Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Day MLS Turned The Corner Is Finally Here

I'm really excited for MLS today. Not just for the MLS Cup match, though that is going to be brilliant, but for MLS in general.

The owners finally put the Beckham Rule on the books at the league meeting yesterday. I saw finally because Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, and a few others have fallen under the Beckham Rule for quite some time. Or the unwritten one. The official one says the league will pick up $400,000 of a superstar's salary while the team can pick up as much in addition as they want to.

So if Chicago Fire wanted to sign Juan Riquelme (okay, maybe that's just my dream), that's now entirely legal. Though why they would sign an Argentinian as that wouldn't help gates that much, I don't know. I just couldn't think of an exciting Mexican offensive minded player since Jared Borgetti now in the hinterlands might not even need the Beckham Rule.

And the better part of the new rule is that teams can trade away their Beckham Exemption to another team for domestic or smaller international players. So a team like Red Bull New York could, in theory, buy two international superstars.

Heh. Maybe they should call it the Bruce Arena exemption since he was the one who pushed for the Red Bulls to be able to operate in that way. :)

They also passed the Youth Development rule which lets teams sign players out of their own youth system instead of exposing them to the draft.

And I've heard rumors of single table for next year.

MLS is become a real league. A really, real league. Not made of wood anymore.

Now if only single entity would go away. I guess it's baby steps.

But I'm also excited about the game today.

This is the game that should have happened last year when Houston was San Jose. These were the best two teams in 2005 and they're still among the top four so it should be an even matchup.

Of course I want New England to win because Clint Dempsey and Sharlie Joseph are going to be playing in England after a two month respite and they should have had a ring from last year. Then again, Dwayne DeRosario won't be playing in the United States either, but rumors are he'll be playing in Canada and not in Europe.

Even if he's good enough to cross over the seas.

Though I don't know how those transfer rumors about DeRo can possibly be true. There is no way that Houston will leave DeRosario open to the expansion draft (which is coming up in a week).

Maybe Toronto FC will use their Beckham exemption to lure him away. :)

Speaking of silly moves, it appears as though Manchester United is about to give Freddy Adu his long awaited European trial.

On a related story, Boston mayor Thomas Menino has offered Houston mayor Bill White 10 Boston cream pies if Houston wins.

I am a bit jealous of New England Revolution since they have a mayor in their major municipality who really seems to care about them. He even wants to build them a stadium downtown. Combine that with Bill Kraft (who is probably down in Dallas today as opposed to Foxboro since the Jets don't offer nearly as much competition) and they might benefit from the Beckham Rule more than anyone but Los Angeles Galaxy and Red Bull New York.

I'm pretty worried about what the Fire are going to do with theirs.

Though there are some good players on the Polish national team playing in Scotland and Germany right now who would be good candidates. Or maybe Robbie Keane. He's not that happy right now. Maybe that would get Mayor Daley interested.

Or maybe that's a pipe dream.

It's more likely that Chicago hosting the MLS Cup would, though hosting the All-Star Match didn't seem to do much for that.

So who's my money on in the end? I think Houston is going to win and they are the longer shot but this is the sort of game where pride is important to me. So I think I'll put money on the Revs depending on how my NFL bets go.

They can't let me down yet again, can they?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just Plain Bitter About One Thing

I can't wait to watch Fox Football Fone-In tonight to hear how Nick and Steven try to knock Fulham after they beat Charlton Athletic this afternoon.

Sure they'll say that they they'll lose to Aston Villa this weekend and they definitely will and they'll say that Charlton is in last (and they are) but I'm sure that they were picking the Addicks to beat Fulham today.

And they were wrong yet again.

In fact the only time the two Cottager hating asshats have been right was when Fulham were playing Manchester United and Chelsea. And I'm sure that Nick will not mention that Fulham has lost less times than Liverpool.

Though, no I'm not getting really bitter about the fact that Fulham, despite starting out mid-table, are not getting any respect at all. In fact, I'm so not bitter that I can even feel empathy for Chelsea.

Not that I don't feel awful for Petr Cech since a potentially career ending (and almost life threatening) injury is something that transcends sports. But I also feel bad for Carlo Cudicini who is going to be fine.

I almost didn't feel a bit sick to my stomach when I read that Sam Allardyce is willing to loan Chelsea one of Bolton's backup goalies.

Now, were it a club with financial issues who didn't have players on top of players on top of players, I would be plauditing Bolton. It's not like Chelsea doesn't have a healthy goalie in the system. Their third goalie Hilario is perfectly fine and I'm sure they've got a fourth, fifth, and sixth goalie in their reserves who could probably start for most teams.

Cudicini is going to be back before the January transfer window so Chelsea can wait like most other teams would have to do to get a Premiership quality starter.

Alright, maybe I am a bit bitter.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Distracted From Footcer By Footcer

So this time I actually have an excuse for not posting. I was in New York City last weekend and then I've spent the rest of the week trying to catch up. So I didn't catch much of the footcer. Though today I went into work trying to make up some of what needed to be done while I was in Red Bull territory and listened to some of the matches. Oh how I missed you footcer!

Though the one most interesting thing that happened today I didn't get to see or hear first hand. Joey Barton of Manchester City, who had been getting harrassed all game by the Everton fans, at the end of the match went right in front of a group of their supporters and mooned them.

Well just like the last incident involving a Manchester City player (though this is much more humorous than that one which involved serious injury), an irate set of fans from the opposing team called the police.

Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce got called down to a police station in Liverpool for questioning on the behavior of his player and everything.

What I wonder is how he kept a straight face through the whole thing.

I bet you that he didn't. Because, despite his "psycho" persona, even the hardest of hard asses couldn't help but break down when police would ask them, "how do you feel about your player showing his hindquarters to a group of opposing fans?"

Listening to 606, the opinion of the callers was pretty much to make light of it. One e-mailer stated, "I think the punishment should fit the crime. He should be sent to his room, not be able to watch television for a week, and not get his tea."

But there were honestly people screaming that the behavior would encourage youths all over the United Kingdom, nay the world, to start mooning people in school because a footcerler did it.

Nice to know it's not just the United States that likes to freak out over the slightest bit of man ass.

And besides, who amongst us hasn't wanted to moon an Everton fan at some point in our lives?

Let he who is without a little Joey Barton desire in them cast the first stone?

I shouldn't say I was totally away from footcer as on Wednesday, there was a great event that I attended...

another score that will live in our chants forever

I can't even believe the Fire are honest to goodness now the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Champions!

It feels like it's not even real it's so wonderful. The first silverware since 2003 and a run I saw every step of the way making it even sweeter. Well that's a lie since I missed the match against Kansas City in the 3rd round because I didn't think this Fire team had it in them to make a run.

Now they're the best team going in MLS right now for the last two month and have a trophy to show for it. Hades, if they keep on clicking on all cylanders they could have two trophies in just a tiny bit of time.

Now I wasn't present for as much as that one. But if the playoff run (which would, in theory be only one game at Toyota Park unless D.C. United bites it against the 4th place team to be named later) is anything like the U.S. Open Cup run, it will be worth it.

The only thing was, I got there so late I missed the first two goals. But my bit of superstition of showing up late, driving there, and listening to cheesy radio stations on the way worked like a charm.

Congratulations to the Chicago Fire - now if only the stupid Chicago media weren't too busy mourning the Fluke Sox and had covered it. ;)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Footcer Is Not For Suckers

I went into work today and it went pretty well. I don't know if it's good or bad that I got more accomplished in five hours today than the last 21. I still have to go in tomorrow at some point for another two hours or so (the hours I missed by sleeping through my alarm on Monday). I think it will be during the Fulham match.

What kind of half-ass fan am I that I thought it was today? I even wore my Fulham jersey to work.

Anyhow, not that it wasn't fun listening to Reading demolish Sheffield United (and of course listening to the Preston North End match so I don't feel guilty about still subscribing to their service even though I used it to listen to Reading all last year) but it's just not the same.

Though it's a bit better than the news coming out of the homefront vis-a-vis footcer.

I heard something on Gol TV's news program (right before my cable decided it no longer liked the channel, a glitch that's happened until tonight where the video still comes in but the audio) that made my heart stop...

The newest rumor is that the United States may hire Sven Goran-Erikson as their next head footcer coach!

I had to scratch my ears on that one.

It was like all of the ribbing that the program had taken from pundits all around the world had come home to roost. There is no way that the United States can make the same mistake that England did, is there?

Wait, I think that's what we usually do in world affairs and such but we're talking footcer here. :)

Sven is about the worst coach the United States could sign because if there's any coach that let players completely control the team, it was Sven. If there was any coach who compounded roster blunders with tactical ones, it was Sven. Maybe if the United States wanted to adopt the flawed paradigm of the late Bruce Arena regime, Sven is perfect.

Ha! Never thought I'd put those three words in the same sentence.

Though I can say one good thing about if Sven is hired. He'd keep soccer on the front pages of the papers - though not for soccer. Hide the secretaries!

Now, there was better news on American Soccer's repeat after the story ran, that Sunil Gulati flew down to Argentina to interview Jose Peckerman. Now that's a possibility.

Though I personally still want Steve Nicol.

The whole thing seems to be just a way to leverage Juergen Klinnsman. Though from what I heard it wasn't that the German didn't want to coach the United States, just that he didn't want to coach the United States for what U.S. Soccer was willing to pay him. There was about a $1.4 million dollar descrepency.

Just pony up the cash, please.

Consider it an investment in a good team that will up the value of footcer in the United States and pay way more that that in dividends!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sometimes You Eat The Barcodes And Sometimes The Barcodes Eat You

Now that's more like it for Fulham. Instead of waiting until the second to last away game of the season to get a win, they only had to play until the second. With a 2-1 win over Newcastle United (the same away score of the Chicago Fire), Fulham has 7 points in 4 matches and find themselves in 7th. Who would have thought they be ahead of their opponents when they went to White Hart Lane for the London derby against Tottenham.

Did you hear that, Fulham ahead of Tottenham? Don't know how long I'll get to say that. :)

I think it's time for the Cottagers to inflict some more pair on the north Londoners while they're down. It probably won't happen since Jimmy "Who The Fuck Is Steed Malbranque" Bullard went down during the match. He's out until some time in October. Except for, you know, Chelsea this next part of the schedule looks winnable without him (away at Watford, home with Charlton, away at Aston Villa - that's probably a loss, and home with Wigan).

I know I'm getting way too excited about this but it's not often that I get to wear my Fulham jersey with pride. Especially in the United States after both footcer Yanks on the roster scored goals. I mean, it's not that odd to hear "Brian McBride with the tying goal" but it's absolutely crazy to hear, "Carlos Bocanegra with the winner."

The only thing that would have been better is if Chelsea had ended up losing to Charlton.

Speaking of Yanks, if you only watch one match this year, it should be the Monday night (well afternoon in the states) match between Manchester City and Reading. There probably won't be four footcer Yanks on the pitch simultaneously since DaMarcus Beasley is doubtful with an injury but it will be Reyna against Convey. That is, the once Captain America versus the future Captain America.

It's too bad that Beasley won't play because how many times do you get to see the two main contenders for the left wing position on the United States national teams go head to head besides in practice scrimmages?

But who needs Monday when tomorrow's got some exciting games in La Liga?

Oh wait, they're not that good and tomorrow is the opening day of pointyball. Choosing is going to be really difficult.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Footcer Red, Footcer Blue, It's All Good

It's a good day today as far as footcer goes so everyone join me in the greatest chant ever in Major League Soccer...


We're going to the U.S. Open Cup finals, baby!


After the bit of uncomfortableness that was the quarterfinal match between my two favorite teams, this U.S. Open Cup run could not have been scripted better. Now that D.C. United is dispatched, the final opponents...ONLY THE GALAXITIVES!

The hated, hated L.A. Galaxy.

So the Fire polished off Freddy Adu (who now, apparently, wants to be introduced as Fred since he's the second coming of the Grown Ass Man) and now who's the opposition standing between the Men In Red and the cup - LANDON DONOVAN!

For the team of no names to go through two of the biggest names in the league (not even to mention DempseyJosephTwellman) to life the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in three years couldn't even be scripted.

Of course L.A.'s got their own script (which is fitting since it is L.A.) as they're going for a repeat. But, who cares, our story's better! :)

And here's a bonus entry with my reflections on the transfer deadline (originally on LiveJournal last Friday). It's been one of those weeks. :)

I you're still looking for an EPL team to follow, I think I have a recommendation for you...Manchester City.

There's one really good reason...


This is great! He's going to take up the spot currently "held" by Trevor Sinclair, about six years past his prime, and give Manchester City a needed boost of speed down the left. There hasn't actually been a really speedy player at Manchester City since Shaun Wright-Phillips left.

Now Beasley, besides simularity in appearance and stature is no Shaun Wright-Phillips. But, you know there aren't many SWPs in the world. Beasley should give Manchester City new attacking options besides Joey Barton (and Darius Vassell and Giorgio Samaras when they decide to show up).

Meanwhile Andy Cole will be playing for Pompey. Curses to Pompey! If they're not getting Manchester City players involved in police investigations, they're stealing them!

It's not just excitement about another Yank footcerler playing in the EPL, this is excitement about my favorite U.S. international joining my second favorite Premiership team. Now of course this is the transfer that matters to me most but it was a fascinating international transfer window closing day - though aren't they all.

The only thing that would have made it more interesting would have been a big-time MLS transfer. But that's asking way too much given the current situation.

Other notes:

  • What is up with the Everton to Wigan train? I don't mean the real one that probably exists between Liverpool's blue end and the city of the pier, but the player one. It's getting a little bit ridiculous when Kevin Kilbane hops it. It's a sideways transfer.

  • Spaking of Wigan, Pascal "The Answer To Everything" Chimbonda transferred out of there to Tottenham. Spurs have to stop making these good moves! They also got Steed, who apparently wanted them to get if no one else. In money plus player, Fulham got Wayne Routledge on loan (with a relatively reasonable buyout clause). The move means that a certain Canadian international has probably seen his last significant time in the EPL. It will be good to see Tomasz Radzinski finishing out his career as FC Toronto's captain. I won't even boo him that hard when they play Chicago Fire.

  • Speaking of CONCACAF, Dwight Yorke decided the A-League isn't even as good as MLS and was bought up by Sunderland for 200,000 pounds. He would have been better off sticking in the Australian league.

  • Middlesbrough ended up getting their man in Robert Huth. He was the major competition for their affections with Oguchi Onyewu. Huth went for 6 million. If that kind of money were offered for Gooch, Standard Liege would have told him that it had been fun, but that it was over.

  • But, of course, there's only one transfer that really mattered - CARLOS TEVEZ TO WEST HAM. Now I know you're saying "what the fuck?" if you know about footcer. Basically this guy is among the top five prospects in the entire world (if not the #1) and he was pretty unhappy playing in the Brazilian league. All of these Champions League caliber teams were begging his current team Corinthians to sell him. And who gets him? A UEFA Cup team - and that was by default. Apparently they're about to be bought by a sugar daddy who can pay for the Argentine. Still, it's possibly the most shocking transfer since Beasley to PSV mid-season in the middle of a playoff hunt. Well that's all corrected now. :)
  • Sunday, August 27, 2006

    I Was Still Distracted By The Chelsea Loss

    Tonight there's a rarity...a Footcer Socblog post on the same day I post it in LiveJournal. :)


    I just finished watching "High Tension" and the last half hour or so reminded me that NANOWRIMO is a bit over two months away. How that movie saw the light of day with an shoddy tying together of all the events, I will never know. But, the name doesn't lie. I was frozen to my seat the entire time I was watching it.

    That movie was the equivalent of if Arsenal had been given a penalty kick in the 86th minute and had tied Manchester City this weekend.

    It was that shitty an ending - sorry, I can't mince words about it.

    But in reality, I am on cloud nine after this weekend's EPL action since Fulham and Manchester City both got big home wins. Of course Fulham's isn't as big an accomplishment. Sheffield United is pretty far from Arsenal (even though, shockingly, they're tied in the standings) but if the pundits are to be believed, that was a six pointer.

    Well I haven't said it yet this year but now I will (for the third year running)...


    See, again this year they've done what they do every year. Every year they lose a key player and every year a new player emerges to take their place and lead Fulham to their version of the promised land - mid-table. :)

    I'm sure I said this earlier but it bears repeating - Jimmy Bullard is the best signing Fulham has made in ages!

    Or, to put it the way that I did on the Fulham FC account on my space...

    Who the f*ck is Steed Malbranque? Did I not say Bullard was the best signing ever back in the spring? Though the whole Pascal Chimbonda is the answer thing. I can back off that one. ;)

    Pascal Chimbonda is not the answer as evident by the fact that he's Wigan's Steed Malbranque (or William Gallas).

    Come to think of it, the problem seems to be widespread among the French national team pool. Steed must be trying to get on the team by acting like one of the starters. Though a French speaker - Samuel Kuffour - may actually be the answer. Fulham are rumored to be competing with Espanol and Borussia Monchengladbach for the Ghanian's signature.

    The question is, will Brian McBride be able to play on the same team as a Ghanian? Actually I think the answer is yes since McBride would play with pretty much anyone despite water under the bridge.

    Now Fulham just have to keep Luis Boa Morte for three more days until the deadline and everything will be alright. Fulham's always able to replace one of their big stars but two may be asking too much.

    Me, I just rode Jimmy Bullard to 30.50 fantasy points on Yahoo. Kind of like I did for most of last season. He may just Fulham his way onto the England team if he keeps that up (much like Wayne Bridge did).

    Speaking of predictions, I have come to believe that Newcastle United is cursed. Obafemi Martins, who midweek was given a standing ovation at St. James Park for just showing up for the Barcode's UEFA Cup match was taken off from his EPL debut on a stretcher.

    So now Newcastle is left right back where they started - looking for a second striker before the transfer deadline.

    Hey, I bet Eddie Johnson's available.

    No, I shouldn't even say that since there's still hope that he could figure in the next World Cup and a career ending injury wouldn't be very good to wish on him.

    Though reports state that he should be back after the international break against, you guessed it, Fulham.

    Finally, one last footcer note about the northeast of England. In what could prove to be the funniest story of the round, Middlesbrough had two of their backup goalkeepers sent off withing two minutes of each other.

    For those keeping track, Middlesbrough plays the Monday night match against Pompey tomorrow.

    The miracle of not playing and yet having two players get red carded comes from loan deals. The goalkeepers of both Sheffield Wednesday and Oldham Athletic are on 'Boro's books and were both sent off.


    And a "bonus" - Thursday's entry:

    So my little world just got turned upsidown. First the world astronomy body decides that Pluto isn't a planet and now I find out that New England Revolution is now considered Chicago Fire's biggest rivals.

    I guess this change has been in the offing for some time (at least since last year's Eastern Conference Finals and the Sharlie Joseph incident) but I never expected it to reach fruition.

    Well now I'm just split. I guess I have to side with the Fire since I live here in Chicago and not Boston. *sigh*

    But at least there's one thing that both team's sets of fans agree on...

    I really hope the Fire absolutely demolish D.C. United in the U.S. Open semi-finals to take away their treble opportunity!

    And I will certainly be at Toyota Park on September 6 since I forgot how much fun the U.S. Open Cup was. I forgot because I can't remember if the Fire even played a home match in it last year. This year they were rewarded the semi-finals. What a difference having your own stadium will do.

    I especially loved the fact since only 5,000 showed up and it was general admission that you could choose your own seats.

    I chose to sit near the corner since I could sit in the second row and, in theory, get lots of pictures (of course, knowing full well that my camera hates night photography). Though I made the mistake of not buying more batteries, which made my camera even more crappy, and this was the best picture I got:

    While it wasn't the best picture I've ever taken, it was a meaningful one since it was Calen Carr in the penalty area after drawing the penalty that turned out to be the game winner when Andy Herron knocked it home.

    Overall, I think it was some of the grittiest performance by the Fire all season. In the first half, New England was running roughshod over them but the Fire got a goal against the run of play to take a 1-0 lead. However, Clint Dempsey and Taylor Twellman decided to put on a 1-2 show (as they tend to do on occasion) and I think only a few huge defensive clearances stopped Twellman from scoring a first half hat trick with his head.

    As it was, Chicago witnessed what may have been Taylor Twellman's last goal in U.S. Open competition on a corner kick to knot it up at 1-1. Since Taylor has joined the "I hate MLS and they can suck my contract" club along with Dempsey (rumor has it that Twellman got into a verbal war with Steve Nicol before the match), chances are he's going to be either plying his trade in the Colaship or with a lower half Premiership team come the January transfer window.

    Or if not, he'll be in Denmark. But he isn't going to be playing in the United States any longer (except for the national team).

    Same goes for Clint Dempsey. It was so frustrating seeing him playing for New England. I almost shouted to the strangers next to me, "he should have been playing Manchester United [with Charlton Athletic who offered him a contract] this afternoon not the Chicago Fire tonight."

    And probably Sharlie Joseph as well. Though he's said he wants to become a United States citizen so he's going nowhere until that happens. But with the Revolution dismantling itself, he's not going to be around there much longer.

    Irony would be if he ended up with the Fire. Though that's not going to happen.

    In short, it was nice to see the final game the current Revolution "could have been a dynasty if they bothered playing a whole season played" in the U.S. Open Cup. :(

    Oh, but on a bright note - CALEN CARR!

    Holy sweet man jimminy! That man child flat out was the best player on the pitch for good portions of the match yesterday (which is saying something since New England started pretty much the entire United States B-Team). He was absolutely everywhere on the pitch at all times including pretty much taking the game into his own hands when it was knotted at ones and outbattling everyone.

    That and at the end of the first half, he went crashing into the Revolution's goalie, did a nearly double flip and landed on his back. It was really, really, really, scary but he was obviously fine to continue. Maybe it knocked something right in his game. :)

    Though with all my thoughts centered on the chilling reality of the end of the Revolution, my only thought was, "oh great, if he plays like this all of next season the Fire are going to lose another player to Europe."

    Oh, but there was such beautiful footcer news yesterday on the other side of the pond that no matter what happened in the U.S. Open Cup, I was going to be happy.


    I mean, I'm not Middlesbrough fan but I think they deserve to be put up on a pedestal for beating "the champions" (well it's a fact but I hate when they're called that) two years running. Even Manchester United hasn't done that (at least in regular competition).

    This remedied a horrible situation which I like to call my personal table hades. That is the top three being:

    1. Manchester United
    2. Chelsea
    3. Portsmouth
    19. Manchester City
    20. Fulham

    Thank goodness it was the first week of the season and not the last that had the three teams I hate the most at the top of the table and my two teams propping the rest of the table up.

    Manchester City did a good job of controlling their own destiny by tying said Pompey 0-0.

    But of course Portsmouth had to take some joy out of it by calling in a complaint against City defender Ben Thatcher for a mugging he had on Pedro Mendes during the match (I was listening to Fulham/Bolton so I didn't hear it live). Now, sure, he probably deserves a suspension but calling the police?

    This just makes me hate Portsmouth all the more.

    Oh, and Bolton can suck it. Bunch of time wasting, bad penalty getting asshats. Well, I guess a draw's a draw. Thank goodness for makeup calls. ;)

    Speaking of hatred and Chelsea, I'm now a temporary fan of Werder Bremen as they can be the upstarts who keep Chelsea out of the knockout phases of the Champions League.

    Chelsea drew Barcelona in their group which is just a thing of beauty. I would just love it if they went out in the group phase. Let them compete in the UEFA Cup and win the thing. It would still be so wonderful for them to have gone out and spent even more money only to have a lesser result in the Champions League.

    Other Champions League thoughts:

  • Manchester United got the easiest draw imaginable. Celtic, Benfica, and FC Copenhagen. Is that a UEFA Cup grouping?

  • Alright, to be fair it's not as easy as AC Milan (you know, the team that shouldn't even be there) with Lille, AEK Athens, and Anderlecht.

  • Meanwhile, PSV actually got a bit of a favor this year as they got Bordeaux and Galatasaray along with Liverpool. They didn't draw AC Milan again which is always nice.

  • Valencia better hope their new signings come through quickly or it's going to be a short (if four months is short) Champions League for them. They are in a tough group with Roma, Olympiakos, and Shakhtar Donetsk.

  • No group, however, is as tough as Group B with Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Sporting Lisbon, and Spartak Moscow. Though you couldn't pay me to sit through any of those matches. Final average goals for: 8, final average goals against: 8. And that's for all four teams.

    Meanwhile, my fantasy strategy would have worked fine, had I kept it. But, no, I had to diversify and it ended up costing me a shit ton of points. Oh well, at least it's game week #1 and not game week #38.