Cleveland unveils stadium design

Cleveland got back in the MLS expansion game today with the Wolstein Groups unveiling of plans for a domed stadium. It looks really good from the outside is all I can say. The dome may make it the most expensive SSS yet but damn, won't that make all the difference on a wind-swept day by the lake in November?

Check the offical site here.

On the Bench: 11.30.06

On the Bench is a look at which teams, players, personalities, & instituions are on the way up and which have fallen from grace. Check it out and find out who's hot & who's really, really not in any way shape or form hot. Not even "she's cute for what she is" hot.

Up From The Reserves

Fulham defeating Arsenal 2-1 with the aid of a Brian McBride header
Come on you Whites!

Houston Dynamo honcho Oliver Luck looking south for a partnership
Becuase a more NAFTA-style relationship between MLS and FMF can only be a good thing.

The Amado Guevara trade
The Goats obtain one of the leagues best players

Off Of The 1st Team

Cock-blocking county officials in Salt Lake City
Come on, let the boys play

David James new haircut
He's bringing conkin' back!

The Amado Guevara trade
RBNY gamble away one of the leagues best players


Arena on month-long hiatus, scouting below the Mason-Dixon line

New York Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena is in Virgina scouting players at the school where he won 5 (count 'em y'all) national titles as a college coach. You can read a bidbit about it here. The article also mentions that he is on a month-long hiatus. Doesn't he have some empty roster spaces of the Designated Player variety to fill? Or maybe NYRB will have a rookie striker and midfielder next season?

The 50-50 Ball: MLS Superdraft

The 50-50 Ball is a reoccurring element of The Offside Rules. The purpose is to create discussion & banter about topical & sometimes controversial questions in the world of soccer. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

With the list of players participating in the MLS player combine being released to today by the league, thoughts turn to the MLS Superdraft. While drafting college prospects is the normal way of stocking teams in traditional American sports (with some exceptions from MLB's farm system), this is truly unique in the world soccer. With it's deviations from some FIFA regulations, short seasons, and the fact that it stunts opportunity for many players during the crucial 17-22 years many view NCAA soccer as detrimental to the American game but it remains the most accessible well for young US talent.

The other side to that coin is that college-groomed players are often said to be lacking in some ways to players who have developed thier game through means that are more conventional (youth systems, foriegn clubs, and in the streets of Mexico, Central & South America). With the announcement of the leagues new youth club initives MLS has taken steps toward bringing in young players outside of the draft. So here's the question; is it time for MLS to consider doing away with the draft to encourage teams to take in more players through other means?

Damn the Red Devils to hell, Adu wants to go Galactico; Nowak just wants him to go

(Photo actual size)

So according to this piece from Soccer 365 Freddy now wants to play for Real Madrid. Remember just last year when he would tell anyone with ears that Chelsea was where he wanted to be? What about two weeks ago when he sounded like he would go to Man U if given the chance? But after a bit of time training Merseyside he has seen what many pundits, commentators, players, coaches, and fans have seen for ages (cue up Nine Inch Nails cover of Adam Ant's "Physical"); that he's the soccer equivalent of UK MC Lady Sovereign, the "biggest midget in the game".

Is he still hooked up with jailbait teen poptart JoJo? If he does go to Europe he should dump her for Lady Sov....they'd be Chav royalty. And he wouldn't have to risk possible arrest for inappropriate behaviour with a minor.

Also of note in this whole saga is the fact that his DC United coach Peter Nowak has been qouted as saying that Freddy should go play in the Dutch league. What coach in his right mind would publicly suggest that his starting midfielder & one of the nations best young players should go somewhere else? You can say that Nowak is suggesting what he thinks will be best for Freddy's development, and that he's got the US national team job lined up (as some suggest) so who cares if Freddy is at DC next season. Or you can recall the playoff substitution against Red Bull New York and assume that just like Air Supply, Nowak and Adu are "All Out of Love".


Post-season friendlies: New trend or completely random?

The topic of international friendies is always a divisive subject among MLS fans. While some see the value in exposing the league to soccer fans who may not come out to regular MLS fixture, and relish the often heightened atmosphere at these matches there are a raft of naysayers who find the exercise pointless and the attempt to convert fans of foriegn leagues futile. Usually these matches occur during the height of summer, but that is starting to change.

On Nov. 8 Columbus played host to Olimpia (whom they defeated 2-0) in a game that was so low-key that you would have had to have exercised the Freedom of Information act to find out about it. Who knew there was another game being played the week of MLS Cup?

Today Soccer 365 is reporting that Chivas USA will be playing Necaxa in Mexico on Dec.1. Could this be the Chivas USA debut of former Red Bull star Amado Guevara? Doubtful but this could be interesting for other reasons. As the season is well over this type of friendly is a great oppurtunity to allow a team to retain some of the momentum the may have felt late in the season, stay connected, train, and discuss some of the changes for next season; it's sort of like a corporate retreat for the club.

Think about a couple of the low profile friendlies from the past year; would it be more beneficial for Red Bull New York and Columbus to play clubs from South America or northern Europe/Russia that are also in summer leagues in the off season instead of playing Bayern Munich and Everton to near-empty houses in the summer? I don't claim to have the answer but a winning team will put people in the stands more consistenly than a poorly promoted one-off appearance by disintertested European millionaires on summer holiday.

Ronaldinho...Is the Man.

In case you were under a rock, passed out from a turkey & stuffing-induced gluttony coma Ronaldinho proved yet again that he indeed has the skills that pay the (yacht, mansion, Jerry Curl juice) bills.

When I see this it's just like when I was a kid and I'd watch skate videos like "The Search for Animal Chin", get all pumped and swear I could walk outside and ollie a dumpster blindfolded with a walkman in one hand and my johnson in the other with little-to-no effort. I don't skate anymore but this clip makes me want to fire a wicked left footer from 28 yards out and hit my office administrator dead in the face.

This business of soccer (USA edition)

So if you haven't read Grant Wahl's SI.com piece on Clint Dempsey you should. If you did you may have noticed a juicy tidbit in there about Wasserman Media Group, easily the largest soccer agency in America and home to prominent agent Richard Motzkin. According to Wahl's piece "WMG recently acquired SFX Europe, whose clients include Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Andriy Shevchenko". Let that sit in for a moment. Typically it's nothing worth noticing when an American business buys a foreign one, but this is soccer. In the realm of the world game America has made great strides on & off the field of play, but it is still the outsider-looking-in in many regards.

So what does that say about the state of the business of soccer in the US when a group of agents who have made their name representing MLS players and yanks abroad get their hands on players the caliber of Shevchenko & Gerrard? What does it say that MLS will collect a multi-million dollar rights fee beginning in 2007 for it's broadcasts? What does is say when one of the leagues worst franchises, the Metrostars, lands the highest purchase price in league history? What does it say that it is now possible for teams to sell the ad space on the fronts of their jerseys? What does it say that there are multiple American players who could be worth over $1m US on the international transfer market? What does it say that teams can now potentially sign the likes of a Luis Figo, a Ronaldo or a David Beckham?

It says that business is good. Or at least better than it ever has been. There may have been times in the history of MLS (and the NASL) where there have been more butts in seats but never has there been so much money circulating through the veins of the American soccer world. Additionally there may never have been so much big-money corporate involvement in the game here; Addidas, ESPN, Red Bull, Home Depot, & Toyota to name a few.

My point in all of this is that for the first time in a long time it doesn't feel like soccer is in danger of going away in America anytime soon. With MLS clubs beginning to embrace true youth clubs the future looks bright for the development of home-grown talent. And with the likes of the Home Depot Center, Toyota Park, and Red Bull Park popping up on a seemingly yearly basis the game is putting down brick & mortar roots to go along side the historical one's in places like St. Louis, and Kearny, NJ.

After the US teams all too brief appearance in the World Cup this past summer it seemed that there was a bit of a pall cast over football fanatics nation-wide. Many said that the US was backsliding, and blamed everyone & everything for it. Don't believe the hype, it's only getting better.

Depeche Mode "Just Can't Get Enough" of remixes

Greatest Band To Ever Touch The Face Of The Planet (TM) have released yet another compilation, "The Best Of Vol.1". It's got a lot (but not all) of your favorites and one new song "Martyr" which was a leftover from the Playing The Angels sessions.

The hotness is the promo remixes that are doing the rounds, particularly the Dirty South remix of "Just Can't Get Enough". Despite the name this mix does not feature a cameo from anyone with the prefix "Lil'" of "Young" but is infact the product of Aussie sensations called Dirty South. Download it, then rock it!

Just Can't Get Enough (Dirty South mix)