Soccer, mostly, but some other stuff, too

Archive for September, 2010

Speaking Of Soccer Coaches….

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FC Tampa Bay’s Paul Dalglish who seems like an earnest and responsible young man, says if the Rowdies aren’t any good next year, it’s on him.

“Next year there is no excuse,” he said. “We’ve got to have a product on the field that can get in the playoffs and challenge for a championship. And if we don’t, look at me. If we don’t get a playoff team next year, you have to look at me.”

Until I read this story, I wasn’t aware of how bad things actually were because I hadn’t thought of it this way: they’ve got one win in the last 20 games. One. And that was over Miami. One win in twenty? Someone has to have a Jason Kreis-sized mancrush on you for you to keep your job when you win once in twenty.

Kreis eventually did win a championship. Maybe it’ll happen for Dalglish. But it shouldn’t take a 1-for-20 next year for that seat to heat up.

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September 22nd, 2010 at 9:58 pm

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Ah, Klinsi….

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Jürgen Klinsmann didn’t become the new coach of the US Men’s National Team because of control issues, says this insightful piece by Grant Wahl.

Okay, here’s my stance on this, seeing as how I don’t believe I blogged about it when it all went down (hey, sue me, fall’s a busy time for me): Klinsmann was the coach of the German national team for less than two years. He did not have to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, with Die Mannschaft earning an automatic bid as host. He coached a total of 34 games1, leading Germany to 21 wins, 5 losses and 8 draws (including the penalty-kick advancement over Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals). 20 of the 34 matches were in Germany (including, obviously, all the games of the ’06 World Cup). He resigned after the third-place World Cup finish, was linked with the US job and with gigs at Chelsea, Spurs and the LA Galaxy and finally took the job leading Bayern Munich. Despite going 25-9-9 in 43 matches in charge of Germany’s most glamorous club, a lack of success in the Champions League and the DFB Cup and fears over potentially missing qualifying for the next Champions League meant he was out the door less than nine months after taking the gig.

So he flirts with people for jobs and when he takes jobs, he doesn’t seem to last long. Being peripatetic isn’t in itself necessarily a bad thing2, but it seems to me if you’re going to say a guy is the answer, he should have done something in his career other than coach for less than three years in two stops without winning anything. Doesn’t that make sense?

Klinsmann may be a tremendous coach. He may have, at the end of the day, been a great fit for the US team and may have led them to glory. But I don’t believe his body of work would lead a reasonable person3 to believe he was automatically the slam-dunk, do-anything-to-get-him pick for the job. And despite all that, he STILL came justthisclose to being named, with only US Soccer’s (apparent) lack of desire to cede control of every detail (something else I would posit Klinsmann hadn’t earned) kiboshing the deal.

Let’s be honest here: Bob Bradley is not a cuddly guy. He doesn’t yell and throw things and give colorful quotes to the press and, yes, his 2010 World Cup team didn’t advance past the Round of 16. These are all things on the negative side of the ledger. But he’s got a track record of success for club and country, he’s smart4 and he understands the American player and the American system.

Had the US not made it out of the group stage in South Africa, it’s an easy decision. Ditto if they’d beaten Ghana (or gone even farther). But Bradley fell into that “tweener” area, where you could bring him back or not, you wouldn’t be risking a whole lot. Apparently Sunil Gulati felt the same way if, as Wahl writes, negotiations with Klinsmann went on for two or three weeks.

So for the next four years, we’re going to hear about the opportunity lost. With each US defeat or draw or grind-it-out-win in the next World Cup cycle, fanboys are going to froth at the mouth about how Gulati should have just given Klinsmann the store. Well, you may get your wish. If the US doesn’t perform up to its (now much higher) expectations in the coming years, it may be Klinsmann’s turn.

I just wonder if he’ll have done anything in the interim to actually deserve it.

1 – Wikipedia says 36, and a 20-6-8 record, which doesn’t add up, but the DfB seems to indicate 34 and 21-5-8. No matter.
2 – Larry Brown, please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone.
3 – US soccer fans with internet access are not reasonable people.
4 – The whole Rico Clark thing notwithstanding.

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September 22nd, 2010 at 2:14 pm

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Taking Attendance 9/21/2010

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This time around we’ll combine the numbers from the top two men’s leagues. To no one’s real surprise, the top 12 are all MLS teams, I just thought to change it up a bit we’d look at where all the men’s outdoor teams in Divisions I and II stack up in relation to each other.

Team G Total Avg. Median High Low
Seattle 13 470,165 36,167 36,146 36,386 35,924
Toronto 13 268,647 20,665 20,672 22,108 18,394
Los Angeles 12 242,559 20,213 20,103 27,000 15,453
Philadelphia 11 218,857 19,896 18,001 34,870 16,128
New York 12 215,122 17,927 18,358 25,000 11,462
Houston 13 219,176 16,860 16,042 24,750 13,231
Salt Lake 13 217,865 16,759 16,906 19,970 12,659
Chicago 11 173,329 15,757 14,056 21,868 11,312
Columbus 13 189,755 14,597 14,378 18,139 10,197
DC United 12 171,257 14,271 13,307 20,664 10,038
Chivas USA 12 167,095 13,925 14,006 18,653 10,783
Colorado 12 156,557 13,046 12,171 18,363 9,882
Montreal 14 173,344 12,382 12,399 13,034 10,864
New England 12 144,841 12,070 12,262 20,155 5,990
Dallas 12 134,027 11,169 10,440 15,993 8,016
Portland 15 160,899 10,727 9,017 15,418 5,808
Kansas City 11 111,202 10,109 10,385 10,385 8,155
San Jose 12 114,827 9,569 9,963 10,799 8,033
Rochester 15 96,965 6,464 6,978 9,157 1,447
Vancouver 13 66,514 5,116 5,177 5,387 4,815
Tampa Bay 13 50,642 3,896 3,882 8,082 1,698
Austin 14 50,107 3,579 3,620 6,051 2,143
St. Louis 14 37,805 2,700 2,374 5,695 2,037
Puerto Rico 15 35,368 2,358 2,122 5,077 1,069
Carolina 13 28,004 2,154 2,184 2,821 1,426
Minnesota 15 20,608 1,374 1,429 2,310 588
Miami 12 15,257 1,271 1,127 1,855 1,004
Baltimore 14 14,584 1,042 989 2,348 507
TOTALS 361 3,965,378 10,984 10,385 36,386 507


  • No MLS teams have completed their home schedules yet, but four USSFD2 teams (Minnesota, Portland, Puerto Rico and Rochester) have. Minnesota was off 57% from a year ago (when the Thunder may have been padding their numbers a bit) and I can’t see how they’ll be back. Puerto Rico is off 28% and they’ve made a big deal out of joining the NASL, but I don’t know what difference it makes. Portland finished up 10% and became the first D2 team not named Montreal or Rochester to finish with an average attendance of over 10,000 for a season. And Rochester was steady, up less than 1%.
  • Still no World Cup bounce. USSFD2 is down slightly from the numbers before South Africa, MLS numbers are up only slightly.
  • Dallas’ crowd of 15,105 last Thursday was not, as you might have expected, their largest crowd of the season, but it was close. They pulled 15,993 for Kansas City on Independence Day weekend.
  • Tampa Bay was eliminated from the USSFD2 playoff race with Sunday’s loss in Montreal, and not only have the Rowdies not won a game since July 25 (going 0-4-6 in the last 10), their attendance is on a downward trajectory as well:

    Yes, they’ve had several weekday games, some nights of really bad weather and they play in a baseball stadium. I grant you all of those things. But the name “Rowdies” was supposed to be all-powerful, with some even going so far as to say the Mutiny would still be around if they’d been branded as the Rowdies from MLS’ launch in 1996. I didn’t agree then and those people have even less evidence on their side now. I’m as nostalgic as the next guy (perhaps moreso) and have a new FC Tampa Bay scarf in my closet. But let’s please not lose our minds over how magical a name whose effective days as a brand ended circa 1984 can be in 2010 and beyond.

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September 21st, 2010 at 11:00 am

Have Faith. I Wish.

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Happy 43rd birthday to Faith Hill. I’ll be in my bunk.

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September 21st, 2010 at 8:00 am

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Catch This

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Ah, sports columnists….

So right after Mitch Albom tells you “Forget the controversial almost-touchdown by Calvin Johnson that nearly won the game,” he writes 647 words about the controversial almost-touchdown by Calvin Johnson that nearly won the game. It’s a good thing I forgot about the controversial almost-touchdown by Calvin Johnson that nearly won the game before I read the column about the controversial almost-touchdown by Calvin Johnson that nearly won the game, because it was like reading a totally new story with which I was unfamiliar!

Anyway, as to the play in question, here’s the thing: for the first 80 or so years of this league, that’s a touchdown. Some time in the last few years, we started reducing football to a subatomic level. In our quest to make sure every call is correct, we’ve started analyzing slow-motion replays over and over, more closely than we used to squint and try to make out the shadowy figures in scrambled porn in the pre-internet days1.

And for what? What are we trying to accomplish? Taking a game played and officiated by humans and trying to turn it into a physics lab?

How come you can be down by contact when a defender brushes by you, but there’s a higher burden of proof when catching a ball and going to the ground? What are we accomplishing here, besides absurdly extending the length of games and deflating its emotion with interminable delays? When the guy sitting at home can see within 20 seconds and two replays whether a guy was inbounds or out of bounds, fumbled or didn’t fumbled, yet it takes five minutes (and a commercial break, let us not forget) for the booth or the referee to come to the same conclusion, what is wrong with this picture?

Technology is great. We should avail ourselves of whatever we have available to avoid egregious miscarriages of justice. But it’s reached the point where we’re arguing about angstroms2 and whether or not the ball moved or didn’t move from the time it reached a receiver’s hands until it is painted and put up on his mantel. If it was good enough for Lance Alworth, why isn’t it good enough now?

Now, I don’t have a horse in this race (though my team has been on the short end of one of these types of deals before), but I’ll say this: the call was correct based on a rule that needs to be revisited. In our quest to be cutting-edge, we’ve lost something that used to be great about football: you lined up and played and hit and ran and threw and if you got beat over the top for the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, well, that’s the way it was. Now every close touchdown is a five-minute anticlimax while we try to make Extra Special Sure that the ball didn’t move, even an inch.

Fanboys like this jagov can never seem to wipe the spittle away from their mouths3 long enough to have a rational discussion of this, but the simple facts are these: that’s the rule, and they’re not changing it until next winter at the earliest (if they do at all, and former NFL officiating honcho Mike Pereira doesn’t think it’s all that likely).

I hope they do. But I’m not optimistic. Maybe we just don’t have enough irate columnists and YouTube videos to make a difference.

1 – I didn’t do this, Mom, seriously. I only heard about it.
2 – I think it goes back to the Music City Miracle, which had teams of scientists trying to prove the ball’s trajectory may have been forward by a half inch. To which I say, “You know what? If we have to call the MIT guys in on this it’s probably close enough. Let’s play.”
3 – I think it’s hilarious that fans lose their shit while the guy whose actual livelihood depends on his team winning games is as okay with the whole thing as you can be under the circumstances. Wait, you mean he didn’t make a profane YouTube rant? Really?

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September 13th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

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Brought To You By The Letter E

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Here are some high-rise hard working men, doing some work on the building across the street from me.

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September 13th, 2010 at 10:02 am

Final WPS Attendance Numbers

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The regular season is over, and the second year of Women’s Professional Soccer saw a 23% drop in overall average league attendance. Only the Boston Breakers were able to improve on their average from year one, going from 4,183 per game to a league-leading 4,490. The league average went from 4,684 to 3,588, a drop of more than a thousand per game.

TEAM G Total Avg. Median 2009 Change
Boston 12 53,878 4,490 4,560 4,183 +7.3%
Chicago 12 48,296 4,025 3,955 4,673 -13.9%
Washington 12 45,904 3,825 3,645 4,817 -20.6%
Atlanta 12 44,284 3,690 3,291 0 N/A
Sky Blue FC 11 36,521 3,320 3,412 3,375 -1.6%
FC Gold Pride 13 40,117 3,086 3,153 3,139 -1.7%
Saint Louis 4 12,109 3,027 3,204 3,793 -20.2%
Philadelphia 13 38,190 2,938 2,585 0 N/A
WPS TOTAL 89 319,299 3,588 3,356 4,684 -23.4%

Losing Los Angeles obviously didn’t help, but The Stadium That Will Change Women’s SoccerTM in Atlanta couldn’t overcome a bad team. Saint Louis folded while their numbers were down 20% in a small sample, while Washington also saw a 21% drop and Chicago fell 14%. Sky Blue FC and FC Gold Pride (with far and away the league’s best team and the world’s best player) were only down slightly.

Other tidbits:

  • League-wide, attendance was basically stable from month-to-month, peaking in May for the second straight year.
  • For the second year in a row, we saw a dropoff from the first half of the schedule to the second half, but it was much smaller in 2010. In 2009, the difference between the first 35 games and the last 35 games was about 1,300 per game. This year, the difference between the first 45 games and the last 44 (there were only 89 games because of the St. Louis affair) was just over 300 per game.
  • World Cup BumpTM? Nope. not here. WPS games prior to the World Cup averaged 4,010. During the World Cup, 3,219. Aftewards, 3,412.
  • In two years, the league has drawn an announced 647,177 to 159 regular-season games, for an average of 4,070. In its first two years, WUSA averaged 7,536 (obviously while burning through a lot more money). WUSA’s drop from year one to year two was only 14%, but they weren’t battling the worst recession in memory.
  • Philadelphia’s going to host the first playoff game, this Sunday. That should be a treat. The Independence had only drawn over 3,000 once since their opener before getting 4,011 for their home finale two weeks ago. The winner of the Philadelphia-Washington game goes to Boston, where they draw well, but it’s on a Thursday night and at a smaller facility. FC Gold Pride will host the final and they will have had a few weeks to sell it. If they can’t, that doesn’t bode well. Last year’s playoffs (with a 7,218 crowd for the final in LA) averaged 5,500. They’re going to struggle to get there this year, it looks like.
  • Though they’re gone, the LA Sol still holds the title of best overall attendance for the two years at 6,298 for their only season. Washington is next at 4,699 with Philadelphia’s 2,938 bringing up the rear. In fact, Philly’s average is lower than any WUSA team averaged over its three-year run.

EDIT: I missed this, but Commissioner Tonya Antonucci is stepping down (Steve Goff broke the story), meaning there aren’t many folks left who started this rebirth of the pro women’s game. And while apparently a western New York team (the W-League’s Buffalo Flash entry) may join the league next year, unless someone convinces the investors there’s a future for this, I’m not sure WPS survives. Hope Solo may be right when she says she’s done playing in (this) league, but it might or might not be her choice.

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September 13th, 2010 at 8:53 am

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See You In 2010…Or Something

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From time to time I check in on things like the proposed new United States Football League, and today I see this, which tells us they’ll either start in 2011 with six to eight teams or in 2012 with eight to twelve teams. I vote for never with no teams, despite the fact their well-intentioned guy in charge vehemently chastised me for saying that two years ago.

Well, guess what, folks? I’m not wrong. You can keep pushing back and pushing back and pushing back, but the more distance you put between yourself and July of 1985, the less the USFL brand means (even to people like me, who loved the USFL). Nostalgia sells, but only to a point, and only for a while. And I stand by what I said before: a football league is incredibly difficult and expensive to start up (I was wrong in saying the UFL would never play a game. They have. Not that anybody has noticed.) And when years have gone by and you still haven’t announced teams, cities or owners, I’m sorry – no one should believe you when you say you’re going to play.

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September 10th, 2010 at 10:44 am

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Programming Note

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The high school football game I’m broadcasting Friday night is supposed to be carried live on at 7pm PT/10pm ET. It’s the Coconino Panthers from Flagstaff against Peoria’s Raymond S. Kellis Cougars. If it’s not on live for some reason, it’ll be available on demand by sometime Saturday.

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September 9th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

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Gotta Give The Timbers Credit

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Strong move, putting up a billboard near the Sounders’ home field in Seattle.

I have to admit, having been to Portland last month for the PDL final and having seen the moves they’re making, I quite like the cut of the Timbers’ jib.

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September 9th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

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