Archive for April, 2011

Meanwhile, From North Of The Border…

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

…where the CFL isn’t having labo(u)r issues and the Lingerie Football League is looking to establish a presence, comes this story: the niece of the mayor of Toronto will try out for the LFL’s Toronto Triumph.

That’s Krista Ford at right, who’s described as the “athletic, football-loving daughter of city councillor Doug Ford.” That made me think, “City Councillor Doug Ford? Haven’t I heard that name before?”

Turns out I have: Councillor Ford was the forward-thinking lawmaker who, when funding for what became Toronto’s BMO Field passed, said this:

“This is a sucker stadium, not a soccer stadium. We are going to lose our shirts.”

How’d that work out?

Bad Snap Decision

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

As you watch countless hours of NFL Draft-related programming over the next three days, just remember not to get too high or too low about whichever players your team selects. History tells us this is far from an exact science and that even people with years of experience in the game sometimes fumble what they think is a good call.

Case in point, the 1998 NFL Draft, whose big drama was “Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?” It’s hard to believe now, given what has happened in the interim, but there was actually a debate on this. And ESPN The Magazine‘s Stephen Rodrick probably wishes he had at least one throw back. In the cover story for the April 20, 1998 issue, Rodrick compared Manning and Leaf and concluded:

“Sorry, Archie. I’m taking Ryan. Maybe it was watching Leaf against Arizona as he implored the coaching staff, ‘Call my number, I’m hot. I’m hot.’ Or Ryan running by Coach Price during his first Washington game after a completion into double coverage and chuckling, ‘Didn’t think I’d get the ball in there.’ He possesses an ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude that has proven essential to Super Bowl quarterbacks from Stabler to McMahon to Favre. Come 2018, Ryan Leaf, not Manning, will be strutting up to a podium in Canton.”

Turns out that ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude wasn’t the boon it was made out to be. Manning’s the guy with the MVP awards, a Super Bowl ring and a date with the Hall of Fame. Who knew? The Colts, for one. Mark Malone, for another, who wrote in that same issue, “you don’t look at (Manning) and wonder if he will reach his potential.”

Ron Jaworski, meanwhile, wrote, “Leaf has the body and the heart to hang in the pocket when a lot of quarterbacks won’t.” Wasn’t it Leaf’s body and heart that turned out to be the real problems, after all?

Taking Attendance: 4/25/2011

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Here’s the first full rundown of attendance figures for the various levels for 2011. Not every team has had a home game yet, so there are some zeros and there are a few games for which attendance figures aren’t available (yet).

THE MLS G Total Average Median High Low
Seattle 3 108,870 36,290 36,223 36,443 36,204
Los Angeles 3 75,717 25,239 24,998 27,000 23,719
DC United 3 62,806 20,935 18,132 26,622 18,052
Vancouver 5 104,315 20,863 20,809 22,592 19,396
Toronto 5 97,965 19,593 20,086 22,453 16,313
Portland 2 37,254 18,627 18,627 18,627 18,627
Salt Lake 2 36,020 18,010 18,010 20,507 15,513
Philadelphia 3 52,767 17,589 18,591 19,027 15,149
New York 3 48,954 16,318 14,308 20,982 13,664
Houston 3 46,608 15,536 15,176 19,385 12,047
Chivas USA 3 44,534 14,845 13,385 18,122 13,027
Dallas 3 43,428 14,476 12,261 20,145 11,022
Chicago 3 42,833 14,278 12,473 18,203 12,157
Colorado 3 41,181 13,727 14,185 17,139 9,857
Columbus 3 32,550 10,850 10,306 14,549 7,695
San Jose 4 40,254 10,064 10,401 10,525 8,928
New England 4 39,412 9,853 9,692 12,914 7,114
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 0 0
MLS TOTAL 55 955,468 17,372 18,052 36,443 7,114
 
NASL G Total Average Median High Low
Montreal 1 12,060 12,060 12,060 12,060 12,060
Ft. Lauderdale 2 10,844 5,422 5,422 6,402 4,442
Tampa Bay 2 7,074 3,537 3,537 4,161 2,913
Atlanta 3 9,931 3,310 3,227 3,543 3,161
Carolina 3 4,416 1,472 1,219 2,016 1,181
FC Edmonton 0 0 0 0 0 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0
Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 0
NASL TOTAL 11 44,325 4,030 3,227 12,060 1,181
 
USL-Pro G Total Average Median High Low
Orlando 2 15,212 7,606 7,606 7,933 7,279
Antigua #1 6,000 6,000 6,000 6,000 6,000
Charleston 1 4,083 4,083 4,083 4,083 4,083
Wilmington 1 1,924 1,924 1,924 1,924 1,924
Richmond 4 6,917 1,729 1,742 2,049 1,385
Pittsburgh 1 1,004 1,004 1,004 1,004 1,004
Charlotte 2 1,930 965 965 1,076 854
Dayton 2 1,669 835 835 1,044 625
Sevilla PR &1 315 315 315 315 315
River Plate PR 1 128 128 128 128 128
Puerto Rico United 2 210 105 105 105 105
Harrisburg 0 0 0 0 0 0
Los Angeles 0 0 0 0 0 0
New York 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rochester 0 0 0 0 0 0
USL PRO TOTALS 18 39,392 2,188 1,231 7,933 105
#Missing two games
&Missing one game
 
WPS G Total Average Median High Low
Boston 1 4,158 4,158 4,158 4,158 4,158
Atlanta *2 7,382 3,691 3,691 4,002 3,380
Sky Blue FC 1 2,910 2,910 2,910 2,910 2,910
magicJack 1 1,224 1,224 1,224 1,224 1,224
Philadelphia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Western NY 0 0 0 0 0 0
WPS TOTAL 5 15,674 3,135 3,380 4,158 1,224
*Missing one game

NOTES:

  • MLS has four teams averaging more than 20,000 a game and Toronto is just under that. It seems likely Toronto will finish above 20k (they historically do) but it seems unlikely that DC United will, so four is probably about what can be expected.
  • WPS’ Atlanta Beat, playing on the same weekend as their NASL counterparts, outdrew the Silverbacks each of the first two weeks. Yesterday’s figure for the Beat is unavailable, but probably didn’t beat the ‘Backs’ announced 3,227.
  • Montreal set a new NASL record with an announced crowd of 12,060 (tix distributed, I’m guessing) for its home opener against Tampa Bay. It was the earliest home opener in the Impact’s 19-year history. They’ll absolutely lead the league in attendance. The three teams that have yet to have home matches aren’t likely to help much (Edmonton, Minnesota and Puerto Rico).
  • Until someone changes it, Antigua Barracuda FC’s home opener crowd will be listed as 6,000. for consistency’s sake, I go with what’s on the USL website unless there’s compelling evidence to the contrary. The local newspaper said “about 3,500,” and someone who I know who was there said “about 4,500.” The Sticky Wicket Stadium (great name) supposedly seats 5,000 in the main stand. BFC hasn’t announced an attendance figure for its last two games yet.
  • The former Washington Freedom, who moved to Boca Raton and are now called “magicJack,” drew an all-time WPS/WUSA low of 1,224 for their home opener. Supposedly there were only 500 available seats in the “grandstand” at Florida Atlantic University because they took the rest of the bleachers across campus to the FAU spring football game.
  • Western New York has their home opener in Rochester this Sunday. And magicJack will be back at it again, hosting Philadelphia. I’m not optimistic.
  • The PDL season starts this weekend, with Fresno hosting the new LA Blues 23 on Friday in the first match. The W-League doesn’t start until May 14.

The Weekend That Was

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Just so people don’t keep commenting in the post from two weeks ago, here are this weekend’s soccer scores and crowds for reflection and dissection:

MLS
Friday
Seattle 1, COLORADO 0 (14,185)
Saturday
Chivas USA 2, SAN JOSE 1 (10,525)
Columbus 1, TORONTO 1 (20,145)
Dallas 2, VANCOUVER 1 (21,000)
NEW ENGLAND 3, Kansas City 2 (11,414)
Houston 1, CHICAGO 1 (12,473)
LOS ANGELES 3, Portland 0 (23,719)

NASL
Saturday
Tampa Bay 0, MONTREAL 0 (12,060)
Fort Lauderdale 2, ATLANTA 1 (3,227)

USL-Pro
Thursday
Sevilla Puerto Rico 1, ANTIGUA 0
Friday
Puerto Rico United 2, ORLANDO 2 (7,279)

Saturday
RICHMOND 2, Charleston 1 (1,833)
New York 0, CHARLOTTE 0 (1,076)
PITTSBURGH 1, Harrisburg 0 (1,004)
Rochester 3, DAYTON 2 (625)
Los Angeles 1, RIVER PLATE PUERTO RICO 1 (128)
ANTIGUA 3, Sevilla Puerto Rico 2

WPS
Saturday
MAGICJACK 1, Boston 0 (1,224)

Sunday
Western New York 2, ATLANTA 2

10 Years (And Three Days) Later…

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

I completely missed a sports anniversary the other day, and I’ll bet you did, too. April 21, 2011 marked the ten-year anniversary of the first and only championship game of the XFL. The Vince McMahon-inspired football league played its lone season in 2001. After making a big splash on its opening weekend with strong TV ratings and an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the league limped to the finish in a maelstrom of derision, plummeting TV audiences and red ink. But here are the highlights from the so-called Million Dollar Game:



I actually attended an XFL game, in Chicago. Their in-stadium game presentation was tremendous, but the football itself was only ehhhh most of the time. And the gap between McMahon’s bluster and the actual product was so vast and McMahon himself was such a polarizing figure that the venture was sunk halfway through the season. Only after it was all over did they finally pull the plug.

To date, it’s the last time anyone has tried the spring football concept on a halfway-major scale. The new USFL says it’s going to try, but I’m skeptical.

Pay Attention, Kids…

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Stick to fantasy sports, y’all.

Solution: Take A Nap

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I love Fake Sigi and find him to be incredibly thorough and thoughtful when he decides to post something (which is far too infrequently), but I can’t get behind him on this one.

I honestly can’t work up sympathy for anyone who thinks it’s a hardship that they have to watch soccer for 20 hours on a Saturday because they want to wake up early to watch games from Europe and then have MLS games played on this continent until late at night (ironically enough, this past Saturday was one where MLS action was completed before 10pm Eastern because there were no west coast games). If you choose to get up early to watch West Ham, that’s great. But if you then also want to see Los Angeles against Chivas USA at 11pm, well, I figure you have some options, but complaining about your lot in life or how MLS is out to screw you probably aren’t two of them.

Lots of people want MLS to do lots of things the way The Rest Of The WorldTM does them, only most of the rest of the world’s Division I leagues aren’t in countries that span four time zones. And MLS’ first priorities are – and are going to be for a while – the ticket-buying public and the programming needs of its television partners. Not always in that order (Outsourcing Kansas City fans, enjoy that 9pm local start on a Thursday night for the opener for your new park), I grant you.

But here’s a very specific example of where FS’ rant takes a hit:


Last Thursday, April 14th 2011, MLS famously went with an 8:00 Pacific Standard Time start for Portland’s first ever home game.

“I know a lot of people between Chicago and Miami, and let’s face it, that’s about 3/4 of the entire country’s population, looked at that 10-11pm start time and said, ‘What the fuck? I’m not even going to bother watching that game.’ Games that finish at 1 a.m. on the east coast are exactly what we’ve been trying to do, and if we can put as many of those on Saturday as possible, where we can force people to stay awake for 20 straight hours or choose between which league they’re going to support, so much the better. Not to mention we can tap the Hawaiian and early morning Australian soccer dollar.”

(First off, it’s Pacific Daylight Time this time of year, but that’s just nitpicking, innit? And it’s a pet peeve of mine.)

Secondly, oddly enough, despite 3/4 of the country’s population ignoring the Timbers/Fire game, the telecast drew a .2 rating, 183,000 TV households and 214,000 viewers nationally. And here’s the key part:


“That was on par with ESPN2′s broadcast of a Philadelphia-Toronto MLS game that aired on the corresponding Thursday last year.”

That Philadelphia-Toronto game, on April 15, 2010, took the air at 7pm Eastern, by the way.

Now, do I think a steady diet of west coast TV games does MLS a lot of good? No, but if we’re going to have New York at Los Angeles on national TV and the Superclasico and if the Cascadia teams are going to give us things like The Great American Soccer RivalryTM, these things are going to happen. I guess it was much easier when the league only had 10 teams and (basically) one national English TV outlet. ESPN also makes college football teams play at 11 am local time on Saturdays, seriously cutting into your Friday night partying if you’re a college kid at a Big Ten school.

Every other major sport in this country has games on a given day that go from East to West coast, from daylight to night owl territory. What those other sports don’t have is serious competition for TV eyeballs from games being played 3,500 miles and six or more time zones away. I get that.

But what would you have MLS do? They’ve already dumped overtime and the shootout, brought in a bunch of “FC” names (and worse), embraced the “traditions” of supporters’ culture, brought back the reserve league and imported Englishmen to broadcast the games. I know you want single table, promotion and relegation and no playoffs, too, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on those. Do you want them to start every game at 3pm on Saturday as well, so your weekends can be a little more diverse?

The solution? Take a nap. Or prioritize.

Lastly, of this from the end of FS’ rant:

Unfortunately for those few retired people yearning to watch professional soccer at a reasonable time, MLS attendance took a beating with the early start times.

As well as a shit-ton of bad weather in the East. There’s no pleasing the gods sometimes, I guess.

Saturday’s Soccer Scores And Crowds

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

MLS:
Seattle 2, Chicago 1 (36,223)
Philadelphia 1, New York 0 (19,027)
Real Salt Lake 2, New England 1 (7,970)
DC United 1, Los Angeles 1 (26,622)
Chivas USA 0, Columbus 0 (13,385)
San Jose 1, Toronto 1 (8,928)

NASL:
Tampa Bay 1, Montreal 0 (3,693)
Minnesota 2, Atlanta 1 (3,543)
Edmonton 2, Ft. Lauderdale 1 (6,402)
Puerto Rico 2, Carolina 1 (2,016)

USL-Pro:
Richmond 2, Pittsburgh 1 (1,385)
Charleston 1, Charlotte 0 (4,083)
Orlando 3, New York 0 (7,933)

WPS:
Boston 4, Atlanta 1 (4,500)

Retro Balls

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

The new North American Soccer League has unveiled its new match ball (I presume they’re going to use it in matches, they didn’t specifically say), and it’s an homage to the ball used in the original NASL back in the 60s through the mid-80s from 1976 to 1984.

New Look For The Phoenix Mercury

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

The local WNBA team will have a new look for 2011. Supposedly the new threads are “30 percent lighter and dry twice as fast as previous WNBA uniforms.”

It’s not a huge departure from what they were wearing. The number is solid orange rather than white with orange trim or yellow with purple trim, the adidas logo has moved to the center and the team logo is up higher on the collarbone. There’s more purple in the white uniform and less orange in the purple one.