The San Diego Sockers indoor soccer team made US sporting history recently by winning 43 consecutive games. Sounds pretty incredible, huh? Not everyone is impressed, though.
You may remember Peter Wilt, the first president and general manager of the Chicago Fire and a veteran of the indoor soccer world. Needless to say, Wilt doesn't seem particularly enamored with the Sockers' record, one he views as built on the back of subpar competition.
@FOXSoccer & the Globetrotters have won how many in a row? If SD Sockers would dare to play a real team in a real league, streak would end.
— Andrew Wiebe (@AndrewWiebe_MLS) December 22, 2012
San Diego plays in the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), a competitor to the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), which plays underneath the USL banner. Perhaps someone can enlighten me when it comes to the differences in the comments section below.
I'm actually pretty familiar with the indoor game – my grandmother and aunt had season tickets to Wichita Wings games back in the day, and I actually took in a match between the recently revived Wings and the Kansas City Comets on Friday night – but I'm certainly no expert these days.
So could this record be bogus, a mark fueled by a sizable talent gap? Sure, but it's still impressive nonetheless. Even the best teams struggle to string together five wins in a row, let alone 43.
Bryan Meredith may have managed the Save of the Year in Seattle, but he was surplus to requirements once the season ended. According to Sigi Schmid and the Sounders staff, the 23-year-old needed a bit more seasoning between the pipes.
It was clear that wasn't going to come in Seattle, where Michael Gspurning is the unquestioned No. 1 and Marcus Hahnemann appears primed to return as the most-experienced No. 2 in MLS. And although he made 10 league starts in 2012, it looks like Meredith has already found a way to rack up the playing time he needs to continue developing, as the former Monmouth 'keeper joined Swedish second-division side IK Brage on the two-year deal.
"That was the biggest thing, the opportunity to get games," Meredith told the Kitsap Sun.
After some haggling in the press – read failure to budge by the Union – it appears a loan deal proposed by Santa Fe for the services of Carlos Valdes is finally kaput. That sound you hear is the collective sighs of relief emanating out of The City of Brotherly Love, as the Sons of Ben avoid the exit of one of the lynchpins of their team ahead of a promising 2013 campaign.
Except that might not be the end of it (key word: might). Now it seems Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman has taken it upon himself to recommend Valdes to an even bigger South American power – Boca Juniors.
Count me among those that take Pekerman's words as simple praise rather than a true indication of interest from the Argentine giants, but you never know. It could be an interesting few months in Philly as John Hackworth looks to keep hold of one of the league's top center back from a year ago.
Give Caleb Porter some credit. The new Timbers head man wasted no time in proving he's plenty clever enough to navigate the MLS rulebook.
So clever, in fact, that he broke some MLS ground on Monday by convincing New York to throw in the Homegrown rights to Akron sophomore Bryan Gallego in a trade for Kosuke Kimura.
It's not the first time a Homegrown player has changed hands via trade in MLS – Colorado acquired Josh Janniere from Toronto – but it's the first time an unsigned Homegrown player has been included in a transaction (Janniere was signed by TFC as a condition of the deal). Now, nobody can be sure the US U-20 prospect will actually put pen to paper with the Timbers just yet, but it's still a great bit of business by the Portland boss, especially since he has first-hand knowledge of Gallego from coaching him the past two years at Akron.
Of course, the question going forward is whether or not this trade will add Homegrown rights to the list of assets clubs bring to the bargaining table. Is Porter blazing a path no one will follow, or will college players tied to MLS academies become the next big trade chip, a la minor-league prospects in Major League Baseball?
I'm already convinced that the next step in player development is not actually academy-to-MLS signings. Instead, the logical way forward, for the time being at least, is to develop players in the academy and send them off to a prominent college program to ensure they're ready for the rigors of MLS without impacting the salary cap or 30-man roster. Once the the time is right, clubs can sign the prospects ready to make the jump without using a SuperDraft pick or risking another team reaping the rewards of their developmental efforts.
Clearly, some players will have the chops – and enough interest outside of MLS – to force clubs to lock them up early and send them straight from the academy to the first team. Zach Pfeffer, who just sealed a year-long loan move to Hoffenheim at 17 years of age, is a perfect example.
And for those preparing the bash the college system as a developmental route, take a quick look at your team's roster. Odds are there are handful of college products in the starting lineup, and the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Will Bruin, Graham Zusi and Chris Pontius (among many, many others) can all thank NCAA soccer for helping them prepare for success in MLS.
Is it perfect? No chance. Can MLS teams make it work to their advantage? That's been proven time and time again.
What do you think? What role, if any, will Homegrown rights play this offseason and in the years ahead?
Omar Gonzalez clearly isn't a shy guy. And that's not some baseless assumption.
David Beckham already alluded to MLS Cup MVP Gonzalez's in-the-buff celebrations on Saturday after the Galaxy won their second straight championship at the Home Depot Center, but a tweet from Omar himself sealed the deal on Tuesday, one of those classic social media moments that spreads like wildfire.
The tweet was simple ("Caption this," which you should definitely do in the comment section below), but perhaps the best thing about the photo are the faces of his teammates and LA's staff. My top three: Michael Stephens (a combination of shock and delight), Edson Buddle (pure disgust) and Juninho (a mixture of the two). Landon Donovan and Beckham round out the top five.
Let us know what you think below. Hilarious? Over the top?
By now you've probably seen "the list," the group of guys available for the third-ever MLS Re-Entry process, which includes Stage One and Stage Two Re-Entry Drafts on Dec. 7 and 14.
Things could certainly change between now and then – guys could opt out of the process, come to new terms with their clubs, be traded to another MLS team or head overseas – but I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of lineup you could pluck from those made available by their clubs.
Without too much in-depth research, below is my Re-Entry XI. Feel free to discuss and share yours in the comment section below.
Goalkeeper: Kevin Hartman
Defense (left to right): Gonzalo Segares, Marvell Wynne, Ike Opara, Jeremy Hall
Midfield (left to right): Justin Mapp, Julian de Guzman, Tony Tchani, Eric Avila
Forwards: Juan Pablo Ángel, Maicon Santos
Life in Europe hasn't always been hunky-dory for Oguchi Onyewu – see ill-fated spells at Newcastle and AC Milan – but things certainly seem to be looking up for the big man these days.
Surplus to requirements at Sporting Lisbon? No problem. Gooch has happily accepted a slot in the Champions League with La Liga side Málaga, who have already sealed a spot in the final 16 and where he also plays in what he considers the best league in the world.
However, that doesn't mean Onyewu has forgotten his Portuguese slight. Far from it. The US national team veteran discusses the career that's taken him to seven countries in this BBC feature, dropping profound nuggets like the following:
"A lot of times in my career, I have been frustrated, annoyed and upset about how it was going, but at the end, it always worked out for me," Onyewu told the BBC. "That's how I am right now. As angry as I was to have to leave Portugal, I have found myself in an even better situation here in Spain. Life is a journey and, if you are brave enough to ride it, it is going to take you where you need to be."
If you want to check out Onyewu in Champions League action, Málaga take on Sasha Kljestan and Anderlecht on Wednesday in both team's Group C finales (2:35 pm ET on Fox Soccer 2Go).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Major League Soccer's charitable arm, MLS W.O.R.K.S., and the New York Red Bulls joined in the efforts to provide relief to those affected by the storm.
Mark Hornish, a self-proclaimed avid listener of ExtraTime Radio, heard Simon Borg outline the plight of Woodhaven Soccer Club in Queens, which saw scores of families lose everything in the storm, including their cleats, balls, shin guards and everything else associated with the beautiful game.
Hornish, a New Jersey native now living in Southern California, immediately responded, reaching out to help provide equipment for those in need, something he's done for years in the Los Angeles area. He also invited the ETR crew out to his tailgate at the Home Depot Center before MLS Cup, busting Simon's chops with a pair of suspenders hidden under his shirt and giving me some well-deserved flack for my habitual mispronunciations.
Many thanks to Mark (between Borg and Firchau below) for donating his time and money to the relief efforts as well as his hospitality before the big match. If you'd like to contribute equipment to the boys and girls of Woodhaven Soccer Club, shoot an email to email@example.com for details.
Oh, and come on Simon. Everybody else managed to keep their eyes open. As always, he just had to be different.
Did you run out and purchase a Windows 8 device today?
If so, you're in luck. MLS has an application in the Windows store ready to go. Follow your favorite team throughout the playoffs, with live scores, highlights, news, analysis and MLSsoccer.com video.
Is Roger Espinoza Wigan's next Honduran hard man?
The Mirror seems to think so, reporting that the Sporting KC midfielder has caught the eye of Latics manager Roberto Martinez. If Wigan want to secure the services of the Honduran international before January, they'll have to move quickly as the international transfer window closes on Aug. 31.
Espinoza impressed for his country in the London Olympics, scoring against Brazil in the quarterfinals before receiving a standing ovation after being sent off in the final minutes. He's been a starter for Peter Vermes in Kansas City since 2010, gradually working his way onto the list of the best box-to-box midfielders in MLS.
What do you think? Would Espinoza fit at Wigan? Can Sporting afford to lose him after Teal Bunbury was lost for the season with a torn ACL?