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.
Dave Wangerin, author of Soccer in a Football World and Distant Corners: American Soccer’s History of Missed Opportunities and Lost Causes, died on Friday, June 29, 2012.
I never knew David Wangerin, but I feel like I did.
His life story is eerily familiar: born in the Midwest, in love with writing, fascinated by soccer’s rich and woefully overlooked history in America.
His articles for When Saturday Comes and his 2006 book, Soccer in a Football World were — and remain — required reading for anyone in the US soccer scene. His regular appearances on various podcasts were always enjoyable.
Wangerin chronicled soccer here from its immigrant beginnings through the 1970s disco heyday of the NASL to the launch and slow rise of MLS. It was all part of his story.
Sadly, we will only be able to imagine the stories he might have told about the future of the game he loved.
What some of my colleagues have said:
RIP David Wangerin, US soccer history expert, who wrote the excellent book "Soccer In A Football World"
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 30, 2012
Enormously sad to hear about the passing of David Wangerin, author of the wonderful "Soccer In A Football World". Far, far too soon.
— Tom Dunmore (@pitchinvasion) June 30, 2012
We picked out a few of our favorites, below. Like them? Hate them? Think you could do better? Get over to Facebook and prove it.
Tune in to the San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy game tonight, June 30, at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN2 and find out which fans got it right.
Take a look at what the clubs have been doing in the community this week in the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Weekly Club Highlights:
For more community news around the League, visit the MLS W.O.R.K.S. news section.
KICK TV seems to be everywhere these days, so it's no surprise that they managed to get Chelsea star Salomon Kalou in front of the camera talking about Steve Nash's recent Showdown in Chinatown and his future in game.
Check out the video to hear what he has to say about MLS.
Ah, le calendrier est bien fait ! Le duel San José - LA Galaxy, toujours très attendu en Californie, tombe à un moment où les deux équipes sont en forme. De quoi prévoir un grand match samedi soir (direct RDS2, ESPN et ESPN Deportes). Le leader craint Landon Donovan comme la peste alors que le champion en titre vise un quatrième succès consécutif.
Cette journée de compétition commence dès ce soir, avec Kansas City - Chicago sur les ondes de NBC Sports Network. Les visiteurs sont dans leur meilleure période de la saison, le Sporting doit une revanche à ses supporters après la claque à Philadelphie.
New York, où Thierry Henry prend la défense de Rafa Marquez sous le feu des critiques, doit obtenir un bon résultat à Toronto dont les attaquants ont enfin trouvé le chemin du but. Ce sera à suivre sur Galavision.
Après un mois sans jouer à domicile, DC United retrouve ses supporters pour la venue de Montréal, dernière équipe à lui avoir pris des points des points sur le terrain. L’équipe de la capitale américaine se méfie particulièrement du trio Warner - Bernier - Felipe.
Notons enfin que des têtes pourraient tomber à Seattle en cas de nouveau mauvais résultat à New England.
LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Vendredi 29 juin
20h00 : Kansas City - Chicago
Samedi 30 juin
19h00 : Toronto - New York
19h30 : New England - Seattle
19h30 : DC United - Montréal
20h00 : Columbus - Salt Lake
20h30 : Houston - Philadelphie
21h00 : Colorado - Portland
22h00 : San José - LA Galaxy
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
Thanks to KickTV, this blog post is your one-stop shop for the salient highlights from the annual American soccer tradition that is the Steve Nash "Showdown in Chinatown."
When you're done watching all four videos, tell us which highlight you enjoyed most.
1. Steve Nash gets abused by ex-Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers:
2. Elton Brand with a stomach-turning whiff:
3. Jimmy Conrad shows them how it's done:
4. Mike Dunleavy, Jr. takes it like a man - in the face:
Ils sont nombreux à avoir la gueule de bois au réveil ce jeudi. Et pour cause… À chacun sa mauvaise nouvelle.
À Montréal, on ne comprend toujours pas comment on a pu s’incliner 0-3 contre Toronto. Et dire qu’on avait prévu une grande fête pour les débuts de Marco Di Vaio ! Selon Jesse Marsch, la volonté était dans le camp visiteur. À Toronto, Paul Mariner peut enfin célébrer une première victoire. Parmi les spectateurs, un certain Alessandro Nesta : s’il a été vu avec les dirigeants de l’Impact, on le cite de plus en plus en Ontario.
Autre malheureux du jour, David Beckham : il n’a pas été sélectionné pour les Jeux olympiques de Londres. C’était le dernier grand objectif de sa carrière, il espérait même porter le brassard de capitaine de la sélection britannique.
Je vous parlais hier de l’ouverture de la période des transferts de mi-saison. Comme chaque équipe a un nombre de places limité dans son effectif, si elle veut attirer des renforts, elle doit souvent commencer par dégrossir ses rangs. Ainsi, plusieurs joueurs ont fait la moue à Chicago, New England et Columbus quand ils ont appris que leur club ne comptait plus sur eux.
Allez, après la pluie vient le beau temps !
Some MLS clubs spend years searching long, far and wide in the hope they finally find one. And even then, it's no sure thing.
Just scan the league. How many foreign No. 10 playmakers are out there? How many are panning out?
And yet here we are with a few days remaining until Sebastián Grazzini's contract option is up with the Chicago Fire and the club still hasn't taken a definitive stance on whether they're bringing him back.
Little do the Fire know that they actually hit the jackpot. They have on their hands a left-footed, creative genius, in many ways reminiscent of D.C. United legend Marco Etcheverry, capable of great passes and great goals who has proven a great fit in MLS and with the Fire since the very first day.
If we're going to be picky, Grazzini's problem is that he landed in MLS a year or two late. His age (31) and his lack of name recognition hurt his cause. In fact, if Grazzini disappeared from the league, it's possible few would even take notice. He's only featured in 25 total MLS matches with little national exposure.
But even with all that, Grazzini is a keeper.
We don't know the details of his fitness levels and we don't understand what personality quirks there might exist with the Argentine. But no one can dispute his productivity. Seven goals and nine assists in 25 matches (across two seasons) would make for an All-Star season for most players. His five assists in 2012 are already better than Brad Davis and equal to maestro David Beckham.
What makes the Grazzini situation bizarre is that Chicago's playing style actually depends on having a real No. 10, who can maneuver down the middle of the field. Dominic Oduro needs Grazzini's service. Patrick Nyarko benefits from his vision.
The Fire were never the same after Cuauhtémoc Blanco left and it will be deja-vu all over again if they don't bring Grazzini back.