Monday Bullets: MLS Playoff Odds, Golazo Czar, More…

Fantastic weekend of footie:

• MLS Playoff Odds

Big changes in the little schematic we put together last week:

• Seattle Sounders (now: 12 to 1) vs. Real Salt Lake (remains 6 to 1)

Beckerman wants you to believe...

Mauro Rosales are no Mauro Rosales, Seattle now looks dusted. While the Sounders are capable of offensive explosions (the Sounders’ 56 goals led in the regular season), hard to imagine they are going to hang at least a three-spot on the visitors from Rio Tinto on Wednesday.

For one thing, pushing for three goals creates more of an up-down game, one where RSL can be just as lethal on the counter to Seattle’s foray; for another, you have Real Salt Lake able to play a possession game and limit Seattle’s time on the ball.

With a three-goal home lead in aggregate, you would think that RSL’s Cup chances go up. But that all depends on the health of their starting centerbacks, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers who both left with injuries.

Knock, knock, that’s just Kyle Beckerman rattling the cages of all the naysayers who said he was a weak link on the US. Without Olave and later, briefly, without Borchers, Beckerman provided the cover over the back to preserve the shutout at home.

• New York Red Bulls (remains at 20 to 1) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (remains 4 to 1)

Los Angeles now the favorite–for now–on The Shin Guardian. They basically did what they had to in New York. The Galaxy–as is Bruce Arena’s perennial game plan–played for the draw on the road (Los Angeles concedes almost 50% less shots on goal when away from the Home Depot Center) and the tandem of Omar Gonzalez and AJ De La Garza sealed the central defense while Castrol Index Best XVIII’s Mike Magee tallied the lone goal.

This isn’t over for New York heading out to mid-week game in HDC. The Red Bulls appear more comfortable and commanding on the road and has of course that “nothing-to-lose” thing going for them. The loss of Rafa Marquez only stokes the fire more for the Red Bulls younger guard to prove themselves.

A dangerous position for Los Angeles, but they should still see their way through.

• Houston Dynamo (was 14 to 1, not 8 to 1) vs. Philadelphia Union (was 7 to 1, now 15 to 1)

Oops...

Whoa is TSG….flip-flopping the odds here.

How in the world do you test out a new defense–of all things–at home in Game 1 of the playoffs.

Peter Nowak–who TSG is now casually humming and walking away from as their Coach of the Year candidate–did the unthinkable. Whether the strategy to employ a five-man (or three is you prefer with wingbacks) defense may be defensible at some level–which I don’t understand because the Dynamo’s team set-up doesn’t exactly scream, “Don’t come through the middle!”–what’s not defensible is attempting to employ it on the fly in the playoff.

Philadelphia looked flummoxed in the first half on what to do and it’s their coache’s fault alone.

I find it hard to see how the Dynamo won’t defend the series at home, especially since Philadelphia made their strikers even seem dangerous.

• Sporting KC (remains 8 to 1), vs. Colorado Rapids (was 10 to 1, now 20 to 1)

I’m not sure what bothers me more: pretty everything about Colorado or Sporting KC’s playoff mantra “I believe that we will win.”

Addressing the latter, what is this….Notre Dame or something. There’s no crusade for respect going on in Kansas City. What happens if they don’t win this year, what’s their motto for next year, “I believe last year; this year I know”….c’mon now.

As for the former, from Gary Smith leaving to Omar Cummings ability to turn it on or turn it off to the overrated Marvell Wynne and Jeff Larentowicz, I just want the Rapids to go away now.

They’ve got no shot in Kansas City on Thursday, but if they somehow eek the playoff series out, I’ll say, “Both time that team acted like defending champions.” (And yes, I know they have injuries.)

———-

• The Golazo Czar

…couldn’t agree more…

Last week on Twitter, CBS Sports Reporter Dana Wessel and our friends over The Yanks Are Coming suggested that before we start calling every Kei Kamara or Fernando Torres sitter a “Golazo” that someone, perhaps TSG, rules on it over Twitter or elsewhere.

Done.

Our dual credentials: First, we’ve got the Jozy Altidore “Jolazo” trademarked over here. Second, we’ve been of the opinion for some time that it only makes Americans look (needy, desperate, insecure) if every time an American–specifically those playing outside MLS–gets a goal, the “Golazo!” term is invoked.

Golazo: Harkes for Sheffield Wednesday vs. Derby County

—-

Before we start ruling unilaterally, some questions to ponder:

» Should we make this more of a triumvirate? Instead of just a Golazo Czar–maybe we should call it the “Golazo Panel?”

What if the Czar isn’t available. Is there a second in command? Also, a blending of point tallies–”The Russian judge gives it a 4.5!”–would be better than just a single person.

» Should probably publish the results afterward. Gain feedback. So something like the “Board of Directors” of “Golazo Czar Incorporated” should be formed. You know, keep the Czars honest so that no one is on the take.

» Finally what attributes should constitute a “Golazo!” Here are some to consider:

>>> Opponent

>>> Theatrics (is it a key match?,  is it two bitter rivals?, what time during the game is it?)

>>> Expert feedback (Were Eric Wynalda, Jozy Altidore or Herculez Gomez impressed?)

>>> Individual brilliance (Sheer force, distance, location, struck with authority….all the goodies.)

Golazo: Paul Caligiuri for the USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago

—-

» And one more finally, what do we call something better than a Golazo? A Boombosa? Suggestions? How about a goal that shouldn’t have went in?

• The Global Cup

More from Twitter….

The Inaugural Global Cup (2018)

With ESPN losing the World Cup TV rights bid for 2018 and 2022 last week, we put forth two questions: (1) Would Fox ante up and improve their production value and coverage to one that is befitting of owning the TV rights and (2) Maybe this is just some elaborate ploy by Sunil Gulati, USSF and ESPN to break away from FIFA, form a legit conglomerate and have the world’s powerhouse teams sign on for a new top international prize. The Global Cup.

One reader, Brad Dulay, ran with this:

The Global Cup (AKA the ESPN Cup)

In light of ESPN losing the rights to the World Cup, I’ve developed a tournament which would allow them to maintain the rights to a major tournament and have a slightly different format that could be easily distinguished from the World Cup.

To preface, I am sure that some of these ideas may have been presented in other columns. Just go with it.

Selection Process

The primary issue with creating a new tournament is that with current tournaments eating up so much time for national teams it would be nearly impossible to have an elongated qualification process similar to the World Cup.

Therefore qualifying needs to be a very quick process where the draw is determined some exterior body that evaluates a nation’s performance over the past four to eight years and selects those who are most deserving.

Obviously the current FIFA rankings system is a joke, so it would be if that was just thrown out the window entirely.

There are a couple of ways that this selection could take place. The most obvious solution is a rankings system where a certain number teams are selected but since we are talking about a cup formatted specifically for ESPN, I think the way to go would be the combination of some type of rankings system and a selection committee which would have final say on selection and seeding. This gives ESPN and other networks hours of programming to discuss all the classic issues normally reserved for the NCAA tournament.

Hell, even Dickie V could make a cameo.

Interference with continental tournaments (Confederations Cup, African Nation’s Cup, Gold Cup, etc)

The second major issue for a new tournament is determining when the tournament should actually be held. In order assure the participation of CONMEBAL and UEFA footballing nations, it would be best to avoid their two continental tournaments, pushing the tournament into conflict with the Confederations Cup in 2013.

This wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world because it would allow teams other than the 8 in Confed Cup the opportunity to have a major tune-up the year before the World Cup and could potentially set up rivalries and revenge matches, which often are dampened due to the length of time between Cups.

Format

The problem with an additional tournament is that the offseason for top footballers is already very short and more matches could threaten to wear down these players even more. In order to address this issue and to make the format friendly for an ESPN audience the best format to use would be that of the NCAA College World Series with a couple of adjustments. It would be either 8 or 16 teams, with double elimination.

This means that yes, sadly penalties would be called upon in every non-finals match and teams wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed to play more two matches. When each group was narrowed down to the two remaining nations, just as in the CWS, the team with one loss would have to defeat the winner’s bracket team twice in order to advance.

In an eight-team tournament this round would act as the semi-finals and the winning nations would advance directly to the finals. In a 16-team tournament, the winners of these rounds would advance to the semi-finals which would only be one match, regardless of previous records.

This format would ensure the tournament moved quickly and would allow the creation of a two-legged final where the winner would not be determined by penalties. If the second match were tied after two legs of extra time, it would immediately become golden goal until a winner was determined. Thereby a true winner would emerge from the final without the asterisk that is often mentioned after a penalty.

• And in the spirit of today….Take our Footie Celeb Halloween Costume Matching Quiz:

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25 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2011/10/31 at 11:00 AM

    I mean, Nowak’s been making bizarre choices through his first two years in power in Philadelphia. I’ve yet to hear a credible explanation as to why Kyle Nakazawa played 1200 minutes this year, to take just one example.

    Reply

    • Posted by crow on 2011/10/31 at 11:18 AM

      I know. It seems that literally every week this season you and I have been on here questioning the Union lineup decisions. Guess when the lineup was most stable? During the long unbeaten streak near the end of the season.

      I was incredulous upon seeing TSG was suggesting Nowak should win coach of the year. I thought he should be fired if they missed the playoffs and still wouldn’t mind it happening although it won’t. Nowak is at best a poor man’s Bob Bradley.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/31 at 11:36 AM

        A few things here:

        (1) Nowak took a 2nd year expansion team to 2nd in the East. That’s impressive.

        (2) He improved their goal differential from -10 to +13.

        (3) He tested out line-ups. I’m fine with that. You can keep things the same & you can need to see what works.
        If I told you before the season that the Union would finish 2nd and Sebastian Le Toux would be afterthought until after the All-Star game, but they’d be really unconventional in their formation, style, etc–wouldn’t you have said that Nowak would have been Coach of the Year?

        Where you don’t test is the playoffs. That I think was poor. It reminded me of Bob Bradley out-thinking himself and believing he could generate offense against Slovenia just by inserting Jose Torres instead of Ricardo Clark.

        Did you expect LA to be good? Yes. KC did what they were supposed to. Lost on the road during the early swing; won at home–added Omar Bravo, got surprised by Sapong, etc.

        Schellas Hyndman was deserving as well.

        Nowak was in the class based upon results (largely how I considered Brad Davis.) Should he have been the winner? Now sure now after Sunday.

        Reply

        • Posted by crow on 2011/10/31 at 12:09 PM

          I would say that new personnel had the biggest effect in the Union this year. Switching from Seitz and Knighton to Mondragon and MacMath may have been the greatest goalkeeper upgrade in the history of soccer. Valdes was a massive step up from Orozco. And Brian Carroll was huge in the midfield. Carlos Ruiz helped from time to time as well.

          Nowak belongs safely in the middle class when comparing coaches in MLS. What worries me more than the offense stagnating is the fact that a lot of the young players seem to be regressing under Nowak. I do not like his approach with young players.

          Reply

          • Posted by Scipio on 2011/10/31 at 1:45 PM

            Is there a reason why Torres is on the bench? Dude looked absolutely wicked when he came in. Would’ve loved to see Adu and Torres in with Mwanga and Le Toux at the end of the game.

            Reply

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/10/31 at 3:16 PM

              You would have to ask Nowak that. Torres and Okugo have criminally been left on the bench for far too long this season. Mwanga and McInerney should have received much more playing time as well. I haven’t seen Torres or Okugo have a bad game the entire year.

              The Union need at least 2 goals on the road- I’d like to see them start a game very agressive for once:

              MONDRAGON

              WILLIAMS CALIFF VALDES G. FARFRAN

              CARROLL

              TORRES M.FARFAN

              ADU LE TOUX
              MWANGA

              I know we will never have a chance of seeing that in the 1st half, but the lineup better look something like that at the start of the 2nd half if the Union still need two goals. Maybe swap out Mwanga for McInerney when he starts to tire. I’m assuming Nowak will start Mapp, so swap him out for whoever he leaves on the bench.

              A side note- Torres came over to sign autographs after the game. There are many players who do so, but he consistently does so or talks with the fans after every game. What a great player.

        • Posted by dth on 2011/10/31 at 3:23 PM

          On balance, I think Nowak is a very good coach–don’t want that to get lost.

          Nevertheless, he has a high proportion of WTF? decisions–higher than most coaches of his caliber.

          Reply

  2. Posted by John on 2011/10/31 at 11:16 AM

    There needs to be a Independent Golazo Panel, headed up by the Chairman (who gets 1/2 the vote, and two other members (who get voting rights of 1/4). In this fashion then we will have a FIFA-esque faux democracy where the elite can forge their own choices and pass the blame on to the 1/4 member voters.

    Eventually I could see bribes coming into the mix. Could be lucrative.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jared on 2011/10/31 at 11:31 AM

    I still say Beckerman is a weak link on the US and that’s not going to change based on his MLS games. He’s a very good MLS and one of the many very good MLS players that can’t cut it at the next level.

    Do we actually see Agudelo on Thursday? Somebody needs to tell Backe that he has 3 subs and that usually it’s a good idea to use them when your team is down a goal.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/31 at 11:38 AM

      Jared:

      Do me a favor — and we’ll have a discussion on it. I completely can see how many think Beckerman is challenged at the international level.

      But watch him against Ecuador and do the following “counts”:

      * Passes completed versus missed. (Answer is already known here)
      * Reception under duress–corresponding pass (completed: yes/no)
      * Forward passes under duress

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/31 at 12:54 PM

        There is so much more to that role than passing. He’s done well on the passing but but he’s supposed to be a shield for the defense and he doesn’t do that very well. Looking at the chalkboard for that game, he’s listed as making 1 tackle, 2 interceptions and 1 clearance.

        I find his positioning to be lacking and the heat map for that game backs it up. He is upfield to the left of center for too much of that game. That’s also where the play took place that led to Boca having to pull a guy down for a yellow because Beckerman turned it over upfield. Plays like that come back to haunt you in knockout tournaments when yellow card accumulation comes into play. Central defenders need to be able to play knowing that they can get a yellow on plays where they get beat but it can’t come from the dmid turning it over upfield.

        If Beckerman was 2 or 3 years younger then I think trying him in this spot makes more sense but he’s 29. He’s not going to improve on things like positioning and it will only become more of an issue as his legs start to go. I just feel that with guys like Williams and MB90 there is no need for Beckerman (even Holden if he ever gets healthy I think would be a better fit in that position after watching him play for Bolton last year). I hope that he is unavailable in November due to MLS obligations so we can see what other guys can do in Klinsmann’s system.
        .

        Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/10/31 at 5:28 PM

          I am a fan of Beckerman in the sense that I think he is a player who squeezes every ounce of productivity out of a very limited skill set. I once described him to a friend as a player who would be great if he had any talent at all.

          I saw him as the latest version of one of my favorites, Frankie Hejduk, even though they are very different players. Not as fiery of course but then no one matches Frankie in that area.

          Still I was very surprised that JK named him to these squads and has played him so much, I was even more surprised that he has played as well as he has, since I had previously thought of him as good Gold Cup B team material and no more.

          Still he has done well and he seems to have brought some stability to a position that for whatever reason has been uneven in the hands of more talented players.

          You pointed out a mistake he made but I’m fairly certain if you tracked most of the USMNT players long enough you can always come up with such an example.

          You are focused on everything that Beckerman is not.

          I prefer to focus on what he is and what he may be at some point.

          After all I’m shocked he is even playing as well as he is. What he seems to have done is settle the position down for now. The US has given up 3 goals in the four games that he has played in. That’s not wonderful but it ain’t horrible either.

          It seems JK sees a blue collar solid, dependable player who will always give it his best . Does that mean JK sees him as a World Cup starter? Beckerman will be 32 by then and who knows, he may even get better. Who are you to say he won’t improve? Of course he could also tail off and burn out but it seems there is no shortage of pretenders to that particular throne, so why worry?

          JK himself was 33-34 in his last World Cup( scoring three goals) and played along side several players in that age bracket in World Cups. He knows age, by itself, is no reason to automatically rule out Beckerman.

          As for Williams, he looks good but this is his first season as a full time player pretty much anywhere. He was a spot player for Freiberg before moving to Hoffenheim. Perhaps JK wants to see him get in a full season first. We all saw how tired Chandler got after his frantic first season with Nurmeberg.

          Reply

      • With Beckerman, I am of the opinion that he isn’t what most US fans are looking for. Beckerman is great at the club level because he lays it all down on the line for his team and will shield the back line. Beckerman can cut out passing angles and scare an attacker off from attempting that pass, he can get stuck in and make a tackle, and once he has the ball he is more than comfortable to distribute, whether it be long or short, to someone with a shot to be dangerous offensively. That essentially is what you want your Dmid to do, but my only real criticism is that he isn’t very mobile and won’t push that far into the attack. The problem with Beckerman isn’t whether or not he can get the job done. Beckerman will get the result, but if that was all US fans wanted Bob Bradley would still be in charge.

        Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/10/31 at 8:10 PM

          Kevin,

          Okay so you seem to be saying Beckerman is a fine d mid but he isn’t much on offense so that is a good reason to not have him around?

          After the first game I got the distinct impression that JK wanted to immediately tighten up the overall team defense; something that had been pretty leaky under BB. I felt Beckerman did a good job with that.

          Regardless of what he says, its very clear that JK understands that a good attacking team must have a stable defensive platform if they want to win; and JK wants to win. I don’t think it would bother JK one bit if we went through qualifying and won every game 1-0. Just as long as it was good enough to qualify.

          JK is no fool, he will make sure the side is as defensively sound as possible first.

          Yes his Germany teams were an attacking team and he will have the same mindset with the US but the US does not have the same level of attacking talent Germany did so he will find another way to get results.

          Reply

          • No I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be around because he doesn’t provide much offensively, I’m saying that’s not what the average US fan, or soccer fan in general wants to see. I’m saying that Beckerman will get the needed result, but he doesn’t do what most fans want in the attack.

            In my opinion, Beckerman is a solid choice and is up there with the likes of Edu, but I can’t help but watch Bradley play and see so much potential. I certainly don’t have a problem with seeing Beckerman on the team sheet.

            I never mentioned Klinsmann in my argument because my comment was all about the perception of Beckerman as a fan. I think Beckerman is pretty high up on Klinsmann’s depth chart though.

            Reply

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/01 at 7:21 AM

              Kevin,

              Thank you for the clarification. I think you are 100% correct. My suspicion is JK is waiting to see how M Bradley shakes himself out at Chievo but likes having Beckerman around as insurance.

              Jones and Edu are actually be more talented than either MB or Captain Crofton.
              However, they need to get their heads on straight and consistently bring their A game for a run of games in a US shirt.

              If they do that they should be the top contenders for that spot but that seems to be a big if with those two.

  4. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/10/31 at 3:52 PM

    Those KC odds still look ridiculously delicious to me.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/10/31 at 7:23 PM

    The only thing any Golazo should be judged by, IMO, are the contests of the actual shot itself: As you mentioned distance and location(acute angles, corner of the 18), but also the velocity, movement(Beckham, Roberto Carlos), cheekiness(Saborio a couple nights ago), and the type of shot(volleys, headers, Wambach shoulder charges etc.)

    Reply

  6. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/10/31 at 7:24 PM

    And i laughed pretty hard doing the Halloween quiz. Good stuff and uniquely TSG.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/10/31 at 7:29 PM

    Isnt it a reality that Americans are needy, desperate, and insecure about the state of our scoring ability. I think the sentiments of all U.S. Fans out therr are justified considering our goal ratio of late.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Jared on 2011/11/01 at 5:02 AM

    Not sure where to put this but people on this site will appreciate. I was watching Sportscenter and they had Champions League as their “What 2 Watch 4″ at 2:45 Eastern today which is great. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even be bothered to check their own website to see that the games are actually at 3:45 because of the difference in when Europe and US go into daylight savings.

    For all the good stuff Skipper has done for soccer with ESPN you would think that he would put a stop to this sort of stupid crap on Sportscenter.

    Reply

  9. Posted by crow on 2011/11/01 at 10:08 AM

    Wow! Just watched posted interviews on the Union website and Califf and Le Toux both said the team was uncomfortable in the experimental formation and you don’t really want to be experimenting in the playoffs. They said it felt much better playing a more normal formation in the 2nd half.

    One good thing. Somehow I didnt realize that road goals aren’t weighted in MLS. I missed that one. So the Union just need a win in Houston. I feel pretty good about that happening.

    Reply

    • Crow if you’re a Union fan, can I ask your opinion of the controversial Davis handball, or Carr’s off/onside position? I’ve heard that there’s been some complaints about both, but I can’t bring myself to saying that either instance was poor by the ref because the only thing poorer than the ref in that game was the lack of camera angles for replays.

      Reply

      • Posted by crow on 2011/11/02 at 8:52 AM

        I am directly behind the goal in the river end. Both calls were right. Davis could have been called for the handball but it would have been harsh. Nobody was really complaining about that at the game. I thought the Carr goal was offside but upon seeing the replay it appeared that Valdes made him onside by sprinting back. Terrible play by Valdes.

        I vented my complaints on the prior post. A lot of smaller calls were missed during the game.

        Reply

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