Saturday, January 30, 2016

Matt Miazga signs with Chelsea, Twitter reacts

Today Chelsea FC officially announced the signing of 20-year old center-back Matt Miazga from New York Red Bulls.

How'd the fans react? Here's a taste..

Monday, January 11, 2016

The entire 2016 MLS Schedule in one image

The 2016 MLS schedule has been released and for the third straight year I've created a spreadsheet condensing everything into one simple image.

Here's the image for the 2015 MLS schedule if you feel like doing a side-by-side comparison. Enjoy and best of luck in 2016!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Jurgen Klinsmann holds firm on fitness comments, but without giving names his words have no meaning

U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann held firm in his stance on fitness following the team's 3-2 loss to Chile in an interview with Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday and again in an ESPN FC article released on Thursday, but failed to name any players individually, making his comments, for lack of a better term, worthless.

Let me lay it out for you.

Between the end of the 2014 MLS regular season, which ended officially on October 26 (for teams that didn't make the playoffs), and Camp cupcake which started January 12, there was exactly 77 days of rest (11 weeks). Players who qualified for playoffs and players who were playing in other leagues at the time are in a different situation.

Klinsmann said that the starting eleven wasn't fit against Chile because Major League Soccer doesn't prepare its players for a camp in January. He also said that extending the regular season to an 11-month schedule would solve the problem.

I'm not arguing that less time between the end of the MLS regular season and January camp wouldn't be more beneficial to the national team. And I'm not going to go into detail about offseason workouts and how players use their vacation time. I'm looking at Klinsmann's comments regarding fitness, his comments regarding MLS and the eleven players who started the game against Chile on January 28 as a whole.

His comments, whether some see it as a general problem for USMNT and MLS, weren't directed at the entire team, because the entire team didn't play in the game against Chile. And they were not directed at the subs either because how can you blame fitness issues on a guy playing 15-20 minutes. That leaves you with the starting eleven.

If you narrow the starting eleven down to players who are currently playing in MLS, as well as those who played in MLS in 2014, you come up with six names: Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Nick Rimando. Of these six names, five went the full 90 minutes vs Chile. Dempsey was subbed out after 68 minutes.

But let's widdle it down even further to see if we can pick out who Klinsmann was targeting with his fitness rant.

Rimando is a goalkeeper and Birnbaum is a rookie so they're both out. Jones (and Altidore) probably ran the most of any player on the team so you can throw them out too. That leaves Bradley, Dempsey and Besler.

Bradley had surgery when the regular season ended and he hasn't played a competitive match since then (78 days, 11 weeks). Besler played his last competitive match 54 days ago (8 weeks) in a 4-1 loss to Ireland. And Dempsey played his last competitive match vs LA Galaxy exactly 42 days (6 weeks) prior to the start of January camp.

So who was Klinsmann really talking about when he referenced fitness issues? Had to be one of these three, right?

I didn't track Bradley that closely so not sure how much or how little he actually ran. Or if he was beaten to the ball in instances in which he normally would've gotten to had he been fit. In all honesty, Bradley is probably the last person anybody would ever direct fitness criticism to.

Which leaves us with Besler and Dempsey.

Besler was at fault for goals, but was it due to a lack of fitness/sharpness? Possibly, and probably.

Dempsey was pulled in the 68th minute. But was he pulled due to lack of fitness or ineffectiveness in a position Klinsmann never should've had him in in the first place - acting as a two-way midfielder for most of the first half? You could probably argue both.

However, if Klinsmann is directing fitness issues at Dempsey, and then citing MLS' lengthy offseason as the problem, he's got no case. Dempsey had been playing competitive matches up until six weeks prior to the start of camp. Based on this alone we should throw Dempsey out of the discussion.

So who is Klinsmann really targeting with his (MLS) fitness concerns? The only person that makes a little bit of sense is Besler, who at 54 days rest could've lost a few steps in his game. But Besler is a workhorse. He works extremely hard to keep his body in the best possible shape at all times. Right Sporting KC fans?

But if not Besler, who?

At the end of it all, is there a proper conclusion that can be drawn from Klinsmann's fitness comments? Probably not. If he doesn't name names, which he will not do, what's the point of bringing it up? Seriously Klinsi, what's the point?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

CBA negotiations stalling, MLS players take to Twitter to speak out about low wages and free agency

Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union have been in CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) negotiations for months, but little progress has been made.

Players seem to be holding their ground on two main issues - salaries and free agency. They're upset with the current structure and they're speaking out.
(Warshaw: "You guys, you just made $4 million on the advertisement I wear across my chest, I shouldn't have to ask five times to get my $500 moving expenses reimbursed.")

With only 38 days left until the 2015 season begins the players hold all the leverage, and based on what they're saying and posting to social media, a strike seems imminent.
Former MLSer Bobby Warshaw told us why he thinks MLS may be headed for a work stoppage. Here's what some of the current players think.
A few more words from Warshaw on wages earned...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Full quotes from U20 U.S. men's national team coach Tab Ramos following win over El Salvador (Highlights included)

The U-20 U.S. men's national team qualified for the World Cup after beating El Salvador 2-0 in a must-win knockout game Saturday night. Goals were scored by Ben Spencer and Paul Arriola.

After the game head coach Tab Ramos spoke about the team. Here's a recap of what he had to say.

On the team's performance...

"It's difficult to win four games in a row, especially having to eliminate and opponent every single game. The boys did a great job. I feel good for them because we pushed them really hard over the last week-and-a-half, especially for the last four games, and they did a really great job so I'm happy for them."

On Saturday's game vs El Salvador...

"El Salvador defended really well. They were similar to Guatemala and the way they defended, so we knew that it was going to take time to break them down. We ended up getting a couple of really good opportunities to score early on and we didn't put them away, and we kept them in the game. We knew that eventually we would break them down and I was confident that we would do well.

On the two goals vs El Salvador...

"We're happy we got a couple goals, but as you know we're leading the tournament in shots, so we've created a lot. We actually have not scored enough and we have not been good in front of the goal in general. At least today we got two. Defensively we've been excellent so I'm very happy with that."

On goalkeeper Zack Steffen's save on the penalty...

"I actually thought that he might save it. We practiced penalty kicks yesterday and [Zack] did really well on them. We're fortunate that in the U.S. we always have excellent goalkeepers. I was actually counting on that one so I'm glad he saved it."

On the team coming back from a poor start to the tournament...

"We had to because that surprise tie against Guatemala forced us to play different against Panama - where the tie wouldn't have been good for us - so we took a risk and by taking a risk the last 20 minutes of that game we lost it and felt way behind. But, I think it was a good decision considering Panama won all their games anyway so a tie wouldn't have been good. At this point I'm very happy with the team. I'm happy for them and I'm happy we're going to another World Cup."

On finally being able to relax a bit...

"I definitely need a few days off that's for sure."

Friday, January 9, 2015

The entire 2015 MLS Schedule (340 games) in one image

The 2015 MLS schedule has been released. But rather than constantly checking the schedule page over and over again to see what the matchups are each week, I've created a spreadsheet condensing everything into one simple image.

I did it last season for MLS Fantasy owners, and despite leaving, I've decided to do it again. Enjoy and best of luck in 2015!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jozy Altidore could leave Sunderland in January, will NYCFC be his next destination?

Jozy Altidore and the US men's national team are in Boston, Massachusetts training for upcoming friendlies against Ecuador in East Hartford, Connecticut (Oct. 10) and Honduras in Boca Raton, Florida (Oct. 14) so we were bound to hear about Jozy's current form - or lack there of - with Premier League side Sunderland.

What we weren't expecting was to hear him speak so bluntly about the possibility of leaving his club team as early as January.

In Wednesday's media session Altidore said that if his situation doesn't turn around by January that he'll be looking elsewhere for a new team.
Jozy has one goal in 33 league appearances since joining the Sunderland in July of 2013 and has played a total of 57 minutes in the team's first seven PL games this season.

With a ton of speculation already suggesting a move back to Major League Soccer for the USMNT forward, and more specifically a move to New York City FC, U.S. fans will now be keeping a much closer eye on him over the next few months.

NYCFC recently acquired the No.1 spot in MLS' Allocation Ranking, which is the mechanism used to decide the destination of  "a U.S. national team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the league after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee."

Having said that, Altidore would be a prime candidate for NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis to add before his team takes the field in March of 2015 for their inaugural season in MLS.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pep Guardiola refuses to shake hands with MLS All-Star coach Caleb Porter

The MLS All-Star had some great goals and spectacular moments, but all of that went away when the final whistle was blown.

Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola was upset with a couple hard tackles from Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson and Seattle Sounders defensive mid Osvaldo Alonso. And he made it clear with one little Dikembe Mutumbo-esqu finger wave.

The MLS All-Star game is supposed to be all fun and games, but the tackles clearly bothered Pep who voiced his frustration on multiple occasions throughout the game.

Caleb Porter considers Pep and idol of his so one can only imaging how he felt when. After numerous attempts to shake his on the field (and striking out) Porter moved on.
According to Sunil Gulati, President of US Soccer, all is now well though, with the two coaches shaking hands later on outside the locker room.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jurgen Klinsmann, Tim Howard and Kyle Beckerman recap the game vs Germany, "Group of Death", Beligum & more

RECIFE, Brazil - US men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Tim Howard and Kyle Beckerman share their thoughts and opinions with the media after Thursday's 0-1 loss to Germany. Here's a recap of the post-game press conference.

Jurgen Klinsmann & Tim Howard: Post-game Interview (On the field)
Thoughts on the game...

JK: "We can still do better. We got through the group, but we have to do better in the Round of 16. And we will do better."

On Germany & getting out of the group... 

TH: "Proud of the group. We still got a lot left in us. I thought we played well throughout the group. Today was a tough game, tough conditions. Hats off to Germany. I think they have the opportunity to win the World Cup. That's how good I think they are."

"It's shows how far we've come. That we're not happy just getting there. That we want to progress. We still got a little left in us."

On the offense and not having many opportunities vs Germany...

TH: "We're going to try and get as much rest as we can. Everybody comes into this last game tired. Germany's a top team. they're going to make it difficult on us. Not only do they defend well, they use the ball well. So they don't give you many opportunities. But offensively I thought we've been good in this tournament so that will continue."

On Jozy Altidore...

TH: "Anytime you lose a big player it stings a little bit, but I think the top teams and the top players move on. You realize that injured guys can't help the team and you use what's in reserve and you go again."

Kyle Beckerman: Post-game interview (In the tunnel)

On playing Germany...
"We knew it was going to be a huge challenge. Germany is such a good of the best in the world. They really came at us in the beginning of the game, but I thought we responded well after the first 20 minutes or so. We tried to get in their and get a win. We didn't play for a tie. We just came up short."

On advancing to the Round of 16...

"It's huge. We knew it was going to be extremely tough. But we believed in it. We felt like there was a chance. Everybody's got to play the same game, and if that's the case, we have a chance. We did enough to advance. We can start to dream. Hopefully we can make some upsets."

On facing Belgium in the Round of 16...

"Extremely good team. Got a ton of great players that play all over the world at some big clubs. It's going to take a huge effort from us. We're going to have to score our chances and defend with everything we got, but it's a game that two teams have to go out and play, so we feel like we got a chance. And with a chance, we're going to give everything." 

Jurgen Klinsmann (Post-game Press Conference)
On Germany and advancing to the Round of 16...

"It's a huge achievement by our team to come through that group and qualify for the knockout stage. We knew it was going to be a very tricky game that a tie was going to be enough. It was not easy to handle it mentally. We had a little too much respect the first 20-25 minutes of the game and then the nerves settled a little bit and we got better."

"It's tremendous for this team, for our group. If somebody would've said that after the draw, that Germany and U.S. would be going through - and we're sitting with the German team in the driver seat for the last game (after two games) - probably nobody would've believed it. But, we have a very, very strong team. The players are so hungry to do well. The effort and the commitment they showed for all 90 minutes was outstanding. I wish we would've created more chances and find more ways to take it to Germany, but overall it's a fantastic achievement by all the guys."

On the "Group of Death"...

"I think that most of you would agree (maybe with another group or two) that this was by far the strongest group to go through. Ghana and Portugal bring such quality to the table and Germany is among the top 4 or 5 favorites to win this title. It was hard work... Whoever we face now, we're going to take it to them."

On starting Omar Gonzalez over Geoff Cameron...

"Everyone is so important. We wanted to give [Geoff Cameron] a break. Omar has worked so hard and he was ready for it."

On Jermaine Jones... 

"He is who he is. He's a warrior. He's so important to us & to the team b/c he has this never-die attitude. He is playing a very good tournament so far. Hope he steps it up another notch in the round of 16."

On the weather/conditions of the field...

Reporter: Were you tempted to do you trademark dive slide?

"It would've been no problem. It was wet already. [chuckle] Might be difficult after defeat.

On what the U.S. needs to improve...

"We have to improve. We have to keep the ball longer. Every time we connected 4, 5, 6, 7 passes and shifted it to the other side we looked really good. We have to be calmer on the ball and make the opponent run. We have to be a little bit calmer under possession. We have to stay composed and move the ball around with one/two touches and make the opponent run."

On facing Belgium...

"We're familiar with Belgium because we played two friendlies with them over the last few years... We will be prepared."

On U.S. conceding a goal to Thomas Mueller...

"We'll look at the video and see what we did wrong. Every time you concede a goal you did something wrong. It's just normal. It's mostly a sequence of events... Thomas is a player who doesn't need two chances. He's fine with one and puts it in the net. We'll have a closer look at it tomorrow."

Monday, June 23, 2014

13 Quotes: USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann talks about Michael Bradley, DeAndre Yedlin, Matt Besler, Jogi Low and more

MANAUS, Brazil - US men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann shared some interesting thoughts and opinions with the media after Sunday night's 2-2 draw with Portugal. Here's a recap of his press conference summed up in 13 quotes.

Thoughts on the game...

"It was a thriller...a real exciting match. Everybody who had the chance to be in Manaus today will talk about this game for a long time."

"We discussed it at halftime that we were going to get a goal and then get a second goal. And we could’ve added a third or a fourth goal with the chances we had."

"These finishes are very emotional for all of us. For the fans, the players, the bench. That’s what a World Cup is all about. It was a little bit of a bummer, but you move on and get the next one."

"It is what it is. Now we’re going to get everybody hungry and excited. We are full of confidence. We are right there. We have one foot in the door and we just need to walk the other one in there and get it done." 

On the final play (Portugal's equalizer)... 

"Michael got caught in the middle of 3-4 guys and lost the ball unfortunately. And then the counter break comes. Even with 3 centerbacks on the field we were not able to get to that cross. It was a beautiful cross."

On arranging a draw with Germany coach/friend Jogi Lov... 

REPORTER: If Jogi calls you and says let’s just play a draw, you’re going to say no, 100 percent?

"There’s no such call. We’re good friends, [but] Jogi’s doing his job and I'm doing my job. My job is to do everything to get us to the Round of 16 and that’s what I’m going to do. There’s no time right now to have friendship calls. It’s about business now." 

"I don’t think we are made for draws, except if it happens like tonight. [USA and Germany] go into this game and they want to win the group. We want to recover fast, go at Germany and get 3 points. That is our goal. 

"The United States is known to give everything they have in every single game. We’re going to go into Recife very ambitious, with a lot of confidence to beat Germany. This is our goal. I’m pretty confident that we’re going to get a good game there."

On Michael Bradley... 

"Michael is undoubtedly one of our key players and I think he showed that tonight. He has an engine that is unbelievable. He’s covering for other players all over the place. His vision and his passing is outstanding."

"I’m not expecting any perfect games from anybody. I expect that they give everything they have and if somebody makes a mistake the other guy is there to help him out."

On DeAndre Yedlin...

"He has the qualities to make an impact right now in this World Cup. Which he did. We knew it. That’s why he’s here... It’s fun to watch that kid.” 

On Matt Besler...
"It’s fun to watch Matt [Besler]. He’s one of our most promising young centerbacks that we’ve brought along for the last two-and-a-half years."

Final Statement...
"Our goal is to go to the next round so we will do everything in our capability to go into the next round. I’m not thinking about what’s going on in other people’s minds. We’re going to take our game to Germany. We are going to give everything we have and give it a real fight. If you see the team from tonight we are capable of surprising even more teams in this tournament. I’ll see you guys in four days in Recife."

Monday, April 21, 2014

NYCFC's Jason Kreis "very, very happy" with 110 x 70 field dimensions at Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK - On Monday, Major League Soccer's 21st team, New York City FC, released field plans for their inaugural season. The main kicker, all homes games are expected to be played at Yankee Stadium - 161st St, Bronx, NY 10451 - and could continue like that for the next three years.

NYCFC have not given a specific timeline as to how long they'll be staying at Yankee Stadium, but did note that it could be less and it could be more.

The field will stretch from the first baseline to the left field wall as opposed to a more traditional approach in years past with the field being situated on an angle from right field to left field.

The sidelines will run along the outfield wall (right-center) and the third baseline (image, above).

Yankee stadium will be redoing the current pitchers mound so that it can be removed and put back in via crane (for easy access), however the mound itself will not affect the actual playing field.

The projected field dimensions, 110 x 70, will make NYCFC's playing surface the smallest of any other team competing in MLS.

Current field dimensions for all 19 teams in MLS:
  • 110x75 - 1 team
  • 110x76 - 1 team
  • 114x74 - 1 team
  • 115x70 - 1 team
  • 115x74 - 2 teams
  • 115x75 - 2 teams
  • 117x74 - 1 team
  • 117x75 - 1 team
  • 120x75 - 7 teams
  • 120x77 - 1 team
  • 120x80 - 1 team
Seven teams call home to a field that is 120x75 - 30 feet longer and 15 feet wider than what is expected at Yankee Stadium. The field which resembles the closest comparison is RFK Stadium (110x75).

Despite playing on a much smaller pitch than what is currently being used at Rio Tinto Stadium (120x75), NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis said he's "comfortable" with the reduced width. "Rio Tinto was 70 yards wide in 2009-10. I'm a very, very happy man."

Tim Pernetti at NYCFC Press Conference
After a barrage of questions regarding NYCFC's length of stay at Yankee Stadium and any future plans of building a soccer-specific stadium of their own, Chief Business Officer for the club, Tim Pernetti, put an end to the presser with one simple statement...

"When we open the door to a new soccer-specific stadium it will be spectacular!"

For more information on acquiring season tickets for NYCFC's first season in Major League Soccer, click here!

Monday, February 24, 2014

MLS Fantasy prizes for the 2014 season do not get any better than this!

The 2014 Major League Soccer season starts in less than two weeks (March 8th) so if you haven't yet registered a team for this year's new-and-improved version of MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager, it's about time you get that going.

If you have registered a team and joined my private league I have some great news for you!

(Note: If you want to join click this link or enter the code 2-30 on the "Leagues" page)

After agreeing to terms with two incredible sponsors from the New York City area, I am able to confirm the prizes I'll be giving away for the upcoming 2014 FMLS season. My two sponsors are Upper 90 Soccer and Daniel Nyari.
Playmakers hoody by Daniel Nyari

I have some incredible prizes to offer you so let's get to it!

All players in my league will be entitled to a special promo code good for 10% all online purchases from Upper 90 soccer - the No.1 soccer store in New York City. You can find this code in the "Forum" section when you join the league.

This code is valid through May 31, 2014. Upon entering their site you will also have the option to register an email address. Do that and you'll receive another promo code valid for $10 off that can be used in combination with one another. Also, there's free shipping for any orders over $90.

Upper 90 Soccer will also be giving away some very generous prizes for the Top 3 finishers overall.

Here's how the league will work --> Head-to-Head format with the regular season winner (best record and overall points at the end of Round 29) taking home any one item from the online store of New York based artist/illustrator Daniel Nyari.

There will be a 16-team playoff from Rounds 30 to 33. The Top 3 finishers at the end of it all will receive the following:

1st Place - Adidas 2014 World Cup Brazuca match ball and a $100 gift card to Upper 90 Soccer

2nd Place - Adidas 2014 Major League Soccer match ball and a $50 gift card to Upper 90 Soccer

3rd Place - Adidas 2013 Major League Soccer match ball and any short-sleeve jersey of your choice from the Upper 90 store

I am very honored to have these two sponsors on board and I hope you can appreciate the length we all went to in order to be able to offer this to you for the 2014 season.

Neither of my sponsors are receiving huge benefits from doing this so please show them some love. If you're on Twitter please give Upper 90 Soccer and Daniel Nyari a follow. They have both been very supportive of my efforts to make this the No.1 private fantasy league in all of MLS and I think that with the prizes being offered we definitely accomplished that.

Leave a note in the comments below or send them a brief message to thank them on Twitter. Best of luck this year everyone. Cheers!
Upper 90 Soccer store located at 697 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025 (646) 863-3105
Note: All winners will need to provide proof of residence in order to be eligible to receive prizes. Players who create more than one team will be removed from the game and will not be eligible to receive prizes.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The MLS SuperDraft may be small for the fans, but it's huge for the media

If you've never been to the MLS SuperDraft don't knock it. The player pool isn't as great as it was in the years past, but when it comes to media-related events, it doesn't get much bigger than this.

Major League Soccer has changed the format of the draft several times over the years, but here's what the setup looked like for 2014.

Draft day

10am: Media credentials
11am: Fans start trickling in (DC, PHI and NY)
12pm: Draft class enters followed by some brief announcements
12:15pm: Speech from MLS Commissioner Don Garber and then the draft begins
  • Two rounds: 19 picks for each = 38 total selections
4pm: Draft is over. Article time for media. Everyone else is out the door.

While the draft may not mean much to the "average" fan, the media eats it up. This year, after a player was selected they made their way down a catwalk and answered a couple questions from broadcaster Brian Dunseth in front of the entire audience - roughly 2,000 people. Then they walked over to a brand new 2014 Adidas Brazuca match ball and signed it before being greeted by team personnel.

After they greet each other they walk past the media area and into a side room for a quick photo opp before interviews. The players posed with a Brazuca alone, then with the coaches (some with jerseys), before moving on to the interview portion.

Players and coaches are interviewed separately. Players get player questions and coaches get it all.

Most of the players are nervous and don't really know what to say so the really good stuff comes from the coaches. And this is exactly what makes the draft so special.

Think about it. Where else can you get media scrums and one-on-ones with coaches and general managers from every team in MLS? Not only that, after Round 1 commences, Don Garber heads back to the media room and to do a presser of his own.

Questions were thrown at Garber regarding Camilo, TV deals, Edu and much, much more. The @thesoccerdon was out-spoken as always. He wasn't happy about the Camilo situation or the Edu rumors, but he gave the media a chance to grill him for a solid 20-30 minutes. What more could one ask for?

This might seem like the norm for people who've been in the business, but for a first-timer like myself, it couldn't have been a more fulfilling experience.

Is Philadelphia the cleanest city? No. But the people within Major League Soccer and from the different media outlets around the nation made this event something very special. Coaches, GM's. players and MLS front office members ready and willing to drop knowledge on everything you ask of them. Doesn't get much better than that.

The fans were great as well. D.C. United came in first, followed by Philadelphia and New York. Loud chants between the Philadelphia and New York supporters - separated by a mere two feet - gave the room a chilling, invigorating vibe before the draft even started.

Parents brought their kids and friends and family showed up to support the draftees in attendance. It was an amazing turnout filled with people of all ages and an incredible atmosphere for everyone who took part.

For media members, there were stories flying around all over the place. NY Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke addressed the Xavi rumors, Bruce Arena told us why LA needed another center back, John Hackworth talked in detail about Maurice Edu and Don Garber said a lot. A LOT.

Plus coaches and general managers were wheeling and dealing:
  • DC United traded No.1 to Philadelphia for No.2 and allocation money
  • FC Dallas traded No.5 to Montreal for No.10, allocation money and an int'l roster slot
  • Philadelphia traded No.6 overall to Dallas for No.10 and allocation money
  • Philadelphia traded No.10 overall to Toronto for No.15 and allocation money
  • New England traded No.11 to Colorado for No.12 and No.19
  • Montreal traded No.29 overall to DC for int'l roster slot
So while the draft may not be the best or most efficient way to bring talent into this league, the MLS SuperDraft will be around for a very long time.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Can Major League Soccer save ESPN and the negative light it shines on athletes in America?

Turn on ESPN and what do you see? Murder. DUI's. Steroids. Crime. The list goes on and on. It's a growing problem in several major American sports and the media is having a "field day" with it.

While the National Football League, Major League Baseball, NCAA Football and others continue to make headlines for the wrong reasons, Major League Soccer is making headlines for the right reasons.

Earlier this season LA Galaxy's Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major professional sports league in America. Leading up to the announcement that he would join LA this season, Rogers' story became increasingly popular throughout the mainstream media and a key focal point of change and growth in American professional sports.

Rogers made his first appearance with the LA Galaxy in the 77th minute on ESPN's MLS Game of the Week on Saturday, May 26; a 4-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. In front of a packed house, Rogers was gifted one of the loudest, uplifting reactions from MLS fans all season.

Flash forward a couple weeks later and it's almost as if nothing ever happened. What might possibly be the biggest story in Major League Soccer this season went from something controversial, problematic and revolutionary all at the same time to almost a non-issue.

If you compare Rogers' story to what is going on with Johnny Manziel right now, which is more inspiring, motivational, positive? Easy. So why does the mainstream media seem to focus so much on negativity? Instead of highlighting and praising athletes for the positive role they're portraying, the media seems to look for ways to accentuate their mishaps and make them the subject of even more controversy. Sometimes you can even catch the analysts on TV giving the player some form of fatherly advice.

A lot of people, including myself, think that soccer in America has not been given the respect it deserves from the mainstream media. Rarely do you see something highlighted on television or in the newspaper with regards to soccer. It's something that I think is going to change eventually, but when?

U.S. soccer does not generate nearly anything close to what the NFL or MLB does with regards to revenue, but from a media standpoint what are we teaching our youth? We shine a light on players in other sports who continue to let us down, while players in Major League Soccer are doing things lift others up. News has never been more accessible than it is today through social media, and according to this article (written 4/8/13) 37% of teenagers in the U.S. have their own smartphone. I'm sure that number has only gone up since then.

Aaron Hernandez (NFL), Alex Rodriguez (MLB), Ryan Braun (MLB), Johnny Manziel (NCAA), Tiger Woods (PGA) and even Kobe Bryant (NBA) have become global icons for their respective sports. All of these athletes have worked very hard to get where they are/were in their careers, but at some point or another have let us all down. When was the last time you could say that about a U.S. Soccer player?

Here are some of the latest search results from Google with regards to the six athletes named above. I've also included U.S. Men's National team player and LA Galaxy forward, Landon Donovan.

Google - Estimated number of results (7/31/13)

Alex Rodriguez - 157,000,000
Aaron Hernandez - 105,000,000
Tiger Woods - 68,400,000
Ryan Braun - 68,000,000
Kobe Bryant - 61,100,000
Johnny Manziel - 35,700,000
Landon Donovan - 19,100,000

You could argue that the difference between Alex Rodriguez and Landon Donovan (approximately 137,900,000 results) is so large mainly because Rodriguez is under investigation for steroid use. We all know that he makes more money than Donovan and that he's a bigger star among the mainstream media, but why do people insist on giving a bad seed more and more publicity?

Rodriguez is 38 years old and he hasn't done anything for the United States of America. He really hasn't done all that much for Major League Baseball either. If anything, he's ruining the entire sport and its reputation. Didn't the U.S. Men's National team just win the 2013 Gold Cup? Shine some light on that.

ESPN has seen a decline in ratings this year and it serves them right. Some people are even having a little fun mocking it (Dave Letterman's Top 10 lowest rated shows on ESPN). Breaking news is great, but when you go on and on about the same subject it gets old. If soccer is the most popular sport in the world, why not put it on TV more often?

This brings us to some good news! ESPN FC, ESPN's new soccer show that will air Sunday through Friday at 530pm ET starting August 11. What this show does ratings wise could be very beneficial for the growth of soccer in America. Details regarding the hosts and primary focus of the show have not yet been released, but we'll find out soon enough.

ESPN's show will not be the only new soccer show set to air in August. Fox Sports 1 will introduce FOX Soccer Daily on August 19. This show is also 30 minutes long (starts at 4pm ET) and will be recorded from a studio in Los Angeles. For more details on the show, click here.

As a kid, I grew up idolizing all athletes. I was in awe of them. But now, because of their actions and the way they're portrayed on TV and in the mainstream media, I've become more cautious. Anybody can be a good athlete, maybe even a phenomenal one if they work hard enough, but character is what earns you respect in my opinion, and until you have're nothing.

Here's hoping that ESPN FC kills it! In a good way.