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Colorado Rapids

03 December 7:23 pm

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

16 November 10:51 am

Après les flops hier, j'inaugure aujourd'hui le classement « Pleine lucarne », mon top 10 de la saison, avec des satisfactions qui nous viennent de clubs qui ne se sont pas qualifiés pour la phase finale. Mais ce n’est pas parce qu’on n’a pas terminé en haut de classement qu’on n’a aucune raison de se réjouir.

10. Jaime Castrillon et Brian Mullan sauvent l’honneur de Colorado
Si la saison de Colorado est bien moins réussie que la précédente, c’est surtout la faute à sa défense. L’équipe a marqué autant en 2012 qu’en 2011 et deux joueurs m’ont particulièrement plu. Brian Mullan ne s’est pas fait remarquer uniquement pour sa poignée de main avec Steve Zakuani, qu’il avait gravement blessé l’an dernier. Malgré ses 34 ans, il a été cette saison un des meilleurs centreurs de MLS. Quant au Colombien Jaime Castrillon, il peut être qualifié de transfert réussi : ce milieu de terrain s’infiltre très bien, possède le sens du but et a fait preuve de beaucoup de présence dans le petit rectangle adverse.

9. Patrice Bernier - Felipe, axe des succès montréalais
Avec un bilan de 42 points, Montréal a disputé une première saison plus qu’honorable. Il le doit en grande partie aux buts qu’il a construits dans l’axe, pour lesquels il n’avait pas d’égal en MLS, et compte en Felipe Martins le meilleur passeur de la saison régulière depuis cette partie de terrain où Patrice Bernier a aussi brillé. Un duo en or, qui a notamment aidé les Québécois à remporter cinq victoires de suite durant l’été. Les nouveaux venus en MLS ont aussi réussi l’exploit d’ouvrir la marque 9 fois de suite en début de saison… mais ont rarement su conserver cette avance.

30 October 7:47 pm

The playoffs are upon us, but if that isn't enough to satiate your thirst for soccer, we've got another contest to keep you busy throughout November.

Yes, it's time to select another AT&T Goal of the Year. Just like 2011, 64 of the year's best strikes – including all 31 AT&T Goal of the Week winners – are up for nomination, and a fan vote will whittle the field down all the way down to the year's best strike.

Whose goal are you looking forward to seeing in contention? One of David Beckham's many wonderstrikes? Or perhaps your tastes run more on the Fredy Montero side?

Tune in to MLSsoccer.com tomorrow, Oct. 31 at 1 pm ET, to find out the first 16 goals up for election and cast your vote!

In the meantime, tide yourself over with last year's winner, an absolute stunner from the Portland Timbers' then-rookie, Darlington Nagbe:

30 October 11:16 am

The San Jose Earthquakes topped the final regular season installment of the MLS Power Rankings on Tuesday, and it was a fitting end to an impressive season for the Quakes. Although they were one the season’s biggest surprises (MLSsoccer.com had them ranked No. 9 at First Kick), the Quakes ascended to the top spot in Week 16 and never really let up.

In fact, the Quakes held the top spot in the Power Rankings for 17 weeks this season (tops among all teams), and led the way for 14 consecutive weeks after reaching the top midway through the season. They relinquished their spot just once - to Sporting Kansas City in Week 30 – but claimed it again the next week and carried the torch each of the final three weeks of the season.

Some other notes on Power Rankings this season:

  • The biggest surprise of the year was easily D.C. United, who came in at No. 16 at the First Kick poll in early March and finished the regular season at No. 3. They also proved to be one of the most volatile teams on the poll this year, rising to No. 2 in Week 15 before plummeting back to No. 12 as late as Week 28 before they surged down the stretch to finish in the top 3.
  • The biggest disappointment was easily the Portland Timbers, who carried the No. 8 ranking into First Kick and effectively slipped into a free fall from there. They bottomed out at No. 19 in Week 19 and ended up holding that spot for a total of seven weeks this season.
  • Toronto FC led the league with most weeks spent at the No. 19 spot – 14.
  • Six teams held the bottom spot at least once this season – Toronto, Portland, Chivas USA, Philadelphia, FC Dallas and Montreal. The Impact held that spot at First Kick but never graced it again after Week 4.
  • Five teams held the No. 1 ranking at some point this season – San Jose, Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, Seattle and the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy held it at First Kick and never got it back, slipping all the way down to No. 17 in Weeks 11 and 12. The swing of 16 spots is the largest of any team in the rankings this season.
  • The most stable team this season was Sporting Kansas City, who never fell lower than No. 7 and spent a total of seven weeks at No. 1. The Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake both bottomed at No. 8 and reached No. 1 at various points in the season.
  • The Houston Dynamo also never fell outside of the top 10 at any point this season, falling as low as No. 9 and rising as high as No. 2 in Week 22.
  • The biggest one-week jump of any team this season belonged to San Jose, who leaped from No. 9 to No. 3 in Week 4 after a 1-0 win in Seattle. The Quakes never fell lower than No. 4 the rest of the way.
  • The biggest one-week drop also came in Week 4. FC Dallas plummeted from No. 6 to No. 15 after a 4-1 loss at D.C. United.
  • The Vancouver Whitecaps are the only playoff team not ranked in the top 10 at the end of the season. They fell to No. 12 in Week 25 and have languished outside the top 10 ever since.
  • Chivas USA was only team to go out the way they came in. They were ranked No. 18 at First Kick and finished No. 18 in the final rankings on Tuesday, having never climbed any higher than No. 12.

Note: There were no rankings for Weeks 13-14 due to international dates.

 

02 October 2:34 pm

This is Part 2 of our three-part series examining long build-ups that lead to goals, and both the "how" and the "why" they happen.

In Part 1 we took a look at the role pressure - or the lack of it - plays in the long build. Now we're going to swap from what the defense is doing wrong to what the attack is doing right, with a spotlight on the role the center forward plays.

31 July 1:25 pm

Ever wonder what the days are like in the life of MLSers leading up to matches?

Well, now you can find out. Major League Soccer and NBC have announced a new, day-in-the-life series, MLS 36. The program – which follows in the footsteps of fellow NBC Sports Network series Fight Night 36, IndyCar 36 and NHL 36 – takes viewers behind the scenes for a player's 36 hours prior to kickoff.

San Jose Earthquakes star and golden-boot leading Chris Wondolowski wil be the first league player highlighted, when his preparation for the 2012 MLS All-Star Game will air on Sunday, August 5 at 9:30 pm ET on the NBC Sports Network. The second installment is set to air the following Friday, August 10 when Seattle's Fredy Montero's preparations are recorded ahead of the Sounders' World Football Challenge match vs. Chelsea on July 18.

Additional episodes and players of MLS 36 will be announced at a later date. Which player to the right would you want to see featured? Or, let us know who else you would want in the comments below.

25 July 12:09 pm

On vient de dépasser la mi-saison et j’avais envie de voir à quel point les équipes en étaient par rapport au même stade l’an dernier. Le calendrier de la MLS étant ce qu’il est, j’ai d’abord réalisé un classement des 18 premières rencontres de chaque club (qui permet au passage de relativiser le classement actuel). Ensuite, je l’ai comparé avec le classement de leurs 18 premiers duels l’an dernier pour voir leurs progressions / régressions respectives. Même s’il faut prendre ces tableaux avec des pincettes, notamment en raison du déséquilibre entre les matchs joués à domicile et à l’extérieur, ils n’en demeurent pas moins des indicateurs très intéressants. À vous d’en tirer vos propres conclusions… N’hésitez pas à les partager !

CLASSEMENT 2012 APRÈS 18 MATCHS
    J Pts
1. San José 18 36
2. DC United 18 33
. Kansas City 18 33
4. Salt Lake 18 32
5. New York 18 31
6. Vancouver 18 30
7. Chicago 18 28
8. Seattle 18 27
9. Columbus 18 25
. Houston 18 25
11. Chivas USA 18 23
12. Colorado 18 22
. New England 18 22
14. LA Galaxy 18 20
. Philadelphie 18 20
16. Portland 18 19
17. Montréal 18 18
18. Dallas 18 15
19. Toronto 18 13
COMPARAISON 2012 / 2011 APRÈS 18 MATCHS
    J 2012 2011 Diff.
1. Vancouver 18 30 14 +16
2. San José 18 36 22 +14
3. Kansas City 18 33 22 +11
4. DC United 18 33 23 +10
5. Chicago 18 28 18 +10
6. New England 18 22 16 +6
7. New York 18 31 25 +6
8. Houston 18 25 20 +5
9. Chivas USA 18 23 21 +2
10. Salt Lake 18 32 31 +1
11. Seattle 18 27 28 -1
12. Colorado 18 22 23 -1
13. Columbus 18 25 27 -2
14. Portland 18 19 21 -2
15. Toronto 18 13 15 -2
16. Philadelphie 18 20 28 -8
17. LA Galaxy 18 20 34 -14
18. Dallas 18 15 34 -19
 
01 July 5:21 pm

There's like a 99 percent chance that, if you're reading this blog post, you also watched the 2012 European Championship final between Spain and Italy.

It was awesome. Even if you had no rooting interest (full disclosure: I'm a quarter Italian, but was pulling for Spain), it's hard not to get caught up when the stakes are that high and the quality of soccer on display matches it.

And it just kills me that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL can't figure out a way to get a "Copa Américas" up and running every four years, starting immediately after the Euros. What an incredible opportunity the two confederations are missing.

Hopefully someday, they'll figure it out.

Anyway, only one real observation this week...

Scoring keeps going up and up and up

You should be reading Andrew Wiebe's Opta Spotlight every week. This past week's edition was especially good. Click me!

OK, now that you've read it, you know that teams are passing more, passing more accurately, passing more aggressively, and as a result (we assume), scoring more. Before this week scoring was already up 12 percent over last season's pace. That will have gone up some more, since in Week 17's 10-game slate there were 34 total goals.

And it's not just a blip. Since the end of the international break, MLS clubs have produced 100 goals in 33 games (thanks to Greg Lalas for that little tidbit).

It's the reversal of a 10-year trend. Back in 2001 MLS averaged 3.28 goals per game; by 2010, that was down to 2.46. Here's the whole table:

2011 -- 2.58
2010 -- 2.46

2009 -- 2.54
2008 -- 2.81
2007 -- 2.66
2006 -- 2.62
2005 -- 2.87
2004 -- 2.61
2003 -- 2.89
2002 -- 3.01
2001 -- 3.28
2000 -- 3.19
1999 -- 2.86
1998 -- 3.57*
1997 -- 3.26
1996 -- 3.37

The key thing here isn't just that MLS have imported guys like Thierry Henry (one of the league's elite finishers) and David Beckham (one of the league's elite chance creators). The league's also kept guys like Dwayne De Rosario and Brad Davis, who've both had overseas interest; they've developed highly rated talents like Chris Pontius and Will Bruin, who've both been given plenty of time to figure out where the net is; and, of course, used the Reserve League to help build Chris Wondolowski, who's turning into one of MLS' all-time greats.

It's a multi-faceted approach to finding and cultivating talent, and the numbers say it's working.

* For those of you who don't remember 1998 for one reason or another ... yes, that season was as crazy as the numbers indicate. Go find some YouTube clips of that year's Galaxy squad — it'll be worth your time.

29 June 11:22 pm

Just in time for the seven games on the MLS schedule that are available on MLS LIVE this weekend, our developers have launched two new features for the live match streaming service.

Multi-game: Users can now watch up to three games at once
Game Alerts: Users can now get notified on screen about other game events.
 
This is available immediately for both live and archived content. Which is important, because you probably don't already watch enough soccer.
 
Go to http://live.mlssoccer.com to sign up for MLS LIVE and watch all the best MLS action live.
 

 
We're pretty happy about it. Hopefully you are, too.
 
PS - We're also working on new features on the iPhone/iPad in the coming weeks. Patience.
24 June 8:41 pm

I just went 2/9 on my weekend picks. This was after going 2/6 midweek.

It’s not because I’m bad at picking games (though lord knows, I’m not good), but it’s because the parity in MLS is just that hard to get a handle on these days. This is a league where players like Branko Boskovic and Chris Rolfe come off the bench, where Danny Koevermans goes from misfiring back to deadeye, and where a nine-point week is enough to vault you back into the playoff race.

Turns out the Galaxy aren’t dead yet

Sorry, I know this is going to annoy a lot of you. It’s always fun to try to shovel dirt on the champs – doubly so when it’s a high-profile team.

But it turns out that was premature. LA just rattled off three straight wins, including two by shutout. It’s too early to say they’ve returned to their 2011 form, but it’s also clearly too late to take back all the nasty stuff we’ve said about them over the past couple of months.

One thing to bear in mind: David Beckham said it came down to being happy and loose in the locker room, and that it’s cleared up only in the past couple of weeks. So whatever it was that was eating away at LA’s commitment went away when Robbie Keane did. Will it return now that he has?

“Emergency Defender” proving a rock in Philly

Last week John Hackworth said that youngster Amobi Okugo would be playing in central defense for the time being as an emergency measure. If his first two games there are any indication, he may never get a chance to move back to the midfield.

Okugo is simply excellent when the game is being played in front of him, showing good anticipation and understanding of both when and how to play outlets to the midfield. He’s also big and strong enough (6-foot, 170 pounds) to bully around in the box when it comes down to that.

Most importantly, though, he’s just a better player when he doesn’t have to have 360 degree awareness. This isn’t unusual – d-mids tend to mature later than other players precisely because it’s such a complex position.

But Philly already have two veterans (Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gomez) for that spot, and are paper-thin in defense. And the US… well, we know all about the plethora of defensive-minded central midfielders available to Jurgen Klinsmann.

There are, however, precious few young central defenders who’ve impressed on a game-to-game basis. Okugo’s off to a good start in that regard. Let’s hope he stays there, and we see a bit of him in the red, white and blue this January.

Why not build more Gordons?

Alan Gordon didn’t just become a good soccer player overnight. He’s always had a great passing eye, a good understanding of where to be in build-up play and a willingness to stick his nose in. Even if he’s not a 90-minute player, he’s still valuable. The past two months – and past two games especially – have been proof enough of that.

The thing is, though, that Gordon (and his teammate Steven Lenhart) were built by years of practice and occasional game time. Each of them took several years to get up to speed, and now the Quakes are reaping the rewards of both LA’s and Columbus’ hard work.

Which begs the question: Why don’t more teams take on young guys like Gordon and Lenhart then groom them for that specific role? While combing through MLS rosters, the only ones I’ve seen who are really, truly doing that are Columbus (with Tom Heinemann and Aaron Schoenfeld), Houston (Cam Weaver and Colin Rolfe) and New England (Blake Brettschneider).

None of these guys are truly ready right now – though Brettschneider is close, and Heinemann would have gotten there this season if not for his injury – but in two years, all of these guys can be looked at as Gordon or Lenhart-types.

Or, if you want to go with the original model: Brian Ching-types.

So yeah, putting a guy like that – a true center forward – out there may not be what Vicente del Bosque would do. But no MLS team is going to have Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas and Busquets to call on. If you’re not Spain, chances are you’ll need a target.

I’d want my team already hard at work making one.