Monday, May 30, 2011

Korea's K-League Under Match Fixing Review

As regular readers of this site may know I currently live and work in Seoul, Korea. Over the past few weeks there have been rumors of match fixing in the Korean K-League that have finally boiled to the surface. Rumblings began in early May after Incheon United's goalkeeper Ki-Won Yoon was found dead in his car from a possible suicide. Unfortunately, South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world and many police cases are treated as such. But now that match fixing has come to light many are believing something more sinster maybe afoot. According to news reports, three players from Daejon Citizens were arrested on Sunday in connection with match fixing. These players are said to have taken between $90,000 and $110,000 to fix a league match against Pohang Steelers this season.

Another player, this time from Gwangju FC, has also been arrest for supposedly taking a bribe of $91,000 to fix a cup match. However, he didn't appear in the match, because he gave up five goals in a previous cup tie that was also supposedly fixed. His club released him shortly after this.

Being a football fan I know this happens all over the world. I also believe FIFA and leagues around Europe routinely fix matches for a preferred winner. For an example, look back at Chelsea v. Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League semi-final. There is no reason Barcelona should have been in the position to score the tie winning goal at the end of that match. The reason for Barca to go through was simply UEFA and FIFA didn't want a Chelsea v. Manchester United final two years in a row. Not to mention United and Barca are the two biggest draws in world football.

Being a fan of football and the K-League I am upset. I am a season ticket holder to FC Seoul and I have spent many fantastic Saturdays and Sundays at Seoul World Cup Stadium. I'm afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg, however, and more players will be named soon.

As of writing this, one of Jeonbuk FC's players who has been caught up in match fixing has been found dead due to an apparent suicide today.

Sporting Get a Point

How bad was Sporting KC's Aurelien Collin last weekend for the club? One terrible back pass that allowed Conor Casey to score and a terrible pass from the back that should have been the winner for Colorado. Fortunately for KC the Rapids have been awful as of late. I did expect KC to get atleast a point from this match following their momentum building Open Cup win against New England in the middle of last week. The Sporting defence was again under pressure much of the match and with some better finishing Colorado would have taken all three points. It was different to see KC occasionally playing on the counter from their 4-3-3 formation, as we all know they can't keep position of the ball. There were three players that impressed me in this match. First and foremost was Ryan Smith who scored the KC goal and almost set up Teal Bunbury, who was poor all night. Graham Zusi and Chance Myers were also bright spots for KC on the night. Omar Bravo, like Bunbury, wasn't much of a threat all night. He had one excellent chance that he should have put away, but Matt Pickens was up to the challenge.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jack Jewsbury

I just wanted to say what a breath of fresh air it has been to see Jack Jewsbury reborn in MLS courtesy of the Portland Timbers. Jewsbury was player that looked like he would be finishing his career as a bit part player, but the Timbers scouted him brilliantly and have gotten the best we've seen from Jewsbury in some time.

Sporting KC's Slump Continues

I know the week's half over, but I've finally had the time to write a little about the Seattle v. Sporting KC match from last weekend. First off, Peter Vermes said this was the best 90 minutes of the season from the team; which  isn't saying much, and too bad they switched off at the 90 minute mark instead of playing out stoppage time. Sporting did look a great deal better on the defensive side of the ball. Which is where they were most of the game. Other than a good chance by Ryan Smith early on Sporting had few and far between chances and attacks. It was nice to see nine and ten players behind the ball defending for most of the match and not the usual attacking player not tracking back. Jeff Parke's winner doesn't come down to Seattle out playing Sporting as many would think. This Sporting loss was completely mental and the losing mentality that has been created within the team is continuing to thrive by not seeing out a match. Sure we can question why there wasn't someone on the back post to clear the ball. If you watch the highlights Matt Besler is standing just inside the six-yard box and he runs out to head the ball away only to be beaten to it by Parke. If Besler stays he maybe in position to clear the ball, but it still may have gotten by him.

I was quite impressed with the Aurelien Collin-Matt Besler combination at centerback. A lot has been said about Julio Cesar not being quick enough or tough enough. Which is correct. Despite coming off of a long term injury Cesar has spent his career playing in leagues that base more on tactics and wit than on strength and speed. A terrible signing.

Despite liking the centerback pairing I am dumbfounded that Vermes played Omar Bravo as a midfielder. What a waste of DP money. Bravo spent 76 minutes doing practically nothing. If you're going to pay Bravo as much money as we believe he is getting (as the Union's paylist seemed off) than you shouldn't be playing him out of position. This goes back to my dislike for Vermes and his inability to put a team together in his time at Sporting as both technical director and manager over the past five season. He has over loaded this team with attacking players such as Bravo, Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong, Ryan Smith and he has neglected midfield players who can pass the ball and keep possession.

Again, I believe this 4-3-3 formation is the biggest problem the team is having. I understand Vermes wants a system and that's great. But his scouting and his basic idea of coaching this system seems to be way off base. He doesn't have the players to play in this system. Bunbury isn't able to be left on his own up top, and the midfield three are being isolated and losing the ball. Much of the time the back four are bypassing the midfield and knocking long balls up top for Bunbury and co. to lose; all because the midfield isn't up to the task.

MLS is a league that is difficult to build a set system that carries over year to year. Toronto is trying to do this, and unfortunately I believe it will fail. With the financial structure and player allocation and draft MLS has it is difficult to get the correct parts for these 4-3-3 attacking systems. Sporting cannot draft and sign players each year to fit into this system. Vermes needs to scrap the formation and put at least one more man in the midfield in an attempt to break up play and hold possession  .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It is the summer rumor time and the boards are lit with tidbits and morsels of transfer news. One I'm surprised no one has triggered yet is the Robbie Keane to MLS move. This would be a perfect time for the Irishmen to move to MLS after his loan club West Ham were relegated from the Premier League. Not to mention that his parent club Tottenham Hotspur would love to get rid of him. I'm not sure he would fit in with too many teams currently, especially coming off the last season in which he couldn't score a goal to save his life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

(Possibly) The Next Eddie Johnson

This past offseason many Sporting KC and USMNT fans were half hoping and half expecting a break out season from Teal Bunbury. In his rookie year Bunbury netted five goals in 25 appearances for the club as Peter Vermes broke him in slowly; this led many to believe Bunbury would lead Sporting to lofty heights this season. What truly added fuel to the fire was Bunbury's offseason in which he shunned Canada, who his father had played for, and scored a goal against Chile for the USMNT. Bunbury also joined Stoke City for an extended period of training which included scoring a goal against Wigan in a reserve match.

Despite breaking his wrist early in the season Bunbury looked to be fully recovered after netting twice in Vancouver with two fantastic finishes and once in Chicago, thanks to a diabolical back pass on the part of the Fire. But lets pump the breaks a little. It has now been a month since we last saw Bunbury score for Sporting. Though not many others are scoring for Sporting either. We can debate all day long what the true problem is for this team, and why Bunbury hasn't scored as of late; but there's no denying he has been over hyped. Lets look back to January 2011 at the Home Depot Center when Bunbury recorded his first international goal. Oh, how people made a fuss. No one seemed to realize it was from the penalty spot and not from open play. Though the USMNT played well with Bunbury up front they were still as anemic as they were at last summer's World Cup where Jozy Altidore and company couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. As a matter of fact part of Bunbury's offseason hype could also be attributed to commentator Pablo Ramirez who coined the ridiculous Boon-Boo-Ree following Bunbury's penalty kick goal.

Word this week was Bunbury has several clubs looking at him, and sure why not. He's young, has a lot of athletic ability and like many US players if he is in the right situation he could do well. But he is already reminding me of a former Kansas City Wizards player who had his sights set on Europe only to be kicked around on loan for the best part of four years.

Eddie Johnson was once a bright upcoming soccer player in the USA. Signed at the age of 17 to the Dallas Burn (FC Dallas), Johnson was thought to be the future of MLS and possibly the USMNT. During his time with Dallas, Johnson would give the club a good return scoring 24 in 84 matches over four seasons. During this time Johnson shined at the youth levels of the national team which included him winning the Golden Boot at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championships. Johnson even had a chance for a big money move to Europe only to reject a reported $5 million move to Benfica. Of course we know they would later shell out $2 million for Freddy Adu.

With Dallas in need of salary cap space they traded Johnson to KC during the 2006 offseason giving many KC fans hope that Johnson could lead the Wizards back to the top of MLS; during a time the team was unsure it would still be in KC. Johnson would give mixed results looking top class one moment only to look like your average MLS player the next. After training abroad and turning down deals, all the while not leading KC to the promise land, Johnson moved to the English Premier League hoping to emulate fellow Americans Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride who were already on Fulham's books.

Since leaving for Fulham, Johnson has made 18 appearances and has scored zero times. Most recently he played with the club at the beginning of 2010 before going out on-loan to Preston North End. PNE was relegated this season to League 1 with Johnson scoring no goals and drawing the ire of Preston's supporters. Since leaving for Europe it has been a bag of mixed results for Johnson. Two other loan deals to Cardiff City and Aris Thessaloniki have yielded better results, but the fact remains Johnson has failed to live up to expectations. Since 2006 he has also stood on the periphpery of the USMNT, and was a shock inclusion to Bob Bradley's pre-World Cup roster only to be cut before the tournament. With his Fulham contract set to end this summer don't be surprised to see Eddie Johnson return to MLS to revamp his faltering career.

Bunbury, like Johnson was, is a bright prospect still raw and unpolished. So many expectations have been laid at the feet of young US attacking players: Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson, only for these players to fall far below expectations for one reason or another. Teal Bunbury could be the next and mostly remembered for Boon-Boo-Ree.

(So far this season Bunbury has scored three goals for a bi-polar Sporting attack and hasn't scored in his last 420 minutes.)

DC United v. Ajax

I have been a proponent of the Cups Not Friendlies movement over the past year or two. Perhaps before the name was given to it. Yesterday, DC United proved once again why it is ridiculous for MLS teams to host midseason friendlies. No offence to Ajax, but in this day and age they are middle level club and their drawing power is not very high. I can understand MLS teams playing the likes of United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and now possibly Manchester City as the league continues to look for exposure and clubs look to cash in. Only 10,728 fans came out yesterday to see DC lose 2-1. Many teams say it's a gift to the fans to hold such prestigious friendlies, but in truth like always it is a money grab. DC would have benefited more from some time off from matches in preparation for a play-off run come later this season rather than putting out a squad for a meaningless friendly. MLS will already be losing many players this summer for the Gold Cup and a few less could possibly be lost to the Copa America. Why pile on the fixtures. I'm sure many of the 10,000 plus in attendance will look back and think fondly of yesterday. But in the end what will matter in October? A late-May friendly against Ajax or making the play-offs after being one of the worst teams in MLS over the past two seasons. I know which I'd prefer. DC will play another friendly against Everton in July to conclude their frienly schedule.

MLS Tickets

I was having a look in my spam mailbox this morning and came across an email from a person in the Sporting KC ticket office. It was an informal email asking if I would be interested in receiving info on KC's ticket plans. I wasn't sure what to think of this. Yes, it was nice to have someone email me and ask if I'd like to hear the sales pitch, but I also felt it was a little minor league. I know it is practice in MLS to cold call people and try and sell them tickets to matches which is an innovative marketing strategy. Though it is controversial. I am massively turned off by someone sending me an email (or calling) in hopes I come out to see the club this season, or any club for that matter.

 This is the first time I've been contacted by the ticketing department, and I wonder if they're having trouble moving single-game and small package ticket plans now that the season isn't going as well as predicted/hoped. I wasn't even contacted for season ticket sales. Sitting in last place doesn't attract the casual fan and even some hardcore fans every week despite a $180million new stadium.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seven down, Three to Go

Being a fan of Sporting KC I tend to vent my thoughts on the club here. My biggest argument over the past two months is the removal of manager Peter Vermes. This week I am happy to see some other bloggers warming up slightly to what I've been on about. Though, it is still lukewarm comparatively speaking. There was a half quote this week attributed to Vermes from 2009. He was (semi) quoted as saying he would need (at least) two years to build ''his'' team. I found this a little hard to believe. First, Vermes has been with the club since '06 as the technical director. His job was to help find players for then manager Curt Onalfo. Therefore, he has had say in the players who have come into the club. Secondly, during his time at the club many of the players that have come in have all failed to make the grade in MLS or were trade/released only to do better with another club/environment. Players like Santiago Hirsig, Ivan Trujillo and Carlos Marinelli were players that were brought in with high expectations and never fulfilled them. Meanwhile, the team traded quality players such as Luis Gil, Yura Movsisyan and Herculez Gomez. Yes, Movsisyan and Gomez under performed for the club, but perhaps we should be looking at the manager and technical director for these failings as both players have gone on to some success. Vermes has also had mixed results in the draft as well.

The unfortunate aspect is that Sporting will give Vermes at least until the end of the season or until the play-offs are out of reach. It's plain to see, however, that many of these players are just not playing for him right now. Compared to other sports, in soccer when players want a coach out they don't play as hard as they normally would. I think it's hard for American sports fans to get their heads around it, but it does happen.

Being a fan I was never a supporter of Vermes getting the job permanently and since then nothing has changed my mind. I have the same feeling of Vermes as I do Alexi Lalas: They were good players for the US and MLS at a time when US soccer was struggling on the world stage and barely had a professional league. Perhaps today they wouldn't even get a look from the national team and possibly might be over looked by MLS. They did well in a time when the game wasn't much in the US. In Lalas' case he tried his hand at being a GM for New York and the LA. Both with poor results, other than the David Beckham to LA move, and to be fair he had nothing to do with getting D-Beck to LA. Now it seems Vermes is out of his depth similar to Lalas. On a side note Lalas shows his lack of soccer understand with his piss poor commentary that dumbs down the soccer fans of America.

Like I've said prior I want this team to do well and hell they may turn it around.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Indian Soccer League With New Ideas

For decades India's soccer teams and players have had to live in the shadow of the country's first sport cricket. Much like the USA where soccer is second, third and sometimes fourth best to other sports, the game has struggled to find a foothold in the world's second most populous country. However, new investors are looking to put India's soccer players and teams on the map with a new league.

Currently, the I-League is the premier division in the country boasting 14 teams playing a 26 game six month season (December to May); with the champion playing in the Asian Football Confederation's Champions League. But this top flight will have a new competitor in January 2012. Enter the launch of Premier League Soccer in India which will take cues from the country's top sport cricket and the world's top cricket league the IPL.

The inaugural season will be contested by six clubs from Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Asansol, Midnapore and Siliguri. The league will only play from January until March in an attempt to take fans from the existing league and wet the appetites of soccer fans in West Bengal followed by the entire country. So what will make this league so different than the current I-League? Similar to the I-League and other Asian countries (Japan, Korea, China) each team will be owned by a company and in some cases carry the company's name as part of the team's name. The differentiating aspects are money, talent based and most importantly to build a new soccer infrastructure and help develop India's soccer fans into domestic fans and players.

One of the biggest and possibly most ridiculous ideas regarding the new league is based around the players they hope to attract and the league's allocating of each player. Firstly, the league doesn't have plans to bring India's top players to the league. The likes on Sunil Chettri and Denzil Franco will not be sought out and paid large sums, at least not at the moment. Sources say, the league will look to develop talent and most importantly bring in professionals who in all opinions are past their prime. Names such as Denilson, who failed miserably as FC Dallas' first ever designated player, is rumored to be a signing; as well as the again retired Edgar Davids. It seems the powers that be are looking at over the hill stars in an attempt to ignite the flames of soccer passion in the country. This sounds a bit of a bad idea if you ask me, bringing in players in their mid-30s to early-40s. If any big name pro is to be attracted it sounds like a pure money grab by the player involved.

However, this is not the most interesting aspect of the league. The most interest part will be the yearly allocation of players which the new league will take from Indian's Premier Cricket League. At the beginning of each season each player will be placed in a lottery and auctioned off to the highest bidding team. A novel idea that seems to work in cricket, but could it work in the world's number one game? No player will be contract to a team for more than one season and will be able to move around the league if the money is right.

In a bid to develop soccer talent in the country the new league will only allow three overseas players plus one extra foreign player of Asia origin (like Korea's K-League), and each team must have a minimum number of players from the region the team is from. Also to enable the game to grow and players to develop only overseas managers, at the moment, with FIFA/UEFA licenses will be hired. All these ideas show the appropriate signs of a league wanting to develop quality homegrown players.

With the exporting of soccer from Europe reaching all corners of the world it is difficult for developing countries, such as India, to find a market within their own country. Currently, while living in South Korea I am seeing a slight boom in the domestic K-League 10 years after the country co-hosted the World Cup. There are already many who are talking about this new Indian league, and there will be a lot of interested over the next year. The true test will be if this league is still being talked about in five years, and whether or not the Indian National Team will become competitive in the Asian region.

***for more information on this topic please download the BBC's World Football podcast***

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Giving Props

Being that I am a huge detractor of Chivas USA's Justin Braun, I have to give credit when it's due following his hat-trick against New York Red Bulls. Three well taken goals by the Chivas striker which lands him firmerly at the feet of player of the week. It would be nice to see some consistency from him, however.

More importantly, what has happened to Chivas USA? They currently sit 11th overall in the league and have been on quite a tear as of late getting a result in six of their last seven matches and sit at 3-3-3. The big question for Chivas is can they continue this form over the remainder of the season. There's still a lot that can happen with 25 matches remaining.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vermes out, please (and Heineman while you're at it)

Sporting KC dropped yet another match over the weekend, 4-1 to LA Galaxy. It was KC's fifth loss out of seven matches already this season. Vancouver has equalled the same amount of losses, however, they have also played four more matches this season. Going into the season many had high hopes for Sporting KC. There was a new name, new kit and colours, a new designated players and above all a new stadium. Unfortunately, that new stadium hasn't opened yet and won't until June 9 (and that is if there aren't any unforeseen problems over the next month). Sporting is in the final stretch of a 10-game (regular season) swing that will finally end soon.

Looking back I hope the suites at Sporting KC realize what a ridiculous idea it has been to start on the road for first three months of the season; and it has definitely shown in the results of a team that is comprised of some quality attacking options, but few options in the midfield or defence. The architects of this squad are two people that seem to get a pass from many of Sporting's faithful fans. Robb Heineman has been the team's president since 2006 and has given most of the ruling power to Peter Vermes as both manager and technical director during this time. Vermes has been with the club for the same amount of time, first solely in the TD role, but since the latter part of 2009 has also filled the role as manager. But during his five plus years with KC/Sporting this club has rarely put out a team worthy of contending. Since taking over as manager in 2009 Vermes' KC has failed to make the play-offs and has an overall record of 15-25-9 (W-L-T). Not sparkling form  by any means. The man Vermes took over for, Curt Onalfo, in comparision went 25-24-28 during his two plus years in charge. That included two play-off appearances making it to the semi-finals and quarter finals in 2007 and 2008 respectively with very weak teams (going out with a wimper at these points). Both seem to have very similar records, but atleast Onalfo made the play-offs with two teams with less attacking abilities than Vermes' current team(s).

Since taking over for Onalfo, Vermes has tried to implement an attack minded 4-3-3 formation that has at best shown mixed results. He also seems to be a manager that is unfamilar with the old adage that you build your team from the back and up the middle. He has decided to do the opposite and build from the front; and one can only assume he believes his team can out score every opponent they face. Seattle's manager Sigi Schmid, who has done it all in North American soccer, has been quoted to saying the 4-3-3 cannot work in MLS. Looking at Sporting's disjoined version of it it's hard to disagree. Anyone with some soccer knowledge could see the many fundamental mistakes that this team is making on the pitch from not tracking back, following runs and not closing down opponents. Those are simple soccer aspects that all players must do, but what the 4-3-3 is doing every game is leaving large gaps between the back four and the midfield and attackers. Often the midfield three are pushed too far forward and the team has been beaten on the counter attack as a result. Watch the matches against Vancouver, New England and most recently LA to see this for yourself. With such weak centerbacks this team needs a player to sit in front of the back four to protect them. In their current 4-3-3 they should have someone like Stephane Auvray or Craig Rocastle to sit there and break up the play in the midfield, but we don't see that from this team.

With the product on the field I'm not sure where this team is headed. Sporting hasn't signed a player from abroad of significance since Claudio Lopez (though many disagree with that) and the juries still out on Omar Bravo in my opinion. They've also had mixed results in the draft; not to mention the trade of Luis Gil a young moldable attacking player to Salt Lake last season. Though they have done better with the drafts of Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong. I know Kansas City isn't a luxurious destination, but if Dallas and Salt Lake can find quality in South America and abroad than why can't KC? Either KC's scouting is that bad or people would rather live in Utah than Kansas City (no offense to Utah).

I've been an advocate of Vermes and Heineman's removal for sometime. But would that make this team any better? Probably only for a short time. I appreciate the accessibility of Heineman, that's great to see, but having a genuine soccer mind assisting Vermes in the GM/TD role could help immensely with some new perspective (I'm willing to apply). The biggest thing that would help this team is some change and flexibility in Vermes' formation and tactics. Watching from the stadium or on TV it's becoming obvious that you can see the players aren't wanting to play for this team. And who would want to when they're rock bottom and going no where fast.

But as I've read the hardcore Sporting forum writers keep saying, in MLS a few wins and they'll be in the play-offs. Well, I really hope they're cool heads prove me wrong in October.

Baldo, really?

Just wanted to say how impressed I was that Baldomero Toledo didn't give a red card in the LA Galaxy v. Sporting KC match this past weekend. I was a little worried when KC's Roger Espinoza karate kicked David Beckham in the box (the 18-yard box that is) that we'd see a red; but to his credit Toledo gave a penalty and the game resumed with two full sides.

Other than that moment there really wasn't any altercations that could have provoked the man with the red right hand. Props to Toledo or to MLS for telling him to stop influencing matches.

On a similar thought, I being the Europhile that I am and lover of the German Bundesliga (the highest attended league in the world), I caught the Hoffenheim v. Wolfsburg match on Saturday. Wolfsburg needed three points to be sure of preserving their top-flight statis for next season. Late in the match the referee for the contest used great judgement in not giving a yellow or red card to Mario Mandzukic following his winning goal that kept Wolfsburg in the division for next season. Following the goal Mandzukic proceed to run to the Wolfsburg supporters and partially climb the fencing to celebrate with the fans. A great display on the final day of the season. MLS refs should take notes from the Bundesliga, and in general MLS needs to take notes from the Bundesliga regarding fan and club interaction and support.

*** I've been to a several matches across Europe, and without a doubt the best atmosphere, price and fan friendly clubs and stadia I've been to is in Germany. Even the picture on our main page comes for Bundesliga 2's side Dusseldorf's ultra modern stadia where you'll get plenty of German punk rock and lovely Dusseldorf Altbier to go with your footy.***

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

World Football Exploitation

This went completely under my radar: Major League Soccer has announced the dissolving of the Superliga tournament. Though a good idea at the time to cash in on the USA v. Mexico rivalry the tournament seemed to fizzle over the past few years in attendance, especially with the non-Hispanic fan in the USA. You can check my old blogs to see how I truly feel about the tournament.

However, MLS has decided to go a different way to make money off of the casual and hardcore soccer fan in America. They will revive the World Football Challenge. The first WFC took place in 2009 with Chelsea, AC Milan, Internazionale and Club America competing in a pre-season tournament. For one, I am completely against MLS teams playing mid-season friendlies; but it's another cancer of the game in the US when teams from abroad come to America to cash in on the American sports fan. Yes, it's great for the game in America. But as an American soccer fan it is also a slap in the face that people won't/don't come out to watch MLS matches when they have the opportunity at a fraction of the price.

In my opinion MLS is hurting itself by playing this types of mid-season friendlies. It basically tells the casual fan that our league is inferior so don't come out to a league game, but do come out and watch when we play a team from Europe. At the end of the day money talks, and despite what happens to the state of the league, MLS and it's "richest" clubs will continue to follow the practice of cashing in on the soccer fans of America.

Here is an updated version of this summer's friendlies:

May 2011
May 22: D.C. United v Ajax
May 25: Portland Timbers v Ajax

July 2011
July 13: New England Revolution v Manchester United

July 16: LA Galaxy v Real Madrid
July 18: Vancouver Whitecaps v Manchester City
July 20: Houston Dynamo v Bolton Wanderers
July 20: Philadelphia Union v Everton
July 20: Seattle Sounders v Man United
July 20: Sporting Kansas City v Newcastle United
July 23: D.C. United v Everton
July 23: Chicago Fire v Manchester United
July 26: Columbus Crew v Newcastle United
July 27: MLS All-Stars v Manchester United at Red Bull Arena NJ
July 30: Barcelona v Manchester United in Washington D.C.

August 2011
August 3: Barcelona v Chivas Guadalajara in Miami, FL

August 6: Barcelona v Club America in Dallas TX.

Rivalries and Derbies

I was perusing and had a read over some of the Cascadia Rivalry articles. It dawned on me that MLS has always used the word rival or rivalry rather than the universal soccer term derby (darby is the British pronounciation) for a heated match/grudge match. Though, numerous announcers especially the British invasion has used the traditional term. In a way being that I am pro use of American terms and people for announcing MLS matches I find it a very calculated move by MLS to use this term.

Yes, derby isn't a common word in the American vernacular unless we are talking about horse racing, ala the Kentucky Derby. However, in that case we use the American pronounciation for this word (being an English teacher who teachs outside the USA I find this fascinating).

Yet, the true reason I believe MLS uses the word rival or rivalry is because of the negative connotation the word could have in the soccer world. MLS has always been about family friendly entertainment, and by replacing the word derby with rivalry it gives it a slightly friendlier connotation. A connotation in which the teams play a hard match on the pitch, but at the end of the day shake hands and everything is okay. Say the name derby, however, and the people who have experienced it will know the difference in the feeling and atmosphere that is experienced on a derby day.

I have no problem (for once) with MLS writers and the league using the word rivalry in place of derby for those US fans that are unfamilar with the term. However, that one word can create so much emotion and passion in a true football fan; and by using the universal soccer/football terms so many can be educated on the ettiquette of the greatest game in the world

Monday, May 2, 2011

Be original

There two things that have begun to bother me about MLS announcers. Yes, I bitch a lot but isn't that what blogs are for? The first is the influx of British announcers to MLS. Sporting KC has Callum Williams, Robbie Earle has joined Portland (though I quite like his work), Adrian Healey has taken over on ESPN and there are others from the British isles that grace the league with their voices. Being that I love the English game, have lived in England and have an English wife I do greatly enjoy the British announcers. On the other hand I am against the constant outsourcing of soccer that America and MLS does. I know there are some terrible USA soccer announcers like Rob Stone and Christian Miles and analysts in such as the idiot Alexi Lalas and most of the people who work for Fox Soccer; but instead of outsourcing these positions why not try and find the next JP Dellacamera who is the best America has to offer. Perhaps MLS or the clubs could send some of the rising announcers to England to learn from the English announcers. A study abroad if you will.

The second thing that is bothering me is's frequent use of the word golazo. Yes, I get the meaning and I understand where it came from, but come on guys find your own catch phrases. I find MLS to be very good a using other countries' catch phrases and even team names (Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake), and I'd love to see something more original. Starting with the removal of this damn catch phrase.