Thursday, May 30, 2013

US Falls to Belgium, 4-2, in Friendly & Houston Dynamo Advance in US Open Cup

Last night in Cleveland, the United States National Team was outclassed by a Belgium squad that exposed the American side's weaknesses, weaknesses that many US fans and Soccer House have conveniently turned a blind eye towards since the team's success in the 2002 World Cup finals.

While the USMNT has made great strides since its days of wandering the non-World Cup finals wilderness between 1950 and 1990, the team, and the USSF program in general, have much work to do. Not all of this work can be accomplished under one coaching regime or with the current generation of players. The biggest problem with the USMNT, which shines through often, and is just as often glossed over, is the poor state of technical skills in general - skills that players in footballing nations often learn and begin developing before they hit puberty. That being said, it isn't the US National Team's job to develop players beyond their teen years, those players are with clubs 95% of their playing time while the National Team only has small windows here and there to work with the players.

While I'm not a huge fan of or an apologist for Jurgen Klinsmann, who is a decent start to moving away from the stale Arena/Bradley years, his vision for what he wants the US team to be exceeds the tools and players at his proposal (he's out kicking his coverage, so to speak). Let's face it, a national team coach doesn't have the liberty of imposing his vision on a team, rather he needs to take the players he has at his disposal and find the right system in which they will succeed. Maybe next time Soccer House will perform a real coach search in which many candidates are interviewed and considered (though I don't except such a professional, sophisticated approach from Soccer House).

Despite last night's loss, in a friendly after all, the USMNT will advance out of CONCACAF and find itself in Brasil in 2014. Even without knowing the group draw, I'm 65% certain that the USMNT will advance out of the group stage, but not get any farther in the World Cup finals.

Finally, and I know this will fall on deaf ears, it would be nice to see some realistic expectations from USMNT fans. Before last night's match, US fans were again showing their naïveté about international teams with the notion that Belgium would be an easy team to beat. Maybe the manner in which the US lost last night's friendly will be a nice dose of reality to these fans, but a I fear that is too much to ask for.


Photo by Nigel Brooks

Meanwhile, the Houston Dynamo fared better than the USMNT as they beat FC Tucson, 2-0, last night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The goals were courtesy of Alex Dixon and Giles Barnes. With this win, the Dynamo move on to the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, where they will play at FC Dallas on June 12th.

I did a little traveling over Memorial Day weekend and one of my flights had DirecTV on it, so I found myself watching a marathon of A&E's original show Longmire. I remember when season one began airing last year, I wanted to get into it, but for a variety of reasons never got around to watching the show. Seeing it on my flight, I got sucked in and am now watching Season 2, with plans to catch up on Season 1.

The series stars Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, the Sheriff of the fictional Absaroka County in Wyoming, and is based on the books of Craig Johnson.

The show is a good mix of crime drama and western, with the added element of a (fictional) Cheyenne Indian Reservation located in the fictional county. The cast, which includes Lou Diamond Phillips, is top notch, and help create a good summer show that I highly recommend. While Longmire might not be the kind of highbrow writing you find on Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or Justified, it's an entertaining and enjoyable show, and adds to your tv viewing what a James Lee Burke or Nevada Barr book adds to your summer reading.

Longmire airs on A&E at 9:00 p.m. central on Monday evenings (with encore airings).

Oh, having lived in Montana, I do enjoy the fact that Walt Longmire only drinks Rainier Beer.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And Now It's Time for Something Completely Different

Well, not something completely different, but it is time for a change, time to shake things up here and get out of a rut, time to broaden the scope of this blog.

For close to a year now, for a variety of reasons, I've felt pretty burnt out on soccer and have felt the need to pull back. What I've learned in this time is that I'm less cynical and jaded when I get soccer in smaller doses and on my time and terms.

I'll still post about soccer here, in fact, I'll touch on an MLS development a bit later in this post, but I intend on posting about other topics too, such as arts, food, entertainment, other sports, books, etc. I know some die hard soccer types don't appreciate this kind of mixing of topics, too bad.

So first topic of the day is that the NFL announced that Houston will be the host of Super Bowl LI in February of 2017. It's about time NFL, it'll have been 13 years since Houston last hosted the Super Bowl, time to realize Houston wasn't to blame for Janet Jaackson's "wardrobe malfunction."

I grew up a Houston Oilers fan, it was painful, but I was still 100% Luv Ya Blue. I've never really hidden the fact that I'm a fan of NFL football and admire, most of the time, how the league went from being a little sister of the poor not only to Major League Baseball but also to college football and grew into the financial and entertainment juggernaut of the American sports world.

Meanwhile, Don Garber and MLS made their own announcement today, a 20th MLS team has been selected and it will be NYC FC, which will join the league in 20015. The team is a joint venture between the New York Yankees and Manchester City FC. As of now, it's not clear where the team will locate its stadium. While the Corona Park location in Flushing Queens has come up as a potential location for a soccer stadium, but it's not clear that MLS is completely sold on that idea. It does seem likely that the team might play some matches at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to push for a Brooklyn location.

I didn't do a scientific study on soccer fan/media reaction to this decision, but it does seem that a large number of people are unhappy with this decision, with the possible exception of people who have been long time rivals of RedBull New York, the team located in Harrison, New Jersey.

I really don't have much problem with the decision to put "another" MLS team in the New York City region. Even with a lovely new stadium in Harrison, RedBull has not managed to capture of the attention of many New Yorkers or created the type of fan base that the Jets and Giants have, a fan base willing to travel to the Meadowlands for home games.

MLS needs a strong presence in the New York City area, will NYC FC bring that? Who knows, but sometimes you just have to roll the dice.

Well, that's all I have for today. With this new format I should be posting more, not always about soccer, not always about multiple topics, not always etc.

Friday, April 12, 2013

You're Cold War Throwback Friday Goals for April 12, 2013

The Champions Leagues were dominated by teams from Germany, Spain, and Mexico; Baby Kim is saber rattling; and the Iron Lady is gone, time for a throwback to the Cold War edition of your Friday goals.

More after the jump:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Roma's Francisco Totti & Michael Bradley Star in VW Commercial

Volkswagen has recently started airing a commercial in Italy, as part of its Viva il Calcio campaign, featuring Roma's Francesco Totti and Michael Bradley playing of the language divide with each making attempts at speaking the other's language.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Your Friday (U.S. Soccer) Goals For April 5, 2013

Bale and Messi are hurt, Real Madrid conquers Istanbul, and the United States Soccer Federation celebrates 100 years by taking over Times Square today, it's time for your Friday goals, but with a twist.

More after the jump:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Your Friday Goals for March 15, 2013

Barcelona proves that it's not dead yet, Galatasary fans try to tunnel into a stadium, the Charlie Stillitano rants about the EPL team bias of English language UEFA broadcasts, and Leonardo proposes to Anna Billo on tv, it's time for your Friday goals:

More after the jump:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

[Video] All of Totti's 225 Serie A Goals

Earlier this month, Roma forward Francisco Totti picked up his 225th Serie A goal in a match against Genoa. That goal tied Totti with Gunnar Nordahl for second place on Serie A's all-time scoring list. Totti, who is 36, made his debut with Roma back in 1993 and was part of Italy's 2006 World Cup winning squad.

The number one all-time scorer in Serie A is Silvio Piola, who scored 274 goals. Totti has indicated a desire to play into his 40s and to beat Piola's record, it seems unlikely that will happen, but only time will tell.

Here is a video of all of Totti's 225 goals, almost an hours worth of goals:

Santos Laguna Knocks Houston Dynamo Out of Champions League

The Houston Dynamo went into last night's 2nd leg CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals tie against Santos Laguna at Estadio Corona with a 1-0 aggregate lead, but by the end of the night, the Dynamo gave up 3 unanswered goals and were booted from the competition.

Santos evened up the score 1-1 in the 23rd minute when Juan Pablo Rodriquez picked up the rebound goal after Tally Hall had blocked Rodriquez's penalty shot. Five minutes later US National Team forward Herculez Gomez picked up the lead, and the winning goal, for Santos.

During the first half, the Dynamo were hampered by sloppy play and mental mistakes, and although they started to show some offensive life in the second half, their hopes of advancing were dashed by a Marc Crosas goal in the 77th minute.

With the loss to Santos, the Dynamo are out of the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League and return their focus to the MLS regular season. This Sunday, the Dynamo take on F.C. Dallas in Frisco, Texas. The match, which begins at noon local time, will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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Houston to Host 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Double-Header

On Wednesday, March 13th, the Confederation of North, Central America, and the Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup groups and schedule, with Houston being awarded Group B games featuring El Salvador vs. Haiti and Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago at BBVA Compass Stadium on Monday, July 15th. The doubleheader will kick-off at 6:00 p.m. The complete schedule can be found online at the official Gold Cup website.

The 2013 Gold Cup final will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, July 28th at 3:00 p.m. CST. As previously announced, the Rose Bowl will host the opening doubleheader of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday, July 7th, which will feature reigning Gold Cup champion, Mexico taking on Panama as part of that doubleheader.

Tickets for CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B doubleheader games will be available to the general public starting on Thursday, March 21 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available online at the BBVA Compass Stadium website, AXS, and the Gold Cup website, or by calling 888-929-7849. Tickets are also available at the Ticket Office, open Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“We look forward to a successful tournament and an exciting 2013 Gold Cup final on July 28, right here at Soldier Field,” said CONCACAF President, Jeffrey Webb. “We also expect yet another competition fueled by passionate fans brought together in a celebration that will hopefully inspire a whole new generation of players.”

Mexico will anchor Group A, which begins play on July 7th, in a doubleheader that kicks off with Canada taking on Martinique at 4:30 pm CST the Rose Bowl. Honduras will lead Group B the following day, facing Haiti at Red Bull Arena on July 8th, with El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago facing off earlier in the evening. The United States will play the following night, July 9th at Portland's JELD-WEN Field against Belize in Group C, which also will include Costa Rica vs. Cuba in the first match of the doubleheader.

The 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinals will be played in Atlanta's Georgia Dome and Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, both first-time hosts in the tournament. The semifinals will head to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX on Wednesday, July 24.

With a mix of historic venues and brand new state of the art soccer facilities that average 57,000 spectators, the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup promises to provide fans both in stadium and at home with unforgettable atmospheres. In 2011, the tournament drew more than 600,000 fans throughout 13 match-days, including nine sell-outs. Taking place every two years, the Gold Cup has established itself as the region's most popular national team tournament, routinely drawing capacity crowds and millions of television viewers across the region. It features the confederation’s best players from the top 12 nations.

2013 CONCACAF GOLD CUP™
GROUP A: Mexico, Panama, Canada, Martinique
GROUP B: Honduras, El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti
GROUP C: USA, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba

The above is from a press release from BBVA Compass Stadium.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Your Friday Goals for March 8, 2013

The 2013 MLS season has started, Real Madrid has bumped Manchester United from the Champions League, and David Beckham road the bench for PSG, it's time for your Friday Goals.

More after the jump:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mexican & Nigerian National Teams to Play Friendly at Reliant on May 31st

Obtained from a Press Release issued by SUM:

The Federación Mexicana de Fútbol (FMF) and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) announced on Wednesday March 6, 2013 that the Mexican National Team will face the current Africa Cup of Nations champion, Nigeria, on Friday, May 31 (9:00 p.m. ET) at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX. The match, presented by Allstate, will be the third of five games as part of Mexico’s annual U.S. tour, now in its 11th year.

An exclusive Visa pre-sale for the game will begin Thursday, March 7 via www.Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets, which start at $30, will go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET on www.Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000 and at all Houston-area Ticketmaster locations, including all Houston-area Fiesta stores. The Federación Mexicana de Fútbol invites fans to use their Visa cards.

Mexico has played 12 matches at Reliant Stadium since 2003, averaging nearly 60,000 fans per appearance. The last time El Tricolor featured against an African opponent at Reliant in 2010, Mexico defeated Angola 1-0 before a crowd of 70,099.

The upcoming May game against Nigeria will be crucial for Mexico head coach, Jose Manuel de la Torre, as it will be the team’s final preparation match before two June Hexagonal CONCACAF World Cup qualifying round matches. Following the qualifiers, Mexico – the reigning CONCACAF Gold Cup champions – will then head to Brazil to participate in the FIFA Confederations Cup. In Brazil, El Tricolor will face the home team, Italy and Japan in the group stage. Mexico will return to U.S. territory to defend their title in the bi-annual CONCACAF Gold Cup, which Mexico will inaugurate on July 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Nigeria was crowned champion of the 2013 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso in the final, and will also travel to Brazil in July to participate in the FIFA Confederations Cup where they will face Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti in the group stage. Nigeria, currently leading Africa’s World Cup qualifying, has won the Africa Nations Cup on three occasions and also has participated in four World Cup tournaments. Mexico and Nigeria have met three times with a 1-0-2 record in favor of Mexico. The two teams last met in October of 2007 in an international friendly, with the match ending in a 2-2 tie at the Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico.

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While there is no secret that El Tri has a substantial fan base in the Houston area, Houston also has a sizable Nigerian community likely eager to support the current Champions of Africa.

Dynamo Start First Leg of Champions League Quarterfinals With 1-0 Win


Photo by Nigel Brooks.

The first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals began in Houston, Texas with the Dynamo hosting Mexico's Santos Laguna at BBVA Compass Stadium.

On the whole, much of the match seemed fairly balanced with both teams being unable to take advantage of opportunities presented as a result of defensive breakdowns on both ends of the pitch. In the end though, it was Brad Davis, who had some less then stellar set pieces, that picked up the game winning goal in the 89th minute.

The Dynamo's newest player, Andrew Driver, had a golden opportunity to score a second goal almost immediately after Davis' goal, but Driver lost control of his feet and went down, untouched, in the box.

While a 1-0 win at home is a good result to start with, the Dynamo have to defend their lead, and hope to extend their lead, down in Torreón on Wednesday March 13th at 7:00 p.m. central time. The good news for the Dynamo and its fans is that the Dynamo do not have an MLS match this week, so they have plenty of time to rest and prepare for the second leg of this quarterfinals match-up.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Houston Dynamo Start 2013 MLS Season with a 2-0 Win over DC United


Photo by Nigel Brooks.

The Houston Dynamo kicked off the 2013 MLS Season at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday March 2nd with a 2-0 victory over D.C. United, with Ricardo Clark having a role in both goals.

Over 20,000 soccer fans showed up in the eastend of Downtown Houston on a chilly, windy winter evening to get a first glimpse of how the team that lost the last two MLS Cup finals is shaping up for their next run at the MLS Cup final. The first half was a bit sluggish as both teams tried to shake off the last of the off-season rust. As the first half clock moved past the thirty minute mark, the Dynamo's offense was pressing the attack and a foul on Ricardo Clark set up a penalty kick for Brad Davis in the 40th minute; however, it was a poor clock and United keeper Bill Hamid guessed correctly, blocking the shot. This was Davis' third missed penalty kick in a row. Television viewers felt that the foul took place outside of the box and that it should not have been a penalty, but following the match, Ricardo Clark said that he felt it was in the box.

The first goal of the match came in the 80th minute on a corner kick. The goal was initially credited to Ricardo Clark, but a review of the play showed it to be an own goal by United defender James Riley. Clark finally got his goal 8 minutes later, thanks to an assist by Warren Creavalle, who had just substituted in for Brad Davis.

With Saturday's victory, the Dynamo continued their regular season dominance of D.C. United with an 8-0-1 record and 19 goals to United's 4 goals. In Saturday's match, United was not credited with a single shot on goal.

The Dynamo's next match is at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday March 5th when they host Santos Laguna in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Dynamo do not have another league match until St. Patrick's Day when they travel to Frisco, Texas to face F.C. Dallas at noon central time. Dallas also opened the 2013 season at home on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Colorado.

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City beatdown the Philadelphia Union, 3-1; the Vancouver Whitecaps pulled off a 1-0 victory over Toronto F.C.; Columbus Crew rolled over reborn Chivas USA, 3-1; and the Montreal Impact picked up a 1-0 away win against the Seattle Sounders.

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The National Anthem was sung by Asli Omar, lead singer of the Tontons, here's some Tontons for those who are not familiar with the Houston band:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Houston Dynamo Odds & Ends - March 1, 2012

The 2013 MLS season starts tomorrow, Saturday March 2nd, and the Houston Dynamo will be hosting D.C. United at BBVA Compass Stadium. Click here to purchase tickets. It's been a somewhat busy week for the Dynamo as they get ready for the new season and another shot at the MLS Cup.

Contracts have been a big issue this week with Brian Ching and Mike Chabala getting new contracts and Chris Canetti getting a contract extension.

Brian Ching signed his new contract sometime within the past 24 hours. This is a one season contract, and it is clear that this will be Brian Ching's final season as a player for the Houston Dynamo, but that doesn't mean that the native of Haleiwa, Hawai’i (on the lovely island of O'ahu) will be leaving the Dynamo after this season. The contract provides that Ching will be a player/assistant coach, opening the door to a future on the coaching staff or being in the front office.

Ching was a member of the old San Jose Earthquakes team that made the move to Houston in 2006, and his long tenure and star power here in Houston puts him the same realm of former Astros players Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

“We are happy to keep Brian on the team,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Throughout his career, Brian has been a key part of who we are. He has also been an important player on the field and in the locker room.”

“(Houston) is where I always wanted to be,” said Ching. “I was completely optimistic that we would get this deal done. I wanted to come back and play again, so I’m looking forward to continuing the same role I finished the season with last year and hopefully making a difference on the field.”

“It’s nice to formally wrap up Brian’s contract for 2013. Having him here was never in question; it just took some time to iron out the details. He is an integral part of our club today and will be into the future,” said Dynamo president Chris Canetti.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Houston Dynamo CEO Chris Canetti signed a contract extension that will keep him as the team's President for three more years. Canetti first joined the Dynamo front office when he became the Chief Operating Officer in 2006, and was promoted to President when Oliver Luck left the role to become the Athletic Director at the University of West Virginia in 2010.

“Under Chris’ leadership, the Dynamo have not only achieved some of the most successful seasons (on and off the pitch) in MLS history, they have truly been a model franchise for all of professional sports,” said Tim Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG, managing partners, Houston Dynamo. “While waiting years to open one of the great soccer stadiums, Chris continued to set records for attendance and revenue and now, with BBVA Compass Stadium, we have no doubt that with Chris guiding the organization, the best is yet to come for the Houston Dynamo franchise and their fans.” Leiweke continued: “On behalf of Oscar De La Hoya, Gabriel Brener, and Phil Anschutz, we could not be more pleased to ensure that Chris will remain with the Dynamo for years to come.”

“I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to continue to lead this great club into what is a very bright future,” said Canetti. “I love coming to work every day and am committed to helping the Dynamo achieve the highest levels of success. I’d like to thank our ownership group for its confidence in me and for all of the support they have given over the years.”

An old face signed a new contract with the Houston Dynamo, it was announced on earlier this week that Mike Chabala, who was invited to trial with the club during preseason, and will now be much needed depth on the back line. Read more about Chabala rejoining the Dynamo at Dynamo Theory.

On Monday, the Dynamo unveiled their new jerseys:

This season will mark the first season the Dynamo have included the Texas flag on their kit.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Resolutions for the 2013 MLS Season

With Major League Soccer set to start the 2013 season this weekend, I felt it was time to suggest some resolutions for the forthcoming season. Some of these might not be acceptable to some (or maybe a large amount) of MLS fans, but I am of the opinion that trying to abide by these resolutions would result in the 2013 MLS season being an enjoyable season, for us all.

Stop Saying "We Need to Grow the Game":

A battle cry from the soccer media and soccer fans in the United States is that, "We must grow the game!" Well, we can't really grow the game, the game will grow organically, in the same manner that the NFL and NBA managed to grow organically out of the shadow of Major League Baseball. Organically growing the game is essentially on MLS and, to a lesser extent, U.S. Soccer. Put out a good, accessible product and the game will grow.

MLS fans and U.S. Soccer fans bemoan what they call "Euro Snobs," bemoan how you're likely to find more Manchester United fans at the soccer bar than MLS fans. Well, that supports my argument, EPL, La Liga, and UEFA have all managed to provide a good, polished product that has, thanks to the internet and cable television, managed to grow big fan bases in the United States, as well as elsewhere in the world.

For a number of reasons, primarily financial, MLS still has lots of growing to do to reach those levels of popularity. It's not going to happen overnight, not if you want MLS to create a solid financial foundation, but MLS has come a long way since 1996, it'll get there.

Finally, let's be honest, efforts to grow the game can often be counterproductive because too many soccer fans can become annoying evangelical zealots that tend to turn away sports fans who are not soccer fans.

Stop Complaining about Lack of National Television Coverage:

There's a simple truth about sports broadcasting in the United States that many MLS fans do not seem to comprehend, and that is the fact that no major sports league has all of its games broadcast on national television. Not MLB, not NBA, not NHL, and not even NFL.

Thanks to contracts with NBC Sports Network and ESPN2 about two MLS matches per matchweek are broadcast nationally. Additionally, almost every MLS team, if not all MLS teams, have contracts with regional channels and networks that broadcast all of their non-nationally broadcast matches.

This is pretty much how it is in MLB and NBA. While NFL does have broadcast contracts with CBS and FOX, many of those games are only shown in specific regions. Only the Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night games are truly national broadcasts.

I don't have the time or inclination to do a statistically breakdown on the percentage of league games in each league that are nationally broadcast, but face it MLS fans, MLS is not getting a cold shoulder on the national broadcast landscape.

Stop Complaining when National Television Coverage is Delayed by Another Sport:

Sometimes sports games and events go over their scheduled time, sometimes that means you're going to miss the start of an MLS game. One most occasions, due to contractual obligations, the network cannot leave the prior game or event to go to the MLS game before that prior game or event is over.

But here is the good news for you, when an MLS game goes over it's scheduled time, the network is staying with the MLS game and not switching to the game or event scheduled to follow the MLS game.

Stop Complaining about American Football Lines on the Soccer Field:

Do you want MLS teams to make money so that they can pay better salaries, attract better talent, improve the product, grow the game? Then learn to live with American Football lines on MLS pitches.

For teams with their own stadiums, leasing them to college and high school football teams and tournaments is a good source of revenue. Get used to the lines, they'll be showing up every fall.

As a side note, MLS is not the only place you see those lines - they're also in some stadiums in Mexico, plus some teams in Europe share stadiums with rugby teams, which have similar lines.

Forget about promotion and relegation:

It's not a viable option, not right now. The current lower soccer leagues in the United States are in too much turmoil and uncertainty that promotion to MLS would just hurt MLS and relegation from MLS will hurt league revenue and investment.

While many "resolutions" that MLS seems to want to push seem to be geared towards creating a more "family friendly" environment, these resolutions are geared more to trying to get MLS fans to be more realistic about MLS and the business world it exists in, to be happy with how far MLS has come, and to learn to sit back and enjoy the ride, cause the destination will be worth it.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Your Friday Goals - February 22, 2013

Another week of European Nights, another bad outing by Arsenal, Carlos Ruiz is back in MLS, it's time for your Friday goals:

More after the Jump:

Houston Dynamo to Unveil 2013 Uniforms at Event on Monday

On Monday February 25th, the Houston Dynamo will unveil their new, official 2013 uniforms at a launch party being held at The House of Blues, located at 204 Caroline St. in downtown Houston.

The uniform launch event is free and open to the public. The event will begin at 5 p.m. and feature Dynamo players modeling the new home and away uniforms, goalkeeper jerseys, and training tops. Other highlights of the event will be Dynamo Girls and the first broadcast of CSN’s Dynamo Weekly show. The 2013 uniform unveiling is the first event in a series of activities scheduled for next week, dubbed March to Soccer week.

Valet parking is available at House of Blues. Private lots and street parking are also available around the venue.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I'm Done With Landon Donovan

I'm done with Landon Donovan.

I'm done with his sabbatical.

I'm done with his Major League Soccer "return."

I'm done with his lack of passion.

I'm done with his lack of heart.

I'm done with his pouting.

I'm done with his unrealized potential.

I'm done with his body language.

I'm done with his lack of genuine displays of emotion.

I'm done with his monotone way of talking.

I'm done with the speculation.

I'm done with the Livia Soprano of U.S. Soccer.

I'm done with the what could have beens.

I'm done with the apologists.

I'm done with the accolades.

I'm done with the leniency.

I'm done with him not fighting harder.

I'm done with his penalty kick routines.

I'm done with him on the United States National Team.

I'm done with Landon Donovan.

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I reserve the right to change my mind and opinion based on the future performances of Landon Donovan.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Houston Dynamo Sign Andrew Driver & Trade Je-Vaughn Watson

With just over a week before starting the 2013 MLS season, the Houston Dynamo have made a couple moves as they get closer to solidifying their roster for the start of the season. On Tuesday February 19th, the Dynamo traded Jamaican International Je-Vaughn Watson to F.C. Dallas for a second round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft. While some might think the Dynamo are getting the raw end of that deal, the trade was primarily made to open up an international roster slot for today's signing of English midfielder Andrew Driver.

Driver, 25, has been playing for Heart of Midlothian F.C. in the Scottish Premier League since 2006. The Dynamo acquired Driver from Hearts on a loan deal.

“Andrew is good at taking people on, he crosses a good ball and can take set pieces,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “He is a hard-working player and I think he will definitely fit in with the team. He has a good attitude on the field and is versatile. He can play on the left or right side of midfield.”

“I am very excited about the opportunity to come and play for the Dynamo,” Driver said. “I have followed MLS over the years and Houston has stood out as one of the top teams. I know a lot of success has been because of the work of Dominic Kinnear, so I am delighted to have the chance to learn from him and improve as a player under him.”

“It’s always exciting to add a young international player with talent and experience,” said Dynamo President Chris Canetti. “Andrew will add valuable depth to the squad at a time when we are set to face a heavy load of games between MLS and Champions League."

The Dynamo start the 2013 season on March 2nd, when they host D.C. United at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

U.S. Soccer Player Robbie Rogers Comes Out, Steps Away from Football

Today, on his website, U.S. Soccer player Robbie Rogers acknowledged on his website that he is gay and that he was stepping away from the sport of soccer.

Rogers, who is only 25, has played for Heerenveen, Columbus Crew, Stevenage, and Leeds United, as well as earning 18 caps with the United States National Team. Earlier this year, he left Leeds Unit in a mutual agreement with the club.

In the world of masculine sports, it is not easy for a male athlete to come at and tell the world that he is gay, so I applaud Robbie Rogers for his decision, for his bravery in being honest to his family, friends, fans, and more importantly for being honest to himself.

I wish Rogers would not end his career as a soccer player though; at the age of 25 he still has lots of good playing years left in him. If Rogers is making the decision to retire because he's concerned about how his teammates and opponents would receive him, I wish he'd reconsider. While soccer has its fair share of machismo mentality, it is also the sport that seems to have developed more acceptance of the LGBT community, especially Major League Soccer. In fact, I think MLS is much more progressive on this issue than any of the leagues in Europe, and if Rogers were to sign with an MLS club, he'd experience very little negativity from players and fans.

That being said, based on his statement, it appears that Rogers used soccer as a refuge from having to acknowledge the truth to himself, to others. If he feels he needs to retire in order to discover who he is, what he wants, then who I am to question that decision?

Godspeed Robbie Rogers, many of us soccer fans hope to see you on the pitch again, but we know it's more important for you to find happiness first.

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Your Friday Goals - February 15, 2013

It was a week of European Nights and Valentine's Day, but now it's time for your Friday Goals:

More after the jump:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Houston Dynamo Sign Bryan Salazar to a Homegrown Contract

On Thursday February 14, 2013, the Houston Dynamo announced that they have signed Dynamo Academy forward Bryan Salazar to a homegrown contract. Salazar becomes the fifth player from the Dynamo Academy to sign a professional contract with the Dynamo first team. Per team and league policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Salazar, a senior at Houston area Fort Bend Bush High School, has been in the Dynamo program for six years, having progressed from the Dynamo Junior Academy as a 13-year-old up to playing for the Dynamo U-18 squad over the past two years. The Houston native has traveled with the Academy to tournaments in El Salvador, Mexico, and the Netherlands. Salazar was also part of the Dynamo Academy U-16 squad that won the 2010 Dallas Cup.

“When I joined the Junior Academy six years ago, I was told this was my chance to become a professional soccer player and I’m excited this day has arrived,” Salazar said. “I want to thank everyone at the Dynamo Academy that has helped me achieve my dream of playing for the Dynamo and I look forward to continuing my career under Dominic Kinnear.”

This season, Salazar has scored nine goals in 14 games for a Dynamo U-18 squad, which has won seven of its last nine matches and is in second place in its division. At the USSF Development Academy Winter Showcase in December, the 5-foot-9 winger scored five goals in three matches, including two goals each against the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes U-18 squads.

“Bryan is an exciting young player,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “When he gets the ball, he is not afraid to run at defenders. He has put up some good numbers with our Academy teams and I think he has a very promising future. We want him to succeed as a person and a professional and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens.”

Salazar will finish high school and continue to play with the Dynamo Academy before joining the Dynamo full time this summer. Salazar is tentatively scheduled to travel to Charleston with the team this weekend for their first match of the Carolina Challenge Cup.

The Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil, was launched in 2007 as a way to develop local talent in the Houston area with the goal of signing players to the Dynamo. Since 2007, four players have been signed to Dynamo homegrown contracts: goalkeeper Tyler Deric and midfielders Francisco Navas Cobo, Alex Dixon, and Josue Soto. Deric recently re-signed with the Dynamo after leading the team to a first place finish in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League group stage. Of the other homegrown players that have signed with the Houston Dynamo, only Alex Dixon remains a member of the club.

The Houston Dynamo begin their 2013 MLS season by hosting D.C. United at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday March 2nd.

Portions of the above were taken from a Houston Dynamo press release.

[VIDEO] Gus Johnson's Champions League Debut

On Wednesday February 13, 2013, Gus Johnson made his Fox Soccer Channel debut by doing the play-by-play in the network's broadcast of the Champions League match between Real Madrid and Manchester United. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and on the whole, I think Gus Johnson did a good job on the broadcast. Was he perfect? No, but then who is, especially their first time calling a game in a sport that they're still new too.

I admit that I did not watch the match, rather I listened to it via SiriusXM FC, which aired the audio from the FSC broadcast. That makes my experience a bit different from those who watched it, but I was able to keep up with what's going on fairly well with just the audio.

I'm not in the mood the debate the pluses and minuses of what FOX is doing in its efforts to groom Gus Johnson for its upcoming World Cup finals coverage. There's been plenty of that lately, much of it irrational, insular, and disconnected from the realities of the business of sports in the United States. I'll make no bones about the fact that I've long wanted Gus Johnson to start covering soccer and I'm happy that FOX has made this move to get him into the booth for high level soccer matches.

So, without further adieu, here's the highlights of Gus Johnson's Champions League debut:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Your Friday Goals - February 8, 2013

This week The Hex began in CONCACAF with the US losing to Honduras and Jamaica holding Mexico to a draw, plus Fox announced that the great Gus Johnson will be doing soccer play-by-play, but now it's Friday, time for some goals.

More videos after the jump:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

El Tri: Francisco 'Maza' Rodriguez Shoots the Bird

While Mexico did not lose in its opening match of The Hex, a 0-0 draw against Jamaica at the Estudio Azteca in Mexico City was not the way that El Tri wanted to start the last stage of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil. But not only were the Mexican players frustrated by the Reggae Boyz on the pitch, but they were frustrated by the boos emanating from the Mexican fans filling up the stadium.

It seems that the frustration took the better of Mexico's captain Francisco 'Maza' Rodriguez, who shot the bird at a live television camera as he left the pitch after the match. Today Maza is trying to claim the gesture was a result of a "finger injury," well I call bullshit on that. Was that scowl also a result of an injury, huh Maza? I don't mind when athletes let their emotions get away from them and they make an obscene gesture or hurtle some foul language, but I do hate when they try to cover it up with lies. Be a man Maza, admit you were pissed off and you weren't thinking straight.

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The United States Drops It's First Hex Match to Honduras, 2-1

The Hex, the last stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, began on Tuesday February 6th, and the United States got off to a bad start with a 2-1 loss to Honduras at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Due to the fact that I don't have beIN Sport on my provider and the fact that the match occurred while I was at my day job, I was not able to watch the match. I did listen to the radio feed out of Honduras, but my Spanish is far from adequate to fully understand what was going on. But, based on the comments and accounts of people who did watch the match, here is my impressions:

- The United States played like a team made up of players who played for their clubs over the weekend; flew to Miami; then flew to Honduras on Tuesday; barely had time to train and bond; and underestimated their opponent.

- The United States is striker deficient and Jurgen Klinsmann should have played Herculez Gomez.

- The existence of MLS has helped develop soccer talent across the CONCACAF region.

I did see a fair share of knee-jerk the sky is falling the US isn't going to qualify tweets yesterday, but let's be realistic here, this was the first match of the Hex, odds are the US was going to lose a couple road games. The hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil are not dashed for the US, there's plenty of time and matches left in this process.

Before some video from and after the match, here's the other CONCACAF results:

Panama 2 - 2 Costa Rica

Mexico 0 - 0 Jamaica

Highlights from the match:

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mega TV is the New Spanish Language Home of Houston Dynamo Telecasts

On Wednesday February 6, 2013, it was announced that the Houston Dynamo have entered into an agreement with Mega TV (KTBU Channel 55) as its official Spanish-language TV partner.

Under the deal, Mega TV, which is owned and operated by Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc., will broadcast seven Dynamo road games during the 2013 MLS Season. Game broadcasts will include a 30-minute pregame and 30-minute postgame show. Additionally, Mega TV will include Dynamo highlights and news in its weekly magazine show, “Portada”.

“We feel it is very important for us to have Dynamo games available on Spanish language television, and this deal allow us to continue that tradition” said Dynamo President Chris Canetti. “Mega TV is a rapidly growing station among the Houston television landscape and fully distributed in the marketplace. We are pleased to be able to provide our fans with options for viewing Dynamo games and look forward to growing our relationship with Mega TV over the years.”

The agreement completes the Dynamo’s broadcast platform for the new season, which becomes one of the most comprehensive in Major League Soccer. The platform includes local television partnerships with Comcast SportsNet Houston (CSN), KPRC Local 2 (NBC affiliate), and Mega TV. Additionally, Houston will have a total of 18 nationally-televised games during the 2013 MLS season. The platform also includes local radio partnerships with Gow Media (1560 AM, 97.5 FM) and Liberman Broadcasting (850 AM, Spanish). Altogether, the Dynamo’s local media platform will offer approximately 600 hours of on-air programming during the year, with 239 hours of TV and 366 hours of radio coverage.

“We are very excited about our new partnership with the Dynamo,” said Mega TV General Sales Manager Gerardo Reyes. “The Dynamo have always offered an excellent product on the field, so we’re very proud to be a part of the team and the excitement around it. We look forward to bringing the Dynamo closer than ever to our Spanish-speaking audience.”

In addition to their game broadcasts, Mega TV will also produce a 30-minute season preview and a season wrap up show. Air dates for both programs will be announced at a later date.

“This agreement is tremendously beneficial for both parties,” added Reyes. It will not only help us elevate our brand in the Houston community, but it will, at the same time, help the Dynamo reach a key segment of their fan base.”

“It is critical for us to have media partners that share the passion and commitment for growing the game and the Dynamo fan base,” adds Canetti. “Mega TV fits that mold and is an integral part of our media platform.”

Mega TV games will be simulcast on CSN.

The Dynamo open the 2013 season on Saturday, March 2 when they host D.C. United at 7 p.m. at BBVA Compass Stadium in a rematch of the 2012 Eastern Conference Championship. Click here to buy tickets.

The above information is from a Houston Dynamo press release.

The Hex Starts Today - Prepare with a Look at the American Outlaws & USMNT Presser

The Hex, the last stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, begins today for the United States National Team with a match at Honduras in San Pedro Sula. The match begins at 3:00 p.m. central time this afternoon and will be aired on beIN Sport.

To get you ready for today's match, here's a story Fox Soccer Channel did about the American Outlaws, the newest group of US Soccer supporters:

As you can see, that piece was filmed in Houston in late January 2013 when the USMNT hosted Canada in a friendly, a rather uneventful friendly that ended in a 0-0 draw.

Here's a bonus video of a Jürgen Klinsmann press conference down in Honduras:

Houston Dynamo 2013 Fan Fest is Saturday February 9th

With the start of the 2013 MLS Season less than a month away, the Houston Dynamo will be holding their annual Fan Fest this Saturday, February 9th, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The days events will include:

- Q&A and Autograph Sessions with Dynamo Players

- Photos with Championship Trophies

- "Dance Like A Dynamo Girl" Clinics

- Inflatable Soccer Games

- Win a prize on the Dynamo Prize Wheel

Meanwhile, Houston Dynamo Season Ticket Holders will also get a tour of the Dynamo locker room.

Click here for more information on Dynamo Fan Fest 2013.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Your Friday Goals - February 1, 2013

Beckham is in Paris, Shea is in Stoke, Balotelli is in Milan, the transfer window is closed, it's the first day of a new month, and it's a Friday - time for some goals from the week that was, your Friday Goals:

More videos after the jump:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Houston Dynamo Sign Three Year Television Deal with Comcast SportsNet Houston

On Wednesday January 30, 2013, the Houston Dynamo announced that the team has entered into a multiyear partnership with Comcast SportsNet Houston (CSN).

The two sides reached a three-year agreement that will make CSN the home for regionally broadcast Dynamo matches from 2013 to 2015, which will be approximately 15 to 20 Dynamo games per season. Additionally, CSN will produce Pregame Live and Postgame Live shows, a weekly in-season magazine show, a monthly off-season show, a pre-season preview, a post-season wrap up special, and a behind-the-scenes documentary series.

“The key thing was finding a television partner who believes in the Dynamo and shares the passion and commitment for growing the game," said Dynamo President Chris Canetti. “CSN is that partner and is demonstrating its commitment through high-quality match production and an array of in-depth programming that will be rich with content and fuel discussion about the team.”

“The Dynamo’s success in MLS has been matched by a devoted and enthusiastic fan base,” CSN President and General Manager Matt Hutchings said. “We’re pleased to add their matches to our lineup, as well as give fans unprecedented access to the team with our related programming.”

As part of the agreement, the Dynamo and CSN will continue to partner with KPRC Local 2 (NBC) to air a select number of Dynamo games. The finalized broadcast schedule for the 2013 season will be announced at a later date.

“We couldn’t be more pleased that CSN and the Houston Dynamo, two of our favorite partners, have signed a three-year agreement,” said KPRC Vice President and General Manager Jerry Martin. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with both of them throughout the length of this partnership and beyond.”

CSN currently broadcasts Rockets games and will begin broadcasting Astros games this year.

“From a media and broadcast perspective, the CSN commitment is unlike anything the Dynamo has experienced in our seven year history,” Canetti continued. “It is one of the best television deals in MLS and symbolizes the incredible growth and development of our club and League.”

The first Dynamo game to be broadcast on CSN is scheduled for Saturday, March 23 when the Dynamo host the Vancouver Whitecaps at BBVA Compass Stadium at 7:30 p.m. The pre-season preview show will debut on Monday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m. The first weekly magazine show, called Dynamo Weekly, will debut on Thursday, March 7 at 4:00 p.m.

While CSN is carried on Comcast's Xfinity cable service and some smaller cable providers in the Houston area, it is not currently carried on DirecTV, Dish, or U-Verse.

Portions of the above material were taken from a Houston Dynamo press release.

Houston Dynamo, Newtown Kindness Announce Partnership

On Tuesday January 29, 2013, the Houston Dynamo announced that it has joined with Newtown Kindness to become an official partner of the inaugural Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award. In addition to becoming partners of the program, Dynamo defender Corey Ashe, midfielder Ricardo Clark and forwards Brian Ching and Cam Weaver have agreed to become spokespeople for the Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award.

The Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award is named in honor of Charlotte Bacon, a six-year-old girl who was killed in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. The award is designed to encourage children from around the world to think about and perform simple acts of kindness in their respective communities. As partners of the Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award, the Houston Dynamo and Dynamo Charities, presented by the Halliburton Charitable Foundation, are committed to using their resources to help communicate that message to the team’s fan base and to Houston-area residents.

“This is a great initiative,” said Dynamo forward Brian Ching. “It involves performing a simple act of kindness, which is something that anyone can do. I encourage all children to participate and honor Charlotte’s legacy.”

“I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Newtown in early January as part of Soccer Night in Newtown event,” said Dynamo defender Corey Ashe. “While in Connecticut, my teammates and I had breakfast with the Bacon family. Charlotte sounded like an amazing girl and I’m honored to be a spokesperson for an award that honors her memory.”

The Dynamo and Newton Kindness are encouraging children to tell their act of kindness story in writing or by drawing a picture for a chance to be recognized with a Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award. One award winner will be chosen to receive a Houston Dynamo prize pack that includes roundtrip airfare for four people to Houston, two nights in a hotel, four tickets to a 2013 Dynamo home game and $100 in concession stand vouchers.

The award is open to all children 18 years of age and younger. Entries must be received by Feb. 21, 2013 and must include a minimum donation of $5. Donations are also being accepted without an entry into the contest, with all funds going to the Charlotte Bacon Kindness Fund, a soon-to-be 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports the Sandy Hook victims’ families and memorials. Complete contest rules, including information on where to send entries, can be found at newtownkindness.org.

From a Houston Dynamo Press Release.

A Dose of Reality: USA 0 - 0 Canada

On the last Tuesday evening of January 2013, the United States and Canadian National Teams faced off for a friendly at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas, slogging out a 0-0 draw.

In the end, the match was a reminder of what U.S. Soccer fans should already know (though they often live in denial of it), which is that the US National Team does not have a substantial amount of depth.

Tuesday's match came at the end of what is know affectionately as "Camp Cupcake," that January US National Team camp where lots of MLS players get a chance to train together under the watchful eyes of Jürgen Klinsmann. Since the camp and the match did not fall within a FIFA sanctioned international break on the football calendar, the majority of the US's A Squad was still in Europe with their professional clubs.

In light of the lack of any real importance surrounding Tuesday's match and the fact that none of the US players really stood out with an exceptional performance, it's not worth wasting time breaking down the lackluster match. Additionally, Canada pretty much parked the bus from the beginning showing little interest in scoring a goal of its own.

Some of the players from Tuesday will likely end up on the bench in some of the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, but probably won't see any significant playing time till the Gold Cup this summer.

Speaking of the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, Tuesday's match is not an indication one way or the other as to how the US is going to do. My prediction is that the US National Team will advance through the Hex to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brasil, but there will be some rough spots along the way, a loss or two while on the road. These losses will freak out many a US Soccer fan with the requisite hysterics and twitter meltdowns, but the reality is that CONCACAF is not a cakewalk, the US National Team has certain flaws - with its lack of depth being the biggest flaw - and it is irrational to assume that the US squad is going to make it through the Hex undefeated.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Houston Dynamo's Corey Ashe & Omar Cummings Undergo Surgery

Houston Dynamo defender Corey Ashe and forward Omar Cummings each underwent surgery on Friday January 25, 2013.

Ashe had surgery to address minor chronic irritation in his left kneel, while Cummings had surgery to address a right knee injury that was aggravated in training this week. The injury was originally sustained in a recent training stint with the Jamaican national team.

"It was the medical staff’s opinion that Corey and Omar should elect to undergo these minor procedures right now to avoid potential problems during the season,” said Dynamo Head Athletic Trainer Theron Enns. “The surgeries went according to plan, and we expect a full recovery for both with the goal of having them ready for opening day."

Both procedures were performed at Methodist Hospital by Dynamo team physician Dr. Kaare Kolstad. Approximate recovery time for both players is expected to be four to six weeks.

This information was from a Houston Dynamo Press Release.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Your Friday Goals

Always good to unwind on Friday with some videos of goals:

More videos after the jump:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Houston Dynamo Select Three Players in Supplemental Draft

Major League Soccer held its 2013 Supplemental Draft, via conference call, on Tuesday afternoon, and the Houston Dynamo selected three players .

Houston selected defender Anthony Arena in the first round, midfielder Nic Ryan in the third round, and forward Yannick Smith in the fourth round. All three of these players will be invited to the Dynamo’s preseason training camp and given a shot at earning a roster spot.

Arena appeared in 79 games during his four-years with Wake Forest University's Demon Deacons. A native of Kenmore, Washington, Arena was selected to the All-ACC freshman team in 2009 and the All-ACC second team in 2010. He has previously received invitations to U.S. U-18s and U-20s training camps.

Ryan appeared in 79 games during his four-years at the University of California – Santa Barbara. The San Jose, California native tallied 10 goals and 4 assists for the Gauchos, including eight goals and three assists during his senior year. Ryan was named Big West Conference Midfielder of the Year and to the All-Far West Region third team in 2012.

Smith appeared in 72 games for the Old Dominion University's Monarchs. The New Jersey native scored 23 goals and added 14 assists during his collegiate career. In 2011, Smith was named an NSCAA All-American and earned All-CAA first team honors after tallying 16 goals and two assists.

The Houston Dynamo started preseason training this past Monday and will open their 2013 season at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 2 when they host D.C. United.

Individual game tickets are not yet available, but tickets for all matches can be purchased through full or partial season ticket packages. For more information visit HoustonDynamo.com or call (713) 276-GOAL.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

BBVA Compass Stadium to Host 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Match(es)

Today, CONCACAF released the list of host cities and venues for the 2013 Gold Cup. Although Houston has played host to Gold Cup matches in past years, there is a change of venue for 2013 from Reliant Stadium to the brand new, soccer specific BBVA Compass Stadium. As of now, it's not clear what match(es) will take place in Houston, but since BBVA Compass Stadium has about 40,000 less seats than Reliant Stadium, it is likely that Houston won't play host to any of the big marquee matches this year (especially any matches involving Mexico).

While the 2011 Gold Cup decided who would represent CONCACAF in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brasil (Mexico), there is no bigger prize by winning the 2013 Gold Cup. Combine that with the fact that World Cup Qualifiers are the priority this year, it will be interesting to see which players get their first caps, or first caps in a long time, this summer.

Here's a list of all the host cities and venues for the 2013 Gold Cup:

Dallas – Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX)

Atlanta – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)

Baltimore - M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD)

Chicago – Soldier Field (Chicago, IL)

Denver – Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver, CO)

Hartford – Rentschler Field (East Hartford, CT)

Houston – BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, TX)

Los Angeles – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)

Miami – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)

New York– Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)

Portland – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, OR)

Salt Lake City – Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, UT)

Seattle – CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chabala on Trial with Houston Dynamo

Thanks to a tweet by Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis yesterday morning, it was clear that something was going on between the Dynamo and former Dynamo Defender Mike Chabala. My early speculation was that the Dynamo signed the free agent who had been traded away to Portland back in 2011; however, it appears, according to Dynamo Theory, that Chabala has only been invited to the Dynamo preseason camp for a trial.

Familiarity with the Dynamo system and what Coach Dominic Kinnear expects from players suggests that Chabala has a good shot at making it back onto the squad. Chabala's internal drive will play a big part too, seeing that this might be one of his last opportunities to make it onto an MLS team before the start of the 2013 season.

According to Dynamo Theory, Scottish forward Callum Elliot is also on trial with the Houston Dynamo. From 2004 through 2012, Elliot was with Heart of Midlothian F.C., but spent much of that time on loans to clubs like Motherwell, Dundee, and Livingston. Most recently, Elliot was in Lithuania with VMFD Žalgiris Vilnius.