Archive for February, 2010

Video: Galaxy/Wizards

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

As promised the video of the only goal from yesterday’s scrimmage between the Galaxy and Wizards here in Phoenix.

Photos: Wizards/Galaxy

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The Los Angeles Galaxy (sans Landon Donovan and David Beckham, of course) beat the Kansas City Wizards, 1-0, in a 60-minute scrimmage this afternoon at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in north Phoenix, Arizona.

I actually have video of the penalty drawn by Edson Buddle and converted by Gregg Berhalter for the only goal of the game, but it’s late and I’m tired, so I’ll try to get that up tomorrow, for what it’s worth. For now, enjoy these photos of the game, which are after the jump.

Use Your Head

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Wow. Almost 24 hours after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Soccer and its players, and still no strike or lockout. Huh. That’s odd. I was assured that first one, then the other was all but inevitable. But I went to see the Wizards and the Galaxy play a preseason scrimmage in Phoenix today, and there they were (the Gals beat Jimmy Conrad’s Wizards 1-0 in a 60-minute affair on a penalty kick).

Ives nails it here: a strike now does the players no good. Nothing is at stake for the owners right now. I would submit, though that there are other key times when they could get management’s attention, besides the late March scenario Ives lays out: after a few weeks of the season (once revenue has really started flowing), just before the All-Star Game (a marquee event for the league) or near the end of the season, when most players will have earned most of their money and the playoffs are about to begin (playoffs are not a big money-earner for the league, though they’re more lucrative than they used to be, but it would be an embarrassment for the league not to have a postseason).

I have no inside information on this. I’m just giving you an educated opinion based on how these things usually go, a little common sense and some knowledge of the workings of the league. If you want predictions or rumors, you’re going to have to go somewhere else.

But I feel pretty confident saying this: no one wants a strike. I would guess the majority of MLS players can’t afford to go too long without being paid. Owners who have sunk millions (or, in Colorado’s case, hundreds) into their clubs want to protect that investment. Fans don’t want the uncertainty of all this, and many find the business aspect of sport to be distasteful.

Sometimes you have to resort to the nuclear option to get something you believe in. I don’t believe (as I wrote recently) that the nuclear option will lay waste to MLS or to professional soccer in this country, but I’d rather not find out one way or the other.

I do know this: unless you’re the Major League Baseball Players Association, your track record against the owners ain’t the best. And, just like you don’t ask a girl to marry you unless you’re reasonably sure she’s going to say yes, you don’t call for a strike vote (much less actually go on strike) unless you’re reasonably sure you’re going to get the votes. And that could go either way right now.

These are uncharted waters for this league. It may be a sign that it’s coming of age and that there’s now enough to lose to make the threat of a strike or lockout something to avoid.

But as I’ve been saying all week…use your head. Take the things you read from the people who are shouting the loudest with as big a grain of salt as you can find.

Those Who Fail History….

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

…are doomed to look dumb.

Case in point, this genius on soccer365.com1, who tries to draw a parallel between a potential MLS strike in 2010 and the short-lived NASL strike of 1979 (about which I wrote the other day, for those of you who didn’t remember it – and hold that thought, because it’s important).

“The final victim was the fan and the ultimate result was the demise of what is still the most entertaining soccer league this country has ever seen. Of course there were larger issues which caused the house of cards to crumble but I am sure of this, when those players went on strike it was the beginning of the end of the NASL. ”

So, follow me here…a player’s strike that lasted five days…that was observed by less than a third of the league’s players…that impacted fewer than a dozen games on exactly one playing date of the schedule…which came smack dab in the middle of the league’s heyday, and (here’s the important part) that almost no one remembers was “the beginning of the end of the NASL?”

Excuse me, but no. You’re a moron.

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan, it is said. The family tree of the demise of the NASL has many branches, but the 1979 strike was a twig. In fact, it was the players who, on the eve of the 1984 season, agreed to take 10% pay cuts and strike a new collective bargaining agreement that kept the league alive, however temporarily.

The “beginning of the end” was not the 1979 players’ strike. Some citizen journalist who wants to make a parallel between events of 31 years ago and today might try to tell you it was, but it wasn’t.

The fact is, the 1978-1980 period were the absolute halcyon days of the NASL (and they came post-Pele). The league had 24 teams in all three of those seasons, and saw zero franchise foldings and only one relocation between 1978 and 1979 (which was unheard of for that league throughout most of its history).

The real beginning of the end was at the end of the 1980 season, when Rochester, Houston and Washington folded (the Dips having been abandoned by MSG) and Philadelphia, Memphis, New England (having lost Lipton Tea’s ownership) and Detroit (which became the new Diplomats in DC) moved. Within a year, they’d also lost Atlanta, Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, Los Angeles, California and Calgary2 and it was all over but the shouting. The NASL was a dead man walking its last two years.

The NASL strike of 1979 is a footnote, an amusing anecdote. It wasn’t the beginning of the end of anything.

By the way, the extended CBA between MLS and its players expires at midnight tonight, and, no, there won’t be a work stoppage immediately, as many Chicken Littles had predicted. The union rejected extending it again, but said they’re not striking – yet – while the league issued its own statement saying it has given a lot and is prepared to go forward with an expired CBA. What they didn’t do was what this other genius on American Soccer News predicted in his prescient column, “MLS, players closer to CBA deal than you might think.”

“But for all intents and purposes, there really isn’t that much separating the two sides anymore. Expect a deal to be made next week, and announced Friday right when the extended extended CBA is set to expire, for maximum dramatic effect. You heard it here first.”

How’d that work out for you, Einstein?

1 – And if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “I swore went under years ago.”
2 – Meaning they had, within five years, lost two thirds of their 1978 expansion class, which was reason numero uno the NASL folded, if you must know.

It’s 11:59…And I Want To Stay Alive…

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The latest extension to the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Soccer and its players union expires today, and various fans and pundits are ratcheting the hysteria to ridiculous levels (“The death of professional soccer in America. Period.”? Get over yourself.). (Luckily, some, like Kyle McCarthy, are taking a more reasoned view.)

I would like the people who would claim that a strike or lockout would either kill or severely damage either Major League Soccer or professional soccer in this country to go a little deeper than the bumper sticker/casual conversation sound bite and answer these questions for me:

Not Changing Their Stripes (Updated)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Above are the uniforms the new FC Tampa Bay Rowdies will be wearing when they begin play in the USSF Division 2 Pro Soccer League in April (photos courtesy TBO’s Rowdies blog). I was pleased to see how close the home whites are to the originals (which can’t be beat), and that the green and gold hoop socks are back. The roads are a bit stripey for me, but that’s a trifle.

You’ll note these don’t say “Rowdies” anywhere. As part of the ongoing legal action by a company in Dallas that has claim to the wordmark and to merchandise bearing the name “Tampa Bay Rowdies,” you’ll see FC Tampa Bay on things sold by the club (eventually, I guess…hopefully they’ll have things to sell soon), but not Rowdies.

EDIT: Here’s a clearer look at the actual designs:

The yellow “thing” on the back of the white jersey has got to go. Completely unnecessary and dumb. And it’s too small to tell, but I presume that’s the badge again at the bottom of the numbers on the backs of the shirts. That’s a device (I think the Premier League started it several years ago, and it was novel then) that I think has been done to death and I think it needs to go away.

Other than that (and the fact that the shirts themselves appear to be fairly low-quality), they didn’t do a bad job at all on these. The whites (except for the ugly yellow thing) are a nice update of a classic look. I’ll get used to the other one (and probably won’t see it much anyway).

ANOTHER EDIT: The team’s release on the unveiling calls the green-and-gold hoop socks “infamous.”

1. having an extremely bad reputation: an infamous city.
2. deserving of or causing an evil reputation; shamefully malign; detestable: an infamous deed.

“Infamous” does not have a positive connotation. Those socks are famous, not infamous.

Jesucristo, do I have to do everything around here?

It’s So Simple, Maybe You Need A Refresher Course!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Obviously, as a soccer fan, I hope the negotiations between Major League Soccer’s management and its players result in a new collective bargaining agreement that both sides can live with and the 2010 season isn’t delayed, interrupted, or otherwise held hostage.

But one by-product of a new deal would (hopefully) be the demise of really dumb-ass columns about what MLS should do or what the union should hold out for. And once the Canadian press gets into it, the already-stupid rhetoric gets turned up a notch.

To wit, Paul James of the Toronto Globe and Mail, who, in a column with a completely obvious premise (“MLS needs to raise salary cap,” boy, you’re going out on a limb there), has this bit of genius:

We are a decade into the 21st century. How is it possible to have professional athletes competing at the national Division One level making less than $30,000?

Again with this nonsense.

Look, Paul, I’ll answer your question.

Right now.

You ready?

Okay, it’s after the jump.


Persistance Really DOESN’T Pay

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

At least not when it comes to me. Back in November, I shared with you a letter I had written to Sirius XM Radio’s “Chief Service Officer,” who had sent me a letter trying to get me to come back to their crap satellite radio service.

All was quiet until recently, when I received yet another letter from him. So I wrote him this, and we’ll see what happens next.

February 22, 2010

Mr. Joe Zarella
Chief Service Officer
PO Box 1783
South Hackensack, NJ 07606

Dear Mr. Zarella:

I am in receipt of yet another letter from you trying to entice me to return to Sirius XM Radio. Perhaps my letter of last November 10 didn’t make it clear enough (I’ve attached it for illustration), so I’ll say it again:

I am not interested in returning to Sirius XM under any circumstances. None.

This letter will be the fifth time I’ve told you this. That’s – conservatively – three times more than I should have had to tell you.

You and I are done. It’s over. I don’t want your services. The programming and value aren’t sufficient for me. Your customer service is inept, and your reading comprehension is apparently just as bad.

Do not write me any more letters offering me a great deal to return to XM. Do not write me any more letters for anything. Do not call. Do not fax. Do not email. Do not send carrier pigeons. Do not send a telegram. Leave me the hell alone.

Best regards,

Kenn Tomasch

PS Have a nice day.

Questions That Come To Mind

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

In this whole MLS collective bargaining agreement thing:

I Believe In Miracles…But This Wasn’t One

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The only similarity I can see between last night’s 5-3 win by Team USA over Canada in Olympic hockey and the miraculous 1980 upset of the Russians in Lake Placid (30 years ago today, by the way) is that neither game was carried live on an over-the-air, national network.

Don’t get me wrong: good for us. I’m sure it was fun. But when our group of NHL players gets drop-shipped into Vancouver after the Olympics have started, skates around a bit as a team, and then beats Canada’s group of NHL players who were drop-shipped into Vancouver in-between their NHL commitments, I can’t get that excited. The skate-em-’til-they-drop scene in Miracle may not have actually happened that way, but the commitment to the cause was real. It wasn’t something they did while on a two-week break from their regular jobs.

I’m sure both teams want to win. I’m sure everybody still in the tournament wants to win. But they’ll go back to their NHL teams within hours of the end of the Games and get back to their real task at hand.

In a way, every Olympic hockey team since 1980 has been both blessed and cursed by the Miracle on Ice. We perk up every time the red, white and blue show signs of life at the Olympics, but nothing they could do could live up to what took place at Lake Placid.

Three more wins (if I’m counting correctly) and the US would have its first gold medal in men’s ice hockey since 1980. But I’m not sure anyone would make a movie out of it even if they did.