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.

Boring MLS Cup Final

Props to Ian Plenderleith for taking issue with the quality of play in the recent Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup Final.

Monday, November 13, 2006

MLS Cup Final

FC Rocky has a nice write up on the MLS Cup final that was played yesterday. Houston won on penalty kicks after the game was tied 1-1 after 30 minutes of over time. I can't disagree that Houston didn't deserve to win. My question for everyone is what the MLS can do to give teams more incentive to take risks during the first 90 minutes. Neither team seemed willing to risk much during regular time. And that tends to make for a bland game.