Friday, December 4, 2009

These Guys Make the BCS Look Fair

Today is the World Cup Draw, where we learn possibly how well our great nation's summer could go. As always FIFA had to change the seeding formula, so all the excel spreadsheets and math I did was a complete waste of time.

World Cup Qualifying is the only competition I have ever seen where they let the teams play out the games, have all the teams qualify, and then they decide who the best teams without anyone knowing how they are going to determine who the best seven nations are. At least the BCS and college football have the decency to tell the mid-majors they are shit out of luck unless hell freezes over.

So what do I think will happen today? First off I don't think the draw is rigid, but the results sometimes can make you think otherwise. FIFA has always wanted the host to make into the knockout stage, which is why South Africa is seeded for this World Cup. I feel that South Africa, while potentially getting a difficult group, will get an easy group that will hopefully get them into the final 16. Look for something like:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why We All Can't Get Along

Talks for a new Collective Barging Agreement are currently on going between the MLS owners and the MLS Players Union.  The current CBA will expire in January 31, 2010 and some concern has recently been put on these talks, as the MLSPU has hinted at a strike could be possible.     

Two of the hot topics in the on-going negotiations are guaranteed contracts and club option clauses.  Contracts in MLS are signed and paid by the league (minus parts of the DP contracts), and they are set up under the current CBA and league rules.     

Almost all of the player contracts in MLS are not guaranteed contracts.  This is an obvious problem for the players of the league.  For instance if a MLS player gets hurt for a long period of time, the club can cancel his contract and find another healthy player to take his spot on the roster.  The original player is now injured and unemployed.  MLS owners have the right to cancel player contracts, but the players themselves cannot cancel their own contract.  This is definitely hypocritical when looked at from the view of the Players Union.  The MLS owners are in a very tough position as well, they are on the hook if the league is profitable or not profitable.  This clause helps them keep the roster size of the teams lower and to not have to continue paying out bad contracts that they could have signed in the past.  Financial Stability is the most important factor in the growth of MLS right now.  It is not good for the current players' pockets, but it is attracting good ownership groups for the league and keeping some of the older ownership groups of the league from losing too much money.      

Club option clauses are another tough puzzle for the young soccer league as well.  In MLS when a player's contract expires, their MLS rights are still owned by the team that their contract expired with. This eliminates free agency within MLS and therefore stops a bidding war for an MLS player’s services without its original club getting something in return.  A perfect example is Matt Pickens, who left the Chicago Fire in 2008 to join Queens Park Rangers of the English Championship.  When his contract was not extended or renewed, he became a free agent everywhere expect MLS.  Colorado was interested in Matt Pickens and to offer something to the Fire in return for his rights.  In return the Fire was able to swap second round picks and gain an allocation.      

This rule of club option clauses also can drive MLS players to leave the league and go elsewhere for more money.  Yuri Movsisyan signed a pre-contract with the Danish club Randers, before his contract expired in MLS.  If he wanted to stay in MLS he would have had to renegotiate with the league and RSL only for a new contract.  So to create demand for his services he, like many other former MLS players, had to look to Europe to receive the raise that they thought was sufficient.  This is another way for the league to stay financial stable and keep some parody in the league, by not allowing the teams to be competing against each other for player services without something in return.     

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Do you side with the owners or the players union?

Christmas Comes Late This Year

Who doesn't want to see Mark Rogondino's face in HD?  Well too bad, come next year you soccer lovers won't have a choice. 

On 1/1/2010 FSC is scheduled to be broadcasting select programming in high definition.  According to their website, the UEFA Champions League, Barclays Premier League and Serie A are to be shown in HD.   Hopefully we will be able to see Major League Soccer and possibly the US Open Cup as well in HD, but as of now it will be impossible to have the full CONCACAF Champions League in a HD format.  I also would expect Fox Soccer Report, Sky Sports News, and Fox Football Fone In to be shown in High Definition. 

For fans of La Liga and the German Bundesliga, GolTV also plans to broadcast select programming in HD sometime this year.  Hopefully all of the major satellite/cable providers will pick up the new soccer HD channels when they debut next year.  Finally, all those Sylvania commercials on FSC will be right about watching the game in beautiful high definition on FSC.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Coming Attractions

With many things to write about in the next couple days, here is a small preview of the coming attractions.

  • New Supporters Shield Design
  • The 2010 FIFA World Cup Draw 
  • More Posts on the History of Soccer in America
  • My Book Shelf (My reviews of soccer/sport-specific books)
  • The new NASL
Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving Break.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Philly Meet Your Team

* Indicates that player does not count as an International

With the ten players selected, the Union has a Team Salary of $646,700 (the Union has the right to renegotiate contracts) and only 3 players that will count as Internationals. The method Nowak used in the expansion draft is to select players to build for the future, an average age of 25.4 years, and to leave some money around to sign maybe a DP (possibly free agent Ebi Smoilarek) and/or other marquee players.  

If Nowak wanted instant success he could have signed more established veterans like Frankie Hedjuk, Amado Guevara, and Pat Onstad, but he would have risked using those picks on players that are only going to be playing in the league for a couple more years at best and also spending more money on them.  This group Coach Nowak has a good group of young talent with a couple of veterans they can learn from. The low salaries of most of these players will also give Philly more cap room to sign other players as the 2010 season nears.  

124 Years Ago Today...A Rivalry Started

The American Football Association gathered together local soccer players of the New Jersey area to create our first national team.  The team played on this day 124 years ago on Clark Field against the Canadian National Team.  The Americans lost 1-0 to the Canadians on that day, but would avenge the lost a year later 3-2.

The game is considered a huge moment in American and Canadian soccer history, but is not considered to be the first international game of either the United States Soccer Federation or the Canadian Soccer Association,  the USSF was founded in 1913 and the CSA in 1912.  According to the USSF, our first international game was in Stockholm, Sweden in 1916, where the Americans were victorious 3-2.  The CSA also won their first official match at Brisbane, Australia; 3-2 in 1924.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Was Landon jinxed by the BS Report?

Last night, the LA Galaxy captain stepped up to take the fourth penalty kick for the LA Galaxy.  Landon did his usually routine over the ball before backing up to take his shot.  According to the broadcast team, Landon converted on his last 12 penalties and even against Nick Rimando this was surely going to be 13.   

As he approached the ball, Rimando moved to the shooter's right (Landon's preferred area), Landon looked to strike it down the middle, but instead it went sailing over the bar. 

Now let’s go back to Thursday, when the podcast interview that Landon did with Bill Simmons aired.  During the podcast they converse about his penalty-kick taking history and experiences (about the 4:21 mark).

Here are some quotes from the podcast:

LD - "If he goes early, then it makes it easy, cause I can go to the other side. If they kind of hesitate, then you just want to hit it hard  in a spot that is hard for him to get to... and so in the last second when you change your mind like that, all I'm doing is just trying to get it somewhere the other way, cause I know he isn't going to get to it..."

BS- "So that's when it could be dangerous, when at the last second you change your mind and that's how it ends up sailing over the crossbar, sometimes, for the other guys not you..."