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.

Friday, June 22, 2007

RSL Not Giving Up - Just a Fan

””No way are we cashing in on this season,” [John Ellinger] said. (RSL brokers another trade with major player in the Trib.)

Well, that’s good to know. RSL is at the bottom of the league, without a win to their name (and not really any in sight), but the front office isn’t giving up on the season. Sure, the fans are threatening to wear brown paper bags out to games. Oh, and yes, the front office has made a list of potential ‘big names’, but Jason Kreis says, “We have begun a list of players we are looking at but I don’t think we have contacted any of them yet.” Not only that, but the team is sitting on something like $350,000 of cap space. I’d hate to see how things looked if they were giving up on the season.

So, what should they be doing? Well, the recent trade for Robbie Findley and Nate Sturgis is probably a good move (though it’s certainly a long range move, not a short term fix). Getting some more defensive help and an established scoring threat wouldn’t hurt either. Overall, I’d say trying to salvage the 2007 season is probably a lost cause and trying to build a solid foundation for 2008 is probably the best course.

Then again, what do I know? I’m just a fan.

Go Richie

Defender Richie Bindrup has been named to the PDL Team of the Week. The announcement singles him out for his play (and goal) in the Abbotsford game, but he's been a solid player for BYU in every game I've seen this season. This is the second time this season that a BYU player has been given this honor — Hugh Van Wagenen earned it back in May.

Bindrup has started 8 games for the Cougars so far this year and has scored two goals (in two shots on goal), tying him for the team scoring lead with six other players.

Keep up the good work Richie, and good luck to you and the rest of the team in Spokane tonight and tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dave Sarachan, Toribio Rojas, and John Ellinger

Okay, time for a comparison. Midway through the season, an underperforming soccer team has fired their head coach. This has happened three times this year. It’s probably instructive to see what happened in each case.

The Chicago Fire

With today’s firing of Dave Sarachan, the Fire are looking to turn things around. Dave had been a successful MLS level coach, but lately seems to have lost his touch with the team. Instead of hiring a new coach right away, the Fire have opted to make Denis Hamlett (an assistant coach with the Fire since ‘98) their interim coach. This move should let them look around for an established coach, while letting Hamlett potentially win the job for himself.

While interim coaches aren’t always a good thing, the Fire have given themselves some room to work, and have put a coach in place (for now) who knows the team. We’ll see how things work out over the next month or so.

The Puerto Rico Islanders

On May 22nd, Colin Clark was hired by the Puerto Rico Islanders to replace Toribio Rojas. Colin Clarke is an experienced coach, who managed teams in the USL A-League, had a stint as an assistant coach for the MLS Dallas Burn, and went on to coach them to a Western Conference Championship. Prior to his hiring, the Islanders were 0-3-3, since his hiring, they’ve gone 2-0-2.

Real Salt Lake

Back on May 3rd, RSL fired John Ellinger and replaced him with former player Jason Kreis. Ellinger’s tenure as coach was widely viewed as a failure; he failed to develop players, produced a losing record, and was seen as managing games ineffectively. His replacement, Kreis, retired as a player the night before the move was announced, has had no coaching experience at any level, and has been the public face of numerous front office mistakes. Prior to the change, RSL was 0-2-2 (with one non-MLS win). Since the change, they are 0-3-4 (with one non-MLS win and one non-MLS loss).

Summing it up

Three coaching changes, and (not surprisingly) three different approaches. While it’s too early to tell about Chicago, it certainly seems that Puerto Rico did it right. Jason Kries was (and is) saddled with a lot of problems that aren’t his fault, but it’s hard to believe that RSL wouldn’t have done better making him an assistant coach and hiring (or at least looking for) an experienced coach for him to work under.

BYU On Top of the PDL Northwest

Last weekend (the 15th and 16th of June), BYU played two important games. My son and I were going to catch them both, but fate intervened and I ended up sick on Saturday afternoon so we only saw the Friday night game.

On Friday, BYU faced the (then) division leading Tacoma FC, the only team to beat the Cougs so far this year. BYU came out on fire and scored a goal in the 5th minute, and controlled possession for most of the first half. During the second half, they kicked the game up a notch, scoring five more goals (four of them by substitutes) to win 0-6. The win put the Cougars into a first place tie in the division with Tacoma.

On Saturday, the Cougars played the cellar-dwelling dwelling Abbotsford Rangers. After giving up an early goal, BYU came back to score two and hold onto the three points. A Tacoma loss to the Ogden Outlaws (also on Saturday night), put BYU three points ahead in the standings with a game in hand.

This weekend, BYU travels to Yakima, Washington to play two games against the Yakima Reds, who they beat at home back in May. The Reds are currently sitting in the middle of the table, but have played only seven games compared to the eight or nine that the other teams in the Northwest Division have played.

Warm And Fuzzy Article on RSL and Cassar at the Deseret News

The local coverage of RSL is a bit confusing to say the least. There are a lot of articles slamming the team over losing, political misteps, and the like (and, yes, there have been a lot of good reasons to slam the team). There are also a lot of soft, fluffy articles that toss soft questions at the coaches and seem aimed at making people feel good about things.

This morning the big article in the Deseret News was one of the latter. It was all about the positive different Jeff Cassar is already making on RSL, even though it hasn't shown up in the win column. If you don't want to go and read it (I won't blame you), here are some of the main points:

  • Cassar is a family guy who loves the Salt Lake Valley. "I was just driving to work the other day with Jason (Kreis) and I just told him I love this place, it feels like home already. The people are great, and I'm a massive family guy, and this place just oozes family. It oozes being outside and mingling and meeting people. It's not like everyone's in their own hole." — I'm not sure what that has to do with RSL, but it sounds nice.
  • Even though the discussions that led to Cassar's hiring were a mistake that cost RSL $20,000 in fines and resulted in the firing of Peter Mellor, the Cassar and Kreis don't regret them. "You want to always feel good, safe, secure. You want to have people in who are going to give you honest opinions. It's what every coach would do and should do, as long as the person they're bringing in is qualified for that spot," said Cassar. — the article does point out that neither Cassar nor Kreis has the background to indicate that they're qualified for their position.
  • Cassar is given credit in the article for bringing out the improved play in goalkeeper Nick Rimando — too be fair though, Rimando's improved play began before Cassar arrived.

Maybe I just missed the sarcasm in the headline "Assistant coach Cassar already an asset for RSL", but I sure don't see a lot of value so far.

Oh, yeah, I should probably include the bit of news from the end of the article: Cassar and his family are all settling into life in the Salt Lake valley and will be closing on a house in the 'burbs soon — I know that makes me feel better about the coaching change (and, yeah, I'm being sarcastic).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Week Eleven Scariness Rating

This has been a trying weekend for me. RSL dropped two games that they really had no business losing, and have forced me to EmbraTSu (Embrace The Suckiness). I won’t be one of the fans wearing a brown paper sack on Saturday, but only because I won’t be there. I also spent the weekend being sick … basically not fun at all.

The Adjusted Scariness ratings flopped around a lot (especially if you look at them over two weeks—Toronto went from 5th to 9th to 3rd). I think Salt Lake’s rating is too high. I’m also not sure about Chivas and Toronto being rated so highly (though I wouldn’t want to play either team right now).

Team Adj Scariness Rating (Last Week) Change Over Two Weeks
Chivas 3.51 1 (2) +3
DC United 3.4 2 (1) +2
Toronto 3.07 3 (9) +2
Houston 2.73 4 (4) +2
Kansas City 2.47 5 (3) - 4
New York 1.48 6 (5) - 4
Los Angeles 1.27 7 (12) +3
New England 1.05 8 (7) 0
Dallas 0.51 9 (6) +3
Columbus 0.47 10 (13) +3
Salt Lake 0.38 11 (8) - 2
Chicago 0.36 12 (11) - 1
Colorado 0.22 13 (10) - 5

I’m also going to include a table of the old style scariness score for each team. I think this shows the effect that ties (and lopsided wins) have in this system.

Team Scariness Rating (Adj Rating)
DC United 2.6 1 (2)
Chivas 2.47 2 (1)
Houston 2.2 3 (4)
Kansas City 1.78 4 (5)
Toronto 1.62 5 (3)
Dallas 1.33 6 (9)
New England 1.33 6 (8)
New York 1.22 8 (6)
Los Angeles 1.18 9 (7)
Chicago 0.76 10 (12)
Colorado 0.58 11 (13)
Columbus 0.44 12 (10)
Salt Lake 0.36 13 (11)

Given RSL’s continued poor showing and my proximity to a pretty good PDL team, I may have to put in the effort to whip up scariness scores for the PDL Northwest going forward.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Major Trade By RSL

In a surprising move, Real Salt Lake has announced a major trade aimed at putting a winning team on the field. Said owner Dave Checketts “Being conservative just wasn’t working, so we decided to go out on a limb. I promise that you’ll see some winning soccer from here on out.”

Details of the trade are cloudy as terms are still being worked out, but several members of the team, the city of St. George Utah, the Virgin River Gorge, most of Zions National Park, and a 2nd or 3rd round pick will be to Argentina in return for the entire Boca Juniors side. The existing coaching staff is expected to be offered jobs coaching the RSL Reserves which will be turned into a PDL team and inheret most of the current starting roster, which should create a very competetive team in that league.

“I can’t wait to watch the new RSL play.” Said former starting mid-fielder Freddy Adu, “I’m sure they’ll make a smooth transition to the MLS.”

Not everyone is as optimistic, “It’s still RSL, they’ll find a way to lose for sure.” said one RSL fan who wishes to remain anonymous.

(Yeah, it’s a joke. Don’t read too much into it.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 14th Picks

No USL pick this week, I’ll be at the Tacoma FC – BYU Cougars game, and have already posted a bunch of bonus picks for the week So, this time around it’ll be all MLS. (I’ll put up a post for my Gold Cup quarter final picks tomorrow.)

Thursday, June 14

FC Dallas @ Real Salt Lake—1-2 RSL

With Ruiz and Cooper gone the Hoops will have a hard time, though I think Toja will continue to shine. Esky and Adu will get goals in the run of play and RSL gets there first MLS win of the year.

Saturday, June 16

Columbus Crew @ New England Revolution —0-2 New England

A visit by the anemic looking Crew will get New England back into their winning ways, but I don’t think this will be a lopsided game anywhere but on the scoreboard.

Chicago Fire @ DC United—0-3 DC

Emilio and Fred should be able to feast on a poor Fire side. This one will be even more gas on the ‘Sack Dave’ bonfire.

Kansas City @ New York Red Bull—1-2

Angel will net at least another goal, and the Wizards will show everyone just how much the miss Eddie Johnson.

Colorado Rapids @ Chivas USA—0-1 Chivas

The Goats should get three points from a rapidly falling Colorado team.

Sunday, June 17

FC Dallas @ Toronto FC—1-2 Toronto

A game on three days rest at the BMO will be too much for FC Dallas, who’ll hold on to their first place standing in the West, but lose a lot of ground this week.

Real Salt Lake @ Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 RSL

After a win on Thursday, RSL will really pour it on in this one. In one week they should match their points total from the rest of the season.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tonight's Refs

My son and I went to the California Victory @ BYU game last night. The crowd was larger that the last BYU game we went to, but quieter—with the exception of these guys:

Some of the BYU Crowd

The game was quite well played (even the US Open Cup observer said so as we talked after the match), although it did get a bit chippy—there were 30 fouls by my count.


The Victory controlled most of the run of play, though BYU had some nice moments throughout the match. California scored the first two goals (Raul Palomares in the 23rd and Yuri Morales in the 67th minutes). With time running out, BYU started to turn up the pressure and Daniel McKinley put in a header in the 88th minute. While BYU continued to apply pressure into the 6 minutes of stoppage time, they just couldn’t find another goal.

If you’d like to see the rest of my son’s pictures, head on over to flickr and take a look.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Seven Picks

California Victory @ BYU Cougars—2-1 California

I’m picking against the Cougs, but I’ll be rooting for them tonight with my son.

US vs El Salvador (Foxboro)—3-0 US

I think the US will really turn things on for this one, finally. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Landon get a brace.

Trinidad & Tobago vs Gautemala (Foxboro)—0-1 Guatemala

T & T will fall to the Guatemalans, and Ruiz will get another player tossed out.

Cuba vs Honduras (Houston)—1-0 Cuba

I think Cuba has the chance to pull off an upset against Honduras.

Mexico vs Panama (Houston)—2-1 Mexico

I’d love to pick against Mexico, but I don’t think that will happen. They should be able to get things put in order in time for the Gold Cup quarter finals.

Tacoma FC @ BYU Cougars—1-1 Draw

A tired BYU side, a strong Tacoma side should make this a draw, which leaves Tacoma ahead of BYU in the standings (for now).

Abbotsford Rangers @ BYU Cougars—0-1 BYU

Though they’ll be more tired than in the previous game, I still think the Cougars will be too much for the Rangers.

Week 10 Scariness Ratings

I did fairly well on last week's pick, and I considered my adjusted scariness numbers1 in making them, so I’m feeling better about them.

Adjusted Scariness

Team Adj Scariness Rating (Last Week)
DC United 3.11 1 (3)
Chivas 2.85 2 (4)
Kansas City 2.74 3 (1)
Houston 2.73 4 (6)
New York 1.86 5 (2)
Dallas 1.78 6 (12)
New England 1.61 7 (7)
Salt Lake 1.46 8 (9)
Toronto 1.18 9 (5)
Colorado 1.01 10 (7)
Chicago 0.62 11 (11)
Los Angeles 0.39 12 (10)
Columbus - 0.25 13 (13)

One thing that I’m getting used to is that there’s a lot of movement on these charts each week. I’m still a bit puzzled by some of the numbers (why in the world is Chivas rated number two??) but overall, I think I’m coming to peace with things.

1 The Adjusted Scariness probably deserves a bit of explanation:

  • For each game, I add up the team’s points from a game, the opponents PPG average for the last five games, and add a bonus point for playing on the road, then divide by two to create a value for the game.
  • I add the goal differential to the value for each game, to create a modified value.
  • Finally, I take a weighted average of the last five modified values (using weightings of .5, .7, .9, 1.1, and 1.3).

Three Lists for June 11th

In addition to my lists of the top and bottom three teams (renamed to the best and worst three), I’m including the three coaches on the hot seat again. This week I’m also adding a bonus fourth list—three games I’m going to.

Best Three Teams:
  1. DC United (adjusted scariness 3.11—A two point differential over New York says a lot, doing it while a man down says even more. An easy game against the Fire this week won’t help their scariness, but should be another three points.)
  2. Kansas City Wizards (adjusted scariness 2.74—They were idle last week, and play the Red Bulls in New York without Eddie Johnson this week. I don’t think they’ll make next week’s list.)
  3. Houston (adjusted scariness 2.73—It might not be pretty, but they’re getting the job done right now. They’ve got the week off, which is coming at a good time for them with three stars off at the Gold Cup.)
Worst Three Teams:
  1. Columbus Crew (adjusted scariness – 0.25— Last week I thought they’d hit the bottom of the barrel with a negative scariness score, they proved me wrong and kept on digging.)
  2. Los Angeles Galaxy (adjusted scariness 0.39—Which hurts worse, losing games or losing players? LA is doing plenty of both. Will reinforcements arrive in time?)
  3. Chicago Fire (adjusted scariness 0.62—Their loss to Chivas USA hurt, but not as much as LA’s loss to Dallas. With a very scary looking DC team coming to town on Sunday, the Fire may slip yet further.)
Three Coaches on the Hot Seat
  1. Columbus Crew— Sigi Schmid (The murmering is getting louder, a game against the Revolution doesn’t look like good medicine.)
  2. Chicago Fire — Dave Sarachan (Losing to Chivas didn’t help Dave’s cause any, will the possible hiring of Marcelo Salas?)
  3. Chivas USA — Preki (He got a win over the lackluster Fire, but that’s scant relief.)
Three Games I’m Going To
  1. California Victory @ BYU Cougars on June 12th—This is a US Open Cup game. The Victory are a USL1 expansion team who recently got their first win (over the Vancouver Whitecaps). It’ll be a tough game for BYU, but it’s not hopeless. I just wish it weren’t scheduled opposite the Gold Cup.
  2. Tacoma FC @ BYU Cougars on June 15th—Tacoma (along with BYU) represent the cream of the PDL Northwest. The Tide have lost once and tied once in their seven games thus far, and are the only team to have beaten BYU this season.
  3. Abbotsford Rangers @ BYU Cougars on June 16th—For their third game in five days, the Cougars will face the Rangers who are currently sitting near the bottom of the standings in the PDL Northwest. It’s a tight division though, and the Cougs will be tired after a busy week.

Monday, June 11, 2007

11 June Pick Review

5-2-1—this was just what I needed after last week’s 0-fer.

USL1 Friday Night Game

Portland Timbers @ Montreal Impact 0-2 Montreal—1-0 Portland

Congrats to the Timbers for pulling out a huge road win, though riding the bus overnight only to lose at Rochester on Saturday must have really stunk.

Wednesday June 6

New York Red Bulls @ Toronto FC 2-1 NY—2-1 NY

Just about what I expected. The real question at this point has to be, just how good is JPA?

Thursday June 7

Colorado Rapids @ Houston Dynamo 0-1 Houston—1-2 Houston

I really hate that MLS and ESPN scheduled this against the USMNT game. Seeing the Rapids lose softens the sting a bit though.

Chinese MNT @ Real Salt Lake 0-0 Draw—0-1 RSL

I should have stuck to my original pick here. Seitz seems to have played a great game. On the other hand, the RSL FO stunk it up with some incredibly bad moves like kicking fans out of the stadium for protesting the PRC.

Saturday June 9

LA Galaxy @ FC Dallas 0-1 Dallas—1-3 Dallas

Dallas wins the game, but loses Kenny Cooper to a broken leg. This is not good news for the Hoops.

Chivas USA @ Chicago Fire 1-0 Chivas—1-0 Chivas

The goats get the win, and the “Fire Dave” movement keeps on growing.

Sunday June 10

New York Red Bulls @ DC United 1-0 NY—2-4 DC

Wow, I didn’t even see this one coming. Two consecutive hat tricks against New York? Wow. Emilio ended his scoring drought, and Ben Olsen proves that he can score too … I think their may be a fourth team to watch in the east.

Houston Dynamo @ Columbus Crew 1-0 Houston—2-1 Houston

I didn’t watch it, so I don’t know anything more than the score.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

USL1 Coaches: Gavin Wilkinson

Gavin Wilkinson is a former New Zealand national team defender (38 caps, 1 goal), with a 10 year professional career that includes stops in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and the US. Since retiring at the end of the 2006 season, he’s become the coach of the USL1 Portland Timbers.

As this is Wilkinson’s first year as a coach, there’s no history to post, but they’re in the middle of the table and seem to be playing better than last year.

Week 9 Collective Rankings and Scariness

Jeff Bull has released his Week 9 Collective Rankings, so it’s time for me to take a look at how the my new and improved scariness ratings compare.

Team Scariness Rating Collective Ranking (and difference from Scariness)
Kansas City 1 1
New York 2 2
DC United 3 4 (+1)
Chivas 4 8 (+4)
Toronto 5 7 (+2)
Houston 6 9 (+3)
Colorado 7 5 (-2)
New England 7 3 (-4)
Salt Lake 9 13 (+4)
Los Angeles 10 11 (+1)
Chicago 11 10 (-1)
Dallas 12 6 (-6)
Columbus 13 12 (-1)

A teams scariness rating averages 2.23 points off of their position in the collective rating, which seems like a pretty big skew. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I’m not really rating a teams power—just how they’ve done against recent strength of schedule (and a bit of fudging for playing on the road). Because I weight recent results more heavily, there’s going to be a lot more fluctuation. For example, here are the scariness scores and ratings updated for last night’s game.

Team Scariness Scariness Rating (and previous)
New York 3.14 1(2)
Kansas City 2.74 2(1)
DC United 2.35 3
Chivas 2.18 4
Houston 1.65 5(6)
New England 1.61 6(7)
Colorado 1.61 6(7)
Salt Lake 1.46 8(9)
Toronto 1.18 9(5)
Los Angeles 1.16 10
Chicago 1.00 11
Dallas 0.80 12
Columbus -0.12 13

New York piled on an extra .52 points (and rose a slot in the ratings), while Toronto lost .97 points (and dropped a whopping 4 slots). Is that fair? I think some TFC fans might tell me it’s not, but I think it is.

These ratings still don’t reflect personel changes. Is Kansas City without Eddie Johnson just as scary as they were in beating the Red Bulls last weekend? Not even close, but I’m not really sure how to adjust the numbers to reflect for players who are injured, sitting out a game due to penalties, or playing for their national team.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The RSL Front Office Speaks Volumes About Cassar's Hiring

The Blue Blooded Journo commented on the recent FO fiasco within RSL, asking "They have a very strong fan base by MLS standards, but how long will [the fans] continue to support a substandard team run by incompetents?"

As I read this, I thought about the comments on AYL and thought about how much the support is being eroded. Then, I hit the Deseret News to check their RSL coverage and saw this article, which contained this line:

Team officials would not comment on the decision, saying, "We are done talking about it. It was talking that got us into this in the first place."

They might be incompetents, but at least they're being honest about it. If it didn't hurt so much, it would be funny.

MLS Picks for June 6

After stinking it up last week, I’m still game for another try … barely. For the MLS teams, I’m including their adjusted scariness rating

USL1 Friday Night Game

Portland Timbers @ Montreal Impact—0-2 Montreal

I think Montreal wins this one walking away.

Wednesday June 6

New York Red Bulls (2.62) @ Toronto FC (2.15)—2-1 NY

I think New York gets back on track after their loss to KC. Toronto should play this one tought though.

Thursday June 7

Colorado Rapids (1.61) @ Houston Dynamo (1.65)—0-1 Houston

The Dynamo pull off the win at home against a slightly less scary Rapids side.

Chinese MNT (unranked) @ Real Salt Lake (1.46)— 0-1 RSL 0-0 Draw

Rimando gets a clean sheet and Freddy gets a point. Hmm, just saw that RSL is going to be starting a lot of subs this game ... I'm downgrading this one to a draw.

Saturday June 9

LA Galaxy (1.16) @ FC Dallas (0.8) —0-1 Dallas

Dallas pulls out a boring win.

Chivas USA (2.18) @ Chicago Fire (1.00)—1-0 Chivas

Preki gets a win, Dave Sarachan doesn’t.

Sunday June 10

New York Red Bulls (2.26) @ DC United (2.35)—1-0 NY

A tired red Bulls side pulls out a second win in a week

Houston Dynamo (1.65) @ Columbus Crew (-0.12)—1-0 Houston

The Dynamo will get a second win during the week facing a completely non-scary Columbus Crew.

Three Lists for June 6

Here’s this week’s installment of my list of three lists. I’m tossing the coaches list back onto the pile this week.

Top Three Teams:
  1. Kansas City Wizards (adjusted scariness 2.74—knocking off the Revolution and the Red Bulls is pretty good)
  2. New York Red Bulls (adjusted scariness 2.62—they dropped a game to KC, but not by much)
  3. Toronto (adjusted scariness 2.15—They’ve gotten some great results over the last 5 weeks, we’ll see how good they really are this week when New York comes to play)
Bottom Three Teams:
  1. Columbus Crew (adjusted scariness – 0.12— winless in their last five games, and they’re the only team with a negative adjusted scariness score)
  2. Chicago Fire (adjusted scariness 1.00—they finally got a win, but it was against Columbus)
  3. Real Salt Lake (adjusted scariness 1.46— they’ve proved that they can hold strong teams scoreless, but they really need a win)
Three Coaches on the Hot Seat
  1. Columbus Crew— Sigi Schmid (How much longer will he hang on?)
  2. Chicago Fire — Dave Sarachan (He’s probably got at least a couple of games after Blanco arrives, but how much longer?)
  3. Chivas USA — Preki (The crowds are down and they’ve only been able to beat the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas in the last month — it doesn’t look good.)

I’ve listed the adjusted scariness rating for each team in the first two lists.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Is RSL Management Watching the Gold Cup?

I’m already loading up my DVR with as many Gold Cup games as I think my wife will let me watch. I sure hope that the RSL management and coaches are planning on spending some significant time watching, rewatching, and dissecting the games.

I may not be an expert on the nations represented, but everything I’ve read tells me that there may be some quality players that might be lured to play in the MLS, and RSL has both the slots and the cap room to make some deals — especially if there were a quality midfielder or promising striker or defender to bring into the mix.

So, is the RSL management watching the Gold Cup? I sure hope so — and I hope none of their wives mind.

Scariness For Jun 5 (and a little twist)

Well, I got an 0-fer on my last set of picks, which is so depressing I won’t even bother to go over them (though, RSL did pull out a tie that I’m pretty happy about). Instead, I thought I’d spend some extra time on my scariness ratings. This time I present the older style along with a new (improved?) version.

Traditional Scariness

Team Scariness Rating
DC United 2.2 1 (+1)
Kansas City 2.06 2 (+2)
Toronto 1.96 3 (+4)
Colorado 1.92 4 (-3)
New England 1.86 5 (0)
Dallas 1.62 6 (0)
New York 1.42 7 (-4)
Houston 1.2 8 (+4)
Chivas 1.14 9 (-1)
Chicago 0.94 10 (+3)
Los Angeles 0.92 11 (-1)
Salt Lake 0.8 12 (-1)
Columbus 0.4 13 (-4)

Adjusted Scariness

Team Adj Scariness Rating Diff from Scariness Rating
Kansas City 2.74 1 +1
New York 2.62 2 +5
DC United 2.35 3 -2
Chivas 2.18 4 +5
Toronto 2.15 5 -2
Houston 1.65 6 +2
Colorado 1.61 7 -3
New England 1.61 7 -2
Salt Lake 1.46 9 +3
Los Angeles 1.16 10 +1
Chicago 1 11 +1
Dallas 0.8 12 -6
Columbus -0.12 13 0
The Adjusted Scariness probably deserves a bit of explanation:
  • For each game, I add up the team’s points from a game, the opponents PPG average for the last five games, and add a bonus point for playing on the road, then divide by two to create a value for the game.
  • I add the goal differential to the value for each game, to create a modified value.
  • Finally, I take a weighted average of the last five modified values (using weightings of .5, .7, .9, 1.1, and 1.3).

This takes a little bit longer, but gives a clearer picture (I think). There are still some surprises there (how did Chivas and RSL climb so high?), but I think I’m getting closer. I’m still looking for feedback, so please let me know what you think. (Oh, this is getting hairy enough that I don’t expect to do it for any other leauges.)

More on the Cassar, Kreis, and Mellor Snafu

There are a variety of stories floating around about RSL's hiring of Jeff Cassar, and they paint a strange picture. First of course was the hiring itself, and Coach Kreis' description of the 'comfort factor' that Cassar would bring to the team. The timing was odd, and Kreis' language left a lot of fans feeling less than comfortable. Next came the fine and loss of a 2nd round draft pick next year. Again, you heard a lot of fans expressing frustration at what seems like a rookie mistake. Most recently, AYL has published a story claiming that the hiring was a result of miscommunication between Kreis ad Cassar — the two of them talked, Kreis talked about working together in the future, Cassar took that as a job offer, and hilarity (or maybe something else) ensued. Finally, one of my contacts has told me that while Mellor had agreed to stay, he was really Ellenger's man and wasn't likely to be a permanent fixture. If I string these together, I think I see RSL trying to make some long term plans around goalkeeping and being forced to act on them much sooner than they'd thought/hoped. A little more misery for a team that's already got more than there fair share. Hopefully, everyone involved has learned from this fiasco, and the future will be brighter.

Friday, June 1, 2007

PDL Expansion

I’ve posted a couple of things about MLS expansion lately (as have a lot of other folks). One related topic that I can’t seem to shy away from is promotion and relegation. For this to ever work though, it’s not just the MLS that needs to expand. The USL1, USL2, and PDL all need to get bigger and improve their geographic coverage—the USL 2 is a particularly bad case.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the PDL (and especially the Northwest Division) recently. As part of that I’ve noticed something, the Northwest Division is geographically unbalanced:

It’s also three teams smaller than the Southwest Division. In the interest of shooting the breeze with other folks interested in the PDL, I decided to ask around and see where people would like to see three additional teams added. Here are the tally’s, along with some commentary:

City Num Votes
Boise, ID 4
Salt Lake City, UT 2
Missoula, MT 2
Eugene, OR 2
Pocatello, ID 1
Logan, UT 1
Victoria, BC 1
Vancouver, WA 1
Olympia, WA 1
Corvalis, OR 1

I think Boise would be a good place. That is solely based on geography, I don’t know if they would have the input from NCAA colleges or have the local player pool to draw from. Right now, Ogden has a difficult time getting players in town from their colleges in time to get quality training with the team. ... Many of the teams in the northwest have local colleges that feed the PDL teams with players, and since they are local, they are able to train with the team. -Daren Moon

If I were the one choosing the First place that jumps at me is Boise, ID. Pocatello as well, ISU is there and you would probably get some sort of response out of that. After that, either Logan, UT or Missoula, MT. I think college towns make a lot of sense in that just looking around at RSL games, the majority of fans would fit into that age demographic and also that is the potential talent pool a PDL team would look at. -Donk

Good question. I think Victoria, BC would have good support. Eugene, OR seems like a natural fit, although a team in Corvallis might work better since Oregon State has men’s soccer and U of O does not. As a third option I would go with a team in Vancouver, WA, preferably one that is associated with an USL or MSL Portland Timbers club. -Bob Kellet

To name names, I’d plop a team in the Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland), Boise, Idaho (why not give Idaho a team? I played my first tournament in Sandpoint), and…to be honest, it gets a little tricky after that, but I’d go with either the Eugene/Springfield area, or perhaps and Olympia/Tacoma thing. -Jeff Bull

So, what does all this prove? If you ask a dozen soccer fans where they’d like to see another team, and you’re likely to get twenty answers. There is some overlap though:
  • Boise seems like it’s got the geography right, and has both the potential player and fan population to make it work
  • Salt Lake City is also up on a couple of lists, maybe something like the Chicago Fire Premier or the Rapids U23 sides
  • Missoula, MT is an intriguing idea that a couple of people mentioned—would the beautiful game work in cowboy country?
  • Eugene, OR is another interesting choice, though it doesn’t really break up the geographic imbalance that already pervades the division
It also seems that there’s some common ground in terms of what would make a good PDL host city:
  • a local college/university with a men’s soccer program
  • a decent level of soccer support/interest in the community
  • in Idaho, ‘cuz, well, they deserve it.

Will the PDL Northwest expand? I sure hope so. Where? I don’t know, but I think we’ve got a few ideas. Will a bigger PDL Northwest suddenly make promotion and relegation in US soccer happen? No, but it’s a start.