02 April 11:19 am

NEW YORK -- Giorgio Chinaglia died on Sunday.

Younger and newer soccer fans in the United States probably know nothing about Chinaglia. On Wikipedia, they can learn that he scored 242 goals in 254 games for the New York Cosmos, 98 goals in 209 appearances for Lazio, and earned 14 caps for Italy (including two in the 1974 World Cup).

On YouTube, they can watch his famous assist on a Fabio Capello goal against England at Wembley from 1973 (below). And on Twitter and various blogs, they can discover his famously prickly personality, the one that dared to criticize Pele and in all seriousness said things like: "I am a finisher. That means when I finish with the ball, it is in the back of the net."

But what you can't learn from Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, or Twitter is the symbolism of Giorgio Chinaglia. He was a living symbol of the efforts made in the 1970s and '80s to make soccer a major sport here. Sometimes, he seemed like a ghost of the NASL's bittersweet run, but he was always there, carrying the banner of the game's past that eventually gave rise to the its present. 

Unlike Pele or Franz Beckenbauer or Carlos Alberto, Chinaglia remained in New York after he retired from the Cosmos. He didn't just pick up and move on when the money ran out on the NASL. Instead, he stayed, worked in the game, did some TV analysis (including his legendary head-to-head on-air battles with Eric Wynalda during the 2002 World Cup), and c0-hosted a radio show on Sirius XM with longtime friend and soccer executive Charlie Stillitano.

And because of all of that, he was one of the most visible flagbearers for the NASL's ongoing legacy.

MLS, early in its existence, wanted nothing to do with that legacy. The league was meant to be a break from the past, a new venture, one that would not fall into the same patterns and turn down the same dead ends that the NASL did.

But in recent years, MLS' mindset has shifted with regards to the NASL and the past in general. The Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Portland Timbers all chose to fully embrace their NASL histories, right down to the clubs' names. This year, the San Jose Earthquakes -- who likewise adopted their NASL moniker -- celebrated their past by putting historic images on their season tickets. And, of course, there is the on-again, off-again New York Cosmos resurrection.

To me, the remembrance of things past is vital to the success of the present and the potential of the future. I enjoy both watching MLS matches and sporting my Detroit Express t-shirt. It reminds me that, no matter what people around the world say, soccer is not a "new" thing in the US and Canada. It's been around for a 100-plus years.

I believe that Giorgio Chinaglia died appreciating that history. He was just waiting for the rest of us to appreciate it too.

01 April 10:27 pm

Malgré le résultat et la fatigue du voyage, les supporters de l’Impact étaient heureux de leur première expérience de groupe loin de Montréal.

« Pour un début, chez un adversaire qui n’est pas un rival, être à 200, chanter 90 minutes et faire autant de bruit que les 13000 locaux : ça montre un excellent esprit, résume Michael Murray, qui avait effectué le déplacement pour supporter Montréal à Santos Laguna lors de la Ligue des champions 2009. À part la bière trop chère, l’accueil était bon : même quand un fumigène a été allumé, la réaction de la sécurité était mesurée, contrairement à Montréal où elle est vraiment violente. »

Depuis dix ans, les supporters de l’Impact ont toujours autant de plaisir à encourager leurs couleurs à l’extérieur, mais il y a désormais les avantages de la MLS. « Ça ressemblait aux déplacements de D2 : on fête dans le car, on arrive en ville le matin et on y vit des aventures, résume Daniel Nahmias-Léonard, qui était déjà des voyages en 2002. Par contre, New York, ça change de Rochester ! Et il y a l’encadrement de la MLS, régulièrement en contact avec les supporters pendant l’année, ainsi que des clubs, habitués à voir des supporters adverses. Maintenant, il faut que davantage de gens s’intéressent réellement à l’Impact et s’habituent aux déplacements afin d’attirer plus de monde. »

Voilà qui donnera plus de travail à des organisateurs déjà bien occupés. « C’était difficile car c’était notre première en MLS, et avec tant de participants, reconnaît Denis Lebrun, responsable du groupe Ultras Montréal 2002, en charge du voyage. Et pour rendre les déplacements attractifs financièrement, nous avons décidé de traiter directement avec des transporteurs plutôt qu’avec des organisateurs de voyages. On vise 6 ou 7 déplacements cette saison et on aimerait avoir à chaque fois 2-3 autocars pleins pour les villes distantes comme New York, Philadelphie ou Toronto. »

31 March 6:27 pm

Le match New York – Montréal a été marqué par le premier déplacement en nombre des supporters de l’Impact depuis l’entrée de leurs favoris en MLS. Trois autocars avaient pris le départ de Montréal ce vendredi soir et roulé toute la nuit en direction du New Jersey, rejoints sur place par des Québécois venus par leurs propres moyens.

Si Manhattan n’a pas été marqué par son après-midi en ville, la délégation forte d’environ 200 supporters bien en voix s’est fait entendre au stade malgré sa large infériorité numérique. Jamais ils n’avaient été si nombreux à l’extérieur, eux qui soutiennent leurs couleurs en dehors de leurs bases depuis dix ans.

Heureux de leur prestation, les supporters Montréalais ont également été très présents visuellement et le kop bleu-blanc-noir a alterné entre la folie furieuse, lors des moments où leurs joueurs ont mené, et de périodes certes plus calmes mais toujours animées malgré le score.

Qualifié de « très bruyant » et de « génial » par des responsables de la MLS rencontrés à la mi-temps, le groupe de supporters de l’Impact semble aussi avoir fait bonne impression en haut lieu…

31 March 12:24 pm

Leave it to Jimmy Conrad to liven up media day, a normally subdued affair defined by the same five questions and lots of fringe players waiting patiently for someone -- anyone -- to meander over and stick a recorder in their face.

Conrad and the KickTV cameras made their way to Red Bulls media day a little more than a week ago to ask the hard-hitting questions normal journalists don't have the courage to ask. You know, things like whether Victor Palsson prefers yogurt or cereal. I won't give anything else away, other than to say Thierry Henry wasn't particularly amused by Jimmy's line of questioning. Seems to be a theme there.

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I had the pleasure of being on the other end of the microphone during media day a few years in Kansas City when Conrad was still knocking heads in MLS instead of cracking jokes in front of the camera. Let me tell you, it was nothing like this.

30 March 6:54 pm

Erik Soler wasn't kidding when he said he'd work to find a home for Luke Rodgers.

The English striker, who was denied a visa to ply his trade in the US on Friday, appears to be headed to Lillestrøm in Norway, according to reports in the Norwegian press.

"The Englishman has signed a contract that extends the season, and joins LSK from the tips of sports director Erik Soler."

Rodgers had 10 goals and three assists in 25 games across all competitions for RBNY last season.

30 March 6:03 pm

The US Olympic team may have crashed out of the CONCACAF Qualifying tournament earlier this week, but Kansas City is still going to be a happening place for soccer this weekend. And I'm not even talking about Mexico vs. Canada or Honduras vs. El Salvador.

I'm talking about Budweiser Poolball. If you haven't heard of it, which you probably haven't, check out the video below. As someone who enjoys the occasional game of pool and takes any opportunity to kick the ball around, this is a beautiful marriage of footy and nightlife entertainment. Kansas City had the good fortune of having a couple of these tables set up around the city on Thursday and Friday for the lucky residents to enjoy.

If you gave me a day to mess around on one of these tables, if that's the right term, without limit, I would ask for three. Seriously. It's that awesome. I'm sitting at my desk imagining trick shots, seeing-eye combos off the rails and chips cross table. The possibilities are literally endless.

Even more intriguing, what if MLS organized a Poolball tournament around All-Star Weekend? Who wouldn't want to watch Dwayne De Rosario and Graham Zusi go head to head? Thierry Henry vs. David Beckham?

30 March 5:33 pm

When adopted a new logo for the “Kick Off” series earlier this month, we didn’t expect a great deal of response from fans who wanted the mug back.

But after an outpouring of emotion and questions about where the mug had gone, we decided to reach out, and welcome back the mug. We’ve offered him his own blog series every Friday on to keep us posted on his activities since he retired.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Take a second, and imagine you’re on a beach. The soft, warm breeze drifting over your rim, gliding gently past your handle. The birds are singing, your lady mug friend is by your side, and there’s not a care in the world that can pry you away from the good things in life: sun-splashed afternoons, bottomless coffee, blissful retirement.

And then your phone rings. It’s those morons from, and they want you back. And not only that, but they want you to … wait for it… write a blog, so everyone knows what you’re doing with every waking second of your life.

You wanted me back? You got me. I appreciate all the lonely fans who pined for my return and I certainly understand your sentiment. Your mornings were better with me. I am awesome.

So what did I do this week? I came down to Nashville to catch some CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, and boy was it a drag. 

Anyway, it wasn’t the best of weeks. Not for me, not for anyone who watched that game. I’m just glad I didn’t have to greet everyone on Tuesday morning with the news that the US team isn’t going to the Olympics. Guess I’ll just watch badminton.

I’ll be back with another blog post sometime next week, but in the meantime you can follow me on Twitter. Oh really, you’re already on Twitter? Good for you. Follow me if you want to be cool.

30 March 4:40 pm

There are lots of things you can take away from this video, and I'd love to hear all about them in the comments section. I trust you all will keep it classy, civil, and good-natured.

For whatever reason, though, I honestly thought the most interesting part of this video was that for every red card Roger "Rojo" Espinoza accumulates this year, he owes the entire Sporting KC squad lunch.

I'll point out that this ultimatum was unilaterally imposed by one Kei Kamara, and is a little bit unfair because, despite his reputation, Roger got only one red card last year on a team where seven different players earned their marching orders in MLS play.

But oh, man, there are so many questions that come up, now. Does this deal include coaches, staff, front office people? What's Roger's favorite kind of food? If it's cuisine from his native Honduras, then how easy is it to get carne asada and coconut in Kansas City?

It's worth mentioning, by the way, that one of the tiebreakers for playoff berths this season is disciplinary points. At the rate SKC are going – 3-0-0 for those who just woke up from hibernation – it won't be an issue. But still...

Talk amongst yourselves.

30 March 2:26 pm

Check out the latest video from the guys at Kick, who on Thursday welcomed Claudio Reyna onto "The Mixer." The current youth technical director for US Soccer spoke to Jimmy Conrad about the US Under-23 team's failure during Olympic qualifying, the team's lack of competitiveness and what US Soccer needs to do to reach the next level.

30 March 11:17 am

Entre les équipes qui ont surpris la semaine dernière en quête de confirmation et les internationaux espoirs américains en quête de rédemption, l'optimisme sera une valeur recherchée lors de la quatrième journée de compétition.

Après son bon partage à Vancouver, DC United veut redevenir maître de son stade et remporter sa première victoire depuis le 25 septembre dernier. Dallas sera toutefois favori à Washington devant les caméras de NBC Sports Network, malgré une équipe chambardée par les blessures et les retours.

Samedi, les téléspectateurs canadiens seront gâtés. TSN et RDS diffuseront d’abord Toronto - Columbus, où l’on pourra voir si la demi-finale de Ligue des champions a laissé des séquelles chez les hommes d’Aron Winter, avant de nous montrer le déplacement à New York de Montréal dont l’équipe devrait être davantage remaniée que par le simple remplacement de Brovsky, suspendu. Dans le même temps, à Philadelphie, où on est enfin optimiste, Vancouver tentera de prolonger sa série de 276 minutes sans encaisser, son record en MLS.

En soirée, Salt Lake pourrait compter sur ses vétérans Morales et Saborio pour un déplacement toujours difficile à Portland. Malgré l’absence possible de Donovan, le LA Galaxy partira favori face à New England (direct NBC Sports Network et TSN2).

Dimanche, le leader Kansas City se déplacera à Chivas USA alors que Colorado tentera d’infliger sa première défaite à Chicago, devant les caméras de Galavision.

Vendredi 30 mars
19h30 : DC United - Dallas
Samedi 31 mars
14h00 : Toronto - Columbus
16h00 : New York - Montréal
16h00 : Philadelphie - Vancouver
22h00 : Seattle - San José
22h00 : Portland - Salt Lake
23h00 : LA Galaxy - New England
Dimanche 1er avril
19h00 : Colorado - Chicago
21h00 : Chivas USA - Kansas City

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