Archive for January, 2010

Guest Post: European Pie in the Sky

TSG commenter and writer of Ninety Plus Connor Walsh contributed the following piece about US players heading overseas in a World Cup year.

McBride found success on both sides of the pond.

Every American soccer player wants a piece of it; many Americans have tried and failed in Europe’s frying pan, unable to compete, adapt, or otherwise acclimatize themselves to it.

In a World Cup year, is the added benefit of European training and the much larger stage that comes with it, a risk worth taking when a World Cup roster spot is at stake?

Major League Soccer has taken great strides in the last few years in terms of level of play, but no argument can be made when compared to it’s quality versus the majority of European Leagues. Regardless of how hard it may be for anyone to break into a top Euro side, Americans are received overseas with a certain stigma.

Only a few Americans over the years have achieved success in Europe and even then it’s moderate success at that.  Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, and Steve Cherundolo are the few names that come to mind.

The rewards for jumping ship to Europe are obvious. First, there is the pay.

The average pay in the Barclays Premier League in 2009 was $1.8 million/year.  The average pay in MLS did increase 12 percent to $129,395/year in 2008, but 119 players in MLS made the league minimum of $33,000/year or less (development players).  The large disparity in MLS wages also makes that number look much larger than it really is.  David Beckham makes the most of any player in MLS at $6.5 million/year guaranteed, but up and coming US star Stuart “Iceman” Holden of the Houston Dynamo made a paltry $34,728.75 in 2009.

Contrast that with Clint Dempsey, who is rumored to make around $36,865.71 per week staring for Fulham in the Premier League.  The gap is that big.

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USA v. Portugal 2002: World Cup Shocker

We’re finishing up our look back on 2002 with the highlights of the astounding USA victory over Portugal to kick off the tournament.

Likely World Cup 2010 participant Steve Cherundolo was on the bench in this one as John O’Brien slammed home a Brian McBride rebound off an Ernie Stewart cross to get the scoring going for the States. Portugal were already bewildered and in disarray.

The Yanks then struck again and again as Portugal’s defense was in no way prepared for the offense that the States’ unleashed.

A lasting memory of this one for me is the shear look of helplessness on the face of Luis Figo–who was at the height of his offensive powers at the time–that was captured by the camera time and time again….well that and Brian McBride’s sellout header.

….and also Pablo Mastroeni sporting an Adam Duritz of Counting Crows look…..what?!

USA 1 – South Korea 1

USA 2 – Mexico 1

USA 0 – Germany 1

Bob Goes Button-Down on The Bowling Network

Bob Bradley–in suit, no tie–on ESPN’s First Take yesterday.

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» Coach USA says his soccer doppelganger is Gerd Muller.

Liverpool vs Wolves and Spurs vs Fulham

Mister angry is back for Liverpool. I hope he stays but something tells me is out this summer

Mister Angry is back for Liverpool. Lets hope he stays but something tells me is off this summer

It’s over…better games tomorrow!

Please ref…end this

90:00 – Carragher wins a corner. A player of his class as a person does not deserve the humiliation of playing on this team. Corner comes to nothing but eventually Carragher sends in a shot that is about 10 feet wide. This has been Liverpool’s best chance.

87:00 – Liverpool really have no creativity right now. Its amazing. Obviously they miss Benayoun and Aquilani is just sitting on the bench. Rafa has done nothing. He needs to go. Trust me, i’m being positive.

83:00 – Wolves win a free kick in a dangerous area…oh dear…luckily hit straight at the wall

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San Pedro Sula North?…Not In Section 137

The match (and referee) were a disappointment on Saturday evening at the Home Depot Center, but even more disconcerting, though not shocking, was the continued lack of support for the USMNT on their home soil. Regardless of the validity of the overall attendance figures, the crowd was approaching 70 / 30 split between Honduran supporters and US supporters.

While no one expected a packed house awash in red singing God Bless America, the paltry support for the USMNT makes one wonder if the soccer hype and hipness generated by the Confederations Cup last summer expired when the calendar flipped to 2010.

The view from the American section.

US Soccer may point out that the January friendly saw an attendance increase of nearly 100% from a reported 9,918 for the match versus Sweden in 2009 to a reported 18,626 on Saturday night, but how much of that boost can be attributed to a blue-and-white opponent instead of a blue-and-yellow one?

With US Soccer spending a month on the ground, two MLS teams in residence and a population approaching 10,000,000 in Los Angeles the USMNT should have garnered better support. Of course one can contend the game was meaningless and featured the “B” team, but on-the-other-hand the US is kicking off a World Cup year after finishing first in CONCACAF qualifying and playing for the first time on the “home” turf since October.

No amount of lamenting in words is going to change the landscape overnight, but a group of people banding together in support of the USMNT has got this moving in the right direction. The enthusiasm of the US supporters in attendance on Saturday night should be commended. If you were in or around section 137 you saw what could be, and should be encouraged.

So, good folks of the American Outlaws, Sam’s Army and the US Soccer Supports Club keep fighting the good fight, think of creative ways to get people to the game and continue to forge the American soccer identity. (Any chance these groups can sit next to each other in a “super-section” of peace, harmony and raucous support?)

After a rough performance on Saturday night, US supporters need a little pick-me-up. Thankfully, Max of the Tony Danza Army has come to the rescue with another video for the people.

Home of the brave…indeed.

Added note from Matthew here:

I had the occasion to finally catch up personally with Justin Brunken, a founder of the American Outlaws USMNT support group. I have to apologize for not knowing the full history of the group at the time–I’ll claim that my writing fully envelops me completely and blindingly.

I was absolutely astounded by a few things that I wanted to add to Mark’s column here:

» Justin architected and now manages the American Outlaws (with his fellow founders) for free. I felt certain that a group as organized and as fervent as the American Outlaws certainly commanded at least one person fulltime on them. Not the case I learned; amazing. Even more amazing considering they only began in 2007.

» The chapter phenomenon is one that AO initiated and has served the American Outlaws well…..so much so that legacy fan support group Sam’s Army has decided to adopt the same approach through “brigades.”

» I had one member tell me, “These guys are great. I joined just this year and when I needed a place to stay for the Haiti game in Boston, a number of guys said I could crash at their pad.”

Can you imagine this parallel happening in other sports? I can imagine the conversation would go something like this on a message board.

“Hey I’m Matt. I’m a huge New York Giants fan and I’m going to be at the game this weekend in Kansas City. Anybody have an empty couch that they wouldn’t mind sharing for a big fan?”

“Freak!”

“Freeloader.”

“Do you have a criminal record?”

Nice work AO.

Quick Note: Stu Officially Bolton

Holden news..Davies major news...giddy-up!

The official release should come either this evening or first thing tomorrow

Stu Holden officially a Bolton Wanderer through 2010.

With the Charlie news, the Gooch news, Kenny Cooper donning the light blue for 1860, heck even the Brad Davis and Alejandro Bedoya news from Saturday, it’s a little upswing for the U.S.

The official release courtesy of courtesy of the Haptonstall Group and StuHolden.com:

Stuart Holden today signed a contract to play with the Bolton Wanderers of the English Premier League through the end of the 2009-10 season.

“I am very happy to have the chance to play for Bolton in one of the greatest leagues in the world,” Holden said. “It is exciting to have this type of opportunity and I’m looking forward to being a Bolton Wanderer.”

Holden, 24, spent the past four seasons with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer during a time in which the team twice won the MLS Cup (2006 & 2007). As a regular starter at attacking central midfield for the Dynamo in 2009, Holden recorded six goals and four assists. His five game-winning goals were the most in the MLS.

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Holy Smokes! Major CD9 News

I just went back to our 9th Minute Salute piece that was broadcast….and found this:

CD, we hope and know you’ll be up doing the stanky leg in no time…regardless of what docs may or may not say.

What a jarring reflection.

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Oguchi Onyewu: “It’s sort of a Superman story…”

ESPN and Ives Garcelep with a phenomenal and mind-boggling piece on the road to recovery with Charlie Davies. Check it out here.

Soccer By Ives has some more background and detailed first person from Charlie Davies. Worth a read.

The man who silenced Mexico City

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