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blog

simon borg

25 April 4:53 pm

Remember those Columbus Crew kits that made news headlines earlier this year?

Well, they made an appearance in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night in a match that will likely go down as one of the greatest in Chelsea FC history: a 2-2 draw in Barcelona which earned Chelsea a spot in the final.

Sure, the Chelsea stripes are horizontal and the Crew's go vertical, but the concept is basically the same. And Columbus Crew president Mark McCullers made sure to let everyone know earlier today:

 

20 April 4:06 pm

A German report is pointing to a new fullback for the New York Red Bulls.

Former Italian national team defender Gianluca Zambrotta is said to be talking with NYRB, according to German soccer site 4-4-2.com.

The 35-year-old is out of contract with AC Milan this summer and several online reports state that the Italian giants will not be re-signing him.

Zambrotta has 11 appearances and one goal for the rossoneri this year.

20 April 2:38 pm

After his latest multi-game suspension in a New York Red Bulls uniform, some in the media have wondered whether it's time for Mexican midfielder Rafael Marquez to move on.

But how many were expecting this?

ESPN Deportes reporter Rafael Ramos tweeted the following on Thursday night: "Everything indicates that Rafa Marquez will end up with Chivas USA. It looks like they will end up paying 50% and 50% together with the Red Bulls. In NY he's the rotten apple."

That tweet was immediately followed up with a response from Chivas USA GM Jose Domene: "Dear Rafa [Ramos], I don't know who your source is, but we have not sought him out. I'd be glad to chat with you when you'd like."

19 April 11:56 am

If you've been watching American Idol, you're probably familiar with Hollie Cavanagh, an 18-year-old from Texas who is among the finalists on the show.

Turns out she's originally from Merseyside, England -- her family moved to Texas 10 years ago -- and she's a Liverpool FC fan. Cavanagh is such a diehard supporter that she was planning on attending the Carling Cup final but missed out because of American Idol.

Well, Liverpool apparently heard about this and sent her the special 'good luck' message below which made air on Wednesday night on Fox network TV. The club's American owner, John Henry of NESV, will surely have been happy to see it.

The question now is: What was the more memorable moment? Her "surprise" to see Jamie Carragher on the big screen or the live audience's reaction (or lack thereof) to what they had just witnessed?

19 April 10:20 am

The city of El Paso, Texas, is looking to spur economic development and an MLS stadium may be part of the plan.

Yesterday the El Paso city council was presented with a list of potential projects that could be included in a future bond issue, according to this report in the El Paso Times.

Part of that proposal is a $100 to $120 million soccer stadium, which the article states would be contingent on securing an MLS team.

The idea is for the bond issue to be approved in July and then go to vote in November.

Would you like to see an MLS expansion team in El Paso? Comment below.

18 April 5:58 pm

New York Red Bulls midfielder Rafael Marquez has come under intense scrutiny for the play that resulted in a broken clavicle for San Jose's Shea Salinas last weekend (watch it here).

But while there has been widespread criticism of the Mexican international, here's a take that hasn't proven as common and it comes from ESPN Deportes Radio Formula in Mexico.

On-air reporter Mauricio Pedroso analyzes the video this way (translation follows):

"No way. Rafa is marking as is typical on a corner kick with the bad luck that Salinas is falling and even worst luck that at the moment of falling his shoulder makes impact with all the weight of both Salinas and Marquez … The most clear example is in the NFL. In the NFL defenders know when they capture the quarterback they know exactly how to make him fall so that the weight falls directly onto the shoulder … But this is not the case here."

If a sanction comes down from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, Pedroso says it would be "unjust."

29 March 7:07 pm

One final consideration before we close the book for good on the Colin Clark-ball boy incident: Isn't it time soccer gets rid of ball boys once and for all?

Take a moment to let this sink in: Soccer is the only sport that depends on little kids to fulfill a critical function IN THE RUN OF PLAY. Professional soccer allows little kids to take active participation in a game WHILE THE CLOCK IS RUNNING!

In a game in which every second counts and a quick re-start can decide a match, it's time for pro soccer leagues to go the NFL rout and swap out their ball kids for adult ball persons. And even pay them a gameday fee. Forget using these ball person positions as a promotional tool. Get someone who can do the job and have them come back for every game if they're competent.

I've seen kids wiping the floor at basketball games, but they do it during clock stoppages. Baseball's bat boy is only seen when play is dead and there's no urgency. Tennis ball kids are never performing their duties during an actual exchange that matters. In these sports there is zero pressure on the kids taking part.

It just doesn't make sense any more in soccer. And not only because most ball kids don't do their job well to begin with and often times don't even know the game (Admit it. We've all made this comment at one point or another). The issue is that they're interacting with adult players during the heat of competition. It doesn't happen in other sports.

Why subject a kid to the pressure of getting yelled at by a goalkeeper who wants to quickly take a goal kick? Why give a kid a front row seat to soccer's intense moments and some of the other colorful language that is used during matches?

No, there's no excuse for what Clark said and he's paying the price. But would he have made the same comment had he been dealing with an adult who was working the game?

If we really care about these kids, soccer shouldn't put them in the line of fire to begin with. When it comes to the pro game, the field should be rated Adults Only.

07 March 12:06 pm

Maybe it was the fact that he was called "Stevie" to start the segment by ESPN Press Pass host Dan Thomas -- that's a little too chummy for a host to address a football legend -- but former New England Revolution manager Steve Nicol may have overstepped his journalistic bounds by stating this about the LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders in this 2012 season preview:

"They have talent, they have money and the way MLS is set up, you have to know the rules and these guys can manipulate the rules to help them."

We can only hope that by the word "manipulate" he means that those clubs are savvier than all the others at managing the roster rules in MLS.

But that statement comes on the heels of this declaration by Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis to SI.com: "It's a little puzzling even for me to figure out how the Galaxy is affording all these players. At some point I can only worry about so many things. But I've always been in favor of making all the rules more black and white and putting everybody on the same page."

The speculation surrounding big market bias resurfaces every now and then. But it's got to stop. There are 15 other owners outside LA, NY and Seattle, not to mention an MLS Players Union, who would never just sit idly by and allow "manipulation."

After the first statement, it was no surprise to hear who Nicol named as the favorite of the 2012 MLS season.

"Hard to see past LA," said Nicol, who coached the New England Revolution to four MLS Cup title matches without big money stars. "They have talent and they have money."

Again with the money? This isn't the EPL or La Liga. Please.

27 February 7:51 am

While New York and Orlando have grabbed the headlines when it comes to MLS expansion talk, there may be a market that could beat both of them to the chase.

Reports out of Minnesota claim that a deal will be announced this week between the NFL Vikings and the city of Minneapolis for a new stadium. In a TV appearance on Sunday, the football team's vice president for stadium development puts Major League Soccer high on the list when it comes to the sports that the the new facility would house.

"It’s a tremendous opportunity for a multi-purpose stadium to be owned by the public and used by everyone — get NCAA basketball, major league soccer, get a Super Bowl back and get a million people a year coming into this facility,” said the Vikings' Lester Bagley.

16 February 8:43 pm

That Brian Ching selection at No. 1 in the Expansion Draft clearly didn't work out so well for Jesse Marsch and the Montreal Impact.

So, in hindsight, who were the best 10 players that they left on the table from the pool of names available? Here is our list and most of them would have been guaranteed starters:

 

10. Michael Lahoud (Chivas USA) Standout speed in MLS at right back and right midfield. Would have been worth risk despite concussion history.

9. Daniel Paladini (Chicago Fire) – Feisty, box-to-box central midfielder with solid shot from outside and good vision. Solid all-rounder.

8. Steve Purdy (Portland Timbers) – Timbers back-up right back who has the pace and size to match up with most attackers. Ready for primetime.

7. Kyle Nakazawa (Philadelphia Union) – The MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy thought highly enough of "Naka" to trade for the dangerous set-piece taker.

6. Wells Thompson (Colorado Rapids) – Shep Messing won’t agree, but Thompson’s industry and tireless work rate guarantee him minutes anywhere in MLS.

5. Mike Fucito (Seattle Sounders) – Despite injury hiccups, Fucito’s speed and hard work would have provided Jesse Marsch with a different look for a thin Impact forward corps.

4. Ned Grabavoy (Real Salt Lake) – Although he says he’s always warded off expansion teams before these drafts, his experience make him a must-have player.

3. Eric Alexander (Portland Timbers) Another all-around midfielder with solid technique and still room to grow. His age (23) places him above Grabavoy.

2. Soony Saad (Sporting KC) Promising youngster worth the investment of an expansion draft pick though not yet a starter.

1. Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy) Olympic hopeful would have been ready to snag a regular spot in the Impact's XI after two years under Bruce Arena.