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I’m still unpacking

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted regularly. However, the last couple of weeks I’ve found some time to do some blog work…I just haven’t been posting here. I’ve gone and bought a domain and I’ve put together my own site…using WordPress of course.

However, while moving, I’ve decided to expand, or rather incorporate some of my other interests in the blog. So, if you do check it out, you’ve been warned, it’s not soccercentric…though there will be plenty of my familiar rants and ramblings I’m sure.

So, go ahead and check it out. EricPZ.com. Let me know what you think.

It’s still not 100% set up the way I want…but it’s getting there.  I’m still unpacking but living in the new neighborhood will be good.

Ms Killion, you are so predictable

My favorite humor writer in NoCal does it again. I had to laugh when I read this.

But in retrospect, it all seems like a setup. The reward for the Earthquakes’ outstanding season was an opening game at Los Angeles. They were playing an absurd format that sent the best team on the road to start. The Galaxy, of course, is the pet team of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owners that want to get rid of the Earthquakes.

And the Earthquakes were playing against their former star teammate, Landon Donovan.

“Landon knows how to rise to the occasion,” Kinnear said.

And Donovan rose — with two goals in the first leg, then doing just enough Saturday night, with an assist for the only goal the Galaxy needed to seal its series victory.

One can almost imagine the AEG executives laughing maniacally as they watched. Their evil plan had worked to perfection!

But no matter what AEG wants — and, apparently, it wants to dump the Earthquakes in some soccer outpost — league officials watching the game had to see the value of the San Jose Earthquakes.

I wanted to post her entire ed/op piece…but figured that section alone was plenty…but go ahead and read the whole thing…it’s funny.

Now, the “chip on the shoulder”–“ugly red-headed step-child” act is getting a bit old. Fact is, AEG are a business and they are in business for one purpose, to make money. Fans in NoCal may think LA get favorable treatment, but it comes at a price…a hefty one every time a Galaxy fans enters the HDC and decided to buy a beer, or a dog…or anything for that matter. It costs some serious coin to be a Galaxy fan.

In addition, yeah your boy Landon is a sore subject…and will probably continue to me. Thing is, he had to earn the respect he now receives from Galaxy fans. If you had done a poll of Galaxy fans this time last year, at best they would have said they’d take him on the team…but with reservations. Honestly though, even though Landon did score a couple goals in the first leg, he didn’t win the series single-handedly. I’d say Pablo Nagamura was much more an MVP the way he shut down San Jose’s new poster boy, Dwayne DeRosario. On top of that, key players like Cobi Jones, Kevin Hartman, Tyrone Marshall and Peter Vaganes were in Galaxy colors long before AEG bought the team. So, that argument doesn’t really hold water anyway.

Fact is, and I said this yesterday, one team did what it had to move on in the playoffs, yours didn’t. Now, that’s two competitions LA knocked San Jose out of this year. Where were your excuses when LA moved on in the Open Cup after winning at Spartan?

As for the “absurd format” of the playoffs? I don’t recall many complaints about it in past seasons when the blue boys lifted the Cup. I didn’t seem many complaints about the playoff format then. The playoffs do seem to be getting quite a bit of negative media right now. I’ve always thought it would be best if MLS had a home and home best goal series to decided the Champion, but I won’t go into why that’ll never happen right now.

I’d thought about doing some research to see how the playoffs have performed over the years…but I’m too lazy. Thankfully, Scaryice did it for me.

Over three years, 8 of 12 favorites have advanced in the quarterfinals under the aggregate system. How is that “making a mockery” of the regular season? You can’t just look at this year’s results. I don’t know how deeply you analyze the stats, but I have some numbers for you. Looking at all previous MLS playoff matchups, the higher seeds advanced the following percentage of times:

Best 2/3: 71% (17 of 24)
First to 5: 72% (13 of 18)
Aggregate: 67% (8 of 12)
Single game: 62% (8 of 13)

It’s virtually the same. The higher seeded teams are not at a disadvantage. It’s true that they don’t have quite the advantage they did under the previous systems, but the tradeoff in knowing the playoff dates for scheduling/tv purposes is worth it (or you’d be seeing lower attendances).

Thanks Scaryice. You proved what I believed to be true all along. What you do in the regular season does give a bit of help in the playoffs, but you still need to show up on the day of the playoffs if you are going to succeed.

Funny thing, no one complained about the playoff format 2 years ago when LA blew a 4-0 aggregate lead with 60 minutes left…I seem to recall the San Jose media were the first to hail the match the greatest MLS match ever. Boy things sure change with things don’t go your way.

To be honest, I enjoy the LA-San Jose matches. Seriously, it’s the only rivalry with a great history and the playoff matches this season have only added to that history. I hope we won’t be seeing the Houston Smurfs next season. Funny thing though, rumor has it, when Herculez Gomez when to shake Dominic Kinnear’s hand after the match on Saturday, Kinnear refused to shake his hand.

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To which, my boy Herc replied, “ok, I’ll see you in Houston next season.” The kid is more Mr. Galaxy thank Landon or Cobi these days. Sure, this adds more fuel to the fire. Of course, I can’t verify the accuracy of this whole exchange, but I wouldn’t discount it too quickly.

Anyway, on to Denver this weekend. I can’t believe I’m having trouble getting to the game at this point. We are having trouble finding a babysitter for 6-month old Little PZ. Hopefully we can work things out by Saturday so I can join the fans heading to Invesco from SoCal. I’m reading that the Rapids are trying to overturn Nkong’s Red Card. Sorry, but I can’t see any reason why they would. I saw it. Yes, it wasn’t intentional, but he did have his elbow out. He could do the same thing another 100 times and it wouldn’t have been seen, but it was this time. If you are going to go for the ball with your elbows out, it’s the risk you take.

Ok, so maybe I should look for something on the Revs-Chicago match this weekend…maybe tomorrow.

Who’d have thought the playoffs could be so fun?

Don’t stop believin’

The PA played that tune by the 80’s Bay Area Wimp Rockers at Half-time of the match Saturday night in San Jose, but it could have been more for the visitors than the home side. The Journey tune seemed to spur on the Galaxy more than the Quakes. Ya gotta love it.

Ok, I know the Smurfans will come back with comments similar to Dominic Kinnear’s

“One team wanted to play tonight, and the other team wanted to get out of here with a result,” Kinnear said Saturday night at Spartan Stadium after the Earthquakes’ 1-1 tie with the Galaxy that ended San Jose’s season.
[…]
“They [the Galaxy] just punted the ball long, they had two speedy guys [forwards Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez]. That’s the way they wanted to play. It’s effective on this field. They were trying to kill the clock, guys were faking injuries, diving.

“I’d rather be with my guys. We take it on the chin and stand there. We don’t crumble.”

You may be surprised by my comment, but he’s right. Only one team did come to play on Saturday…only one team needed to because the team who only needed to lose by 1 goal got the result they wanted last weekend. That match 2 years ago that everyone has been talking about last week probably had as much to do with Saturday’s result as anything else. San Jose were probably feeling pretty confident in their ability to come back from a two-goal deficit, yet LA players were even more egar to insure they didn’t repeat the collapse they had in that match.

No, the playoff format isn’t fair, but those are the cards you are dealt. San Jose allowed themselves to get too far behind in the first leg…it’s that simple. And LA fans are loving the revenge.

How nice of “Fish” Ruiz to miss that penalty in extra time which allows my boys to come visit me next Saturday in Denver. I couldn’t have asked for a better matchup. Dallas still can’t kick the curse of their home record….it’s becoming as big an albatross as LA’s road record since moving to the HDC. Hopefully after that result in San Jose on Saturday, LA will now have kicked their albatross. Colorado have been getting their act together the second half of the season and are a good side…and they did the business on Saturday—did you take note San Jose?

Who says soccer can’t be played in the winter here? That was snow on the pitch Saturday night in Foxboro right? Yeah, not many showed up to the match, but look at the attendance for most of the other matchups, it wasn’t much better elsewhere. Great match though. I actually wanted the Metros to hold on, but the Revs looked sharp and deserved the victory—did you take note San Jose?

What the heck happened in DC? Did all the Adu distraction create that mess? They sure weren’t much of a team on the pitch. That was just awful…but props to Chicago for showing up to play—did you take note San Jose?

Anyway, I’m not making any predictions for the Colorado-LA match. I’m still not convinced that Steve Sampson knows what he’s doing (though he his team did knock San Jose out of both the Cup—on the road—and the playoffs). He made some strange substitutions…and I’m not sure knocking high balls into the box with Donovan and Gomez as your strikers is really a great game plan.

But knock them all you want, the playoffs gave us some entertaining football this weekend…and the one match we didn’t get (my local team) even went to penalties. MLS seems to have got what it wants. I’m still not a big fan of the playoffs, but if it means my team can come away with a double after having such an awful season.

But before you can achive, you’ve got to believe.

Pins and Needles

There should be some great matches this weekend. After last weekend’s stalemate, team are going to have to open up a bit (ok, a lot) more. Win or go home time.

Now, there’s been a lot of negative comments by the media this week about last weeks results. But feel that, for the most part, those comments are undeserved….at least with respect to the scores. The road teams (Dallas and DC) did what they had to do. Without the away goals rule, a 0-0 draw in the first leg puts them in a good situation. If the away goals rule were in effect, I’ve nothing to back this up, but I’m confident we’d have seen more goals.

The one match that did see goals had a ton of history which brought us those goals. Did anyone else notice how Herc Gomez didn’t celebrate after scoring LA’s first goal? He seemed more interested in getting on with things and bagging another. That right there told me the mind-set the team was in…and it showed in the final score. That match in San Jose a couple of years ago (and their recent road record) is fresh in the minds of the team and they wanted to make sure they were in a position to insure that doesn’t happen this year. Tonight’s match in San Jose will be classic…and it’s the reason this LA fan in on “Pins and Needles”.

I was surprised by Dallas last week. Sure, they created some chances but they really needed to do more in the first leg. Their home record since PHP opened is about as good as LA’s road record of late. That match, in particular, is a great reason why adding the away goals rule to the MLS playoffs would be an incentive for teams. Dallas has to win tonight…but so do Colorado. A draw will just bring us extra time and maybe penalties. However, if the away goals rule were in effect, I believe Dallas would have pushed forward more opening up the game and probably leading to goals…which only adds to the matchup.

So, looking at things as they stand, it looks like MLS has what they want, parity. All eight playoffs teams are still very much in with a shot of making the conference finals. So, maybe this is another situation where I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Either way, I get three of the four games on TV that I’ll be watching. Personally, my wish is for a #3 vs #4 matchup in the West next weekend so I can attend the match in Denver…but I’ll stop short of predicting it as I don’t want to jinx it.

Here’s hoping for some entertaining matches this weekend.

No Se Puede

The first time I heard the phrase “Si Se Puede” was while on vacation in Mexico during the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers. It was on an ad playing all the time right before the US headed to Mexico (watching that game in a bar only a few feet from a beach in Mexico was pretty sweet…of course, I was the only Gringo watching) Anyway, the “Si Se Puede” phrase now takes on a whole new meaning. I’m not sure it’s as accurate a title as they intended. I wonder if the movie will get ratings as poor as the performance and attendance at Chivas games in LA?

Catching up on some stuff

I hate it when I get busy and don’t have time to post everything that catches my eye…but here’s some stuff from this week.

Gazza is just a big puppy. Seriously, could his career possibly take many more turns? Now he’s going to manage non-league Kettering Town. Good luck to him.

This is some sad news, it looks like George Best is going to lose his battle with the bottle. The guy was a fantastic player but enjoyed the excesses of life as a professional athlete…let’s hope Gazza doesn’t end up the same.

Back on this side of the pond. Boy are the MLS Playoffs taking a beating in the press. Honestly, I don’t know how the league could possibly hold a playoff in any structure that would please everyone. One thing to remember though, if MLS didn’t have the current structure, we never would have had that game in San Jose a couple years ago (though I’d rather forget it if I could) Here’s hoping LA exorcize the demons of that game tomorrow.

Finally, it seems the media in Spain thing Barcelona may be buying the MetroStars. Here’s a Google translation of the piece that appeared the other day. I’m not sure if I buy it or not…but it says they’ll change the name and the team colors and use the team as a youth camp of sorts. I guess they haven’t seen how well Chivas performed this season. We’ll see how this rumor pans out.

I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses…

Perhaps the future of the sport of soccer in this country is bright after all.

Wow, I almost missed this one. Thanks Google News for catching this for me. It seems that with the declining TV ratings for MLB, NBA and–of course–NHL, MLS’s flat ratings don’t look to bad.

Buried at the bottom of Michael Hiestand’s Sports Television piece in Tuesday’s USAToday is some interesting information about televised soccer in this country. It seems that NBC, ABC and Fox are all interested in obtaining the English Language broadcast rights to both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Wow! It was just a couple of years ago that MLS and the then owners of the league had to pony up the rights fee and buy time on ESPN/ABC to get the games on the air. Next summer we are getting all games on the Disney Sports Network in Hi Def and now it looks like there’s a possible bidding war in the making.

Of course, Don Garber’s got his hand out here…

“It’s our view that FIFA will ensure that any decision they make will support overall growth in soccer interest in this country.”

In other words–as suggested by the article–Garber wants any World Cup rights tied to a deal to broadcast MLS games. Can’t say I blame him for trying. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

The future (for soccer) is so bright, I’ve got to wear shades.