American owners in the Premier League have a tendency to divide the opinions of even the most like-minded supporters.
Such is the case at Liverpool, where John W. Henry and Tom Werner's (pictured above) Fenway Sports Group are attempting to bring the club back into the English elite after a few disappointing seasons.
PHOTO GALLERY: John Henry at Liverpool training in Boston
On Thursday, I chatted with Mariner about a myriad of topics surrounding Saturday's friendly against the Reds at the Rogers Centre (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer/Sportsnet), including his thoughts on American owners in general as well as what was happening at Liverpool specifically.
Here is what he had to say:
“I’m a massive fan of North American ownership. Being around some fantastic owners in Robert and Jonathan Kraft [in New England] and now Larry Tanenbaum at MLSE, these guys are extremely wealthy people but they really care about the game. It’s similar to with [American players], there’s a certain stigma attached to American owners: ‘Oh, they don’t really know the game.’ They absolutely do know the game, the traditions, everything about what it means to take ownership of Liverpool Football Club. They know what it means to all the fans. They’re fantastic businessmen.
"If you look at what we have in MLS, it’s single entity and we’ve got the salary cap, which early on – I must admit – was laughed at a little bit by the European clubs. But with the advent with teams going into administration, like Glasgow Rangers which I never ever in a million years would have thought that they would be going into administration, they’re looking at the American model and thinking, ‘You know, this is not such a bad idea.’ When I would go to business conferences before I was head coach and I was director of player development, people would come to me and say, ‘You know, this business model that you’ve got, this salary cap, is not such a bad idea.” A lot of people are looking at this in a really serious way and saying this is a really good way to go. I know for a fact that Liverpool Football Club are in fantastic hands.”
Paul Mariner is tasked with slowing down Liverpool FC on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he isn't averse to sharing a few pointers with a fellow English No. 9.
Andy Carroll's future with the Reds may be in doubt – rumors have been swirling about his future under Brendan Rodgers, with a return to Newcastle gaining the most momentum – but Mariner didn't hold back when asked what advice he would give the 23-year-old striker.
A former England international and target forward back in his day, Mariner drew on his own experiences to identify a weak point in Carroll's game.
“I learned from a very early age that if you want to be successful at the highest level, you’ve got to be very consistent and you’ve got to have tremendous movement," Mariner told MLSsoccer.com. "In the old days, when defenders could come through the back of you, if you stood still, you were absolutely stupid because you wouldn’t last two minutes on the football pitch. You had to be constantly on the move.”
And how would Mariner apply that lesson with Carroll? As it turns out, with a little help from US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“Andy's an unbelievably imposing figure. He can strike fear in any defense. The one bit of advice that I would give Andy is that when he’s in the box I’ve noticed he’s just a bit static," Mariner said. "He’s got such tremendous ability. One of the greatest players that I saw in the modern era was Klinsmann. Klinnsman in the box was unbelievable.
"I remember one of the first goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday. He basically made a step in front of the defender, then stepped out, the ball was delivered and all of a sudden it was in the back of the net. I’m only talking about a yard or half a yard, not massive distances. You’ve just got to unsettle the defenders when the ball is coming into the box. If Andy was to do that, then he’s very difficult to stop.”
Of course, Toronto FC fans will hope Carroll doesn't heed that advice come Saturday afternoon.
If you haven't already, give this morning's OPTA Spotlight on Danny Koevermans and his contributions to Toronto FC over the past year a quick read.
Here are some diagrams (the first a plot of the result of each of his shots this season and the second a map of his shots on target) that show how Koevermans has scored each of his nine goals in 2012. As you can see, he's almost exclusively been a poacher that relies on proximity to goal rather than pinpoint finishing to be successful.
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Cette semaine, les trois mousquetaires de l’émission (à écouter ici) sont quatre, puisque Patrick Leduc, consultant sur la chaîne de télévision RDS, les accompagne pour un Coup Franc presque totalement consacré aux trois clubs canadiens :
- Tous ont fait le grand ménage : Montréal s’est départi de Braun, Wahl et Montaño, Toronto a envoyé De Guzman, Plata et Soolsma sous d’autres cieux, alors que Chiumiento et Le Toux ont quitté Vancouver. Lequel a réalisé les meilleures opérations ?
- Lequel des trois clubs est en meilleure posture, cette saison et à plus long terme ?
- Pourquoi le changement soudain de philosophie à Vancouver, qui prend un virage écossais ? Les amateurs de beau jeu doivent-ils s’inquiéter ?
- Martin Rennie est-il toujours maître à bord ?
- Toronto se portera-t-il mieux sans De Guzman ? Y attendait-on trop de lui ?
- La blessure de Koevermans n'est-elle finalement pas la plus grande perte pour le TFC ?
- Di Vaio n’a pas encore marqué pour Montréal (revoir sa grosse occasion à Philadelphie) : le doute s’installe-t-il ?
- Dans quelle logique s’inscrivent les récents départs à l’Impact ?
- Lequel des entraîneurs restera en poste le plus longtemps ?
- San José - Salt Lake : un sommet à sens unique.
De nombreuses questions auxquelles nous tentons de répondre, mais nous aimerions aussi recevoir votre opinion. N’hésitez pas à nous l’envoyer par courriel (coup.franc@MLSsoccer.com) ou sur Twitter (@CoupFrancMLS). N’oubliez pas non plus de nous envoyer vos compositions pour le générique de l’émission.
L'émission Coup Franc est disponible sur iTunes.
Julian de Guzman appears to be on his way out of Toronto after four years spent as one of the biggest names on the Reds’ roster.
Sportsnet in Canada is reporting that de Guzman has been traded to FC Dallas, although it’s unclear exactly what head coach Paul Mariner’s club will get in return for one of their three Designated Players.
De Guzman has appeared in 65 games for Toronto since signing as the first Designated Player in club history in 2009. Read the report here.
La finale de la Coupe des États-Unis, programmée de longue date à Kansas City, opposera le Sporting local à Seattle, triple tenant du titre. L’affiche rêvée !
Lors des demi-finales programmées ce mercredi, Kansas City s’est imposé 0-2 à Philadelphie, vengeant le cinglant 4-0 concédé en championnat il y a quelques semaines, alors que Seattle a confirmé son retour en forme en battant Chivas USA 4-1. Mais Sigi Schmid ne sera heureux qu’en cas de victoire lors de la finale, le 8 août. Rappelons que le vainqueur décrochera aussi un ticket pour la Ligue des champions 2013-2014.
La journée a également été très animée du côté nord de la frontière. On a commencé par des transferts : Davide Chiumiento quitte Vancouver pour le FC Zurich, Justin Braun rejoint Salt Lake et quitte Montréal qui s’est renforcé avec l’arrière gauche suisse Dennis Iapichino, alors que Toronto se sépare de Nick Soolsma et prête Joao Plata.
En soirée, le duel entre les Ontariens et leurs compatriotes du Pacifique a eu des allures de feu d’artifice (résumé vidéo complet). Le marquoir indiquait 2-1 à la fin du temps réglementaire, avant que Mattocks n’égalise de la tête suite à une détente digne de la NBA. Mais tard dans les arrêts de jeu, Dunfield a offert les trois points au TFC.
Joao Plata was at the "White House" on Friday afternoon and his former club in Toronto couldn't seem any farther away.
Although there has been no official word from Toronto FC, the Reds fan favorite was holding up a Liga de Quito jersey in a press conference held at the Ecuadorian club's Casa Blanca, where reports indicate he will remain through the end of the year.
Plata returned to Ecuador earlier this week unbeknownst to TFC, who were expecting him to show up to practice earlier this week although they admit they were investigating a potential loan deal with his former club.
The 20-year-old did not appear under new Toronto manager Paul Mariner, who took over for Aron Winter, and Plata told FutbolMLS.com earlier this week that he did not figure in the Englishman's plans.
But they were happy to have him in Ecuador, if this photo from Friday is any indication.
— Jonni Martinez (@DJJonniM) July 6, 2012
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.
Nous sommes le 27 juin, date importante puisque c’est l’ouverture de ce qu’on appelle communément le mercato, c’est-à-dire la période de transferts de mi-saison. Dès aujourd’hui, et jusqu’au 27 juillet, les 19 équipes de MLS peuvent se renforcer avec des joueurs évoluant à l’étranger.
Certaines n’ont pas attendu avant d’annoncer l’arrivée de nouveaux éléments, mais ceux-ci ne pouvaient pas jouer en match officiel avant aujourd’hui. C’est le cas notamment de Jairo Arrieta (Columbus), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston) et Marco Di Vaio (Montréal). Philadelphie a aussi annoncé l’arrivée de l’international malien Bakary Soumare.
Quelles équipes ont selon vous besoin de renfort, et à quelle position ? Qui peut d’ores et déjà s’en servir pour préparer 2013 plutôt que pour réussir 2012 ? Quels joueurs désignés joindront les rangs de la MLS dans les prochaines semaines ?
Le premier à l’œuvre sera Di Vaio, puisque Montréal affronte Toronto dès ce soir (19h30). Une raison parmi d’autres de se déplacer au stade Saputo. Selon l’Impact, le TFC est un « ours qui dort ». Va-t-il marquer quatre buts à domicile pour une troisième fois consécutive face à un adversaire qui se cherche un leader en défense ?
Notez pour conclure que les belles histoires des équipes de divisions inférieures ont pris fin hier en Coupe des États-Unis, dont les demi-finalistes sont Philadelphie, Kansas City, Chivas USA et Seattle.