blog

Houston Dynamo

14 August 12:42 pm

Des grands matchs, des beaux buts, du débat, de l’analyse, des sujets nationaux et internationaux, voilà le menu de votre émission Coup Franc hebdomadaire (à écouter ici) :
- Notre invité Patrice Bernier revient brièvement sur la victoire de Montréal à New England, parle de sa place en équipe nationale canadienne, de l’utilité du match de ce mercredi contre Trinité-et-Tobago et de la génération actuelle qui a une occasion unique du participer à la Coupe du monde.
- Faut-il faire pression sur les clubs de MLS pour que les internationaux canadiens y jouent à la même place qu’en équipe nationale ?
- Le titre olympique du Mexique, et l’utilisation des jeunes en championnat du Mexique et en MLS.
- Analyse des forces du leader San José en compagnie de Christian Schaekels de Vision du Jeu : Wondolowski qui marque encore plus que l’an dernier, les progrès accomplis en une saison, son efficacité offensive sur les flancs et sur phases arrêtées, ses capacités physiques et mentales, ses remontées et ses fins de match incroyables (voir le but de Lenhart contre le LA Galaxy).
- La bonne humeur à New York et l’implication de Tim Cahill dans les deux buts contre Houston (le 1-0 et le 2-0).
- Landon Donovan qui multiplie les éloges après la victoire du LA Galaxy contre Chivas.
- Quel but trouvez-vous le plus beau : celui de Kandji contre Montréal ou celui de Nyassi à New England ?

L'émission Coup Franc est aussi disponible sur StitcheriTunes. Vous pouvez nous joindre par courriel (coup.franc@MLSsoccer.com) ou sur Twitter (@CoupFrancMLS).

31 July 2:25 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 1:09 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 6:21 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.

30 June 12:22 am

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.
25 June 5:31 pm

The Scottish Premier League's loss just may be Major League Soccer's gain.

After the collapse of storied club Glasgow Rangers, their prized winger Sono Aluko is being linked with a move across the pond to the United States. According to a report from The Scottish Sun, the 23-year-old Nigerian international has declared publicly that he does not want his contract renewed, with the publication contending that the Houston Dynamo are leading the charge for his services.

According to the Sun, the New England Revolution are also in the hunt for the outside midfielder, who scored 12 goals in 21 appearances last season for 'Gers. The English-born Aluko spent three seasons playing for fellow SPL side Aberdeen – where he tallied seven times in 82 appearances  prior to joining Rangers. The report also mentions Championship sides Crystal Palace and Charlton as teams interested in Aluko's services.

If the Scottish Football Association agrees to transfer his registration, he could be set to make an immediate impact for whichever club he signs with.

24 June 9:41 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.

19 June 6:48 pm

Coup Franc prend de l’ampleur ! En plus des textes quasi quotidiens sur cette page, MLSsoccer.com vous offre désormais une émission hebdomadaire en français. Elle sera mise en ligne chaque mardi. Rendez-vous ici pour écouter la première.

En voici le menu, ainsi que quelques liens et vidéos pour en savoir plus sur les sujets abordés :
- L’inauguration du stade Saputo rénové (photos) ; le troisième but de Montréal et la passe « Brésilienne » de Patrice Bernier (vidéo)
- Notre invité André Hainault parle du match Houston - Dallas, de sa meilleure place sur le terrain, du caractère offensif des défenseurs de Houston, des conditions de jeu dans son club qui vient d’inaugurer son nouveau stade
- L’équipe nationale canadienne, avec un retour sur Canada - Honduras
- Nouvel entraîneur à Toronto et à Philadelphie : est-ce que le choc psychologique fonctionne vraiment ? (Articles 1 et 2 sur des études menées à ce sujet)

 N’hésitez évidemment pas à réagir et à nous envoyer vos commentaires, vos suggestions et vos questions !

12 June 4:16 pm

2012 hasn't been particularly kind of FC Dallas on the field, but it seems the return of El Capitán, the cannon awarded to the winner of the Dallas-Houston rivalry, could go a long way toward increasing morale.

At least that's the message I'm getting from the club's most recent video offering, an immensely enjoyable dub over featuring many of the squad ahead of Saturday's match on ESPN2.

Although there is some debate around MLS Digital HQ about FC Dallas' dance moves – the feelings range from envy to embarrassment – I've got to give Schellas Hyndman's side credit ... they really embraced the concept.

My favorite moment from FC Dallas' ode to El Capitán? The scene from 1:35 until 1:59 with David Ferreira waltzing in from left to right to start things off and Jair Benítez flashing a megawatt smile throughout.

05 June 10:09 pm

As they say, timing is everything.

On the same day the Houston Dynamo found out that they will face Honduran side Olimpia in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League this summer, the MLS club has reportedly plucked one of Olimpia's most prized possessions.

Honduran international midfielder Oscar Boniek García is apparently heading to the Dynamo after rumors of the deal first surfaced several months back. Diez is reporting that the president of Honduran club Olimpia has confirmed the deal.

The article states that Boniek García, who was one of the stars of the 2011 Gold Cup, will be joining the Dynamo following the second of two World Cup qualifiers on June 12 in Toronto.

He's versatile enough to play in several of a number of positions from holding midfielder, to attacking midfielder and even on the right side of midfield, a position still in flux for Houston in 2012.