Archive for April, 2010

Haven’t We Met?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

With the Tampa Bay Rowdies‘ name and colors returning to the American soccer scene this season (albeit on a smaller scale), nostalgia is in the humid Florida air. Some are making tomorrow night’s first meeting between the new Rowdies and Miami FC out to be the renewal of a long-dead rivalry between the old Rowdies and their cross-state nemeses, the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. As with most things when it comes to nostalgia, there’s a bit of romanticizing and misremembering that comes along with it.

The facts are these:

  • In the days of the original NASL, the Rowdies and Strikers played a total of just 23 times outdoors between 1977 and 1983 (and one of those was a mini-game tiebreaker, won by Rodney Marsh in a rainy shootout and immortalized here). They played that many against the New York Cosmos (Also 23, but no mini-games, four playoff tilts including Soccer Bowl ’78) and nearly that many against the San Diego Sockers (22, including three playoff mini-games).
  • The series was as even as you can get, 11 wins apiece, with the Rowdies taking the aforementioned mini-game. Goals scored? 42 apiece in the 11 “full” games.
  • Games in the heyday of the rivalry (and of the NASL itself) could draw large crowds to both Tampa Stadium and Lockhart, but by the end, when the Strikers won the last five meetings against a shell of a Rowdies organization, they could only hope to draw five figures for a game.
  • The teams met 19 times in the ASL/APSL days after the NASL folded, but it was never the same. And the Mutiny and Fusion had a four-year run from 1998-2001 that was short on drama and little remembered.
  • The Strikers were actually popular in South Florida (and with players like Gerd Mueller and Teofilo Cubillas, it’s easy to understand why). Where you once saw Striker Likers head to Tampa Stadium to represent, you’re fortunate if any Miami fans find their way to their own team’s stadium. If, as rumored, a couple hundred Rowdies fans bus over, they may outnumber the fans of Miami FC tomorrow.

I have said before that the new Rowdies need to embrace their history, yet not be strangled by it. And for fans and media types, trying to pump up the present by embellishing the past isn’t fair to this group of players, who will create their own memories from this point forward.

Sometimes The Soup Just Writes Itself

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

If you’re on WNYW in New York, you can, apparently, say anything on the air. Case in point, Rosanna Scotto this morning.

It’s not quite Ernie Anastos, but, in fairness, that one’s hard to top.

Hand Ball!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Found these here. They’re cool.

Finally, Proof!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Yes, yes he does. So there’s the answer to that question.

Time For Game Seven

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

So it has come down to this – the Coyotes host the Detroit Red Wings tonight in the seventh game of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series. Not just hockey – playoff hockey. It brings out the best in all of us.

MLS Attendance Up 15% In Early Going

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Through five weeks of the 2010 Major League Soccer season, average announced attendance is up by just over 15%, thanks in part to a new stadium in New York, a slightly enlarged capacity in Seattle, and…well, it being early still.

This table ranks the 16 teams by their percentage change in average announced attendance through the same number of dates as a year ago (Philadelphia did not play last year). Only Toronto (!), Dallas and Colorado are down at the moment.

Team G Total Avg. Median 2009 Change
New York 3 53,858 17,953 15,619 10,424 72.2%
Salt Lake 1 19,770 19,770 19,770 11,806 67.5%
Chicago 2 31,588 15,794 15,794 11,208 40.9%
DC United 2 39,071 19,536 19,536 14,245 37.1%
Columbus 2 27,858 13,929 13,929 11,076 25.8%
Seattle 3 108,231 36,077 36,066 28,711 25.7%
Kansas City 3 30,658 10,219 10,228 9,231 10.7%
Los Angeles 3 61,525 20,508 20,344 19,346 6.0%
Houston 3 49,499 16,500 16,459 16,085 2.6%
New England 2 20,940 10,470 10,470 10,213 2.5%
Chivas USA 3 45,639 15,213 14,389 14,914 2.0%
San Jose 2 19,671 9,836 9,836 9,756 0.8%
Toronto 2 40,372 20,186 20,186 20,465 -1.4%
Dallas 3 27,084 9,028 8,512 9,747 -7.4%
Colorado 2 21,569 10,785 10,785 12,033 -10.4%
Philadelphia 1 34,870 34,870 34,870 - -
MLS TOTAL 37 632,203 17,087 14,843 14,827 15.2%

(The “league” change is for 37 matches this year versus the first 37 matches a year ago, not the average of the averages or anything.)

After a sellout for their soft opening, New York drew slightly under capacity and then around 2/3 capacity in their first three league matches. Maybe it’s going to take more than a jewel of a stadium and a winning team to make the folks in New York forget about the first 14 years of franchise hell. But I wouldn’t take a lot from these early numbers. They’re better than a sharp stick in the eye, but not worthy of too much analysis just yet.

Perfect 10

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Tim Tebow said in his introductory press conference that they had decided he would wear #15 (his college number), but then he posed for photos with #10 (worn with distinction by former Broncos Steve Ramsey and Bucky Dilts). No matter.

Us Vs. Them

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I don’t know who Simon Barnes is, but thanks to my man Tom Dunmore at Pitch Invasion, I have now read one piece by him, and it’s outstanding. I encourage you to read it.

Here’s the key passage, as it relates to something that has vexed me about sports and sports fans for some time:

It is almost impossible to become involved in a sporting event without taking sides, giving one set wings and the other horns. Our lot are by definition good guys; your lot, the opposition, are therefore bad.

Their lot dive in the box, while ours use their experience and go down easily; their guys are violent in the ruck, while our lot are real men; their guys tamper with the ball, while our lot are merely polishers. How much of our concept of good and evil began with the realisation that the people from the caves on the other side of the river are bad?

My man Dan Loney just accepts the situational morality of the sports fan at face value and goes on about his business. I can’t stand it. It’s lowbrow, mouth-breathing, froth-at-the-mouth bullshit that gives us a sporting culture where this is accepted, where this happens seemingly everywhere, and where I always seem to end up sitting in the vicinity of morons like this.

The Century Club

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

With a little help from the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation, here’s a list I’ve compiled of the all-time leading goalscorers in American outdoor soccer leagues, going back to the primordial soup days.

Player Goals
Archie Stark 253
Johnny Nelson 223
Giorgio Chinaglia 193
Dave Brown 189
Bill Patterson 152
Andy Stevens 150
Jerry Best 138
Bart McGhee 137
Harold Brittain 135
Jaime Moreno 132
Bobby Blair 131
Werner Nilsen 131
Alan Willey 129
Karl-Heinz Granitza 128
Tommy Florie 126
Jeff Cunningham 124
Tec White 124
Ron Futcher 119
Bart Patenaude 118
Ante Razov 114
Jason Kreis 108
Mike McLeavey 108
Herbert Carlson 107
Paul Child 102
Illja Mitic 101
Taylor Twellman 101
Steve David 100

Archie Stark was a star of the Bethlehem Steel FC teams that were powerful in the 1920s. Giorgio Chinaglia was the North American Soccer League’s all-time leading goalscorer. Everybody in the top 12 but he and all-time MLS leader Jaime Moreno ended their careers prior to 1932.

Moreno is climbing the charts, but slowly. He’s 36 years old and plays for a terrible team now, so while he may be able to move into the top seven before he’s done, anything past that would be a reach.

At one point, I might have put some money on Taylor Twellman to at least make a run towards the top, but his career outlook is uncertain after concussion problems.

Been There, Done That

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

By now you may have seen this video of a Fordham University baseball player diving over the top of the catcher to score. Nice play. Huge degree of difficulty, because he didn’t touch the catcher on his way over.

But almost 20 years ago now, as a one-man sports band at a TV station in Florida, I shot this video of a similar play in a women’s junior college softball game. Had we had the Internet in those days, it would have been all over YouTube. As it was, it only made CNN Sports Tonight’s Play of the Day.