UPDATE: Big thanks to reddit for another great opportunity today. If you missed Howard Handler's AMA, you can check it out here.
Get your questions ready, MLS fans.
From 5-6pm ET tonight, Howard Handler, Major League Soccer’s Chief Marketing Officer, will host a unique AMA on reddit. Users are offered access to an executive privy to the League’s marketing and communications strategy, digital platforms, events, and club services. Click here to join in.
Unlike most AMAs, Howard’s thread will be posted before the AMA officially begins – at around 4:30pm ET – to give everyone a chance to input their questions early.
Handler was recently profiled in SportsBusiness Journal and featured in article by Roger Bennett in the summer of 2012 for ESPN.com
Before joining MLS in January 2012, Handler worked for companies like MSG Entertainment, the NFL and MTV.
Check out past MLS AMAs here, and don't forget to join in later on today:
- Chris Schlosser, Vice President, MLS Digital
- Matt Doyle, MLSsoccer.com's Armchair Analyst
- Greg Lalas, Editor-in-Chief of MLSsoccer.com
- Sean Franklin, former MLS Rookie of the Year and right back for the LA Galaxy
Round 2 of the 2013 MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager season brought most of the teams feeling somewhat invincible after Week 1 back down to reality. Six games were decided by two points or less in the ExtraTime Experts League this round and the No. 1 spot now belongs to someone else; a guy who knows a thing or two about scoring in MLS.
TheCrew.com's Ashleigh Ignelzi (Iggy FC) was the top scorer after Round 1, but was on upset alert in Round 2 when she matched up against beIN Sport’s Ian Joy (Optajoy). The match came down to the final game of the week, with Chris Wondolowski (captain) temporarily sealing the deal for Joy by the narrowest of margins 41-40. Ignelzi would’ve dropped further but a stat correction earned her a draw; 40-40. Either way, Roy Miller is partially at fault for this.
Nine of the 24 teams are still undefeated with six teams sitting at a perfect 2-0-0. Grant Wahl (Mass Confrontation), formerly known as Danny Szetela's Afro, and ESPN's Marc Connolly (Bad Idea Jeans) each won their key matchups and remain undefeated at 2-0-0 heading into Round 3.
Taylor Twellman (ThinkTaylor) and Jason Saghini (Newborn FC) won their matches and improve to 2-0-0 as well. Twellman’s 139 total points makes him the overall leader going into his Round 3 matchup against Americansoccernow.com's Jon Godfrey. But when asked for a comment regarding his performance so far, the former MLS striker had very little to say;
"No Comment…I don’t want to ruin my fantasy mojo with words."
Foxsoccer.com’s Kyle McCarthy (Undisclosed Terms) almost got his first win but The Shinguardian, Matthew Tomaszewicz (FC Fuzzy Bunny) left him with yet another loss; 43-42. MLS pundit Jonathan Yardley (Fort Nonsense SC) got a one-point win over ESPN's Max Bretos (COLOTERORITA) 53-52. Unfortunately for MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas (Tesla’s Revenge) and Simon Borg (Borgussia Borgmund), as well as Soccer By Ives' Ives Galarcep (SBI United), they all fell to 0-2-0, along with my opponent, MLSsoccer.com’s Dan Haiek (DanBROse Earthquakes). Simon Borg commented on the current situation of his team;
"After a really productive Week 1 (71 points), I decided to bite the bullet in Week 2 with both the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo having Champions League byes. Although I have five players from those two clubs, I refused to use the Wild Card this early and suffered the consequences (34 points). But no one's running away with anything after Week 2, so Borgussia Borgmund is still feeling good.”
For all the latest news and advice regarding MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager follow @MLSFantasy.
Key Matchups in Round 3
Upset Alert in Round 3
Il n’y a pas eu de miracle pour Houston qui, comme ses prédécesseurs, a vu ses rêves s’envoler sur le terrain de Santos Laguna, s’y inclinant 3-0. Le LA Galaxy, en revanche, a battu Herediano 4-1 et s’est qualifié pour les demi-finales de la Ligue des champions.
Fort de son avance d’un but à l’aller, Houston comptait sur son expérience défensive, mais c’est là que l’équipe a péché à Torréon. En milieu de première mi-temps, Creavalle a confondu soccer et judo dans le rectangle, offrant à l’équipe locale un penalty converti par Rodriguez. Une mésentente entre Hall, sorti loin de son but, et Boswell, a ensuite permis à Herculez Gomez de faire 2-0. Un but aurait suffi aux Texans pour passer, mais c’est Crosas, oublié au petit rectangle, qui a trouvé le fond des filets pour porter la marque à 3-0 (résumé vidéo).
Dans l’autre match, il a fallu à peine plus d’un quart d’heure pour voir les Californiens prendre l’avance lorsque Gonzalez a repris un corner victorieusement de la tête. Dès lors, les Costariciens devaient courir après le score : ils se sont créé des occasions, sans les concrétiser, mais ont aussi laissé des espaces. Villareal, couvert d’éloges à la fin de la soirée, en a profité pour doubler la marque d’un beau tir à distance placé, avant que Keane ne creuse encore plus l’écart. Aguilar a réduit la marque avant que McBean ne fixe les chiffres à 4-1 (résumé vidéo).
Les demi-finales opposeront le LA Galaxy à Monterrey et Seattle à Santos Laguna. Les deux équipes américaines joueront le match aller à domicile, la première semaine d’avril. Peuvent-elles nous offrir une finale 100% MLS ?
Seattle - Tigres UANL a été un match d’anthologie. Battus 1-0 au match aller et menés 0-1 à la mi-temps, les hommes de Sigi Schmid ont renversé la vapeur pour s’imposer 3-1 et se qualifier pour les demi-finales de la Ligue des champions.
Comme à l’aller, Gspurning a multiplié les arrêts de grande classe en début de rencontre, mais ne put rien quand Hernandez s’est présenté seul face à lui (0-1). On avait à peine passé la demi-heure que certains Mexicains commençaient déjà à jouer la montre. Mal en prit à Viniegra, qui reçut son second carton jaune juste avant la mi-temps.
À onze contre dix, Seattle y a cru tant et plus et a tout tenté après la pause. Difficile de s’approcher du but adverse ? Alors, il faut tirer de loin : Yedlin et Traoré n’ont pas hésité et ont décoché deux superbes frappes (regardez le résumé ci-dessus, elles en valent vraiment la peine) pour porter la marque à 2-1. Il manquait encore un but aux Américains pour se qualifier, Johnson l’a inscrit à un quart d’heure de la fin.
Pour la deuxième fois depuis que la compétition porte le nom de Ligue des champions, un club mexicain est éliminé par une formation étrangère (la première, c’était dans la phase de groupes cette saison). Après le match, le vestiaire local transpirait de joie et de fierté.
Au tour suivant, Seattle affrontera le vainqueur du duel Santos Laguna - Houston. Battus 1-0 à l’aller, les Mexicains tenteront de renverser la vapeur ce soir (20h00 HE) dans leur antre redoutable de Torréon contre des Texans qui comptent sur leur expérience en défense.
Dans l’autre match d’hier, le tenant du titre Monterrey a concédé le nul 1-1 contre les Guatémaltèques de Xelajú (résumé vidéo) mais, fort de sa victoire 1-3 à l’aller, s’est facilement qualifié pour les demi-finales. Il s’y mesurera au vainqueur de LA Galaxy - Herediano (ce soir 22h00 HE). Après le 0-0 de l’aller, les Californiens devront marquer devant leur public mais veilleront surtout à ne pas encaisser.
L’accord entre la Major League Soccer et la Fédération Française de Football se matérialise concrètement puisque les formateurs de MLS ont déjà suivi leur première session de cours à Clairefontaine. L’émission Coup Franc de la semaine (à écouter ici) s’y intéresse de près :
- Fred Lipka, qui fait le lien entre les deux entités, nous explique son rôle, la genèse de cet accord, la manière dont la MLS a évalué ses besoins, les demandes spécifiques qu’elle a formulées et les caractéristiques du programme développées exprès pour elle.
- Le représentant de l’Impact de Montréal qui suit cette formation, Wilfried Nancy, nous parle de sa première session de cours en France, de l’approche pédagogique auprès des jeunes joueurs ou encore du décalage entre l’Europe et la MLS.
On parle évidemment aussi de l’actualité, et notamment des faits suivants :
- Le but de Kobayashi ou celui de Camara : lequel est le plus beau ?
- La faute de main de Roy Miller qui a mené au penalty pour San José
- Les déclarations de Thierry Henry sur « le besoin d’enseigner à ses coéquipiers »
- Faut-il déjà remettre en question le rendement de Marco Di Vaio ?
- L’arrivée d’Obafemi Martins à Seattle
- La Semaine des rivalités
N’oubliez pas non plus ce soir (22h00 HE) le match Seattle - Tigres UANL, quart de finale retour de Ligue des champions (victoire 1-0 des Mexicains à l’aller).
Last Thursday our new weekly MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager show "Starting Lineup" kicked off. We'll be back again to give you another episode this week and every week from here on out. MLS Experts Jason Saghini and Andrew Wiebe will be answering some of your questions, so if you're having trouble figuring out who to start, who to pick up, who to drop or just a general question about the game let us know. We're here to talk fantasy soccer, plain and simple!
As the season picks up, you'll want to get as much insight as possible so that you can field your optimal team each round. Who will be sitting out due to suspensions? What will happen with this player now that he has been traded? And the popular question this week -- Will Obafemi Martins be available to pick up before the rosters lock for Round 3? And if so, how much will he cost? We'll be answering that and several others, so tune in and check it out this Thursday on MLSsoccer.com.
Post your questions in the comments section below or tweet them to @MLSFantasy, the offical MLS twitter account for all things FS:M related. And if for some reason you missed the first episode of the Starting Lineup last week check it out above.
Oh, yes, this is good. This is very, very good.
We already knew FC Dallas had the slow jams on lock, we know now they do commercials, too.
For just four easy payments of $19.99, you can be the proud owner of the FCD 4-4-2 Orange Obliteration System, ridding your life of the mess that comes from crushing the orange. Unbeatable value.
Missed the weekend action? Couldn't watch all the matches? Get your fill with a weekend edition of the Smorgasborg:
CANADIAN SWEEP: It was one of the main themes of the weekend as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto all won. But is it just a coincidence that the three Canadian teams have won all of their matches thus far in 2013 (except for Toronto, who lost to fellow Canadian side Vancouver on opening weekend)?
Here's an attempt at an explanation: One common thread that runs through all three teams is that they feature an above-average number of starters with experience playing outside the US and Canada. This past weekend, Vancouver fielded an MLS-high nine of 10 starting field players who have spent time abroad while Toronto and Montreal are right behind with eight of 10 starting field players. The league average for players with overseas seasoning in a single MLS starting lineup: 5.
COOL MOVE: Jay DeMerit, the Vancouver Whitecaps captain who suffered an Achilles injury last week, led his team out of the tunnel on against the Columbus Crew. On crutches.
LINEUP QUESTION: A second look at Colorado Rapids midfielder Kevin Harbottle doesn't convince me that he brings more to the table wide left than second-year player Tony Cascio. This Colorado team, which has played well over 180 minutes, needs a player who can knife through a defense, cause havoc and especially shoot on goal. Harbottle has a single shot (none on frame) in two matches.
KEY INJURIES: Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni pulled up lame after nine minutes with a left hamstring strain. Eddie Gaven apparently rolled his ankle in Crew training and wasn't on the squad. D.C.'s John Thorrington is getting an MRI on his knee and Fire manager Frank Klopas revealed that Chris Rolfe has a muscle issue that is affecting his knee.
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: It's the point of view that only a former player can share. After Mastroeni left the match, Altitude color analyst and US soccer legend Marcelo Balboa: "Been there, done that. You start digging your hand in right underneath the glute where the hamstring attaches becuase you just want to see if it's tight." His best line came five minutes later when he impressed upon viewers the need for players to stick to their assignment when asked to guard the post on a corner kick: "You do not leave the post. ... I'm going to go back to my Top Gun. Don't leave your wingman."
DEFENSIVE GAFFES: These three defenders may very well be in the running for Defender of the Year by the time the season ends, but the Crew's Gláuber (Kenny Miller's goal), FC Dallas center back George John (Oswaldo Minda's strike) and Sporting's Matt Besler (Robert Earnshaw's first) all had plays that could be in the running for Gaffe of the Year this weekend.
GOALKEEPER FOLLIES: The defenders are not the only ones who should be put under the microscope. Goalkeepers have had their share of mishaps. One week after an error by backup 'keeper Steward Ceus cost the Rapids big time, first-string 'keeper Matt Pickens made a killer error of his own on the Union's first goal. Crew netminder Andy Gruenebaum was caught way off his line on the Goal of the Week candidate from Daigo Kobayashi. And Philadelphia's Zac MacMath probably should have reacted better to Jamie Smith's equalizer in Colorado.
BOSTOCK RISING: After his showing against Sporting Kansas City, some will be wondering what the San Jose Earthquakes were thinking not signing Englishman John Bostock when they had him in camp earlier this preseason, especially given the Quakes' relationship with Tottenham Hotspur. Toronto were most dangerous on Saturday when Bostock was creating on the right flank.
WHAT'S HAPPENING TO SKC?: After two seasons finishing tops in the Eastern Conference, has a bit of complacency snuck in at Sporting KC? How else to explain the opening first half in Philadelphia (Week 1) and then in Toronto (Week 2)? Road fatigue could also be cited as one factor or perhaps the new players inserted in the lineup have taken that edge off a team that was known for its bite, pressure and harassing of opponents.
REMEMBER ME?: In just two games, Sporting Kansas City Designated Player Claudio Bieler has shown why he's DP quality: two shots on goals and two goals to show for them. The truth is that Bieler has been fairly invisible in both of Sporting's matches. In fact, after the halftime break he only had four passes and a throw-in to his name before his 77th-minute goal and that's when Sporting's pressure was its greatest.
Although his continuing adaptation to MLS may be at play, we may eventually figre out that he's a forward who needs another attacker playing closer to him. Perhaps in a 4-4-2? His goal vs. Toronto where he connected with C.J. Sapong on a flick header looked to be a very natural movement for him.
HEARD ON THE FIELD: We got a glimpse at some of the communication challenges that Chivas USA may be facing as goalkeeper Dan Kennedy set up his wall and attempted to grab the attention of teammate Tristan Bowen. Check the MLS LIVE broadcast at minute 21:07. "Tristan! Tristan! Right. … Not you! Tristan!"
OLD MAN JOEL: Match broadcasts are a wealth of information. From the NBC Sports Network broadcast, you learned that Joel Lindpere's girlfriend thinks "he runs like an old man" and he admits it (it's the truth). But even more entertaining is the nugget that the Chicago midfielder never leaves home without his trusted tennis ball which he "takes everywhere he goes just to roll on his back." We need some more information about that one.
CREAM RISES: Big, bad San Jose defender Víctor Bernárdez is a fan of Vick's vapor rub. It's that mentholatum cream that some players wear on their jersey to help their breathing. But did the Boss need an entire jar vs. Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls?
NOT GOAL OF THE WEEK: The prize goes to Chivas USA's Miller Bolaños in the 49th minute against FC Dallas. It's one of the weakest attempts you'll see at goal on a 1-v-1.
THE REAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The media voted for the guy who got two goals. But Robert Earnshaw's match for Toronto doesn't stand next to Kenny Miller's performance for Vancouver. He was the impact player of the week with his runs, his passing and his chasing. The 'Caps captain was buzzing. And it's perhaps time for those of us who criticized him after his dismal 2012 to eat our words.
MR. UNDERRATED: While Miller will get his due over the course of 2013, Montreal left back Jeb Brovsky may be one of the most underrated players in MLS. He plays his position effectively with excellent technique, stamina and passing. He should be getting plenty more plaudits than merely for his humanitarian efforts.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Tip of the cap to the Vancouver Whitecaps who put on a show for their fans in their win against the Columbus Crew. The one criticism: They made life extra hard on themselves by conceding an inordinate number of free kicks to ever-dangerous Crew playmaker Federico Higuaín.
WHO KNEW MLS HAD ITS OWN BATMAN: The UniMas broadcast crew taught us that Chivas USA defender Joaquín Velásquez is nicknamed "Murciélago," which translates to "bat" in English.
FIT TO BE UNTIED: Of the 17 matches played in MLS after two weekends, there has been just one draw: the 3-3 tie between Portland and New York.
RED ALERT: Also worth noting that there's not been a single red card shown by MLS referees after 17 league matches.
CHALK TALK: In addition to another memorable press conference, Chivas USA manager Chelís was caught by TV cameras during the match vs. FC Dallas having a passionate discussion with some fans near the bench (84:52) … during the match. Dallas broadcaster Brian Dunseth, who was on-site, says it was a prolonged discussion. Can the fan on the other side of the conversation please step up?
THE DAY PIGS FLEW: Elias' Peter Hirdt confirms that the last time Chivas USA and Toronto FC won on the same weekend was July 18, 2012, which is also the last time Toronto FC won a match. And while New England won their first MLS regular-season match at Toyota Park since July 8, 2006, RSL still can't win in D.C. (eight matches and counting).
OOPS: Both TSN and the KCWE broadcasts missed the Bieler goal. And the second half of Vancouver vs. Columbus kicked off before Sportsnet got back on the air.
RATED R: That rating is for Colorado vs. Philadelphia, specifically at 27:14 when the Union's Amobi Okugo lets Colorado's DeShorn Brown know that he thinks he took a dive: "Get the **** up. Stop doing that ****!"
TIFO TIME: The Section 8 supporters in Chicago take the cake for the best tifo of the weekend with the Phoenix rising thematic – "Chicago will rise above them all." Too bad there was no rising by the Fire on Saturday night.
MIXING AND MATCHING: Chicago's Frank Klopas is trying his best to get those Section 8 fans a goal. There was more shuffling of his forward line on Saturday to see which partnership works best. Here's what we've seen over 180 minutes: Chris Rolfe-Sherjill MacDonald (68 minutes), Chris Rolfe-Maicon Santos (87 minutes), Alex-Maicon Santos (25 minutes) and Alex-Chris Rolfe-Maicon Santos (33 minutes). Still no goals, however.
COMBINATION SENSATION: If you didn't catch the Chicago vs. New England match, it's worth the effort to get on MLS LIVE and watch the six-pass sequence put together by the New England Revolution at 55:40 in the second half. The quick combination play featuring Andrew Farrell, Juan Toja, Kellyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen resulted in a corner kick. Welcome to Revolution soccer in 2013.
JAPANESE TRADITION: MLS has featured Japanese players in the past, but Vancouver's Daigo Kobayashi is the first we've seen offer up a ceremonial bow as he came off for a 77th-minute substitution. When he reached the touchline, he turned back around facing the field and gave a subtle bow, a sign of appreciation and sportsmanship toward fans, officials and the opponent.
DOES RYAN JOHNSON NEED HELP UP TOP IN PORTLAND?: We were enthralled by the quick passing combinations of the Nagbe-Valeri-Alhassan trident in midfield during the Timbers' opener against the New York Red Bulls. But as skillful as they are, can the Timbers afford to play with all three in the 4-2-3-1 at the expense of giving Ryan Johnson more help up top? The Timbers will not be able to pass their way through everyone every weekend.
HEAD OVER HEELS: The "shimmy" seemed to be the most popular goal celebration this weekend (see the ones by FC Dallas and the New England Revolution), but the Robert Earnshaw front flip was on full show. How long before Ryan Nelsen hears the Fabián Espíndola back flip injury in 2008 and asks Earnshaw to retire the celebration?
Based on this tweet, we know two things about Chicago Fire striker Quincy Amarikwa.
First, he's a multitab iPhone browser. Second, he's probably better than you at MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager.
If you're in public League 3005 or 2975, it looks like you'll be fighting for table position with a current MLS player – and probably ending up on the wrong end of that deal.
Beware the vicious pine marten. This small animal, native to North Europe, belong to the Mustelidae family -- it's related to the weasel -- generally spend their time hanging out in wooded areas and chasing squirrels along treetop branches.
But when that gets boring, it seems pine martens like to get in a little game of soccer.
On Sunday, a pine marten invaded the field in the middle of a Swiss Super League match between FC Thun and Zurich FC. Then it bit Zurich defender Loris Benito after being scooped up in an impressive diving maneuver.
The whole episode reminded us of that time the black cat invaded BMO Field in the middle of a CONCACAF Champions League match last August. An omen? Well, TFC lost the match 3-1.