September 30, 2008

Who's the boss?

Sad PolandAre you a European country with a stable football association?

Do you have stadiums that will be ready to handle large crowds by 2012?

Do you have enough money, blow and hookers to satisfy the UEFA and FIFA bigwigs?

If you answered yes to all of the above, you could host Euro 2012!

Please direct inquiries to:
M. Platini
Nyon, Switzerland

Make sure to tell him how much you love the new Europa League name.

Don't even think of trying this

Dax McCarty and Michael Dello-Russo of FC Dallas played soccer golf...on a golf course. They got permission, but you just know the groundskeeper was following, wincing with every shot. Or carrying a shotgun. It is Texas, you know. (h/t: FC Dallas Updates)

Opening Whistle 9-30-08

Your sibling rivalry has nothing on these two. [The Original Winger]

The Vegas-Columbus saga from someone who knows people. [Covering the Crew]

Bruce Rioch will surely beat Man U again. Everyone knows Aab Aalborg = Arsenal. [BBC Sport]

Behold the power of Martin O'Neill [Vital Football via Aston Villa Offside]

The best picture from the Merseyside Derby. [Red in Dublin]

September 29, 2008

Premier League Power Rankings, Week 6

We're going to have a new weekly feature, Power Rankings! Yes, you can look at the table to see where teams actually sit, but that's nowhere near as awesome as seeing what I think of them. So yeah, we're going to pretend like this has been going on all season.

Team Rk (Chg)
Chelsea 1(-) 14 The Blues keep rolling as Jose Boswinga tallies his first goal of the season. Now that Drogba appears to be back for good Chelsea's depth may be too much for anyone to overcome.
Liverpool 2(-) 14 The Merseyside Derby may be theirs but Liverpool need someone besides All-World striker Fernando Torres to score. Seven goals in six games is not the way to the title.
Man U
Man Utd 3(-) 8 Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have clearly put the sack-stomping incident behind them and appear poised to race back up the table. The gifted penalty shots won't hurt Man U's chances, either.
Arsenal 4(-) 12 Young players lose their focus, simple as that. Wenger will make sure it doesn't happen again, but Gooners would have preferred Robin Van Persie or William Gallas to show the needed leadership on the pitch.
Aston Villa
Aston Villa 5(-) 13 John Carew is a force in the penalty area. Looks like Martin O'Neill fleeced Lyon when he traded for him in January 2007 in exchange for Milan Baros.
Man City
Man City 6(-) 9 City fans will claim their stars haven't had enough time to gel. I can buy that…for now.
West Ham
West Ham 7(-) 12 Gianfranco Zola might be getting the new manager bump, but West Ham will take whatever points they can get as they look for a new sponsor to keep them financially afloat.
Wigan 8(-) 8 Steve Bruce is doing more with less than any manager in the Premier League. Can you name three players on that team?
Blackburn 9(-) 10 Roque Santa Cruz would be a star if he played at a bigger club. Will he be a January target if Blackburn slip?
Hull 10(-) 11 I think Hull supporters might still be drunk after pulling off what will likely be the biggest upset of the Premier League season. Who said they would be the new Derby? Oh, right, everyone. And everyone is wrong.
Sunderland 11(-) 7 I hope Roy Keane didn't take too much abuse while losing at Villa Park this weekend. He's a delicate flower, you know.
Portsmouth 12(-) 9 Portsmouth didn't look like a team troubled by finances when they took out Spurs 2-0 on Sunday. But then, they were playing Spurs.
West Brom
West Brom 13(-) 7 Scott Carson kept a clean sheet to give the Baggies their first Premier League road win. For his sake I hope this means the scars from the England-Croatia game have finally healed.
Everton 14(-) 7 Last year's challengers to the Big Four have lost a lot of ground with virtually the same lineup. Manager David Moyes better find some answers soon or he'll find himself out of a job.
Fulham 15(-) 6 Andy Johnson has 3 goals. The rest of the team has 2. I think that sums it up.
Middlesbrough 16(-) 6 Gareth Southgate called it "one of those days." If they keep having those days they'll find themselves in the drop zone.
Stoke 17(-) 4 The Potters simply ran into a death machine wearing Chelsea jerseys. At least the next London team coming to visit will be Spurs.
Bolton 18(-) 4 You have to feel sorry for Bolton getting screwed the way they did in the middle of a scoreless game. The officiating in the Premier League has kinda sucked this year, hasn't it?
Newcastle 19(-) 4 At least now Newcastle have a competent manager on the sidelines to…wait, what? They have to wait one more game for Joe Kinnear's suspension from five years ago to finish? Nevermind, this team is a joke.
Tottenham 20(-) 2 Spurs fans chanted, "You don't know what you're doing" during their team's loss to Portsmouth. Did Juande Ramos need an interpreter?

RSL just got paid

Rio TintoReal Salt Lake's new stadium will be named Rio Tinto Stadium after the mining company agreed to pay $1.5M-$2M/year for 15 years, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. It might sound like small potatoes to those who only follow MLB or the NFL, but given that player salaries rarely get into the hundreds of thousands in MLS, this deal will help pay for a few players all at once. Or a Designated Player, if RSL was so inclined.

What will the fans call it? The Tint? The Tent? As long as they don't start calling it The Taint I think everyone will be happy.

Image courtesy of Behind the Shield

How Ronnie Got His Groove Back

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's Ronaldinho's goal that sank Inter Milan. Be sure to watch through the celebration as Dinho parties like it's 2006.

Lucky break or the return of Ronnie?

Opening Whistle 9-29-08

If Theo Walcott isn't named a Ballon d'Or finalist by 2011 Cesc Fabregas is a dirty liar. [FourFourTwo]

Maybe MLS should consider moving the sideboards by the dugouts. [Covering the Crew]

Joe Kinnear's effective tenure at Newcastle will be even shorter than advertised. [The Beautiful Game]

How much is Karim Benzema worth? [Soccerlens]

Stay tuned today for a new feature. Shiny!

September 28, 2008

Hull are the new hotness

Hull have the same number of points this season as Derby had all of last season. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Are there any Hull bloggers out there? Let me know!

September 27, 2008

The Legend of Leo

Messi-ahZOMG!!1!!!11! Leo Messi is the bestest at everything ever!!!!!!!!!11!

No, really, he coolly slotted home the penalty as 13 minutes of stoppage time elapsed during the second half of the Catalan Derby, the score previously tied at 1.

This is instantly the biggest story in the eastern half of Spain. If Ruud van Nistelrooy hadn't put Real Betis away in injury time it would have been the biggest story for all of Spain.

Take that, England. Spain effing rocks.

Image via Reuters

Gijon must mean 'punching bag'

Sporting GijonDid Sporting Gijon's chairman insult someone's mother? This has been the team's September schedule: @Sevilla (currently 5th), Barcelona (6), @Real Madrid (2), Villareal (1). And guess what? Reverse the home/away and it's their February schedule, too! Not too surprisingly they went 0-4 during this nightmare stretch, mercifully ending earlier today with a 1-0 loss to Villareal despite outshooting them 15-8.

For a visual representation, here is Sporting Gijon before this stretch:

Before meth
And here is Sporting Gijon after:

After meth
Friends don't let friends run the Gauntlet of Spanish soccer.

September 26, 2008

Robinho has lost his mind

Everyone's favorite traveling salesman is officially batsh*t insane. Robinho has fired his agent, Wagner Ribeiro, the one that not only got him his record-setting transfer to Manchester City, but a previous record-setting transfer to Real Madrid. Who is replacing Ribeiro? Robinho's dad, of course!

For the unfamiliar, this is the American equivalent of Manny Ramirez getting a record-breaking deal with Scott Boras as his agent and then firing him a month later. In fact, this latest episode, combined with the transfer drama and the recent use of a helicopter to get to practice with the Brazilian national team, I've come up with the new math:Robinho = MannyLearn it. Live it.

Images courtesy Soccerlens and Cleveland Leader

Joe Kinnear to manage Newcastle...kind of

Joe in simpler timesThe sad tale of Newcastle under Mike Ashley has taken another bizarre twist. Ashley is so confident 1) he will sell the club soon and 2) the next owner will hate Ashley's selection of a manager, he has hired Joe Kinnear, former manager at Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest, but only through October.

In a statement made only to protect his family, Kinnear told BBC Radio, "the new owners have Kevin Keegan and possibly Alan Shearer parked around the corner."

Hopefully he will have enough time to employ the training methods he learned as manager of Nepal's national team. No confirmation as to whether Michael Owen will be chased by a yak to improve his conditioning.

Opening Whistle 9-26-08

Vasco de Gama gonna get you, fat boy. [The Beautiful Game]

A Korean's last name is Short? Roy Keane's going to love that. [EPL Talk]

This year is the last UEFA Cup ever! Well, sort of. [Four Four Two]

If we had similar punishments here in the U.S. there wouldn't be a single profitable bar in New Jersey. [Hereford Times]

“I know he only wants me for my giant, fake breasts and my supermodel-perfect ass, but I don’t quite care.” [The Offside]

September 25, 2008

OK, now I know we're in trouble

When I read that FIFA had fined the Croatian Football Federation £14,920 for racist slurs shouted at Emile Heskey, I thought, "That's an odd number." Then I saw that it equated CHF 30,000. That means the Swiss franc is worth about half a pound. So is the U.S. dollar.

Oh sh*t.

The Swiss franc? Really, the dollar is worth just slightly more than the Swiss franc?

I haven't heard anyone else mention it, so please alert me to much better arguments than the one I'm about to make, but the declining value of the dollar might do more to hurt the progress of MLS than any other factor.

Next year, MLS will start its most aggressive expansion plan with the birth of Sounders FC in Seattle and a team in Philadelphia the following season. Several other cities have lined up to join the league. This means MLS will need many more quality players quickly to avoid a sharp dilution in talent, the very thing that killed the NASL. Unless the American pipeline is backed up with talent ready to shine, this means MLS will need to go abroad to find its players.

Currently European players would lose a lot of purchasing power by moving to the U.S. According to the Economist, the pound is overvalued against the dollar by more than 18 percent, while the Euro is overvalued by more than 55. Unless the players MLS brings in will be receiving raises to compensate (or extra marketing deals), the European players have no reason to come.

With that thought in mind, I suggest MLS target players from countries where the dollar is much stronger. Here are my suggestions based on the relative value of the dollar and my wholly uneducated guess as to the level of talent:


I'm pretty sure MLS scouts cover South America to a ridiculous degree, but maybe they might want to focus more on the two nations mentioned above. I know about the J-League and A-League but not much. I also know Egypt just won the African Cup of Nations, so they must have some talent. All of this is just a shot in the dark, and in a year from now the countries on that list will undoubtedly change, but the economic knowledge is another tool MLS scouts could use to bolster their arguments when convincing certain foreign players to come here.

Roy Keane makes no sense

Sunderland's manager acted as if he hadn't been in professional soccer for more than 17 years when he remarked that he wouldn't tolerate "abuse" from random fans. In fact, if you take his words at face value, it sounds like he's ready to quit:

The abuse, I know it is part of football, but that is something I won't tolerate.

So, Roy, if you know it's part of the game yet you refuse to accept it, what exactly do you plan to do? My guess: you become a florist. I've never heard of a florist being attacked.

We have so many flowers because it rains all the damn time

Help Roy think of a name for his new endeavor. Leave your idea for his floral shop in the comments.

Opening Whistle 9-25-08

World Cup 2010 has its anthem. Zakumi's dance routine to be determined. [The Times]

Marta is LA's new Beckham. [100 Percent Soccer]

Aston Villa lose to QPR in the Carling Cup entirely because of karma. [Football365]

Pogatetz has just completed Step 2 of the Official Athlete Crisis Management Program. [The Guardian]

Borat is assuredly fuming over the talent his southern neighbors are acquiring. [The Beautiful Game]

September 24, 2008

Corona is a necessary evil

While waiting for the DC United-Marathon feed to come back, I noticed that CONCACAF Champions Cup is now sponsored by Corona! It means more of that awful Kenny Chesney commercial, but I'll take it if it means the tournament gets a bigger presence.

Ramos and Roman need to hug it out

RAMOS: Roman! Push ball to left and run in a circle.

PAVLYUCHENKO: (stares blankly)

RAMOS: Make two-one with Bent!

PAVLYUCHEKNO: (dribbles into crowd of defenders and loses the ball)

RAMOS: Drop your...your... your back! Bananas, seven, to go!

/halftime whistle blows

PAVLYUCHENKO: Coach, no understand.

RAMOS: Then out. you must learn to then spe...speak like me.

PAVLYUCHENKO: (shakes head, sits down, wonders why he didn't sign with Arsenal)

h/t: EPL Talk

Opening Whistle 9-24-08

This picture will most likely be used against Valencia very soon. [Juankas Liga]

Michel Platini fears robots will eventually take over if replay is allowed. [The Canadian Press]

This rating system confuses me? How many Zunes are equal to a bottle of low-end scotch? [Synthetic Turf]

An impassioned argument for more American players in MLS. Plus he uses Aston Villa as an example, so he's obviously a smart guy. [Going to the Mat]

Holy crap! Sven can speak Spanish! [Sideline Views]

September 23, 2008

If it's in a song it must be true

My blatant bit of homerism for the day:

Also check out the one about John Carew.

Where did his accent go?

That got out of hand

FC Hollywood is crumbling!

Stupidity amongst spoiled fans is not a solely American quality: more than 60% of survey respondents believe 39-year old Oliver Kahn should come out of retirement to replace Michael Rensing in goal for Bayern Munich. To remind the Munich faithful just how old Kahn is, here is a list of people younger than your legend.

- Claudia Schiffer

- Oliver Reidel of Rammstein

- Ole Gunnar Solskjær

- Alexi Lalas

Big hair, industrial metal, Norwegians who look like children and bad goatees. Do we really want to go back to that?

Opening Whistle 9-23-08

Wait, does Shalrie Joseph mean he agrees or disagrees with Bill O'Reilly? []

Man City might not have the coin for Ronaldo, Fabregas and Torres after all. [The Run of Play]

Obviously they're already looking at bringing Sounders FC. [Offside Rules]

If you're not watching "I'm on Setanta" yet, you should. [The Beautiful Game]

It's the equivalent of Donald Trump needing a submarine because his helicopter is in the shop. [Real Madrid Talk]

September 22, 2008

Tremble before his might

World Cup Chairman Danny Jordaan knows his time on this mortal coil is soon to end now that he is in the clutches of the feared ZAKUMI! He must not have seen him coming due to the camouflage from Zakumi's green hair.

Zakumi vs. Nightmare Ant. Let's make this happen.

PSA from Qatar

Hi kids! Today we're going to learn about rules. You know what those are, right? Those are the things that are created to make sure everyone gets treated fairly. Rules are everywhere: we use them at the grocery store, at school, and anywhere else you can think of. If nobody followed the rules, very bad things would happen, like big kids stealing your lunch or pushing you down.

Sometimes people break the rules even if they know they're not supposed to. We don't like that, do we? Of course not. When people break the rules, they have to be punished so they learn not to do it again. This might have happened to you. Did you like it when your favorite toy was taken away because you called your daddy worthless for never getting a job? No, I didn't think you did.

But what if you break a rule and you didn't know it was a rule? Well, here in Qatar, if you do that, it's OK! Here's an example: You can let people play at your house even if they're not supposed to be there, just as long as you don't know that ahead of time. Maybe someone played at a house in Brazil, which means they're not supposed to play at your house in Qatar. Did you know they played at a house in Brazil first? No? Then you're fine! Don't worry if your Iraqi friends get mad at you, because the grownup in charge will tell them why you didn't do anything wrong.

That's all for today, kids, but remember - don't learn the rules in the first place and you can't be punished! Be safe, and buy more oil!

Thanks to for the picture

Indecent Proposal

A Nigerian consortium wants to become the first African owners in the Premier League by purchasing Newcastle. Chris Nathaniel, CEO of the company handling the deal, says "the consortium of Nigerian entrepreneurs has so far contributed £350million to buy the club." Nathaniel then emailed* Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to make official his intentions:

From: Chris Nathaniel []

Dear Sir,

I wish to inform you of a business venture that I believe will be Fortune for the both of us. I am a wealthy businessman who has raised a Significant amount of money for a Premier League football club but now I am looking for a responsible beneficiary for these funds. We have heard from a reliable source that you are the kind of person we seek.

You will need to do no work. All we ask is a viable bank account so we can transfer the money. Then when the deal is complete we will contact you again.

Without your help we will never be able to realize our Dream of owning a Premier League football team. Your kindness will be remembered for generations. I understand this request is unusual but all Great deeds are.

Yours in trust,
Mr Chris Nathaniel

*This is satire. I wish the Nigerian consortium all the best in their attempts to make history.

Opening Whistle 9-22-08

NYC bartenders uncover the ultimate conspiracy. [MLS Rumors Rumors]

Because just buying PVC pipe and netting to make a couple goals is sooooo plebian. [The Original Winger]

Ashley Young will never do anything nice for anyone again. [The Sun]

Why one half of the North London Derby sits atop the Premier League standings while the other sits at the bottom. [Arsenal Truth]

It's just like Euro - England isn't in! [mCalcio]

September 20, 2008

A new MLS schedule?

On BBC's World Football Phone-In, Sean Wheelock reported MLS is considering moving its schedule to an Apertura/Clausura format in order to better cooperate with players' national team duties. Under the proposed structure, the Apertura would run from August to November and the Clausura would run from February to May.

Many will be happy to see MLS cooperating more with FIFA, but this structure is not the answer. American fans are used to a single-season format. How will they know which season is more important? If they're equally important, do they suddenly matter less because players have more opportunities to win a title? What about the MLS Cup? If anyone knows whether Wheelock commented on these questions please let me know. Until then (and maybe after depending on the answers I receive) I cannot believe this change will appeal to Americans.

If MLS does approve this format, I think the Clausura would attract a lot of attention but the Apertura would be running against baseball pennant races plus college and pro football. I don't believe MLS should be running away from competition but I don't agree with the idea of holding an entire season during the time MLS is least likely to gain new fans.

The day after Major League Baseball's All-Star Game (usually in the middle of July) is the deadest day of the sports year. Every other major sport is in its offseason. MLS needs to capitalize on this opportunity by showcasing its talent across the country. I believe MLS should either begin or end its season on this date. The former option would result in a December-July schedule, the latter a July-January schedule (given the current 8-month format). I believe the former option would make FIFA happier, leaving the end of July and all of August open for international competition.

The most glaring critique of this idea is the weather gets hotter as the season progresses, leaving the players potentially drained by the end and showing the fans a bad product at the worst possible time. I can't respond to that since I have no personal knowledge of the demands of an MLS season.

The second most crippling argument concerns the fans. Who will want to go to a game in Toronto or Chicago in February? My answer: the same people who would want to go to one if MLS went to an Apertura/Clausura format. It's simply not a perfect schedule with respect to the weather. MLS currently utilizes the schedule most agreeable with sitting outside for two hours so any change would face that criticism.

MLS has an opportunity to both make amends with the international soccer community and gain exposure at home. With its current expansion plans exposing the league to new cities, MLS will never have a better time to make a change of this magnitude. I hope its leaders will see the potential and take the risks necessary to expand soccer's profile in America.

September 19, 2008

Maradona in black and blue?

No links today; my morning has been too Comcastic.

Today's unbelievable moment comes courtesy of Inter Milan. Three consecutive Serie A titles and Jose Mourinho aren't enough for president Massimo Moratti. The man wants to bring in Diego Maradona as a consultant.

/Fast forward through cocaine jokes

He's one of the greatest players of all time, but that doesn't mean he can pass along his greatness. Some players' create their magic through instinct, not repeatable steps. If Maradona is hired, I'll want to see if he can slow the game down enough to walk through not just his actions, but his thoughts as well. The most difficult knowledge to pass on is not technique, but vision.

More importantly, this opportunity could be Maradona's last chance to redeem himself. I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out Moratti uses Maradona for little more than a mascot, at least until Maradona can prove he can stay clean. If I were responsible for a club the size of Inter Milan I wouldn't want to subject them to anything potentially devastating: the players expose themselves to enough of that on their own.

My guess: Moratti wants to help a fallen idol. He will slowly introduce Maradona to the team and way of life. Maradona will likely stumble once, but Moratti will quickly inform him that such behavior is unacceptable with so much at stake for Inter. I just hope Maradona will listen.

September 18, 2008

Michael Ballack has a blog

And he's kind enough to post it in German AND English. He's the second professional player, after Alexandre Song, to post for Footbo, a soccer social networking site. Of course, he manages to say not one interesting thing, reverting to such cliches as, "We're confident of our abilities but we know it'll be hard work."

Michael, please. Just because a blog post has your name on it does not make it inherently awesome. There are plenty of other athletes who manage to give us some really good stuff, so I know it's possible. Hell, you're a German, living in England, playing on a team coached by a Brazilian and owned by a Russian. You probably have millions of stories that don't even involve hookers, so it's cool, you're safe.

Hopefully soon we will see a Premier League player who will tell us the kinds of things that go through a player's mind throughout the season and some (clean) inside intel. That player will be revered and hailed as a people's champion, especially when the skyrocketing price of tickets could make fans feel alienated and shut out. Step up, player to be named, and let us in. At the very least you'll likely get an extra marketing deal out of it.

Opening Whistle 9-18-08

Sepp Blatter, always the politician. [Telegraph via Soccer America]

I would like to point out that two high-profile teams currently playing in the UEFA Cup would be relegated if the season ended today. [The Star]

Slammin' Mike, still living up to his name. [The Spoiler]

Interesting discussion of ESPN's possible acquisition of Premier League TV rights. [EPL Talk]

Lyon, you suck at life. [The Offside]

September 17, 2008

Sepp Blatter knows how to get down

After seeing the progress South Africa has made toward hosting World Cup 2010, Sepp Blatter reportedly danced on the plane. This shouldn't surprise you: Blatter has been shaking his moneymaker around the world. Here's the proof:

Sepp showing his moves in Dirty Jersey

And everyone knew he was partying with Mike Ashley

Sometimes he even slips the headphones on and rocks the club

I can only hope to be as spry when I'm his age.

The new America's Team

Thanks to flickr user dan_sobolev and my buddy Dave.

The next MLS target

Kendall Jagdeosingh of Puerto Rico Islanders. Jag-dee-oh-sing.

The man runs like a gazelle. He's only 22. I couldn't find any good pictures of him, but when I do they'll definitely be up here. After he led the Islanders to their 2-1 victory over Tauro FC last night as well as their qualifying victory over Costa Rica's Alajuelense (in which he also scored), I started to think he might be able to lead this team to the knockout round, an amazing accomplishment for a USL-1 side, even for one that's top of the table. Run-on sentences aside, I better see him in MLS next season. Owners, you're officially on notice.

Opening Whistle 9-17-08

Women's Professional Soccer divvied up the U.S. National Team among the franchises. Will we see a blog dedicated to their HABs? [Women's Professional Soccer]

Cruz Beckham is totally awesome. [Kickette]

I hope D isn't too hungover this morning. [The DCenters]

On a much more somber note: Portable soccer goal responsible for 21-month old's death. Recall has been issued. [100 Percent Soccer]

Brush up on your Seattle soccer history before Drew Carey and Sounders FC destroy everything you've ever loved. [The Offside Rules]

September 16, 2008

Who the F**K are Cluj?

Your worst nightmare, that's who

The light at the end of the tunnel? That's Cluj! CLUUUUUUUUUUJ!

Seriously, who saw this coming? A win? Against Roma? On the road? I love this. Plus, they have some pretty sweet Man Clothing. Want.

Here's a promise. You guys beat Chelsea and I will buy it and wear it until it unravels. I hereby declare CFR Cluj as the official Romanian side of Federation Soccer.


Where will MLS go next?

MLS Fever (not to be confused with typhoid fever, which took my brother's life near Fort Kearney) has spread faster than the video that makes my taco pop. No fewer than nine cities are actively seeking the next expansion bid. Time to handicap the field.

Ottawa: 20/1 The new kids in the Race to Expansion™, Ottawa's biggest draw is its obvious rivalry with Toronto. The proposed 30,000 seat stadium sounds great, but does anyone in Ottawa want soccer besides Eugene Melnyk? I don't see the local hype...yet.

Vancouver: 6/1 Steve Nash isn't a definite yet, but Vancouver might not even need him. The Whitecaps have great support and the city has successfully hosted the U-20 World Cup with an eye on the 2011 Women's World Cup. Vancouver is obviously a great soccer town and would welcome MLS.

Montreal: 8/1 The city already has a soccer-specific stadium with plans to expand. Its USL-1 team, the Impact, not only defeated Toronto FC for a spot in CONCACAF Champions League qualifying but have advanced to the group stages.

Portland: 12/1 A natural rivalry with Seattle and a successful USL-1 team make Portland an easy pick. However, Portland does not appear likely to build a soccer-only stadium, but instead renovate its current baseball field. I guess that could work, but if I were the commish I wouldn't give them the next club until it was done. See you in 2012.

Las Vegas: 100/1 I couldn't find any recent articles or blog posts with specifics on Las Vegas' bid, so unless the Maloof Brothers start partying with CR7, Sin City will have to keep waiting for a major sports franchise.

St. Louis: 4/1 With a website full of testimonials, St. Louis is pretty effing serious about getting an MLS franchise. The STL-KC rivalry would have an extra facet, which I personally enjoy (Ed. note: I went to Mizzou. Go Tigers!). The criticism of the size of the market seems to be moot since MLS is more concerned with the enthusiasm for soccer ahead of overall market size.

New York: 15/1 But then there's a market like NYC. I've written previously about the idea of bringing a second club to the area, and I have no doubt the team would be successful. I fully expect to see MLS place another team here, but maybe as the 20th franchise.

Miami: 30/1 I would have placed them at 100/1 if Barcelona weren't interested in buying the USL-1 team there and and converting it into a sister club. Even with the power and prestige behind this option, MLS is more likely to remember the epic failure of the Fusion. Add the previous failure to the overall poor quality of the Miami sports market and the fact they don't currently plan on having their own stadium, and Barca will need more than cash and their name to succeed. They'll need...Carlos Valderrama.

The perfect chip when you need to get hammered

Valderrama is the all-time MLS assist leader and a member of the MLS All-Time Best XI. And I heard he has a unique look. Have you heard about that?

Atlanta: Eleventy billion/1

So get ready, Vancouver and St. Louis. You'll most likely be the welcome break from every other team's grueling schedule.

(h/t: Du Nord, flickr user worldwidewandering, The Original Winger)

Opening Whistle 9-16-08

Child labor? Not funny at all. We need to do something about this. [Fanhouse]

Torsten Frings, however, is frickin' hysterical. [Kickette]

There's the Mourinho I know and love. [Transfer Rumour]

Terry's red card has vanished, just like the power of the ref who gave it to him. [BBC]

Marseille's coach is just brimming with confidence fear as Champions League is set to begin. [Rubberband Man's Blog]

September 15, 2008

Notes from Villa-Spurs

-For all the money Spurs have spent in midfield and attack, their back four is still shaky. Poor clearances and miscommunication...basic stuff.

- Villa attacked much more than in recent games. The attack looked more organized, too. When I saw Nigel Reo-Coker starting again on the right side I almost choked, thinking, "Where's Milner?" But it worked. I guess Martin O'Neill knows what he's doing, after all.

- Spurs lack a true holding midfielder to direct traffic.

- Agbonlahor played more on the wings, which I think utilized his speed more. I always saw him more of an attacking winger than a true center forward.

- Gareth Barry got Man of the Match but I didn't see it. Some good passing Petrov and Young were much more effective.

DIC Doesn't Want In

DIC has pulled out of talks with Liverpool FC and wants no part of Newcastle, so sayeth the Guardian. They've also reported how badly Ashley wants DIC to take over because he knows Newcastle fans would love to see that DIC cheese blown on the planet's best players.

The good news? Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who supposedly owns DIC but has no control over it, is considering putting up his own money to buy Liverpool. It's only fair that he go for them and not Newcastle: Liverpool's fans have been protesting much longer.

DIC = Dubai Investment Consortium


Opening Whistle 9-15-08

Top 10 flops at Chelsea during the Roman Abramovich Era. If I had been doing this blog 3 years ago, Asier Del Horno would have been my favorite whipping boy. [The Kaki Bangku]

"With this Golden Boot, I have changed football a little." Only if it's wedged into your colon, CR7. [FourFourTwo]

Ottawa wants an MLS franchise. With Vancouver and Montreal also bidding for expansion teams, Canada's takeover plot has begun. [MLS Expansion and Development]

Fabian Espindola honestly feels terrible about his bone-breaking flip. [Sideline Views]

Charles Renken doesn't buy into the hype, mostly because he's gone through more misfortune than we can wrap our privileged little minds around. [Soccernet]

September 14, 2008

We'll miss you, Slammin' Mike

Slammin' Mike Ashley has put Newcastle up for sale. It only makes sense: it's hard to run a team into the ground by undermining its most popular manager and selling its best young talent while buying champagne for people you don't know.

Ashley predictably used the excuse that he couldn't keep pace with his fellow billionaire owners. If he didn't realize the debt he would be assuming when he bought the club, it's amazing he's amassed the wealth he has. If he didn't comprehend the realities of today's Premier League, he's just blind. I don't know which is worse as an owner.

On the bright side, Ashley has scientifically proven that protests by English fans are only audible (or capable of recognition) by English ears. From his statement, "You don't need to demonstrate against me again because I have got the message." We Americans must not be tuned to the proper frequencies.

September 12, 2008

He bumped up their Q rating to 4

Rancid's drummer, Branden Steineckert, is a big Real Salt Lake fan. Yes, that Rancid.

Don't think the fans would enjoy the mohawks, though. They'd get in the way of the sight lines! Ha, you thought I was going to make a crack on SLC. Anyway, here are some equally incongruous matches I'd love to see:

Bow Wow for Columbus Crew
Dave Chappelle for DC United
Renee Zellweger for Houston Dynamo
Burt Bacharach for Kansas City Wizards

It's about time MLS got some celebrity fans besides at Galaxy games, so props to you, Mr. Steineckert. Got an idea for a celebrity fan you'd love to see? Leave it in the comments.

What they don't want you to know

How does a Premier League shirt sponsor go bankrupt? Federation Soccer has unearthed the conspiracy, and it's not a theory. Here are the facts:

XL Holidays goes bankrupt, owes West Ham £5 million.
Valon Behrami, Swiss international, was recently purchased from Lazio for £5 million.
Behrami's nickname growing up was Pepperami.
Peperami's ads are voiced over by Adrian Edmonson.
Adrian Edmonson performed in a TV series The Comic Strip with Alexei Sayle.
Alexei Sayle joined the Communist Party of Britain in 1968.
The Communist Party of Britain strongly opposes the European Union.

Now it all makes sense! Alexei Sayle, through Adrian Edmonson's influence in popular culture, has undermined XL Holidays at the perfect time, forcing West Ham to return Behrami to reclaim the £5 million. By sending Behrami back, it will begin a domino effect throughout England that will force all Premier League clubs to relinquish their foreign players and return to simpler times where players did not cross boundaries to earn a living. +1, Commies.

Photo from

Opening Whistle 9-12-08

The editor of BBC Sport chimes in on foreign ownership in the Premier League. [Mihir Rose via Global Futbol]

Abu Dhabi United Group address Man City fans. Hilarity ensues. [Deuce of Davenport]

Protests! Yay! [EPL Talk]

Schelotto probably won't play for the Crew on Saturday, but at least we didn't hear it from his mom. [Covering the Crew]

What the hell is Schalke's mascot? [The Best Eleven]

September 11, 2008

Red Bull's perennial little brother

David Howard of the New York Mets has stated his plans to purchase an MLS club. (Aside: This makes the Villannette very excited: she's originally from Queens.) With their new all-sports channel and likely NYC location (read: not Jersey), the team will have a great chance to build a huge lead and choke it away in the final month of the season. But hey, they'll be in New York, so they'll be valuable, even if they're not any good.

All snark aside, this would be a great opportunity for MLS. New York can certainly support two teams. In fact, since the team (whenever it happens) will be in NYC proper it will become an instant attraction for foreign stars not quite ready for the bright lights, intense media scrutiny and fast pace of Salt Lake City. Dang, there goes the snark again. I love you SLC!

First reader contest!

Hope you enjoyed the liveblog last night. Now it's your chance to contribute. Let me see your Photoshop skills as you come up with the best enhancement to this wallpaper:

This is just screaming for the Photoshop treatment. Click here for better resolution. Good luck!

Opening Whistle 9-11-08

How much would I like to be Theo Walcott? I think I could handle being a ridiculously talented soccer player, thankyouverymuch. [Soccer FanHouse]

I told you Roy Keane was being a douchenugget. Jack Warner thinks so too, and his opinion is worth a lot more. [Global Futbol]

Because even the afterlife in Hamburg is boring without soccer. [Unprofessional Foul]

Will Steven Gerrard get the Brett Favre treatment? [The Original Winger]

OK, fine, one less reason to hate Boston sports. [The Offside Rules]

September 10, 2008

U.S. World Cup Qualifier LIVEBLOG

Catania or death?

Catania fans have been banned from attending their club's match at Inter Milan this weekend. I don't quite understand how that works - do the security guards ask each fan who they're rooting for as they enter the stadium? I would think this is an easy situation for Catania fans to get around:

Guard: Catania or Inter?
Catania Fan: Inter.
Guard: OK, you can get through.

See, I just did it! For further help, I'll let my friend Eddie demonstrate:

With this guide, any Catania fan should be able to cause further havoc and destruction. Good luck!

Foot goes to the ball, not mouth

Quite the kerfuffle (I love that word!) in the land of underachievers as Harry Hotspur posted some advice from a Tottenham employee to new signing Roman Pavlyuchenko.
“A lot of dark-skinned people live there,” Rebrov said. “So naturally the crime rate is higher than anywhere else. It’s not nice to be a robbery victim. So I suggest that Roman doesn’t walk but drives around that area.”
Holy crap, that's some of the most patently racist stuff I've heard in a long time. I thought England was supposed to be better about that than America.

So yeah, the employee (Rebrov) is a pathetic waste of space. Had Harry Hotspur said something to that effect, we could have all made our derisive jokes about Rebrov and continued with our day. Unfortunately, Harry Hotspur perpetuated this garbage:
The immeadiate and arguably politically correct response to seeing his words is to bark RACIST!!! and demand... well. demand something or other.
Arguably? Arguably?! Screw political correctness, that's blatant. Harry then goes on to break down the rest of the statement journo-style for reasons I don't want to understand. He was obviously reprimanded and thankfully has issued an apology.

Now what to do about Rebrov?

Opening Whistle 9-10-08

Note to Roy Keane: This one isn't your call, douchenugget. [EPL Talk]

I think the Philly franchise is already worth more than the KC Wizards. [100 Percent Soccer]

The ankle's not broken, but it's going to take four to eight weeks to fix his ego. [Soccer by Ives]

FIFA has a Master's program? What kind of student aid can I get? [Trinidad Express]

England might actually win an international competition. [Mirror]

And finally, I want to let you know that I'll be liveblogging the U.S.' World Cup Qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago starting at 7PM CDT. Hope you can join.