Tuesday, January 29, 2008
“We are excited to obtain a player of Tony’s caliber,” said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear. “Tony has a wealth of international experience and will fill a need on our roster.”
Monday, January 28, 2008
Between Joseph Ngweyna's signing with SK Austria Karnten earlier this month, the departure of Paul Dalglish, the Dynamo enter the preseason with Brian Ching and Chris Wondolowski as their only veterans at the forward position. As noted in an earlier blog, the Dynamo picked up two forwards in the supplemental draft, but it's too early to know if they'll be able to provide any assistance in filling the gap left by the departure of Ngweyna and Jaqua.
While this lack of depth up front is a bit troubling, Dynamo fans can take solace in the fact that Dominic Kinnear has a knack for recognizing talent and getting good results out of players who aren't living up to their potential, Ngweyna and Jaqua are both examples of the latter. Contacts have indicated to me that Dom has been warming up to the idea of using the DP, not sure who he might be eyeing, but I think it would be a good way to add a young player from Mexico or South America up front.
The 2008 MLS season becomes a reality for the Dynamo this Friday, when they beginning training camp.
Speaking of the Dynamo's preseason, while all Dynamo fans would love to travel to Hawaii for the PPC, many cannot afford (or spouses won't let them afford) such a trip. Thankfully, the Houston Chronicle's Bernardo Fallas has suggested a cheaper alternative - the Texas Pro Soccer Festival will be taking place in San Antonio March 3-9 and during that time the Dynamo will play D.C. United, Toronto F.C., and Chivas USA at Steele High School.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Today’s victory moved Milan into seventh place on the table, and only 1 point behind Sampdoria, and only 6 points behind Udinese who managed to hold Inter Milan to a nil-nil draw, this was the first time in 9 games that Inter has failed to win.
Inter’s draw combined with Roma’s 1 goal victory over Palermo yesterday puts Roma only 5 points behind first place Inter. Meanwhile, Juventus’s 3-1 win over Livorno puts the Old Lady only 5 points behind Roma. Unlike last season, there is a real race for the top spots in Serie A.
Friday, January 25, 2008
-The Dynamo will be going back to San Jose next month to play the new Earthquakes in a couple exhibition games. The first will be at PAL Stadium on February 13 and the second will be on February 16 at Kezar Stadium.
-On February 6, the US will play Mexico at Reliant Stadium here in Houston. So far, Houston Dynamo players Ricardo Clark, Eddie Robinson, and Brad Davis have been called up to the National team, so they'll miss the beginning of Dynamo Training Camp. Stuart Holden and Patrick Ianni will also be absent as they train with the U23 team.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
So, with just less then 2 weeks to go before preseason for the Dynamo, a team that won the MLS Cup last year thanks in large part to its depth now finds itself shortfooted up front. In addition to Ngweyna, Paul Dalglish has parted ways with the Dynamo and Nate Jaqua is working hard to sign with a European side.
Not all is hopeless for the Dynamo and its fans though, Dominic Kinnear is a great judge of young talent, and the Dynamo now have some more room to play with under the salary cap.
- Officiating and the quality thereof has a been a huge issue this past season and, not surprisingly, that includes Italy. Without going into some of those questionable penalities, since the start of the current edition of Serie A I've lost track of how many times I've seen 4 and 5 minutes of stoppage time in games where bigger clubs are struggling to get a draw or win. Not surprisingly, the league chief is defending the officials in Italy:
- Speaking of Italy, Roma Ultras again indulged in needless violence this past weekend - three Catania supporters were stabbed outside of the Stadio Olimpico. Thankfully, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti is criticizing this stupid act of violence:
On a final note, the positive attributes of soccer in this crazy world is evidenced again, FIFA has decided that Iraq will play host to three World Cup qualifying matches to be held in Dubai:
Sunday, January 20, 2008
On the whole, this USMNT looked much better then it did when it lost to Sweden last year, and the frustration they were causing the Swedish team was visable in the looks on the players faces and the number of hard and foolish fouls taken by Sweden. Looks like Bradley has the team on the right course.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
-Yesterday was the MLS SuperDraft, and I for one was a bit surprised by the Dynamo's picks: Geoff Cameron of Rhode Island and Jeremy Barlow of Virginia. Both of them are midfielders, a position where the Dynamo have a good deal of depth. Well, Dominic Kinnear did indicate that he would draft the best available players regardless of position, so I guess he did.
-As you know, the MLS SuperDraft is part of the NSCAA Convention in Baltimore. Some of the 2008 MLS Kits were unveiled at the convention:
-Congratulations are in order for Dwayne De Rosario who was named Canada's top soccer player:
-If you live in Texas' Golden Triangle, Houston Dynamo GM, Oliver Luck, will be speaking to the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce on the 22nd:
Now for some Serie A related news:
-Looks like Mancini will be staying with Roma afterall:
-This past week saw the second leg the last 16 in Coppa Italia. The Quarterfinals will begin on Wednesday January 23 and feature the following matches:
Udinese v. Catania
Sampdoria v. Roma
Inter Milan v. Juventus
Lazio v. Fiorentina
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Don't expect too much from the Dynamo on Friday's Super Draft, they sit with the 42 and 56 picks. I'm guessing that Dom will be looking to add some depth up front and maybe find a back-up goal keeper.
Speaking of Dominic Kinnear, he is on the ballot for the Soccer Hall of Fame's Class of 2008:
Please note that the link to the Houston Chronicle also discusses the possible future, or lack thereof, to InterLiga, which was won by Club America (I recently covered the games held here in Houston this month for World Soccer Wrap and this Blog). Seems the players and coaches aren't happy with the tournament.
Not Dynamo related, but worth a mention, it appears that Eddie Johnson is going to Fulham:
The unfortunate thing is that Fulham is in relegation territory right now. Can Eddie help them turn things around? Will Clint Dempsey stay on if Fulham is relegated? Please, let me know what you think. I am a Clint Dempsey fan, he has heart and drive and I think his experiences in Europe will help him and the USMNT. I would love to see this young Texan move to A.S. Roma, maybe replace Mancini (who can be spectacular on the pitch, but can also be a disaster waiting to happen) if he goes to Man City.
Here's a great article about Dempsey from Glenn Davis:
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The winter break clearly didn’t slow down Inter Milan, who survived a tough battle against Siena, a team that will spend the second half of the season fighting to avoid relegation, with a 3 - 2 victory, two of Inter’s goals coming off the foot of Ibrahimovic.
Inter’s victory keeps it well ahead of the pack with 46 points, but Roma’s 2-1 victory over Atalanta, a side that has given Roma trouble in the past, enabled them to secure second place and 36 points. Juventus on the other hand was lucky to walk away with one point after Saturday’s rain soddened 1-1 draw at Catania. Meanwhile both Udinese and Fiorentina won their matches this weekend, firmly holding onto fourth and fifth places, respectively.
The Eternal City’s other side came into this season with high hopes, but a string of injuries and some bad luck on the pitch has pushed Lazio into relegation territory. The second half of the season appeared promising when Lazio scored a goal in the 23rd minute of today’s match against Genoa. But the second half belonged to Genoa’s Marco Boriello who scored off a penalty kick in the 51st minute and then quickly scored a second goal in the 55th minute.
Friday, January 11, 2008
This issue came up on the American Soccer Show episode that came out the first week of the year, on which I was a guest, and we came to the conclusion that it benefits the Dynamo because they get more chances to look at their younger players in game situations.
-- The Chicago Fire have been interested in hiring Dynamo assistant coach, John Spencer, to serve as their new coach, but he turned their offer down.
-- For the - I'm Glad Oliver Luck is Dynamo President File - more head scratching decisions coming out of the L.A. Galaxy FO, which has sent stand-out GK, Joe Cannon, to San Jose:
-- On the Amercian Soccer Spot, Kartik has some good things to say about Eurosnobs and the January transfer window.
-- Parma is looking to obtain striker Cristiano Lucarelli from Shakhtar Donetsk:
-- The skilled, but frustrating Roma winger, Amantino Mancini, is likely to leave Roma this January:
-- Back-up GK changes at Roma, could see Gianluca Curci leaving and Massimo Taibi coming in as his replacement:
-- The Vatican feels that football is a good way to teach life lessons:
Speaking of Italian Football, the winter break is over and Serie A returns this weekend.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
1. The Dynamo organization will pay for most of the costs. The Dynamo are not asking the city to pay for the stadium construction. That's different from what the other sports teams in town did.
2. The new stadium would enable the Dynamo to bring more international games to Houston, thereby elevating Houston's international profile. All of Houston benefits from a higher international profile. The other sports teams in town can't really provide that benefit to Houston.
3. The Dynamo appeal to a diverse fan base. Houston is extremly diverse and it's good for the city to unite that diversity in support of the Dynamo.
4. The new stadium would allow the Dynamo to control scheduling of games. They can't do that at Robertson.
5. The Dynamo also needs to be able to control revenues from things like parking, concessions, and signage to function as a business. That's a reasonable need. They can't really do that effectively at Robertson.
6. The new stadium would host many other events to Houston, such as college and high school sports and special events like all-star games and championship games.
7. The stadium in the East End would promote economic redevelopment in that part of town.
8. The role of the city in this deal consists of the sort of things that the city should be doing anyway in that area: infrastructure improvements, roads, lighting, etc. Nothing that the city would do would be considered outside of the normal activities of municipal government.
9. There are no new taxes for this stadium. The Dynamo organization would pay for most of it and the city would mostly just be doing infrastructure work. The city's expenditures would come out of the existing city budgeting process.
10. Acquiring the land is a good deal for the city. The city could lease the land back to the Dynamo. It would also help spur economic development in the area which would benefit the city revenues over the long run as a result of improving the tax base.
11. This deal is nothing compared to the earlier deals with the other pro sports teams. The Dynamo are picking up most of the costs. There are no new taxes. The full costs are pretty small in comparison. This is actually all pretty cheap.
12. It's not just soccer fans who will benefit. The facility will host concerts, high school and college football, and other events.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
While the Houston Dynamo are willing to put up a bigger percentage of money to build a stadium then any other Houston sports team has done, it seems one sticking point is the costs of infrastructure improvements that would be necessary.
In a press release, Houston Dynamo President, Oliver Luck, stated:
“We are grateful that the Mayor has taken a leadership position on the issue of a stadium for the Houston Dynamo. As we have said from the very beginning, the Dynamo cannot stay in Houston without a new venue. Robertson Stadium has provided a great home field advantage for us and a good interim platform, but it is not an economically viable option in the long term.
The new stadium is our highest priority. Although we have not reached an agreement with the City of Houston, we are anxious to come to closure on the terms of a public-private partnership with the city and we are willing to assume responsibility for a much higher proportion of the costs than any other team owner has had to assume in Houston. While there are other options available to us in Houston, it is our preference to be in a location as central as possible. We very much appreciate the Mayor's interest in working with us to achieve our mutual goal of keeping the two-time defending MLS Cup Champions in Houston, and we look forward to advancing our discussions to that end."
Elsewhere, Houston Dynamo forward, Joseph Ngwenya is getting some love from AllAfrica.com:
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Tonight is the night, the Fifth and final season of The Wire begins on HBO at 8:00 p.m. This Baltimore based show is one of the finest television programs ever. It benefits from the writing of Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, and (my fav) George Pelecanos. Each season the show focuses on decaying urban institutions:
Season One - Corruption in the Police Force
Season Two - Unions
Season Three - Politics
Season Four - Public School System
Season Five - The Media
Woven throughout these themes is The Game - the drug trade with its kingpins, soldiers, touts, enforcers, hitmen, users, and the stick-up artists. The producers of The Wire - David Simon and Ed Burns - are a former Baltimore Sun crime beat reporter and a former Baltimore City Homicide Detective/School Teacher, respectively. David Simon spent 1988 with the Baltimore City Police Homicide Department and wrote the book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streeta which was the source of the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Streets. Several years later, David Simon and Ed Burns joined up to write The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood.
Even the Washington Post's much jaded Tom Shales is a fan:
One of the aspects of Season Five I'm really looking forward to is the inclusion of Clark Johnson - who played the always interesting and understated Meldrick Lewis in Homicide: Life on the Streets. But also keep an eye on Dominic West and how he presents the alcoholic, cynical Baltimore POlease detective, James McNulty.
Thursday Night featured a Group A doubleheader with Toluca taking on Atlas in the first game and Club America squaring off against Morelia in the late match. Maybe it was the cold, maybe the players were tired, but Toluca and Atlas slogged their way to an uninspiring nil-nil tie, and although Toluca managed seven attempts and Atlas nine attempts, it seemed that the ball rarely left midfield.
Although the temperature continued to drop, the evening heated up when Club America and Morelia took to the pitch. The only goal of the game, and the night, came in the 12th minute when America midfielder Alejandro Arrguello found the back of the net on a scorcher from just outside the box.
To their credit, Morelia did not give up and most likely would have come away the winner of the match but for the superb goal tending of Club America’s Ochoa, including his spectacular save on a penalty kick taken by Oscar Rojas in the 55th minute. For those who braved the cold evening and the grinding Toluca - Atlas game, this match was well worth the price of admission.
Saturday evening brought warmer temperatures, a bigger crowd, and a Group B doubleheader.
The first match featured Cruz Azul and Monterrey, both clubs, especially Monterrey, were well represented in the stands, making for great atmosphere. Cruz Azul needed points to keep their hopes of advancement alive, and that hunger translated to the pitch where Cruz Azul’s Edgar Andrade scored a goal in the 19th minute. Realizing they were light on offense, after selling off three forwards during the off-season, Azul went on the defensive and limited Monterrey to 5 goal attempts, none of which found the back of the net.
Saturday’s nightcap featured San Luis taking on Pumas. San Luis clearly took to the pitch with the intention to walk away with 3 points, while Pumas appeared more interested in getting back to their hotel for a good night’s rest. San Luis clearly controlled this match, the only one in
Houston that saw multiple goals, presenting a strong attack and solid defense. Tressor Moreno scored San Luis’ first goal in the 9th minute and then Alfredo Moreno (no relation) put up an insurance goal for San Luis in the 36th minute.
InterLiga moves on from Houston with more group stage matches being held in Dallas, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles this week before the tournament final is held on Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
When the history of the MLS is written, I believe that 2007 will be considered an important watershed year for the MLS. The L.A. Galaxy's signing of David Beckham in January and the events that followed the Beckham signing brought the MLS a level of attention and notoriety that the MLS has never experienced before. This year, the soccer pundits in Europe and even the general sports pundits in America had to stop and take notice.
The designated player rule that signaled the arrival of Beckham, also enabled teams like Chicago Fire, F.C. Dallas, and Red Bell New York, to sign DPs, but with mixed results. The best success of the DP rule would have to be Chicago, where Blanco's big name increased ticket sales and his tactical skills improved the team on the pitch. Red Bull saw significant improvement on the pitch by bringing in Juan Pablo Angel, but his name wasn't big enough to attract more fans. And as many have already pointed out, this year's MLS Cup teams, the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo, do not have DPs. Thus, the DP rule is not a cure to all that ails the MLS.
Now that we have entered the Holiday season, I have a Holiday Wish List for the MLS, things I'd like to see it accomplish in an effort to become one of the top leagues in the world:
Scheduling that does not conflict with FIFA's international breaks. I would really prefer to see the MLS move to a fall/winter/spring schedule, and this is based on the fact that I live in Houston and know what 95 plus degrees and 92% plus humidity feels like, and a great soccer going experience it does not feel like. The MLS could do a winter break like some European leagues, stop just before Christmas and resume after the Super Bowl. I'm not much of an NBA or NHL fan, so I'd love to have some U.S. soccer in February and March.
The current system of salary caps, designated players, and the newly adopted Landon Donovan grandfather clause should be abolished and a new sliding scale salary system should be adopted whereby each team receives an individual salary cap that is based on a team's gross revenue and projected gross revenue - relying on sound principles of accounting. Such a system would be fair and would encourage teams to increase their revenue streams and allow them to retain stars on their rosters, but would still prevent teams from overextending themselves financially. A flexible salary system would enable the MLS to grow while not abandoning its sound fiscal principles.
MLS teams need to develop depth in their rosters, especially in light of the increasing role of MLS teams in international tournaments like CONCACAF Champions and SuperLiga. Depth will allow these teams to compete in all of their games without having to field worn-out starters several times a week. Making my suggested change to the current piecemeal salary cap system would help teams in developing roster depth.
The minimum salary needs to be increased. The salary received by some MLS players is criminal, especially considering the cost of living in markets such as San Jose, Boston, L.A., and New York.
Each team should establish a youth academy. Ideally, MLS teams would also cherry pick coaches and trainers from academies in the Netherlands, Brazil, and Mexico. America produces some of the best conditioned soccer players in the world, the MLS needs to increase the focus on technical skills.
Each team needs to increase its scouting abilities, focusing on young, prominent talent in developing countries. Forget Europe, look to Asia and central and south America. This will help bring some young skilled tactical players to the league, and increase the MLS' presence in important soccer countries and markets, thereby increasing revenue streams.
Expansion to twenty teams, the gold standard for soccer leagues. This expansion should occur slowly and smartly. I'd like to see the MLS expand to the following markets: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Florida, Las Vegas, and the upper Midwest/Great Lakes Region. New York does not need a second team, it has enough trouble supporting the team it has.
Improve the officiating. The officials need more training and accountability. The MLS should adopt the hawkeye technology at the goal line.
Soccer specific stadiums for all MLS teams, these stadiums should be intimate with potential for expansion, and should have special supporter sections. But until that happens, I don't want to hear anymore whining about seeing football gridlines on the pitch, it might not be great but it's better then no soccer at all.
ESPN and ABC should hire Glenn Davis as their primary play-by-play for all of their MLS games.
Finally, more cowbell.
If the MLS continues to build on the progress that was attained this past season, then we will see a day nobody scoffs at the notion of an MLS team being able to go head to head with a top flight European team.
Good news for Roma fans, it appears that Alberto Aquilani is fit and ready to play after the winter break ends.
Speaking of Roma, the Corriere dello Sport has reported that Roma and goalkeeper Alexander Doni will be entering a new contract that will result in a significant pay raise for Doni. Doni's current contract is set to expire in 2009.
Recent talk of Figo going to the MLS is premature, appears he wants to win Serie A and the Champions League with Inter.
This month, Serie A and Milan fans will get to see the much-hyped Alexandro Pato take the pitch against Napoli (Jan. 13). This past August, Milan paid a 22million Euro fee to Inter for the young Brazilian.
Siena has signed Richard Porta from River Plate, Uruguay. Meanwhile, Reggina has brought back Cristian Stuani who has been on loan at Danubio.
A final Roma note, the team is going after Bari defender, Nicola Belmonte.
It appears that the San Jose EarthQuakes will be bringing Moneyball to the MLS:
-Can a stats oriented system produce a MLS Winner, I guess we'll find out.
Sunday night, my favorite television series returnst to HBO, for its final season: The Wire. If you haven't watched it, I highly recomend you do.
Friday, January 4, 2008
The first match was a rather slow paced, nil-nil draw that saw the ball spend most of the 90 minutes in the middle of the field, a match that did very little to warm up the 9000 or so fans that ventured out to take in the matches. Maybe it was the cold that prevented the players from focusing on the task at hand. I note I saw numerous Toluca fans, but can't recall seeing a single Atlas fan.
The second match of the evening was well worth the wait. Club America won it with a goal by Alejandro Arguello in the 12th minute, but I have to give Morelia credit, they never gave up. In fact Morelia may have come away with a win or a tie but for the beautiful goaltending of America's Guillermo Ocha, especially when he saved a penalty kick taken by Mauricio Romero in the 55th minute.
Saturday will feature a Group B doubleheader at Robertson with Pumas, San Luis, Cruz Azul, and Monterrey.
Keep an eye here for more detailed stats on last night's matches and on Saturday's matches.
For more info on InterLiga:
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Midfielder Simone Perrotta has indicated that he wants to stay at Roma for the rest of his career.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Back in 1620 when those fun lovin Puritans - The Pilgrims - landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts, they observed the local natives playing a game very similar to what is now soccer - it was called Pasuckquakkohwog, which means "they gather to play football."
Let's all keep in mind that what we know call football/soccer, has been played in varying forms for thousands of years - a form of the game existed in China, possibly as early as 1 a.d., and a form of the game existed in Italy before the folks in Genoa saw the Brits playing the modern style.
What is to come . . . America is a country built on the backs of immigrants, many from Europe who brought their love of soccer with them, and I will do my best to chronicle this over the next twelve months and make the case that soccer is not a foriegn sport, it is the birthright of all Americans, whether you're a EuroTrash Mutt like myself or not.
In the early years of American soccer, the teams were supported by factories and ethnic clubs, many of which were part of the American Soccer League. And it was a blood sport, the plastic cleats did not exist, but nails did. Weekends were a time for immigrants to take out frustrations on each other, especially in the northeast, like New Jersey. Can you san Bethleham Steel F.C., Newark Stitch, New York United, Philadelphia Ukrainians, Kearny Scots, or Kearny Irish???? One of the greatest American players, Billy Gonsalves - the Babe Ruth of American Soccer, spent his last days tending bar in Kearny.
Long Live Soccer, the American Game . . .
Please check out World Soccer Wrap (c) - the latest podcast is now available at iTunes and at: