The 'Other' Football....

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NYRB To Add 2nd DP?

Ives Galarcep is reporting that NYRB could have a new DP within a week at his trusty blog, (Soccer by Ives).

I have to think it's Augustin Delgado, the Tin Man (or more Paper Man with his well documented ijury woes), but I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in being hugely disappointed if NY burned their second DP slot on the eratic Ecuadoran international. Still, they need to add some firepower up top.

At worst, I would hope this would be a 1 year deal to see the club through to 2008, and the Harrison Stadium opening. Surely Red Bull will roll out a marquee name to boost the club and fans ahead of the move to the new digs?

I will of course post when more details are revealed.

Season Kicks Off Today....

By Alan Clark, Wednesday February 21st, 2007.

Not the MLS season, of course, but the first competitive games of the 2007 season will take place today in the CONCACAF Champion's Cup. Here's the games, along with my predictions. Of course, the biggest drawback for MLS teams has always been their pre-season fitness, relative to the mid-season fitness and form of the other teams in the competition.

Puntarenas 1 - 1 Houston (2:30pm on Fox Soccer Channel)

A goal for Houston's high power offense, will be tempered by a late goal that could prove costly. Fatigue will be a factor in both these games. I think this one will be comfortable over the two legs, with Houston sealing the deal on their own turf.

Olimpia 2 - 1 DC United (9pm on Fox Soccer Channel)

I want to think that DC could get a result of some kind in Honduras, but I just don't see it - fatigue/pre-season just seems to be the deciding factor. Plus Olimpia will be motivated to prove Emilio wrong for moving to DC from Olimpia just a few weeks ago. An interesting sub-plot, for sure. The tie will be wide open if DC can nick that goal on the road.

The CCC is not even close to the prestige of it's European Counterpart, however, don't forget, the winner gets to go to the World Club Championships, or whatever it's called now....and that's VERY worthwhile. I can't wait to get to see an MLS team on such a stage.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Maykel Galindo to Chivas USA

By Alan Clark, Tuesday February 20th, 2007.

LA Soccer News is reporting the signing of former Seattle Sounder and ex-Cuban international Maykel Galindo by Chivas USA.

My take: Hardly a prolific striker in his time in the USL, what he does have is an abundace of pace, which should complement Ante Razov well as he tried to reprise his goalscoring exploits of 2006.

One thing he isn't is the name-draw of Paco Palencia, the Mexican legend he's supposed to be replacing on the roster. Still, I think John Cunliffe might challenge to start, so CUSA is piecing back together a viable front line again aroudn the prolific-again Razov. If it doesn't work, well, then CUSA will be labelled as cheap - Palencia, after all, earned a league high $1.3m last season. Galindo will probably earn about $45-50k in my estimation.

He's an SI for now, but as a Cuban asylum seeker, his 'Green Card' (which isn't green at all, it's white) should be obtainable in the medium-short term.

Talent Rating : 6.5/10
Wow Factor : 4/10

Conclusion, not the big name replacement for Paco Palencia even neutrals like I was looking for. Still, he could be the perfect foil for Ante, but he's hardly a goal machine.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

MLS Off-Season Recap...My Thoughts So Far!

An Off-Season Of Change…

By Alan Clark, Tuesday February 20th, 2007.

Well, where do I start? Well, in having turned to my blog it's clear I'm trying to band-aid my withdrawal symptoms; I've never missed a season - a sport even - as much as what I'm going through now. I've so totally immersed myself in all things MLS for 3 years now (to aid my research for Football Manager/WSM) that frankly I'm just about on par with a cold turkey crack addict.

Anyways.....I've used my other tool - Football Manager - to splice in Toronto FC, thus giving the game a fresh lease of life [sorry Kansas City fans, you were, erm, contracted]. I found the code responded better than expected when I added in TFC as a Canadian side. A few tweaks of the DB later and I had a workable facsimile of TFC's inaugural campaign, aside from the whole loss of the Wizards!

So, to the real business....

I didn't take the time to do an analysis of the Super/Supplemental Drafts, NCAA soccer isn't really my forte, but I did read up extensively on many of the players as I had a data update due to SI and I wanted to have something in for the new guys. I've been pretty down on the number of players leaving colleges and bypassing MLS to try their hand in Europe. I get it - $11,700 a year isn't really all that tempting - but it's still disappointing all the same. To lose players to the German 3rd division and Finland does not sit well with me. With all the money the MLS owners have (as evidenced by the Beckham signing if nothing else) I'd like to see a concerted effort to hold more of these players, at least in the short term. Sure, any with any real ambitions will likely venture abroad in due course, such as your Clint Dempsey, Bobby Convey, Carlos Bocanegra and DaMarcus Beasley types, but MLS could aid in their development in the short term, whilst helping the league develop at the same time. It's also proven to be pretty good for youngsters UNMNT aspirations to stay home under the watchful eye of the national coach; even more so now an ex-MLS manager is at the helm.

So, that brings me to Beckham. I can't say I didn't see this's been the combined destiny of Beckham and MLS to collide forever. The money ($10m a year) seems excessive, but you can tell already the amount of exposure he's bringing to the sport in the US. It's almost like he's single handedly accelerated the MLS timeline a decade or more. It doesn't necessarily improve the on-field product, single-handedly, but if it's the start of an influx of talent then I'd be lying if I said MLS couldn't use with a shot of technical ability. Kudos to AEG and the Galaxy (I don't have it in me to thank Lalas) for taking this considerable step, thank you, from me - an average fan.

So, what else is happening in MLS' transfer world?

Well, Toronto is building a team, from scratch. Having selected 10 players in the expansion draft, just two remain - Jose Cancela and Paulo Nagamura. Mo Johnston has assembled what looks like a decent roster - 5 Canadian internationals in Greg Sutton (GK), Jim Brennan, Marco Reda, Chris Pozniak and Adam Braz. Sometime US national players Alecko Eskandarian, Edson Buddle and newest recruit Conor Casey have provided some firepower upfront. Abbe Ibrahim's rights were acquired from NYRB. TFC are currently in Florida for camp. A couple of Canadian U20 players, most notably Andrea Lombardo, are in camp. I have a good feeling about Toronto FC, certainly it’s been a case of so far so good.

The rest of the league has been surprisingly quiet on the acquisition front; DC has added their long-time coveted Brazilian striker in Luciano Emilio; RSL has picked up Freddy Adu and a couple of decent Central American prospects, especially Luis Tejada. Claudio Reyna has made the inevitable trip home to NJ to reunite with Bruce Arena – that was probably even more predictable than Beckham! For $1m a year, Captain America seems like a good pick-up, if not exactly the most glamorous pick-up in MLS history.

And sadly, that’s about it. There’s been a lot of internal moves, infact, for a period in the aftermath of the Expansion Draft, MLS teams played musical rosters, but overall, I can’t help feeling more talent was lost this year than acquired. At least until Beckham arrives. Chivas USA lost Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia (and Johnnie Garcia for that matter) alone, with fellow Mexican Abundis leaving after just 2 games for NE. Clint Dempsey headed for the EPL, Youri Djorkaeff retired, and several SI’s left for home, or other opportunities, including Jafet Soto, Douglas Sequiera, Alain Nkong, Sebastian Rozental and Avery John. In what was largely considered to be a weak draft, that’s not good for the on-field potential in ’07.

In good news, I was pleased to see MLS reject bids for the Rev’s pair Shalrie Joseph and Taylor Twellman. Infact, I was delighted to see the latter, and Brian Ching, be rewarded with new deals near the MLS wage ceiling for non-designated players. For me, they are the two best US strikers in MLS.

Coaching changes, well there’s been a few; DC’s Piotr Nowak joined up with Chivas USA’s Bob Bradley in the USMNT set-up. They were replaced by Assistant Coaches Tom Soehn and Preki respectively. Curt Onalfo came in at KC and duly cut Bo Oshonyi. So far so good at Arrowhead!

I’m going to do a roster evaluation for each team over the next couple of weeks as I fire my blog up into a daily dish of MLS fare. Stay tuned!