Archive for March, 2012

Live Commentary: Union vs. Timbers

But you knew it would be a Perlazapalooza fest?

What say you Union without Le Toux? Will Boyd knock one home in his debut? The former Gers player certainly accustomed to striking in the rain.


Messi Knows No Bounds

Write your caption — or just witness — isn’t there a clause in his contract against this?

Just needed to post: Mr. Messi.

Your U-23 Olympic Squad, Courtesy Caleb Porter

From US Soccer:

Gatt, who has apparently acquired the nickhname, "20-year-old Batman."

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter has named an initial 19-player roster for training camp that will convene March 13 to begin final preparations for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

The official 20-player roster will be finalized March 20, the due date for all participating teams to submit their rosters to CONCACAF. The U.S. will compete in Group A which kicks off March 22 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.


GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)

DEFENDERS (6): Josh Gatt (Molde; Plymouth, Mich.), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)

FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas)

Quick Thoughts On MLS First Flinch & The EPL

No idea why we put flinch in the title.


• There is Moses; then there is David Moyes.

Tottenham might be reeling but it was Davey Moyes’s excellent game management that saw his Toffees snatch a 1-0 victory from the Spurs loose grasp.

That’s right, with the victory Everton took their goal differential up to an impressive goose egg. That’s right again, negative goal differential before Saturday’s affair!

The Goodisonettes now sit in 9th and within shouting distance of the Europa League. There was the parting of the Red Sea and now there is Everton 2011-2012. Amazing.

• Manchester City trip on Swansea City.

Let’s just call the Swansea the new Arsenal already, okay?

• Old Arsenal vs. Newcastle today

Kickoff shortly as Arsenal’s emotional campaign continues. Falling just short against Milan after a digging a whole is the exact oppositve to what Newcastle did to them last year. Someone take away Wenger’s water bottle.

• First kick; first impressions; first flops

Two names stick out for me after week one that bear watching; one TSG has told you about. That one of course is Dan Kennedy, TSG’s pick for best keeper this year AND TSG’s back-up pick for keeper of the year last year.

It was Kennedy (not Chivas USA) versus the Dynamo on Sunday in Carson, CA and the one man vacuum cleaner of goalie was pitching a shutout until he missed a spot in stoppage time. Tremendous effort.

Espinosa for Sporting KC

The other is Sporting KC outfield hoover Roger Espinosa. With Julio Cesar playing a very reactive and sleepy counterpart, the former Ohio State man was just about everywhere on the pitch Sunday, leading to TSG bestowing the nickname of “Norm.”

Espinosa was always around–whether playing a true holding role and keeping the ball in the attacking third or snuffing out a DC United winger gone errant (Matt Besler had a tough opener for the Verminators).

• Backe at it….

And about that flop.

It shouldn’t matter that Thierry Henry–he of the joyous offseason at the Emirates–was his typical curmudgeon himself during an interview after the Red Bulls 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on Sunday.

What should concern the MLS front office and New York fans is the obvious disconnect between Juan Agudelo and Thierry henry and that this is now a second burgeoning conflict what is supposed to be a marquee team for the league.

First henry (being interviewed by’s Simon Borg).

Borg: When Cooper came on, you seemed to tell him go behind the defense…it seemed to work out better…you were able to play-make, he was able to run on balls.

Henry: “That’s what I tried to do all day–feed people.

And now Agudelo:

Agudelo as told to and transcribed by “I feel it’s tough being by myself at times because Henry likes to check in the middle,” Agudelo told after the match. “I felt like it was great when there were actually two forwards and Henry was able to check in the middle.”

So it sounds like both players were pleased with the addition of Kenny Cooper. That either means that they were unhappy in their partnership or unhappy with the game plan. Either way, going to the press with it and having that sniping so early in the season is a major red flag on a New York Red Bulls club that doesn’t need it this year.

• Cream cheese & wood chips

Philadelphia versus Portland tonight. A major statement game early on from Portland if they can manufacture chances for Kris Boyd and see him him finishh them.

Conversely, what look is Peter Nowak and the Union going to show this year? No idea.

Mario Balotelli


If we could do just one interview in 2012, it would be…”this guy:”

The Weekend: First Kick & Live Commentary

Welcome back MLS…and Jay DeMerit. (Vancouver “welcomes” MLS newcomer Montreal to the big-time this afternoon).

Your weekend–and your commentary–about to go gonzo!


TSG’s MLS 2012 Preseason Prediction Preview

Whew…that took longer than expected.

Better than this sequel? You decide...

Last year, a group of so-called TSG “experts” converged on Las Vegas (“got together online”) and dropped science on the 2011 MLS season that not even the father of a toddler wouldn’t cringe at.

Juan Pablo Angel for the Golden Boot (JRodius). Ouch.

Eric Alexander, breakout player (yours truly). Ouch.

And oh-so-many more.

We thought, since we enlightened everyone so much in 2011, why not do it again in 2012?! And we’ve added a crew member.

So….we’re back and we hope to better than those guys in the pic up top with our sequel; frankly can’t be much worse.

A brief re-introduction.

There’s Matt Biggerstaff. Ticketing ace by day, soccer player by evening, and electronica fan of 18+ shows (he’s in his mid-20’s) by late night. A devout San Jose fan, Biggerstaff has a bigger chip on his shoulder for Seattle than Timber Jim.

I got nothing but love for ya, Jay!

Jay Bell. Now considered the voice of reason around the TSG Hall of Justice. The experienced midwest reporter comes armed with an unfailing breath of positivity for all things MLS–heck he even thinks Eddie Johnson was a great pick-up by Seattle!

Jason Price. Life-long MLS follower, once an assistant with the Malawian national team (true), once a leading scorer in the Malawian second division (true, also!).

Dan. Free. Beer. You probably know him. If you don’t, Dan is to beer and soccer what Kim Kardashian and Pamela Anderson are to sex tapes. That didn’t sound good. Sorry Dan, roll with it. Dan, creator of the very cool Free Beer Movement.

Up next JRodius, Jared DuBois. Rodius has a son named….”Kobe Bryant,” a love for the Muppet Babies and an insatiable desire to see the Los Angeles Galaxy steamroll the competition. Jared waxes poetic each week on The Best Soccer Show…that’s self-titled of course.

And pulling up the rear, yours truly.

Let’s go…the season is about to start!


Mauro Rosales...


Jay Bell: Mauro Rosales. Foreign players often fare better after at least one season in the league. Rosales was good enough last year to be an MVP candidate. He’ll also get extra votes if he happens to make Eddie Johnson look good.

Price: Thierry Henry. In part, because this usually falls to a striker, yet this is far from a sure thing. Apart from developing a decent strike partnership with Kenny Cooper, there is the issue of service. Neither Marquez, Tainio, McCarty,or Palsson are playmaking central midfielders. That being said, there is no one in the league with more class and, if he stays reasonably healthy, he wins the golden boot.

JRodius: Freddy Montero. If he can put Seattle in the shield race carrying a 200-lbs grown ass black man on his back, he deserves it.

Dan, FBM: Castrol Motor Oil or League?

Biggerstaff: Wondolowski. Here’s a thought, he actually has a midfield–finally–that I am not convinced I could start in this year for the first time, San Jose (Wondo) goes crazy scoring goals, he wins the golden boot and they make the playoffs.

TSG: Mauro Rosales: The thunder of this pick stolen by it being the selection of the so-called expert above.

Rosales would have challenged Brad Davis for our MVP selection last year had he not gotten injured. In short, no player in MLS has the range of game of Rosales. While he and Landon are cut from the same cloth, Rosales shows a bigger willingness to channel the game through then Landon who rightfully demurs with the weapons around him.

Rosales’s game is specifically geared to MLS and to playing on the Seattle rug….and he’s going to dance the carpet to the MVP.


Supporters Shield

Jay Bell: Real Salt Lake. Sometimes you might give the edge to a team that didn’t qualify for the Champions League. However, LA, Seattle and RSL all look head and shoulders better than the rest of the league. I’d make Vancouver a surprise pick if the Whitecaps were in the Eastern Conference. The CCL burden was lessened this year and LA will have a lot of international call-ups, so the advantage goes to RSL.

Price: Seattle Sounders FC. Sigi has assembled an excellent side here with an excellent mix of North and South American and European talent, many in the prime of their career, with an extraordinary supportive fan base who should be rewarded. Against Santos Laguna, SSFC trotted out Rosales, Alonso, Evans and Fernandez in the midfield with  This is an astonishingly well-balanced midfield with a great mix of heart, ingenuity, grit, and measure. The big question will be at striker where much of the onus will fall on Montero, who is missing a tested strike partner and a marble or two.

Dan, FBM: Los Angeles Galaxy. Yeah… Yeah they’re stacked and it’s the obvious pick, but is anyone going to argue?

TSG: Sporting KC. They’ve got an incredible home field advantage, enough offense weapons, a weak conference and they don’t have to integrate as many parts as other conference foes. The war of attrition in the West along with CONCACAF Champion’s League play has our Supporter Shield brandished in the East.

JRodius: Sporting KC. Picking LA is like taking home the drunk fatty from the bar, it’s just too easy of a way to rack up a score.  I’m going to pick KC.  The East is weaker than a domestic pilsner. Points aplenty…

Biggerstaff: Los Angeles Galaxy runs far far far away with their weeknight half-capacity stadium with this one.


Most Improved Player

Ryan Johnson

Biggerstaff: Ryan Johnson. Not like Ryan Johnson could be worse, and he showed some flashes for Toronto FC, so lets give him the nod.

Dan, FBM: Danny Mwanga. He’s got to get more reps and more goals now that LeToux is gone. Right? Right?!

JRodius: Benny Feilhaber.  This may seem odd given what we know about Benny, however, in 2011 he didn’t show who he really is. With Simms doing the dirty work in midfield and Rowe stretching the field Benny will have room to work.

TSG: Steve Beitashour. The San Jose wingback will blossom in the absence of Bobby Convey and from the ability of San Jose to play more possession ball this year.

Jay Bell: Ike Opara. Last year the guy made me look really bad when I picked him to be the best second-year player. Now he looks to have his sh*t together and could realize a lot of that potential.

Price: Ryan Johnson. The Dutch system will benefit him and he’ll have his looks at goal.


A typical Rafa heat map...

Most Overrated Player
Price: Rafa Marquez. Not Sean Franklin, most certainly Rafa Marquez.

Jay Bell: Rafa Marquez. I don’t care if he gets cut by the Red Bulls or gets sold to a Mexican team in the summer, he’ll still be overrated and vastly overpaid.

Biggerstaff: Freddy Montero. He just doesn’t do it for me. Even when he scores, it doesn’t seem like he is doing much to help the team. Doesn’t do enough with his talent.

JRodius: Jose Afolfo Valencia. This dude is so overrated I bet he doesn’t score a goal all year…

Dan, FBM: Eddie Johnson…the “GAM,” not the Timber’s man.

TSG: Kevin Alston. Taking a break from Donovan Ricketts winning it five years running. At some point you are what you are….potential unrealized.


Best Goalkeeper

Jay Bell: Nick Rimando. He and the RSL defense will be at full strength this season. Honorable mention to Kevin Hartman and Jimmy Nielsen.

Price: Nick Rimando. This will be an interesting year in terms of goalkeepers. Lots of new and old  faces getting serious opportunities–McMath, Meara, Gspurning, Saunders, etc. Nick Rimando is the easy choice though, and probably the best one.

JRodius: Red Bull Arena Anything that can stop Kenny Cooper’s shots from regularly hitting the parking lot deserves the award.

TSG: Dan Kennedy. One day the MLS fan community will wake up and realize that Chivas USA is not a farm club for Chivas Guadalaraja–okay, that won’t happen–but they will realize that, toiling in the shadow cast by the Galaxy, is an unflappable and steady keeper who commands his box on the “other team” that plays in Carson, CA. An honorable mention to Tally Ho!…I mean Hall.

Dan, FBM: Bill Hamid. The future is now.


Best American

JRodius: Apollo Creed. Dude died fighting a Russian in Stars and Stripes short shorts… Best American EVER!



Price: Landon Donovan. As long as he stays in the league, this award will always go to Landon Donovan.

Dan, FBM: Geoff Cameron. This important for our national team.

Biggerstaff: Eddie Johnson. Hahahaha. Brek Shea will go off again, likely leave during the summer transfer window for a top 8 club in the EPL.

Jay Bell: Benny Feilhaber. “No Air” Benny is going to dare Juergen Klinsmann to continue to keep him out of the national team setup.

TSG: Alexi “Lawless.” Want to know how you start a fight? Drop by The Hangar in Manhattan Beach, CA and claim that Wayne Rooney is a better goal scorer then Edson Buddle. Watch Lalas go honey-badger on your a*s.


Best Foreigner

Jay Bell: Mauro Rosales.

Biggerstaff: Jamison Olave will lead the best defense in the MLS and will consistently shine. For like the third year in a row?



Dan, FBM: Javier Morales. Welcome back to the top.

Price: The Rooster (Brek Shea) qualifies as ‘foreigner’, no?

S-i-ni-s-a U-b-i-p-a-r-i-p-o-v-c, Pat?

JRodius: Sinisa Ubiparipovic – Dude has a last name with six vowels, six syllables, ending in a “C”… You win Europe!

TSG: Hans Backe….



wait for it



Ha ha ha ha, he, he, he. Can I go with Beckham here or does his relationship with Tom Cruise and US Weekly preclude this?


Best Central American player with the first initial “M”

Jay Bell: Marco Pappa. The team improved around him last year. With an improved supporting cast, he could set afire to MLS opponents.

Starts with "M," Dan...."M!"

Dan, FBM: Mr. Andy Najar (see what I did there?)

JRodius: Marvin Chavez. New Team, New expectations, Same great height.  This dude could be the key to unlocking Wondo’s second Golden Boot.

Price: This required some research. The funny thing about the drop down menu on the team tab on the players page at the MLS website is that it still includes the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Squarely odd. Anyhow, I’ve done my homework; while I’m “on with the Marvins,” it’s still got to be big Pappa,

TSG: Marco Pappa. Never. NEVER go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ah, ha, ha, ha!. Wait I think I missed the question.


All aboard!

The Jorge Perlaza Award — Mr. Effort-Best Motor-Megabus-Award

TSG: Landon Donovan. You see what I did here. By inaugurating this award under Perlaza, I’ve got these suckers after me comparing some of the best players to him and thus increasing his brand equity. Master P owes me 5%! So. To continue the trend. Landon Donovan.

Jay Bell: Osvaldo Alonso. I had to mention him somewhere. His drive and skill in the midfield could drive Seattle to unprecedented success.

Megabus award winner...

Biggerstaff: Kyle Beckerman seems to be everywhere on the field, all the time. Maybe it his hair that is reaching out and knocking balls away to teammates but whatever it is, he clogs the whole, and makes you wonder why his mother never said no to dreads.

Dan FBM: Kyle Beckerman… Midfield Man is going to be working so hard he’ll have no time to wash his hair.

JRodius: Luke Rodgers. Like all dudes that seemingly get stuck at the border, he would come to this country and work harder than anyone else.

Price: Darren Mattocks: I have no idea about his workrate, but if what people are saying is true then perhaps Darren Mattocks.

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