Archive for October, 2011

MLS Awards 2011: Part IV of Many: MVP

We wanted to do a bigger expose on MVP, but alas we’ve run out of time for stating the case.

Though if you’ve been following along at home, you know who TSG’s frontrunner is.

Help us decide:

Will DeRo walk away with the award?

Volkswagen 2011 MLS MVP: (Most Valuable Player in MLS during the 2011 regular season. )

Candidates: (Only those in consideration by TSG.)

Dwayne DeRosario – DC United

Brad Davis – Houston Dynamo

Brek Shea – FC Dallas

Mauro Rosales – Seattle Sounders

Dan Kennedy – Chivas USA

Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew

Landon Donovan – Los Angeles Galaxy

Omar Gonzalez – Los Angeles Galaxy

Thierry Henry – New York Red Bulls

Faryd Mondgragon – Philadelphia Union

Kyle Beckerman – Real Salt Lake

Osvaldo Alonso – Seattle Sounders

Graham Zusi – Sporting KC

Joao Plata – Toronto FC

TSG skinny: You’ll be hard-pressed to have TSG buff out the name of Brad Davis that we’ve soddered into our “1st choice” section of the MVP ballot.

He played every match. He had rotating forwards. He had very little to no help in central midfield to take the pressure of him.

Houston has two ways to score. A Brad Davis pass with or against the run-of-play to a forward or a Brad Davis set piece that finds the dome of Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell or Brian Ching. That’s pretty much it. It’s why they won’t go far in the playoffs and it’s why Brad Davis is the MVP.

Dwayne DeRosario, Brek Shea and Mauro Rosales are nipping at Davis’s heals. Going in reverse, no player–besides Davis–has meant more to their team’s success than Rosales. Yet he continually battles to remain on the field. MVP’s need to stay on the field.

Shea, an FC Dallas fan favorite...

For Shea, it was a test of fortitude rather than a case of dazzling during the stretch run of the season. Putting in both national and club time, being asked to carry FC Dallas with David Ferreira on the shelf, and manning a midfield minus both Ferreira and Dax McCarty, Shea had, by all accounts, one of the top MLS seasons by any player. But MVP?

As for Dwayne DeRosario, there probably is not question that he was the most dominant player during stretches of this year’s campaign. Certainly for his summer entrance to the beltway and his last month, DeRosario has been a wrecking crew. But there are some blemishes on an MVP season and they include: his team not making the playoffs (and if you argue about Pontius going down doesn’t that notion actually refute his campaign), his inability to fit in in New York (sure a minor point, but if you’re having an MVP season, no matter what club you’re with you “create value.”) and oscillations in his performance from scalding hot to cold, especially when he missed a penalty kick that in retrospect could have put DC United in the playoffs.

MLS Playoffs: Handicapping & Whose Your Favorite?

The MLS playoff schedule was set late Sunday night (it’s down below here).

We’ll review with a thorough handicapping later this week, but for now…here’s our quick odds, brief summary and the schedule.

Please lend your voice to the odds and we’ll republish on Wednesday or Thursday:

Evans for Seattle (and previously for Columbus)

TSG’s MLS Playoff Odds:

Seattle Sounders: 3 to 1* (pending Rosales injury update)

Los Angeles Galaxy: 4 to 1

Real Salt Lake: 6 to 1

Philadelphia Union: 7 to 1

Sporting KC, FC Dallas: 8 to 1

Colorado Rapids: 10 to 1

Houston Dynamo: 14 to 1

New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew: 15 to 1


TSG’s Pick (may change by Thursday): Seattle

TSG Skinny: There are a just few basic things you need to reach the MLS Cup Finals after journeying through its playoff gauntlet. They are: veteran leadership in the back, team speed, bite in the midfield and a playmaker who can create against the best.

Casey: Showing Houston the door...

It’s not hard to see.

Last year, FC Dallas had the savvy veteran leadership of Kevin Hartmann in the back while their opponents, Colorado, had Drew Moor. Dallas brought David Ferriera as their playmaker while none other than Conor Casey actually made himself a beast in the final game. (Say what you will about Conor Casey, but he seems to have a knack for theatrical on a big stage.)

Dallas featured Dax McCarty, Brek Shea as the speed in its midfield while Daniel Hernandez provided the bite. Conversely, it was of course the pairing of Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni in the midfield for the Rapids.

The champs the year prior were Real Salt Lake with, of course, Javy Morales as their playmaker, who was backed by the bite of Kyle Beckerman and flanked by the speedy Will Johnson.

Veteran Nick Rimando was in the cage with vets Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave ahead of him.

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MLS 2011 Awards: Part III of Many: Newcomer of the Year

Part III in our continuing review of who TSG will choose for the MLS Awards 2011. Help us out. Add your voice.

Next up:

Rosales...singled out a lock for newcomer?

Newcomer of the Year

The best newcomer in MLS during the 2011 regular season. For this award, “newcomer” is defined as a player with previous professional experience who made his MLS debut in 2011.

Candidates: (Note: Change in the candidates…only showing those we would consider)

Charlie Davies (DC United)

Luke Rodgers (New York)

Teemu Taino (New York)

Faryd Mondragon (Philadelphia)

Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia)

Diego Chara (Portland)

Jorge Perlaza (Portland)

Simon Dawkins (San Jose)

Mauro Rosales (Seattle)

Erik Friberg (Seattle)

Omar Bravo (Sporting KC)

Joao Plata (Toronto FC)

Eric Hassli (Vancouver)

TSG skinny: Perlaza! Very hard for us not to consider Perlaza here, but alas we need to be objective. Many horses in this race. Both thoroughbreds from Philadelphia Valdes and Mondragon.

Joao Plata obviously deserves mention. He might be the dark horse. Rosales the favorite, but Rodgers also in consideration?





The Weekend: Your Live Analysis Here

Nothing much to play for in MLS.

Meanwhile, the EPL is starting to rev up.

Along with the Wayne Rooney Bowl, the Manchester City Derby complete with Tevezgate, this year’s absence of Paul Scholes, Man City atop the table, something guaranteed to go with Mario Balotelli in the limelight and likely David Silva cementing his spot in the EPL Season’s Best XI for a time to come. Sunday.

Everything's about even--except at manager...

MLS Awards 2011: Part II of Many: Defender of the Year

And moving on…


Best defender in MLS during the 2011 regular season.


Marshall was a big part of the Crew's surprising success...

Corey Gibbs – Chicago Fire

Gonzalo Segares – Chicago Fire

Ante Jazic – Chivas USA

Heath Pearce – Chivas USA

Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew

Julius James – Columbus Crew

Drew Moor – Colorado Rapids

Marvell Wynne – Colorado Rapids

Ugo Ihemelu – FC Dallas

George John – FC Dallas

Andre Hainault – Houston Dynamo

Todd Dunivant – Los Angeles Galaxy

Omar Gonzalez – Los Angeles Galaxy

A. J. Soares – New England Revolution

Chris Tierney – New England Revolution

Rafa Marquez – New York Red Bulls

Tim Ream – New York Red Bulls

Futty Danso for the Timbers...

Carlos Valdes – Philadelphia Union

Sheanon Williams – Philadelphia Union

Eric Brunner – Portland Timbers

Mamadou Danso – Portland Timbers

Jason Hernandez – San Jose Earthquakes

Ramiro Corrales – San Jose Earthquakes

Nat Borcher – Real Salt Lake

Jamison Olave – Real Salt Lake

Jeff Parke – Seattle Sounders

James Riley – Seattle Sounders

Matt Besler – Sporting KC

Chance Myers – Sporting KC

Richard Eckersley – Toronto FC

Ty Harden – Toronto FC

Gershon Kofie – Vancouver Whitecaps

Alain Rochat – Vancouver Whitecaps

TSG skinny: Omar Gonzales–as well as Chad Marshall–will and should be in everyone’s debate. Chance Myers was dynamic for Sporting KC, but probably not enough.

Not the same year in Real Salt Lake. Nat and Jamison, strong, but not quite 2010.

The pairings from the two perhaps the two most disappointing MLS clubs–Colorado and New York–don’t belong near this list.

James Riley, perhaps a sleeper, an excellent year up in Seattle.

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.


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.



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?


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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