Archive for May, 2011

Bob Bradley Starts Talking Gold Cup

US Coach Bob Bradley, Fifa style.

Bob Bradley snuck into a Detroit Free-Press piece three days ago on the first Gold Cup game in Detroit:

“I would say that, for sure, there’s a nucleus of good players that will continue to be there for us — Timmy Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo and Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley and Landon (Donovan). I think there’ll be a strong carryover for our team that was in South Africa, but at the same time we’ve begun the process of introducing some new players.

“Juan Agudelo has started and has had some initial success. Timmy Chandler played well in these last two, against Argentina and Paraguay, and I think (he) is an exciting player moving forward. It’s all about transition, and all of that has been done with a real eye for putting together the best roster possible for the Gold Cup.

“Tim Ream, who also plays for the Red Bulls, is a player that now has come into our team and I thought did well in these last games.”

TSG: The TSG read? Michael Bradley is the point person in the middle, independent of injuries or playing time. You’re going to see Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler on the Gold Cup roster–though there was little doubt those players would be there. The whole article can be found here.

More: Bradley’s Clipboard: Gold Cup Roster Addition

Survey: On MLS Ticketing

A few weeks ago, I questioned the merit of the New York Red Bulls and other MLS teams using Groupon, the popular group discounting site, to move tickets.

Who wants a ticket discount? Actually doesn't work that way...

Working in Silicon Valley (and mind you Groupon is based in Chicago), we’re deluged with tech companies and “tech-hopeful companies” (companies who have one feature, but lack a true business model) all the time and there is often a pre-disposition by existing brands to glom on to the latest tech company or partner su jour just for the brand equity value so they can say they’re hip or on the vanguard of technology.

In terms of Groupon–the current tech high flyer–I reasoned that fans would be conditioned to wait to purchase MLS tickets until they became available on Groupon and that season ticket holders would be upset–and clubs would face a backlash when they saw fans could wait and buy hugely discounted tickets and maybe get some goodies to go with it.

Groupon, I reasoned, would only be good for building an email list and marketing to fans after the Groupon offer.

Turns out–as is typically the case–I was half-right, half-wrong. First on the right side, many teams do use Groupon just to build list and question the long-term viability. However, most fans–those I talked to were the hard-core passionate type on Twitter–actually were fine with the offerings just to increase support for their team.

Didn’t expect that.

Given that TSG preaches statistical or experiential evidence above all, we reached out to a few ticket departments at MLS hops and got quite an education.

Below, a compiling of answers from the Chicago Fire, FC Dallas and Sporting KC on MLS ticket sales and ticket philosophies.

A huge thanks to the respective Director of Sales at each organization, specifically Jake Reid of Sporting KC, Kris Katseanes of FC Dallas and Mike Ernst of the Chicago Fire (with support from Communications Manager Brendan Hannan.)

Let’s go.

On ticketing sales, have sales thus far been in line with what was forecasted at the beginning of the year? If possible, please offer your season ticket projections versus year to date.

JR, Sporting KC: Right now sales are exceeding expectations for the year for our season tickets.  We had hoped to be at 10,000 by the home opener on June 9th, and we have already surpassed that figure.

KK, FC Dallas: Sales have been great, and we have surpassed our renewal and new FSE goals.  Through four games, we are a bit ahead of our overall group sales plan. (*TSG note: FSE stands for Full Season Equivalents. It’s the number of seats guaranteed to be sold per game before groups and individuals buy tickets.)

ME & BH, Chicago Fire: The Club set a record for most new season tickets sold in a year. Through four games, our paid attendance is up 19% over 2010.

*TSG Note: Important to remember that the US economy on average is better in 2011 than in 2010.

What’s a challenge that is unique to marketing and selling tickets for your specific team?

JR, Sporting KC: We have at an extremely busy year with the rebrand of the team, the new stadium being build, and starting the season with 10 straight road games.  Our biggest challenge thus far has been selling season tickets without having a home game until June!

Super Bowl shuffling...just a part of Chicago's challenge...

ME & BH, Chicago Fire:  The Fire face the challenge of playing in one of the most saturated sports markets in the United States. Chicago contains a number of storied sports franchises. The competition for the sports entertainment dollar can be a challenge in our market.

KK, FC Dallas: Relevance in the marketplace…going head to head with long-standing traditions of the Cowboys, Mavs and Rangers…we’ll get past it, but it is the biggest battle we face.

On average how does team performance impact ticket sales in MLS soccer in season?

JR, Sporting KC:  Certainly team performance will always play a factor.  However, I believe with season ticket sales most of the buying process comes down to value (cost savings vs single game tickets), extra benefits, and the level of service they receive throughout the year.  It’s tough to judge how team performance has affected us, because our fans have yet to see us win or lose at home.

ME & BH, Chicago Fire: MLS is like any other sport in that there is a correlation between ticket sales and team performance. We feel the biggest impact from team performance in our Ticketmaster and Walk Up sales. (*TSG note: “Ticketmaster” sales are likely those that come from marketing a “Geo”…as in a city…and not the specific team as the Fire do on their tickets page of their web site.)

Continue reading

Bullets: On FIFA’s Presidency, Run DMB & The Food Network

• Honestly, what’s left? Sunil Gulati out Monday saying that CONCACAF won’t influence how the US votes in the upcoming FIFA presidential election.

Gulati played the game all wrong. (Photo credit: The Villager newspaper)

Our sentiments? Big deal. Why not just vote with CONCACAF? What is gained now?

Without getting flowery and nationalistic, the United States and it’s soccer foundation as is this country’s heritage and what it stands for should have stood up and questioned the voting process that awarded both Russia and Qatar the forthcoming World Cups. They should have stood up when FIFA awarded the World Cup to a country that does not treat females or those of diverse sexual orientation equally.

That’s not sour grapes for the US. That’s a legitimate beef. What would have been lost?

Not being influenced by CONCACAF now? Hollow, just hollow.

• MLS: Juan Pablo Angel gets his 2nd goal of the season on what you might call a frenetic play and MLS Soccer poses the question Tuesday: “Are the floodgates open?”

Class, everyone together now: TSG Axiom: “You can’t look at observations in isolation, you have to look at the whole body of work.”

What does that mean here? JPA has hardly looked liked the lethal striker that once threatened teams by his lonesome up top. Two goals, 12 games, and assuming a pick-up in familiarity with his teammates. That makes, what, 7, 8 goals on the season. That’s not DP worthy unless you are creating chances. Sorry.

•  In the other dressing room: Three goals and a Player of the Week award weren’t expected of Justin Braun when he entered the line-up Sunday, but the Salt Lake City native certainly had the ability to produce. Last year, starved of service, Braun still went 9 and 3, goals and assists respectively with little around him for Chivas.

Braun’s late arrival in the starting line-up is just about the only place that new Coach Robin Fraser has erred this season.

That said, it also a reminders that in the domestic league tough defense and grit still win over attacking football…if you don’t have the pieces. (Exceptions: Real Salt Lake and New York Red Bulls, maybe)

• Hell of an ending in Findleyville between Swansea and Nottingham Forrest Monday. I’m looking for the video. It’s worth it.



• Media: A caution to Fox Soccer and ESPN from….the Food Network. The Food Network has done a decent job over the past decade realizing the following: That if you build your brand around stars, they have the leverage and can command beaucoup dollars in contract negotiations for the very fame that exposure on the network gave them. The Food Network saw this with Emeril Lagasse among others.

With ESPN and Fox consistently pushing their audiences to follow Taylor Twellman, Alexi Lalas and Kyle Martino respectively on Twitter, they’re sort of making the same mistake.

Fox Soccer, however, is worse off for this strategy. While ESPN still brings a fair amount of production value (maybe not promotion) to their broadcast, Fox brings neither and they run the risk of letting institutional network walk out the door when another network (Versus, an MLS Soccer Network?) eventually comes calling.

SportsCenter is a format. Soccer In America is lipstick on the proverbial….and I’m not buying it Fox.

• An injured Charlie Davies will be out for a few weeks and insights into Bob Bradley’s psyche are again rainchecked in 2011.

First Stu Holden gets banged up and US fans don’t get to see line-up selections at full force against Argentina and Paraguay. Now Davies is out and the question of whether he would have been chosen likely moves to the back burner.

Very interesting questions on the Gold Cup roster and according to US Soccer, you’ll get your answers by May 23rd.

• Jermaine Jones’ occupation location is up for grabs this weekend. Blackburn plays against Wolverhampton in a battle to stay in the Premiership. A win guarantees EPL revenues next year for the victor, a lose and some help will be needed to avoid the Championship.

A loss and Jermaine Jones unequivocably heads back to Schalke (which he may be anyway).

More coming…

Report: Landon Donovan To AS Roma?

Donovan, the younger years...

Okay, first let’s make sure to state this. Corriere dello Sport is a much better source than (which recently professed that Jozy Altidore was headed to Besiktas and that Newcastle was calling for Landon Donovan. Thus I don’t believe these Clint Dempsey, PSG rumors just yet–don’t believe them also because Dempsey just had a kid and his wife doesn’t speak French.)

Moving on.

Today, Rome daily Corriere dello Sport reported that AS Roma was interested in acquiring the Los Angeles Galaxy forward and US national team frontman.

The link apparently being the recent ownership change of Roma to by American investor Thomas DiBenedetto.

As TSG’s Serie A expert Eric Giardini has commented before Roma going to international to acquire fans seems like a given. Likewise, as TSG has commented before an American–even one slowly moving over the peak of his career–would bring brand cache, fan dollars to go along with their talent.

Donovan is on record saying that EPL’s Everton is the first place he’d like to go, so not a lot of credibility here yet, but bares watching.

TSG on Serie A: Beyond the EPL: An American At Roma, Totti: Ingloriously Slipping To Obscurity at Roma

A Little Puffery, But: Chicharito vs. Agudelo

Juan Agudelo may not be starting for the Red Bulls tonight (or in the future for that matter), but you knew with the hype surrounding the teenager that, thrust onto the Gold Cup stage this summer, he would be forever linked to Mexican superstar Chicharito.

Will the be a tete-a-tete this summer or will it be a case of Derek Jeter vs. Rey Ordonez. (NY fans know exactly what I’m talking about.)

(Was waiting for this video to hit–had it in my Google Alerts).

Yin-Yang: Boateng & Ballack

Just last year, Kevin Prince Boateng was playing at the train wreck dubbed Porstmouth FC. During a critical FA cup showdown, he put down the captain of Germany, Michael Ballack, out for the World Cup courtesy a tackle by the Ghanian on Ballack’s ankle.

Now? That moment was the inflection point as Kevin Prince Boating yesterday celebrated (see video below) AC Milan’s Scudetto victory in style while Ballack has been relegated to spot duty by Bayer Leverkusen for this campaign.

Feature: On Michael Ballack.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 250 other followers