didn’t expect to draw a large enough crowd to cover their costs.

Since the UVSC mens team wasn’t there, BYU decided to hold an open, intra-squad scrimmage on their practice field. Between players who were on the roster in 2007 and some of the other players who are eyeing spots in 2008, they were able to field a full 11 on 11 scrimmage with several substitutions.

Even with the cancellation, there were about 50 fans there in the cold and wet. They were mostly family and friends of players, something that’s pretty common at BYU games anyway.

The scrimmage itself was a lot of fun to watch. We were right on the field (standing on the sidelines mingling with the team). While we were there, we had a chance to talk to Zach DeFrancis’brother juke the goal keeper, and put a great header into goal.

The game against UVSC is being rescheduled for Tuesday the 16th, and BYU is playing a friendly against RSL this week, so it looks like I’ll have a couple more chances to watch the Cougars play this month.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sounders to the MLS

Well, it looks like the Sounders are coming to the MLS in 2009, but that might mean they’re leaving the USL in 2008. Wow! I’m super excited to see Seattle getting into the MLS, but I’ve got to add some caveats to that:

I really hope there’s a continued USL1 presence in the Puget Sound area. Maybe in Tacoma? (The down side to that would be the loss of a great PDL rival to the BYU Cougars.) If, in fact, the Sounders aren’t coming back to the USL1 next year to try to help market the MLS Sounders for 2008 the USL should ensure that there’s a way to keep the Cascadia Cup a three-team affair.

I’d like to see the MLS version of the Sounders looking a lot like the current Sounders. Brian Schmetzer is a solid coach and would do well in the MLS. Sebastien Le Toux is a good looking striker, and there are a number of other good players on the team. This doesn’t mean that all the current players are MLS caliber, but there is something to be said for cohesion—and you know what, it might be interesting to see what promotion might look like in the MLS instead of yet another team built from the expansion draft.

The MLS needs to get Portland and Vancouver into the mix as well. This three-way rivalry is too good not to keep alive, and would translate well into the MLS. Throw in the natural Portland-San Jose rivalry and the potential for a Canadian Cup between Toronto and Vancouver and you get a lot of bang for some Northwestern expansion bucks.

These aren’t new ideas, I’ve been talking about them for a while, and I’ve seen them elsewhere as well. I just hope that ‘the powers that be’ are considering them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 25 Extra Power Rankings

Okay, time again for my (completely subjective) ‘extra power rankings’, where I’ll toss the USL1 semi-finalists in with my ranked MLS teams. I caught some flack on the Atlanta discussion boards and in a comment on my extra power rankings from last week for putting Puerto Rico ahead of the Silverbacks. It looks like I did indeed goof that up, Atlanta has shot up from #16 to #10 below—hopefully this is a more realistic picture. Anyway, here’s how I see it:

Ranking Team
1 DC United (clinched)
2 Chivas USA (clinched)
3 Houston Dynamo (clinched)
4 New England Revolution (clinched)
5 New York Red Bulls (in the mix)
6 Kansas City Wizards (in the mix)
7 Chicago Fire (in the mix)
8 FC Dallas (in the mix)
9 Seattle Sounders (in USL1 Finals)
10 Atlanta Silverbacks (in USL1 Finals)
11 Portland Timbers (eliminated from USL1 Playoffs)
12 Columbus Crew (in the mix)
13 Colorado Rapids (in the mix)
14 Real Salt Lake
14 Los Angeles Galaxy
15 Puerto Rico Islanders (eliminated from USL1 Playoffs)
17 Toronto FC

What do you think? Am I way off base on any of these?

Week 25 Power Rankings

Much more movement this time around. There were some real surprises, perhaps the biggest was FC Dallas dropping 3 points to the LA Galaxy. This turned out to be a bit longer than I’d thought, but hopefully it’s all worth while. Read on for my rankings and some explanations.

The Good

1) DC United (50 pts, 26 games, 1.92 ppg)—Even missing most of their mid-filed, DC held a strong Fire team to a draw and came home with a point. Facing Toronto in RFK should keep DC on the winning path (and keep their boistrous fans happy). DC and Chivas are tied with a maximum of 62 possible points for the season, and are the co-leaders for the supporters shield.

2) Chivas USA (47 pts, 25 games, 1.88 ppg)—It’s Chivas’ turn to take on the Fire. Playing in LA will help. It’ll be interesting to see how Chivas fans take to Blanco. DC and Chivas are tied with a maximum of 62 possible points for the season, and are the co-leaders for the supporters shield.

3) Houston Dynamo (45 points, 26 games, 1.73 ppg)—Houston didn’t play this week, but moved ahead of the revolution anyway … good way to spend a bye week.

4) New England Revolution (46 pts, 26 games, 1.77 ppg)—The Revs took on a little water by not beating New York on Saturday. Getting to play the Rapids in New England should take the edge off.

The Fair

Other than the race for the supporters shield, this is the group where all the action is. Six teams are battling it out for four playoff spots. (Well, it’s more like four teams are battling it out for two slots, I think New York and Dallas have pretty well written their invitations.)

5) New York Red Bulls (38 points, 26 games, 1.46 ppg)—Pulling off a tie against the Revolution was big for them, and facing RSL in the Swamp should help them build up some points as well. They did come away with a draw in Salt Lake earlier this year (back when RSL wasn’t playing so well), so this won’t be automatic.

6) Kansas City Wizards (36 points, 26 games, 1.38 ppg)—Losing to Chivas at home wasn’t what they’d hoped for. KC still owns their own fate, but they need to pull things together. Facing LA at home should be good for three points, which will help. With a maximum possible of 48 points, the Wizards are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

7) Chicago Fire (32 points, 26 games, 1.23 ppg) — The draw against DC is a decent result — the one against KC, less so. The fire just looked old and tired most of their Thursday night game (and the Blanco-cam sucked). Playing at Chivas isn’t going to help them either. With a maximum possible of 44 points, the Fire are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

8) FC Dallas (40 pts, 26 games, 1.54 ppg)—Losing to LA was just bad. That’s why I dropped Dallas so far this week. Playing the Dynamo on Sunday is a great chance for redemption and if they can squeak out the win against a cross-state and divisional rival, so much the better.

9) Columbus Crew (31 pts, 26 games, 1.19 ppg)—They beat TFC … which is kind of like the the Red Sox beating the PawSox at their annual game. On the other hand, the Crew will also go down in history as the team that let TFC off the hook on their record scoring drought. With a maximum possible of 43 points, the Crew are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

10) Colorado Rapids (29 pts, 26 games, 1.12 ppg)—Not only did they lose, they lost to RSL and hurt their chances at the Rocky Mountain Cup (the only silverware they still had a chance to take. With a maximum possible of 41 points, the Rapids are officially out of the race for the supporters shield.

The Bad

Mathematically, all of these teams are still alive in the playoff race. If Chicago can nail down 4 points, Colorado 7, or Columbus 5 each of these teams will be eliminated. I wouldn’t look for any of them to be showing up in the 2007 post season though.

11) Real Salt Lake (23 pts, 26 games, .88 ppg)— After dropping two points to the surging LA Galaxy (can I really call the Gals surging?), RSL came back and took three from Colorado. 4 points in a week isn’t too bad, and the coaching staff and new GM are looking hard at players for the 2008 season (more on this later). RSL will be lucky to get a point this week at New York.

11) Los Angeles Galaxy (21 pts, 24 games, .87 ppg) — On the strength of a draw against RSL and a win against FC Dallas, I’m moving them up a bit— problem is, RSL is looking better too. Playing at the Wizards and then at the Crew doesn’t look like a good way to make up ground on anyone (though the Crew are going nowhere fast).

13) Toronto FC (21 pts, 25 games, .84 ppg)—They broke their scoring slump, but they’re still sitting at the bottom of the table. Playing at DC this week probably won’t put any points on the table for them.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More on the Peruvian Relief Game

I’ve gotten a little bit of information back from Coach Watkins about the relief game being played after the LA Galaxy – RSL game on the 19th. One gem is that another BYU player has been invited to participate.

Chad Sackett invited Steve [Magleby], Hugh [Van Wagonen], and I to play in the game. We are looking forward to the game. It looks like it will be a competitive match. I am sure Steve and Hugh will do well, not so sure how much I have left in my legs.

When I asked Chad about the BYU selections (and the selections generally), he said:

We have invited 2 of the BYU players because of their past involvement in training with the RSL reserve team. Coach Watkins was invited as part of his help with providing BYU players for RSL reserve opportunities and as a local soccer player that has played at a high level. The other players have some tie to RSL as players, coaches or staff members.

I also asked him if there were a way for people to make contributions to the reflief effort, he recommended calling Francisco at 801-856-7619.

Week 24 Extra Power Rankings

It looks like my combined rankings drew some attention from the Sounders Forum. I’d love to hear what Sounders (or other USL1 fans) think about these rankings. This time around, I’ve only included the USL1 teams that survived to the second round of the playoffs.

Ranking Team
1 DC United
2 Chivas USA
3 New England Revolution
3 Houston Dynamo
5 FC Dallas
6 Chicago Fire
6 New York Red Bull
8 KC Wizards
9 Seattle Sounders
10 Portland Timbers
11 Colorado Rapids
12 Columbus Crew
13 Real Salt Lake
14 Toronoto FC
15 Puerto Rico Islanders
16 Atlanta Silverbacks
17 LA Galaxy

The top three USL1 teams would probably play at competitively against the lower end of the MLS table. After that, I think there’s enough of a drop-off that we’d see a new ‘bottom-tier’ of teams beneath TFC. Right now, the Galaxy looks so bad, I think any of the USL1 teams that are still playing could beat them.

Week 24 Power Rankings

There was a bit of minor movement in the rankings this time around. The biggest drop didn’t include a change in numeric rankings though, as we saw ne team switch tiers.

The Good

1) DC United (49 pts, 25 games, 1.96 ppg)—Barely beating RSL isn’t the best way to keep the top spot, but their only challenger managed to tie the Rapids … Playing the Fire on Sunday should be a good game, and will help cement DCU’s top spot with a win (or really push up the Fire if they pull off the upset).

2) Chivas USA (44 pts, 24 games, 1.83 ppg)—The lopsided result over LA made a case for them pulling ahead of DCU in my power rankings, but that ugly draw in Colorado (and up a man as well) keeps them stuck in second. The goats need to prove that they can win on the road.

3) New England Revolution (45 pts, 25 games, 1.80 ppg)—New England’s win over Dallas was a lot more convincing than Houston’s over LA. I’m putting these two teams into a tie for 3rd.

3) Houston Dynamo (45 points, 26 games, 1.73 ppg)—See above. On the other hand, Houston is getting sme players back and a week off. Hopefully they can come back strong.

The Fair

5) FC Dallas (39 pts, 24 games, 1.62 ppg)—The bad news is that their loss at New England drops them out of the upper tier, the good news is that they’re now the best team in the middle of the pack.

6) New York Red Bulls (37 points, 25 games, 1.48 ppg)—Pulling out a draw in Chicago pushes them into a draw. These are two teams that are looking pretty good right now.

6) Chicago Fire (30 points, 24 games, 1.25 ppg)—Looking ahead, the Fire can really gain some ground with a win at Dallas on Thursday, but Sunday is going to be a tough game at home. Four points would be a big statement.

8) Kansas City Wizards (36 points, 25 games, 1.44 ppg)—They beat the Crew, but didn’t look great doing it. I’m pretty the Wizards will make the playoffs, but I don’t think they’ll get much past that.

9) Colorado Rapids (29 pts, 25 games, 1.16 ppg)—They tied a Chivas team with road performance issues, that’s enough to keep them out of the lower tier and to move the Rapids above the Crew, but neither team really looks very good.

10) Columbus Crew (28 pts, 25 games, 1.12 ppg)—Yuck. Giving up the game in stoppage time like that looks like something that one of the the cellar dwellars below would do. If Columbus wants tomake the playoffs they need to play harder (and keep their fingers crossed), a Saturday game against TFC should help.

The Bad

11) Real Salt Lake (19 pts, 24 games, .79 ppg)—I’m keeping them ahead of TFC, only because a) they’ve scored recently and b) they managed to pull out a draw after almost 80 minutes of play while a man down. RSL can take 6 points this week, but given the way they’ve played anything from there on down to 0 would be unsurprising.

12) Toronto FC (21 pts, 24 games, .87 ppg)—Will TFC finally score against Columbus this week? A win is probably asking too much.

13) Los Angeles Galaxy (17 pts, 22 games, .77 ppg)—the RSL game might be almost fair (both teams reek of unmet promise, RSL will be without Espindola, LA will be playing at altitude). I don’t think there’s any question that the Galaxy are the league doormat right now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Week 24 Early Results

RSL 1-2 DCU: RSL looked pretty good in a losing effort. While they’re not going to make the playoffs this year, they’ve got to worry the Rapids and the Dynamo who are both looking for points (for the playoffs and the supporters sheild respectively). DCU is still looking dominant, and is in great position for both the playoffs and the supporters sheild.

LA 0-3 Chivas USA: LA spent most of the game looking ineffective until Chivas blew the game open in the closing minutes, then they just looked lost. Chivas could easily ride their momentum to a first place finish in the west, and maybe even the supporters sheild.

These two early games give us a little peak into next weeks rankings.

Of the losing sides, RSL played a better game and looked much more dangerous. I think this should push them further ahead of LA in the power rankings. A convincing RSL win Saturday’s RSL-TFC game would really cement that, but isn’t really enough to push them ahead of Colorado.

Between the winners, the Goats were much more convincing. I’d give them a slight edge over DCU, with a possible tie or usurption of 1st place if they can put a beating on the Rapids on Sunday. DCU still holds an edge over Chivas in ppg but the gap is closing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Feeling (Not So) Good About Our Last Game

“We have to look at our group and feel very, very good about what they put into that game,” said RSL coach Jason Kreis.

Or not. I’d like to take some comfort in the fact that RSL played to the end and hung tough against two of the best sides in the MLS, but there have been too many ‘moral victories’ already this year. “We’re playing better” and “We’ve made such an improvement” were thrown at us so often this season that they’ve lost their punch. Now that we actually are playing better (and even stand to pick up six points over the next week, moving us further ahead of the Galaxy and TFC) it’s hard to feel good about a pair of losses.

At least now, there can’t be much more false hope of a miraculous finale which ends in a playoff berth. RSL and its fans can resign themselves to playing for next year, and there is something to play for there. We’ve got a great looking cast of youngsters and a raft of draft picks for next year. The next seven games should allow us plenty of time to evaluate current players, build some cohesion, and maybe even set a tone for next year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RSL to host game for Peruvian quake relief

RSL has announced that the Sep 19th game against the visiting LA Galaxy will be followed by a 30 minute friendly with ‘Team South America’ facing ‘Team Utah’. Some of the gate receipts from the double header will be donated to Peruvian earthquake relief.

Two BYU Cougars will be involved in the game, Coach Watkins and Steve Magleby (who’s played with RSL’s reserves several times over the last couple of years) will be playing on ‘Team Utah’. I’m touching base with them to see what they have to say about it. More later.

A (Possible) Positive Result From the DP Rule

In his September 11th Inside Soccer article, Grant Wahl wrote:

2. The Galaxy’s ‘08 schedule needs to make sense. ... Keep in mind, Beckham might also miss a significant chunk of ‘08 if England qualifies for the European Championship (June 7-29, 2008). Don’t expect the Galaxy to be playing many games from late May to mid-June next year.

As I read this, I thought about the other DPs, and what playing time they might or might not get for their national teams. Is this kind of impact something that might move beyond Beckham? I doubt that we’ll see JPA, Reyna, or Denilson called up but Blanco is a possibility. Then there are a number of non-DPs that are seeing time on their own nations benches. Perhaps the added visibility of the DPs will force the MLS to start taking FIFA international dates more seriously—and, hey, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I already put together my MLS Power Rankings for week 23, but as I was doing it, I wondered where the top USL1 sides would fit. Now that their season is over and they’re headed into the post season, here’s where I’d slot the USL playoff teams in the MLS:

  1. DC United
  2. Chivas USA
  3. New England Revolution
  4. Houston Dynamo
  5. FC Dallas
  6. Chicago Fire
  7. New York Red Bull
  8. KC Wizards
  9. Columbus Crew
  10. Seattle Sounders
  11. Portland Timbers
  12. Colorado Rapids
  13. Real Salt Lake
  14. LA Galaxy
  15. Montreal Impact
  16. Toronoto FC
  17. Atlanta Silverbacks
  18. Rochester Raging Rhinos
  19. Puerto Rico Islanders
  20. Vancouver Whitecaps
  21. Carolina Railhawks

The top three USL1 teams would probably play at competitively against the lower end of the MLS table. After that, I think there’s enough of a drop-off that we’d see a new ‘bottom-tier’ of teams beneath TFC.

Week 23 Power Rankings

Weeks of non-soccer obligations and outright neglect have basically killed off my scariness rankings—at least for now, hopefully I can get them in shape in time for the playoffs. In their place, let me offer up my take on power rankings. The league splits pretty readily into 3 tiers, with some hints of movement between them. Here’s how I see it:

The Good

Up at the top of the stack are the good teams. These five clubs are pretty much assured of playoff spots and four of them should be in next years Super Liga (though there may be a surprise here).

  1. DC United (48 pts, 24 games, 2 ppg)—These guys are red hot at the right time. Emilio is looking unstoppable and should handily break 20 goals for the season. Several other DCU players are playing well enough to look like MVP candidates on a lot of the league. Even better, the team as a whole is just clicking. Upcoming game: RSL @ DCU
  2. Chivas USA (40 pts, 22 games, 1.81 ppg)—With a draw against DCU, a solid win over the Red Bulls, and a very soft schedule over the remaining eight games on their schedule the Goats are looking very good too. I expect to make a play for the Supporters Shield this year. Shoot, even their Sueno player is looking pretty good. Upcoming game: LAG @ Chivas USA
  3. New England Revolution (42 pts, 24 games, 1.75 ppg)—Even dropping their last game to DC United, the Revs are looking pretty good. Their remaining schedule looks pretty soft too, though they have fewer games remaining than Chivas. Upcoming game: FC Dallas @ New England
  4. Houston Dynamo (42 points, 25 games, 1.68 ppg)—They toughed out a win over RSL, and face RSL and the Galaxy (twice) over the rest of the season. They will be challenged by Chivas and FC Dallas games though. I don’t see them repeating as MLS cup winners. Upcoming game Dynamo @ LA Galaxy
  5. FC Dallas (39 pts, 23 games, 1.69 ppg)—They beat up a sinking TFC and Denilson is looking pretty good, but it doesn’t look like enough. I think they’ll settle for four points from the next five games, and probably only eight more the rest of the season. That may be enough to dump them into the second tier of teams. Upcoming game: FC Dallas @ New England

The Fair

The next group of teams are battling it out for the playoffs (and a strong finish by on or two of them might even claim a spot in the Super Liga).

  1. Chicago Fire (29 points, 23 games, 1.26 ppg)—Nine points in their last five games and a 7-4 aggrate score in those games makes this team look a lot better than their overall standing. Wanchope and Blanco have really been a boost to this team, and could push them into the top tier with continued solid play. Upcoming game: Red Bulls @ Fire
  2. New York Red Bulls (36 points, 24 games, 1.5 ppg)—Injuries and recent results make this look like a team on the wane. It’s hard to count them out though with Jozy and JPA up front. Having RSL, TFC, and the Galaxy in the mix of their upcoming games should help them stack up some points though.
  3. Kansas City Wizards (33 points, 25 games, 1.32 ppg)—Another team that’s dropping rapidly. A scary schedule that includes Chivas, DC United, the Red Bulls, and FC Dallas doesn’t bode well either, but I think they’ll be the eighth and final playoff team (will anyone come to watch their home games though?). Upcoming game: Columbus Crew @ KC Wizards
  4. Columbus Crew (28 pts, 24 games, 1.16 ppg)—Three winnable games to finish out September then a tough October schedule don’t help the Crews chances of getting into the playoffs. I expect them to be on the outside looking in. Upcoming game: Columbus Crew @ KC Wizards.
  5. Colorado Rapids (28 pts, 24 games, 1.16 ppg)—Two games against Chivas USA, one against the Revolution, and two against a resurgent RSL, and one against lowly TFC might see the Rapids only take six more points the rest of the year (they might not even keep the Rocky Mountain Cup this year). If that happens, Clavijo might not survive the off-season. The Rapids are on the verge of falling down to the bottom tier of teams. Upcoming game: Chivas USA @ Colorado

The Bad

If only the MLS and USL could work out relegation and promotion, there might be a reason to watch these guys finish out their season. These teams are just bad right now, though there may be some hope on the horizon—well at least the 2008 season.

  1. Real Salt Lake (18 pts, 22 games, .81 ppg)—Their horrid start doomed RSL this year, but a coaching change and a roster overhaul are starting to pay dividends. RSL will play the spoiler this year, and should compete for a playoff spot ext year. Upcoming game: RSL @ DCU
  2. Los Angeles Galaxy (17 pts, 20 games, .85 ppg)—Too many injuries and a terrible schedule are too much for the Galaxy to overcome. The good news is they won’t finish last in the league, but they won’t come close to being the super-team people expected. Upcoming game: Houston Dynamo @ LA Galaxy
  3. Toronto FC (20 pts, 23 games, .86 ppg)—Except for a brief, shining moment, these guys have looked every bit the expansion club. With an injury list that might have them starting recruits from the PDL, things don’t look to improve anytime soon. At this point, just scoring again might seem like a victory. Upcoming game: RSL @ TFC

Thursday, September 6, 2007

2020 Vision: The MLS Season

With the end of the PDL season and before the recent RSL resurgence, it’s been hard to work up the interest in putting together a good post here. The last couple of weeks have helped build up a bit of momentum though, and here’s the result—my look at the future of RSL, the PDL in Utah, and MLS in general. I hope you like it.

Turning from the PDL and UTSA, it’s time to look at final third of the MLS season and what went before. MLS still plays a single season bracked by the Concacaf Champions cup at the beginning and the MLS Cup at the end, with a number of interesting activities in the middle. Since these form a convenient outline for the season, I’ll just follow along.

Concacaf Champions Cup

The 2020 Champions Cup saw MLS entrants DC United and the Seattle Sounders acquit themselves well, with both teams making it to the semis where the Sounders fell to Pachuca. DC United beat CD Guadalajara in the semis before falling to Pachuca in the finals.

We won’t know who’s going to the 2021 edition of the cup, since the season not over yet, but DC United has to be the favorite to make a return at try to add a second Concacaf trophy to their shelf (to match the one they earned in the 2015 cup). Seattle, RLS, San Jose, Montreal, Chivas USA, and the Boca Jrs USA all stand a good chance of qualifying for one of MLS’ two slots as well.

US Open Cup

Since the 2013 decision to invite the US Open Cup winner to the SuperLiga tournament, this competition has taken on new meaning for MLS teams. Last year, the USL1’s Tacoma United managed to squeak past the San Jose Quakes in a west coast final. This year may see another USL1 team make it through with FC Detroit playing the Chicago Fire in the finals.

The influx of media coverage and sponsorship money have also made the US Open Cup more attractive to all the teams involved. At this point, the purse is rich enough that every qualifying team gets a small purse, and the deeper a team goes the richer the payout.


This has turned into a great competition with four US (and Canadian) teams, four Mexican teams, and a team each from Brazil and Argentina. Each year the US Open Cup winner, the MLS Supporters Sheild winner, the MLS Cup Winner, and the MLS team with the next best record to the three above) get berths in this tournament.

Last year São Paulo beat Club America in the final, breaking a three year run of MLS victories. This year’s field was offered some great competition, and featured several former SuperLiga winners. Next week will see the semi-finals being played, with Chivas USA facing the Boca Jrs at Azteca on Tuesday and a rematch of the Concacaf semi-finals with CD Guadalajara facing DC United in Washington on Thursday—Goats fans everywhere are hoping for an all Chivas final.

Supporters Sheild

Last year, the Seattle Sounders had the best record in the league to take this award. This year, they’re in the thick of it again. Here’s the table as it stands now:
Team Pts Games Played Record
DC United 44 22 13-4-5
Seattle Sounders 44 23 13-5-5
Real Salt Lake 41 22 11-3-8
San Jose Earthquakes 39 21 11-4-6
Chivas USA 38 22 11-6-5
Montreal Impact 37 23 10-6-7
Boca Jrs USA 36 23 10-7-6
Chicago Fire 34 22 9-6-7
New York Red Bull 32 24 8-8-8
Colorado Rapids 29 22 8-9-5
FC Dallas 29 21 8-7-5
Philadelphia Patriots 27 22 7-9-6
St Louis 26 23 6-9-8
Portland Timbers 23 23 6-12-5
Houston Dynamo 21 21 5-12-6
New England Revolution 18 23 4-13-6
Columbus Crew 14 22 3-14-5
Los Angeles Galaxy 13 21 3-14-4

Over the last four or five years, Seattle and DC have slugged it out near the top of the rankings every year. Real Salt Lake and San Jose are pretty recent members of the top tier after toiling away in the middle of the pack for many years. Chivas USA and Montreal have been hanging out on the cusp of the top tier of the league for a while too and may be coming on at the right time. Down at the other end of the scale, New England, Columbus, and Los Angeles have been stinking it up for a while and are near the top of most arguments for relegation. Philadelphia and the New York red Bull have also fallen off a bit lately, after spending much of 2013-2017 meeting each other deep in the MLS cup playoffs.


Last year, 2019 DC United took home the MLS cup in an 3-2 aggregate victory over the Seattle Sounders who had beaten them out for the Supporters Sheild. The teams with the top eight points totals will compete in a single elimination tournament, culminating in a home and away final. With nearly a third of the season left to go, it’s still too early to figure out who’ll be in the competition this year—there are a few teams who’re obviously out of the running though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

2020 Vision: Soccer in Utah

With the end of the PDL season and before the recent RSL resurgence, it’s been hard to work up the interest in putting together a good post here. The last couple of weeks have helped build up a bit of momentum though, and here’s the result—my look at the future of RSL, the PDL in Utah, and MLS in general. I hope you like it.

Wow! It’s been another hard fought year in the Utah Cup, but the St. George Dragons have pulled out a victory in their first year back in the PDL beating out the division winning BYU Cougars.

The Utah Cup is a twelve year old competition between the Utah based teams in the PDL’s Northwestern Division. Each year, the cup is awarded to the team with the best intra-Utah record (ties are decided by head to head record, then goal differential). BYU has won the cup five times; Salt Lake City United and FC Jordan have both one it twice; and the Ogden Outlaws, FC Jordan, and the St George Dragons have each one it once.

While the Utah Cup highlights the best Utah teams in the PDL, there’s also a competition none of these teams want to be in, the relegation cup. The Utah Soccer Association (UTSA)1 is a six team league that sits just beneath the PDL, in which it owns three franchises2. Each year at the end of the season, the UTSA owned team in the PDL with the worst record plays in a one-game playoff against the UTSA champions. The winner plays in the PDL the next year, while the loser plays in the UTSA.

Last year, the St George Dragons dominated the UTSA season and beat the Ogden Outlaws in the relegation cup to join the PDL. This year, the Outlaws are back in the cup, hoping to knock off the Salt Lake City United and get back into the PDL.

This system of relegation/promotion and cross league franchise ownership has proven to be a good model for other leagues to investigate. A number of MLS fans have started to call for the league to try out something similar with the USL, especially after they’ve essentially promoted four USL1 teams as part of their expansion over the last ten years.

1 The UTSA was founded in 2012 with the intent of developing semi-pro soccer in Utah. They bought their PDL franchises and established their system of promotion/relegation in 2016 to further push semi-pro soccer in Utah.

2 Just for reference, here are the Utah teams in the PDL and the UTSA:

Four PDL Teams
  • BYU Cougars
  • FC Jordan (UTSA owned)
  • Salt Lake City United (UTSA owned)
  • St George Dragons (UTSA owned)
Six UTSA Teams
  • Lehi United
  • FC Logan
  • Ogden Outlaws
  • Southern Utah University T-Birds
  • Utah Valley University Wolverines
  • Snow College Badgers

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Color Me Shocked

RSL gets three points at home with a 1-3 win over the Wizards. There was no way I saw this happening. All three of the Argentines hand a hand in the scoring, and Andy Williams added what was said to be a tremendous goal (from ~50 yards out). Eddie Johnson got KC’s lone goal.

I almost can’t wait until Saturday to see what RSL can do to the Galaxy in LA.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Tale of Two Writers

Within the last month or so I’ve seen two different sides of Sports Illustrated’s feelings about soccer, both from ‘big name’ football (pointyball) writers.

Dr. Z played ‘bad cop’:

“Should the NFL be worried about MLS as competition now that Beckham has arrived? I mean, they do have a team in L.A., which the NFL can’t seem to do.”

You’re almost right there, Jonas. Except that the place they have chosen in which to showcase the Big B is Carson, Calif. And didn’t you read how the crowd of 27,000 in the Home Depot Center absolutely went wild, even though his team, the Galaxy, lost, 1-0.

... Threatening to immediately eclipse Beckham in popularity is the Chicago Fire’s Cuauhtémoc Blanco, whose attributes, according to the AP report of his debut against Celtic AC Sunday, were his “stutter-step dribbles, change of direction and uncanny backward passes.”

OK, so only 15,719 showed up in Bridgeview, Ill., at Toyota Park, but that’s almost capacity, isn’t it?

I dropped the not-so-funny jokes that are a mainstay of Dr. Z’s column, but it sure doesn’t look like he’s a fan.

Peter King is a much nicer read if you enjoy the beautiful game:

g. Sports Illustrated NFL editor Mark Mravic on the scene at what I heard was a great sports event, the MLS game (with David Beckham) between the New York and L.A. teams Saturday night at the Meadowlands, witnessed by 67,000 and won by the Red Bulls, 5-4:

“Well, the tailgate scene was kind of surreal. Just like a Jets or Giants game at the Meadowlands, with all the grills and tables and tents and even a few motorhomes, except that instead of people chucking footballs around the parking lot, there were about 10,000 pickup soccer games going. And at least half of the fans playing in those games were little urchins in Beckham jerseys. Inside, every time Beckham set up for a corner kick or a free kick, the crowd would rise in anticipation—and then a chorus of boos would cascade down. The Red Bulls fans may have been outnumbered, but they were louder by far. Beckham’s pure class, though. After the game he walked around the edge of the field applauding all the fans that showed up.

“I’ve been to bigger soccer games — U.S. – Mexico at the World Cup in Korea; U.S. – Italy last summer in Germany — but I’ve never had more fun at one.’‘

Soccer is really a fun game when done right. I hope that game helps the cause.

I can’t say that I’m a big fan for the Becks-love-fest that’s smothering almost everything else in the MLS off of TV right now, but I do hope to see a lasting increase in attendance and coverage for the MLS and USL leagues.

Building the Utah PDL Rivalry

There’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and it’s finally percolated long enough that I wanted to get it out in front of everyone to see what you think. We’ve got two solid PDL teams here in Utah (and could probably support a third in Salt Lake City if it came to that). They play a pretty fierce rivalry (even if it’s been a bit one-sided so far), but I think there’s a way to get the clubs, and their fans, a bit more involved.

What we need is … ‘the Utah Derby’. A fan supported cup awarded to the Utah PDL team with the best record against in-state foes each year. It wouldn’t take much more than a handful of fans from each team (or maybe a sponsor or two) to kick in some money for a trophy to get this started. I’d like to think that the teams themselves would be interested.

This is certainly something that’s done in other parts of the soccer world—heck, the Rocky Mountain Cup even includes a Utah team. Making it happen along the Wasatch Front could be a great way to build an even better rivalry between Ogden and BYU, give more fans a reason to travel to the nearby away games, and maybe even put some more fans in the seats if we can get the local press going on it.

So here’s what it comes down to, if this is going to happen we’ll need to start organizing now for the 2008 PDL season. Anyone else want to get involved?

Monday, July 30, 2007

BYU Season wrap-up

While the season didn’t end the way BYU wanted it to, a 0-3 shutout in the Western Conference finals at the hands of the Fresno Fuego, the team certainly has some things to feel good about after the 2007 season:
  • The Cougars 13-1-2 season marks their best PDL campaign to-date.
  • Two of their players were named to the all-conference team; Brock Trejo (M) and Hugh Van Wagenen (D)
  • They had six Team of the Week honors (including a Player of the Week) during the sixteen week season.
  • Brandon Gilliam, their starting goalkeeper, was second in the league in Goals Against Average with a .707 rating for the season.

The 2007 season also marks the last season for six departing seniors and assistant coach Brian Jolley.

This loss won’t be the last game that BYU plays in 2007 though. They’re promising a series of friendlies in the fall, though I’ve not seen any specifics yet.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Colorado Rapids U23s at BYU Cougars

I winced when they introduced Brett Stevens as the ref tonight. It seems like he’s really called a bad game every time I’ve seen him. Tonight was no exception, with a number of missed calls. He also tends to call the scoreboard, and when Colorado went down a man that really hurt BYU.

Colorado scored first and controlled the run of play even when they went down a man early in the first half. Jake Cavanaugh scored the equalizer for BYU and both teams went on to squander a number of chances. When I asked Coach Watkins about the game he responded, “It wasn’t our best night, but we played hard and got a point.”

Sadly, the PDL playoffs are going to be in California this year. I’m not going to be able to make the roadtrip to watch the games, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the games the best I can. Good luck to Coach Watkins and the boys!

Hugh Van Wagenen Again!

I took off for a week of scout camp, and BYU landed another spot on the PDL Team of the Week. Hugh Van Wagenen (D) was received the honor for second time this season, this time for his play in BYU’s two wins over Ogden. This marks the fifth time a BYU player has earned this honor.

In last night’s game, BYU seems to have put on another pretty good show. Steve Fellows and Daniel McKinley both scored with Hugh Van Wagenen and Zach DeFrancis getting assists. With another strong showing tonight BYU might land a sixth Team of the Week mention.

Next week, the PDL will announce their playoff schedule. With BYU near the top of the league in points, they should get get the chance to play several games at home.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coach Watkins on Ogden-BYU 11 July

Chris Watkins, the BYU Coach was kind enough to comment on a couple of aspects of last night’s game. I got his answers too late to include in my game write-up, but I wanted to include them here where everyone could read them.

On BYU’s looking flat:

We were proud that we could win in a game where we were a bit off our game. Ogden defended quite well and made it difficult for us to get good looks at the goal.

On Zach DeFrancis’ second yellow card:

Zach showed a bit of his youth with that last tackle, he did get a piece of the ball, but it was not worth the chance he took. We had a sub at the table to take him out at the time.

Ogden-BYU game report: 11 July

The simple recap:

It wasn’t a pretty game, but we came away with three points.

The longer story:

For the first two-thirds of the game, neither side really looked like they wanted the win. Ogden played a very tightly packed, defensive game while BYU spend a long time playing around the wings and probing for an exploitable weakness. Both sides managed to create some chances, but weren’t able to capitilize due to poor finishing.

A BYU triple subsitution in the 55th minute led to some crisper, more energetic play and, eventually, a goal in the 69th minute by Tyson Miller (assisted by Brock Trejo). Coach Watkins said “[O]ur subs came up big for us. We have come to rely on them.”

I’ve heard several people call Trejo the best player on the team, and on this goal he showed why he gets such praise. He took possesion of the ball in the box and drew the goal keeper and a couple of defenders, then cooly dumped a pass off to Miller who was wide open less than ten feet from the open goal.

Once again the ref didn’t do a very good job of controlling the game. There were a number of missed or bad calls early on, and only when the match got close did he really start to enforce things. Even then, there were two ref’s decisions that could have cost BYU the game.

  1. The first came around the 70th minute (I didn’t catch the exact time), when Ogden substituted Ken Hickman onto the field even though he wasn’t on the sub list. Coach Watkins spent some significant time trying to get the refs to call this, but seemed to be warned that if he kept it up he’d get tossed. Not a good call by the officials involved, we’ll have to see what the USL does about it.
  2. The second was a Yellow Card awarded to Zach DeFrancis (last week’s PDL Player of the Week ) in the 81st minute. The call really seemed like a reach for what looked like a pretty minor foul. It was compounded a minute later when DeFrancis was awarded a second yellow (this one deserved) and ejected.

With this win, BYU is 11 points ahead of FC Tacoma in the standings. Tacoma has 12 points still available in their season so a Tacoma loss or tie, or a BYU win in any upcoming game will clinch the division for BYU. Tacoma faces the Cascade surge on Friday and the Yakima Reds on Saturday—what can I say but ‘Go Cascades! Go Reds!’

BYU will face Ogden again when they travel to Ogden on Saturday to play the final game of their intra-Utah series (which BYU leads 2-0-1). Given the history between the two teams, this should be another close fought game.

Zach DeFrancis: PDL Player of the Week

BYU has had their fourth player named to PDL Team of the Week honors, with Zach DeFrancis (M) being named Player of the Week for week 12 of the PDL season. Zach joins Doug Clark, Hugh Van Wagenen, and Richie Bindrup as Team of the Week honorees.

The PDL announcement detailed DeFrancis’ efforts in wins over Ogden and Spokane:

“The BYU Cougars, along with the unbeaten Hampton Roads Piranhas, became the first to clinch a playoff berth in the Premier Development League, picking up a pair of victories over Ogden and Spokane to move to 10-1-1 on the year. Zach De Francis tallied three goals and an assist in the effort.

“The Cougars opened the week on the Fourth of July against their state rivals on the wrong side of the scoreline as the Christenson brothers linked up for the opening goal for the Outlaws in the 26th minute. De Francis would level the score three minutes before the break for BYU. As the Cougars pulled away from a 2-2 scoreline late in the match De Francis would add a second goal for the night.

“The club then hit the road for a trip to Spokane Saturday and again found themselves trailing with Spokane’s Jake Moug tallied 19 minutes in. The Spiders lead held until De Francis set up David Clark in the 62nd minute to tie the game. Eleven minutes later Spokane again took the lead on a strike from Matt Stueckle, but De Francis would answer personally with his third goal of the week and team-leading sixth of the season in the 80th minute to tie the match up once more, allowing Toni Niccoli to bag the winner two minutes later.” USL News Release

The PDL weren’t the only ones to sing Zach’s praises though. Kim Christenson (BYU Media Relations) said, “This is a huge honor, to be named player of the week is no small feat. Zach really stepped up to the plate and earned this recognition.” Zach’s Coach, Chris Watkins, also speaks very highly of him, “He is now our best attacking player and we expect him to only get better.”

When asked about being named Player of the Week, DeFrancis responded, “It was just really exciting to hear that. I guess I was a little surprised as well.”

BYU has turned a lot of heads with its play this season. Hopefully that’s a trend that will continue on both the individual and team level.

Jason Kreis' Open Letter

Jason Kries sent an ‘open letter’ to RSL fans and the Utah soccer community. As a member of both groups, I thought I’d post my initial thoughts in response.

First of all, this is more response (and recognition of just how bad things are) than I ever saw in the John Ellinger era at RSL. On the other hand this open letter is just an IOU until it’s backed up on the playing field.

Belief. Passion. Desire. Determination. Commitment. Sacrifice.

These are the core values inside the Real Salt Lake locker room, the values upon which team success is built and those we demand from every individual that walks through those doors. Nothing but the utmost adherence to these tenets is tolerated.

With the possible exception of the game against DC United, these values haven’t been displayed by the eleven players on the pitch for a full game so far this season. There’s a perception in the online fanbase that it’s better to be an ‘Kreis insider’ than to play hard. Kreis and the team are going to have to work hard to overcome that bias.

Our fans are the best in MLS, and have been since day one. That our fans share the same values — Belief, Passion, Desire, Determination, Commitment and Sacrifice — motivates every player, coach, and administrator in the RSL organization to forge ahead and redouble efforts to emerge from this rut.

I’m glad coaches and administrators were included in this. The front office is taking a lot of heat right now for their apparent bungling of PR, the stadium, personnel moves, etc. While several players have been traded/let go for not living up to these values, there hasn’t been a lot of accountability for the front office staff. These aren’t changes that Kreis can make, they are changes that the team needs to make.

As I said upon my introduction as Head Coach of RSL, “Fortune Favors the Bold.” I believe this in my heart of hearts, and the bold changes we are currently implementing in our team and in our coaching staff will bring imminent fortune.

Imminent, ‘ready to take place’, doesn’t really seem to describe a change in RSL’s fortune. I may be wrong, but to my eye’s it looks like there’s a long, hard way to go before before RSL is a good team. Perhaps a better catchphrase for the RSL players, coaches, and staff to consider is “less talk, more action”.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ogden at BYU in the Local News

Dan Rasmussen, over at the Deseret Morning news has written a piece on the BYU-Ogden game tonight. It includes some background on the two teams (more on BYU than Ogden), as well as notice that it will be on BYU-TV—a channel that appears on a lot of cable/dish line-ups. So if you’re interested in watching a USL game tonight, it just might be possible (July 11th, 7PM MDT).

I may record the game to watch again later, but I should be there for another (I hope) BYU win.

Scariness Catchup (Weeks 13 and 14)

Well, my work and home schedule finally caught up with me and I ended up missing last weeks scariness ratings. That made this weeks much harder to do. Since I needed to do some extra work (and since I felt guilty for missing last week’s post) I decided to add in some extra bits. Enjoy!

Week 13

Team Adj Scariness Wk 13 ranking Wk 12 Wk 11 Wk 10 Wk 9
Houston 3.46 1 1 4 4 6
DC United 3.04 2 3 2 1 3
Columbus 2.93 3 4 10 13 13
Chivas 2.29 4 9 1 2 4
Dallas 1.75 5 6 9 6 12
Salt Lake 1.62 6 5 11 8 9
Toronto 1.50 7 7 3 9 5
New England 1.42 8 2 8 7 7
New York 0.85 9 8 6 5 2
Kansas City 0.84 10 10 5 3 1
Los Angeles 0.64 11 11 7 12 10
Chicago 0.44 12 12 12 11 11
Colorado - 0.02 13 13 13 10 7

Before I give you the week 14 ratings, I thought I’d look at a couple of the games, make some belated predictions, then walk through the results and how they affected things.

First up, DC United (3.04) playing at Kansas City (0.84). Since I’m giving a point of scariness for playing at home, this would give DC a 1.2 point edge in scariness so I’d guess that they should win. This is just what happened, DC pulled out a 1-0 result and took three points on the road. Now, let’s see what this did to each of their ratings:
  • DC United won a game by one point, on the road against a KC team that had a 1 point per game (PPG) average. This raised their score from 3.04 to 3.25.
  • Kansas City lost by one point to a team averaging 2 PPG. This dropped their score from 0.84 to 0.43 (a lot of this drop came from their last winning dropping out of the range I consider for the scariness ratings).
Let’s look at the Toronto (1.50) at Real Salt Lake (1.62) for a counter example. Since RSL was at home, they end up with a 1.12 point edge, which I’d also think was good enough for a win. In reality, they dropped the game 0-2. How much did this hit their ratings:
  • Toronto won a road game by one points, and their score went up 0.65 points to 2.15.
  • RSL’s loss at home dropped them to 0.96 points.

If you look at the full week 14 schedule, adjusted scariness ‘predictions’ would have been 8-3-1. That’s not a bad average, but I’ve got a lot of hindsight working in my favor too. Here’s the full scariness table after week 14.

Week 14 Scariness Ratings

Team Adj Scariness Wk 14 Wk 13 Wk 12 Wk 11 Wk 10 Wk 9
Houston 4.1 1 1 1 4 4 6
Columbus 2.9 2 3 4 10 13 13
Dallas 2.8 3 5 6 9 6 12
DC United 2.29 4 2 3 2 1 3
Toronto 1.94 5 7 7 3 9 5
Los Angeles 1.52 6 11 11 7 12 10
New England 1.45 7 8 2 8 7 7
Chivas 1.15 8 4 9 1 2 4
Kansas City 0.86 9 10 10 5 3 1
New York 0.79 10 9 8 6 5 2
Salt Lake 0.38 11 6 5 11 8 9
Colorado 0.27 12 13 13 13 10 7
Chicago 0.2 13 12 12 12 11 11

There are a couple of things here that are interesting (at least to me). Kansas City and New York are both hanging out in cellar dweller land, but neither team has done much of late, so that’s probably not unfair. Salt Lake is still scarier than either Colorado and Chicago—I wonder how long that will last? Finally, for the first week that I recall, there are no teams with negative scariness.

I also included a history of previous scariness rankings so that you could see how consistent a team was. I’m not sure what to draw from those numbers other than that Houston and DC United have both looked very scary for the last several weeks and that Colorado and Chicago don’t look to be frightening anyone anytime soon.

Finally, I thought I’d use the current rankings to pick each of the games for week 15. Anything within .25 points will be a draw, wider spreads will go to the higher team. I’m not going to bother trying to pick scores.

Week 15 Picks by Scariness

  1. Houston (4.1) @ Chicago (0.2 + 1)—Houston wins
  2. FC Dallas (2.8) @ DC United (2.29 + 1)—DC wins
  3. New England (1.45) @ New York (.79 + 1)—New York wins
  4. Salt Lake (.38) @ Kansas City (.86 +1)—KC wins
  5. Columbus (2.9) @ Chivas USA (1.15 +1)—Columbus wins
  6. Toronto (1.94) @ Houston (4.1 + 1)—Houston wins

I’m not sure that there are any shockers there, but I guess we’ll see.

Jason Kreis, On The Hot Seat?

Color me surprised. Bruce McGuire, over at du Nord put out his list of three MLS coaches on the hot seat. His list looked like this:

  1. Fernando Clavijo – Colorado – rumored to be gone any day, but the geniuses who run the Colorado team don’t want to pay him and new coach. So they rot.
  2. Frank Yallop – LA – his team stinks, and the rumors of chaos in LA get louder all the time.
  3. Jason Kries – Salt Lake – absolutely nothing has changed since he took over except they got rid of one of the best goal scorers ever in MLS. Yes, Kries is green, but I believe he has no chance of turning this thing around. Could it be the Checketts curse? Maybe we should look up the New York Knicks record while he ran that team. I bet it’s sorry and only got worse over time, not better.

The first two names on the list make a lot of sense, and would probably show up on just about anyones list, but Jason Kreis surprises me. Not because RSL is doing well, but because of the awful mess he inherited. I’ve got to think that Kreis will be given at least the rest of the season to turn things around.

While there’s certainly a lot of local unhappiness over the team (see RSLFM, AYL, and KUTV among others), I don’t think that changing coaches again would help that—now if RSL would make some other front office changes, that might go over well.

Of course, there’s no telling what the next step in Dave Checkett’s diabolical plan is, but I hope it’s not dumping Kreis without giving him the time (and training) he needs to have a fair shot at turning things around.

Monday, July 9, 2007

US-Uraguay U-20 on ESPN? Here's a Way to Make it Happen.

Over in the comments of Steven Goff’s blog I found this gem (slightly edited):

We need to start trying to convince ESPN to show the U-20 World Cup Round of 16 US game vs. Uruguay on ESPN as well. It would replace a repeat broadcast of the Home Run Derby. To contact ESPN, use their form

This is a great chance to give ESPN a reason to carry the Round of 16 game (and maybe the later games as well), so don’t just sit here reading my blog—go hit ESPN’s form and fill it out!

BYU at Spokane: July 7th

BYU took a one game trip to Washington on Saturday, and came home with three points. It looks like Saturday’s game against Spokane was a good one. (Although, I’m pretty glad I didn’t have to go sit through another game in the 100+ degree heat—these summer games are brutal.)

BYU continued exchanging starts between Benjamin Walunas (tonight’s starter) and Brandon Gilliam in goal. Coach Chris Watkins explained, “[Ben] has been playing very well and is especially effective against very direct teams that serve in a lot of 50/50 balls.”.

Spokane put the first point on the board in the 19th minute off of a corner kick, and held the 0-1 score going into the half. The second half looks like it was almost all BYU though. Zach DeFrancis had another great game, getting an assist on David Clark’s goal in the 62nd minute and scoring one of his own in the 80th. Spokane put a second goal on the board in the 73 minute, when Matt Stueckle scored on another cornerkick. Super-sub Tony Nicola also scored for BYU (in his first minute on the field) getting an assist from fellow substitute Daniel McKinley.

Zach DeFrancis has played very well over the last several games, and is now leading the team with six goals and one assist in the 515 minutes he’s played this season. The six goals are even more impressive when you realize that they come in only nine shots, making DeFrancis a very effecient scorer. Watkins seems excited about him, saying “Zach is now fully recovered from the 2 years off he had while serving a mission. He is now our best attacking player and we expect him to only get better.”

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Super-Sub Wins PDL Team of the Week Honors

For the third time this season, BYU has had a player selected to the PDL team of the week for week 10. This time around, Doug Clark (M) was picked based on his play in Yakima on Friday, June 22nd. He came on in the 73rd minute as a late substitution for James Bindrup (who’d picked up a yellow card), and proceeded to score a goal and get an assist during his 17 minutes on the field.

Clark joins BYU players Hugh Van Wagenen (D) and Richie Bindrup (D) as PDL team of the week honorees. Given that there are 63 teams in the PDL, putting three players onto teams of the week speaks pretty highly of BYU. With the excellent effort put forward last night by several of their players against Ogden, they might see another name or two added to this list.

Ogden at BYU: July 4th

Last night we headed out to BYU’s South Field along with 800+ other folks. It turs out that BYU passed out some kind of flyer at the July 4th parade earlier in the day and pulled in a huge crowd in comparison to the others I’ve watched. There was even a significant Ogden contigent there—I guess since they’re only about 2 hours away that shouldn’t surprise me. BYU really blew it though, by not opening there concession stand. As hot as it was, they would have made a killing.

The game itself was pretty physical (27 fouls and 5 Yellow Cards) and really poorly ref’ed with a number of phantom and non-calls. I don’t think Ogden can complain too much about the calls though, as both teams seemed to be hit equally by the bad officiating.

Ogden controlled the first five to ten minutes of the game, but weren’t able to capitalize on it. BYU finally settled into the game, and started to win more possession and Ogden started to play more of a counter-attacking game. The first score came on a quick counter in the 23rd minute with Kyle Christensen putting the ball into the net. Zack DeFrancis equalized for BYU in the 42nd minute and the teams were tied going into the half.

BYU opened the second half scoring with a header by Brock Trejo off of a free kick in the 56th minute. Ogden’s Matt Broadhead converted a questionable penalty kick in the 65th minute to even the score again. Zack DeFrancis scored the second goal of his brace just a minute later to put BYU ahead for good. Brock Trejo scored his second goal of the night in the 76th minute, on another set play. Second half subs David Clark and Steve Fellows added goals in the 83rd and 87th minutes.

In my view, Trejo was the man of the match, with stiff competition from DeFrancis and Richie Bindrup. I hope one or more of them gets a nod from the PDL player of the week for their efforts.

(I should be posting pictures later tonight, I just didn’t get to downloading them this morning.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Week Twelve Scariness Rankings

Some really big changes this week, and some huge variance from the traditional power rankings. A big loss or a big win (especially over a team that had been doing well) really shows up here. Two tables for your viewing pleasure—first, the Adjusted Scariness, and second, the original Scariness. This time I’ll let you draw your own conclusions (though I’d sure like to hear them).

Rated by Adjusted Scariness
Team Adj Scariness Ranking (last week)
Houston 4.33 1 (4)
New England 2.49 2 (8)
DC United 2.13 3 (2)
Columbus 2.07 4 (10)
Salt Lake 1.62 5 (11)
Dallas 1.56 6 (9)
Toronto 1.49 7 (3)
New York 1.48 8 (6)
Chivas 1.31 9 (1)
Kansas City 0.91 10 (5)
Los Angeles 0.64 11 (7)
Chicago 0.36 12 (12)
Colorado - 0.12 13 (13)

Rated by Scariness

Team Scariness Adj Scariness (diff)
Houston 3.00 4.33 (1.33)
Dallas 1.93 1.56 (- 0.37)
Chivas 1.91 1.31 (- 0.60)
DC United 1.82 2.13 (0.29)
Columbus 1.8 2.07 (0.27)
New England 1.64 2.49 (0.85)
Toronto 1.31 1.49 (0.18)
New York 1.22 1.48 (0.26)
Salt Lake 1.13 1.62 (0.39)
Kansas City 1 0.91 (- 0.09)
Los Angeles 0.89 0.64 (- 0.25)
Chicago 0.76 0.36 (- 0.40)
Colorado 0.33 - 0.12 (- 0.45)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Great Weekend for Soccer in Utah

This was a great weekend for soccer in Utah. Not only did RSL get its first win (against DC United no less), but good things happened in the PDL as well.

The Ogden Outlaws went 0-1-1 on their roadtrip, earning a draw against Tacoma FC (1-1) and shutting out the Abbotsford Rangers (2-0). Taking six points on the road not only moved the Outlaws up the table (they’re in third place now, with 14 points form 9 games), it also helped BYU.

The Cougars helped themselves out as well, beating Yakima on both Friday (3-1) and Saturday (2-1) nights. The six points they took over the weekend put them 8 points over the second place Tacoma FC with 25 points in 10 games played).

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of the PDL games, but it looks like BYU’s continuing to play well. I’m looking forward to BYU’s 4th of July game against Ogden.