Friday, February 29, 2008

Houston Stadium: Deadline Set

It appears that the City of Houston and the Houston Dynamo have agreed that they need to make a stadium deal by April 1, or go their separate ways. And if that later happens, that means the Dynamo will most likely build their stadium in the suburb of Sugar Land rather then in downtown Houston.

Dynamo Event in Houston Today

Quick reminder if you're in Houston and can get away from work, the Houston Dynamo will be throwing a little party at Jones Plaza in Downtown Houston from 11:30 to 12:30 this morning, in order to properly welcome the new owners, Golden Boy Promotions and Brener International Group.

Speaking of the new owners, Bernardo Fallas has a great Q&A with Oscar De La Hoya, and so far he is saying all the right things, he recognizes the importance of the fans and will fight for a soccer stadium.

Last week we reported that the next MLS franchise would be in Philadelphia. Well, yesterday, the MLS made it official:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Faces at the Dynamo

Several new faces joining the Houston Dynamo family this week, not only Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener, but also new forward Franco Caraccio joins the team this week.

For those of you who work in or near downtown Houston, this Friday there will be a rally at Jones Plaza between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to welcome the new part-owners who will be in town to ink the final deal.

Good news for Dynamo fans: Oliver Luck has stated that the new part-owners have indicated that they do not forsee making or urging any management changes, meaning that the Dynamo ship will still be guided by Luck.

And to close with the bad news, while much of Houston is grieving over the broken foot of the Yao, young Dynamo player Mike Chabala suffered a broken foot during the match against Gamba Osaka.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Houston Dynamo Sold, Well Partly

As the clock ticked down on 2007, news surfaced that Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions was interested in buying the Houston Dynamo from AEG. It took a couple months, but AEG has hammered out a partnership deal with Golden Boy Promotions and Brener International Group in which the two new owners will play important roles in the franchise and its future. The specific amount of shares GBP and BIG will own has not been disclosed, but it appears likely that AEG will own at least 50% of the shares. Details on the deal are still being worked out, but it will be formally announced this Friday.

Now that the ownership situation with the Dynamo has been sorted out, I expect the stadium deal process to speed up.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

World Soccer Wrap 2/24/2008

New Episode of World Soccer Wrap now available on iTunes or at:

Serie A Report 2/24/2008

Fans of Serie A were once again treated to a thrilling weekend of fixtures.
Saturday’s main match featured Juventus visiting Reggina. Juventus was hoping to end the evening with another 3 points and a shot at securing second place on the table, but the Calabriasian side wasn’t going along with the Old Lady’s plan. A goal scored in the 32nd minute by Franco Brienza gave Reggina the lead going into halftime. Reggina maintained its lead until the 71st minute when Alessandro del Piero scored the equalizer for Juventus. As the clock ticked closer to the 90 minute mark, it appeared that the northern side would have to settle for 1 point instead of the desired 3 points. But fate was not smiling on Juventus, when in the 90th minute Mohamed Sissoko made a dangerous acrobatic challenge that resulted in the awarding of a penalty kick for Reggina, which was converted by Nicola Amoruso. Juventus players overly protested the referee’s decision to the point that Cristiano Zanetti was awarded a red card.

Coming into this weekend’s match against Sampdoria in Genoa, table leader Inter Milan held an eleven point lead. After being dominated by Sampdoria, Inter was lucky to secure a 1-1draw and return to Milan with its hard won point. Meanwhile, second place Roma exacted revenge on Fiorentina, which battled Roma to a 2-2 draw back in September, with a 1 - nil victory, cutting Inter’s lead by 9 points. Finally, in the role of Serie A’s comeback kid, Milan’s 2-1 victory over Palermo means that Milan now shares fourth place with Fiorentina.

All eyes will be on the San Siro this Wednesday as Inter hosts Roma in a game that could decide whether or not Inter will runaway with the Scudetto this year.

Dynamo Report 2/24/2008

The Houston Dynamo’s 2008 preseason started on a positive note, beating the new San Jose Earthquakes, drawing with the Quakes in their second game and then getting a 3-0 win over Sydney F.C. in the Pan Pacific Championship semifinal this past Wednesday, but the Dynamo’s preseason unbeaten streak came to end Saturday night in Honolulu when they suffered a 6-1 drubbing administered by the J-League’s Gamba Osaka. Four of those goals came off of Brazilian striker Bare.

The good news for the Houston Dynamo and Dynamo fans is that this loss, one of the worst in franchise history, came early in preseason and there is still time to make the necessary corrections before the start of the CONCACAF Champions Cup starts next month.
While much has been made of the off-season departures of forwards Nate Jaqua and Joseph Ngweyna, after last night’s game it is clear that the Dynamo need to spend some time working on its defensive core, which was neither cohesive or communicating well. Part of the defensive failures might have been the absence of Eddie Robinson and the leadership he brings to Houston’s back line, and it didn’t help that Bobby Boswell is still in the process of adjusting to a new team and new system.

The scoreline from last night’s game is a bit deceiving. On the whole, the Houston Dynamo, especially its midfield, played well, but the lack of depth up front, the absence of Dwayne DeRosario and Eddie Robinson, and the failure of communication between Boswell and Patrick Ianni, give Gamba Osake too many opportunities, of which they took full advantage.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Philadelphia to Get Next MLS Franchise

Good news for soccer fans in Philadelphia, and the rest of the U.S. for that matter, this morning the Philadelphia Inquirer has announced that on February 28, 2008, MLS will announce that an expansion team franchise is being awarded to Philadelphia.

Dynamo Beat Sydney FC

Last night in Honolulu, the Houston Dynamo advanced in the Pan Pacific Championship by beating Sydney F.C., 3-0. Houston's goals came from Dwayne DeRosario, Stuart Holden, and Chris Wondolowski. The Dynamo will face Japan's Gamba Osaka on Saturday - Gamba Osaka beat the L.A. Galaxy last night, 1-0.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dynamo to sign Franco Caraccio

That South American striker to be named later that the Houston Dynamo are in the process of signing is Franco Caraccio.

Franco Caraccio, 21, has been a reserve member of Arsenal de Sarandi of the Argentine Primera Division, and he has played with the Argentina U-20 team.

In light of the off-season departures of Joseph Ngweyna and Nate Jaqua, this appears to be a good signing by the Dynamo.

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Episode of World Soccer Wrap Available

You can download it on iTunes or listen to it here:

City of Houston Makes Offer to Buy Land for Stadium

The slow progress in building a soccer specific stadium continued today as the City of Houston acknowledged that it has offer $15.5 million to purchase land on the east side of downtown for a soccer stadium.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Forget Feilhaber

This past week there have been rumblings that the Houston Dynamo will use their DP option on Benny Feilhaber, who is currently playing for Derby County in the English Premier League. While Feilhaber might be a nice addition to the Dynamo, the Dynamo are not in need of any new midfielders, the one area where they have the most depth. With the loss of Jaqua and Ngwenya, and the fact that Brian Ching will likely miss time for international duties, the Dynamo need to focus on adding forwards.

Myself, and others, have been speculating and hoping that the Dynamo will look south when it comes to filling slots up front. The Houston Chronicle's Bernardo Fallas is reporting on a controlled leak - the Dynamo are in negotiations for the signing of a young South American striker. The name has not been revealed yet, but it appears it is a young player who has yet to make a big name for himself. We'll be watching this development closely.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

And so it Begins

For the first time since winning the MLS Cup on November 18, 2007, the Houston Dynamo took to the pitch to play another MLS club. Last night at PAL Stadium in San Jose, the Houston Dynamo beat the new San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, in a preseason friendly. The only goal of the game was scored by Ricardo Clark in the 44th minute.

This match took place shortly after the Dynamo traded their rights to Ramiro Corrales to the Earthquake in exchange for allocation money.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Odds & Ends on a Tuesday

The Pan-Pacific Cup starts in Hawaii next week. The Houston Dynamo will be facing Sydney F.C. on Wednesday February 20, at 8:30 p.m. Hawaii Time.

As I previously reported, in March the Dynamo will be doing some training in San Antonio in conjunction with the Texas Pro Soccer Festival. There will be preseason exhibitions involving the Dynamo, Chivas USA, D.C. United, and F.C. Toronto. Here's the official site with more details and ticket information:

Finally, I'm thrilled that the USA will be playing Poland in Poland on March 26 and Spain on June 4.

And there are indications that the USA will play England at Wembley on May 28:

Finally, some noise is being made about the USA taking on Argentina in a friendly.

I like these matches, the USA needs to branch out beyond CONCACAF, play games in unique atmospheres and against teams with highly respected skills. These games are steps in the right direction.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Episode of World Soccer Wrap Available

The latest edition of World Soccer Wrap (c) is now available for download on iTunes or at:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday in Serie A

Matchweek 22 in Serie A featured two important matches for teams battling for top spots in the league.

After last week's 3-0 drubbing by Siena, Roma was in desperate need of a win and three points to keep any hope alive of winning the Scudetto. Saturday saw Roma host Reggina at the Stadio Olimpico. But Roma did not play the gracious host, rather they came out looking for the net and found it in the 21st minute off of a Christian Panucci header.

The Calabrasian side, which is fighting to avoid relegation, did not go quietly after Roma's first goal, rather they became very dangerous, especially since Roma pulled back and struggled some on both sides of the half. But as the clock approached 90 minutes, Roma found their form again and Mancini got the insurance goal in the 76th minute. Roma's victory brought them back into 5 points of table leader, Inter Milan, who face Catania in Sicily tonight.

Meanwhile, Fiorentina was paying a visit to Atalanta in Bergamo Saturday afternoon. Fiorentina has traveled well this season, picking up 19 points on the road, and are seeking a Champions League berth. The Viola sought to continue their good road form, against Atalanta, a side that has managed to cause headaches for Italy's bigger sides.

Fiorentina came out on the attack and dominated the first half, with Giampaolo Pazzini scoring in the 29th minute. But the lead did not last long, as Atalanta quickly countered with a Zlatan Muslimovic goal in the 30th minute.

The equaliser did not seem to slow down the Tuscan side, which started the second half with the same intensity as it displayed through the first. Their efforts paid off as Franco Semioli scored in the 60th minute.

Fiorentina's second goal appeared to take the air out of the home team, which struggled to find a way to score without leaving itself open to Fiorentina's counters. But persistence paid off and during injury time, Muslimovic scored his second goal.

In addition to this evening's Catania - Inter game, Sunday afternoon features:

Milan v. Siena
Sampdoria v. Napoli
Cagliari v. Parma
Torino v. Palermo
Empoli v. Lazio
Udinese v. Juventus
Livorno v. Genoa

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Philadelphia Soccer

When it comes to the expansion of the MLS, Philadelphia has long been considered a top contender for a new franchise. Philadelphia soccer fans have been pushing hard to get a team into the MLS for the 2009 season, but last month at the NSCAA Convention in Baltimore, MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated that the MLS might not add a 16th team until 2010.

This week though, the fans in Philadelphia got some good news when Governor Ed Rendell announced a $25 million state aid package for a soccer specific stadium in Chester, a municipality that hugs the Delaware River and I-95, just south of the Philadelphia International Airport.

Additionally this week, FC Pennsylvania, LLC, the group seeking the franchise rights for Philadelphia, announced the hiring of Nick Sakiewicz as its CEO. Sakiewicz was a founding MLS executive, a former president of AEG New York, and served as president and GM of the Tampa Bay Mutiny and New York MetroStars.

In addition to being a soccer executive, in his younger days Sakiewicz, a native of New Jersey, was a goalkeeper for FC Nantes, FC Belenenses, the New York Arrows, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

I for one am in full support of a Philadelphia MLS franchise, both for the obvious and not so obvious reasons.

The Obvious Reasons:

Philadelphi is one of the great sports cities of the U.S., with hardcore supports of the existing NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL franchises. I expect to see a similar devotion from Philadelphia's soccer fans, especially if the success of Sons of Ben is any indicator. Additionally, Philadelphia is along that Northeast corridor with Boston, New York, and D.C. It's easy to travel between those cities, combine with the natural rivalries and travelling fans and we'll have some great atmosphere in the stadiums.

The Not So Obvious Reasons:

Philadelphia is part of the foundation of American soccer. In 1897, Esther W. Kelly Bradford founded the Lighthouse Boys Club in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. While the club formed several athletic teams, it is best known for its Lighthouse Soccer Club, which exists to this day. Many of its young players went on to join Philadelphia's professional club and to represent America in international competitions. The U.S. soccer team in the 1936 Olympics included four former Lighthouse players.

Walter Bahr, the captian of the U.S. team during the 1950 World Cup, played for Lighthouse in his youth.

But even before Bahr's time at Lighthouse, there was Charles H. "Dick" Spalding, who is credited with scoring the first U.S. National Team goal, this during a 1916 tour of Sweden and Norway (I note there are some who claim Thomas Swords actually scored the first goal for the U.S.'s national side). In addition to playing professionally for the might Bethlehem Steel FC, Spalding also played professional baseball for the Phillies and the Washington Senators.

Philadelphia has also been home to many important American pro and semi-pro soccer clubs:

Philadelphia F.C.
Fleischer Yarn
Philadelphia Celctic
Philadelphia Americans
Philadelphia Centennials
Philadelphia Disston
Philadelphia Merchant Ship
Philadelphia Ukranian Nationals
Philadelphia Spartans
Philadelphia Phillies (1894)
Philadelphia Atoms

The time has come for the MLS to have a Philadelphia franchise.

Friday, February 8, 2008

USA v. Mexico in Houston 2/6/08

It was a Friendly in name only on Wednesday night here in Houston, Texas when the United States and Mexico met each other at Reliant Stadium, in front of a sell out crowd of 70,103 fans who kept the stadium pulsating all match long.

Both sides fought hard for 90 minutes, and left the pitch in a 2-2 draw. Mexico's two goals were scored by Defender Jonny Magallon off of set pieces, and both can be attributable to Drew Moor's poor defending. And defense was a problem all night for the U.S. as could be seen in Tim Howard's futile efforts to get his defenders to listen to his commands. But for Howard's great goal tending, Mexico may have won the match.

Gooch was America's comeback player of the night. After some poor showings in recent club and international play, conventional wisdom had it that Gooch's time with the U.S. team should come to an end. Maybe his beautiful header into the net is the inspiration Gooch needed.

It was good to see the young Americans get some experience against a big rival and in front of a massively raucous crowd. While Freddy Adu has been making strides in Portugal, he did not have one of his best international nights on Wednesday, nor did Michael Bradley who has been scoring numerous goals in the Netherlands. Jozy Altidore, on the other hand, shined in his first match against Mexico. However, we must keep in mind that Bradley and Adu flew in from Europe this week and did not have as much training time with the national team that Altidore has had this year.

To wrap up, the U.S. did not have one of its best nights, nor did it have one of its worst nights. Putting this game in perspective with recent games of the Bradley Regime, there are signs that the U.S. men's team is on the right track and a glimmer of hope that 2010 will not be a repeat of 2006.

Unfortunately for Houston Dynamo fans, Brad Davis, who had been called up for Wednesday's game, suffered groin injury while training with the national team and there is no word on when he'll be able to practice with the Dynamo.

Now for the darker side of last Wednesday night’s events. Following the match, two Mexico supporters were shot as the left the west entrance of Reliant Stadium. Witnesses said they saw a beer bottle or can thrown at a maroon car and someone got out of the car and fired the shots. Another witness has said that the men who were shot had been in an argument with the shooter. What is important to keep in mind is that at this point there is no clear indication that the shooter attended the game or was a supporter of either team. It’s not even clear if the shooter’s vehicle was on a street or in a parking lot.

Housont Dynamo 2008, MLS Schedule

The full schedule for the Dynamo's 2008 MLS campaign has been released:

The complete 2008 Regular-Season schedule appears below. All times CT:


Saturday 29
at New England


Sunday 6

Saturday 12
at Kansas City

Saturday 19
at Los Angeles

Saturday 26
at Columbus


Saturday 3

Saturday 10

Saturday 17
at Chicago

Thursday 22
at San Jose

Saturday 31


Wednesday 4
at DC United

Saturday 7

Thursday 12

Saturday 21
at Colorado

Thursday 26


Thursday 3
at Real Salt Lake


Saturday 2

Saturday 9
at FC Dallas

Saturday 16

Wednesday 20

Sunday 24
at New York

Sunday 31


Sunday 7

Saturday 13
at San Jose

Saturday 20

Saturday 27
at Toronto FC


Saturday 4
at Colorado

Sunday 12

Sunday 19

Saturday 25
at Chivas USA

In addition to the MLS schedule, the Dynamo will take part in five other competitions during 2007. They are the Pan-Pacific Championship, CONCACAF Champions Cup, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, SuperLiga, and the recently-created CONCACAF Champions’ League.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Training Camp Opens

No new developments before the close of the transfer window, but today the Houston Chronicle had good coverage of the Dynamo for the start of traing camp.