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Revs Home Schooled by Philadelphia in big defeat

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

The New England Revolution (3-9-7, 9th in the East) fell 3-0 to a surging Philadelphia Union (8-4-7, 1st in the East) squad yesterday evening at Gillette Stadium. Carlos Ruiz, Carlos Valdes, and Sheanon Williams all tallied for the Union as they dispatched a Revolution team still looking for their first win since May 14th.

Revs ASN has all of the gory details. And Philly ASN chimes in as well.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 22

Posted on 07 September 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Rookie Shawn Johnson has effectively ended Andrew Dykstra’s bid for a starting position in Chicago as he kept the Fire but it was another goalkeeper who stole the show in Week 22. Unlikely squads continue to roll – as in New England and Colorado – while familiar faces collect three points (Real Salt Lake and Columbus). Changes might be brewing in Philadelphia after another gaffe in goal. Regardless, a very quiet week on the offensive front but those that made noise, really turned up the volume.

Check out who took ASN’s Player of the Week honors over at ASN Philly.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 21

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Major League Soccer parity is starting to show as the Galaxy lost yet again to a hungry Kansas City squad while the Crew lost some ground to New York after tying Dallas in Columbus. In the process, the Hoops broke a relatively surprising record, a ten game road unbeaten streak. Could Dallas be an MLS Cup contender this season or will there be a late-season break of form? In other news, Jimmy Conrad had quite possibly the best game of his season while Best XI stalwarts, Stefan Frei, Fredy Montero, and Rafa Marquez all made the team yet again. The biggest surprise however? The artist of Philadelphia’s last-minute 2-1 win over New England Justin Mapp. Mapp was send packing from Chicago but just like his teammate, Sebastien Le Toux, he has firmly established himself as a new Philadelphia hero.

Head over to ASN Philly to see who made this week’s ASN MLS Best XI.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 20

Posted on 29 August 2010 by Breton Bonnette

DC United puts two players on this week’s Best XI since who knows when after beating up on a listless Philadephia Union squad at RFK Stadium. Danny Allsopp’s brace was overshadowed this week by high octane performances from Kansas City, Columbus, Red Bull New York, Houston, and even Chicago who lost the 4-3 goalfest at the head and feet of one Brian Ching. Ching hit for a hattrick, Marquez displayed his DP quality, and Kevin Hartman made sure that Dallas didn’t throw one away vs. Chivas USA as things start to heat up with only one third of the season left. Head here for ASN’s MLS Best XI for Week 20.

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Freddie Ljungberg

Posted on 25 May 2010 by Kyle Alm

Although this is not the first time Freddie Ljungberg has been questioned about his on pitch demeanor by fans or commentators, this is the first time that any of the Sounders has been criticized so harshly by Coach Sigi Schmid. Ljungberg has higher expectation than any player at the club with possible exceptions being Kasey Keller and Fredy Montero. The expectations on Keller may be lower given his age and past performances for the US Men’s National Team. Montero has high expectations that are based on “potential.” Ljungberg’s expectations are rooted in his status as a Designated Player and his large, by MLS standards, salary on the happy side of $1 million.

Ljungberg’s multiple outbursts directed at referee Alex Prus on Saturday while a good game was going on indicated that the Swede is far from happy on the pitch in Seattle. Ljungberg shouts at his teammates, argues with the officials, and recently he was on the sidelines arguing with Schmid. Ljungberg’s demonstrations on the pitch on Saturday had to be seen to believed. He totally lost his cool as he shook his fist at an opposing player after complaining to Prus about not getting foul called. But there is a reason why Freddie Ljungberg doesn’t get every call.

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There is a school of thought, that basketball fans will surely recognize, that dictates that if you foul enough you will get away with enough fouls to have effectively changed the pace and tempo of a game to your favor. Ljungberg is the most second most fouled player in MLS currently after leading the league in 2009. He gets that call more than anyone in the league and he’s complaining that he doesn’t get enough calls?

In defense of Ljungberg, he’s the second most fouled player in the league currently after leading the league in 2009. The sheer volume of which are enough to believe they are part of a deliberate and cynical defensive strategic against Ljungberg and Montero. Ljungberg has missed games due to injury a few different times after getting roughed up by opposing players. It’s a frustrating game where you take 18 shots and can’t score. When you don’t connect passes with teammates well or when you have only scored on goal in your Sounders career, and have yet to score a goal at Qwest it must be very frustrating. Especially when you are the team’s captain, highest paid player and should be the best player on the team. I doubt very seriously that Arsene Wenger would tolerate that kind of behavior for Arsenal, but it’s OK for the Sigi and for the Sounders. That d of attitude doesn’t carry much water in my opinion. The fans deserve better than what they have been getting from Ljungberg he’s a professional athlete, not a petulant child, and it’s time showed some maturity.

Arsène Wenger

“I played on the biggest teams in the world and you need to get upset if the ref is not doing the right thing,” Ljungberg said. “If you lose your passion, you won’t play. I don’t agree on that.”

You know who else quipped about their pedigree like that? David Beckham. It’s indefensible Euro-snobbery. Freddie, you play for Sounders FC currently. Played is the right word, because it is played out. Played, as in used to play? Players who talk about the past aren’t passionate, they are complacent. How many times has a referee ever reversed a call on the pitch? Exactly zero. None. Plus I don’t think that was what your coach was saying to you.

“You need to have your passion to play and I think that’s what the fans want to see as well. People that care, reaction if there is something that happens.”

Wrong again. Passion to “play” is not what fans want to see. Fans want see a passion to compete and to win. Not to “play.” Kids “play.” Professionals compete to win. What Ljungberg did on the pitch did nothing to help his team win. Did nothing to help him get a call. Do you know how many times I have seen a referee reverse a call? Exactly zero.

Pretty good advice from the other Sounders captain. Sounds like he gave it yesterday instead of pre-2009, maybe it will finally sink in.

PS How about a goal Freddie? Score a goal. At home in front of your fans.. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe that you have done that. Perhaps that should be your focus.

Qwest Field with Seattle in the background
Image via Wikipedia
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Match Preview: San Jose Earthquakes & Joey Gjertsen

Posted on 21 May 2010 by Kyle Alm

headshot of soccer player, Joey Gjertsen
Image via Wikipedia

The Heritage Cup, an homage to the two NASL teams with common names, is what is at stake for the Sounders and Earthquakes.

The Earthquakes does have a local tie to the Puget Sound in Joey Gjertsen. Gjertsen is in his first season with the team in what is typically called a “journeyman” career piling up goals (the alleged career record holder) and multiple honors at the Evergreen State College in Olympia 2003-2004, 2006 USL MVP with Vancouver Whitecaps, and finally two seasons in Montreal.

Resurgence seems to be a theme with the much improved San Jose Earthquakes who spent the better part of the 2009 season at the foot of the table. Convey is playing well. Again. Finally. And Gjertsen seems to have become a fixture of the team, taking corners and set-pieces. Gjertsen never had a year like 2006 again. He did the bulk of his career scoring in that one year. Gjertsen has a goal and an assist for San Jose in 557 minutes of play. Not exactly setting the league on fire, but Ljungberg has yet to score a goal for us this season. Not that he particularly needs to, but it would be great if he would score a goal at Qwest.

< spoiler>at 2:18 he hits the post against the Seahawks Soccer team from 25 yards.< /spoiler>

The forecasted gray skies and 100% chance of ambient moisture are forecast, but I expect that Mr. Gjertsen will get a warm response from the crowd. I know there is going to be a large contingent heading up from the south Puget Sound that will be showing their support for Mr. Gjertsen, and by association the Earthquakes. And then the match will begin, and by the time the match is over the fans will go back to being nice to Joey again. So if you see someone in a Gjertsen jersey they are probably just as local as you are. They don’t sell Gjertsen’s San Jose jersey, if you see one it’s handmade or custom, I know a few people will have them, if you see one send a pic to @soundersasn on twitter.
San Jose Earthquakes #17 Joey Gjertsen
So, let me be clear. The guys in the Gjertsen gjerseys get a pass today, they all live around here and root for Sounders.

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Thursday’s MLS Sweep: Sans CBA-related news, it was a still a busy week in MLS

Posted on 18 March 2010 by Breton Bonnette

We’re going to operate under the assumption that there is no labor strife and everything is just peachy keen. We’re 6 days away from First Kick and all Union fans are salivating at the chance to see their squad on national television and the 100 plus heading out to Seattle will stand and sing all 90 minutes and leave Qwest Field fast enough so as NOT to get strangled by a crazy Sounders fan.

Despite a Schelloto brace, the Columbus Crew succumbed to a relentless Toluca attack to lose in Mexico 3-2 (on aggregate 5-4). Steven Lenhart was sent off and American teams playing competitive matches in Mexico continue to go winless (0-19-2). It really was a valiant effort, though, with the Crew having to deal with playing over a mile above sea level and preseason fitness and cobwebs to deal with. One plus was the 5-4 aggregate score line. Their previous two trips below the border ended in a shutout and blowout combination that didn’t make anyone happy. With the defeat, Major League Soccer is out of the CONCACAF Champions League and Mexican clubs continue to dominate. And another silver lining for Crew fans? Schelloto – though at least 50 years old – continues to score.

San Jose gets huge news on the stadium front, a unianimous vote to approve the re-zoning of the site at which good old Lew Wolff wants to build a stadium at. The only thing that saddens me is the fact that San Jose – just recently back in the league – will secure and build a stadium most likely before DC United or New England even get some sort of a go-ahead. The 94-acre site could soon be home to an 18,000 soccer-specific stadium if noise  and other concerns don’t ruin the party. It really is a definitive year for Major League Soccer – Kansas City building, San Jose and Houston hopefully soon to build, the Union coming in, Seattle over 40,000 expected at each game, and so on…gives me goosebumps. In Quakes transaction news, Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour have signed contracts as well as second-year Brad Ring out of Indiana. Ring is one to watch out for. He was out for the brunt of 2010 with a knee injury but has impressed many this offseason.

Montreal’s bid to become Major League Soccer’s 19th franchise keeps getting stronger. The Impact have taken huge steps to ensure a bright future. Starting this season, they will begin the Montreal Impact Academy. Ideally, the young players they sign and train will act as Montreal’s reserve squad and play in the Canadian Soccer League. The Vancouver Whitecaps already have something like this in place – a residency program – and have been reaping the benefits. Marcus Haber is certainly a testament to that. The 21-year old Vancouver native was recently signed by West Bromwich Albion of the English Championship after honing his skills with the Whitecaps. Ethan Gage, at only 18-years old, is another expected to turn some heads in the coming years. Getting back to Montreal, the Saputo family run franchise also signed big sponsorship deals with Budweiser and Radio-Canada Television showing they mean business when it comes to taking that step up.

The Wizards brought in yet another international player, this time midfielder Ibrahim Diop (not Birahim which apparently everyone wants to call him). Diop is no stranger to the league having featured briefly for the Metrostars in 2001 and 2002 but his time was limited. This transaction – though not particularly exciting – comes on the heels of the Wizards signing a multitude of international talent –  Stephane Auvray of Guadeloupe, Englishmen Craig Rocastle and Ryan Smith, Danish keeper Jimmy Nielsen, Moldovan Igor Kostrov, and last but not least, Colombian defender Pablo Escobar. Even if they don’t win on the field, the Wizards could at least contend for fastest roster turnover.

Other Tidbits:

2009 SuperDraft pick and Wake Forest alum Lyle Adams has landed with the team that drafted him, D.C. United. His dream last season of going abroad didn’t work out so he played with USL expansion side Austin instead, putting in a nice season.

Pretty impressive stuff from Real Salt Lake. In order to get the college crowd in, the MLS Champs are going to start offering a “student punch card”. Get the card for $75 and multiple people can use it at games. Each punch is equal to $5.00 which is a good deal on admission for college kids pinching pennies.

A young goalkeeper with a lot of potential, Josh Lambo is still waiting for that first-team chance in Dallas. Barring injury complications, it looks like he’ll still be waiting in 2010. The Hoops loaned out the 19-year old to the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, it shouldn’t be news to you that the Galaxy’s David Beckham tore his achilles in a match for AC Milan vs. Chievo Verona. Not surprising when you have a 34-year old, stressed and vying for a World Cup spot for England, playing all year round.

RBNY fans had their media day. Check out Nat’s and ASN RBNY’s coverage of the event including an exorbitant amount of stadium porn. Such a shame Ze Roberto won’t be playing there…

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All eyes on Convey in opener

Posted on 18 March 2009 by mdiamond

The post-expansion San Jose Earthquakes open their second season of the new era at home facing the New England Revolution Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium. With their first year under their belt, the Quakes have heavily focused on shoring up last year’s weaknesses, primarily their offense. (See Quakes season preview Quakes Management Makes Big Bets.)

The strength of last year’s team was their back line, which was stingy giving up goals. San Jose lost outside defender James Riley to Seattle in this year’s expansion draft, but acquired a veteran in Chris Leitch from the Red Bulls to shore up the back corner. The Quakes are the third MLS team for the well-traveled Leitch after flip-flopping dual stints with Columbus and the Metrostars/Red Bulls.

A big unknown will be the impact of Bobby Convey, acquired from England’s Championship side Reading. The American played five years there and was a starter when Reading won the League Championship that earned the team a promotion to the Premier League. Convey also saw international competition playing for the US National squad in all three 2006 World Cup games.

Expectations are high for Convey as his experience playing against the world’s best in arguably the best football league should prove invaluable. The Quake’s fans got a taste of thrilling football when Darren Huckerby arrived from Norwich City midseason last year. Huckerby, too, has both Champions and Premier League experience—14 years worth—and at almost 33 years old, is still in his prime. Every time Huckerby touches the ball, he puts defenders on their heels and turns them around, such is his impact. If Convey, who’s only 25, can bring that kind of penetrating skill, the adversary’s defenses will be overmatched. However, Convey joined the team late and has had limited exhibition minutes. In addition, Coach Frank Yallop has penciled him to play central midfield, a change from his left wing spot that he played with Reading.

The Revs field a formidable side anchored by Shalrie Joseph and Steve Ralston in the midfield and the ever-dangerous Taylor Twellman at forward.

Joseph was voted to the MLS Best XI last year, the third time he’s received the honor. His skill at gaining and controlling the ball makes him the team’s focal point and playmaker.

A hard tackle by the Wizard’s Hercules Gomez ended Steve Ralston’s season with a broken leg last October and his potential contribution to the Revs playoff run. Ralston is the career MLS leader in minutes played (31,600), starts (355) and appearances (358). His contribution to the team goes well beyond his experience and leadership. As a winger in 2008 he tied Twellman for the team lead in goals at eight. Ralston, the team captain, was named the team’s MVP for the season.

Twellman has consistently been among the top scorers in MLS. He needs only one more goal to become the youngest player to reach the 100-goal mark in MLS history. His output would be even higher had he not suffered various injuries throughout his career.

New England advanced as far the Conference semifinals in last year’s playoffs and were eliminated by the Chicago Fire as both Ralston and Twellman were sidelined with injuries. It was the first time in seven years that the Revs had not reached the Conference finals. The Revs are probably the most successful team to never have won a MLS Cup.

On the defensive end, Michael Parkhurst left to play in Denmark’s First Division. Parkhurst had played four years with New England winning multiple honors including the 2005 MLS rookie of the year award and 2007 MLS defender of the year award. He had also earned his first cap with the US National Team just after the Revs 2008 season ended.

The back line still has the solid Chris Albright and Jay Heaps, but with the loss of Parkhurst, big questions remain. Costa Rican national Gabriel Badilla will have to step up in central defense, but he’s unproven. Given that the Revs had the league’s second-worst goals-against record at home last year, their prospects seem to have slipped rather than improved. If the Quake’s revamped offense is going to make an impact this year, the Revs are the right team to open against.

After three MLS Cup final appearances and six straight Eastern Conference Championships this decade, New England look to rebuild this year. Much hinges on whether Twellman, Ralston and the rest of the squad can stay healthy. In their last preseason warm up against the Carolina RailHawks this past Saturday, Twellman, Ralston, Badilla, and Mauricio Castro nursed injuries and didn’t suit up. Presumably they were being particularly cautious and will all be available for the opener. If the Revs come with their full-fledged offense, they will be an early test for the Quake’s begrudging defense.

More interesting will be San Jose’s overhauled attack against New England’s reorganized defenders. With the acquisition of Convey and forward Cam Weaver, expectations for the Quake’s offense are high. Their success or lack of it will set the tone for the side as the season gets underway.

Defense has been the Rev’s Achilles heel, and there’s no reason to believe they’ve solved that dilemma. The Quake’s have the aptitude to score, but they may lack the teamwork that only playing time can provide. It will be the untested versus the unproven at one end of the pitch and big guns versus the entrenched at the other.

Defender Chris Albright will be unavailable for the opener as he was red-carded in the final game of the postseason on November 6 when he was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

San Jose injury status:
Probable – Bobby Convey (R – quadriceps strain); Ryan Cochrane (L – ankle tendinitis); Ramiro Corrales (flu-like symptoms); Jason Hernandez (L – calf strain); Ryan Johnson (L – Achilles tendinitis); Chris Leitch (R – knee contusion)

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Why MLS needs Canada

Posted on 06 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

At last count, Toronto FC’s travelling contingent to Columbus for the 2008 MLS season opener was standing at 1200+, with some estimates topping 2000. This for the worst team in the league in 2007. Doubters in the Canadian soccer community predicted a drop-off in fan support after the club’s debut season, and while they may yet be proved right, the fans of the league’s worst-performing side have been doing everything right so far.

I’m not going to come out and say that Canadian teams are the answer to the MLS’ problems — the expansion boom in the NASL’s heyday certainly wasn’t helped by franchises like those in Edmonton and Calgary — but the signs that are coming from the soccer community in North America’s most European city are encouraging for an MLS team. Montreal has supported its USL club, the Impact, far better than Toronto’s Lynx (now plying their trade in the PDL) ever experienced, and Canada’s newest soccer-specific-stadium, Saputo Stadium (or is that Stade Saputo?), while wanting in capacity, could be expanded to meet MLS criteria.

Appealing to a range of the population with their marketing strategy was part of the key to Toronto FC’s success in filling the stands, something that MLS clubs stateside desperate to tap into local Spanish markets are trying to unlock.

Canada’s own latin culture, particularly in Montreal and Toronto, is traditionally more heavily influenced by the Italian and Portuguese communities who watch their favourite European clubs on television every weekend. Contrast this to Latin American football fans in the southern United States, whose own favourite club teams not only play just over the border but routinely visit MLS stadia for friendlies and money-spinning tournaments.

A distinct footballing culture is emerging in Canada, itself a local fusion of international traditions. And while Canada’s football clubs may be still be relegated to the back pages of mainstream media outlets, places like the internet and the Italian-language daily Corriere Canadese’s sport pages — the Canadian Gazetta della Sport, if you will — offer fans the eagerly-sought-after coverage that TFC and the Impact deserve.

It may be hard to pinpoint Toronto’s fan appeal, but seamlessly incorporating the city’s different cultural elements without an overtly desperate marketing campaign (or at least a subtle one) may be what American MLS sides with floundering attendance have been lacking. If such a strategy is indeed the formula for Major League success, then Montreal, a team owned by a Sicilian family, coached by a Canadian, and populated with French-, Portuguese- and Italian-Canadian players, is already on the right track.

With such a rich footballing tradition finally flourishing in Toronto and Montreal, promising signs on the continent’s west coast point a to potential future expansion site in Vancouver. Further south, two teams already compete in Los Angeles, San Jose has returned to the league and Seattle are stepping up from the USL in 2009. Factor in the Sounders’ division rivals in Portland and their rabid home support, and the soccer scene out west looks good, with the Vancouver Whitecaps on the outside looking in.

If the ‘Caps are looking to continue their traditional rivalries with Seattle, Toronto and Montreal, they may have to do so in MLS. Stumbling blocks and municipal red tape have delayed the start of construction on a proposed waterfront stadium project funded by Whitecaps patron Greg Kerfoot, but as Major League Soccer becomes an increasingly viable proposition, you have to feel that the opposing parties’ position will be gradually weakened.

That’s not to say that either Montreal or Vancouver bear a divine right to Major League Soccer — the patient, well-reasoned expansion process brought forth by commissioner Don Garber and the league in recent times won’t allow any side, Canadian or otherwise, to jump into the pool without an established framework for long-term success.

Spurred on by memories of the NASL and the contraction of both Florida MLS franchises in 2002, the league’s brass are reluctant to so much as publicly speak out on behalf of either Montreal or Vancouver’s expansion bids, at least until more research has been done.

The signs are good that the league’s cautionary measures, however justified, will eventually be outweighed by the benefits of top-level soccer on both Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Whether or not they are included in the next few rounds of expansion, however, could determine whether the wait is a matter of years or decades.

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