Posted on 30 April 2009 by ASN Staff
Posted on 29 April 2009 by ASN Staff
…Chivas USA crashed to defeat in the first SuperClasico of the 2008 campaign, losing to the LA Galaxy by a 5-2 score. Landon Donovan scored a hat trick for the Galaxy, with Alan Gordon contributing a brace (ASN, April 27, 2008).
The two Los Angeles sides would draw their remaining two matches of ’08, on July 10 (1-1) and Aug. 15 (2-2). The trend has continued into ’09, with the first SuperClasico of the young season ending scoreless.
Posted on 28 April 2009 by ASN Staff
Who can compete with this?
“Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke. We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously. Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league.”–New York Yankees president Randy Levine, responding to comments by Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber earlier in the week. Garber’s crime? A thinly-veiled critique of Yankee Stadium ticket pricing. “It’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty,” Garber said.
Garber’s comments clearly struck a chord, for whatever reason. ASN of course has its own views on the subject…
Posted on 28 April 2009 by Scott Ferguson
After John Carver’s shock resignation this weekend, reported early on Saturday on ASN’s twitter feed, there was a pessimistic attitude at fortress BMO Field. Toronto’s bosses at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, once seen as providing the support needed for club management to succeed, were suddenly seen as the villains in a saga that saw Carver resign citing “personal reasons” after being fined last week by the league.
Toronto’s head coach had been given the penalty for his outspoken comments regarding the standard of officiating in TFC’s 3-2 loss to FC Dallas two weeks ago, and while the Englishman said his resignation had nothing to do with MLSE, some reports suggested he had been upset with a perceived lack of support by the board.
Carver was in the stands when Toronto defeated Chivas USA last week and handed in his resignation just a day ahead of the home clash with Kansas City Wizards on Sunday. Assistant coach Chris Cummins has stepped in and performed well, leading the side to 1-0 wins on both occasions.
Against Chivas, it was Amado Guevara who provided the finishing touch with his third goal of the season, while against Curt Onalfo’s wizards, fan favourite Danny Dichio broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.
A cross from the left looked to have resulted in a lost chance for Toronto, but Marvell Wynne, showing remarkable hustle all game (and indeed all season), kept the ball in play and played it across the face of goal. Sam Cronin swept it across to an onside Dichio to poke it in and open his account for the season.
Dichio is the club’s all-time leading scorer and was even mentioned as a potential replacement for Carver as club manager and acquired his Canadian permanent residency (equivalent to a US green card) recently, with some tongue-in-cheek suggestions that Toronto’s all-time leading scorer could suit up for Canada. The Italo-English striker has not been capped at a senior level internationally, leaving him available to play for his adopted nation.
Both games have shown a new Toronto, working just as hard as in the past but with the added cutting edge that has seen two straight wins. The team looked sloppy in a 2-0 loss to Seattle in the home opener and couldn’t hold a lead one week later against FC Dallas.
Against Kansas City, offensive spark and defensive stability were shown in equal measure by the Reds, and while Carver’s imprint was still very much in evidence on the side, credit has to go to Cummins for moving into the role with minimal fuss.
Marco Vélez was drafted into central defense ahead of Kevin Harmse on Sunday while Cummins opted for three forwards in the absence of the injured Dwayne De Rosario. Guevara slotted into his usual midfield role while Chad Barrett, Dichio and Pablo Vitti combined to torment the Wizards’ defence.
Toronto, oft-criticized for a reliance on American players and British veterans, has shown an increasingly Canadian backbone this season. After the club’s first season in 2007 ended with a wave of home-grown players shipped off after failing to compete at this level, things looked bleak for soccer in Canada. In 2009, however, club captain Jim Brennan and goalkeeper Greg Sutton have been joined by two-time playoff MVP De Rosario and Adrian Serioux, who regularly partners Harmse in defence for Toronto.
Hometown spirit has been matched by the impressive play of draft picks Cronin and Stefan Frei, with young goalkeeper Frei regularly keeping Sutton and Brian Edwards out of the starting lineup.
Cronin is a tireless midfielder in the vein of Carl Robinson, with the duo providing ample cover for Wynne and Brennan to provide marauding runs down the wings. Cummins looks set to count on his full-backs just as much as Carver, with the only down-side (along with the defensive liability it results in) being the increased attention on Wynne.
The wing-back, brought from New York by former coach Mo Johnston in the club’s first season, has been steadily growing into one of the club’s top players over recent seasons. Aston Villa have reportedly been interested in Wynne since their friendly at BMO Field in 2007 and will be keeping a close eye on his development. MLS and its’ salary cap may prove too small a pond for the American international over the summer transfer window.
To DP or no?
Toronto FC general manager Mo Johnston has stated his interest in bringing a designated player to Toronto for 2009, but the recent signing of Dwayne De Rosario may mean that the club’s ambitions of getting DPed will have to wait at least another year.
While no promises have been forthcoming from team management about bringing in a player above the league’s maximum payscale along the lines of LA’s David Beckham or Seattle Sounders’ Fredrik Ljungberg, club brass have been adamant that the club would build a winning side this season.
Swapping young centerback Julius James for attacker De Rosario was a step in the right direction, but may have signalled the peak of Johnston’s ambition for the off-season. De Ro is a proven attacker in this league and will form a potent front line with the likes of Rohan Ricketts, Danny Dichio and Amado Guevara, although his addition leaves precious little cap room for a designated player.
Carlos Ruiz found himself surplus to requirements at the club this season, after zero goals in five games at the tail end of 2008. He’s been replaced with Pablo Vitti, the on-loan Argentinian forward who hasn’t scored in four, but the young striker’s work rate and raw talent should see him get off the mark soon.
One or two odd men out would leave room for a designated player, with only $400 000 of the DP’s wages counting towards the annual salary cap. Toronto FC chiefs have been reluctant to show their hand, but have indicated that a designated player, as the final piece of an MLS Cup-winning puzle, could be in the cards in the coming years.
Several big names have been linked with Canada’s MLS franchise. Most are borne of wishful thinking, but reports have indicated that club management have, at various times, entered negotiations with European stars inthe interest of bringing a designated player to Toronto.
Alessandro Del Piero was last the subject of heavy speculation linking him with a North American move in 2008, before he signed a contract until 2010 with Juventus, the team he’s been synonymous with since the 1990s. Top scorer honours in Serie A last season proved he can still compete at the highest level, and any MLS move will likely have to wait until 2010 – when Del Piero will be 35.
Towards the tail end of last season, it emerged that Johnston had been in contact with Portuguese striker Nuno Gomes, a name that has been linked with Toronto FC since its inception. Club management have been reluctant to pin their fortunes on a big name designed to draw out a particular ethnic group, but Nuno Gomes was evidently thought to be the type of player who could provide the finishing touch to Toronto’s slick build-up play.
32-year old Gomes, who still has the same baby-face he did at Euro 2000, may still have goals in him, but the same might not be true of that tournament’s co-top scorer, Serbian forward Savo Miloševic. The 35-year old was repeatedly linked with TFC and trialled with them ahead of last season but ultimately failed to sign a deal.
Another striker with European experience that could be on the move this summer is Michael Owen. The Newcastle striker has been out of form this season and will likely be shuffled out in the summer if the Magpies are relegated, an increasingly likely proposition. Owen’s most probable destination is a European club, but the striker’s killer instinct would fit in perfectly in Toronto. Unlike former Liverpool teammate Robbie Fowler, a one-time target of MLS, Owen is on the right side of 30, another plus for a league criticized for turning to aging stars.
Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman has been spotted in attendance at BMO Field and lists playing for his hometown side as one of his professional ambitions, albeit one in the future. The Scarborough native has trained with Toronto in the past and will likely suit up for the Reds in the twilight of his career, but at the moment, European sides are closely monitoring his contract situation in Spain.
A source high up in MLSE recently spoke informally on the club’s priorities, with a designated player falling behind real grass at BMO Field. Club bosses hope to see grass in Toronto by next season and are currently developing a practice facility that will likely take over BMO Field’s duty as a community field over winter.
Stadium expansion is another aim for MLSE, but nothing concrete has been developed. The organization have also been in contact with the much-maligned Canadian Soccer Association about providing marketing for the men’s national team in much the same vein as their partnership with Basketball Canada.
Soccer in the Forest City
Pro soccer has a new guise in London, Ontario, where Ian Campbell has led a group of investors in launching FC London to compete in the Premier Development League. The PDL is the fourth level of North American soccer behind Toronto FC’s MLS.
Campbell explained to ASN the need to create an avenue for young players to further their playing career at a competitive level. Having coached a group of u-11s over the past several years, Campbell found that his 17 and 18 year olds had few professional avenues open to them, a problem he was used to as president of the Byron Minor Soccer Association.
With an upper age limit of 23, FC London is set to address that problem, with head coach Martin Painter already busy adding to a roster stuffed with young Canadian talent. The majority of the team will be under 23 and university students, with the PDL season running in the NCAA off-season from mid-may until July.
The success of Toronto FC has helped to awaken Canadians to the potential of professional soccer in every corner of this country, and Campbell has been in regular contact with the MLS side in hopes of bringing that success to London.
For Campbell, a PDL playoff match between eventual winners Thunder Bay Chill and Michigan Bucks last summer showed him the growing level of the league, convincing the entrepreneur that professional soccer could thrive in London. FCL calls North London Stadium home and will field a youth team in the OSA under-21 league, providing further opportunities for youngsters in the area.
Trillium Cup continues
Toronto host Columbus Crew on Saturday in the second match of this season’s Trillium Cup, to be decided by the regular-season matches between the rivals. Crowd trouble marred the clubs’ 1-1 draw in Ohio in March, with defending league, cup and Trillium Cup champions the Crew so far struggling to keep up last season’s form.
Posted on 27 April 2009 by Nathaniel E. Baker
Dear Mr. Levine,
Speaking on behalf of U.S. soccer fans everywhere, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your considerable efforts in raising the profile of professional soccer in this country.
We are referring, of course, to your comments lambasting Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, who had the gall to compare his pathetic little league to your employer, the mighty New York Yankees baseball club.
To casual observers, your attack on Mr. Garber was a simple matter of you falling for one of the oldest (and cheapest) PR stunts in the book. This trick calls for a small and insignificant entity to compare itself, by way of insult, to one of the leading enterprises in its field in the feint hopes said enterprise takes the bait and returns the favor. If it chooses to do so, the result is a PR bonanza for the small and insignificant entity.
On the surface, this is precisely what happened, as news columnists and bloggers rallied to Garber’s cause. The National Sports Review called you a bully and told you to shut up. The Times Herald-Record said you “looked lower than a preschool limbo stick.” The Hartford Courant said you made a fool of yourself. The New York Post said you looked persnickety. Even The New (Yankee) Stadium Insider said they weren’t sure what you were trying to accomplish with your comments, adding that “for an organization that prides itself on class and success, the Yankees seem to have forgotten the ‘class’ part of that formula.”
The great winner, in all this, is soccer. Not only did everybody rally to back Garber and tell you to pick on somebody your own size (see above), but maybe, just maybe baseball fans will lose interest in an event that takes over four hours and costs hundreds of dollars (and that’s for the cheap seats) and check out something that is over in two hours and a fraction the cost. Of course, your comments that MLS is “not in the same time zone” as Major League Baseball in general and the New York Yankees in particular, is beyond question. Major League Baseball teams have payrolls literally 10 times the size of MLS clubs. Baseball is an American institution. Soccer is a foreign invention that appeals to immigrants, communists and young girls. Or something. Why point out the obvious?
But after looking at the events a little deeper, a different reality emerges: your comments were a coolly-calculated move to help soccer at your–and the Yankees’–expense. Mr. Levine, you are a soccer fan. Not only that, your love of the game runs so deep that you are willing to sacrifice the public perception of yourself and of your employer to advance its cause. That you dressed this up as an ignorant comment may have fooled most of the U.S. press, including institutions such as The Sporting News. But it didn’t fool us.
For one, Garber never mentioned the Yankees by name! All he said was “it’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty.” We have searched at great length for the full text of Garber’s April 22 speech to the MLS Board of Governors, in an attempt to put those words into context. Having come up empty (and if anybody has the full speech, please let us know or post it in the comments) we are left with a general statement that just as easily could have been about any MLS team other than Seattle. Or, for that matter, any event (not just sporting events) where there are empty seats.
Only later (after Levine’s statement) did Garber “admit” his comment was about the Yankees, though he also said they “were part of a larger assertion that all businesses — even the most successful sports entities — are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn.” He then blew some smoke up the Yankees’ arse, calling them “one of the world’s strongest brands,” before reiterating that his comments were about the economic challenges “we are all facing.”
Cryptic? You bet. Which is exactly what you need to be when covering up a larger truth. In this instance, the truth is that you and Mr. Garber likely made an arrangement to make these “public” comments about each other, hiding behind a general statement Garber may (or may not. We don’t know who was there or if it even happened) have said at the MLS meeting. By keeping the original statement general and out of the public domain, you guarantee nobody will ever know exactly what happened.
Which is entirely secondary at this point. The larger truth, that you are willing to sacrifice your public image solely to advance the sport of soccer in this country, is one that has not been lost on us. And for this, we are forever grateful.
Thank you again for your efforts.
Posted on 26 April 2009 by ASN Staff
Real Salt Lake set club records for total goals scored and shots taken in one match and tied MLS records for goals scored in one half and games in which six different players scored. The 6-0 dismantling of the New England Revolution was complete on every level. Kali Korbis reports from Rio Tinto Stadium.
Posted on 26 April 2009 by ASN Staff
Though they have never competed against each other for league titles, it’s fair to say the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids are rather bitter rivals. Anybody who watched this year’s first meeting between the two sides back on April 4 can attest to the fact that their games are often highly spirited affairs. Last night’s game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park n Commerce City, Colo., followed this same script. Read the match report here.
Posted on 26 April 2009 by ASN Staff
Posted on 26 April 2009 by ASN Staff
Posted on 24 April 2009 by Steve Long
Using a youth-filled team against a similarly deployed FC Dallas, DC United played the most mature soccer of their 2009 season and earned a convincing 2-0 victory in the first of two US Open Cup play-in matches. Tom Soehn’s charges displayed a full appreciation of the value of width in freeing up space to perform well.
Tino Quaranta, a veteran at 24, was pleased with the mixture of talent on display, “When you have a lot of athleticism, the youth, the width is gonna be there. It was really disciplined for being a younger team.”
That discipline flows from an understanding among all the players that, “This is a really deep team. It shows. We’ve really got some good talent.” Every player interviewed noted that Soehn has emphasized his own belief that the team is competent and confident, top to bottom.
Bryan Namoff saw it at the last practice, “We were definitely really sharp the day before in training. It was great to kinda use that to keep it flowing to the next day. When you knock the ball around, you can just tell, there’s a good chemistry there.”
The team’s attitude carried forward and in the game fed on itself, “As confidence starts to build the more you are able to possess the ball”, Namoff explained. However, with youth comes a corresponding loss of perspective.
Brandon Barklage, who scored his first professional goal to seal United’s victory, provided a great deal of the energy early on only to realize that he had lost focus and position. He had the wisdom to adjust, “Once I got reins on myself, I felt a lot better.”
Dallas did a reasonable job of absorbing United’s attacks and began to assert themselves after about 30 minutes. Quaranta echoed what others had observed, “We put a lot into the first 30 minutes. I thought we lost hold of the game that last 15 minutes of the first half.”
His explanation of the loss of DC control was simple, “It dropped off toward the half with fatigue.” He noted that Soehn refocused the team in the locker room, “Then we came out in the second half and right off the get-go took the game back —– That was the talk at half-time.”
Chris Pontius, who has played well on the wing early in the season and played forward in this game, had a similar view of play, “You want to get the ball to the forwards, then to the side. That will eventually expose their defense — When you do that, you use a lot of your energy. We’ve got to manage that a little bit better.”
Barklage emphasized that the formation had a role in how the team played, “Especially with this 3-5-2, we can really expose their flanks on the weak side. With Tino or Fred or whoever we put out there, if we get them the ball they’re gonna run at the defense or put great crosses in. We try to do that a lot, switch the point of attack.”
The positive experience may well carry forward into the Eastern Conference game against the Red Bulls in New Jersey on Sunday. The team’s elders know that they must produce and have been shown the way.
It starts in practice, “Now the starting 11, every week they gotta show that they deserve it. It’s such a healthy thing for the team,” explained Andrew Jacobsen.
The rookie is fresh off foreign experience in France where he learned that, “Every player was as confident as can be.” In regard to the strong midfielders now starting for United, that means, “If I want to get on the field, I have to do what they can do. I don’t have much of an option.
“When you have such great players in the middle like Christian and Ben and Clyde and all the forwards, it’s hard not to go down the center but now we finally have great players on the width now so the other team has to pick their poison. If they want to take away the middle we’ll beat them on the outside.”
DC — Fred 1 (Chris Pontius 1) 21
DC — Brandon Barklage 1 (Santino Quaranta ) 6
FC Dallas — Ray Burse, Michael Dello-Russo, George John (Aaron Pitchkolan 8), Drew Moor, Daniel Torres, Pablo Ricchetti, Alvaro Sanchez (Bruno Guarda 90), Eric Avila, Dave van den Bergh (David Ferreira 73), Jeff Cunningham (Kenny Cooper 71), Peri Marosevic,
Substitutes Not Used: Dax McCarty, Dario Sala, Blake Wagner
D.C. United — Milos Kocic, Bryan Namoff (Dejan Jakovic 62), Greg Janicki, Marc Burch, Thabiso Khumalo, Brandon Barklage, Andrew Jacobson, Devon McTavish, Fred (Rodney Wallace 61), Chris Pontius (Jaime Moreno 73), Santino Quaranta (Anthony Peters 82),
Substitutes Not Used: John DiRaimondo, Luciano Emilio, Josh Wicks
D.C. United / FC Dallas
Total shots: 17 (Santino Quaranta 5) 11 (Drew Moor 3)
Shots on goal: 7 (Marc Burch 2,
Santino Quaranta 2) 4 (4 tied with 1)
Fouls: 14 (Andrew Jacobson 3,
Rodney Wallace 3) 12 (4 tied with 2)
Offsides: 4 (Santino Quaranta 3) 3 (Jeff Cunningham 3)
Corner kicks: 8 (Brandon Barklage 4,
Thabiso Khumalo 4) 7 (Dave van den Bergh 4)
Saves: 4 (Milos Kocic 4) 5 (Ray Burse 5)
Referee: Jeff Gontarek
Referee’s Assistants: Jason Cullum; Matthew Kreitzer
4th official: Terrence Andrews
Time of game: 1:49
Weather: Cloudy -and- 55 degrees