Archive for the 'CONCACAF' Category

03
Jul
08

More people than ever are watching soccer on TV in the US…time to cut newspaper coverage..what?

According to SI a huge number of people tuned into this past weekends Euro 2008 final and the DC United vs. Galaxy match that preceeded it. (3.76 million and 1.2 million viewers respectively.)

These are fantastic numbers for a sport that no one allegedly cares about. The numbers are even better when you consider that for the matinee game, half of the potential audience was still shaking the sleep out of their eyes at kickoff.

I was deeply critical of MLS for allowing a game to kick off at 9am PST when one of the teams playing is from California but the numbers were pretty good with that difficulty.

The numbers really jump out at you when you look at the Euro numbers. 3.76 million viewers is staggering. Keep this in mind when viewing the numbers. The network, The CW, normally gets 4 million or less viewers in PRIMETIME. That is to say nothing of some other networks getting similarly weak numbers in those same money slots. To pull 4 million viewers on a Sunday morning/afternoon is nothing short of fantastic.

Sure it’s not NFL 1pm/3pm game numbers, that would be a lot to expect, but it is similar to ABC’s feature college game of the week according to THESE numbers. Numbers like the ones from the Euro final Sunday can only help gain more exposure of soccer in America on TV and mean more money for the league and SUM since we all know the kind of money that is thrown at college football. If soccer got half that money it would explode in quality in this country. With all that good news and obvious interest that can only mean news editors around the country would be looking to exploit the sectors of their markets that are hungry for the most popular recreational and youth participation game in the country right?

WRONG.

Nick Green, Andrea Canales and Luis Bueno have been covering the withering newspaper coverage of soccer in Los Angeles for a while. This is positively crazy considering the popularity of the game in this city. Granted, much of the interest comes from the Spanish speaking audience of this city, but there is still a sizeable English language fanbase who are apparently being ignored if these cuts come to pass.

However, I wonder if it isn’t more indicative of the newspaper publishing business in general. First the struggling economy has to be considered as these papers are largely publicly held and need to keep revenue on an uptick and profits in the black. This is usually done with job cuts. Who better to cut than the people covering the least popular events?

Add to this the fact that sports in papers are silly. Newspaper in general have the ‘you are getting the news 24 hours later’ onus hung on them but it is especially true of sports where you are reading stories about games that are 1 or even 2 days old. With the speed of the internet, many of these stories are coming out in real time.

Add to this formula the sheer bulk of soccer related blogs and forums on the internet that probably exceeds any other sport in terms of sheer volume of potential news sources and you begin to see how newspapers would cut those jobs. Do yourself a favor and type in ‘football blog’ or ‘soccer blog’ in google or even at WordPress.com you will see hundreds upon hundreds of them.

Ultimately, newspaper brands won’t fold and go the way of the dinosaur. They will simply reinvent themselves. The online presence will be the place for news and updates since that is where most people go for such things as it is. (do you know anyone that doesn’t check BBC, CNN, Foxnews, NBC for news online?) They will keep the print edition in a slimmed down form with collectible pull outs and opinion pieces that aren’t dated material like sports scores are and also to cater to restaurant guides and coupons and the like. It is bound to happen and many publishers including Felix Dennis of Maxim fame told Alexis Glick as much on a recent episode of Money for Breakfast on Fox Business Channel.

So while it may seem counter intuitive to dump the coverage of a sport that is clearly on the rise in the papers, it seems more of an inevitability than a move made out of spite. It is simply incumbent upon people to re-invent themselves and make their niche in the online world. Ives Galarcep made the transition from the tiny newspaper he was writing for to the online realm and seems to be doing well according to his own proclamations. If he can do it, pretty much anyone currently employed by a newspaper can do it. It’s no secret that I find much of his reporting to be left wanting as he clearly never researches rules before commenting on them and his analyses are clearly coming from the mind of someone who has never actually played the game on a competitive level. (which he hasn’t by his own admission) More than a few of the ‘scoops’ he does get often come from Latin American/Spanish sources first.

I’m not trying to make it sound like I’m blasting the guy, really I’m not, but I think he is about average as far as reporters of soccer go; nothing great nothing terrible. If he can find success, there must be others who could make a similar successful transition to the online realm.

Internet ad revenue is starting to boom. I can attest to that. I have a modest website (see link in upper left of sidebar) that is 100% supported by AdBrite ads and it more than pays for the upkeep and leaves a little bit (not enough to live on) left over for some beers. If a tiny website with modest at best pageviews can be self sustaining someone with an audience and a voice on a subject (soccer) they love can certainly cut through the bits and bytes of the internet and succeed.

In short, it’s not time to lament the loss of newspaper column space for soccer, it’s a dying medium in that regard anyway, it’s time to look forward and take the step toward innovation or reinvention…or go take a job as a bag boy instead.

Be bold, or grow old wondering “what if?” for the remainder of your life. A lesson for soccer and a lesson for all of life. That used to be the American way. Let’s keep that going, shall we?

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans.

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16
Jun
08

US vs. Barbados results / thoughts

Here comes the score so if you TiVO’ed the game don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know the score. Of course if you are on a sports site looking for this sort of thing you are a moron for looking at it as you should expect to see a score, right?

Well the US began it’s World Cup qualifying campaign by blitzing Barbados 8-0..yeah, 8-0.

Reading that it probably sounds like everything is fine in Whoville but it’s not. Here is the line up we started with and tell me what is wrong with it:

——Landy–Ching—-

DMB————–Deuce

—–Junior—Pablo—–

Dolo–Gooch–Boca–Pearce

———Guzan——–

Have you spotted the errors yet? I have. I’ll give you a few more minutes with that and also give you this article from Yanks-Abroad, a site I often disagree with but am finding myself agreeing with a whole lot more in THIS CASE.

I have been a Bob Bradley supporter. I think he is great at motivating people and getting the most out of them. However, watching this game it is clear he is a bit tactically retarded, or simply gun shy.

There is NO EXCUSE for playing a 4-4-2 (with 2 FUCKING d-mids AGAIN!!!) against Barbados. I’m sorry there isn’t.

Even if you want to start out this way and wait til you have a few goals to experiment I guess I’ll accept that, but it never happened.

A game like this is PRIME real estate for trying out new formations that you MIGHT need to use if you find yourself a goal down or understaffed etc. Basically what I’m saying is this game was BEGGING for a 3 back formation and yet, you are still sitting 5 behind the ball…against fucking Barbados…a team that had a website begging for players. Continue reading ‘US vs. Barbados results / thoughts’

11
Jun
08

USMNT: USA vs. Barbados roster

The roster for the USA’s ‘monolithic tilt’ against Barbados has been released. It looks like this:

GOALKEEPERS: Dominic Cervi, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard.
DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra, Dan Califf, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Frankie Hejduk, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce.
MIDFIELDERS: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Eddie Lewis, Pablo Mastroeni.
FORWARDS: Brian Ching, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson.

Allow me to be the first to say that I should and everyone else should stop making wise cracks about Barbados. Sure we SHOULD win, but Barbados isn’t exactly San Marino, they play defense. Oh!

Beside, we only beat them 7-0 and 4-0 last time. Continue reading ‘USMNT: USA vs. Barbados roster’

11
Jun
08

US Open Cup: Chicago downs Columbus 3-2

So one of my favorite competitions kicked off for the Fire yesterday against Columbus in Peoria. Is it really all that surprising that it’s a favorite competition of mine as a Fire fan? They are thinking of naming it the ‘Fire trophy’ after all…OK not really.

I am happy to hear that unlike Dave “Shit Bird” Sarachan, Hamlett is taking it seriously this year. Luis also has a list of who started on the RED CARD as well.

I hope the Fire can bring in Open Cup number 5. I hope not only for the prestige of having yet another title for the trophy case, but also because winning the USOC is one of the US qualifiers for the newly launched CONCACAF Champions League along with the MLS CUP winner, Supporter’s Shield Winner (team with the most points in the single table) and the MLS CUP Runner Up.

So as you can see, this might be the first time in a while more MLS teams actually put more stock into the USOC since a place in the Champion’s League will mean a CONSIDERABLE bump up in pay for participating and an even bigger bump if you finish well.

16
May
08

MLS week 6 & 7 thoughts…yeah I know I’m late

So as those of you who read my entertainment blog know, I have been busy prepping the Cannes film festival. (yeah, people ask me whether should be made or not. Weird right? Too bad they normally make the ones I’m not too keen on first. Oh well)

As such, I haven’t been able to pay much attention to this blog since, well, it pays nothing since WordPress.com doesn’t allow ads and the other sites do pay me (a little bit).

Anyway, here is a quick list of thoughts and let me start with a quick note on the start of week 8 with the RSL vs. Colorado game.

It was a pretty tight match. The level of play is the highest I’ve seen in the ‘Rocky Mountain Cup’ since it’s inception. This holds true league wide.

Colorado is looking like the team to beat out west and RSL is looking much improved. However, playing in the west it is looking more and more like they won’t make the playoffs again. It’s a shame because they do have some exciting young players. The Argies they added last year have been fantastic.

On to the past two weeks:

First, LA is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. To expect anymore or less the rest of the year, barring a major move, is folly. They have all the offense in the world. In fact, I am pretty confident that they could blast just about anyone off the field when they are even half on. However, the problem continues being defense as evidenced by their home loss to TFC a few weeks ago. They continue this streak of poor defending and it has been costing them, especially against RBNY who are a vastly overrated side.

LA needs to find a leader. They give up a ton of goals immediately after scoring and it is clear they need someone to holler at them and tell them to focus. 7 years ago a team could over celebrate and get away with it. However, the level of play and competitiveness for spots has increased to such a degree that it isn’t possible to take too many plays off without being punished. You only need as DC United…

…who got the living shit kicked out of them by Chicago on MLS Thursday a week after Chicago beat the shit out of New England for a second time this year. (where’s the excuses for your side this time, Nicol?) DC United has had a pretty strong history of having some talented players, but also having players who drift in and out of matches at times (look at their woeful recent playoff history) The fact of the matter is, the better teams in the league no longer allow you to take plays off anymore. Again, 4-5 years ago this may have been the case, but it simply can’t happen anymore.

The 2 best teams in the league by a country mile are Chicago and Columbus for this very reason. They keep their foot on the gas even if they are having a bad game and more often than not, they have been putting teams to sleep.

The real tragedy is the fact that if current form holds, the league’s failure to structure the playoffs in a straight 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, 4 v 5 format will mean Chicago and Columbus will have to knock one or the other out of the playoffs and play a lesser western team in the final. I know that’s getting way ahead of ourselves as things change almost weekly in MLS due to the relative parity (though it’s looking less pared this year)

However, my complaint stands. The straight table playoff should be the format but it won’t be now that the league tries to do everything possible to get LA into the post-season. Look at the change to the format this year. Last year’s race for spots was the best ever because they made it the top 2 from each conference getting in and then the next best 6 irregardless of conference. However, that was changed to the top 3 and then the next 2 this year which pretty much brings it back to what it used to be. It was a move clearly aimed at aiding the western conference and LA in particular and it’s shameful.

MLS: you won’t be fooling anyone. If LA makes the playoffs as the #3 in the west 20 pts behind 3 other eastern conference teams that would have made it if not for the rules changes, it’s not going to impress anyone. There are a billion other things you could do to give them a competitive advantage. Hell, if you raised the cap $500K they could get 2 high quality defenders and they’d be one of the best teams in the league. They’d probably dominate. Doing it this way just sucks.

I digress. Continue reading ‘MLS week 6 & 7 thoughts…yeah I know I’m late’

03
Apr
08

CONCACAF Champions Cup: Houston vs. Saprissa DAY 1

Log line: Robertson stadium is kind but not quite kind enough.

Result: 0-0

Read: Benardo Fallas’ minutes of the match HERE

Notes:

Houston is going to be very disappointed to come out with a 0-0 draw. Away goals isn’t a problem as they aren’t counted in the CCC, but allowing Saprissa to make it a 1 game semi-final in their house isn’t very good.

There were some squandered chances and they frankly owned the game in the second half. I think Saprissa held possession for about 10 minutes at best. If Houston goes on to lose, they are going to be really disappointed that they didn’t have sharper finishing.

Corey Ashe looks like he’s rediscovered the form he had on the U-17 team and surely must be under consideration for the senior team. His pace is blistering and his ball handling is much improved. His crossing was pretty sharp as well. Basically he raised hell all night for Saprissa and very well could be the x-factor in San Jose a week from now.

It’s kinda scary but Houston probably has the best tandem of wide midfielders in the league with Ashe and Holden at their disposal.

7 days from now Houston will have it all to do down in San Jose in a wild and crazy stadium. Many people talk about the difficulty of the surface there since it’s artificial turf, but I don’t see that being as big of a factor for Houston as they often play on that wretched shit in league play.

Though it doesn’t make the job any easier. Costa Rica is a perennial power in CONCACAF and Saprissa is arguably their greatest club so there is no free lunch here.

It should be another exciting end to the tournament like we had last year.

02
Apr
08

CONCACAF Champions Cup: DC UNITED vs. Pachuca Day 1

Log line: preseason form, playing at altitude and a slightly less deep bench lose out to perfect tactical plan.

Result: DC United 0 Pachuca 2

Read a recap from the Washington Post’s Steve Goff HERE

My Thoughts:

The knock for MLS fans on the revamped (read: now worth something as it is for a slot in the FIFA club world cup) CCC has been how early it comes in the season. It’s not an illegitimate claim. One needs look no further than Superliga last year to see how a dreadful Galaxy team nearly took Pachuca down.

However, credit is definitely due to Pachuca. They remained compact and connected their passes pretty well and were disciplined. It’s not like if this match was in season for both clubs it’d be a cakewalk for DC as Pachuca is a quality side.

The altitude this early in the season never helps and Pachuca definitely used that to their advantage by playing a much more uptempo than usual game the first half. They used the same approach to their advantage against Houston last year and is a smart choice. When you are used to training at 7000+ ft above sea level you damn well better use it to your advantage. Of course, it’s not all up to them, DC needs to do something to slow the game down but Gallardo wasn’t quite given the opportunity to do that despite his otherwise stellarplay in the first half.

The biggest problem for DC on this night was the same problem they had in the season opener vs. KC:Emilio.

Emilio was electric last year early on but this year he is looking sluggish. Perhaps the excitement of a new team amped him up, but he just looks ‘off’ so far this year. If DC is going to have any chance of of winning in DC (which they do) Emilio really needs to find his form. Having Moreno back, a skilled player at holding the ball up and keeping possession while everyone else works into the attack, will also go a LONG way towards helping Gallardo dictate the pace of the game.

In the end, Pachuca used the conditions and their slightly deeper bench to their advantage and showed the class they’ve had the past 2 years. The gaffes by Zach Wells certainly helped them out as the first goal really had no business going in.

7 days from now is Day 2 and DC will have it all to do at RFK. They are very capable of winning by 2 and forcing penalties (there is no away goals rule in CONCACAF) and there is even and outside shot of winning by 3 as the center of defense looked ROCK solid, especially Gonzalo Martinez.

It should be interesting once again. It will be sad to see this tournament go, but even more exciting to see what the Champions League will bring with the expanded field and longer competition format. Very exciting days for soccer/football/futbol in the CONCACAF region. Continue reading ‘CONCACAF Champions Cup: DC UNITED vs. Pachuca Day 1’




MLS ASG in DENVER- by eBatty