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.