Thursday, May 31, 2007

BYU Player Selected to PDL team of the Week

Hugh Van Wagenen playing in the Yakima at BYU game May 19th Congratulations to Hugh Van Wagenen (D, BYU) for being named to the PDL team of the Week. This looks like the first such honor for a BYU player this season.

May 31 Scariness Rankings

I’ve not seen Jeff Bull’s latest collective rankings, so I can’t compare them this time around. Instead, I’m providing the my scariness score, and the corresponding rating (along with the change versus last week’s rankings).

Team Scariness Rating (change)
Colorado 2.28 1 (4)
DC United 2.16 2 (3)
New York 2.04 3 (-)
Kansas City 1.96 4 (-)
New England 1.96 4 (-3)
Dallas 1.8 6 (-4)
Toronto 1.38 7 (-1)
Chivas 1.14 8 (1)
Columbus 0.92 9 (1)
Los Angeles 0.76 10 (-2)
Salt Lake 0.62 11 (1)
Houston 0.54 12 (-1)
Chicago 0.24 13 (-6)

This means that the average change in scariness rankings was just over two slots, with big changes occuring all over the board.

Some of these rankings look a bit off, as I mentioned in my post A Bit More on Scariness. I’m still trying to come up with a way to clean them up—I’m open to suggestions.

(Oh, by the way, the USL1 and the PDL Northwest Division still have teams without enough games played to fill out their tables—maybe next week.)

MLS Expansion Dreams Revisited

A lot of other people are writing about MLS expansion (one of my favorites is The Significance of the Frontier in MLS History which looks at expansion in a before 2010 and after 2010 context). Since I wrote up my MLS Expansion Dreams post, a couple of things have happened. How do they affect what I’d like to see? Let’s find out.


I wanted to see Vancouver get an MLS team first (and really, for the Whitecaps to move up from the USL1. It’s looking more and more like San Jose is going to be the team instead. I think this is a bit of a shame, as California already has two MLS teams (along with a bunch of USL 1,2, and PDL teams). Not that I don’t want San Jose to get a team, I’d just like to see it happeh later.


I’d listed Seattle and Montreal as my choices here. Seattle would renew it’s rivalry with Vancouver (if that happened), and Montreal would join an interesting rivalry with Toronto and Vancouver.

Seattle does seem to be on the short list, but there’s not a lot of clarity about how it might happen. There is at least some talk of the Sounders becoming part of the MLS franchise. If that happens, I really hope that Washington gets a new USL1 team, either in Spokane or Tacoma (though both cities have PDL teams).

Montreal, I don’t see anyone else talking about this (except for a brief mention in the ‘Frontier’ article linked above), and I think that’s too bad. The Impact have been at the top of the USL1 for the last several years, they play good looking soccer, and have a good-looking SSS being built. I do wonder if the MLS rule requiring national players would have to be adjusted to allow three MLS Canadian teams though (even two might be a stretch).


I was hoping for Philadelphia and Portland as the two expansion teams here. I really think bringing the Timbers up to join the Sounders (and maybe the Whitecaps) would be the best option in the west. A brand new team in Philadelphia would round things out in the east.


My last set of expansion was to bring back two familiar faces, San Jose and the New York Cosmos. While reality might beat me to the punch with San Jose, I still hope the Cosmos make it eventually. If San Jose does land a team early, maybe Vancouver could fill this slot or perhaps a team from the Midwest or Southeast would be a better fit.

Just some notes

I tried to keep the two divisions balanced, but I’d really like to see the divisions dropped and a single table created. I’d also like to see both the USL1 and USL2 fleshed out. I think 20 teams in the MLS, 24 in the USL1, and 30 in the USL2 would be great.

I realize that I’ve dropped a bunch of cities that are in the running—St. Louis, Phoenix, and Las vegas leap immediately to mind. Of these, the only city I’d look at putting an MLS team into would be St. Louis. Even then, I’d rather move an existing team (cough Kansas City cough) than expand.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May 30th Picks

Here are my picks for this weekends MLS action (and the Friday Night USL game—you are watching it, right?). I’ve included my current scariness ratings for each team in parens.

USL Friday Night

Vancouver Whitecaps (2.28) @ Montreal Impact (2.60)—1-2 Montreal

This game (along with Saturday’s New York @ KC match) looks like the best game of the weekend. I think it’ll be really close, but Nick DeSantis and the Impact will extend the Vancouver losing streak to two games.

MLS Saturday

Colorado Rapids (2.28) @ Toronto FC (1.38)—2-1 Colorado

Colorado wins this in a tight game. I think Jeff Cunningham will score for his new team though.

Real Salt Lake (0.62) @ New England Revolution (1.96)—1-3 New England

I’d love to be wrong about this (I’d even take yet another tie), but I think New England is just too much for RSL.

New York Red Bulls (2.04) @ Kansas City Wizards (1.96)—2-1 New York

Along with the Friday Night pairing of USL1 powerhouses Vancouver and Montreal, this game is the cream of the crop. It’ll be tight, but I think Jozy and Angel both score, as does Eddie Johnson, and the Red Bulls take 3 points on the road.

DC United (2.16) @ Los Angeles Galaxy (0.76)—2-0 Los Angeles

DC is playing to well and LA will be missing too many players.

MLS Sunday

FC Dallas (1.80) @ Houston Dynamo (0.54)—1-0 Dallas

Kenny Cooper gets another goal, and Dallas beats the slumping Dynamo.

Columbus Crew (0.92) @ Chicago Fire (0.24)—0-0 Draw

This sounds like a painful game to watch. I don’t think either side has it in them to pull out a win.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Four Games in Five Nights

Mountains over the BYU South Field

It looks like June 10-16 is going to be a big week for local (to me) soccer. The US Open Cup just announced their opening round and it looks like the USL1 expansion side the California Victory will be playing the PDL BYU Cougars at the South Field on Tuesday the 12th.

Thursday the 14th will be FC Dallas @ Real Salt Lake, the ESPN MLS Thursday night game. So far RSL has drawn and lost to Dallas, maybe the third time will be the charm.

Friday the 15th features Tacoma FC @ BYU. Tacoma is the only team to beat BYU so far this season, and a second game in four days will make this an even harder game for BYU.

Saturday the 16th will see BYU play a third game in five days as the Abbotsford Rangers. The only Canadian team in the PDL Northwest Division.

The chance to go catch four games in days is enough to whet any fan’s appetite.

Three Lists for May 29th

Here’s this week’s installment of my list of three lists. There was enough changes from my lists from last week that I’ll keep the top three and bottom three lists this week. I’m adding a list of USL players I’d love to see on RSL’s roster in place of the coaches list.

Top Three Teams:
  1. New York Red Bulls (scariness 2.04—they’e outscored their opponents 7-0 in the last two games, and they’re still filling in for injured starters)
  2. Colorado (scariness 2.28—the only team without a loss in the lsat five games)
  3. Kansas City Wizards (scariness 1.96—knocking of the Revolution is a pretty good indicator that you’re doing something right)
Bottom Three Teams:
  1. Chicago Fire (scariness 0.24—being shut out by NY then drawing with RSL doesn’t bode well)
  2. Real Salt Lake (scariness 0.54— Jason Kries and his team badly need a win)
  3. Columbus Crew (scariness 0.92— winless in their last four games, but at least they’re scoring)
Three Players USL Players I’d Like to See on RSL’s Roster
  1. Scott Palguta (2 time Weekly Pro Honors, D Rochester Raging Rhinos)
  2. Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar (2 time Weekly Pro Honors, M Seattle Sounders)
  3. Martin Nash (2 time Weekly Pro Honors, M Vancouver Whitecaps)

I’ve listed the scariness rating for each team in the first two lists. These are from this weeks scariness list, which I’ll release on Thursday (after Jeff builds his collective rankings list).

Monday, May 28, 2007

BYU Beats Spokane and Earns US Open Cup Spot

The PDL BYU Cougars continued their winning ways on Saturday with a 1-3 win over the visiting Spokane Spiders. The win cemented their spot in this year’s US Open Cup.

Spokane scored first, and held a 1-0 lead going into the 88nd minute. BYU then scored twice in regulation time (Morgan Gilliam in the 88th and Steve Fellows in the 89th) and again in stoppage time (Zack DeFrancis).

May 28th Pick Review

Thursday May 24 — ESPN’s Game

Chicago Fire @ New York Red Bulls(1-3 NYRB) 0-3 NYRB

ESPN must be awfully happy about this game. There was some pretty good soccer on the field, a non-draw, and enough scoring to keep the non-soccer fan interested. Good stuff.

Saturday May 26

Kansas City Wizards @ New England Revolution(1-2 Revs) 4-3 KC

Wow, I guess Eddie Johnson might be back after all.

Houston Dynamo @ DC United(0-2 DC) 1-2 DC

Christian Gomez finally scored and Ben Olsen added a goal as well. DC is starting to look like they’re capable of playing. As hot as New York and New England look, it might not be enough.

Toronto FC @ Columbus Crew(1-0 TFC) 2-2 Draw

Columbus finally got a couple of points and Toronto put up some points on the road, but neither side did enough to win.

Los Angeles Galaxy @ Colorado Rapids(1-1 draw) 0-1 Rapids

LA went down a man early, and ended up losing on a Herculez Gomez goal following a Terry Cooke cross.

FC Dallas @ Chivas USA(2-1 Dallas) 0-2 Chivas

Galindo and Razov both scored, putting the goats over Dallas.

Sunday May 27

Real Salt Lake @ Chicago Fire &mdash (2-1 RSL) 0-0 Draw

This was a game that neither team deserved to win. Chicago fans can take heart in breaking their losing streak, and RSL fans can (maybe) find a silver lining in the play of Kipre and Esky.

USL1 Friday Night Game

Miami FC @ Montreal Impact(1-2 Montreal) 0-1 Montreal

This was a pretty good game. The Montreal crowd seemed pretty engaged. Montreal’s really got to love their win as Vancouver lost to Carolina, setting up a huge Vancouver @ Montreal match for Fox Soccer Channel’s match next Friday.

How’d I Do?

I ended up 3-6-0 this week (4-6-0 if you count the US Open Cup game) and 6-8-2 overall. I’m still doing well enough that I’ll try picking this weeks games, but I’m sure I’m not at the top of anyone’s table.

That's Just Sad

Saturday morning, the Dallas Morning News carried a story titled Soccer players are starving artists this morning. It’s centered around Dominic Oduro, a developmental player for FC Dallas. A couple of points it brings up:
  • Oduro spends 1/3 of his monthly income on rent (not including utilities—and that’s sharing the apartment with a teammate.
  • He cooks for himself and “eats rice and some kind of stew with vegetables and plantains. Once in a while, he eats chicken.”
  • He takes on extra jobs to help cover expenses, often taking two coaching jobs a day.

Perhaps most telling was a chart at the end of the article comparing the wages of some other jobs to the $12,500 that a developmental player like Oduro makes:

Job position Avg. salary
Cooks, fast food $14,920
Waiters, waitresses $15,060
Cashiers $17,620
Parking lot attendants $17,710
Janitors and cleaners $18,160

That’s just sad.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Yakima Reds @ BYU Cougars - May 25 2007

A fan takes in the game

We went to take in the Friday night BYU game at the South Field last night. The Yakima Reds (1-0-1 coming in) were the visiting team. My son manned the camera and got a lot of great pictures. (You can watch the slideshow if you like.)

final scoreboard

The game was well played, with a number of good chances on both sides. BYU controlled the run of play, and came away with a 0-1 victory on a 36th minute goal by Jake Cavanaugh. Several of the BYU players really impressed me:
  • 24 James Bindrup (D)
  • 0 Brandon Gilliam (GK)
  • 10 Brock Trejo (M)

I’m lousy at estimating, but there were probably 700 people there by midway through the first half, and a small group of fans chanting and drumming up in the bleachers.

in the shadows of the Wasatch

The field itself is nestled in the shadows of the Wasatch mountains. It’s a good looking pitch, with reasonable seating for a small crowd—a great place to take in a game.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Bit More on Scariness (Including Last Night's Game)

Here’s a look at how much of a change you might see on a game by game basis.

New York’s win raises their scariness rating by .1 point, which meant that they swap positions with Dallas. In this case, I think my system underrates the scariness of the Red Bulls with JPA but as he plays more games, and they get results, it gain accuracy.

Team new rating last week
New York 2.04 1.94
Dallas 1.98 1.98

Chicago’s loss hurt them a lot more. The dropped .54 points, which means they slipped below LA, Chivas USA, Columbus, and Houston. They’re now only .06 points scarier than Real Salt Lake—which makes me feel a bit better about my most recent picks

Team new rating last week
Chicago 0.48 1.02
Salt Lake 0.42 0.42
There are a several things that should still be worked into this to create a better scariness rating:
  • Goal differential (but on a per game or a last 5 basis?).
  • Opponents scariness (for teams that win or draw)
  • Fatigue (when a team has played an extra game already this week (e.g., both RSL and the Fire will be playing their second game of the week on Sunday, so they should both be considered ‘less scary’ than normal)

Are there other things that ought to factor in here? Does the rating make sense so far?

Jeff Cassar: New RSL Assistant Coach

The winds of change are still blowing around Real Salt Lake. Last week, the 3rd Degree talked about Jeff Cassar leaving FC Dallas, probably to join RSL. Early this morning, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that he had signed with RSL, replacing Peter Mellor, and would be joining the team today (along with Esky).

“The decision to let Peter Mellor go was a very difficult one for me. He is just an absolute class gentleman,” said RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis. “The only thing that makes that notion bearable is the fact that we are replacing him with Jeff Cassar, who was a longtime teammate and friend of mine in Dallas. Jeff will add some new ideas, some fresh viewpoints, and a comforting, supporting factor for me, unrivaled by anyone. The players will all enjoy his spirit and he will quickly become an absolute treasure to this staff and to this club.” (from the RSL Press Release dated 05/24/2007 7:52PM.)

Cassar is a former golkeeper for three MLS teams as well as a pair of english clubs. He is joining RSL as an assistant coach.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

MLS Scariness Ranking

In my post on USL1 power rankings, I used a simple ‘points per game’ (PPG) to rank teams instead of the even simpler ‘total points’ used on most standings reports. I mentioned that I wasn’t completely happy with it though, and that I might work on something using a weighted average. Well, I finally put it together, and have ranked the MLS and USL1, and PDL (Northwest Division) according to it.

I looked at the teams’ last five league results, and gave each result a weighted score. The earliest was points x 0.8, the next was points x 0.9, and so on, until the most recent game which was points x 1.2. I then divided these by the sum of 0.8, 0.9, 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 (which is 5). The resulting value gives an approximation of how well the team has played recently, with the most emphasis on the most recent games. I call this a team’s ‘scariness rating’.

Here’s what the MLS looks like when compared to the Collective Power Ranking put together by Jeff Bull.

Team Scariness Collective Power Ranking
New England 2.64 1
Dallas 1.98 3
New York 1.94 2
Kansas City 1.86 4
Colorado 1.58 5
DC United 1.58 6
Toronto 1.26 11
Chicago 1.02 7
Los Angeles 1.00 8
Chivas 0.94 10
Columbus 0.76 12
Houston 0.60 9
Salt Lake 0.42 13

Because some teams in the USL1 and PDL (Northwest) haven’t played five games yet, I’m not going to post them yet. As the tables are fleshed out, I’ll add them to a ‘Scariness Ranking’ post each Wednesday. I’ll also try to remember to add the scariness rankings to teams where appropriate (like my predictions posts). If you’d like to grab them and use them yourself, please feel free—just point people here for an explanation of what they mean.

PDL in Provo, Utah

In addition to Real Salt Lake and the Ogden Outlaws, there’s a third Utah soccer team to keep our eyes on. Like the Outlaws, the BYU Cougars soccer team plays in the PDL. Last year’s side played quite well, ending their season on penalty kicks in the playoffs after placing second in the Northwest division.

Nine starters from last year’s team have returned, so they hope to do well again this year. They’re off to a good start (2-1-0) and have home games this Friday and Saturday (the 25th and 26th) against the Yakima Reds and the Spokane Spiders.

Their first three games were on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest:
  • On May 17th, they beat the Cascade Surge 2-1 in Oregon. BYU’s goals came in the 4th minute (scored by Jake Cavanaugh off of a Morgan Gilliam free kick) and in the 12th minute (scored by Curtis Graham).
  • On May 19th, they lost 0-2 to the Tacoma Tide.
  • On May 21st, they beat the Abbotsford Rangers 2-0. Tyson Miller scored first (in the 13th minute), having intercepted an Abbotsford pass. Britt Osborne scored BYU’s other goal in the 37th minute, completing a cross from David Clark.

The game against Abbotsford was also played without a their full roster. Morgan Gilliam had to sit out due to a red card earned in Tacoma. Two other players, Brock Trejo and Steve Magleby, were unavailable as they’d been invited to play with the RSL reserves in Dallas.

This schedule means that BYU will have played their first five games in a ten day span—that’s a lot of soccer. Go Cougs!

Weighted Rankings for the MLS

A while ago, I posted an article about weighted rankings in the USL1 This has been one of the more popular things I’ve written in the short life of this blog. It worked out well enough, that I thought I’d do the same thing for the MLS Rankings (except for the embarrassing little mistake). So, without further ado:

Team Games Pts Pts/Game Ranking by Pts
New England 8 17 2.1250 1
New York 7 14 2.0000 3
Kansas City 7 13 1.8571 4
FC Dallas 9 16 1.7777 2
Colorado 8 12 1.5000 5
D.C. United 6 7 1.1666 8
Chicago 7 8 1.1428 6
Chivas USA 7 8 1.1428 6
Columbus 7 7 1.0000 8
Houston 7 7 1.0000 8
Los Angeles 5 5 1.0000 12
Toronto FC 7 6 0.8571 11
Real Salt Lake 7 4 0.5714 13

This doesn’t shake things up much at the bottom, but it sure does shake up the top ranked teams.

I combined the two divisions to create a single table, because I think that makes more sense. If you don't like this, let me know, and I'll start doing this in a two table format.

Hey, I Picked One Right!

Well, I made a USOC prediction back in my post reviewing last week’s picks. Believe it or not, I even got it right (down to the score). From everything I’ve read, RSL fielded a team with a lot of backups/reserves.

Chris Klein got the team’s only goal and Chris Seitz seems to have had a decent night in the net. That the team lost on another late goal is the continuation of a bad trend though.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

USL1 Coaches: Colin Clarke

During his club career, Clarke was a hugely important player for the Northern Ireland national team, for whom he scored 13 goals (second behind David Healy) in 38 appearances and played in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. During his club career, Clarke played in 361 English league games, scoring 146 goals, for teams including Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Queens Park Rangers. —from Wikipedia

Richmond Kickers

Year League Reg. Season Playoffs U.S. Open Cup
1998 USISL A-League 1st, Atlantic Division Conference Semifinals Did Not Qualify
1999 USL A-League 2nd, Atlantic Division Second Round Did Not Qualify
San Diego Flash
Year Division League Reg. Season Playoffs U.S. Open Cup
2000 2 USL A-League 2nd, Pacific Conference Quarterfinals 3rd Round
Dallas Burn 2003, 2004, 2005
Year Reg. Season Playoffs U.S. Open Cup
2003 5th, West Did not qualify Round of 16
2004 5th, West Did not qualify Quarterfinals
2005 2nd, West Quarterfinals Final
2006 1st, West Quarterfinals Quarterfinals

Virginia Beach Mariners

(team folded before the season started)

Puerto Rico Islanders

Colin Clarke was named the head coach of the Islanders on May 22, 2007. Taking over for Toribio Rojas, who will stay on with the clubs’s player development programs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 22nd Picks

Okay, I think I’ve recovered enough from my horrible picks last week to try again. I’m also going to try my hand at the USL1 game of the week that Fox Soccer Channel will be showing this Friday.

Thursday May 24 — ESPN’s Game

Chicago Fire @ New York Red Bulls — 1-3 NYRB

The Red Bulls are looking too strong to pick against right now. And this time, Jozy will be on the field, not at his prom.

Saturday May 26

Kansas City Wizards @ New England Revolution — 1-2 Revs

Again, the home team looks like they’ll be too much for the visitors.

Houston Dynamo @ DC United — 0-2 DC

Picking the home side for the third time in a row. I don’t think Houston can pull this one off, DC is starting to put the pieces together.

Toronto FC @ Columbus Crew — 1-0 TFC

I think Toronto will pick up where they left off before the loss to DC last week. Columbus just won’t be able to keep up with them.

Los Angeles Galaxy @ Colorado Rapids — 1-1 draw

A lot is made of Colorado being ahead of LA in the standings, but they seem to be fading. I’m not sure that LA is that much stronger though.

FC Dallas @ Chivas USA — 2-1 Dallas

Dallas is looking pretty good, though there last couple of games haven’t been against strong teams — then again Chivas isn’t a very strong team.

Sunday May 27

Real Salt Lake @ Chicago Fire &mdash 2-1 RSL

If Kreis can get the boys fired up (sorry, I never could resist a good pun) I think RSL can can beat a fading Fire side.

USL1 Friday Night Game

Miami FC @ Montreal Impact — 1-2 Montreal

Miami played well last week, but Montreal is the second best team in the league (behind Vancouver). As well as Nick DeSantis has been coaching them, I’d think some MLS teams might want to tune into this game to see how he does.

If You Were Jason Kreis (updated)

No, this isn't an excuse for you to hurt yourself, kick a dog, or hide your face in public. I'm wondering about what personnel moves you might make for RSL.

The Deseret News just a nice article on the future of RSL. In it, James Edward talks about the kind of effort that it’s going to take to reshape RSL. He quoted the Dallas media as saying, “that it would take at least two years before Kreis could mend this broken team.” Edward says that he doesn’t think it will take that long, but that it is going to be a big job.

The first step in this reshaping needs to be some roster shaking. Eddward points out that RSL has three open slots on its roster and about $300,000 to spend on them. So here’s the question. If you were Jason Kreis, who would you want to pursue?


It "looks like" Jeff Cunningham is off to TFC in exchange for Alecko Eskandarian. This clears another $50,000 from the salary cap, but at what cost?

Weighted Rankings, USL Week 5

I decided to take a couple of minutes to figure out where the various USL1 teams stood in terms of “points per game”, or a weighted score. To me, this produces a much clearer picture of how strong each of the teams is. I suppose you could go even further and make the “points per game” a weighted moving average, maybe next week.

The Official Rankings

Team Pts Games Pts Per Game
Vancouver Whitecaps 17 7 2.428
Montreal Impact 11 5 2.2
Atlanta Silverbacks 11 7 1.57
Miami FC 9 6 1.5
Carolina RailHawks 9 6 1.5
Rochester Raging Rhinos 9 8 1.125
Portland Timbers 7 4 1.75
Puerto Rico Islanders 6 7 857
Seattle Sounders 6 8 75
Charleston Battery 5 5 1
Minnesota Thunder 5 6 833
California Victory 1 3 333

The Weighted Rankings

Team Weighted Rank Unweighted Rank Pts/Game
Vancouver Whitecaps 1 1 2.428
Montreal Impact 2 2 2.2
Portland Timbers 3 4 1.75
Atlanta Silverbacks 4 2 1.57
Miami FC 5 4 1.5
Carolina RailHawks 5 4 1.5
Rochester Raging Rhinos 7 4 1.125
Charleston Battery 8 10 1
Puerto Rico Islanders 9 8 .857
Minnesota Thunder 10 10 .833
Seattle Sounders 11 8 .75
California Victory 12 12 333

Update: Oops, I mis-slotted the Sounders and Thunder. Thanks uhclem for pointing it out.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Getting People Into the Game

The Red Bulls will be giving away tickets in groups of four for Thursday’s nationally televised game against the Chicago Fire. All a season ticket holder has to do is give the name of someone interested in going and the Red Bulls will give that person four free tickets. —from a letter to season ticket holders from Marc DeGrandpre via the MLS Underground

I’ve been thinking about what various clubs can do to get people into stadia for games, and this looks like an interesting idea. If RSL does the same thing, I’ve got 3 boy scouts I’d love to bring to the June 14 game. ;^)

Three Lists for May 21

I’m not up to putting together a full on Power Ranking, so I thought I’d try something different. Here’s my list of three lists of three things each (with some notes to keep me honest):

Top Three Teams:
  1. New York Red Bulls (I had them at #2 this weekend, thrashing the Crew helped them out)
  2. New England Revolution (I had them #1, but NYRB is just a bit too scary not to swap the spots)
  3. FC Dallas (Their game against RSL wasn’t that great, but they’re getting the results)
Bottom Three Teams:
  1. Real Salt Lake (7 games, 4 points, still looking for a win)
  2. Columbus Crew (They and LA are the only two 1 win teams, but LA’s only played 5 games to the Crew’s 7)
  3. Houston Dynamo (Regardless of their beating Colorado, I just don’t see the Dynamo playing that well so far in 2007)
Three Coaches on the Hottest Seats:
  1. Columbus Crew—Sigi Schmid (especially after the dismantling by NYRB)
  2. Chivas USA—Preki (fans are already calling for his head, losing to LA again doesn’t help)
  3. DC United—Tim Soehn (he went a long way to coming off this list by beating TFC, depending on Saturday’s result he may jump off the list to make room for Dominic Kinnear)

Reflecting on my May 18 Picks

Well, that didn’t go so well, did it? Let’s see how I did.

Game Prediction Actual
DC United @ Toronto FC 2-2 draw 2-1 DCU
Looks like TFC was a bit more tired and DCU a bit hungrier than I’d thought. This should be a pretty good series going forward, with great fan support on both sides.
Columbus Crew @ NY Red Bulls 0-1 NY 0-4 NY
I thought Columbus would be beaten, but I had no idea the margin would be this wide. NYRB looks like they’ve regained their form. Now if they can just find some fans for their home games.
New England Revolution @ Houston Dynamo 2-0 Revs 1-0 Revs
I didn’t get the score right, but I did have the result.
Kansas City Wizards @ Colorado Rapids 2-1 Wizards 1-1 Draw
I haven’t seen the game, so I don’t know how exciting it might have been.
LA Galaxy @ Chivas USA 3-1 Galaxy 1-1 Draw
Sounds like this one was a good game to watch … I’ve got it on the PVR so I’ll enjoy it later. Bad break for Chris Albright though. Hopefully it’s not a bad injury.
Real Salt Lake @ FC Dallas 2-1 RSL 1-2 FC Dallas
Wow, this one really floored me. I can’t really believe that an RSL team that came out and fought so hard in their last two games could have looked this bad. I’m still hoping Coach Kreis’ boys get things turned around.

Which means I was 2-4 (2-2-2 Ive’s Method). I don’t think I could have been much more average than that. I’ll try my hand again next week, but if I don’t start doing better I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up.

Since it’s not an MLS game, I’ll pitch in my US Open Cup pick here:

  • Wed May 23 — Real Salt Lake @ Colorado Rapids — 1-2 Colorado

I just don’t see RSL being up for this game, and the Carey Talley injury is just going to make it worse.

Friday, May 18, 2007

May 18 Picks

I haven’t tried picking results yet, mostly because I think I’d be really lousy at it. This morning on my drive into work I listened to an AYL Podcast and there fired up about the idea. So, here are my (probably not very good) choices for the weekend:

DC United @ Toronto FC — 2-2 draw

I like Toronto’s energy, but I don’t think they’ll win 3 in 11 days. On the other hand, the BMO might collapse under the fan energy which I think will just keep increasing.

Columbus Crew @ NY Red Bulls — 0-1 NY

I think the Red bulls will start to pull things together, and win a close game in Columbus.

New England Revolution @ Houston Dynamo — 2-0 Revs

Houston didn’t look too good against Toronto last week, and will fall to a really strong looking New England.

Kansas City Wizards @ Colorado Rapids — 2-1 Wizards

I think Kansas City will get a result on the road against a tired Colorado team that hasn’t looked to good of late.

LA Galaxy @ Chivas USA3-1 Galaxy

I think the Galaxy is the stronger of the two home teams, and it will show.

Real Salt Lake @ FC Dallas — 2-1 RSL

I think Jason’s boys will get three points out of this match. Freddy might even score a goal.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Slam at RSL

“Now RSL is even more like the Blitzz. Except the Blitzz won trophies and charged $8 to sit behind the visiting team’s bench.”—comment on the RSLFM Report

Ouch! But I’d sure like an $8 seat behind the opposition’s bench to yell, clap, sing, and generally be rowdy. And, you know, some silverware would sure be nice.

So, how is RSL acting like the Blitzz? Well, they brought in two RSL Youth Development team players for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s practices to help fill in for some roster vacancies due to injury and U20 call ups. That’s not quite where the Blitzz were, with a High School player on the roster (though Maybe Freddy Adu counts there) but it does show some out of the box thinking.

Coach Kreis pointed out the value to both the team and the youth players:

“It’s obviously beneficial for us, because we need numbers, but it’s also beneficial to them because it exposes them to this environment, and I think it needs to be a perk that’s involved with being a part of RSL’s youth development teams,”

USL1 Coaches: Chiquinho de Assis

I’ve had a terrible time trying to find information about Chiquinho de Assis, the first, and only, coach of Miami FC. Most of what I’ve found has come from the press release that announced his hiring.

Before coaching, de Assis played as an offensive midfielder for a number of brazilian clube from 1970-83.

He has a great reputation for discovering and developing young talent—for example, he’s credited with discovering Dida and Adailton. He’s been a very successful coach in the youth soccer program of the brazilian club Vitoria da Bahia. He’s led them to three Philips Cup Championships and one the Professional Bahai cup twice.

2006, Miami FC/s only year of operation so far, has been quite successful for an expansion team. They played to a 11-11-6 record, and made it to the quarterfinals in the USL1 playoffs. Four games into the 2007 season they’re not doing as well, sporting an 1-3-0 record.

Season League Regular Season Playoffs US Open Cup
2006 USL First Division 5th Quarterfinals 2nd round

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MLS Expansion Dreams

Okay, admission time. This isn’t some well thought out list of where the MLS ought to place teams based on years of analysis. It’s just my dream of how things ought to work out. (Thanks to Jason Kreis Superstar for the idea.)

The MLS wants to grow by three teams by 2010, I’d like to see expansion beyond that. If I could make it happen, here’s what I’d do in 2008, 2010, 2012, and and 2014.

Western Div Eastern Div
Seattle Montreal
Portland Philidelphia
San Jose New York Cosmos

I could even see moving the two 2010 teams to 2012 to preserve the Seattle/Portland rivalry.

The best way for the MLS to make this happen (I think), would be to buy the existing USL1 Whitecaps, Sounders, Impact, and Timbers (either now or later) and replace them with new USL1 teams when they transition them into the MLS. I think some potential USL1 locations might be:
  • Spokane (or Tacoma), Washington
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ft Collins, Colorado
  • Detroit, Michigan

Of course, the best course of action is to build better geographical coverage of the US and Canada at the USL2, USL1, and MLS levels then figure out how to make relegation and promotion work. (Hey, I did say this was my dream, and who’s dreams ever really tie that well to reality?)

So, what are your expansion dreams?

USL1 Coaches: Nick DeSantis

Nick DeSantis, currently the coach of the Montreal Impact, looks like a great MLS coaching prospect. He played the game (as a midfielder) in Canada and the US for 16 years, and has recently met with incredible success as a manager. The only reason he shouldn’t get a job with the MLS would be the promotion of the Montreal Impact to the MLS (they’ve been leading the USL in attendance and on the field for the last couple of years)—and since there’s no promotion/relegation opportunity (too bad), I guess we don’t need to worry about that.

As a player:
Montreal Supra 1987-??
Montreal Impact 1993-98, 2000-03 219 21
Raleigh Express 1999
Canadian MNT 1988-97 9 1
  • 2nd in games played for the Impact
  • 4th on scoring list for the Impact
As a coach
Montreal Impact 2004- 84 games 49-14-21

Titles: * League Champion: 2004 (A-League) * Regular Season Champion: 2005, 2006 (USLD1) * Voyageurs Cup: 2004, 2005, 2006 * Can Am Cup: 2004 * USL1 Manager of the Year finalist 2004, 2006 * USL Manager of the Year 2005 * 15-game undefeated streak (10-0-5) in 2005

Montreal Impact standings under DeSantis
Year League Regular Season Playoffs Voyageurs Cup
2004 USL A-League 1st Champion Champion
2005 USL First Division 1st Semifinals Champion
2006 USL First Division 1st Semifinals Champion

If you’ve enjoyed this, please take a look at the other USL1 coaching posts I’ve made.

U20: Argentina-US

”It just goes to show us we can play with anybody, but at the end of the day it’s not good enough. We’ve got to learn how to win games." — Josmer Altidore

Well, it looks like a solid game just wasn’t enough. The US U20 team lost a 1-0 game last night, though everyone saw improvement. Freddy Adu and Josmer Altidore both seem to have played well, and Bob Bradley liked the way Chris Seitz played.

Just over 3500 fans showed up for the game in PAETEC Park, home of the Rochester Raging Rhinos. There doesn’t seem to have been much mainstream media coverage either — hopefully someday, games like this will get a mention at the big sports outlets.

The Danger of Prearranging Televised Games

There's not much anyone can do about it now, since the games are scheduled and the TV contracts are set, but don't you think ESPN is wishing they could get tonight's game (Houston @ Toronto) for their nationally televised Thursday night match?

It's not that Dallas @ Chicago is going to be a bad game. It should be a good, exciting match — with the Toronto's explosion over the weekend, the fantastic support they're getting at BMO, and the number of Houston players with links to Canada tonight's match looks like the kind of event that would help grab casual fans and help get them hooked on the beautiful game.

Having games hidden away on package channels that only a fan will be subscribed to just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Spreading the (relatively few) games throughout the week doesn't make too much sense either. Wouldn't it be great if there were two games tomorrow night, and ESPN could choose which one to televise based on the current setting rather than preseason expectations?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

USL1 Coaches: Laurie Calloway

Laurie Calloway played professionally in England and the US for 18 years, from 1960-77 and 1979. He played for a variety of english clubs reaching as high as the second division (with the Blackburn Rovers). He spent his entire US career playing in California, playing for the San Jose Earthquakes.

Calloway coached the ASL Southern California Lazers in 1978, then went back to playing for a year in 1979. Since then, he has been coaching full time.

Years Position Team Notes
1980 various assistant coaching positions unknown
1981 Head Coach California Surf (NASL) folded after the 1981 season
1983 Head Coach Seattle Sounders (NASL) 3rd in Division, folded after the 1983 season
1985-88 Head Coach San Jose Earthquakes (WSA) 1985 WSA conference title, 1988 3rd place in WSA, folded after 1988 season
1991-95 Head Coach San Francisco Bay Blackhawks (APSL) 1991 APSL championship, 1992 CONCACAF semifinals
1996-97 Head Coach San Jose Clash (MLS) fired midway through season
-2002 Head Coach Des Moines Menace (USL PDL) 2002 Coach of the Year, 2002 undefeated regular season
2003-04 Head Coach Syracuse Salty Dogs (USL2) 26-20-10, team folded after the 2004 season
2005- Head Coach Rochester Raging Rhinos (USL1) 2nd both seasons, reached USL1 finals in 2006, US Open Cup quarterfinals in 2005

Calloway is also know for an extensive feud with Eric Wynalda.

Friday, May 11, 2007

USL Coaches: Chris Agnello

Next on my list of coaches is Chris Agello, a coach with some deep Utah roots. He enjoyed a lot of success in what’s now the USL2 with the Utah Blitzz—winning two league championships, five conference titles, and being named Coach of the Year in 2002. His five year record was 64-21-11.

Utah Blitzz
Year League Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup
2000 USL D-3 Pro League 2nd, Western Conference Finals Did not qualify
2001 USL D-3 Pro League 1st, Western Champion 2nd Round
2002 USL D-3 Pro League 1st, Western Semifinals 2nd Round
2003 USL Pro Select League 1st, Western Semifinals 2nd Round
2004 USL Pro Soccer League 1st, Western Champion 3rd Round

Following his success with the Blitzz, Agnello served as an assistant coach with RSL in 2005. He then moved on to a Coach/GM role for the USL1 Portland Timbers. He didn’t fare as well there, lasting only one season, and posting a 7-15-6 record before resigning.

According to his bio at the RSL website,

Agnello was the first coach in the USL to achieve both the national title and the regular season championship.

I don’t know what Chris Agnello is doing now—google hasn’t helped much, can you?

USL1 Soccer: May 11, 2007

I’m off to go camping with my scouts tonight, then hiking tomorrow, but the tivo is all fired up, and I’ll be resting Saturday afternoon watching the Seattle Sounders at the Portland Timbers. This looks like it’ll be a great game.

Both the MLS and USL1 need to get more teams into them (slowly, I know), to help build these kind of rivalries. Who knows, if the MLS decides to expand into Las Vegas, we’ll have three teams pretty close (LV, RSL, and the Rapids) which might turn into a great three-way rivalry like the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver area enjoys.

US Men's Coaching Decision

Well, it looks like Bob Bradley won’t be the interim head coach much longer. Steven Goff’s article claims Bradley will become the ‘real’ head coach sometime in the next to weeks.

While I think Bradley’s the right man for the job, this is a change that should have been made months ago. Sunil Gulati has drawn this out, and in so doing, has created an ugly spectacle for nothing.

I hope the final word comes down soon, and I wish Bob Bradley and the USMNT the best of luck.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

USL Coaches: Bob Lilley

Bob Lilley is currently the coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps, and used to coach the Montreal Impact. I can’t find a lot about him, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Voyageurs Cup: 2002, 2003
  • Can Am Cup: 2003
Year League Regular Season Playoffs Voyageurs Cup
2002 USL A-League 2nd, Northeast Conference Semifinals Champion
2003 USL A-League 1st, Northeast Division Finals Champion
  • Cascadia Cup Champions – 2004, 2005
  • Nations Cup Champions – 2006
Year League Regular Season Playoffs Voyageurs Cup
2004 USL A-League 2nd, Western Semifinals 4th
2005 USL First Division 3rd Quarterfinals 2nd
2006 USL First Division 4th Champion 3rd

It certainly looks like he’s been successful over the last several years. I wish I could find out what he was doing before 2002 — anyone want to share?

More about Vancouver

The City of Vancouver is currently considering a proposal for Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium, a new stadium to be built over the railway tracks east of Waterfront Station on Burrard Inlet. This 15,000 seat stadium would replace Swangard Stadium as the home field for the USL's Vancouver Whitecaps, with a proposed opening date in 2010. There is a fair degree of controversy with regards to this location — Wikipedia

When I wrote about Vancouver as a possible MLS expansion site, I wasn't aware of the proposal above. With an expanded capacity of up to 30,000, this could be an ideal MLS stadium. It might require promotion of the whitecaps though, something I'm not sure the MLS is willing to consider.

US Open Cup: The invisible Tournament

[New York and Los Angelas, t]he very thought of these two household names, within MLS and U.S. soccer history, conjures up classic games. East coast versus West coast. Lakers vs. Knicks. Kings vs. Rangers. Now, Galaxy vs. Red Bulls. You name it in any sport, New York versus Los Angeles is “BIG”. So why, you ask, is this game different? Well The powers that be at MLS and U.S. Soccer headquarters, I guess, have differing opinions. There is no TV. Not even tape delay. Radio…Huh! You try to find it. This game and the whole enchilada, needs coverage. Gary Richards

The whole US Open Cup needs more coverage. I find it hard to believe that there’s no media coverage of games like this. By all accounts it was a great, exciting game. But no one is going to see it. You could let Fox Soccer Channel know that you want to see it, or you can tell ESPN—better yet, tell ‘em both.

Who knows, maybe we can get some coverage for the 2008 US Open Cup.

Coaching Merry-go-round: Who might be next?

With the recent “coaching change”: at RSL, and with the ongoing watch over other MLS coaches, I’ve been thinking about who might make good replacement coaches in the MLS. One source that I realized that I don’t know enough about are the USL1 coaches. I thought it would be worth doing the research—and then sharing it here.

Here are the current coaches:

Team Coach
Atlanta Silverbacks Jason Smith
California Victory Glenn Van Straatum
Carolina RailHawks Scott Schweitzer
Charleston Battery Mike Anhaeuser
Miami FC Chiquinho de Assis
Minnesota Thunder Amos Magee
Montreal Impact Nick De Santis
Puerto Rico Islanders Toribio Rojas
Portland Timbers Gavin Wilkinson
Rochester Raging Rhinos Laurie Calloway
Seattle Sounders Brian Schmetzer
Vancouver Whitecaps Bob Lilley

Not listed are a couple of other names tied with both the recent USL1 and MSL are:

  • Colin Clarke (who coached the now defunct Virginia Beach Mariners)
  • Chris Agnello (who coached the Portland Timbers last year and was closely associated with Utah Soccer before that)

I'll follow up with more information about these coaches (as I have time to research and write things up). In the meantime, feel free to leave your comments about any and all of them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

At The Game

I should have written this up earlier, but real life got in the way.

My son and I were at the NYRB-RSL game this weekend, and I came away with four themes:

  • It was too expensive: $60 for the game and some food was more than I wanted to spend (and more than some people can spend). If the front office wants to sell soccer in Utah, they're going to need to come up with some cheaper seats.
  • The crowd was too small (and a lot of them just didn't get it): The folks sitting behind me were complaining about the drumming and horns, saying it 'interfered with the game'. Ohh boy.
  • The real fans were there: We did find (and went to join) a small but enthusiastic crowd of Loyalists. They need to do some serious recruiting, hopefully I can make more tickets work on our budget.
  • oh, yeah — we loved it, even with the stuff mentioned above, and even if it was a draw.

MLS Expansion in the Northwest

The MLS expansion rumour mill seems focused on either Seattle or Portland getting an MLS expansion team (maybe promoting the existing USL1 team already in the city). What about the other Pacific Northwestern option though?

What, you don't know where I mean? Why, Vancouver. Home of the Whitecaps FC.

They're a pretty solid looking USL1 club (the reigning league champs even), they seem to be well coached, and they play in a Soccer Friendly stadium (which is supposed to be expanded to seat ~10,000 for the U20 World Cup -- and might be able to be expanded to fit even more).

I'm not in a position to go making the decision, but I do think it's an interesting idea. What do you think?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

RSL Press Conference

From the press conference:
  • Ellinger to stay on as a technical director.
  • RSL will be running an national and international search for a new general manager.
  • ‘Jason Kries reminds me of Jeff Van Gundy. His will to win qualifies him to be the head coach of Real Salt Lake. He will become on of the great coaches in MLS history.’ (Dave Checketts)
  • This will be a multi-year deal, not just an interim thing.
  • ‘To those of you who don’t think I can succeed, get in line. And thank you, because you’re just what I need someone to prove wrong.’ (Jason Kreis)
  • ‘Fortune Favors the Brave’—Jason Kreis’ recurring theme
What didn’t happen in the press conference:
  • There were rumours swirling that this was not the only news, but that seems not to have been the case. Is there more to come?

The Anti-Bandwagon

I really don't want to jump on the 'Fire John Ellinger' anti-bandwagon, but it doesn't look like he's got a whole lot of support outside of the RSL front office. If you'd like to see him gone, you might want to check out the comments on 'The Freezer Week #2', or the Fire John Ellinger blog. Can John make the changes needed to turn things around? If history is any indication, it doesn't look like it. I'm interested to see what happens on Saturday.