Saturday, October 24, 2009

CONCACAF Champions League Quarters Set

Once again, all four Mexican teams made it through to the quarterfinals, as did one MLS team. Here's the survivors:

Mexico (4): Cruz Azul, Pumas, Toluca, Pachuca
Guatemala: Comunicaciones
Honduras: Marathon
Panama: Arabe Unido
USA: Columbus Crew

Here's the updated results by country:

Country W L T GF GA GD win% PPG
Mexico 21 3 4 77 21 56 75.0% 2.39
Panama 5 4 1 17 14 3 50.0% 1.60
Honduras 8 8 0 26 33 -7 50.0% 1.50
USA 7 8 7 31 31 0 31.8% 1.27
Guatemala 3 5 0 7 18 -11 37.5% 1.13
Costa Rica 2 5 3 11 20 -9 20.0% 0.90
Puerto Rico 1 3 4 7 12 -5 12.5% 0.88
Trinidad & Tobago 4 10 2 21 31 -10 25.0% 0.88
El Salvador 1 5 2 5 21 -16 12.5% 0.63
Canada 0 1 1 0 1 -1 0.0% 0.50

Crew, Sounders to Enter 2010 Champions League

With Chicago's defeat of Chivas USA on Thursday, the Columbus Crew wrapped up the 2009 Supporter's Shield. This feat automatically qualified them for next year's CONCACAF Champions League. Earlier this year, the Seattle Sounders grabbed a slot when they defeated DC United for the US Open Cup Title.

The rest of the field will consist of the MLS Cup Winners and runner up, unless the Crew or Sounders are one of those teams. In that case, the slots will be filled by the team with the most points in the 2009 regular season that hasn't already claimed a spot. At his point, that would be one of Houston, Los Angeles, Chivas USA or the Fire, all of whom are knotted at 45 points going into the last weekend of the season.

MLS Gets Just One to the Champions League Knockouts

Congrats to the Columbus Crew whose tie in Bayamon, Puerto Rico was enough to punch their ticket into the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stages.

Congratulations to DC United as well, who became just the second MLS team to get any sort of a result in Mexico, tying Toluca 1-1. Had Lawson Vaughn not gotten his legs tangled up with Isaac Lopez in the box, DC would have advanced. It makes you wonder how things would have gone if Tom Soehn had actually brought his full squad to Mexico.

No congratulations however for Houston. With their fate in their own hands they managed to give up three goals to Metapan, and lose a clinching game to a team that had not won a game or score a goal in the group stage. Painful...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pepsi to Corner Douchebag Market

This week Pepsi introduced an iPhone application called "Amp Up Before You Score" to promote its competitor to the slew of energy drinks. Its purpose? To give you alleged insider information to boost you powers of seduction, as well as give you a platform to brag about which women you managed to get naked.

There are so many things wrong with this you really need a flowchart to diagram them all, but perhaps the most egregious would be that one of the "types" of women is married. With that in mind, perhaps this app should be called the "Pepsi Adultery Helper" or maybe the "Pepsi Commandment Breaker." Really Pepsi, has it come to this?

This just seems so completely stupid on so many levels, including the fact that they have just completely alienated 50% of their potential market. Who exactly is this drink aimed at? If the app is aimed at their target market, we can assume that...
  • It can't be single women...
  • It's certainly not kids, because you have to be 17 or older to download the app, and mom sure as heck isn't ever going to buy this stuff now.
  • It's not married guys or those in a relationship, because they're already getting some.
  • It's not guys with social skills, as they wouldn't need the "help" this app offers.
With those groups removed, I think we've determined both the target market for this beverage, and a potential tag line: Pepsi Amp: The Drink of Lonely, Inept Guys

USA Wins the Hex - So Why All the Bitching?

The USA finished their World Cup qualifying on Wednesday with a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica. With the entire qualifying campaign in the books, it makes me wonder why there was so much complaining during this cycle. From internet complaining you would think that this was the worst US team in a while, but the stats tell a different story.

Keeping in mind that this is the fourth time CONCACAF has used a hexagonal for the final round...
  • This is the first time the USA has won the hex outright. In 2006 the US ended tied for tops with Mexico with 22 points.
  • This was actually the fourth best qualifying season by any team in the history of the hexagonal, and only two points off the pace of the best hex ever by the Red White and Blue.
  • It was also the highest scoring hex ever for the USA.
So again I ask, why all the complaining?

Friday, October 09, 2009

A MASSIVE Win For the Crew

Update: Reader Dr. Chuck Pearson left a comment pointing me to the missing game. The Crew lost 2-0 to Saprissa in the one and only edition of the CONCACAF Giants Cup in 2001.

Last night the Columbus Crew became the first MLS team to beat CD Saprissa in Costa Rica. Soccer By Ives is reporting that it's the first time in seven tries for an MLS club, but I can only find six games at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa:

9/16/09 Saprissa 0, Crew 1
10/9/08 Saprissa 2, DC United 2
3/12/08 Saprissa 3, Houston 0
3/8/06 Saprissa 3, LA Galaxy 2
3/16/05 Saprissa 2, KC Wizards 1
4/14/04 Saprissa 2, Chicago 0

I think SBI might be mistaken, but if anyone can find the missing result, post a comment.

Can MLS Advance to the Champions League Knockout Stage?

With one round to go in the group stage, all three remaining MLS teams still have a chance to advance. In my eyes, one is a shoe-in, one is a tossup and one needs a well-placed outbreak of swine flu among their rivals to advance.


Houston is currently in third place, but they hold the tiebreaker with Arabe Unido. To advance, Houston must win against Isidro Metapan and Arabe Unido must lose to Pachuca. With Metapan winless and scoreless in five group stage games, the Dynamo have to like their chances of gaining a win. The problem is that Pachuca has already punched their ticket and may not especially care about their tie with Unido. As an MLS fan, you have to hope that Pachuca wants some payback for the 4-1 loss they suffered in Panama.

My take: 50% chance Houston advances

DC United

DC is level on points with Marathon of Honduras and holds the tiebreaker going into the last round. As long as United matches Marathon's result, they advance. The problem is that Marathon plays winless San Juan Jabloteh, and DC plays Toluca... in Mexico. Did I happen to mention no MLS team has even won in Mexico? Oh, and their first-string keeper is out with an injury. Let's face it United is totally hosed.

My Take: 5% chance United advances.


The Crew control their destiny. They are two points ahead of Saprissa, and can guarantee advancing with a tie or win against the Puerto Rico Islanders regardless of what the Purple Monster does against Cruz Azul. It's a tricky tie for the Crew, but one they should be able to handle.

My Take: 80% chance Club Massive advances.

Friday, October 02, 2009

2009 CONCACAF Champions League Results By Country

Here's the results through the penultimate group stage matches:

Country W L T GF GA GD Win% PPG
Mexico 19 2 3 71 17 54 79.2 2.50
Panama 5 3 1 17 12 5 55.5 1.78
Honduras 7 7 0 20 28 -8 50.0 1.50
USA 7 7 5 27 26 1 36.8 1.37
Costa Rica 2 4 3 10 18 -8 22.2 1.00
Puerto Rico 1 3 3 6 11 -5 14.3 0.86
Guatemala 2 5 0 5 17 -12 28.6 0.86
Trinidad & Tobago 3 9 2 16 25 -9 21.4 0.79
Canada 0 1 1 0 1 -1 0.0 0.50
El Salvador 0 5 2 2 19 -17 0.0 0.29

The themes of the tournament so far:
  • The Mexican teams have been even more dominant this year than last, only losing two games combined to this point. Mexican teams lost 12 games in last year's tournament -- there's no way they can drop more than 10 games total with the schedule that remains.
  • The US teams have been much better than last season, where they only managed two wins in the entire tournament.
  • The Caribbean teams (T&T and Puerto Rico) were second and third after the prelims. Neither of them have found much joy in the group stage.
  • El Salvador - ugh.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Kamara-Thompson Trade

When I saw that Kei Kamara had been traded for Abe Thompson, I was a bit surprised. If you take a closer look at the numbers, it makes a little more sense. Here's the stat lines involved:

77 gm 14 g 12 a .18 gpg (3547 min)
58 gm 9 g 2 a .15 gpg (2957 min)

There's not too much to distinguish these players, other than the fact that one of them seems to be a much better passer than the other. So which is which? The man with the more deft passing touch is... Abe Thompson. If you buy into the theory that forwards get better when they get to Houston, this might actually work in the Dynamo's favor.

Of course, there's much more to a trade than just stats, and Bernardo Fallas wrote a recent piece that sheds a whole lot of light on the situation. Factoring that into the equation along with the stats above, this trade makes much more sense.

Attendance: Jumping From USL-1 to MLS

One of the arguments used against Major League Soccer expansion markets is that they already have a USL-1 team that draws poorly. Now that the Seattle Sounders have jumped ship, there are two franchises we can examine to see if this critique is fair.
  • Before Toronto FC came into existence in 2007, the Lynx represented that city in USL-1. They averaged 2,468 fans in 2005 and just over 1,700 fans in 2006.
  • Seattle is a similar story. From 2005 and 2008 their average attendance never broke 4,000 fans per game, and dipped below 3,000 in 2005.
This year, Seattle and Toronto are #1 and #2 in attendance within MLS, averaging just over 30,000 and 20,000 fans per game respectively. As you can see from these numbers, the case for using USL-1 attendance numbers to judge a market is tenuous at best. There are just too many other factors in play, including the makeup of each franchise's ownership group.

Major League Soccer has got to be hoping this trend continues. Vancouver and Portland will be coming online in 2011, and both of them have been in the top five of USL-1 attendance each of the last five years. In fact between the two teams there has only been one season since 2005 with an average attendance under 5,000 fans per game.

Friday, September 25, 2009

MLS Attendance: The Sophomore Slump

With the impending addition of franchises in Philly, Vancouver and Portland, I thought it would be interesting to see how much of a "sophomore slump" expansion franchises experienced in regards to attendance.

Here are the numbers for the recent expansion teams, as well as Houston who moved from San Jose in 2006. The Year 1 number is the mean attendance. The successive year numbers are the percent difference compared to the team's first year.

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Chicago 17,887 -10.5 -25.2 -8.4
Chivas USA 17,080 16.2 -16.2 -11.5
Salt Lake 18,037 -9.3 -11.5 -10.3
Houston 18,935 -16.1 -10.5 -14.9*
Toronto 20,130 0.0 +1.0* n/a
* season still in progress

The stat line for Chivas USA shows the danger of using the mean attendance, rather than the median. In 2006, they hosted the Revolution as part of a doubleheader that included Chivas Guadalajara. That game drew over 92,000 fans -- almost 30% of their total attendance for the year. If you factor out that anomaly, their attendance looks like this:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Chivas USA 17,080 -12.3 -16.2 -11.5

What surprised me about the numbers is that for most teams, attendance kept falling for two years, rather than just one. Houston and Toronto managed to buck that trend.

There has been recent buzz that Seattle has a 6,000 person waiting list for season tickets, and as such may raise their seating capacity next season. If they in fact see a significant boost to attendance in their second season, they would be the first expansion franchise to do so, further underlining how amazing that franchise's support has been.

To be fair, Toronto could probably sell more tickets right now, but they can't expand their capacity without some major construction.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Houston - Where Mediocre Forwards Go to Score

There seems to be something about Houston that awakens the scoring touch of forwards. Here are three recent examples of players who reaped the rewards of joining one of Major League Soccer's best teams.

Kei Kamara
Houston 19 gm 5 g 3 a .26 gpg
SJ/Clb 48 gm 7 g 0 a .15 gpg

Nate Jaqua
Seattle 12 gm 3 g 4 a .25 gpg
Houston 29 gm 10 g 6 a .34 gpg
Chi/LA 92 gm 21 g 11 a .23 gpg

Joseph Ngwenya
Houston 25 gm 7 g 3 a .28 gpg
Clb/LA 65 gm 9 g 4 a .13 gpg

With these sorts of results, Dominic Oduro, Cam Weaver and Abe Thompson have to feel pretty lucky right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Houston vs. Pachuca = 2 Goals for Someone

The Houston Dynamo is competing in just its fourth season in MLS, but when they square off with Pachuca again in two weeks, it will already be the sixth time they have tangled with the Tuzos. If they can win the game, it will actually level the overall series at three wins apiece:

9/16/09 Pachuca 2, Houston 0 (CONCACAF Champions League)
7/29/08 Pachuca 0, Houston 2 (Superliga)
3/15/07 Pachuca 0, Houston 2 (CONCACAF Champions Cup)
4/05/07 Pachuca 5, Houston 2 (CONCACAF Champions Cup)
8/14/07 Pachuca 2, Houston 2* (Superliga)
*Pachuca wins on PKs

Going by the numbers, I predict a 2-0 Houston win at Robinson Stadium on the 30th.

So Who Named Aciphex?

The other day I was watching television and saw an advertisement for something called Aciphex. As far as I can tell, it's a medication for acid reflux. I'm sure it's a fine product full of wondrous medicinal properties, but I can't help but think that the people who named it are off snickering to themselves right now.

The reason is that when spoken Aciphex sounds exactly like "Ass Effects." I literally turned around thinking my kids had flipped the TV to something inappropriate only to find out the person saying "ass effects" over and over again was hawking pharmaceuticals.

Once the kids were out of earshot, the jokes flew fast and furious between my wife and I:
  • Dude, I wouldn't have divorced her if she had aciphex!
  • The chili cook-off, while tasty, produced deadly aciphex.
  • Did you see that movie? It has awesome aciphex!
Personally, I think Aciphex sounds like a niche gentleman's magazine. All you would need to do is change the spelling slightly...

Original photo from:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MLS Attendance - Smallest % of Tickets Sold

To follow up last week's post about the teams who had been seen by the largest percentage of fans, I ran the numbers to determine which teams had been seen by the smallest percentage of fans.

There have been 35 teams that were seen by less than 15% of the fans attending games that season. The only year no team fell below this threshold was 2002. These are the 10 worst seasons to date:

year team home away team ttl league ttl % sold
1 1999 KC 130,924 191,229 322,153 2,742,102 11.75
2 2000 Miami 119,352 212,710 332,062 2,641,085 12.57
3 2007 KC 173,784 240,809 414,593 3,270,210 12.68
4 2001 KC 142,402 166,060 308,462 2,363,859 13.05
5 1998 KC 129,163 230,245 359,408 2,747,897 13.08
6 2007 COLO 221,229 215,154 436,383 3,270,210 13.34
7 2006 KC 177,322 225,194 402,516 2,976,787 13.52
7 1996 COLO 163,413 213,236 376,649 2,785,001 13.52
9 1998 DAL 175,162 198,315 373,477 2,747,897 13.59
10 2005 KC 155,060 239,894 394,954 2,900,716 13.62

Two franchises have fallen under the 15% line eight different times -- Kansas City and Dallas. That's almost 46% of the total number of seasons under the qualifying line.

Interestingly Colorado is 6th on the list even though they drew better at home than on the road. That has only happened eight times:
2000 DAL, COLO
2005 SJ
2006 CHI

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

MLS Attendance - Percent of Tickets Sold

One of the folks who commented on the Expansion's Effect on MLS Attendance post pointed out that the Sounders have been seen by over 20% of the people attending a game this year. Another person thought that David Beckham's Flying Circus had probably beaten that mark. (This is in fact true.)

However it turns out that neither of these sides hold the record for the largest percentage of tickets sold to see a given team in a season. That record is currently held by the 1996 Los Angeles Galaxy.

year team home away tm ttl league ttl % sold
1 1996 LA 462,650 346,210 808,860 2,785,001 29.04
2 2004 DC 258,484 355,289 613,773 2,333,797 26.30
3 1997 LA 330,015 248,179 578,194 2,339,019 24.72
4 2004 LA 357,137 217,411 574,548 2,333,797 24.62
5 1996 Metro 382,360 295,952 678,312 2,785,001 24.36
6 1997 NE 342,762 221,566 564,328 2,339,019 24.13
7 2003 LA 329,752 209,091 538,843 2,234,747 24.11
8 2007 LA 363,782 420,525 784,307 3,270,210 23.98
2005 LA 387,256 308,241 695,497 2,900,716 23.98
10 1997 DC 267,171 287,944 555,115 2,339,019 23.73

For those wondering, if the season ended today Seattle would end up with the 23rd best mark.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Expansion's Effect on MLS Attendance

There's an assumption that expansion teams dramatically help league-wide attendance in their first year. While it's true that these team usually draw above the league average at home, their overall impact is actually a lot less than I expected. The reason is that these teams don't draw especially well on the road.

In 2007 Toronto came into the league, and average attendance was just 0.75% higher including their games.

total att. games mean
2007 all 3,270,210 195 16,770
TOR home 301,947 15 20,130
TOR away 221,650 15 14,777
totals w/o TOR 2,746,613 165 16,646

Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake joined in 2005, and average attendance was 3.82% higher factoring in their games. This was helped in part by the Superclassico which drove Chivas' "road" attendance significantly above the league average.

total att. games mean
2005 all 2,900,716 192 15,108
CHV home 273,284 16 17,080
CHV away 268,176 16 16,761
RSL home 288,586 16 18,037
RSL away 207,985 16 12,999
adj. totals 1,862,685 128 14,552

In 1998, the Fire and Miami Fusion joined the league. Average attendance was just 0.48% higher when their games are included. Oddly enough, the Fusion's road numbers were actually higher than the league average, but their home attendance more than offset this. If you factor out the Fusion, and just include the Fire's numbers, the attendance was 2.18% better off with them in the league.

total att. games mean
1998 all 2,747,897 192 14,312
CHI home 286,190 16 17,887
CHI away 220,734 16 13,796
MIA home 164,548 16 10,284
MIA away 253,269 16 15,829
adj. totals 1,823,156 128 14,243

This brings us to to this year. Seattle's phenomenal home support really has been a boon to the league average. Their 30,000+ average thus far has actually led to an 8.18% increase in average attendance even though their average road attendance is roughly 1,200 fans below the league average.

total att. games mean
2009 all 2,755,194 175 15,744
sea home 397,628 13 30,587
sea away 159,951 11 14,541
totals w/o SEA 2,197,615 151 14,554

So How Big Are Video Games?

Below is a smattering of the 25 most popular magazines in the United States. Evidently video games are less popular than being old, having a nice house and celebrities but more popular than current events, sports, and boobs.

1. AARP the Magazine — 24,554,819
4. Better Homes and Gardens — 7,634,197
11. People — 3,615,858
12. Game Informer — 3,601,201
13. Time — 3,372,240
16. Sports Illustrated — 3,252,298
25. Playboy — 2,453,266

Saturday, September 05, 2009

US - El Salvador: Ties to MLS

When the United States takes on El Salvador two hours from now, four faces familiar to MLS fans could take the field. Three players on the roster currently ply their trade in MLS:
  • Alfredo Pacheco (New York Red Bulls)
  • Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes)
  • Ramon Sanchez (San Jose Earthquakes)
A fourth, Eliseo Quintanilla played in 27 games for DC United between 2002 and 2003.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Superliga Top Career Scorers

Update: 8/7/2010 - I pulled Corey Ashe off this list because he actually only has one goal. There was a typo in my spreadsheet. Also, this info has been superseded by a new post.

The third edition of the Superliga has come and gone, and I was interested in determining the top scorer across the history of the competition. Without further ado, here is everyone that has scored more than one goal:

Landon Donovan Los Angeles 4

Alan Gordon Los Angeles 3
Ante Razov Chivas USA 3
Armando Pulido Tigres 3
Arturo Alvarez FC Dallas 3
Kheli Dube New England 3
Shalrie Joseph New England 3
Stuart Holden Houston 3

Abdoulie Mansally New England 2
Bobby Boswell Houston 2
Brian McBride Chicago 2
Carlos Ruíz FC Dallas 2
Chris Klein Los Angeles 2
Cuauhtémoc Blanco Chicago 2
Dwayne De Rosario Houston 2
Francis Doe DC United 2
Itamar Da Silva Tigres 2
Jose Rodolfo Reyes San Luis 2
Juan Pablo Rodríguez Santos Laguna 2
Luciano Emilio DC United 2
Luis Gabriel Rey Atlante 2
Matías Vuoso Santos Laguna 2
Nate Jaqua Houston 2
Omar Arellano Chivas 2
Rafael Márquez Lugo Pachuca 2

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 CCL Results By Country

I finally got the database to work the way I want it to. Here's the standings by country after the preliminary round. Not surprisingly, Mexico is on top after Pachuca and Cruz Azul pounded their respective opponents. Trinidad and Tobago are flying high after seeing both its teams advance, and the USA manages to avoid the bottom spot even though one of their entrants was the Red Bulls.

Expect lots of changes when I update these at the midpoint of the group stage.

Mexico 3 0 1 16 3 13 75.0 2.50
Puerto Rico 1 0 1 1 0 1 50.0 2.00
Trinidad & Tobago 2 1 1 7 5 2 50.0 1.75
Honduras 2 2 0 8 5 3 50.0 1.50
Panama 2 2 0 4 5 -1 50.0 1.50
Costa Rica 1 2 1 5 12 -7 25.0 1.00
El Salvador 0 0 2 2 2 0 0.0 1.00
USA 0 1 3 5 6 -1 0.0 0.75
Canada 0 1 1 0 1 -1 0.0 0.50
Guatemala 0 2 0 1 10 -9 0.0 0.00

Where's all the CCL posts?

Folks who followed this blog last year are probably wondering why I haven't been posting about the CONCACAF Champions League, especially since the tourney is well under way. There are two reasons.
  1. I've been working a ridiculous amount lately.
  2. I set up a database to track all this stuff, and it's been more difficult than I thought to write the SQL statements to join between the country, team and results tables and get the summed results. I'm not a database guru by trade.
If I can't figure it out soon, I'll probably give up and go back to spreadsheets like I did it last year. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Now There's Some Trivia

I'm sure other folks knew this, but I just recently learned that Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha was one of only 12 foreign players to take the field during the opening weekend of the English Premier League. This likely makes the Polish Rifle the first player to jump from the Premier League to MLS.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Can MLS Advance?

Here's what the three MLS teams need to do this week to make it into the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League:

Toronto FC
Down a goal after their home leg, things look fairly bleak. These results would get them through:
  • A win by two goals or more
  • A scoring draw with two or more goals
Winning by one goal would get them to extra time, but if they couldn't get a goal in the first leg, chances are they won't in the return leg either. With their experience parking the bus in front of the goal from last year's tournament, I expect Colin Clarke's men to advance.

DC United
The 1-1 tie at RFK didn't completely kill their chances of advancing, but they absolutely have to score in El Salvador. They advance with:
  • A win
  • A scoring draw with two or more goals
It doesn't sound much better than Toronto's plight, but any scoring draw gets them to extra time and potentially into penalties.

New York Red Bulls
OK -- hands up if you expected the Red Bulls to have the best chance of advancing to the group stage... Mrs. Osorio, you can put your hand down now. Coming away with a 2-2 tie in their away leg was a huge result. There are many ways NY can advance:
  • A win
  • Any draw with less than two goals scored
A loss still ruins things for NYRB, but even a 2-2 tie only forces extra time. If the Red Bulls can keep from scoring another own goal, they just might make it through.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How Will MLS Fare in the Prelims?

There are three MLS teams competing in the Preliminary Round of the Champions League. Sadly these opening games look like ripe for more MLS failure.

DC United takes on LA Firpo of El Salvador. This year's DC side seems deeper than last year's edition, and MLS changed things around a bit so they weren't competing in both this tournament and the Superliga. Firpo is a good team, but I expect DC to slip past them into the group stage.

Wednesday sees Toronto FC open their series against the Puerto Rico Islanders. While Toronto is a decent side, but they still suffer from a lack of reliable goal scoring from their forwards. Unfortunately they have drawn a talented Islanders side that showed last year that they have the goods to make a deep run into the tournament. Unless Ali Gerba immediately meshes with his new teammates, this looks like a win for the boys in orange from Puerto Rico.

This brings us to the sad, sad spectacle of the New York Red Bulls. On pace for the worst season ever in MLS, they take on Trinidad and Tobago's W Connection. I give NY very little hope in this matchup even though they have one of the weakest opponents in the opening rounds. Truthfully I kind of hope they lose this series... otherwise we'll have to watch them suck it up for six games in the group stage against much tougher competition.

The 2009 CONCACAF Champions League Field

The 2009/2010 CONCACAF Champions League kicks off tomorrow, and I'm very excited to see its return. Half of the 24 team field are repeats from last year's tournament:
  • DC United and Houston Dynamo (USA)
  • Cruz Azul and Pumas (Mexico)
  • Saprissa (Costa Rica)
  • Isidro Metapan and Luis Angel Firpo (El Salvador)
  • Puerto Rico Islanders (Puerto Rico... duh!)
  • Olimpia and CD Marathon (Honduras)
  • CD Jalapa (Guatemala)
  • San Francisco (Panama)
Since the qualifying is based on country rather than league, there are actually five MLS teams in this year's field. The American contingent is rounded out by the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls, while the fifth team is Canada's entry - Toronto FC.

There was some... strangeness regarding qualification this year. Belize lost its spot in the competition due to a lack of stadiums that met the tournament's requirements. The same thing happened to Nicaragua when it was determined that Real Esteli's stadium did not pass inspection. Things got even stranger when El Salvador's Chalatenango never filed their paperwork to accept their place in the competition.

The rest of the field is as follows:
  • Pachuca and Toluca (Mexico)
  • Liberia and Herediano (Costa Rica)
  • Real Espana (Honduras)
  • Communicaciones (Guatemala)
  • Arabe Unido (Panama)
  • W Connection and San Juan Jabloteh (Trinidad and Tobago)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MLS Alumni on the Move

A couple of MLS alums have found new teams. After regaining his scoring touch in Paraguay, Carlos Ruiz has moved from Apertura champs Olimpia to Mexican club Puebla. One of the best strikers in league history, Ruiz still ranks 8th on the all-time MLS goal scoring list.

Puebla recently lost another former FC Dallas player when Ramon Nunez moved to Cruz Azul. Nunez logged almost 4,500 minutes in MLS, scoring 14 goals and 12 assists in 79 appearances between 2004 and 2007.

On another continent, former Minnesota Thunder, New York Red Bulls and DC United player Francis "Grandpa" Doe has signed on with Egyptian powers Al Ahly. Doe scored four goals in 23 appearances spread over three seasons in MLS.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The USL/MLS Overlap - 2009 Edition

Last year I put together a listing of the USL1 players that had appeared in MLS games. With the lower number of roster spots available in MLS this season, I expected there to be quite a few more MLS alums in USl1, but that's not the case - in fact there is one fewer.

This year's leaders -- the Carolina Railhawks and Puerto Rico Islanders with eight former MLS players apiece.

Austin Aztex

Kyle Brown 24
Sam Reynolds 2
David Winner 23

Carolina Railhawks
John Cunliffe 27
Gavin Glinton 67
Luke Kreamalmeyer 6
Amir Lowery 2
Daniel Paladini 8
Brian Plotkin 23
Mark Schulte 19
Jack Stewart 39

Charleston Battery
Nelson Akwari 78
Stephen Armstrong 77
Tyler Hemming 7
Dusty Hudok 12
Jamie Watson 39
John Wilson 32

Cleveland City Stars
Pato Aguilera 19
Ibrahim Kante 2
Arsene Oka 1
Troy Roberts 61
Israel Sesay 3 (on loan)

Miami FC
Connaly Edozien 9
Facundo Erpen 87
Diego Serna 124

Minnesota Thunder
Rod Dyachecnko 42
Julius James 15
Quavas Kirk 43
Andrew Peterson 2
Melvin Tarley 12

Montreal Impact
Adam Braz 13
Roberto Brown 13
Felix Brillant 19
Stephen deRoux 10
Srdjan Djekanovic 8
Matt Jordan 117
David Testo 16

Puerto Rico Islanders
Nicholas Addlery 11
Bill Gaudette 17
Dan Gargan 49
Domenic Mediate 37
Fabrice Noel 18
Osei Telesford 2
Kyle Veris 18
Petter Villegas 117

Rochester Rhinos
John Ball 11
Andrew Gregor 23
Tiger Fitzpatrick 18
Ty Harden 28
Scott Vallow 4

Portland Timbers
Steve Cronin 28
David Hayes 18
Stephen Keel 10
Cameron Knowles 4
Ryan Pore 58
Keith Savage 6
Scot Thompson 1

Vancouver Whitecaps
Justin Moose 8
Jay Nolly 8
Jeff Parke 132
Marco Reda 8

If you're interested in last year's list, you can view it here and here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

US Oopsie Cup

The Major League Soccer sides played their first games in this year's US Open Cup this week, and half of them got knocked off by lower-level opponents. One of the most unlikely was the New England Revolution being beaten by the USL-2 Harrisburg City Islanders.

In a burst of insanity (or apathy) New England coach Steve Nicol made all three of his allowed subs at halftime. This came back to burn him big time as Kheli Dube went down with an ankle injury with almost a half hour left in the game. Twenty minutes later the Revs suffered another injury, forcing them to play the rest of regulation and all of extra time with just nine players.

You've got to feel for the Revs, but what the heck was he thinking leaving himself with no subs?

Why Must Modern Lyrics Suck?

I was listening to some Duke Ellington the other day, and was struck by just how low our standards for song lyrics are these days. Take this lyric from Come to Baby, Do!
So pucker up my sweet
and meet your Waterloo
Come to baby, do!
How many people writing songs these days even know what Waterloo is? Now we get to listen to the ever-nuanced Gwen Stefani repeat That's my sh*t over and over again.

Even songs about boot-knockin' were much better. Take this other Ellington example where after informing her man that he must kiss her Long Strong and Consecutive, the singer adds:
When I want a chicken, I don't want the gizzard
When I go a-fishin' a minnow won't do
You must be a standout, a whirlwind a wizard,
got to be the champ, or else you're through.
It's a long, sad road from this to "I don't want no short d*ck man." *sigh*

Got My Mind on My Money, and My Money on the Mob

A review of 1 vs 100 Live for the XBOX 360

My dream of playing NTN Trivia from the comfort of my living room has finally come true... kind of. Microsoft is currently beta testing a massively multiplayer version of the television game show 1 vs 100. In addition to live games where "the one" and "the mob" are chosen from the thousands of people logged into the game, there are Extended Play sessions where the entire crowd competes on the same 37 questions.

In my opinion, the Extended Play sessions are more fun as they give you real chance to test your mettle against the masses. The contestants on the live show rarely make it more than a half dozen questions, which make competing from the crowd more of a buzzer-racing contest than a true test of knowledge.

As a true geek, I have some qualms with the questions. There have been numerous questions that were wrong because of poor editing. For example -- there is no Major League Soccer team called the Colorado Rockies -- it's the Colorado Rapids. Another is the repetition of questions. Now that I've been playing for a while, it's common for 10-20% of the questions to be repeats. For those who play more frequently, the percentage is probably higher. A third is that there's no sort of provision the keeps very similar questions from being in the same set. I once saw two questions about Scottish soccer and two about the musical Rent in the same round of extended play.

Hopefully Microsoft can get some of these issues resolved, and they don't get greedy by trying to charge for the game even though they show you in-game ads and you have to ante up for a gold membership to play in the first place. If this is true, I'll be wasting ridiculous amounts of time playing this for the foreseeable future.

Confederations Cup Rewind

By now any fan of the US Men's National Team already knows that the boys followed up their miracle escape from the group stage by snapping Spain's record unbeaten streak and going up 2-0 on Brazil before coming back to earth. Rather then opine on how historic these results might be, I'd like to present some things we may have learned about this team.

It's a Whole Lot Easier to Play With 11 Men
Everyone's head exploded when the US got their lunch handed to them in the first two games. What folks seemed to overlook is that the US played 90 out of 180 minutes of those games a man down. You won't find many teams who will handle Brazil and Italy well 10 v 11.

Charlie Davies is Legit
When Davies left Boston College early and jumped straight to Hammarby in Sweden I thought it was a mistake. Many others that have opted to spurn MLS and go straight Europe have slunk back home after a year or two of riding the pine. Davies has bucked the trend, and has teams from larger leagues looking into acquiring him. If his goal versus Egypt and well worked counter with Donovan against Brazil are any indication, he may be the speed option the US has lacked up top for a while now.

Donovan is a Midfielder
This tournament may be the best performance Donovan has ever put in as a Nat. He was all over the field and stole the show. In the thick of the action, he's a warrior, but as a forward he seems to lose focus and drift out of the game. Hopefully this will keep Bob Bradley from deploying him up top any more.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Pride of Bayport

Being a resident of the state of Wisconsin, I was wondering if the rise of Jay DeMerit was going to get any play during the Confederations Cup. It's not often that a player from hardcore football country, that didn't even get drafted by MLS ends up playing in a major international tournament.

As it turns out, the New York Times has taken notice. Technically DeMerit is from just outside Green Bay, but the article is still a fun read.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Of Confederations and Profanity

The start to the USA's Confederations Cup campaign inspired a torrent of vitriol among American supporters, as well as a fair amount of swearing, including -- the alleged drunken Facebook rants of former US player Eric Wynalda. (Wynalda claims his Facebook account was hacked.)

I enjoyed it when he announced games for ESPN. For all his faults, he would usually come through with at least one really incisive observation. My favorite comment from his rant? "Maybe if I make a comeback, Bob will let me limp around and take ten pens to pad my stats." Think Waldo might be bitter about Landon Donovan passing him on the all-time scorers list for the USA? Probably... but he's kind of right. When was the last time Lando scored a goal from open play?

Of course the team pulled off a miracle escape, beating Egypt 3-0 while Italy lost 3-0 to Brazil to move into the knockout stages of the tournament. This great escape led to the following quote from US midfielder Michael Bradley:
"All the [expletive] experts in America, everybody who thinks they know everything about soccer, they they can all look at that score tonight," said the coach's son, midfielder Michael Bradley said. "Let's see what they say now, all right? Nobody has any respect for what we do, for what goes on in the inside. Let them all talk now."
Point taken. Maybe that 3-0 loss to Brazil doesn't look so bad after all.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Burning Busch

I'm a big Chicago Fire fan, and I thought last year's signing of Jon Busch to play goalkeeper was absolutely inspired. He was a rock at the back, and was named to the MLS Best XI team.

Busch has been more erratic this year, letting in a couple of awful goals from distance. Hopefully his rough patch is behind him, because no Fire fan wants to see more goals like these from Kenny Cooper and Paulo Nagamura.

Oh the pain.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why Would I Want These Tacos?

I fail to grasp the logic behind this taco ad from Jack In the Box:

How exactly is this supposed to motivate me to buy these tacos? Do I want to emulate someone who is so stupid he can't read or do basic math? If he's that stupid (or that stoned) why would I trust his culinary judgment? For that matter how was he able to drive that van with so few brain cells? Mysteries abound.

Why I Love Soccer

While I was on hiatus, I came across this post on the New York Times Goal Blog. It's a fairly standard piece about the empty soccer stadiums across Mexico during the height of the swine flu scare, but it shows how much soccer brings people together.

Soccer is often an escape for many Mexicans — and many people the world over — looking for an respite from the travails of daily life. As Jere Longman reported for The Times, fans of Indios, in the border city of Ciudad Juarez go to games to escape the violent and deadly turf war between vicious drug cartels that has left nearly 2,000 people dead over the past 14 months.

“But the lurid headlines, the murder of the deputy police chief and the threats to decapitate the mayor have not deterred soccer fans, at least on game days,” wrote Longman. “The stadium, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, regularly fills to its capacity of about 22,000. Parents feel safe enough to bring their children. Mayor José Reyes Ferriz attended Sunday’s match, along with a top official of the surrounding state of Chihuahua. Even the bishop of Juárez is occasionally spotted in the grandstand.”
Horrifying drug war? Deadly epidemic? Soccer still trumps all, bringing joy to thousands. How can you not love that?

A Rose By Any Other Name

We now know the three Caribbean entrants into the 2009/2010 CONCACAF Champions League:
  1. San Juan Jabloteh (Trinidad and Tobago)
  2. W Connection (Trinidad and Tobago)
  3. Puerto Rico Islanders (Puerto Rico)
Thanks to this article from Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday we also know that Jabloteh's players have some of the best names in the region:
"Cyrano Glen and Elton John netted first half items for Jabloteh, while an own goal by Karlon Murray helped Tempete’s cause."
"In the 69th, Jabloteh’s substitute Willis Plaza could not divert Elton John’s right-sided freekick past Guillaume but it did not matter in the end as the San Juan lads held on for the win. "
Wow. Expect Max Bretos to call John Rocket Man at least once during the FSC broadcasts. My favorite may be Willis Plaza. How can you not like a guy whose name sounds like a shopping center, or a place you would erect a book depository?

CCL Results By Country - Final Stats

When the group stages were complete, Mexico was on top, with their teams averaging 1.93 points per game. Now that the initial tournament is in the books, Canada finishes on top - with the caveat that there was only one Canadian team in the competition. If you go by winning percentage, goal differential or number of teams in the final four, Mexico wins hands down.

Interesting is that the USL1 entrants (the Montreal Impact and Puerto Rico Islanders) won 50% of their collective games, while MLS sides only managed 2 wins in 18 tries. Hopefully American teams bring their "A game" next time.

Canada 5 2 3 11 15 10 50.0% 1.80
Mexico 23 12 10 84 44 40 51.1% 1.76
Puerto Rico 6 3 3 18 16 2 50.0% 1.75
Honduras 6 5 5 27 18 9 37.5% 1.44
Costa Rica 3 3 2 9 12 -3 37.5% 1.38
El Salvador 2 3 3 9 12 -3 25.0% 1.13
Guatemala 2 3 3 13 18 -5 25.0% 1.13
Trin & Tob 3 5 0 9 16 -7 37.5% 1.13
Panama 4 7 5 21 25 -4 25.0% 1.06
USA 2 10 6 16 35 -19 11.1% 0.67
Nicaragua 0 1 1 0 1 -1 0.0% 0.50
Jamaica 0 1 0 0 3 -3 0.0% 0.00
Belize 0 2 0 0 12 -12 0.0% 0.00

Heard You Missed Us... We're Back

Yes, I've been slacking as far as posting lately. So what gives?
  1. I've been really busy with "real life"
  2. I've been lazy
  3. I made the mistake of buying Fallout 3, which is a fantastic, engrossing game. I'll review it eventually.... when I finish it... which may be a while. You really get your money's worth with this one. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Centurions II

This past week DC United's Jaime Moreno became the only MLS player to reach career marks of both 100 goals and 100 assists. To put that into perspective, there are only four 100-goal scorers in league history (Moreno leads with 122) and just five 100-assist men.

It is possible that two players could join the 100 goal club this season. Taylor Twellman needs just one more strike. Landon Donovan needs 14 more goals which seems possible after his stellar performance from a year ago. If he doesn't make it this year, Donovan may never do it. I fully expect him to jump across the Atlantic before the start of next year, and if he latches on somewhere, he's unlikely to be back any time soon.

It's going to be a long time before we see another player reach 100 assists. No active player has even 75 assists. It's equally unlikely that Moreno will ever own the top spot on the assists chart since Steve Ralston is still playing and has a nearly 30 assist lead on him.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Easter Thought

A few years ago, my wife and I saw one of these candy dispensers being advertised on a home shopping channel. One the hucksters said "...and this makes a perfect Easter gift."

That's right, because nothing says "Hallelujah the Lord has risen" like a pooping moose...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Intriguing MLS Newcomers

There are quite a few interesting players coming into the league this year. Here are a couple to keep an eye on.

Fredy Montero - Forward - Seattle
If I had posted this last week as intended, I would look like a genius right now. Montero is only 21 years old, yet has led the Colombian league in scoring twice. A pure finisher, Montero has already drawn interest from the likes of Real Betis and if his brace on opening day is any indication, his silky skills may be heading for Europe before very long. Enjoy him while you can.

Santiago Hirsig - Midfielder - Kansas City

For their second Argentine player, the Wizards imported Santiago Hirsig. A veteran of over 200 top flight games in his homeland, Hirsig helped San Lorenzo win the 2008 Apertura title. Word on the street is that San Lorenzo wanted Hirsig back, but he left over unpaid wages. Lacking a true playmaker for a number of years, he could be the missing piece of the puzzle on offense for Kansas City.

Osvaldo Alonso - Midfielder - Seattle

Those spoiling for a comparison between the level of USL1 and MLS have their chance with Alonso, who won the USL1 Rookie of the Year award last season. Chivas USA had a chance to sign the Cuban defector last year, but he rejected a low-ball offer from them. If his performance last week is any indication a number of MLS teams are probably kicking themselves for not scooping up the dynamic midfielder last year.

You Come Here Often?

Microsoft shipped a "coffin" for our dead Xbox. It's just a plain white box with some rather ingenious foam pieces and another packing label inside. There are absolutely no markings on it whatsoever. My wife brought it to the UPS store Friday, and as she plopped the box down on the counter, the clerk turned around and said "Sending in your Xbox, huh?"

Mind you, the packing label wasn't facing the clerk...

Think they have seen a few of these?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Xbox Done Died

My Xbox 360 died on Monday. I've had it 15 months... 3 months longer than the warranty. Those of you in the know might say "but there's a three year warranty on them now." That's true, but the three years only applies if you get the fabled "red ring of death" where there are three red lights. Mine only has one. Evidently it's the wrong kind of broken, and now I have to pay $100 to get it fixed.

To be completely honest, this is the third Xbox I've had die. The first one I bought got the red ring after just two months of play, so I brought it back to Target for a new one. When I got that one set up, it wouldn't read any of my games, so I brought that one back and got a refund.

A few months later I heard that Microsoft had fixed the problems with the initial batch of Xboxen, and bought the one that just died. So officially that's three dead consoles in the space of two years. Unbelievable. Meanwhile my 11 year old PS2 keeps chugging along happy as can be. I've owned game systems for the last 30 years and I've never had one of them break. Hell - my Atari 2600 even still works.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We're Number 114!

If you thought the proliferation of pointless post-season competitions was limited to college football bowl games, you're wrong. Fresh on the heels of the prestigious College Basketball Invitational whose storied history reaches back to.... umm... last year... comes the Tournament.

Both the CBI and CIT tournaments include 16 teams which did not get selected for the NCAA or Nobody's Interested Tournament National Invitational Tournament. If you rank these tournaments by longevity, this means that the participants in the CIT tournament are competing to be crowned the 114th best team in the country. Do we really need more than a third of the Division One men's teams competing in a tournament? Are athletic departments really this desperate for cash?

FIFA Gives Marquez the Smackdown

If you watched the recent US-Mexico qualifier, you saw Mexico's Rafa Marquez do his best Chuck Norris impression in spiking US keeper Tim Howard. Marquez drew a straight red card, ensuring he would miss the next World Cup qualifier. Yesterday FIFA decided this blatent attempt to injure Howard was actually worthy of a two-match ban.

If Marquez acting like a big baby and playing hatchet man when losing against the US sounds vaguely familiar, it is. In the 2002 World Cup, Marquez was handed a four-match suspension for a flying headbutt on Cobi Jones in the waning minutes of a 2-0 defeat.

The fun part about this is that one of Mexico's assistant coaches also received a two-match ban for slapping Frankie Hejduk in the tunnel after the game.

For your viewing pleasure, I bring you a reply of Marquez's Mortal Kombat moment against Howard.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

USL1 Instability

The exploits of the Montreal Impact and Puerto Rico Islanders in this year's CONCACAF Champions League have brought a ton of much-needed publicity to the upstart USL1. This has led some posters on various internet message boards to start comparing the leagues and propose that either (a) the USL should try to compete directly with MLS or (b) the two leagues should work together to set up relegation/promotion *sigh*.

What folks tend to forget during these discussions is that the USL1 is about as stable as a house of Jell-o in a hurricane. Over the last five seasons, seven teams have been added, and ten teams have disappeared. This constant turnover of teams makes the league look rinky-dink to many folks even though the top teams are really pretty stable.

Here's the full list of moves since 2004.

Cleveland City StarsSeattle Sounders (moved to MLS)
Austin AztexAtlanta Silverbacks (on hiatus)
noneCalifornia Victory (folded)
California VictoryVirginia Beach Mariners (folded)
Carolina RailhawksToronto Lynx (folded)
Miami FCRichmond Kickers (dropped to USL2)
noneSyracuse Salty Dogs (folded)
Milwaukee Wave (folded)
Edmonton Aviators (folded)
Calgary Mustangs (folded)
Puerto Rico Islandersnone
Edmonton Aviators

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

From time to time you'll see a strip mall where complimentary businesses have set up shop. For example a florist and a gift shop or a dentist and a doctor's office. In this mindset, I have very low expectations for this restaurant located somewhere along the highway between Disney World and the Orlando International Airport.

You're probably not much better off with the pizzeria or Ponderosa...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Let's Make That 30,000 Fans...

A few days ago I commented that the Seattle Sounders had sold over 20,000 season tickets. They have been so successful that they are changing the soccer configuration of Qwest Field to accommodate 27,700 fans per game, with a cap of 22,000 season tickets.

Sales have been so strong that they have actually opened up more seats for their opening match against the Red Bulls to fit a crowd of expected to be north of 30,000 people.

That's not the only success story this month. The Montreal Impact packed 55,571 fans into Olympic Stadium for their CONCACAF Champions League game against Santos Laguna of Mexico. This is easily the biggest crowd of the tournament thus far.

Note to MLS -- evidently we need more teams near the Canadian border. Portland Timbers, you're on the clock.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Great Galaxy Purge

So how weak was the 2008 Los Angeles Galaxy roster? Bruce Arena certainly doesn't seem to think much of it. So far this offseason he has already waived six players that saw significant minutes last season:

GM Minutes
Ely Allen 12 848
Alvaro Pires 19 1253
Brandon McDonald 16 1036
Mike Randolph 20 1468
Troy Roberts 17 1316
Steve Cronin 22 1935

If you factor in the trade of Ante Jazic, retirements of Greg Vanney and Joey Franchino, and likely transfer of David Beckham, the Galaxy will likely start the year with only five players who appeared in at least half of their games last season. Truly amazing for a non-expansion team.

I Survived

I hate this show.

It's quite difficult for me to find words to express the deep and abounding loathing I have for this television show. For the uninitiated, I Survived is a show on the Biography Channel in which people recount the absolute worst thing that's ever happened to them. Truthfully it should be called The Thing That Scarred Me Forever.

Consisting almost entirely of close up interview footage, people explain truly horrific events in brutal detail. Sometimes it's a story of man against nature, like people caught in a storm, those who had their snowmobiles fall through the ice, etc. Those stories are palatable. The ones that are almost unwatchable feature people that have looked unspeakable evil in the face.

Take for example the story of a woman who was attacked in her own home, terrorized, raped and bound. After that her assailant hit her in the head with a hammer, stabbed her and then tried to pound the knife into her head with the hammer. It's truly horrifying, brutal and gut-churning. If you don't believe in metaphysical evil, you will after watching these stories.

After 10-15 minutes of each story, it ends with the victim saying why they thought they survived. That's right, 10-15 minutes of total nightmare fuel followed up by an afterthought of "Oh, yeah, I didn't die and stuff..."

This isn't to say that these sorts of stories shouldn't be told. On CBS 48 Hours has started a series of episodes called Live to Tell which covers the same ground. I've actually seen the same story on both shows, and the thing that sets the 48 Hours version apart is that only 1/3 of the episode centers on the gory details. The rest talks about how they caught the psycho that did these horrible things and how the person rebuilt their life. By following this larger story arc, it prevents me from wanting to throw myself under a bus at the end of the show - and I thank them for that.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Rapidly Running Richardson

In a previous post I mentioned that I would like to see what Guyanese forward Gregory Richardson could do in Major League Soccer. It looks even more likely that I'll get my wish as the Colorado Rapids traded a draft pick to Toronto FC for his rights.

For your viewing pleasure, here are highlights of Richardson demolishing the New England Revolution in the CONCACAF Champions League.

That's Right, Twenty THOUSAND

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Seattle Sounders have already sold 20,000 season tickets for their inaugural season. Assuming sales in other cities remain consistent, this means that MLS should have three teams average more than 20,000 fans per game next year (Los Angeles and Toronto both accomplished the feat the last two years running.)

To put this into perspective, the Seattle Mariners have only sold 14,000 season tickets for next year. I realize that baseball season tickets are much more expensive (due to the large number of games) but it's still impressive that the Sounders are likely to regularly sell out the 24,500 seat soccer capacity for Qwest Field next year.

To add even more perspective, the USL1 version of the Sounders averaged a touch under 3,400 fans per game over the last two years. It just goes to show that USL1 attendance can be pretty much ignored when sizing up potential MLS markets.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 2009 PPC

The 2009 Phony Preseason Cup... er Pan-Pacific Championship kicks off tonight. The four team tournament does in fact feature two champions. The Suwon Blue Wings won the Korean League last year, and Shandong Luneng are the reigning champions of China.

The other two team are Japanese side Oita Trinita and the Los Angeles Galaxy. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to include the Galaxy when they were planning the tournament -- MLS had to be banking that the star power of David Beckham and Landon Donovan would open marketing doors in Asia. However since both of them are currently on loan in Europe you have to think some enterprising vendor is selling "My parents went to the PPC and all they saw was this lousy Ely Allen" shirts in the Home Depot Center parking lot.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

CONCACAF Players I'd Like to See in MLS

Even though Major League Soccer draws talented players from all over the CONCACAF region, there are still plenty of players who end up playing elsewhere. This is a list of players I'd like to see plying their trade here in the good ol' USA.

If I'd published this list a couple of days ago like I'd originally planned, new San Jose Earthquake Bobby Convey would have been at the top of the list. Once the youngest player ever signed by MLS, Convey started his career with DC United at the tender age of 16. An integral part of Reading's magical 106 point season in 2005-2006, he's struggled with injuries the last few years and needs to get consistent playing time if he wants to get anywhere near the 2010 World Cup. I hope he can resurrect what was a very promising career back here in the States.

So who else makes the list?

Nery Castillo - Mexico

I realize his loan spell at Manchester City was more or less a complete disaster, but the talent he showed scoring four goals during the 2007 Copa America was electrifying. If he can regain that form he could be the goal scoring lightning the Mexican national team needs.

Chance of him coming to MLS: 0% - even if he was released by Shakhtar Donetsk I'm sure there are a gaggle of Mexican teams that would offer up a pretty penny for his services.

Gregory Richardson - Guyana

Nicknamed "Jackie Chan," Richardson almost single-handedly dumped the New England Revolution out of the CONCACAF Champions League with four goals in two games. While his performances were not as stellar during the rest of the tournament, in the right environment he looks like he could be an exciting player.

Chance of him coming to MLS: 70% -- he's already on trial with Toronto FC, and the Revolution and Crew were both rumored to be interested in him last year.

David Suazo - Honduras

For my money, he might be the best striker in the region. Currently on loan to Benfica from Inter Milan, he averaged a little more than a goal every three games from 1999-2007 while competing in the top two divisions in Italy.

Chance of him coming to MLS: 0% -- I realize there's pretty much no chance of luring him back from Europe, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This week DC United acquired Christian Gomez from the Colorado Rapids. Yes -- that Christian Gomez -- the one DC couldn't unload fast enough last year in order to pursue Designated Player washout Marcello Gallardo.

United was somehow able to pawn Gallardo off on River Plate, freeing them up to reacquire Gomez, along with a rookie keeper and an international player slot. The cost? Ivan Guerrero, a 2nd round pick and the DP slot they acquired in the original trade.

If you sum up the two trades, DC essentially gave up a very good midfielder in Guerrero for an unknown goalkeeper and the opportunity to rent Gallardo for roughly half a season's worth of games. Ugh.

The Hex is Here!

Tomorrow night's game against Mexico launches the final round of World Cup qualifying for the United States. Commonly referred to as "the hexagonal" (because it contains six teams) this is the fourth qualifying cycle in a row that has used this format.

Scaryice of Climbing the Ladder has put together a fine assortment of historical statistics related to the hex. It makes sense when you think about which countries have qualified out of CONCACAF recently, but I was still a little surprised to learn that only Mexico, Costa Rica and the United States have a winning record in the hex. For this and more, go check out this fine soccer blog.

Pizza Hut - Aiming High

I recently received a Pizza Hut flyer with the following headline:

I must say I'm glad that Pizza Hut is finally serving "restaurant quality" food after all these years of troweling out "gas station" and "pirate ship quality" fare. Since Pizza Hut is a restaurant, wouldn't any food they serve be "restaurant quality?" Perhaps this is a question best left for students of food metaphysics...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Ummm... is this the same Los Angeles?

MLSnet recently published an article about Leo Bautista, a Venezuelan defender who is on trial with the Los Angeles Galaxy. It's a cute little article about how he's enjoying his time in the States and how nice it is in Los Angeles. However I really wonder if the author embellished some of the quotes. At the end of the article Bautista says:
"I'm very happy I came here," he said. "If I told you my country was similar to this, I'd be lying. The streets are clean, people respect laws ... it's just spectacular. I would stay here. I've fallen in love with the city."
Is he staying in the same Los Angeles we see in the news? I can only see a few reasons why he would have said this:
  1. Writer embellishment
  2. Faulty translation from Spanish to English
  3. Venezuela = Thunderdome.

More Xbox Achievements

In a previous post I listed some of my favorite achievements for Xbox 360 games. In the last four months I've stumbled across a few more.

If you play enough games of the exceedingly addicting railroad card game Ticket to Ride you're likely to earn the Underachiever award. In order to "earn" this, you need to play ten games without earning any other achievements... so it's kind of an anti-achievement. Best of all, this is a secret achievement, so there's no way to scheme to get this one. Well unless you cheat and look on the internet to figure out what it is. Hey wait a minute -- forget what I just said. Oops.

The most amusing thing I've seen in someone else's achievement list was "collected 33% of coloring book pages" from Shrek the Third. This probably wouldn't have been so funny to me if the person who collected it wasn't in his thirties...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seattle - Havana of the North

There must be something about Starbucks that lures Cuban soccer players to Seattle. Four years after Maykel Galindo joined the Seattle Sounders, Drew Carey's new club has lured Osvaldo Alonso to the birthplace of grunge. Fresh off his USL1 rookie of the year season with the Charleston Battery, Alonso is poised to patrol the Sounders midfield in front of Kasey Keller.

Rumor has it that fellow defector Reinier Alcantara may also be coming to MLS. His likely destination is Chivas USA, where he would hook up with... Maykel Galindo. It's a small, small world.

So Beckham's Washed Up, Huh?

When David Beckham joined the Galaxy two years ago, many folks said he was washed up/cashing one last check/joining a retirement league/etc. Of course this must be true, I mean Fabio Capello keeps calling him into the England squad, and he's scored two goals in two games for Milan, including this free kick bomb:

Not bad for someone who can't play any more....

The Giant Grella Invasion

I realize that there are probably five other people in the world who are hardcore about both soccer and Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I had to post this. Is it just me, or does former Duke University striker and MLS draft-spurner Mike Grella look like the love child of the main character from the film The Giant Spider Invasion?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Lure of Easy Money Has a Very Strong Appeal

In 2006 Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber famously said "We don't want the local bail-bonds company on the front of the Columbus Crew jersey." Were multi-level marketing companies like Amway, who just signed on as the shirt sponsor of the San Jose Earthquakes truly what he had in mind that day?

Sure, the FTC officially ruled that Amway isn't a pyramid scheme, and nobody has been able to prove that they constitute a cult. But do you really want your team/league associated with a company that's had to defend itself from such allegations, as well as lawsuits from a number of governments?

You might note that MLS is not the first American sports league to be associated with Amway. Co-founder Richard DeVos owns the Orlando Magic. Is this good or bad? I'll leave that to you to decide.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We heard you missed us... we're back...

Every year there are a couple of players who bolt from Major League Soccer to places across the Atlantic with crosses on their flags. Cold places like Norway and Denmark. So far this year the league lost Michael Parkhurst to a Danish club and Hunter Freeman to the Norwegians. We've also seen players like Marcus Tracy and Mike Grella skip MLS altogether to sign with lower-level European teams straight out of college.

Some players are going to sign in Europe no matter what. The lure of living abroad and the perceived chance of catching the eye of a huge club like Manchester United is too much to pass up. What's missed among the hand wringing and bitter invective on BigSoccer is the fact that many of these players eventually show up back in the United States. The grass is not always greener on the other side. With more than two months left for MLS teams to acquire players before the start of the season, these players have already floated back:

Steve Purdy (Germany)
Danny Torres (Norway)
Tally Hall (Denmark)
Mike Videira (Scotland)

So the next time you hear an American has left for Europe do not despair. Chances are they will be back eventually.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fire Draft Husidic

In this year's draft, my beloved Chicago Fire traded up to snag University of Illinois-Chicago midfielder Baggio Husidic. One of the most highly-regarded prospects in the draft, he scored two goals from two shots at the MLS combine. He'll get at least one year of tutelage under Cuauhtemoc Blanco in the Fire midfield and could be his successor one day. His Generation Adidas status (which means he does not count against the salary cap or take up a senior roster spot) certainly doesn't hurt either.

Husidic may also have the best pure soccer name in the draft. How can someone named Baggio not be a soccer star. Perhaps the next few years will see Beckenbauer Konstantinov or Maradona Jones enter the league.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Team by Any Other Name...

Philadelphia's 2010 MLS expansion franchise is taking votes on its future name, and the choices are quite underwhelming:
  • AC Philadelphia
  • SC Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia City
  • Philadelphia Union

Bleck. If you look slightly closer at the choices, they translate as:

  • Italian-sounding europoser name
  • Sort of American-sounding europoser name
  • British-sounding europoser name
  • Somewhat interesting American sports name

You're telling me that there aren't three other names with an actual tie to Philadelphia they could substitute for all the europoser names? I'd rather they recycle the Philadelphia Atoms name from the NASL than see any of these used.

Oh well. At least it's not Real Salt Lake.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Onion Strikes Again

I've been meaning to post this for a long time, but kept forgetting. Once again The Onion brings the funny with their take on the new Major League Soccer franchise in Seattle: Seattle's Disastrous Sports Year Continues With Addition Of Major League Soccer Team.

Another great MLS-related article from The Onion archives: MLS Free Agent Holding Out For Money which concludes "FC Dallas has asked the league to intervene, saying that actually paying Ruiz with money would put them over the $1.2 thousand MLS salary cap."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Holy F*@k It's Cold!!!!!

So, how cold has it been in Wisconsin the last two days? Imagine dipping yourself in liquid nitrogen. Then seal yourself in a freezer full of Bose–Einstein condensate and shoot that freezer into deep space. I'm only slightly exaggerating.

Truth be told, I had to buy voice recognition software to create this blog post. My hands fell off yesterday due to the cold.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Sounds of Zombies in Space... With Sounds

A review of Dead Space for the XBOX 360

Dead Space is a survival horror game with a twist. Instead of rambling through a mansion or research facility the action takes place in and around the interstellar mining ship USG Ishimura. The protagonist is Isaac Clarke (evidently Arthur C. Asimov was already taken) an engineer who ends up having to battle his way through hordes of disgusting baddies called necromorphs to get himself back home.

The game is pure monster movie horror flick. The necromorphs are really quite awful looking, sounding and acting. There are a couple of monsters I wanted to dispatch ASAP just to stop the horrible sounds they were making. Ramping up the "ick factor" is the fact that the monsters are most quickly dispatched by dismembering them. That's right, there's no quick shotgun blast to the brain-pan for these monsters. You literally have to rend them limb from limb to get rid of them. Yes, it's as gross as it seems.

Adding to the horror aspect is the overarching theme of madness. The plot tries to keep the player guessing as to who is sane. It's ambiguous to the very end, and adds quite a bit to the unsettling ambiance of the game.

Another interesting aspect is the zero-g gameplay that occurs periodically. During these times you're able to run and jump from place to place, dancing on the ceiling like an interstellar Lionel Richie.

There are some problems with the game. The Ishimura is evidently constructed of crepe paper and you have to repair nearly every system onboard in order to complete the game. By the end you really begin to wonder if you'll need to fix the slurpie dispenser in order to get the hell out of dodge. Another is the unrelenting ickiness of everything. It becomes depressing over time, so much so that I didn't want to play through it a second time. The game could have used one or two lighter moments to fix the pacing of things.

As a fan of games where you send zombies and their ilk back to their graves, I thought this was well worth playing. It takes a fair amount of time to finish, but since I really don't want to play this ever again I'm torn between saying to buy or rent this game. Since I'm cheap, I say rent it. You'll probably have to renew it to finish the whole thing, but it's still cheaper than purchasing it.