The irony will not be lost on D.C. United fans that without the help of their rivals, the LA Galaxy, there would probably have been no new investor announcement in DC.
New investor Jason Levien, one of the two additions to D.C.'s ownership group on Tuesday, talked about how it was a meeting with good friend and fellow Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Erick Thohir at a Galaxy match in Indonesia of all places, which led to the groundbreaking news for United fans.
Levien was in town for the 50th anniversary party thrown for Thohir's parents last November — "one for the ages," explained Levien — and it happened to be held the same week that the Galaxy made a stop on their Asian tour to face the Indonesian national team, a match set up by Thohir.
"We went to the game, the exhibition and that night we stayed up well into the night," Levien said. "And we really talked to each other and Erick had a strong conviction about soccer. And we shared a passion for it and a passion for MLS and having the opportunity through Major League Soccer to make a difference here in the United States.
"Through the late hours that night and the following days we sort of made a pact to do our best to try to invest in Major League Soccer," he continued. "Quickly our attention turned to Washington, D.C., and D.C. United."
The rest is history, as they say. And D.C. fans will always know they have the Galaxy to thank.
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.
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.
The 2012 Olympic Games are right around the corner, and although the US men's team won't be featuring in this year's soccer tournament, one of MLS' most recognizable figures just might be. (Not to forget the US and Canadian women, either.)
In a new video from KickTV, LA Galaxy star David Beckham talked about the pride his country is feeling when it comes to hosting the Olympic Games and expresses his hope that he might be able to represent the UK in one of the world's biggest sporting extravaganzas. He's also got a great quote about captaining the England national team, saying, "Captain of my country was one of the best and biggest things I've ever done in my career."
What do you think? Will Beckham make the Olympic squad? Does he have what hit takes to lead the UK to Olympic glory? Will you be following the Games, soccer tournament or otherwise?
Total Points – Dwayne De Rosario (89)
With Thierry Henry missing several weeks due to a hamstring injury, DeRo has taken over as the No. 1 player in Fantasy Soccer: Manager. He’s had a weeks of 10, 15 and 20 points, and his most recent point output was the most by a single player thus far in 2012. DeRo has 20+ more points than the next closest midfielder, making him a legitimate threat every week and a player you can build your team around.
Percentage Owned – Jay DeMerit (35.3)
DeMerit has been the most widely selected player in FS: M the entire season. Thirty-five percent of all managers currently have him on their roster. The second-closest player is Kenny Cooper (28 percent). At one point, DeMerit had the highest score of any defender, but lately he’s been slipping. D.C. United players Daniel Woolard and Brandon McDonald, Aurélien Colin, and even teammate Lee Young-Pyo have since leapfrogged DeMerit, so only time will tell if it’s his worldwide fame or his actual production that makes him the most “popular” player in MLS.
Crosses & Key Passes – Graham Zusi (33) & (34)
Zusi has calmed down slightly after a fast start, but his 33 crosses are still seven better than the next closest player. Three successful crosses equals one bonus point, so Zusi could’ve potentially gained an additional 11 points for his efforts thus far. He also leads the league in Key Passes (34) and has seven more than the next closest player in this category as well. Zusi should continue to be one of the most coveted midfielders due to his time on the ball and SKC’s all-out attack style offense.
Big Chances Fluffed – Dominic Oduro (7)
One of the fastest – if not the fastest – players in MLS has been a huge bust in 2012. In the four games in which Oduro has scored, he’s tallied six or more points each time. However, in every other game this season (eight games) he’s managed just two points or less. In his last seven games he’s put up one point or less on six different occasions. Oduro is getting great looks, but he’s missing every single one of them. He leads all players in BCFs and has been deducted seven points total because of it. At this point, he’s more of a risk than anything.
CBI’s – A.J. Soares (123)
My initial pick for Defender of the Year is not having a sophomore slump by any means. His 123 CBIs (clearances, blocks and interceptions combined) leads all players and he’ll likely widen the gap with two games coming up in Week 13. Only three other players have more than 100 CBIs and none of them will be under more pressure than Soares should the rest of the season. He’s an absolute ball shark, but has never really been a threat on set pieces. One can only hope that his recent goal will encourage Jay Heaps to push him up more often.
Recoveries – Osvaldo Alonso (136)
Disregarding goalkeepers, there’s a tight battle for the title of “the best second-ball winner” in MLS. Alonso currently leads Dax McCarty (133) by only three recoveries, but that’s pretty much his only competition. Kyle Beckerman has the third most with 100, and it looks as if his absence due to national team duty will only widen the margin. Alonso has gained 19 bonus points already from recoveries so expect him to keep this all season long.
Transfers In – Nick DeLeon (3,800+)
When David Estrada (3,500+ transfers) started cooling down, DeLeon became all the talk. The D.C. United rookie is currently the most added player with over 3,800 transfers. His value started at $5.5m and quickly made its way to $6.8m. Now that he’s back from injury don’t expect him to return to his previous form. When DeLeon was clicking, DeRo and Salihi were in a slump. Now that they’re back in form, expect DeLeon to take a back seat. He’s still valuable, but not as much as he was back in April.
Dream Team – Kenny Cooper (4)
No one has made the “Dream Team” more times this season than Kenny Cooper, but you have to credit Thierry Henry with helping him reach this point. Coop-dog has scored six or more points on nine different occasions in 2012, making him one of the most consistent forwards in MLS. He continued to put up numbers even when Henry was out, so look for him to only get better now that he’s returned.
You have an iPhone. You use it all the time. You sing songs to it. You need it. You love it. Maybe a little too much.
Maybe you sleep with it under your pillow. Maybe you grouse to it about your boss. Maybe you tell it about that one time in college when you... well, that's between you and Siri. Because Siri understands.
Siri also understands updates. She loves 'em. And we love 'em, too.
So here's the MLS iOS app update, which was just approved in the store.
Key new features:
- Condensed games for MLS live subscribers
- Enhanced highlight ui
- New live ui
- Bug fixes
Oh, and Android users? Your update is coming. Be patient.
Sent from my flip phone.
Après avoir regardé les problèmes défensifs du LA Galaxy cette saison, voyons ce qui ne fonctionne pas dans son jeu offensif, où plusieurs secteurs sont en panne.
Alors qu’il avait marqué près de la moitié de ses buts sur phase arrêtée (le tiers si on ne compte pas les penaltys) en 2011, le Galaxy n’a trouvé le chemin des filets qu’à deux reprises de la sorte cette saison : le coup franc direct de Beckham à Montréal et celui propulsé dans son propre but par Wynne à Colorado. Rien sur corner.
Même déduction pour les buts de la tête : 16 en 2011 (dont 10 passes décisives de Beckham) contre deux cette saison, et plus aucun depuis le 19 mars (vidéo ci-dessous) ! L’importance de l’Anglais dans ces phases est primordiale : a-t-il perdu son coup de patte ou ses partenaires ne parviennent-ils plus à en profiter ?
Ce n’est pas tout : l’an dernier, 20 buts de l'équipe étaient venus de la droite. Grâce à Beckham, mais aussi à Donovan, Barrett et Magee, voire Angel et Lopez. Cette année, elle n’a marqué que deux fois en passant par ce côté (ses deux seuls buts de la tête, avec donc la même impuissance depuis le 19 mars).
Ajoutons qu’en 2011, Los Angeles avait réussi à envoyer un joueur seul face au gardien adverse sur 10 de ses 55 buts. Cette année, ce n’est encore arrivé qu’une seule fois.
Nous sommes au tiers de la compétition et le LA Galaxy, impérial l’an dernier, pointe en fond de classement. Mais que se passe-t-il chez le champion en titre ?
Défensivement, il y a une grosse tache au dossier du club : quatre buts ont pour origine ce que les techniciens appellent la zone 4, c’est-à-dire le camp adverse. Cela représente 25% des buts encaissés par l’équipe, ce qui en fait la pire formation de MLS dans ce domaine. Trois d’entre eux le sont sur du kick and rush (long ballon sur lequel doivent se précipiter les attaquants, comme le but d'Arnaud à Montréal) : personne n’encaisse davantage sur cet aspect tactique.
Tout cela est à moitié nouveau pour le Galaxy. En effet, la saison dernière, il n’avait jamais encaissé suite à un kick and rush. En revanche, il faisait déjà partie des plus mauvais élèves de MLS sur les buts venus de la zone 4. Il y a donc là un problème structurel que doit résoudre l’entraîneur Bruce Arena.
L’autre aspect frappant des difficultés défensives du club, c’est la friabilité de son axe central. Alors que sur l’ensemble de la saison 2011, il n’avait encaissé que 3 buts venus de l’axe, il a déjà concédé 5 buts cette année de la sorte (dont trois originaires de la zone 4…)
LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was in Athens this week for the handover of the Olympic flame and helped fly it back to the UK as the build-up to the London Olympics cranks up a notch.
But he still doesn't know if he will be at the Olympics as a spectator or competitor, trying to bring home a gold medal for the host nation.
After much speculation and debate over his presence at the London 2012 Olympics, Beckham reiterated his strong hope that he will be wearing the Union Jack in his hometown this summer.
Beckham spoke openly in an exclusive interview with the BBC about his chances of making the final 18-man roster for Team GB’s Olympic soccer team. The man in charge of the Olympics in London, Lord Sebastian Coe, recently stated there is no pressure from his staff for Beckham to be selected for the games.
Beckham also agrees there should be no room for sentiment, stating he has never relied on sentiment in the past to make a squad or team:
"You don't play for a Manchester United team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson or an England or Real Madrid team managed by Fabio Capello and get picked on sentiment."
"I've been picked to play in many games over my career because of what I've achieved on the field and that doesn't change. I'm in good form, I've scored a couple of goals lately and I'm feeling fit and working hard. So yes, if I'm called upon of course I'm ready. I've always said I wanted to represent my country in any way, shape or form."
"I've done that for many years with England, and I hope to do that with the Great Britain team."
Team GB manager Stuart Pearce will be announcing his squad at the end of May, so Beckham has a few anxious days ahead of him.