Archive | February, 2010


No strike! But no deal either

Posted on 25 February 2010 by ASN Staff

The Major League Soccer Players Union today announced that the collective bargaining agreement between the union and Major League Soccer will not be extended past the Feb. 25 deadline previously set by the two sides.

“Effective at midnight tonight, our collective bargaining agreement with MLS will expire,” said Union executive director Bob Foose in a statement.

Foose added that, “while we expect that negotiations with MLS will resume at some point, there simply hasn’t been enough progress made in the negotiations to date to warrant an extension of the old agreement. We have advised our players to keep working for the time being, but as of Friday they will be doing so without a CBA. In the meantime, all options are being considered as the process continues. We are completely committed to forging real changes to the way MLS players are treated.”

Update: The league has provided a statement in reply:
“During the last year, Major League Soccer has been negotiating with the MLS Players Union on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current CBA expires today and the Players Union would not agree to a further extension.

“We have told the Players Union that the League does not plan to lock out the players and we are prepared to begin the season under the current CBA while we continue to bargain to reach agreement on a new CBA.

“We have listened to the issues raised by the MLS Players Union and the League has made detailed proposals that have addressed these issues, including in the areas of economics, guaranteed contracts, options and the ability of a player to move to another MLS Club if he is released by his current Club. These proposals, which represent substantial changes from the current CBA, will significantly increase our spending and provide substantially more rights to the players.”

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MLS players expected to announce strike

Posted on 25 February 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Update: The union made an announcement saying they will continue to work after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement at midnight.

The Major League Soccer players union is scheduled to make an announcement at 5pm Eastern Time today, Feb. 25 and the news is not likely to be good. The announcement will go one of two ways, according to a individual familiar with talks between the union and owners: “Either the union will announce (again) that they are pushing back the deadline for reaching a new CBA, or they will announce a strike.”

The individual in question, a lawyer who did not want to be named, thinks the union is likely to announce a strike. “Particularly because the conversations I’ve had with players convinced me that the league had not provided enough non-financial concessions…regarding guaranteed contracts and limited free agency and the players felt the league was not close to doing so,” he said.

For this reason, the idea of extending the CBA deadline would, in effect, only provide time for players to negotiate against their own prior positions instead of gaining concessions from the league. “This would not be effective bargaining,” the source said.

“So, my guess is that they announce a strike effective immediately, place all the pressure on the league…into making some real concessions, entertaining meaningful negotiations and coming to an agreement before the first MLS game scheduled.”

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Thursday’s MLS Sweep: Sounders nurture their Colombian pipeline, Luis Gil says no to the Midwest

Posted on 25 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Luis Gil will sign with the defending champs, Real Salt Lake after stating very clearly that he will not speak with the Kansas City Wizards and would like to be closer to his California home. The Wizards, a bit perturbed as you can imagine, will grant the 17-year old’s wishes getting an international spot, a 2nd round 2011 MLS SuperDraft pick, and a 25% future sell-on clause in return. RSL have had a mixed history with significant youth in their squad as of late. Everyone remembers the 2005 #1 dud in Nik Besagno and many RSL fans are still waiting for Alex Nimo to contribute. The difference is, however, that Gil drew the attention of both Arsenal and Real Madrid before opting to sign with Major League Soccer. It should pan out nicely for RSL with Andy Williams and Javier Morales tutoring Gil in preparation to hopefully see some time in 2010. RSL’s hopes for the kid are similar to those that the Union have for their youth. With 17-year old Jack McInerney and 18-year olds Amobi Okugo and Danny Mwanga, many are interested to see how this season will pan out.

Claudio ‘El Piojo’ Lopez will join Kevin Hartman as yet another Kansas City Wizard veteran castoff after Peter Vermes said goodbye to the Argentine legend this past weekend. In two seasons, Lopez grabbed 13 goals and contributed 15 assists to two mediocre Wizard seasons. At 35 and rising contract needs, the Wizards were somewhat forced to let go of the striker. Welcome to the starting line-up Teal Bunbury, can you match El Piojo in your first year?

The Sounders have held on to Fredy Montero, signed Jhon Kennedy Hurtado permanently, and now are on the verge of landing yet another Colombian starlet. 18-year old striker Miguel Montaño will apparently report to camp in early March according to Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer and ProstAmerika. His biggest strength is his pace but at just 18, it could be some time before he sees significant minutes. Then again, Fredy Montero is only 4 years his senior and has flourished. With two other Colombians in the squad, the biggest fear of transition to a new country, new set-up could be a bit easier for the youngster. In fact, both Montero and Montaño share the same agent. It seems there’s the making of a long Colombian pipeline in Seattle.

Steve Nicol and the New England Revolution have signed another no-name African prospect in 23-year old Niouky Desire. If you remember his most recent discoveries – the Gambian duo Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally- I’ll give Nicol the benefit of the doubt on this one. Only problem is,  Nicol says that the Senegalese midfielder “could be as good as Pat Phelan or Michael Videira”. Well that’s incredibly underwhelming for Revs fans. I’m pretty sure that “as good as a Shalrie Joseph” would have been a better fit for Revs fans’ expectations. Then again with Phelan, Videira, and now Desire fighting for that second central midfield spot alongside Joseph, it’s clear Nicol is hoping for one of these guys to develop into someone comparable to the departing Jeff Larentowicz.

Quick Notes:

All eyes are on the labor disputes due to expire today. Maybe if we ignore it, it’ll all go away?

The Wizards released four – one of which is of signficance. Defensive midfielder Kurt Morsink got the axe after over 40 appearances for Kansas City.

Will somebody please sign fellow UPenn alum and former RBNY goalkeeper Danny Cepero? Nothing made me happier than his Major League Soccer debut. Remember that turf bounce over the head of Columbus keeper Andy Greunebaum? So step up MLS squads and sign the guy – because I said so.

Former William and Mary standout and Revs shotstopper Adin Brown has returned from Norway to play for future MLS squad Portland Timbers. Could be a good guy to have on your team in 2011.

Houston Dynamo alum Stuart Holden played the full 90 in a crappy 4-0 loss to Tottenham in FA Cup play. Holden, however, was one of the lone bright spots for the ugly Wanderers, making his passes, looking dangerous, and supplying Bolton with dangerous dead balls.

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Some clarity in the fight for World Cup spots

Posted on 25 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

It’s almost a formula for the U.S. Men’s National Team these days: Play down to opponent, give up a goal, get angry and motivated, create better chances, finally score the equalizer and/or winning goal in semi-dramatic fashion. Last night’s hero was Sacha Kljestan. But what holds our interest is the competition for final roster spots for this summer’s World Cup, where some clarity has emerged. Read on.

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Some clarity emerges in the fight for World Cup roster spots

Posted on 25 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Typical play from the USMNT, whether it’s the ‘B’ roster and World Cup hopefuls or the European-based ‘A’ team. Bradley’s MLS-based crew dominated play against El Salvador yesterday in Tampa, only to trail by a goal after 60 minutes. Brian Ching equalized some time later off a pinpoint Heath Pearce cross and the Yanks continued their onslaught. Nothing came of it until Sacha Kljestan took advantage of a defensive misstep to one-two with Brian Ching and slot the winning goal home. It’s almost a formula these days. Play down to opponent, opponent scores, team gets angry and motivated, team takes better chances, team finally scores and last goal comes in semi-dramatic fashion. We’re not looking at why that is, however. Instead, we want to focus on who made a name for themselves and who hurt their chances to head to South Africa.

Sometime today or tomorrow, Bob Bradley should release the roster for the March 3 trip to the Netherlands. Several guys last night made a case – regardless of our feeling about the gameplay overall – to be included in that trip and more importantly, in a trip to South Africa in early June. Feel free to share comments about last night’s match vs. El Salvador in the comments section below. 

Staying Home

Sacha Kljestan
Despite his inability these days to finish when given the proper chance to, Kljestan did so when it counted. Only 2% of our readers see Kljestan as a possibility for making the roster and, despite his decent play vs. El Salvador, I agree with you. Kljestan offers something we already have heading to South Africa. He still doesn’t look like he did in 2008 which will make him one of the last guys not taken to South Africa. He might get a shot vs. Netherlands and this game was certainly an improvement over recent form but I think you’ll find Kljestan ends up the odd man out.

Conor Casey
He was borderline ineffective when it came to the offensive side of things but that didn’t force Casey to the sideline or kept him distanced from the game itself. The big man made himself known on the defensive side of things, hassling defenders, winning balls in the air, and that was the clincher for me. I can imagine a Conor Casey coming off the bench in last 10 minutes of the game and bagging a goal with sheer determination and strength (after a bunch of offside calls of course). You can’t say that about many of the guys on the “bubble”. Casey’s performance puts him above Kenny Cooper on the depth chart. I’m going to agree with Bob Bradley on this one, “I don’t think that in the early part of this year that we’ve seen the best of Conor, yet”. Do you?

Brian Ching
Let’s be honest, our forward pool is not much to look at in regards to depth and with Davies on the mend it’s almost a virtual lock that Ching will go. His play last night merits it but it’s tough seeing him as a real presence in South Africa. One thing you will always get from Ching is his best effort and that was enough last night. He’ll try and hold up the ball like a Brian McBride, he’ll try to act as a target man, he’ll try to get into position for the best go at goal. He doesn’t always succeed but he’ll certainly try his damnedest. We can’t forget that the guy had a hand in both goals, a perfect low-driven header to tie the game and great, intelligent one-two with Sacha Kljestan to take the lead late in the game.

Heath Pearce
Man of the match for me and a ticket to South Africa. His forays into the offensive half were generally effective and his defense was actually pretty damn good. The cross on Ching’s equalizer was a good one. His real enemy (see Robbie Rogers) is consistency. At least with a Jonathan Bornstein we get a little dose of mediocrity mixed in with a really nice game every once in a while. With Pearce, you get his world class caliber play vs. Argentina a while back one night and a shockingly embarrassing runout the next. He was arguably the best guy on the pitch last night and he, at the least, earned himself a shoutout in the discussion for World Cup-bound left-back candidates.

Making it tough on Bob

Clarence Goodson
The former FC Dallas defender has worked his way into the depth chart and his performance yesterday only solidified his ‘B’ team status. He could find his way into the World Cup squad if Bradley values depth over the ability for a sub to have a game-changing quality about him. He was crisp in tackling (save for one bad tackle), well-positioned most of the time but nothing awe-inspiring. Regardless, a fourth centreback in probably necessary in South Africa and Goodson has certainly made a case for himself to go.  

Robbie Rogers
We all know Rogers has the capability to change a game at times but his inconsistency and general stupidity every once in a while really kills his luster. Bradley definitely likes him though and if he makes the squad, I won’t be too angry. He played serviceably on both wings and, when playing with his head in straight, he’s deceptive and skillful. It’s too hard for me to picture him torching the Brazilian wing midfielders and fullbacks in 2007 U-20 World Cup along with Sal Zizzo during that 2-0 win. I want to see that again but yesterday’s match was a testament to his failure to execute at a consistent rate. He’s got the chops but the inability to do it day-in, day-out.

Jonathan Bornstein
Bornstein will make the squad most likely. His pace in the back is a bit too hard to ignore even with Heath Pearce’s game yesterday. Pearce is definitely making it a tough decision for Bradley. Pearce will have a harder time moving forward against the likes of England or a Slovenia over El Salvador and the bodes well for Bornstein. He was serviceable last night and though I’d like to see Pearce heading to South Africa, there’s a good chance it’ll just be Bornstein.  

Robbie Findley
The Robbie’s weren’t my favorite last night. So if you have Altidore, Ching, Casey, Davies and the ability to put Dempsey up front, do you take a Robbie Findley? The answer most likely is – with Davies sure to only be at 75% at most – a resounding yes. You take him for one reason…pace. His pace is only matched by Davies and to put Findley in late in a game vs. any one of our World Cup opponents it has the potential to cause problems for a even the most fit backline. His inconsistent work ethic is what irks me but I think a trip to South Africa and only key sub appearances (if any at all) could change all that. For what it’s worth, I’d take Eddie Johnson over Findley.

Overall, one thing is for sure. Most of these guys will not be seeing ‘A’ team time any time soon but their inclusion in a  big and hopefully telling match-up vs. Netherlands on March 3rd will act as their last-ditch effort to grab the eye of Bob Bradley. 

*In other news, the US U-17s beat up on their Mexican counterparts, 4-1, before last night’s USMNT/El Salvador match-up. Anytime we beat Mexico, it deserves a mention. Mississippi native Kellen Gulley led the way with a brace.

Match Facts

U.S. vs. El Salvador friendly Feb. 24, 2010
Venue: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 21,737
Weather: 56 degrees, rain

Scoring Summary:
SLV – Rudis Corrales 59th minute
USA – Brian Ching (Heath Pearce) 75
USA – Sacha Kljestan (Brian Ching) 90+2

USA: 1-Nick Rimando; 21-Brad Evans, 13-Jonathan Bornstein, 15-Clarence Goodson, 6-Heath Pearce; 14-Robbie Rogers (5-Geoff Cameron, 86), 16-Sacha Kljestan, 7-Kyle Beckerman (17-Dax McCarty, 79), 8-Brad Davis (3-Eddie Gaven, 46); 9-Conor Casey (11-Brian Ching, 46), 10-Robbie Findley (19-Jeff Cunningham, 68)
Subs not used: 1-Troy Perkins, 4-Chad Marshall
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

SLV: 1-Miguel Montes; 2-Alexander Escobar, 3-Marvin González, 5-Ramón Flores (20-Odir Flores, ), 12-Manuel Salazar, 13-Deris Umanzor; 7-Ramón Sánchez (capt.), 8-Osael Romero (14-Dennis Alas, 71), 17-Juan Carlos Moscoso; 9-Rudis Corrales, 16-Arturo Álvarez
Subs not used: 4-Mardo Henríquez, 11-Andrés Flores, 15-Alfredo Pacheco, 6-Shawn Martin, 18-Dagoberto Portillo, 19-Edgar Álvarez
Head Coach: José Luis Rugamas

Stats Summary:
Shots: 18 / 3
Shots on Goal: 11 / 2
Saves: 1 / 7
Corner Kicks: 9 / 1
Fouls: 14 / 10
Offside: 4 / 2

Misconduct Summary:

USA – Heath Pearce (caution) 85th minute


Referee: Silviu Petrescu (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Philippe Briere (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Belleau (CAN)
Fourth Official: Edvin Jurisevic (USA)

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Thursday audio news update

Posted on 25 February 2010 by ASN Staff

Subscribe to ASN's Audio Soccer News Daily–just this audio feed, no other ASN items! A regular ASN subscription includes the audio daily.

For more information on your hosts Zach and Jason visit, home of the popular American Soccer Show weekly podcast. Be sure to listen in every Monday!

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Introducing ‘The Lighthouse’

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

After almost a month without confirmation, the Union finally have a formal name to their home. Welcome…

…to the arsenal of soccer-specific stadiums around the country. According to the press release, it looks like PPL EnergyPlus – a retail energy supplier subsidiary of Allentown, PA’s PPL Corporation – is ready to fight Peco for some market share in the Philadelphia metro area. One way to announce that? Become the sole provider of energy to a new stadium located in an area that Peco “controls”.

The Union confirmed an 11-year deal with PPL with industry sources putting the rate at almost $2 million a year. Not too shabby. So The Lighthouse will be shining bright on June 27th if this league doesn’t decide to shoot itself in the foot first.

Why The Lighthouse? Why because of this of course…

Since PPL bought the rights, PPL Park it is, but which nickname fits best?


The Lighthouse – 40% (33 votes)
People’s Park – 34% (28 votes)
Seaport Drive – 17% (14 votes)
The Stadium of Power and Light – 6% (5 votes)

This was an absolute dogfight up until the end. The Lighthouse wins out as the unofficial nickname of PPL Park but I wouldn’t mind alternating between the top three. Seaport Drive started it all so for nostalgia’s sake that might have to stay. The Lighthouse and People’s Park, however, are both worthy candidates for nicknames. I might resurrect this in April or May when it’s close to being done to see if people’s minds change.

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MLS players need to back off

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Don’t get me wrong, in principle I agree with Major League Soccer players. They deserve either guaranteed contracts or some semblance of free agency. They deserve higher minimum salaries. They deserve a higher salary cap. They deserve better accommodation on road trips. They deserve these things and probably several others as well.

But guess what? This isn’t about those principles. It’s about something bigger, namely sustaining top level professional soccer in the United States. That is what the players are threatening to undo with their strike.

Okay, so maybe some MLS team owners are making money on the players’ behalf. Show me one (functioning) for-profit business that isn’t. More importantly, how many millions of dollars have these ownership groups sunk into the league over the past 15 years? How long were they operating at a loss? Were? Apparently all but three teams are still losing money.

To limit this hemorrhaging somewhat, MLS created a single entity structure. Its legality was challenged–and upheld–in court. Owners understandably want to stick with this structure and are committed to doing so. Well, they have it with the current collective bargaining agreement so they’re willing to continue operating with it in place, at least for the 2010 season.

Obviously the players are none too happy about this. They were expecting raises and improved “working conditions” for 2010 and would not get either in this scenario. Union leadership would rightly be decried as ineffectual. Having already threatened a strike, however, the union may need to go this route to save face. If they don’t, it’s likely owners will withdraw whatever concessions they’ve offered so far in negotiations.

Some players say these concessions don’t amount to anything anyway. Fine. But here’s the thing: The players have no leverage. First of all, let’s see them get everybody to agree to go through with this. For an overwhelming majority of them, a strike will mean no income. A few might get job offers in Europe or Latin America or elsewhere, but the league would still need to consent to a move. If it does (doubtful), work permits are extremely difficult to come by for players who are not capped by their national teams (which again is most of MLS). That leaves NASL and the second division. I’m told there is no legal restriction on MLS players joining these leagues if there is a strike, but how willing will those teams be to hire striking players? And if players think salaries and working conditions in MLS are tough, let’s see how they like the NASL, where several teams are on the brink of bankruptcy.

More importantly, how can they know a strike will even have an effect? MLS could hire replacement players. There are 17 million soccer players in the United States. Think they’ll all honor the picket line, if MLS calls with a job offer? Think again. (Note to MLS: I can play goalie and will gladly do so as a replacement player).

But the greater harm would be to the viability of professional soccer in this country. Because with a sparking new arena in its biggest market, a successful franchise in Seattle and another due to begin play in Philadelphia, MLS is finally finally on the verge of a breakthrough with the American public. A strike would put an end to this. It would set U.S. soccer back 15 years to an era when playing professionally wasn’t even a real option.

The argument that the current structure needs to be dismantled for the good of professional soccer in the U.S. is nonsensical. Fact is that the players have clearly said they are willing to work within the confines of the single entity structure. If they go back on their word now they’ll look like hypocrites. But that’s the least of it. The league simply cannot afford to have teams engage in bidding wars for players. Do people really think MLS can turn into the English Premier League overnight if it simply “removes the training wheels“? A few more expensive players per team might do a bit for quality of play over the short term, but over the long term the only thing that can accomplish that is a more ingrained soccer culture and youth development. And the only thing that can bring that is a sustainable professional league.

More importantly, who knows if the league’s existing owners and investors would even agree to continue their involvement if the single entity system is scrapped? They’d probably drop out altogether. Where would professional soccer be then? Back to 1984 is where. Some critics of the single entity structure may not be old enough to remember what it was like being a U.S. soccer fan in those days. But if they were to ask some of us who lived through it they would undoubtedly get a very sinister answer.

So yes, the union has overplayed its hand with talk of a strike. And overshot its goals. They’re not going to get free agency for all the reasons mentioned above. Yet, if it weren’t for that the two sides would really not be far apart. The league has claimed it is willing to give some ground on guaranteed contracts and player movement. Players should have jumped on that instead of playing hardball for something they weren’t going to get in the first place. It might be too late now. Doesn’t matter. Players should return to the bargaining table, hat in hand, and try to salvage whatever they can. They’ll probably end up with something they feel is grossly unfair and exploitative. Too bad. That’s what most regular folks have to deal with nowadays–provided they’re lucky enough to have jobs in the first place. And we don’t get to play a sport for a living.

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Holden set for Bolton debut

Posted on 24 February 2010 by ASN Staff

Holden is set to make his EPL debut today

Midfielder Stuart Holden, 23, will reportedly make his debut with English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers in the club’s fifth round match in the FA Cup against Tottenham Hotspur FC. The match kicks off at 2 p.m. Houston time.

ASN’s Michael Simpson, who has seen Holden grow up before his eyes the last four years in Houston, checks in with some well wishes.

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Commentary: Give ’em hell, Stu!

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Michael Simpson

He grew up before Houston’s very eyes. Now, he is set to make his debut on a stage smaller than few.

Holden is set to make his EPL debut today

Midfielder Stuart Holden, 23, will reportedly earn his first appearance with English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers in the club’s fifth-round FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur FC. The game kicks off at 2 p.m. Houston time.

After a brief stint with Sunderland FC, a club that was dominating the Coca-Cola Championship at the time, Holden made his professional debut May 27, 2006, with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. The rest is history.

A 20-year-old who couldn’t quite grow a ‘playoff beard’ when his comrades decided to go unshaven until the MLS Cup Final, Holden played in 13 games and helped the Dynamo win the 2006 league championship.

When midfielder Brad Davis was forced to miss much of 2007 with a knee injury, Holden stepped in and helped the Dynamo win another championship.

In 2008, Holden competed in the Summer Olympics in Beijing and scored a last-minute goal to beat Japan 1-0. In 2009, he became the Dynamo’s starting attacking midfielder when Canadian-born midfielder Dwayne DeRosario departed for Toronto F.C.

His success caught the attention of US Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley, and Holden earned 12 caps and two goals for the Yanks in 2008. After Holden’s accomplishments at the international level, he is considered by many to be a lock for Bradley’s 2010 World Cup roster.

In choosing what should be my first column topic for American Soccer News — and realizing the day it was to be published — I decided the piece must fittingly pay tribute to Houston’s wunderkind.

It is important, though, not to allow Holden’s on-field success to overshadow everything he did for the city of Houston. Holden spent countless hours coaching soccer clinics and visiting kids in children’s hospitals.

In 2008, he went as far as to give his 2007 MLS Cup Championship medal to a terminally-ill child and was named US Soccer’s Humanitarian of the Year.

In a world where the biggest stars are exposed for who they truly are, Holden rose to the challenge of living in the public eye and became Houston’s hero.

Good luck, Stu.

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