I hope some lessons were learned

After Wednesday’s Pan Pacific matches in Hawaii, every report and commentary, weather traditional media or blogger, wrote off LA and were ready to give Houston the title.  I can’t wait to see what they are writing today.

You can’t judge a team my only one match.  Comparing the over all results, LA were the second best team on the islands…they only lost by one goal to Osaka while Houston were stuffed 6-1!!!  Of course, there’s a long way to go this season.  Who knows what the heck is gonna happen.

Bottom line for me is that Becks on the right is head and shoulders better than any other player in the league.  Those kids in the middle spent the two recent matches figuring out how to get on the end of those crosses and put them away.  The one kid (got the second goal) isn’t every going to forget how sweetly that strike came off his foot.

Like I Twitted (I think that’s the correct word…see the widget on the right) the other night, I’m not worried about Wednesdays performance.  It was the first preseason game.  Look how much improvement there was in just a couple of days.

I can’t wait for the season to start…and for LA to be at full strength.  LA will be better this season…I’m just not gonna predict how much better. 🙂

Too bad the matches couldn’t attract more fans.

Twitter

I’ve never considered myself a writer and as I don’t get paid I can’t really go on strike.  Live is just crazy these days so I’m not able to blog as many thoughts as I’d like….or at least write the long rambles about things I used to post.  I’m still around and I’ll still blog from time-to-time just not as much.  However, one thing I’ve found which allows me to share some opinion is Twitter.  I’ve not got my Twitter feed linked on the right.  Lemme know what you think.

MLS Schedule mess

Empty StadiumMLS finally released their schedule for the 2008 season this week. Only a few weeks before the season starts. We keep hearing talk from the league chiefs about all their scheduling headaches and why they still have to play matches on FIFA International Dates. So, we fans get screwed and offered an inferior produce those matches. God forbid that ever happen in the UK. I know I, and most other MLS fans, have been voicing their concerns about this for years. Now, it’s nice to see media types take up the call this year.

I know MLS keeps claiming that it’s tough to schedule stadiums. Maybe it’s me but weren’t we told that wouldn’t be a problem when teams started getting their own stadiums…guess that’s changed now.

MLS plays a 30 game season plus a couple Open Cup matches, Champs Cup and some ‘invented’ competitions.

EPL clubs play a 38 game season plus a much larger FA Cup and League Cup competition. Add in Euro matches and you have a much busier schedule. But of course, they have their own stadiums.

Personally, I don’t buy the leagues arguement. It all use to sound good but I’m sure theres more to this which they aren’t telling us. After all, close to half the teams now have their own stadium but the problem hasn’t imporved at all. In fact, from my point of view the problem hasn’t improved at all. However, they were able to adjust create a schedule for LA last season which got LA to ever MLS team after he arrived. Shows where their priorities are.

This bothers me. We all know MLS isn’t the EPL, La Liga or Serie A. We know that we MLS fans aren’t getting the best league in the world. However, to knowingly offer matches as part of season tickets which everyone knows before had won’t include the best players doesn’t help that fact.

My honest feeling is that the only way to end matches on FIFA Dates is for fans to force the action. I don’t know how feasible a fan action is but that’s what we need to do. However, for the league to change, fans need to hit them where in counts, in the pocket. I wonder how possible it would be for MLS fans to stage a strike? Would enough be willing to not use tickets for a specific FIFA Date match? Would enough be willing to not watch the ESPN2, FSC or local broadcasts of match on that weekend? Can we do it? Should we do it? If we can, will MLS/SUM/ESPN/FSC notice?

The sky is falling

I love the British ‘Chicken Little’ syndrome.  I mean, everything that is a change may as well be the start of Armageddon.  I read the news this morning about the EPL looking to play games overseas with a bit of a smirk on my face.  I already knew what my friends in the UK were thinking.  It wasn’t long before I got emails and messages on Facebook about how awful this is, how it’s the beginning of the end.  How the Yanks are ruining the sport (well, the NFL did play a regular season game at Wembley last Fall).

So, with so many upset British friends on both sides of the pond, what does this Yank do?  I wind them up of course.  I point out how great it would be to see Ipswich play in Chicago (heck, I’d fly to NY or LA or where ever over here to see them) once they get promoted.  Of course, their take was, I was missing the whole point.  How this would ruin a perfectly good league (yeah, I’m not sure how perfect a league where only 3 or 4 out of 20 have a chance to win is either) by creating a circus environment.  I paraphrased there but you get the gist.

Of course, it would be all about the money.  Playing meaningless preseason matches in Japan or Dubai or LA just isn’t getting as much interest from fans because, well, would you pay $50+ to see only a handful of the star players?  Having a meaningful, competitive match would force the teams to play their best XI and the fans would get value for their dollar, yen etc.

What surprised me was how they would work this.  They’d add another game to the season and everyone would play one extra match in some faroff land.  So far, so good.  However, the top 5 would get seeded and not have to play each other.  Where’s the fun in that?  Seriously, you could fill any stadium in the world several times and massive prices if you had Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool or Chelsea play each other.   However, the report basically ruled that possibility out?

Here’s my idea on how to make this work.  At the end of 18 matches (mid-way point in the season) group the teams by position in the table.  Have the top six, middle eight and bottom six clubs in different pots.  Draw who plays who.  That way you’d have 10 meaningful, competitive matches:  how excited would you be to see Arsenal beat up on Reading?  There would be 3 clashes of top teams, 3 relegation battles and then four matches of teams either trying to make the UEFA Cup or avoiding a slip into danger.  Give the fans in the rest of the world some real value for their money.

Of course, the reason I had the smirk on my face reading the article was that I don’t think they are even close to making this happen.  I think the information was fed to the media simply as a ‘trial balloon’ to gage fan reaction.  Based on what I’ve read from the Chicken Little’s in the UK, they aren’t too keen on the idea.  I haven’t read much from fans like me no longer in the UK.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens…but I’m not gonna hold my breath waiting for the official announcement.

BTW, all my friends fell for my wind up.  I guess I’ll be buying all my own drinks next time I’m in the UK…but it was worth it.

Kissing your latino cousin–or something like that

Mexican fanI always love a US/Mexico game. Bottom line, nobody wants to lose this one. It’s too bad there was a lot more passion in the match than actually ability as a team…for both sides. I sat there for most of the match thinking, who is this US side? Mexico is finally learning how to play against us. Landon and Dempsey were both non-factors. I could probably count on my fingers the number of touches they had. Only one player really impressed me, Tim Howard. Though when he wasn’t stopping the numerous shots the Mexican forwards were pelting him with, he was busying yelling at his backline who, well, they really didn’t seem to have any shape or know what they were doing as a group. Honestly, outside of Howard I don’t think anyone (except maybe Altidore when he scored) could feel good about their performance last night.

I actually called the result, sorta. I’m not really bragging, but it was in the cards.

Ok, moral victories are nice. Let the Mexicans have it. Honestly, there didn’t play that much better than the US, but they did play a better match and controlled most of it. Then again, they usually do but instead of the usual puzzle routine (coming to pieces in the box) they actually managed to finish a couple last night.

One thing which wasn’t bad was the ESPN coverage. Sure, the video production could use some work. Sorry, but I hate all the tight shots of players. I’d much rather see the entire game, players making runs etc, and save the closeups for the replays. However, having a pre and post show. Comments, analysis and interviews was nice. The only thing missing was someone with honest opinions.

I guess there’s only one thing left to ask, is the MLS schedule out yet?

UPDATE 2/8/08:  What the hell is wrong with people?

Yawn

New US Shirt Just once could US Soccer/Nike come up with an interesting shirt?  Seriously, this is pretty dull.

Another new league…sorta

WooHoo!!! The long anticipated CONCACAF Champions League has finally been announced.

I won’t bore  you with the details cuz it’s blogged and published everywhere else.

concacafchampionsleague.jpgHonestly, I’m not sure if I’m excited or not about this. Yeah, it’s another opportunity for MLS Clubs to show how competitive they are. Yes, another. Is the SuperLiga still part of the mix? Houston and NE still have the Champions Cup (the old version to play this Spring as well. Another question, which two MLS Clubs get the other two spots? It should be Chivas and DC….but will LA somehow slid into the mix? Will Toronto get a back door in every year?

Why am I so negative? Which Mexican Clubs participate? Will the best two still go to the Copa Libratadoras? Or will this be a second (third?) International Competition for them.

I do like the idea of dumping the rest of the competitions and making this the premier competition for our region, but until my questions are answered, it won’t be. We keep hearing comments about fixture congestion yet we continue to see more matches…though I will say that at least this isn’t some “made to make money” meaningless friendly against some big Euro Club.
Also, what about TV coverage? Will we even get to see the games? I’m thinking this is yet another idea from the CONCACAF Brain-trust which hasn’t been completely thought through.