Archive for October, 2011

MLS Awards: Part I of Many: This Is A Democracy…

About the domestic league...

…sort of.

Let me explain.

First, the schedule of events over the next four or five days. Today, “voting” on MLS Awards “Part I,” Saturday, more, Sunday more, Monday “voting” on MLS Awards Part Final (Best XI). Note, on that Best XI, TSG won’t chicken out and go with three defenders–LAME!

Tuesday, the crew of us who did an MLS Preview talk about–mostly–how wrong we are and who are current picks are.

Cool.

First the fun for you.

This year, TSG will handle their MLS Awards Vote with help from the community. As you know, it’s the community that is valued at TSG above all.

In the spirit of MLS, we’ll be similar to the US government (with no filibusters). I’ll ask for your perspective–here–on a number of awards to shape TSG’s vote, but like the President (so to speak) we’ll have veto and overruling power. (You’re going to be hard-pressed to convince me Brad Davis is not the MVP. Go ahead, add Pontius, Davies, Najar, McCarty and more to the Dynamo. Go ahead).

Anywho….away we go. Part I. Please add your comments and selection below.

One caveat, TSG will give more weight to comments below that add in (click the link below) a selection for Humanitarian of the Year. We believe strongly in The Beautiful Game here at TSG.

And I’ll announce TSG’s selections on Wednesday.

And please click below the fold for the rules.

Today we look at:

MLS Humanitarian of the Year: Click here for more info

TSG skinny: We’re not going to taint you. We’ve been following one of these players all season long.

———-

MLS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:

First and second choice selections, conference agnostic–just added that in for ease of viewing
Candidates from the Eastern Conference: 

Soares for New England..

A.J. Soares (New England) Defender

Diego Fagundez (New England) Forward

Stephen McCarthy (New England) Midfielder

Zac McMath (Philadelphia) Goalie

Michael Farfan (Philadelphia) Defender/Midfielder

Zac MacMath (Philadelphia) Goalie

Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire) Defender

Bernardo Anor (Columbus Crew) Midfielder

Rich Balchan (Columbus Crew) Defender

Perry Kitchen (DC United) Midfielder

Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo) Forward

CJ Sapong (Sporting KC) Forward

Matt Stinson (Toronto FC) Midfielder

Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC) Defender

Nagbe for Portland...

Candidates from the Western Conference:

Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) Forward

Rafael Baca (San Jose) Midfielder

Anthony Ampaipitakwong (San Jose) Midfielder

Servando Carasco (Seattle) Midfielder

Jeb Brovsky (Vancouver) Midfielder

Michael Boxall (Vancouver Whitecaps) Defender

Zarek Valentin (Chivas USA) Defender

TSG skinny: Bruin was our preseason choice with Sapong second. Sapong looks strong here as does Anibaba. What can’t be discounted is Anibaba’s impact on the Fire once he was moved to the middle of the pitch.

Michael Farfan has etchd his way into the debate.

Nagbe, a dark horse? Or would that be A.J. Soares who played on a bad wheel all year and faced some major opponents all year long.

———-

MLS Coach of the Year:

Candidates: All 18 MLS Coaches are candidates, (except Hans Flop…kidding)

Very Coach of the Year looking in this pic...

The skinny: Robin Fraser was the leader in this space until he got found out a little bit. Bruce Arena–the manager–deserves some credit this year for putting together one of the best MLS seasons in history. Cristman, Barrett and JPA at FW and he has a banner year?

Piotr Nowak deserves credit for greatly improving the defense and then his team finding the scoring touch. Dom Kinnear has clearly done the best with what he’s had–on the manager front. I’m out on Jason Kreis for this award–I think he put too much weight on the CONCACAF Champion’s League and then really didn’t have a fallback plan when the win wasn’t assured.

Also out on Sigi Schmid, who’s team may be a TSG favorite for the playoffs, but had Mauro Rosales might not have arrived, we may have been speaking in the same vein about Seattle as we are about New York. Robert Warzycha for the Crew deserves serious merit as well.

Frank Klopas, the dark horse.

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Preview: Will The Union Run The Red Bulls?

Game...on!

Philly Soccer Page’s Adam Cann with a Union-tinged preview of tonight’s major MLS match-up.

Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the United States. When the Houston Dynamo rose from the ashes of the original San Jose Earthquakes in 2005, Philly became the largest US city without an MLS franchise. In 2010, thanks in large part to a powerful grassroots campaign, that changed. And in 2011, the Philadelphia Union are a playoff team.

The New York Red Bulls franchise, a caffeinated version of the even more heinously named MetroStars, stand in stark contrast to the Philadelphia story. Around since the start of the league, they were handed a star-studded roster in 1996 and expected to crush all challengers and become MLS’s signature team. Yet, with the trophy case still bare, the Red Bulls continue to buy big and flop hard. And in 2011, they need to beat Philadelphia to keep their playoff destiny in their own hands. Or hooves. Whatever bulls have.

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Op-Ed: Time To Burn Down The Fraternity

Syracuse University and its bastion of....education?

In 1994, I was a member of a fraternity at Syracuse University.

It was one of the more popular fraternities on campus. If I could send a text message back to my college self, I would probably suggest not check-marking “popularity” as a top criteria for choosing essentially your friends and lifestyle at college.

My time as a “frat guy” existed all of two semesters of living in “the house” (as I would imagine most frat guys refer to their beer-soaked-covered-splashed-with-bleach domain that they inhabited more than could really call a home).

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One Roma Fan’s Agonizing Diary Of Last Weekend’s Derby

A depressing Derby...for one man...

TSG’s Eric Giardini recounts the horrors of Sunday’s Roma-Lazio Derby

Heading into Sunday afternoon’s Derby della Capitale I had every intention of writing an unbiased review of one of the most hotly contested derbies in world soccer. Roma had won five straight in the series, which they were more than willing to remind their cross-town rivals, and the city was in the midst of violent protests as part of the Occupy Wall Street worldwide movement which had even threatened to delay the derby. I had my computer in front of me and was abstaining from alcohol in an attempt to keep a clear head to compile my thoughts into an artful, intelligent review.

Instead, you are getting this – the completely bias perspective of a fan. If you are looking for what the “experts” have to say about the match, there are plenty of great sites around that will provide you a recap. However, those recaps will not provide the emotion associated with being on the edge of your seat living and breathing with every kick.

Even with Francesco Totti out due to injury, I still had a good feeling heading into the match. The players had begun to buy into the new system being installed by Luis Enrique and were unbeaten in their last four. I, foolishly, had looked to see how far up the table Roma would climb with the full three points (3rd and one point back from the leaders) with all of the results earlier in the weekend seemingly going Roma’s way. I even overlooked the fact that Enrique’s lineup only featured two players who had started any of the three derbies played last year. “Oh I get it. He’s putting in ‘neutrals’ that won’t get caught up in the madness and will keep cool” is what I told myself. The naivety of hope.

At 2:40pm, I put on the new 11/12 third shirt which I had diligently worn, and not washed, since the unbeaten streak began. I turned the ESPN3 stream on and waited for kickoff.

My pre-match confidence disappeared faster than the new iPhone 4s from the local Apple store. I was a wreck. I went from sitting in my chair, to standing, to pacing, back to sitting and the only thing that could calm my nerves (without drinking) happened in the first five minutes.

Two of the new summer acquisitions, Miralem Pjanic and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Enrique, you genius!), combined to put Roma ahead. Osvaldo, who looks like he should be selling, um, “medicine” near the Spanish Steps in Rome rather than being on the field, had just scored his fourth goal on the trot. “OSVALDOOOOOOOOOO,” I yelled as I sprang out of my seat doing some sort of double fist pump that would have made even Tiger Woods blush. My girlfriend, sitting on the couch, shot a puzzled glance at me from over the top of her laptop computer but I didn’t care. We were up 1-0 in a dream start and well on our way to handing Lazio their six consecutive defeat in the rivalry. As he lifted his shirt in celebration to reveal “I ho purgato anch’io” written on his undershirt – roughly meaning “Even I have purged you” in a tip of the cap (or lift of the shirt) to Francesco Totti’s famous “Vi ho purgato ancora” (“I have purged you again”) celebration from 1999, I laughed out loud. That was just the icing on the cake.

An early, but ill-fated Eureka moment...

The first 25 minutes went according to plan as Roma was able to hold possession and, for the most part, dictate the pace of the match. Lazio were able to launch a couple of counterattacks but I still wasn’t worried. It was only around the 27th minute did I begin to have my doubts.

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Selected Images: USA Vs. Ecuador

More from super photog Matt Mathai.

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Can Portland Pull The Rabbit? A Timbers Fan On Tonight’s Match & The Season

John Nyen on his beloved Timbers.

See that?

Cooper sky-high to start the sesh...

The glowing yellow leaves and migrating birds tell the tail.

Tiny cold smudges of frost let you know that summer is over and Fall is in full swing. This should also tell you something as a MLS fan. That is, that the regular season is coming to a close. All the struggle, conflict, good play, bad play is heading to its ultimate end, and beginning the hopeful rebirth into play-offs for those of us lucky enough to follow teams with that verve.

For the Portland Timbers we come to the penultimate game. Eight months worth of work comes down to a rescheduled match against DC United and the finale against Real Salt Lake. The task for this non-expansion-expansion side is to take a moribund away record and perform a simple trick, winning their final two matches on the road.

With the recent defeat from Houston that reduced the playoff odds to a scant 5%, it would be easy for many Timbers fans to sink into an area of finality. However, fans are made of tougher stuff than this; and with a history littered with seminal moments such as “The Gordon Chainsaw Massacre”, the “Sunshine goal”, and the “Sunflower Goal” there is no reason to quit believing in this team.

The flutter of memories detail the many amazing and painful moments from this year.

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