North American soccer fans have heard it a thousand times from countless different voices, from FIFA boss Sepp Blatter on down: If you want to be a serious league on the world stage, move to a fall-spring schedule like everyone else (by which they actually mean Western Europe, of course).
This argument shrugs off a range of important factors behind MLS and other leagues’ choice of a spring-fall alignment, but perhaps the most important one is the simple fact that it can get awfully cold and snowy in places like Montreal, Chicago and New England every winter.
As it turns out, some people across the pond have taken note of this obvious fact, too, including one of the most powerful men in German soccer.
Namely Karl-Heinze Rummenigge, the chairman at Bayern Munich as well as the chair of the European Club Association, a lobbying group for more than 200 of Europe’s biggest clubs.
"Everywhere, be it Germany, France or England, summer is the best period of the year. And that is the season we don't play,'' Rummenigge told France Football magazine for its latest issue. "In deepest winter, when it is very cold and snowing, we play nearly all the time in conditions that are disagreeable for both players and spectators. It is not logical.
"My sense is that we are heading straight in this direction,” he added. “It's completely possible, even if this idea does not thrill our friends in South America.”
Laying out a future in which European leagues open in January and run until the fall, he predicted that the change would make for more pleasant conditions for both players and supporters and even help reduce the conflict between club and international soccer by leaving a month-long window for national-team play.
"In future, there could be two phases: one for club competitions, the other for qualifying matches or finals of the World Cup or the Euros,'' Rummenigge said. "For one month, national teams would be completely free to call up their players.''
That would also help resolve the looming problem caused by FIFA’s selection of Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup, allowing the desert nation to host the world’s biggest sporting event during the mild Middle Eastern winter.
Skeptical reactions from ECA and FIFA officials underlined the difficulties of making this sweeping change to the current status quo. But Stateside soccer folks can take heart from the news that Europe’s elite might actually be coming around to our way of doing things this time.
"It is clear that there will soon be negotiations to examine what can be done. My point of view is that an eventual change to the calendar shouldn't be viewed critically but more as an innovation that could improve the general context,'' Rummenigge said. "Changing the calendar carries risks but it is also an opportunity. The issue of the calendar will become more important the closer 2022 gets.''
Thierry Henry simply can't be stopped.
Even though the quality isn’t great, this video of Henry in Brazil shows why he is truly one of the best in Major League Soccer.
We're sure Red Bull fans hope Henry brings some of those quick tricks back to New York for the 2013 season.
The National Women’s Soccer League has released the list of 55 American, Canadian and Mexican players that will be allocated to the eight clubs in the newly formed league. Club assignments will be announced on Friday, January 11.
“The allocation will provide each club with a foundation of talent to build a competitive roster," said NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey. "Ultimately, the goal is to pair the teams and players in such a way that we achieve a fair distribution of talent across all eight teams.”
To ensure the teams are as balanced as possible, each club will be assigned two Canadian national team players, two Mexican national team players, and all clubs but one will receive three US women’s national team players. The inaugural season is set to kickoff this spring.
Here’s the list of available players:
Pos., Player Name
GK, Nicole Barnhart
M, Shannon Boxx
D, Rachel Buehler
M, Lauren Cheney
GK, Ashlyn Harris
M, Tobin Heath
D, Ali Krieger
D, Amy LePeilbet
F, Sydney Leroux
M, Lori Lindsey
M, Carli Lloyd
GK, Jill Loyden
D, Heather Mitts
F, Alex Morgan
D, Kelley O'Hara
M, Heather O'Reilly
D, Christie Rampone
M, Megan Rapinoe
F, Amy Rodriguez
D, Becky Sauerbrunn
GK, Hope Solo
F, Abby Wambach
M, Keelin Winters
Pos., Player Name
D, Alina Lisi Garciamendez Rowold
M, Veronica Raquel Perez Murillo
M, Teresa Noyola Bayardo
F, Maribel Dominguez Castelan
F, Monica Ocampo Medina
GK, Aurora Cecilia Santiago Cisneros
M, Lydia Nayeli Rangel Hernandez
F, Renae Nicole Cuellar Cuellar
M, Teresa Guadalupe Worbis Aguilar
F, Anisa Raquel Guajardo Braff
M, Dinora Lizeth Garza Rodriguez
D, Jennifer Marie Ruiz Brown
D, Luz del Rosario Saucedo Soto
D, Rubi Marlene Sandoval Nungaray
GK, Pamela Tajonar Alonso
D, Marylin Viridiana Diaz Ramirez
Pos., Player Name
D, Melanie Booth
D, Robyn Gayle
M, Kaylyn Kyle
GK, Karina LeBlanc
M/F, Adriana Leon
M, Diana Matheson
D/M, Bryana McCarthy
GK, Erin McLeod
D, Carmelina Moscato
M/F, Jodi-Ann Robinson
M, Sophie Schmidt
M, Desiree Scott
D, Lauren Sesselmann
F, Christine Sinclair
D, Rhian Wilkinson
D, Emily Zurrer
If you didn’t catch the trailer for American Football after it was accidentally posted in November, it's time to fire up that internet connection and block out six-and-a-half minutes.
The trailer is for an unfinished feature documentary on the Seattle Sounders FC, produced by Levy Films. And, well, the footage is incredible, truly capturing the beauty of the sport. It was shot in a way that makes you feel like you're part of the team – you hear personal struggles from some of the Sounders squad and are even witness to a post-game schooling from head coach Sigi Schmid.
It’s an intimate look at the Seattle Sounders and will surely leave you wanting more. That is, unless you're a diehard Timbers or 'Caps fan.
Hopefully, Levy Films will finish the full doc soon, but it looks like the 2013 MLS season might kickoff before the film. But it seems it will be well worth the wait.
As we slowly build up to Major League Soccer's 18th season – a scary thought, especially since MLS Cup still feels like such a recent event, for me at least – it's worth taking a look back at how it all started. Rest assured, the goings-on weren't always quite so polished.
Take, for example, the first signing in league history. US Soccer is counting down its top 100 moments as part of the federation's centennial celebration and included an interesting anecdote from president Sunil Gulati about what it took to bring national team star Tab Ramos to MLS. The league and US Soccer wanted Ramos – an national team player with Hispanic heritage and attacking flare – to help give the league an initial foothold with fans as well as other Americans playing abroad.
He certainly helped with both those aims, but when he committed his future to MLS, there wasn't even contract to put pen to paper on. I'll let Gulati explain.
“He was going to sign with Tigres, and what we decided at the very last moment was why not have a handshake to sign with MLS, and we would loan him to Tigres,” Gulati told USsoccer.com. “The league wasn't far enough along to have a contract or a standard player agreement or any of that, so it was just a handshake.”
Just a handshake. Imagine suggesting that to the current crop of agents stocking teams these days. You'd get laughed out of the room.
But after a year-and-a-half with Tigres UANL, Ramos kept his end of the bargain, ending up with his hometown MetroStars for the next seven seasons. It wasn't always smooth sailing – cue Red Bulls fans simultaneously nodding their heads and silently weeping – but Ramos became a pioneer in a league that he helped put on the map.
To think, all it took was a handshake and the belief that professional soccer in the US was worth the commitment.
“I was excited to come home and start a new experience,” Ramos said. “It was coming home and there was the draw of playing at Giants Stadium, where I had watched the Cosmos play and where I practiced with the Cosmos 10 years before. All those things were really important to me. Obviously, having my family here as well.
“And it was fun. It was fun drawing the big crowds the first couple of years. It was fun driving to the stadium, just to be part of the whole thing. It really truly felt like we had a professional league at home and it was going to stick.”
You may have seen this video already. If so, go ahead and watch it again. It really is that incredible.
Most people won't ever pull off something this perfect on a soccer field in their lifetime. Then again, most people aren't this cameraman, who somehow backheeled a long clearance out of bounds directly to the player tasked with taking the ensuing throw in. Oh yeah, he also did it on the fly and without taking his hands off the camera. Talk about foot-eye coordination.
Ho hum! Back to work.
More than 1,700 miles separate Houston and Newton, Conn., but the Dynamo aren't concerned with distance as they do their part to support a grieving community in the wake of unimaginable tragedy.
On Friday, Houston announced they were partnering with the Quinnipiac University soccer program and the Connecticut Football Club to host "Soccer Night in Newtown" on Monday, January 7. Dynamo president and Guilford, Conn., native Chris Canetti is leading the charge, using his connections in his new home to provide a much-needed distraction for those affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Soccer is a big part of the Newtown community, and we thought it would be a great idea to give the kids a chance to have some fun playing a game they love alongside some of America's top professional players and some of the area's top collegiate players," Canetti said in a statement. "I hope this event can be a diversion from some of the harsh realities facing their world and provide an opportunity to create positive lifelong memories."
Forward Brian Ching, midfielders Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis, defender Corey Ashe and goalkeeper Tally Hall will all make the trip to Newton to sign autographs and participate in soccer-themed activities at the free event. Houston also opened an auction to benefit the United Way's Sandy Hook School Support Fund, and prizes includes a trip for two to see the Dynamo play a 2013 home game at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.
There isn't much to say other than 'Well done, Dynamo." At times like these, we're all in it together, and Houston's attitude toward tragedy is a lesson to us all.
The San Diego Sockers indoor soccer team made US sporting history recently by winning 43 consecutive games. Sounds pretty incredible, huh? Not everyone is impressed, though.
You may remember Peter Wilt, the first president and general manager of the Chicago Fire and a veteran of the indoor soccer world. Needless to say, Wilt doesn't seem particularly enamored with the Sockers' record, one he views as built on the back of subpar competition.
@FOXSoccer & the Globetrotters have won how many in a row? If SD Sockers would dare to play a real team in a real league, streak would end.
— Andrew Wiebe (@AndrewWiebe_MLS) December 22, 2012
San Diego plays in the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), a competitor to the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), which plays underneath the USL banner. Perhaps someone can enlighten me when it comes to the differences in the comments section below.
I'm actually pretty familiar with the indoor game – my grandmother and aunt had season tickets to Wichita Wings games back in the day, and I actually took in a match between the recently revived Wings and the Kansas City Comets on Friday night – but I'm certainly no expert these days.
So could this record be bogus, a mark fueled by a sizable talent gap? Sure, but it's still impressive nonetheless. Even the best teams struggle to string together five wins in a row, let alone 43.
MLS "haters" be forewarned: The latest edition of Jimmy Conrad's American Soccer Spectacular pulls no punches.
And if you love great goals, well, there's that too.
Pour le dernier Coup Franc de 2012 (à écouter ici), nous vous avons préparé une émission spéciale de fin d’année (ou fin du monde, c’est selon). Plusieurs intervenants récurrents sont au rendez-vous : Frédéric Lord, Matthias Van Halst, Olivier Tremblay, Olivier Brett, Patrick Leduc et Patrice Bernier. Au programme :
- Quel avenir pour l’Impact de Montréal ? L’effectif actuel est-il suffisamment armé pour mieux se classer en 2013 ? Sinon, quels renforts recruter et à quels postes effectuer des changements ? Y a-t-il assez de joueurs de premier plan dans le noyau ? Quelle place pour les jeunes du club dans le groupe en 2013 ?
- On discute du futur entraîneur de Montréal. Martin Andermatt est-il un candidat sérieux ? Qu’ont à gagner des entraîneurs ayant son profil en venant en MLS ?
- Petit détour outre-Atlantique pour parler du club de l’année : le FC Barcelone. Faut-il l’imiter, et comment ? Est-ce possible avec moins d’argent ? Que vaut vraiment son école de jeunes ? Un entrejeu surpeuplé sans attaquant de pointe : une nouvelle norme ? Qu’est-ce qui est le plus impressionnant dans son jeu ? Combien de temps son hégémonie va-t-elle se poursuivre ?
- Nouvel opus du club de lecture. Olivier Tremblay a épluché « Nobody Ever Says Thank You », une biographie du très coloré Brian Clough signée Jonathan Wilson… et plus précise que l’autobiographie du principal intéressé.