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?
Toronto DP Danny Koevermans knows the secret way to win MLS Cup. After practice in Orlando, the Dutch forward spilled the beans and I have to say, not a bad idea. Who would be your secret weapon?
Got down to Tucson on Monday afternoon to finish up some future in-game spots for Real Salt Lake before taking up the analyst role alongside Allen Hopkins for the second game of the opening matches of the Desert Diamond Cup between RSL and the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday evening.
Thursday and Friday afternoons I found myself to be incredibly fortunate to be a part MLS' Media Training, presenting to both the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake players talking about the good, the bad and the ugly of television, Twitter, etc.....
Been hearing about these rides that Volkswagen are dropping off for us to roll up and down the Pacific Coast - I'm a self admitted car geek..... From stops in LA to San Jose to Portland to Seattle, I'm personally looking forward to great games, great fans and cool interactions with all of you along the way.
If there's something (cool spots, great food, must see sights) along the way that you think we need to see - LET US KNOW!!! Drea and I are planning to roll up our sleeves and hang out as much as possible, telling as many stories as we can through your eyes.
Expect to see more of this as we inch ever closer to the March 11th debut of MLS on NBC Sports. Arlo White, the former voice of the Sounders and the future voice of MLS on the peacock network, joined host Russ Thaler on NBC Sports Talk tonight to discuss some of the big storylines around the league heading into the 2012 season.
And you know what? He looked damn good doing it. Here's to more soccer talk on Sports Talk.
Did you hear about the email that Celtic sent out to its fans today? In a nutshell they are encouraging their fans in the Seattle area to turn out to the Sounders' upcoming CONCACAF Champions League match and root against the home team and for Santos Laguna, their sister club. Sounds crazy, I know, but just to prove I'm not lying here's an excerpt from the email:
"Celtic's partner club, Santos Laguna, will face MLS outfit Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals at the start of March.
And Celtic fans in the area are being urged to come out and support the Mexican side, who now also include former Bhoy, Marc Crosas, among their ranks, as they aim to advance to the last four of the competition.
The Seattle district, of course, is home to a sizable Celtic support which was in evidence when the Hoops took on the Sounders in recent pre-season tours of North America.
While it may not be the Hoops from Glasgow in action, the club is asking supporters to turn-up and give the Los Guerreros some green and white backing from the stands."
Now there may be MLS cities where this tactic might work to bring out a few more bodies for the opposition but, let's be honest here, Seattle probably isn't one of them. Asking Seattlites to come out and root against the Sounders is akin to...hell, I don't know. I'm not sure there is a scenario out there that is preposterous enough for me to draw comparison with it.
Seriously, what are Celtic playing at here? After all, this is club that has played in Jet City four times, including three matches in the last 9 years, so it's not like Seattle is a market for which they hold no ambition. If they've made any new friends among the Sounders' sizable fanbase in the last few years they may have just broken up with them with this move. Are the Bhoys burning a bridge in the Emerald City? Or are they fanning the flames of rivalry for their next visit?
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?
You asked for it via Twitter and Facebook so here it is on MLSsoccer.com: full-length video of last night's State of the League fan forum with Commissioner Don Garber, Crew Owner Clark Hunt and Crew President & GM Mark McCullers. Press play on the video above to view Part 1, visit TheCrew.com to watch Part 2.
For a long time, the San Jose Earthquakes were the only MLS club going with a name that dated back to the original NASL. They weren't the first to fully embrace their NASL heritage though (hat tip to the Sounders for inventing that).
But the club is making up for lost time with this year's season-ticket packages, which featuring several nods back to the disco-era Quakes of the past. Among the connections they're making to the earliest incarnation of the Earthquakes are:
- Throwback NASL jerseys to season ticket holders who paid in full by the final home game of 2011
- "EST. 1974" has been added below the collar on the back of the 2012 jersey
- Ticket books include photos, like the one above, from different generations of soccer in San Jose
This is in addition to last year's dedication of the George Best Gate at Buck Shaw Stadium, which will have a monitor playing a loop of Best scoring "The Greatest Goal Ever" for 2012.
It's all good stuff but I'm partial to the old school photos on the tickets. Is there anything more retro-cool than having George Best and Johnny Moore in your hands on game day?
Get ready for the road.
The MLS Road Trip to First Kick presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and adidas is back and bigger than ever this year, as we send two different teams of brave road-trippers up and down both coasts to celebrate First Kick and the start of the 2012 MLS season.
It all starts on Saturday in Philadelphia, where former MLS great Taylor Twellman joins me and Fox Soccer's Temryss Lane to kick off the trip in style at the Dick's Sporting Goods Brandywine location. We'll be giving away tickets to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park and merchandise, and Taylor will take questions from the fans and sign autographs for those in attendance.
Let us know what you think and keep up with all the latest updates on the trip via Twitter as the crews travel more than 5,500 miles and do their best to keep up with all the sights and sounds along the way. You can also find complete coverage on MLSsoccer.com.
Well played, @WhitecapsFC. Very well played.