A confession: I'm not a fantasy freak.
I don't spend days analyzing the various formations and figuring out the optimum financially efficient roster. I don't partake in a great deal of trash talk with the other people in my league.
About the only thing I obsess about is which music idol I should name my club after.
But despite all of that, I play. I play against my colleagues and friends. I tend to lose, but I appreciate the competition and the comradery.
This year's new salary-cap game, MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager, is not easy. But it is a very good approximation of what it's like to be a real MLS manager.
The salary cap ($100 million) is tight, and building a well-balanced squad, with a mix of high-scoring stars and cost-efficient role players, can be a struggle. At times, I cursed the person who set the prices.
The upshot is that as I set my roster, I started making some intriguing decisions on where I was willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. If I went for a cheap 4th defender so I could add a more expensive striker, what happens if there's an injury on the backline? If I ditched the big-money third striker, does that let me have a better attacking midfielder?
Ultimately, you've got to decide. Just like a real MLS manager does. And then you play.
So without further ado, here's the roster of my beloved Otis Redding United. I promise you, we will not try any tenderness in the 2nd Annual ExtraTime Radio Experts League.
Bonjour à tous et bienvenue sur Coup Franc, la première section en français du site MLSsoccer.com.
Avec l’arrivée de l’Impact de Montréal, la MLS effectue son entrée en terres francophones et il est tout à fait logique de pouvoir suivre ses activités en français. C’est ce que nous nous efforcerons de faire ici.
Si vous voulez tout savoir sur l’Impact de Montréal, nous vous suggérons le portail officiel du club (impactmontreal.com) ainsi que tous les autres sites qui parlent du club, et ils sont nombreux, que ce soient des sites spécialisés, de supporters, de médias,…
L’objectif ici est vraiment de pouvoir vous informer sur tout ce qu’il se passe en Major League Soccer, de vous donner un avant-goût des sommets à venir, des comptes-rendus de chaque journée de championnat, de vous faire partager des moments insolites, de vous familiariser avec les équipes et les joueurs, etc.
Cet espace est fait pour vous, et comme sur MLSsoccer.com, nous attachons une grande importance à l’interactivité, n’hésitez jamais à réagir aux nouvelles et à nous faire part de vos suggestions.
En attendant, nous nous réjouissons d'inviter les 220 millions de francophones venus de tous les continents à venir parler le langage le plus universel entre tous : celui du ballon rond !
Creativity is definitely a collaborative process. In this case, the idea was to have Jay DeMerit try to fit the names of all seven dwarfs into his recent interview with Temryss Lane (watch the interview HERE if you're not sure what I'm talking about), and the collaboration came between Jay and I after a sunny Whitecaps training session in Orlando last week. We had pitched the 1-on-1 interview to Vancouver's PR Director and I was following up with Jay to discuss the specifics and the timing of meeting him at the team hotel, and we both thought that adding some kind of gimmick to the proceedings would make things a bit more fun.
As the team captain and a veteran of the professional game, Jay has become more than accustomed to these standard sit-down interviews, so some variety here would be a good thing for all parties involved. My first thoughts were about the various goofy games the characters in "Super Troopers" played, primarily when the one guy (pretty sure it was Foster) had to fit "meow" multiple times into his interaction with a motorist (played quite ably by Jim Gaffigan), but there wasn't a real logical connection there. Being at Disney World, however, we quickly came up with the idea of the seven dwarfs, though I don't think either of us could name all of them off the top of our heads. Going through the ones we did know, we figured "Doc" and "Happy" were going to be pretty easy, then came up with possible uses for "Dopey" and "Grumpy" as well. The team left shortly thereafter, and the rest was going to be up to Jay.
Our next task (besides researching the whole list) was trying to keep the secret from Temryss, who was conducting the interview. I told her we were going to try doing something a little different, and for her to just to keep the interview going as she normally would, but it quickly became apparent what was going on when Jay lost it after dropping "Bashful" the first time (the first clip in the video). By the time the second clip happened, she was onto it, and when Jay threw "Grumpy" in there, she couldn't hold it together. As Temryss was wrapping up the interview, Jay had fit six of the seven in, and I was off camera pointing to the word "Sneezy" on a piece of paper. He thought quickly, and came up with the sneeze at the end, but hadn't really thought out what else to say to conclude, so that funny exchange (clip three in the video) resulted. All in all, it was a blast to collaborate with such a funny guy, and made for a great time throughout the entire production process. "Work" can indeed be fun.
De vuelta en Orlando, Fla. para el juego pretemporada entre FC Dallas y Toronto FC, me topé con Zarek Valentin, el defensa del Montreal Impact que nos compartió su alegría por la victoria que obtuvo con el equipo preolímpico de Estados Unidos sobre México en un crucial amistoso esta semana… pero ojo, se le está olvidando el español por estar aprendiendo francés.
Being a referee is not just a thankless job; sometimes it can be downright dangerous. One AR found out the hard way when he became collateral damage on this rough tackle.
Most people would agree that Italians Arrigo Sacchi and Marcelo Lippi are two of the best managers. Ever. Between them, after all, they have six Serie A Scudetti, three Champions League/European Cup titles, and one World Cup.
At the club level, they saw the majority of their success at AC Milan (Sacchi) and Juventus (Lippi).
Ahead of this past weekend's Milan-Juve top-of-the-table clash, La Gazzetta dello Sport (the pink paper) brought the two tacticians in and had them imagine how the match would go using Subbuteo, the classic table soccer game. Check it out:
This, of course, got us thinking: Which two MLS coaches would we like to see sitting across from each other like chess grandmasters, discussing tactics, formations, predictions, and players' strengths and weaknesses, and then leaning forward to move a little painted figurine to demonstrate?"
It would be cool to see the LA Galaxy's Bruce Arena and the Seattle Sounders' Sigi Schmid square off. They are two of the most solid strategists MLS has ever seen.
Or how about hearing the Houston Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear explain the intricacies of his tried-and-true 4-4-2 and how it stacks up against, say, the Ajax-inspired 4-3-3 employed by Toronto FC's Aron Winter.
Or a Rookie Rumble: New England's Jay Heaps vs. Montreal's Jesse Marsch?
Tell us what matchup you would want to see, and we'll look into making it happen. No joke.
It's one of the favorite pastimes of MLS supporters (and detractors): Figuring out where the league stands in the grand scheme of things.
Most feel it's somewhere between 10 and 15, and ESPN's Adrian Healey comes in at the upper limit of that range.
"I feel it is now a top 10 league in the world. I would say it’s right in the mix now with something like the Dutch Eredivisie in terms of the talent, the standard of play and the infrastructure," Healey told Prost Amerika on Wednesday in a must-read interview. "The only thing it doesn’t have yet is a history and a body of work, but that is coming. It has made amazing strides in just over a decade and a half."
Anyway, where do you feel MLS ranks among the world's leagues?
In conjunction with today’s Three for Thursday article, it was hard to highlight just three new strike partnerships which could be successful in MLS this year.
Because, oh my, there are plenty of wonderful options to chose from.
So what about some of the new partnerships we failed to mention?
Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper at New York look almost certain to line up side by side when the Red Bulls kick-off their campaign against FC Dallas on March 11. And with Luke Rodgers' chances of arriving back in New York looking slimmer by the day, the Frenchman will have to build a rapport with Cooper sharpish if Hans Backe’s men are going to challenge for a title in 2012.
Meanwhile up in Portland the arrival of Designated Player Kris Boyd means Jorge Perlaza will have a man alongside him who knows how to finish. Boyd has scored goals wherever he has gone, it’s as simple as that. Perlaza will thrive from being given a creative role, and having scored six goals in the Timbers’ first MLS season, the Colombian will hope he and Boyd can make JELD-WEN Field an even more intimidating venue to visit in the upcoming campaign.
The question is, which other strike pairings can set the scoring charts on fire in MLS this season?
Before you settle in to watch tonight's LIVE, streaming pre-season games from Arizona, head over to TheCrew.com for a LIVE stream of the “State of the League” conversation from 6:00-8:00 PM with MLS Commissioner Don Garber alongside Columbus Crew Owner Clark Hunt and Crew President & GM Mark McCullers.
Have a question the commissioner? Ask him via Twitter using the hashtag #Crew96. Make sure to follow the Columbus Crew on Twitter for further updates.
Watch the "State of the League" here.