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MLS Insider

28 March 8:35 am

MLS InsiderIt’s time to lift the lid on a secret that I’ve been carrying around for a bit: your boy SF is leaving MLSsoccer.com for a new writing opportunity in another corner of the American soccer world.

As excited as I am for my new gig I would be lying if I didn’t say that departing MLS HQ was anything but bittersweet. Being a long-time fan of the league, the opportunity to act as an evangelist for a game and an entity that I care deeply about was one that I’m honored to have had.

For the past 3 years I started and finished my day with MLS. The first thing I would do when the alarm went at 6:30a.m? Check @MLS_Insider to see if any of the outspoken & engaged followers and friends I’ve had the pleasure of servicing --and in many cases meeting-- hollered at me overnight. Last thing I would do before I went to bed? On matchnights, I’d drop a “Parting Shot” photo on Facebook to send you all to sleep with sweet dreams if your club won, or nightmare fuel if your side was on the receiving end of a blowout.

In between then there was everything from standing in the wings when Thierry Henry was unveiled in NY to hotel elevator small talk with David Beckham to countless late-night rendezvous in soccer bars coast-to-coast with my fellow fans.

I have a lot of love for the players, coaches & staffers that make this league work but it’s the latter that I think I’ll miss the most; I can honestly say that I may be the person in American soccer that holds the title for Most Beers Received from Strangers and for this I thank you all.

But I won’t reach for misty-eyed memories right now or ever when it comes to my time at “MLS Insider”. I mean seriously guys, I got paid to go to the combine, the SuperDraft, the All-Star game and MLS Cup every year so let’s save the sympathy for someone who didn’t live the dream.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Chris Schlosser for giving me this opportunity; can you believe this all came about after a chance meeting on the subway? I’m also indebted to Commissioner Garber and Mark Abbott for trusting me to run around the league’s offices, hotel bars, locker rooms & after-parties with a video camera and a 113K follower-strong Twitter account with the only restraints being my own good judgment. I hope your trust was paid back in kind gentlemen.

And I hope you guys enjoyed letting me take you on the ride. We had a hell of a run, didn’t we?

Follow Shawn Francis on Twitter: @TheOffsideRules.

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Are you interested in becoming the next MLS Insider?  Check out the Social Media Manager job description here.

15 March 3:00 pm

Like many men, I've wanted to be a professional athlete at times. They get to travel, make fair-to-obscene amounts of money and chicks dig them.

And after watching the latest installment of No Holden Back, I'll include the additional perks of healthy eating, mid-afternoon naps and arms big enough to be referred to as 'guns' to my list of reasons I yearn for the pro-ballers life.

Stuart Holden, you are my hero. My green smoothy-drinking hero.

15 March 8:27 am

Here's a morning pick-me-up for all of you LA Galaxy fans still reeling from last night's CONCACAF Champions League loss to Toronto FC: a 47 minute-long documentary on David Beckham's time in LA.

You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll marvel at the circus that was the 2007 LA Galaxy season. Pull the curtains closed and press 'play'.

10 March 1:14 pm

First Kick may be the theme of this glorious, glorious day but the word of the day is "free."

This weekend you can experience MLS Live, our online streaming match service, and our long-running TV package, Direct Kick, for free.

Take a look at this weekend's schedule of games and head to over MLS Live to register for today's free preview. Please note that the usual blackout policies may apply. And if you are an iPhone or iPad user download MatchDay 2012 from the  iTunes store, where it is currently a featured app, for viewing on the go.

Awesome stuff, right? Don't say we never gave you anything.

09 March 11:17 pm

First Kick is all about new beginnings, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew. For Joe Cannon and the Whitecaps it's about erasing a rough debut season in MLS and moving forward with a new coach, new players and a new outlook.

It's also about performance, at least in the short term. According to Cannon, tomorrow's match against the expansion Impact won't be about the final score but about how Vancouver plays the game. That may be true for the players but something tells be that the fans wouldn't mind seeing a result as well.

09 March 7:45 pm

It was the night before First Kick and all through the land,

MLS season previews were being put in our hands.

Jimmy Conrad, Steve Nicol and Simon Borg's preview was fair

And you can't wait for what fruit tomorrow will bare.

 

Sorry, but I can't help but sing right now. Too excited about tomorrow.

08 March 3:01 pm

More predictions today from FIFA 12. Not only is it one of the greatest time-sucks/soccer video games ever created but it is also a predictor of Golden Boot winners.

According to EA Sports the game "predicted that Galaxy striker Robbie Keane will win the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot, awarded to the top goal scorer at the end of the regular season. EA SPORTS has predicted Keane will score 19 goals this season."

19 for Keane? It's catchy and it rhymes, so why not.

Here's a look at how FIFA 12 predicts the rest of the race will play out. Personally, I'm wondering if Juan Agudelo will get 10 starts in 2012 let alone 10 goals.

08 March 11:44 am

At the beginning of every season every outlet under the sun makes their predictions as to who will lift the Philip F. Anschutz trophy at the end of the year. For ages this has been the domain of both professional & amateur soccer journos, TV pundits and sports radio personalities. You can now add video games to the list.

Yes, even inanimate objects are experts now...kind of.

Using the latest version of their best-selling FIFA soccer franchise, the minds at EA Sports were able to predict who they think will take home the hardware in 2012. And guess what? They're thinking repeat as they've got the Galaxy pegged to do it all over again.

To come to this conclusion, EA Sports simulated the entire 2012 MLS regular season, testing all 19 clubs under the same conditions they will face in the months ahead to determine that the LA Galaxy will finish first overall in the 34-game regular season with a league record 75 points, posting a 22-9-3 win-draw-loss record. This would see the Galaxy completing a record-setting regular season and winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the third straight year.  No team has ever finished first three consecutive MLS seasons.

Here's how FIFA 12 predicted the tables would turn out for both the Eastern and Western conferences this year. Where does your club land?

So go on Galaxy-haters, start sharpening those knives and yelling about big-market bias. Just aim your anger squarely in the direction of your game console, not 420 Fifth Ave.

06 March 10:30 am

With 45K expected to be in the house for tomorrow night's massive CONCACAF Champions League match between Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, they're rolling out the red carpet at the Rogers Centre.

Or should I say the green carpet?

Despite an expected temperature of 59 degrees on Wednesday tomorrow night's match will be played indoors, a rare soccer match in the home of MLB's Toronto Blue Jays. If you can't make it to downtown T. Dot for the game FOX Soccer has got you covered (kickoff is at 8pm ET). And if you're not up on the current storylines surrounding the game just know these two things: Bruce Arena is feeling confident and Aron Winter is prepared.

05 March 7:35 pm

Where is the only place on the planet that unfussy, workman-like players like Jay DeMerit can become ankle-breaking, opponent-shaming playground superstars? And don't say "in their dreams."

It's FIFA Street, the grimy, showboating cousin of EA Sports' venerable FIFA franchise. Check out the clip above for an exclusive look at what a few of the MLS clubs look like in one of the game's 35 arenas. 

Interestingly, the game features 23 national teams but only 6 leagues. Don't worry though: MLS is in there --boasting a hefty 234 players-- alongside Serie A, the Barclays Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga and France's Ligue 1.

Personally I can't wait for this to drop on 3.13.12. Download the demo now for XBOX 360 or PS3 if you've got the itch as well.