Sunday, December 31, 2006

As The Beckham Turns

The Sun is reporting that Real Madrid has offered David Beckham a 2 year, £100,000 / week deal. If it's true, it goes to show that Beckham still is valued at levels that one would imagine can't be matched by the MLS. Add to that, Posh's movie career, assuming that appearing in a Tom Cruise Scientology film is a start, is not dependent on having Mr. Posh around in Los Angeles (I have a hunch they can afford a nanny or three). And as for business interests, the Beckham's have a deal with Coty (Paris), Ray Ban, and others. If business interests are a reason to move, such as is sighted by rumors of him going to LA, than there are many other interests more compelling than a soccer academy. It would seem that he has plenty of reasons, both monetary and otherwise, to stay in Europe. But strangers things have happened. Personally, I'm with Blog FC in that Ronaldo and / or Cassano are bound to be sold. I wouldn't be surprised in if it wasn't one of them that popped up in the MLS rather than David Beckham.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yanks in England

Ives has a nice summary on the Yanks that played in the prem today.

Soccer Soap Opera

I have to confess that I love the rumors that go around when it comes to transfers. It's great to speculate. I realize it's the equivalent of yapping about how so-n-so and so-n-so would make a great couple. It makes me puke when I overhear a couple chicas at the bar chatting about stuff like that ("Oh Brian and Lisa would be such a cute couple..."). But when it's in a different form, I love it. Will John Dahl Tommason leave Stuttgart to return to Italy? Will Dempsey get his work permit and end up with Fulham? Will David Beckham leave Real Madrid? It's fun and one of the spots I use for following all the crazy rumors is Sky.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Charlton, Crouch

Well Charlton's struggling in the transfer market just like on the pitch. They landed Chinese international Zheng Zhi. But they lost out to Celtic on signing Scott Pressley. It's going to be tough for the Addicks to dig themselves out of the hole they've dug. They don't have the kind of cash that Newcastle has to spend £12million on Peter Crouch (at least the rumor is that Roeder's ready to put in that size of a bid).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pointy Ball, Coaching Changes

Seeing this column has me thinking about coaching again. Sure, it's for the Minnesota Vikings and it's football, not soccer. But it's interesting to see how an organization gets a new owner, Zigi Wilf, and makes a big deal about building the foundation for a successful team. Yet even when setting the on-field performance aside, the coach doesn't seem to be up to snuff. I can understand it when it's a new owner still wet behind the ears. But let's look at England. At what point does some like Newcastle's Shepard or Charlton's board of directors get fired? Why is it that it doesn't seem to happen? If the coach is responsible for the team's record why shouldn't the head suits be responsible for the coaches record?

Patrick Reusse: Childress' stubborn ways and a 6-9 record make him a failure

The secrecy and aloofness of the Vikings coach has alienated him from Vikings fans who have put up with other coaching idiocyncrasies in the past. What they can't forgive is the team's record on the field.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Chelsea = 2 Man Team?

Manchester United Blog, over at A Kick In The Grass, asks this interesting question. Is Jose willing to sacrifice his 2 front teeth for Christmas to get John Terry back?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ergo, David Beckham To LA

Beckham to LA That's right. Between the Los Angeles yet to set their 2007 season ticket prices and that Frank Yallop would never mislead his friend Craig Forrest, Beckham is coming to LA. At least that those seem to be the main reasons for Andrea Canales to conclude, "". That's right, David Beckham will be leaving Real Madrid this January for Los Angeles. I don't dispute that Yallop and Forrest are friends. And I don't dispute it's unusual for LA to not have set their 2007 season ticket prices yet. After all, the 2007 player combine is a few days away. And before we know it MLS teams will be holding pre-season training. Nevertheless there are too many unanswered questions. MLS' Thin Wallet How would the MLS be able to pay Beckham? In June 2003 Beckham signed a £24.5 million 4-year deal with Real Madrid. Yes, that's coming to end. But £6 million a year is a lot of money. A pound is fetching $1.96 right now. Even assuming Mr. Posh is going to be taking a pay cut as he comes to the end of his career, how big of cut is that? A 3 year deal worth $12 million? A 2 year deal worth $7.5 million? Keep in mind the average player salary is about $75,000 per year. Keep in mind the MLS's salary cap is $1.9 million. Keep in mind the MLS lost $250 million in it's first 5 years. Keep in mind the total league revenues for the 12 teams in the MLS in 2005 was thought to be less than $150 million. Even with Phil Anschutz's fat wallet, it's hard to imagine them spending a few MLS team rosters worth of salary on just one player. It's hard to picture such a large share of the Galaxy's annual revenue into a contract for just one player. London Calling David Beckham was Leytonstone, London, England. His parents were huge Tottenham Hotspur fans. He even attended the Spurs school of excellence before joining Manchester United as youth. As Beckham's career closes down, one has to wonder if he wouldn't enjoy making his parent's proud and joining Spurs. And there is no doubt that Spurs can meet any transfer demands of Real Madrid (Beckham is in the last year of his contract) and, more importantly, Beckham's wage demands. Even if he doesn't go that route, there are plenty of other English clubs with bigger bank accounts than the entire MLS salivating at the prospect of bringing him back to England. So why would he move to Los Angeles? The Coup There are other reasons why to question the move. Why wouldn't Beckham sign a contract extension with Real Madrid? Why should we believe that Posh is really all that interested in moving to Los Angeles? Why would he choose the MLS if he spurs a move back to England? Why not another club in Spain? Or maybe Japan? Los Angeles and AEG very well may be on the verge of signing David Beckham. But with all the options the 32 year-old midfielder has to choose from, it's hard to believe it's a done deal. Such a signing for the MLS would be a coup. Coup's are messy things and more often than not they don't work out. I hope it does but I won't be holding my breath.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Strikers That Don't Pan Out : Obafemi Martins

Back at the beginning of the season I made some comments on strikers that don't pan out. I mainly looked at the German Miroslav Klose and wondered why teams weren't making a move for him. But I tossed in the header "Will Martins Work For Newcastle?". So far, he has(n't). Obafemi Martins cost Newcastle United £10m PLUS wages. And as poorly as they've played as a team so far this year, he has 7 goals from 14 league starts. So that's why I want to say he has. But the best team he's scored on so far has been Tottenham (currently 7th). He scored one against West Ham (18th), one against Reading (9th), and had a brace each against Blackburn (17th) and Watford (20th) for the other 4. He failed to score against Pompey, Arsenal, ManU, Chelsea (league and Carling Cup) and others. Some of this does reflect that Newcastle is having a poor run of form. You see the same problems for other big strikers for other teams. Bobby Zamora's only scored 5 for West Ham and at that back in August (then again, the Hammers got him in a player swap, not £10 million transfer fee). Then again even Benny McCarthy, who cost Blackburn £2.5m, has 6 including one against Liverpool. And Blackburn's Nonda just nabbed a brace at Arsenal. So at some point the question becomes is Martins (or any striker for that matter) not performing because of his team, or his team not getting results because Martins isn't performing? In this case, I think it's a bit of both.

'Twas The Night Before Boxing Day

A big AMEN to Jarrett over at Triangle Soccer Fanatics on his comment that you can a tell a die-hard soccer fan in that they just try to get through Christmas Day for boxing day. I've been contracting for a few years and the last 2 Christmases I've been in-between contracts over the holidays. It's wonderful to be down at the pub at 8am drinking a pint with breakfast while you see others going to work. It's even better to have a day full of games. It's good to see some people telling it like it is. Since I'm working this year, I'll have to see if I can send some bad mojo Pompey's way via the internet. I hope West Ham spanks them tomorrow with a nice cherry on top being Sol "I'd sell my grandma for the right price" Campbell getting a red card in the 12th minute. Saggy Cheeks group at Fratton Park are out of their league right now and it's time for the results to start reflecting it.

Merry Christmas, Charlton

West Ham, eager to muck up the managers plans by buying expensive Argentines that aren't in the managers plans, were impatient with the performance of Pardew this year. They axed him and soon hired ex-Charlton manager Alan Curbishbley. To be blunt, I don't get it. Pardew was a good manager with a team that was struggling to deal with a sophomore slump compounded by the suits throwing the wrong players at them (Tevez and Mascherano). Curbishley still faces those same problems with the winter window unlikely to save him from the poorly dubbed "Tevezcherano". Will he change the clubs fortunes? Probably but they couldn't get much worse than they were. Short of giving Watford competition, Cursh's reign this year was bound to look good. And by no means does that mean I don't think highly of him. He may be a better manager than Pardew. However in the grand scheme of things for West Ham, it was another case of change for the sake of change instead of doing so when things truly needed to be changed and there was truly an opportunity to improve the club. Speaking of Pardew and Charlton, the soap opera takes an interesting twist. As you probably already know, Pardew's been named the new manager and will make his first appearance at The Valley on Wednesday against Fulham. It's good to see Charlton stumble into this one. I thought Dowie should have stuck around longer both because he needed more time to turn the team around and that they did not have a competent replacement lined up. Les Reed? PAHLEEEZEEE!!! Pardew's got a tough job ahead of him. But the way Blackburn's been playing (What happened, Sparky? We were talking about you taking over at Old Trafford just 8 months ago???), Sheffield Utd's lack of overall quality, the mess Gibson's turned Boro into, and Pearce's inability to get a decent Citeh squad to perform mean that Pardew has a good chance of turning things around enough to get the Addicks out of this mess. If Pardew is to save Charlton from relegation, he'll need some fresh blood. Addick's Prem Diary is reporting that Charlton is on the verge of landing Alan Smith on Loan. That would be a good first step in shaking things up there. The question is why is SAF letting Smith out on loan? Did that nasty injury really impact his game that much?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tis The Season

The winter transfer window is about to open and players are on the move. So I figured having looked a few of them back here, it was time to look at a few others. The excellent blog Soccer Mad In America takes a look at several players moves including Boca Junoirs forward Rodrigo Palacio (looks like Barcelona's bid was rejected), Claudio Lopez, Fernando Gago (Real Madrid signs it's Redondo look-a-like), Bruno Marioni (looks like he won't be heading to Houston), Juan Roman Riquelme saying he's staying put at Villareal and a few others. Arsenal Review doesn't confirm past rumors specifically linking Lehman with a move to Sevilla. They just acknowledge that he could be gone this summer. Most every blog on this side of the pond has reported on the deals that sent Nate Jaqua's rights to Los Angeles for a partial allocation..... which then a few days later found it's way to DC in exchange for Alecko Eskandarian. And now many are wondering what this means for DC. Surely it's a sign they're about to make their big DP signing and it'll be a striker (Palermo? really?). A Kick In The Grass is reporting that ManUtd are about to sign Hargreaves from Bayern Munich during the winter window. Also, young fullback Phil Bardsley has gone on loan to Sunderland. Toronto FC's coach Mo Johnston has been in Scotland and has his eye on Steven Pressley, Alan Thompson and Stephen Pearson. This bit of news caught and shared over at Toronto FC Blog. Various blogs are speculating on Tevezcherano and who they may be joining; that is, if they can under current FIFA regulations. Who? Well, in the quest to sound as insider as possible they've come to simply use the faux name of "Tevezcherano" whenever referring to West Ham's Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. Personally, I'm not a fan of the term. I know we want our blogs to be brief but there shoudl be limits. Tevezcherano seems like the kind fo name a couple 14 years old would come up as nickname to bestow upon themselves and think it was cool. Sorry, it's not. And speaking of transfers, Caught Offsides has a fun look at some past transfers that should be investigated. I'm glad to see that the infamous Ali Dia made the list. God knows what Souness was smoking, or at least getting added to his wallet, when he signed that guy from literally nowhere.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Real Madrid, Big Spenders

One of these days I'm going to take the time to better look at Real Madrid. They're a big club nad have money to spend. But it's not limitless and they don't have a sugar daddy a la Ambromovich to add to their coffers. They just signed a young Argentine, Fernando Gago, for €20.4m. If that was their only big signing of the year, I wouldnt' think much of it. But they signed Ruud van Nistelrooy for €15m. They spent €5.5m on Cassano, €26m on Diarra (who's been riding the pine lately), and €20m to bring in Emerson and Cannavaro. And with €13m spent to bring in Gonzalo HiguaĆ­n that puts transfer spending at at least €70 million during the last year. Where does Real Madrid, even given their size, find this money?

Friday, December 22, 2006

2006 Combine, The Forwards

The last look at players from the 2006 MLS combine is over at From College To Pros. To blunt, there isn't much worth talking about with that group in terms of future MLS impact. Carr has shown a lot of promise and Jason Garey seems to be able to score some goals. But most of them couldn't cut it. I wouldn't be surprised if in 3 or 4 years to find that none of the forwards from 2006 combine are left in the league. Not because they left for a big paycheck in Europe; just because they weren't good enough to stick around in the MLS.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

North Korea & Soccer Unity

Normally there isn't much to be said about a soccer game in the grand scheme of things. It's a bunch of folks running around and kicking a ball. But every now and then something really special happens. Steve Wilson encountered it at the Asian games in Qatar. North Korea and South Korea played each other at the Asian games and at the end of the match, both teams sung a song o f unity. There's hope for the mess that's known as North Korea :

The dividing fence became blurred as both sets of supporters broke out into a mutual song and began swaying together. The words, a young South Korean girl explained, were those of unity, where all Koreans are one family; brothers and sisters.

It's Official : Soehn in At DC United

Once ESPN was reporting it, one could assume it was almost certain to happen. But it's official now, Nowak has left DC United to be an assistant coach with the US Men's National Team (USMNT). Tom Soehn has stepped up from assistant to head coach at DC United. Had someone told me that in the off-season the top 2 regular season coaches would be gone, I wouldn't have believed them. I'm not too surprised about Clarke. He was on my coach watch list for firings back in August. But even had I known Bradley would become the new USMNT head coach, I wouldn't have believed that Nowak would step up as an assistant. Is Nowak hoping Bradley's tenure won't go will and he'll get the job? But if it doesn't go well, why would Sunil + company at USSF name the assistant as the new head; the assistant that was part of things not going well?

Ronnie Wallwork, Promising Youth

It's good to see that Ronnie Wallwork is recovering from his stabbing incident. For those of you who didn't hear, last month by Ronnie Rimmer after a night out in downtown Manchester. I haven't seen much more news about Rimmer other than he is 20 years old. And since the attack seems to be unprovoked ( e.g. they didn't get in a shouting match, it wasn't a botched robbery) I wonder if he's not suffering from one or more mental illnesses. It's commmon for many of them to not manifest themselves until people reach their early 20s.
As for Wallwork he was hurt pretty badly after being stabbed in the hand, stomach and back. At the time he was on loan at Barnsley from West Bromwich Albion (both in England's 2nd division, the Coca-Cola Championship). It's good to see that he's recovering. It would be wonderful to see him step out onto the pitch and play again before the season is over.
Seeing Wallwork in the news isn't something that happens often. When I chat with people and they're gushing over some young player, Wallwork is one of the players I point out to them. Granted no one ever though Wallwork would be another Roy Keane or even Nicky Butt. But like many young players that are breaking into the first team a bit, especially at a massive club like Manchester United, people get pretty excited about them and assume they're destined to be at least solid first team players in the premeirship (or whatever top division league is involved). But I'll point out to them a few ex-ManU youth players that showed some promise. Terry Cooke and Jovan Kirovski (IIRC led the ManU reserves or reserve league in scoring one year as a player) are with the Colorado Rapids of the MLS. Danny Higginbotham was sold to Derby, then Southampton and now Stoke. Ronnie Wallwork was loaned out a few times before joining WBA on a free with West Brom loaning him out to Bradford City and Barnsley (he was on loan with Barnsley at the time of the stabbing). Jonathan Greening joined ManU as a promising 19 year old but a couple years later was sold to Middlebrough and then later to WBA. Or to look at non-ex-ManUtd player, look at Kevin Davies. Blackburn spent £7.5m to buy him from Southampton when he was 21. Within 2 years Rovers thought so little of him they were willing to sell him back to Southampton for nothing, only asking for Egil Ostenstand in return. Saints later loaned him out to Milwall and let him go on a free. Luckily for Davies he was able to make something of himself with Bolton since then.
The point of this is not to rain on people's parades. It's not to say they should never get excited over young, upcoming players. But it's just to add a bit of perspective to the situation and that while making it in the Championship or a lower table prem team is not being a superstar, it's still a success for players just to make it. For every Wallwork that's still around just fighting for a place in the colaship, there are 3 Joe Smith's that saw the first team and went on to play non-league while working as bricklayer.

2006 Addidas Major League Soccer Player Combine – Midfielders

Today I took a look at the midfielders that were at the 2006 MLS Combine over at From College To Pros.

DC United : Soehn In, Nowak Out

It's not quite official yet but the story first picked up by various DC blogs is now published by ESPN. It will be made official at today's press conference :

D.C. United and Peter Nowak are parting ways after three seasons, with assistant Tom Soehn becoming the new head coach, according to an official within MLS. Soehn will be presented at a news conference Thursday, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had yet to announce the move.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nowak To Be (assistant ) Coach USMNT

Screaming Eagles Podcast is reporting that DC United will be making a major announcement tomorrow. And that by the personal giving it, it will either be player or coaching related. Some other DCU fans are saying the rumor is that Nowak will be named assistant coach of US Mens National Team (USMNT) and that Tom Soehn will be named the new head coach of DC United.

Dicks Sporting Goods Park, December 2006
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado Dec. 2006

Since I'm in Denver getting nailed with snow storm, I suspect a lot of people around the country will be hearing the reports. They'll remember hearing that Denver got 8, 10, 24, inches (it looks like it could be a doozy right now). What they won't hear is how nice the weather can be here, even in the winter. And what they rarely hear is that even when we get hit with a storm like that, it's usually gone within a few days. So remember, it's more likely that you'll have a wonderful view of the mountains on a day that's 65F and sunny if the MLS Cup is played at DSG Park than cold and snowy.

A Bit More Gareth Bale

There was some good news for Saints fans a couple days ago with Sky reporting that Gareth Bale told the Daily Echo

There's a lot to be said for playing week in, week out in the Championship
I'm loving it and it would be nice to think I can make it into the top flight with Southampton next season.
I hope for his sake he sticks around Saints for another year or three. I think Theo Walcott made a big mistake in giving himself soem time to mature and bulk up at a club where expectations would be lower and it would be easier to get playing time. And don't even get my started on SWP trading in Citeh for Chelsea's rubles.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2006 Addidas Major League Soccer Player Combine Review

With the 2007 combine approaching, I found myself looking back at previous combines. In doing so I found there was very little information and data about them on the internet. Over the next few weeks I'm taking some time to look at the players who participated. After that I want to get some data on them out there so everyone who chooses to can draw their on conclusions. To start with I looked at the goalkeepers and defenders at the 2006 combine over at From College To Pros. Please share any comments, information or complaints here or over at FCTP.

Is The MLS Combine Needed?

With the 2007 MLS player combine on the horizon, I have been looking back at past combines. Best I can tell technically the college combine goes back to 2004. Before then they didn't have a college player combine. If anyone knows more details on this, please share them. One thing I noticed in 2006 is the large number of players drafted both in the SuperDraft and in the Supplemental draft that were not invited or did not attend the 2006 combine. They are as follows :

Players drafted in 2006 MLS draft that were not at the 2006 Addidas MLS Player Combine

SuperDraft Picks 1st round Marvell Wynne, Medhi Ballouchy, Sacha Kljestan, Leandro de Oliveira, Nathan Sturgis 2nd round : Jed Zayner, Josmer Altidore, Blake Wagner, Jacob Peterson, Willie Sims, Marc Burch 3rd round : Rod Dyachenko, Danny O'Brien, Jordan Russolillo 4th round : Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Dello-Russo, Josh Brown, Jeremy Ashe

Supplemental Picks Miguel Guante, Drew Helm, Floyd Franks, Ryan McMahen, Pete Dzubay, Brad Napper, Andy Metcalf, Hectory Guzman, Liam Girrard, Lawson Vaughn, Chase Harrison, Ivan Becerra, Sean Babcock, Keith Cauldwell, Ezra Prendergast, Adam Williamson, Armando Melendez , Peter Louis , Chris Hamberger , Idiris Ughiovhe , Devon McTavish, Luke Enna, Richard Mupfudze , Matt Couch

It leaves me wondering the value of the combine. It would still seem that for most players they would be best served participating if invited. But with so many non-combine players drafted, how much do the MLS coaches and GMs actually value what they see at the combine?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yank Abroad : Cam Weaver

College To Pros is reporting that Cam Weaver has moved to FK Haugesand of the Norwegian 2nd division. It's too bad. Weaver was a player that the MLS missed and ended up leading scoring in USL-1 (America's 2nd division) as a rookie. I was looking forward to seeing what Major League Soccer (MLS) club he would end up with for the 2007 season. It looks like we'll have to wait to see if he'll make the move to the MLS (if he ever does).

MLS Successful Draft Picks

If you haven't already seen it, take some time to check out The DCenter's series on the history of the MLS draft. They have some great numbers on how often different rounds made it in the league. And hopefully soon they'll be making that data public. One thing they haven't looked at is how many players from the MLS college combine make it into the league. I will be taking a look at those numbers here and more closely over at College To Pros. As a teaser, here is a listing of players invited to the 2006 MLS combine. The ones in bold were actually drafted by the MLS, either in the Superdraft or the Supplemental draft. Keep in mind this only relects if they were drafted, not if they made the roster let alone were still in the league by the end of the season. As you can, most of the players at the combine do get drafted. Future posts will show how few of them make it at all, even for a year. 2006 Addid MLS Player Combine University of Akron M Yohann Mauger F Ross McKenzie Birmingham-Southern College F Karim Dietz Bradley University GK Chris Dunsheath California State University, Northridge M Dan Paladini University of California (Cal-Berkeley) F Calen Carr GK Eric Kronberg D Tyson Wahl University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) D Jordan Harvey Clemson University D Justin Moore University of Connecticut D Willis Forko M Mpho Moloi Creighton University M Matt Wieland University of Dayton F Omar Jarun Drake University D Cory Farabi Duke University M Blake Camp M Danny Kramer Eastern Illinois University F Jimmy Klatter George Mason University D Anthony Noriega Georgetown University D Jeff Curtin Indiana University F Mike Ambersley *M Brian Plotkin University of Kentucky GK Andy Gruenbaum University of Maryland D Kenny Bertz *F Jason Garey D Chris Lancos University of New Mexico *F Jeff Rowland M Lance Watson North Carolina State University *F Aaron King D John Queeley The Ohio State University GK Ray Burse D Kyle Veris Old Dominion University F Brian Cvilikas D Trevor McEachron Oral Roberts University M Jorge Flor F David Leung Oregon State University F Ryan Johnson Penn State University M Brian Devlin M David Walters Princeton University M Darren Spicer Santa Clara University F Kelechi Igwe Southern Methodist University M David Chun F Duke Hashimoto St. John's University M Jeff Carroll *F Matt Groenwald St. Louis University D Danny Wynn University of South Carolina M Josh Alcala Temple University F Tony Donatelli University of Tulsa F Kyle Brown D Daniel Wasson Virginia Commonwealth University D Stephen Shirley F Dominic Oduro Wake Forest University *M Justin Moose University of Washington M Mike Chabala

One-Off Awards

I'm curious about the unusual things. One of them I found was a one-off award the MLS awarded in 2005. At the 2005 player combine, they gave the Tom Fitzgerald award. Tom Fitzgerald was a US soccer who among other things won the US Open Cup with the Columbus Crew and won a national title with UCLA (college). The award was for the most outstanding player at the combine. Luke Kreamalmeyer won it in 2005. But that seems to be the only time the award was given out with no note of it made for the 2006 combine.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Drafting Players In The MLS

The DCCenters has a nice find on players in the MLS. As you may know, the league holds a draft each year for young players coming in to the league. In looking at the numbers, they found that 1/3 of the players drafted in the first 4 rounds never play a game for their club. I wonder how many of those that do, are around in the league after a year. Or how many of them are still in the league playing 3 years later.

Arsenal, Pompey and Player Moves

Arseblog has a good summary of yesterday's game at Ashburton Grove against Pompey. What caught my eye was this :

I’ve said before that fans will never jeer a team, even if they’ve lost, if they know they’re giving it 100% all of the time. What does frustrate fans is when it’s obvious not everyone is doing that and to exacerbate that you look at the way we played when we did step it up and you know it was a game we should have won. If we had gone at Portsmouth with the same drive and pace that we did from the 56th minute onwards we’d have murdered them.
I can't disagree with that. Fans, even ones of a club as successful as Arsenal, know things won't always go their team's way. But they do expect their team to give it their all. Had it not been for some suspect marking on set pieces and some better decisions at the other end, Arsenal would've walked out with all 3 points. Especially against a Pompey team that is, to be quick frank, at best a mid-table team. If anything I expect Pompey to come out of the busy season in the lower half of the table. But if teams keep letting them be in the game, they could continue to punch above their weight. This time of year doesn't get busy for teams in England just because of the number of games they play but also because the winter transfer window is about to open. Teams are busy scouting players and figuring out how they need to shake up their squad to better and what they can afford. These are a few potential moves some blogs are reporting. QPR Report : Israeli striker Omer Golan set to join Loftus Road. Newcastle United is looking to sign QPR teenager Ray Jones. Caughtoffside : Portsmouth FC will pay £12m for Manuel Fernandes...... if he plays 3 games in a row for Pompey. The shame is there are people running clubs that think such deals are good. Soccer By Ives : New York Red Bull are in talks with Paulo Wanchope. As Ives reminds us, the MLS was very close to signing him years ago. What I'd like to know if he'll be making league max or NYRB is ready to use their designated player (DP) slot on him and pay more. Yanks Abroad : Hammarby is looking to bring in goalkeeper Tally Hall. They've also talked with Charlie Davies who recently was at Ajax. College To Pros : Charlie Davies is set to sign with Sweeden's Hammarby. Toronto FC MLS : Sunderland's Robbie Elliot may be making a move across the pond to the MLS with Los Angeles and Toronto both interested in him. Football365 : Sevilla are interested in signing Jens Lehman from Arsenal. Juventus is still in the hunt for West Ham's underperforming Javier Mascherano. Villa is hunting for a new striker with Tottenham's Robbie Keane and PNE's David Nugent being linked with the midlands club. Manchester United Blog : It's not a transfer but it has the same affect with Chinese Teenager Dong Fangzhou set to obtain a British work permit. ManU signed the kid a few years ago for £3.5m and have loaned him out to their Belgian sister club Royal Antwerp to gain experience and wait for him to meet the conditions needed for a work permit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Beckham To Los Angeles (yet again)

The David Beckham to MLS / New York Red Bull / Los Angeles Galaxy rumor has surfaced again. This time it's one of LA's coach Frank Yallop's old teammates saying it's in the works. Toronto MLS FC Blog includes an audio link to the radio interview with Craig Forrest where the claim is made.

Gareth Bale, Wales Answer To Roberto Carlos

Gareth Bale is a 17 year old left back for Southampton FC. He's generated a good amount of buzz going into the current Championship season. He already has 3 caps for Wales (for what that's worth). Various Southampton officials, including his manager George Burley, have sworn up and down that they won't be selling him. For Southampton's sake I hope that's the case. He would do well to note how little playing time Theo Walcott got when he left and stick around for a couple years. Especially considering how young he is and how much work his defending still needs. But if he keeps playing like he did today against Norwich, the Saints may be getting some big offers in a way weeks for the kid. He seemed to single handedly dismantle Norwich at times. They didn't seem to be able to stop him even after adjusting tactics and player personal to try to deal with his constant runs down the left side. And he scored a nice goal off a free kick, his 5th of the season in 20 games.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Step-Stool For Landon

With all of the attention Freddy Adu has received this week, you may have overlooked the news that Landon Donovan is marrying his girlfriend Bianca Kajlich. I had a great laugh this morning when I saw that Throughball is raising money to buy him a step-stool for his wedding gift. I encourage everyone to throw in a buck to let Lannycakes know you really care.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rest In Peace Lamar Hunt

Lamar Hunt has passed away. He founded the Dallas Tornadoes in the old NASL. He also was an original investor in the AFL, starting the Dallas Texans and eventually moving them to Kansas City where they became the Chiefs. More recently he was a founding investor for Major League Soccer (MLS) with teams in Columbus, Kansas City and Dallas. He recently sold the Kansas City Wizards to a group of KC investors. Columbus was the first MLS team with a soccer specific stadium. May the perpetual light shine upon him.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

McLaren and England

McClaren demands time to revive England

This headline caught my attention this morning. McClaren's pleading for more time to revive England? It's times like these that I wish I had more access to everything that he said. He very well may have not used those words. But it's clear is asking for more time in saying "Rome was not built in a day...It is where you end up, not where you are after the initial period." I agree that coaches at times are given unreasonable expectations. For example, anything short of winning every game when coaching England. Excuse my French but shit happens. That said, this is the English national team. They're not in an overly difficult group. The team should be able to better Croatia and Russia. The team may need some time to be shaped into one capable of winning the World Cup. But the World Cup isn't until 2010. They have time just by the nature of the competition. They shouldn't need time to do well in qualifying. Is McClaren trying to take some pressure off of his players? Or is he trying to come up with excuses for himself?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Adu Overshadows Other News

With all the press the Adu deal got, it's overshadowed a lot of other important soccer news here in the states. Before touching on that, I still have one lingering question about that trade. Did Real Salt Lake have to take Rimando as part of the price for getting Adu? Or did DC have to give up Rimando in order to move a player that wasn't happy playing for them? The night before the big trade was announced, it was reported by 3rd Degree that FC Dallas would be naming ex-Arsenal player Steve Morrow as their new head coach. I don't think anyone was surprised. FC Dallas has a good squad. They don't need to make major changes. And the word on the street was that Morrow was the decision maker on player moves before the announcement such as placing Simo Valekari on waivers. Morrow has said he'll take a more aggressive approach to the game. On the same day they announced their biggest signing ever, Real Salt Lake opened their books to Salt Lake County. Probably the most surprising thing to come out of that was to find out that an investment group of Goldman Sachs owns 1/2 of the team. That is, the 1/2 of the 1/2 that the MLS doesn't own. It's unfortunate that more teams don't have to do this to secure public funding for their stadium projects. Lastly, Lamar Hunt is very sick. As many of you know, he's been battling cancer for a few years. He was hospitalized before Thanksgiving and things don't look. This news is even more sad as I awoke this morning to an early hour phone call. My great uncle Joseph passed away in the night after a long struggle with cancer. And now the US soccer family is about to lose one it's patriarchs to the same disease.

Adu, Adu, Adu

As I mentioned yesterday, US soccer blogs around the internet are full of stories on the Freddy Adu trade. Columnists are already chiming in too.

Andrea Canales mentions that the ball got rolling a few weeks when Freddy ran into his old coach Ellinger :

About three weeks ago, Adu and his agent ran into Ellinger at a soccer event. There, Adu clued his former coach in to his readiness to make a move.

"We started to maneuver and tried to figure out if we could make it work," said Steve Pastorino, Real Salt Lake's general manager.

Ives Galarcep hasn't had a column printed on the subject yet but had this to say on his blog :
What's my take on this trade? It is an absolutely horrendous deal by Real Salt Lake, whose front office folks have dunce cap imprints from all the bad deals they have made.
Pseudo Corner Kick believes it's a good move for both RSL and DC United.

Are You Loyal? already has pictures of Adu arriving at SLC last night.

Dan Loney, over at Big Soccer's blogs, apparently hasn't seen these photos yet and light heartedly wondering if this is some sort of Ghanian version of a Nigerian email scam.

Screaming Eagles Podcast, the official blog of the DC United's supporters group the Screaming Eagles, has a nice synopsis of what a few others have to say.

And just in case you forgot the deal was just about Freddy, MLS Fangirl is going miss Nick Rimando.

My Soccer Blog reminds us that Freddy's likely to miss part of the MLS season with the U-20 World Cup being played this summer. Surely DC United had that in mind as they try to build a team that can win it all next year.

The Far Post points out that DC United needs someone who can play outside midfield and that Adu's salary was too much in the MLS for what Freddy's able to produce.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Adu = Salt Lake Stadium???

Will Adu Bring The Stadium?

As you probably already know, there was a huge trade today in Major League Soccer involving DC United and Real Salt Lake. The news was big enough that it was even mentioned on Monday Night Football. And there's hardly a soccer blog stateside that hasn't mentioned it (as you can see below).

It's a good move by both teams. But the reasons may not be apparent. Let's take a look at the definite pluses for each.

Real Salt lake

Nick Rimando :
He's barely mentioned but Real Salt Lake was needing a new starting goalkeeper. Garlick looked competent at times last year. But many others he looked as though he didn't realize that diving was part of the job description for a goalkeeper. Garlick along with Bo Oshoniyi was the least convincing of starting GKs in the league last year. RSL needed a new goalkeeper and Rimando while not perfect is a good choice.

Freddy Adu :
He's the poster boy for American soccer. It's likely that only a deal for David Beckham would get more press in the US. While Freddy is not the next Pele, he's not 18 yet and clearly a talent player who is already doing good things. Most importantly for RSL, the good press from landing this huge deal could be the last little something they need to get the deal for their new stadium deal completed. RSL's front office may have had a ground breaking in August but they have yet to get Salt Lake County to sign on to the deal. Ad without the county's money, they can't pull off building their new soccer specific stadium in Sandy. They're close to completing the deal but it's been dragging on for months. During this time they've been taking a lot of damage in the media over the deal. If they don't close soon, the county could pass on the deal for the 2nd time in less than a year.

Stadium :
Did I mention this could be the PR the team needs to finalize their stadium deal? I did but need to mention it as it's own category since without it, Real Salt Lake is likely to leave metro Salt Lake City.

DC United :

Major Allocation : While it's not a designated player slot, it's still worth enough to bring in a big player at league max. DC United in the past has shown while they're not perfect, they are skilled at finding good players at this level. Gomez and Moreno are two good examples of this. With DC making a push to do with in internal competions and winning the MLS Cup starting in a couple months, they will need more talent around if they're to do well on multiple fronts.

Jay Nolly : Nolly showed in 2006 that he's a competent stand-in when called upon. Unlike Rimando Nolly's not expecting to start and frees up @ $70,000 in cap space. That may not sound like a lot but in the MLS that give DCU room to add some good depth if not a new starter to their squad.

Better Focus, Natural Width :
Let's face it, Freddy Adu was a distraction for DC United. He wasn't content not being played in the middle nor in not being a guaranteed starter. He made this well known to the extent that at one point DCU had no choice but to suspend him for shooting off his mouth in public. And the focus on the team from the press was just as much about Freddy as it was about the entire team. Without Adu around the press can get back to talking about the team and the team can worry about playing well instead of how to integrate Freddy and deal with his antics. And without Freddy, DC can look to bring in natural width that's happy to play their role on the rather than how well they're setting up their big money move to Europe.

Nowak :
Whether Peter Nowak, arguably the best coach in Major League Soccer, would be back next year or not has been up in the air. It's unlikely the team would make such a move without it being made by whomever they were going to have coach next year. And given the friction Nowak and Adu had, it's reasonable to assume the deal has Nowak's seal of approval and that he's on the verge of finalizing a new contract with the team.

Cap Space :
As mentioned, Adu and Rimando being gone gives DC United a lot of flexibility in staying under the salary cap. Getting rid of Rimando should enable them to bring Donnet back (if that's what they want) or bring in a solid MLS player. And the allocation gives the ability to bring in a very talented player while keeping their designated player slot open for an even bigger signing.

Money :
If Adu is sold, DC United will see a good portion of it. This is money they will need with Gomez and Moreno in their last years in the league.

There are some negatives for both teams.

DC United :
Talent Loss : DC United loses a GK capable of starting in the league and in international club play. If Perkins sustains a major injury the team could struggle. And Adu would've been a good player to have around to fill in in the middle if Gomez, who is 32, is injured or needs a rest with DCU playing in 4 club competition next year. Injuries aside, DC may lose Jeff Carroll from their midfield. And they've probably lost John Wilson (last year's knee injury may be career ending). Having Freddy around would mean one less hole to fill.

Positive Press :
As much as DC United has been the closest thing to a dynasty that Major League Soccer has had, they still couldn't generate the kind of press that Freddy can. Metro Washington is one of the if not the best soccer market in the United States so they won't disappear quietly into the night. But they will clearly get a lot less attention.

Real Salt Lake :
Payroll : For Real Salt Lake they have to worry about not just the salary cap but also making their payroll. They're still picking up part of the tab for Clint Mathis (likely in the neighborhood of $150k). It's likely that Jeff Cunningham, coming off a career season, will be looking to increase his $212k salary up to the league max (@$300k for 2007) if he's to stick around. As big as Freddy Adu is, he can not replace Cunningham's 16 goals and 11 assists. Real Salt Lake is also facing paying Eddie Pope ( $400k in 06), Chris Klein ($178k), Jason Kreis ($198k), Andy Williams ($100k), Garlick ($100k). RSL's other teenager, Nick Besagno is up there too with his 06 wages (up to $90 depending on bonuses) even though he's only started a handful of games over 2 years.

More Changes Needed :
RSL was worst in the league for goals allowed in 2006. They finished last in their conference. And with Ballouchy, Williams, Klein and even Kreis they were not in need of yet another attacking midfielder. If Adu plays more forward as a link between the midfield and Cunningham, it makes what to do with Kreis more of a question. If he plays in the midfield, it leaves more of a question of how their midfield will play defense with Williams, Ballouchy and Klein all not being known for being strong coming back. More so it's hard to see how the team can afford to keep Garlick around With 2 other well paid, experienced and talented keepers on the marker - Hartman (LA) and Thorton (Fire) - it's unlikely that RSL will be able to get much for Garlick.

Quick Loss / Designated Player Slot :
Freddy Adu turns 18 this spring. He's already made it clear that he wants to move to Europe. With his birthday he very well make that move. And while he's grandfathered in for 07, if Adu does stick around in 2008 Real Salt Lake will have to use a designated player rule slot on him to keep him in 2008. The MLS has done a great job on selling the DPR as the Beckham rule. They've sold it as a chance for teams to bring in big players. But the reality is it's the league moving to tighten up their salary cap requirements. There are only 13 of these slots and any team willing to trade theirs going into 2008 should be able to command a steep price for theirs knowing that RSL would have little choice but to trade for it to keep Adu. That is assuming RSL uses their in 2007. If they do that player is likely to be on a 2 year guaranteed contract so they'll need that 2nd slot for Adu.

Given all of that the temptation is to reduce the trade into terms that imply that one team can only make gains at the expense of the other. Trades are never that simple. DC United may not make good use of their cap room. Keeping Nowak around may not be enough for the team to win a couple of their competitions like they expect to. But even if things go well, that doesn't mean Real Salt Lake loses. Simply landing Adu is likely to help their local media realize they are a major team. And with the team facing having to move or be sold if they can't finalize their stadium deal, that's a lot to loose. In the short term they stand to loose on the field and this move will necessitate more roster moves. But all the negatives they face with the deal would be well offset if this deal is indeed the tipping point in finally securing their stadium.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Colorado Rapids Front Office Chats

Last night the Colorado Rapids front office hosted an event for Rapids supporters (C-Firm, Class VI). They unveiled the new uniforms. Logan's Revenge was more or less spot on. Jeff Plush did say that the maroon / burgundy is pantone 202 if you're looking to get it just right. I have to say that Jeff Plush would make the politicians proud. He managed to do an excellent job of answer a lot of questions from supporters without giving many concrete answers. That's not to say the question and answer session wasn't very constructive. And his answers were useful. But they left themselves room for certain issues to be finalized. Heck, he even pointed out there may be minor changes to the 2007 Rapids kits. Some questions that I thought were important : a) When asked about trading older, non-productive players (i.e. Kirovski and Mathis), it didn't sound as though any trades were in the works b) RTD and the Rapids / KSE likely have nothing and will likely have nothing set up for transit directly serving the stadium for 2007. c) Business speak like "KSE DNA" produces giggles from most people. d) The FO is excited over their prospects in the draft. They also feel they got the better end of the deal in the Cannon for Ugo + Herc trade.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Southampton and the English Championship

Could it be? Could Burley have turned around the ship at St. Mary's and have it the Siants going in the right direction? He seemed to do it last year as the season wound down. But Southampton had some up and downs earlier this season. But unlike the last couple of years, there are not one or two teams that are running away with the Championship. Southampton are 4 points off the top of the table and 3 from an automatic promotion spot. Southampton very well could be at top by the new year. They have 5 games coming up. They face Southend and Wednesday away from home. But they they really should win those especially given how well they've been playing lately. The same with Leicester at home. Palace and Norwich won't be easy but they'll be at St. Mary's. Southampton hasn't lost in 7 league games. Could they be on the verge of closing out 2006 without losing in their 12 games of the year?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chelsea's Tough Schedule

EPL Talk has some fun looking at Mourinho's mind games. They also manage to point out that both ManU and Chelsea have more or less had as equally challenging (or non-challenging) schedules. One thing The Gaffer didn't take into account is how they've performed in the Champions League. Chelsea's done well while ManU's lost to a couple teams that would struggle to win the Championship, let alone the prem.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Major League Soccer Combine

The list of players for the MLS's 2007 combine looks to be as follows : 2007 ADIDAS MLS PLAYER COMBINE LIST BY POSITION GOALKEEPERS (5): Talmon Hall (San Diego State University); Justin Hughes (University of North Carolina); Chris Konopka (Providence College); Phil Marfuggi (Clemson University); Nick Noble (West Virginia University) DEFENDERS (11): Andrew Boyens (University of New Mexico); Ty Harden (University of Washington); Michael Harrington (University of North Carolina); Kyle Helton (Duke University); Aaron Hohlbein (University of Wisconsin); Zach Kirby (Boston University); Hugh MacDonald (Monmouth University); Nigel Marples (Towson University); Billy Meier (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee); Jay Needham (Southern Methodist University); Steve Purdy (University of California) MIDFIELDERS (19): Rich Asante (Syracuse University); Karim Boukhemis (Marshall University); Bryan Byrne (University of California – Santa Barbara); Alex Cunliffe (Fairfield University); Steven Curfman (Wake Forest University); Greg Dalby (Univeristy of Notre Dame); John DiRaimondo (St. Louis University); Eric Ebert (University of California); John Michael Hayden (Indiana University); Scott Jones (University of North Carolina – Greensboro); Jared Kent (Old Dominion University); Nick LaBrocca (Rutgers University); Justin McGrane (Northern Illinois University); Nate Norman (University of Notre Dame); Ryan Solle (Wake Forest University); Wells Thompson (Wake Forest University); Josh Tudela (Indiana University); Sinisa Ubiparipovic (University of Akron); Chase Wileman (Southern Methodist University) FORWARDS (23): Charles Altchek (Harvard University); Gerardo Alvarez (Northwestern University); Corey Ashe (University of North Carolina); Aaron Chandler (University of San Francisco); Adam Christman (University of Virginia); Omar Cummings (The University of Cincinatti); Andrew Daniels (Brown University); Edson Elcock (Old Dominion University); Brad Evans (University of California – Irvine); Robbie Findley (Oregon State University); Jeff Gonsalves (University of Rhode Island); Willy Guadarrama (Campbell University); Ryan Guy (University of San Diego); Chris Loftus (Duke University); Jerson Monteiro (University of Alabama at Birmingham); Frederico Moojen (Clemson University); Simon Omekanda (Penn State University); Riley O’Neill (University of Kentucky); Randi Patterson (University of North Carolina – Greensboro); Dane Richards (Clemson University); Mike Sambursky (University of South Carolina); Jarrod Smith (West Virginia University); Erik Ustruck (Santa Clara University); For more information on college players getting into the MLS, keep an eye on College To Pros.

Monday, November 27, 2006

How Soccer Explains the World, Part II

I enjoy finding news and blogging about soccer from sources that are usually non soccer oriented. Over at Reason's Hit and Run blogs David Weigel blogged about soccer, world views, China, and how Daniel Bell writes an "amusing" essay on all of them.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Real Madrid and Barcelona Get Richer

Props to Two Naked Liberals for pointing out the recent TV deal Real Madrid and MediaPro signed. It's thought to be worth €1.1 billion for 7 years of broadcasting rights. Not too long before this deal, MediaPro signed a similar deal with Barcelona thought to worth €1 billion. These are pretty big deals and it remains to be seen how much MediaPro will be able to make off of these broadcasts. This seems to be the biggest deal to date even when keeping in mind the higher fees don't start until 2008. Mediaset, an Italian TV network controlled by Berlusconi, signed a deal this spring with Juventus that was reportedly worth €248 million for just two years of broadcasting rights. Sky and Setanta paid £1.8 billion (€2.6billion) for broadcast rights for the English Premiership for 2007-2010. It's the largest price paid but it's for an entire league, not just one team. To give this some perspective, the National Football League's (NFL) TV broadcast rights are estimated to be worth $3.75billion. It's interesting to see these new deals emerging that are worth considerably more than previous deals. A year or three ago the pundits were predicting that the value of broadcasting deals for European clubs would level off. How much longer will they continue to increase?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Saints Loanees

One of the teams I enjoy following is Southampton FC (England, ). A recent article pointed out that they had loaned a couple of young, promising players out to other clubs. Young goalkeeper Michael Poke was going to Woking (England, Nationwide Conference). Leon Best was going to join Yeovil (England, League One). And Simon Gillet had just joined Bournemouth (England, League One). Teams loan players out for several reasons. Sometimes they do it to help a player better get in shape. This may be in the form of a short term loan. Other times teams feel the level of competition and experience the player gains would be better than playing for their own club's youth or reserve teams. Leon Best is likely joining Yeovil for this reason. Other times it's because the player no longer features in their plans but they either can't find a buyer at a price they want up front or they want to wait and see just in case. Tim Howard is an example of this type of situation as it's likely Sir Alex feels he's not in Manchester United's long term solution for GK. I've wonder why the MLS hasn't been able to land a few loan signings for English players. Maybe the cost of it doesn't make it worth it. But the league offers young players a chance to play at a decent level of competition, surely no worse than League One, during a period of time that largely covers their off season. Even though the players are several thousand miles away, the culture difference for the players is minimal. And a look both an MLS roster and starting lineup shows the league doesn't have any issue with playing young players every week. So why haven't a few young English players popped up in the MLS? Do teams thing the level of competition isn't good enough? Do English clubs want the players around for pre-season training to better asses their plans for them? Is the MLS just not interested in making these sort of moves?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Should Gareth Southgate Continue

For those of you who follow the English game, Gareth Southgate appointed manager at Middlesbrough this summer. The club had lost their previous manager Steve McClaren when he took a job heading up the English national team. Who Ate All The Pies takes a look at situation including Southgate's lack of licensing. I'm still waiting for people to start asking the question they should be : When will Steve Gibson be shown the door?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gulati Denies Peckerman

Ives is reporting that Sunil Gulati denied reports that USSF would be hiring Jose Peckerman as the next head coach of the US Men National Team. As Ives points out, it doesn't mean that Peckerman will not be the next coach. It just means that Gulati didn't tell anyone the deal was done as various rumors have claimed.

West Ham United Takeover

The Sports Economist looks at the world of sports with an economist's eye. Today they looked at the situation at the English Premeirship club West Ham United. For those of you who don't already know, there have been rumors of a takeover of them this season. They've spent much of the season in the relegation zone and one would assume the ownership mess has been a factor. But what the fans are likely most upset over is not only a potential change in tradition but the possibility of getting moved into a stadium that would be too large, have the dreaded running track and overall be a bad move for the club. This is also a club that's traditionally had local control. The possible takeover of West Ham and the protests by it's fans is not a simple case of xenophobia.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Life In America's Lower Leagues

One of the things I appreciate the most about the internet is how it it's helped to make it cheap and easy to distribute news. And that's important when you're trying to follow soccer in the United States, especially the lower leagues. An example of the gems available out there is a recent interview of Amos Magee, the head coach of the Minnesota Thunder (USL-1). Blue Sky Soccer, which is a web site run by team supporters, has that interview here. The insights one can get from it are wonderful. Magee's joke about the importance of having someone on the team who's old enough to drive a rental truck is a clue as to how low of a budget these teams still tend to have. I also found really interesting his comment about scouting. These teams don't have much of anythign for a budget, let alone scouting. So one of the things Amos is doing is calling coaches in lower leagues (USL-2, PDL) looking for good players. The opposing coaches are more than happy to point out really good players on other teams in hopes they won't have to face that player again next year. There are other gems like this in there and I urge you all to read it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Charlton Are Mid-Table?

It's nice to see the USA Today giving soccer coverage. But is there anyone there doing fact checking? Could they not be bothered to spend 22 seconds to look at the current standings for the English Premeiship (EPL)? I have nothing against Charlton but they're not a mid-table club right now. In fact they're off to such a poor start that Ian Dowie was fired and is no longer their manager. They're not mid-table right now but in the relegation zone. And even if the USA Today were to argue that technically they said "mid-level", that still doesn't apply to Charlton. They're a relatively small club when it comes to the EPL that has been punching above their weight for years. As for the quality of the Dempsey rumor itself, I can't say for sure but I'm doubtful. I may be overlooking something but I haven't seen anything concrete linking Fulham with Dempsey. It seems to be driven by the assumption that if Fulham have 2 Yanks - Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra - that they're going to be looking for a third. As for Charlton, Clint "Deuce" Dempsey had ben linked with them in the past. And with them being in a relegation battle they're clearly going to be wanting to improve their team come Christmas and at that won't have much money to spend to do it. The problem I have with the rumor is that recently appointed full-time manager Les Reed has yet to comment much on what areas of the team need to be improved, let alone what players he wants to bring in as part of his effort to keep the team in the EPL. The other issue with a these rumors is Dempsey's playing record with the US Men's National Team. I don't believe he's played in 75% of their games this last year. And without that, he's not guaranteed a work permit. Which is fine by me since Dempsey's game is better suited for La Liga where they place more emphasis on skill on the ball and creative decision making rather than a player's ability to chase the ball down for 90 minutes.