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.
MLS W.O.R.K.S. joined the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Union Foundation, AT&T, Chester Upland School District and organizers from KaBOOM! to construct a new playground and small-sided field on Tuesday at Science and Discovery High School as part of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game festivities.
MLS All-Stars Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia Union), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Jimmy Nielsen and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) and Philadelphia Union players Chase Harrison and Krystian Witkowski and MLS and Philadelphia Union executives were on hand to take part in youth activities, to aid in the construction of the playground and to officially unveil the AT&T Community Field. The players were joined by local volunteers in constructing the playground, while Philadelphia Union Academy coaches led drills and small-sided games for children as part of the AT&T Youth Clinic. Former MLS All-Star Alexi Lalas was on hand to participate. The new facilities were officially opened with a net-cutting ceremony by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Philadelphia Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz and members of Chester Upland School District.
Tuesday's community service project was part of Major League Soccer's effort to create sustainable projects that leave a lasting legacy.
To view video from the event, click here.
Check out some photos on Flickr.
In addition to the event on Tuesday, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the Philadelphia Union sponsored a Starlight Fun Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. Children undergoing treatment at Crozer-Chester Medical Center will be smiling brighter thanks to the multi-media Fun Center. Designed to combat anxiety and loneliness faced by hospitalized children, The Fun Center was unveiled today along with Philadelphia Union players Michael Lahoud and Amobi Okugo. Lahoud and Okugo visited with patients, participated in arts and crafts and cut the ribbon during the official dedication ceremony.
Check out some photos on Flickr.
MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP Grand Prize winner was announced at last night’s 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. Congratulations to Andrew Pocklington representing the Philadelphia Union! Andrew won $10,000 for the Animal Care and Control Center of Philadelphia.
Congratulations to Jeffrey Briley, winner of the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Continental Tire Greener Goals contest. Jeffrey and his daughter, Maya, took to the field at the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game where they were recognized for their efforts to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
To view more photos from the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, click here.
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|
|COMPARAISON 2012 / 2011 APRÈS 18 MATCHS|
Cette semaine, votre Coup Franc hebdomadaire (à écouter ici) est, à votre demande, plus long de quelques minutes afin d’approfondir certains sujets. Au menu :
- Notre invité Sébastien Le Toux parle de son transfert inattendu à New York, de son rôle dans sa nouvelle équipe et de la liberté qu’il y reçoit, de la situation de ses deux anciens clubs (Vancouver et Philadelphie, où il est parti en mauvais termes avec Peter Nowak), ainsi que de la possible suite de sa carrière en Europe.
- Débat sur l’évolution de la MLS au cours des dernières années. Quels sont les principaux progrès qu’elle a effectués ? Quels sont les avantages et les inconvénients du plafond salarial ? À quel championnat étranger peut-on la comparer (voir le classement de l’IFFHS) ? Quel est l’apport des anciens joueurs aujourd’hui entraîneurs ? Comment la MLS peut-elle conserver ses vedettes, de plus en plus convoitées à l’étranger ? Grâce à quoi fera-t-elle son prochain grand pas en avant ?
- Vancouver se sépare d’Eric Hassli (voir le geste des supporters en son honneur) mais Martin Rennie gagne pour le moment son pari suite à la victoire contre San José (revoir le penalty aussi controversé que décisif).
- Revoyez aussi le troisième but de Houston contre Montréal, image de la semaine d’Antonio Ribeiro.
L'émission Coup Franc est aussi disponible sur iTunes.
MLS W.O.R.K.S. Gives Back to the Chester Community
MLS Players and Executives to Leave a Lasting Impact on Behalf of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game
MLS W.O.R.K.S. is committed to increasing the accessibility of soccer, creating sustainable projects that leave a lasting legacy and supporting local youth programs that will encourage children to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
On July 24, Major League Soccer will join the Philadelphia Union, AT&T, Chester Upland School District and organizers from KaBOOM! to construct a new playground and small-sided field at Science and Discovery High School. The AT&T Community Field and new playground will provide more than 500 children in the Chester community with a safe place to play, and will increase awareness and provide additional opportunities for local youth to play soccer.
Over 200 volunteers will help construct the playground while Philadelphia Union Academy coaches lead drills and small-sided games for approximately 100 local children as part of the AT&T Youth Clinic. MLS All-Stars and Philadelphia Union players will join the day's festivities, taking part in youth activities, the construction of the playground and the ribbon-cutting ceremony with MLS and Philadelphia Union executives and members of the Chester Upland School District. Former MLS All-Star Alexi Lalas will also volunteer his time to participate in youth activities.
The day of service - a partnership between MLS W.O.R.K.S., the Philadelphia Union Foundation and AT&T - is part of the League's community service program, Unite. Volunteer. Serve., a collaborative effort to combine sport and service, promote good will and improve lives and communities at the grassroots level.
On Wednesday, July 25, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the Philadelphia Union will team up with Starlight Children's Foundation for a hospital visit and placement of a Starlight Fun Center™ mobile entertainment unit at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa. Part of the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Soccer Kicks Cancer program, the visit will provide an opportunity for seriously ill children and their families to enjoy a unique experience and a renewed sense of strength and hope. Union players will visit with patients, play games and participate in other activities prior to the dedication ceremony. In addition to the Fun Center, MLS will also provide tickets to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game to Starlight families. The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, featuring the MLS All-Stars against Chelsea FC, will be played on Wednesday, July 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
During halftime of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, MLS W.O.R.K.S. will announce the 2012 Community MVP Grand Prize winner. Fans across the League had the opportunity to nominate individuals who are committed to improving their communities. Nineteen winners were selected, representing each MLS market, and competed in a two-week online contest. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park, which includes roundtrip airfare, two nights' accommodation, an award from Tiffany & Co. and official MLS merchandise as part of the prize package. Click here to view the final list of 2012 Community MVPs.
In addition, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and Continental Tire will recognize the winner of the "How Green Are Your Goals?" contest, created to engage MLS fans in environmentally friendly efforts leading up to Earth Day. Fans were encouraged to visit the Greener Goals website and share stories of how they incorporate green efforts into their everyday lives. Portland, the MLS market with the greenest MLS fans, has won a Solar 4R Schools Renewable School package valued at $50,000 for a deserving school in their city for Earth Day 2013. The prize includes a solar panel installation and a renewable energy education package for teachers. As the Grand Prize winner, Timbers' fan Jeffrey Briley won a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and a set of tires, courtesy of Continental Tire.
Be sure to follow @MLSWORKS on Twitter and get updates from all of our events at #MLSWORKS and AT&T #MLSAllStar Game.
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
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.
Comme chaque mardi, Coup Franc passe de l’écrit à l’oral. Notre émission hebdomadaire est disponible ici. Au menu :
- Le match au sommet entre New York et DC United (résumé vidéo ; le 2-1 par Barklage). Quelles sont les forces et les faiblesses de ces équipes, leur bon classement actuel reflète-t-il leur réelle valeur ?
- La découverte de la semaine, Antoine Hoppenot, est notre invité. Voyez ici son but, le penalty qu’il a provoqué et sa première grosse occasion. Nous faisons sa connaissance, il nous parle de la cinglante victoire de Philadelphie contre Kansas City (résumé complet) et des changements apportés par John Hackworth.
- Nos choix pour le Match des étoiles (All-Star Game). N’oubliez pas de voter !
- Le tifo de Portland contre Seattle.
- Hassoun Camara, qui en est à sa deuxième saison à Montréal, connaît-il bien le Québec ?
L'émission Coup Franc est désormais aussi disponible sur iTunes.
Let's be honest, even Philadelphia fans didn't see that coming.
And while all the plaudits for Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Sporting KC will go to Jack McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot, I can't help but think Carlos Valdes is getting the short shrift. The guy, not singlehandedly it must be said, shut down a front line in Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong that makes most defenses look, well, defenseless at least a couple times per game.
On Saturday, there was none of that at PPL Park. Valdes cleaned up any mess that entered his area, kept Zac MacMath from having to do much other than boot the occasional goal kick and generally bossed the area of the field SKC was trying to exploit. So in homage to Valdes performance, we've put together a highlight reel of his second half contributions. Frankly, it was the least we could do.
So sit back and enjoy, unless you're a Kansas City fan of course.
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.