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.