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.
So, this is some great news for a Sunday evening.
Kicking + Screening Soccer/Football Film Festival--founded in 2009 and kicking off this week in New York City--has partnered with KICKTV, meaning they're about to deliver something that wasn't possible before.
The 4th annual K+S Festival begins on Wednesday night, but starting on June 30, KICKTV will launch an exclusive new 'Films + Documentaries' channel that will deliver some of the best soccer features anywhere to anyone that wants to see them all over the world.
Like what? Well, they'll be debuting with this:
K+S will also be advising KICKTV in terms of programming and film selection, so you know it will be legit.
Feel like checking out more of the trailers for some of the works in store? The KICKTV crew has a playlist made just for you. And as the presenting partner for the New York festival, they're giving away tickets. Awesome.
Thank you MLS fans! We're 100,000 strong on Twitter... and growing! What better way to celebrate than a Twitter contest?
Here's the scoop. By following @MLS and retweeting the message below, you'll be automatically entered into a drawing in which one winner will be randomly selected to win the MLS jersey of his/her choice from MLS Gear. Don't wait! The contest starts at 10:00 AM ET on Saturday, June 23 (the morning we hit the big 100k), and will end on Sunday, June 24, at 10:00 AM ET.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 23, 2012
You've got 24 hours to retweet your way to a new MLS jersey. Good luck!
Official Social Media Giveaway Rules
Employees, officers, directors, representatives and agents of any Major League Soccer LLC, its member teams, Soccer United Marketing, L.L.C. and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries & affiliated companies and their immediate families and those living in their same household, whether or not related, are not eligible for any @MLS giveaway. @MLS will determine giveaway recipients in its sole and absolute discretion.
If you have received an @MLS giveaway in the last 30 days, you’re not eligible. If you live more than 75 miles from the field where a game for which tickets are being given away will be played, you are not eligible for that ticket giveaway. If a giveaway recipient is determined to be ineligible, @MLS may, in its sole and absolute discretion, not give away the goods or ticket(s) or may give the goods or ticket(s) to the next eligible follower.
You will be required to privately (through Twitter direct message or email) provide your name and address if you are selected as a giveaway recipient.
Contests, trivia and giveaways are subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules or regulations. See applicable giveaway description for exact details of when and how to enter.
MLS reserves all rights.
Find out what the clubs have been up to this week and some upcoming events in the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Weekly Club Highlights:
For more community news from around the League, visit the MLS W.O.R.K.S. news section.
The condemnation of an entire fan base in 140 characters or less:
Mesut Özil voted as the worst player tonight by German TV audience. Really?
— dan_bu (@dan_bu) June 22, 2012
Voting the player with the best ideas on the field - and that's exactly what Ozil always is unless he happens to be on the same field as Iniesta and Messi - the worst performance of the match is beyond blinkered. So what if not every brilliant flick, through ball or volley came off? Ozil put the Greeks under pressure for the full 90 minutes, and was the primary reason they had to drop their line 10 yards deeper than they wanted to within the first 15 minutes of the game. Germany set up shop in Greece's penalty area, and the German No. 8 is the primary reason why.
I'm flabbergasted. And my gast is not easily flabbered.
UPDATE: The window for retweeting closed at midnight, and Franklin Bonilla (@TrueBlueInNY) has been selected as the lucky grand prize winner. Franklin, we'll see you and a friend tomorrow at 6pm ET at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park. Hope you dig soccer and famous people, and famous soccer people. Congrats!
The Steve Nash Foundation Showdown is one of those über-cool soccer events you wish you could see from up close. This year it's all happening on Wednesday, June 27, at 6:30PM at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park in Manhattan.
And guess what? We have two VIP tickets to give away.
Here's what's at stake:
- The lucky Grand Prize winner can look forward to two front row seats to see some of the best athletes in the world battle it out, playground style. Admission to the ultra-swag after party is also included and the lucky winner will receive two shirts from the New York Red Bulls. Boom.
- Five runners-up will receive mystery gift packs from New York Red Bulls.
Entering to win is easy.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 24, 2012
You and all your friends have until midnight on Monday to do this, after which the winners will be chosen at random, contacted via Twitter direct message and announced on Tuesday.
The Grand Prize Winner will pick up his/her tickets from the MLS Insider at the event, and the only catch is you gotta figure out a way to get there at your own expense by kickoff at 6:00 PM ET. Transportation will not be provided. If you can't make the event on Wednesday, June 27, we ask you decline the prize so we can select a new winner who can attend. The five runners-up will receive their gift packs in the mail.
Official Social Media Giveaway Rules
Employees, officers, directors, representatives and agents of any Major League Soccer LLC, its member teams, Soccer United Marketing, L.L.C. and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries & affiliated companies and their immediate families and those living in their same household, whether or not related, are not eligible for any @MLS giveaway. @MLS will determine giveaway recipients in its sole and absolute discretion. If you have received an @MLS giveaway in the last 30 days, you’re not eligible. If you live more than 75 miles from the field where a game for which tickets are being given away will be played, you are not eligible for that ticket giveaway. If a giveaway recipient is determined to be ineligible, @MLS may, in its sole and absolute discretion, not give away the goods or ticket(s) or may give the goods or ticket(s) to the next eligible follower. You will be required to privately (through Twitter direct message or email) provide your name and address if you are selected as a giveaway recipient. Contests, trivia and giveaways are subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules or regulations. See applicable giveaway description for exact details of when and how to enter. MLS reserves all rights.
Ça va chauffer dimanche ! Les deux duels dominicaux promettent du grand spectacle sur le terrain et en dehors, avec des affrontements entre rivaux. Les téléspectateurs de ESPN et ESPN Deportes auront la chance de voir une ambiance à son comble à Portland pour la venue de Seattle, qui a déjà commencé le match des petites phrases. À l’autre extrémité des États-Unis, New York, qui gère bien les absences pour blessure ou suspension, recevra DC United, nostalgique de ses plus belles victoires chez son ennemi de la côte est (direct NBC Sports Network).
Le programme de samedi est alléchant aussi. Salt Lake, qui n’a pu célébrer comme il le souhaitait les retours de Morales et Gil, aura fort à faire contre San José, où Wondolowski est revenu en force. En déplacement à Los Angeles, et en direct sur RDS et TSN, Vancouver voudra « revenir d’Hollywood avec des points plutôt que des autographes ».
Pour son deuxième match à la tête de Philadelphie, John Hackworth, aura fort à faire contre Kansas City qui s’est découvert un nouveau héros local en la personne de Michael Thomas. Notons aussi, sur Galavision, le match entre Dallas et Chivas USA.
LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Samedi 23 juin
16h30 : Toronto - New England
19h00 : Philadelphie - Kansas City
19h30 : Montréal - Houston
20h30 : Chicago - Columbus
21h00 : Dallas - Chivas USA
21h00 : Salt Lake - San José
22h30 : LA Galaxy - Vancouver
Dimanche 24 juin
17h00 : Portland - Seattle
19h00 : New York - DC United
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv
Way to go, MLS fans.
You may have broken one of the most prolific communication tools to ever exist. Literally the minute we announced AT&T #MLSAllStar twitter voting was live, the platform stopped working. In fact, it was so dead that users didn't even get the Twitter whale to share in their tweetless solitude.
We may not be thinking scientifically here, but we're having a good time theorizing that this timing couldn't be coincidence, and instead was due to the onslaught of #MLSAllStar tweets occurring at that very moment. Seems plausible right? At least a few folks agreed with us.
It must have been all the #MLSAllStar voting that killed Twitter today.
— Ben Heart The Soccer (@thelosthooligan) June 21, 2012
— J.J. Compton (@okchrlib) June 21, 2012
#MLSAllStar is trending. WELL NO WONDER TWITTER BROKE.
— Pope (@Pope_hates_you) June 21, 2012
Luckily, Twitter is back up and running and there is still time left to vote for your favorite players. Here's the scoop:
Tweet a vote for your First XI players. Voting is open until Friday, June 22, at 11:59 PM ET.
- An eligible vote consists of #MLSAllStar and the player's name (first and last required), with or without a space.
- A user may vote for multiple players in a tweet; however, a user may not vote for a single player multiple times within one tweet.
- There is no limit to the number of tweets a user may submit for any one player.
- All users must follow @MLS for their votes to be eligible.
- Choose from the 114 eligible players below, pre-determined by a panel of select media members.
Click here for the Twitter ballot, and remember to watch the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25, 8:30 pm ET on ESPN2/TeleFutura/TSN/RDS!
Join Gatorade, MLS, and the soccer community in supporting young female athletes to stay in the game.
Did you know?
- In 1971, one in 27 high school girls participated in sports.
- In 2012, one in 2.5 high school girls play sports!
In 1972, Title IX gave women and men equal access to federally funded programs. That means your mother, your wife, your sister and even YOU have seen equal opportunities to be a young athlete.
However, while we have managed to gain young girls equal access to sports, they're still dropping out at twice the rate boys do by age 14.
We want to help change this trend.
- A girl who participates in sports is more likely to get better grades and graduate high school with scholarships to college.
- A girl who participates in sports is less likely to get involved in drugs.
- A girl who participates in sports will have greater confidence and self-esteem keeping her from depression and eating disorders.
- A girl who participates in sports is less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior or become pregnant.
How can you help?
Support the cause by changing your profile picture to your 14 year-old self (or a special female in your life like your daughter or wife) playing sports. Tweet about how playing sports helped you get to where you are today using the #KeepHerInTheGame hashtag. Most importantly, continue to encourage your daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister and friends to keep her in the game.
For more information, visit www.womenssportsfoundation.org.