Friday, September 22, 2006

New US Men's Coach

Still In The Works ESPN's columnist Ives Galacrep takes a look at the coaching situation for the US Men's National Team. As you probably know, the US Mens' Team does not have head coach right now. After 8 years in charge, Bruce Arena has moved on to being the head coach and sporting director of the New York Red Bulls. USSF's Sunil Gulati is looking at new candidates. He's brought in a few bigs names such as Argentina's Pickerman and the (in)famous Sven Goran Erickson. Ives says the best 3 canidates for the job are already in the United State. Jurgen Klinnsman lives in southern California. He didn't have any head coaching experience before taking the job to coach his native Germany. He lead them to the semi-finals in the World Cup this summer. Bob Bradley The other 2 Ives mentions, and they've been mentioned as canidates by others, are both coaches in the MLS. Bob Bradley coaches Chivas USA. He had a lot of success in his early years with the Chicago Fire. His tenure at the NY/NJ Metrostars (now known as New York Red Bulls) was so-so. But he's turned last years league doormat Chivas USA into a team that very well could finish in 2nd place. His star has some shine again thanks to that. Peter Nowak Peter Nowak has taken a DC United team that was destroyed by Thomas Rongen back into a the dynasty that DC fans seem to feel is their clubs rigthful place in the universe. The team is on the verge of winning the Supporters Shield (best team in the league's regular season) and the pundit's favorite to win the MLS Cup this year. Ives brings up an intersting question about Nowak. How well would he do without Tom Soehn? We'll probably know the answer to that soon. As I've mentioned before, there are a few MLS coaches that are likely be let go this summer. Soehn will surely land one of those if he wants to make the move. He's been a canidate before and is the most well regarded assistant coach in the MLS.

MLS and The Cam Weaver Saga

Major League Soccer Roster Deadline Has Passed And... As College to Pros reports, the Cam Weaver situation at the Colorado Rapids doesn't look good for the Rapids. Major League Soccer's roster deadline has passed and there hasn't been an announcement regarding his signing yet. There's some speculation that the league may have signed him, he just hasn't been matched up with a team yet. I'm not sure if that's possible since the roster deadline has passed. MLS fans have good reason to be cycnical over the league's rules. Throughout it's history the MLS has done a lot of things that seem to favor it's large market team like the LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls (ex- Metrostars), and even DC United. The league owned franchise Tampa Bay made several moves that involved shipping it's best players off to other clubs. But those moves seem to be more of a thing of the past. I don't think any teams will find their way around the roster deadline this time around.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Carnival Of Soccer

Pop some popcorn, grab a coke and kick back and relax while you read the carnival of soccer over at It's A Simple Game. They got a bunch of soccer bloggers to do some great write-ups on Major League Soccer teams. My favorite is the one on the Colorado Rapids at College to Pros. College to Pros normally looks young players moving from college to the pros. For the soccer carnival they took an interesting look at the MLS' proverbial red-headed step-child, the Colorado Rapids.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beer For MLS Teams

Major League Beer Steins? We Call It Soccer has some fun today and does a little word.... errr, beer association. They list a beer that they associate with each team in the MLS. Can you guess what beer they associated with the LA Galaxy and who they had in mind?

Carling Cup : Giants Fall

England's Carling Cup Premiership clubs Middlesbrough, Mnnchester City, and Fulham all lost to small clubs in their Carling Cup games today. And Watford only got past Accrington on penalties. It's the kind of thing that many fans point to as the beauty of the the cup competitions. That is, that part of the excitment is when someone like Wycombe, down League Two (4th division in England, really) beats a premeirship club. It's a huge feat for a little club like that. Not only is it a moral boost for the squad but the money from an extra round or two of cup play can be the difference between the club turning a profit or a loss for the year. It's not quite as big of a deal as some make it out to be. Often times, espeically with the Carling Cup, the premeirship teams are putting out a lot of their reserves for the game. So what does it mean to beat them in that situation? Those reserves may have more talent but when half the players on the field aren't getting regular game time, they're bound to be a little rusty. If anything these upsets say more about the state of the Carling Cup than are stories about David beating Goliath. The big clubs don't want to risk their best players unless they progress a few rounds because they have other priorities like the FA Cup, league play and even playing in Europe (or at least trying to make sure to qualify). How many more years can the Carling Cup limp along like this?

Leeds Fires Blackwell

England Championship For those of you who don't follow the English game, the Championship is their division 2 league. It's one down from the top, the Premeirship. Leeds United have not so suprisingly fired Kevin Blackwell as manager. Moves like this tend to leave me wondering if the board knows what they're doing. Leeds have only got 7 points form 8 games this year. It's definitely not a good start to the season. Even knowing there are 38 games left it means the team has started to dig a hole if they want promotion. It's clear Leeds goal is to be promoted. The part that confuses me is that Blackwell has been around for 2 1/2 years before this as manager. If the board had lost that much confidence in him, why did they wait 8 games into the seaosn to axe him? Why not negotiate a resignation with him over the summer and give the new manager a chance to reshape the team in their image? Do you think clubs are too quick to pull the trigger on managers? Did Blackwell deserved to be fired to soon? Or is the board making a mistake?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

FIFA Makes Yet Another Mistake

FIFA Rankings Get Worse

Marc Connolly takes a look at the changes FIFA made to their ranking system for national teams. He seems to have a fun time pointing out how FIFA somehow managed to make it worse than it was before the changes. You couldn't find a serious soccer fan that truely felt the old way of ranking was accurate enough. The USA should've never ben ranked 5th. But the new system is even more odd. Small teams that weren't good enough to qualify for the World Cup are ranked higher than teams that qualified. In some cases teams that advanced out of tough group such as Australia are ranked lower than teams that haven't qualified for a the couple of World Cups! This seems like a classic case of an organization getting it in their head tha tthey need to do something and assuming anything they do would make the situation better. Not only does is the new system less accurate than the one it replaces but in implementing it FIFA looks incompetent. I can't blame Connolly for laying into them for these changes, can you?

Racism In German

Aachen and Borrusia Last Kick reports that clubs Alemannia Aachen and storied Borussia Monchengladbach are in hot water with the German federation after supporters for both clubs traded in racial chants during a recent match. Unfortunately this isn't an isolated incident in Germany nor in Europe. Italy has been struggling for years with it's fans whether it's racist chants or banners. Emmanuel Olisadebe , who was born in Nigeria but is a Polish citizen and plays for Poland's national team, dealt with racism for years while playing in Poland including have fans throwing bananas at him. When will race relations in Europe improve? How can Europe learn from the US in confronting racism in their sports?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Major League Soccer Goalkeeping Crisus?

MLS GKs : All Washed Up? Climbing The Ladder takes a good look at the state of goalkeeping in the MLS today. One of the questions the US is facing is where is our next Kasey Keller? Who is our next Brad Friedel? Tim Howard seems to have started the season off well with Everton. But at best he lives up to the reputation of one of those 2. Worse, the MLS seems to be full of a lot of American goalkeepers that shouldn't be too old for a GK but seem to be losing it. Well, Tony Meola is old. It's probably time for him to hang up the boots. But guys like Scott Garlick COULD have a couple years left in him. But he seemed to be losing it last year with FC Dallas. And this year with Real Salt Lake his frequently been caught either flat footed or beat at the near post. Neither one is a good sign that he's going to be good enough to be a started next year. Where are the new young talented American goalkeepers? Is Brad Guzan over rated? Can Troy Perkins play well when he's not protected by DC United's defense? Will DJ Countess finally make it now that he's found a team in Scandanavia? And whatever happened to Adin Brown?

The Bung

The BBC will be showing their much talked about expose tonight. They've looked into some managers in the game in England to see if they've been taking payments for player transfers. This has a been a problem in the game in years past. One would like to things have progressed beyond it but we'll just have to watch to find out, won't we? Soccernet's preview for the show is here. What do you think? Do you think any premeirship managers will be exposed by the show? Or will this turn out to be a stunt for ratings?

Rapids Fishing For A Goal Scorer

Rapids New Target The Colorado Rapids need a goal scorer badly. Their Argentine Niko does a decent job. But he's often played out of position wide left by Claviijo. Furthermore he's not the big striker that Clavijo yearns to play up top. We can see this with Thiago Martins repeatedly starting during the last half of the season. He works hard, holds the ball up well for the MLS, and pressures the defense well. But he can't score. More accurately, he couldn't hit the broad side of a bard with a laser guided ball. Despite having only 1,074 minutes this year, Martins has 36 shots but only 1 goal. A few weeks ago Clavijo brought the Liberian Melvin Tarley in on loan from the Minnesota Thunder. He hasn't had even a sub appearance on the pitch to date. It's looking like he gave up a 4th round supplimental draft pick to get an extended trial with Tarley. So far Clavijo doesn't seem to like what he sees. It looks like the Rapids are looking to bring 23 year-old Cam Weaver into to the Rapids. He played in a recent reserve game for the Rapids. He's 6' 4" and listed at 190. He clearly has the size to be a dominant target forward. He put up the kind of numbers that make one think he could make the step up from USL -1 to Major League Soccer. This year for Seattle he did this :

Minutes Goals Assists Shots Fouls
2183 18 3 50 60
It was enough to tie Romario for the league's scoring title. It was a record for a rookie in USL-1. He made the USL-1 all XI for 2006. Luckily for the Rapids Seattle missed the playoffs by a point. Now they get to take a look at the kid. Are there other a-league players that you feel deserve a look from Major League Soccer teams?