It's official: Dempsey to Fulham

If you don't know my Premiership club is Fulham, where I resided in my lost year after college. Back then the club was in the 1st division, Craven Cottage still had terraces, and Man U had yet to raid us for Saha and Van Der Sar. Also I could be found drunk and dancing in the Notting Hill Arts Club with an alarming frequency.

What's changed since then? Fulham are in the Premiership, Saha & Van Der Sar are up north, and the west London side has become the leading importer of US & MLS talent in Europe. You can now add Clint Dempsey to the list of US/MLS Cottagers with Bocanegra, McBride, Simon Elliot & Eddie Lewis. Needless to say that the addition of my fellow Texan to the club has left me as happy as a frat boy with a pony keg, a slutty debutante, & a Dave Matthews Band box set.

Says today Times of London:

Clint Dempsey has agreed to join Fulham in a £1.5 million deal, but the United States and New England Revolution attacking midfield player will not be eligible to play for the West London club until the transfer window opens and until he receives a work permit.

Dempsey, 23, is unlikely to make his Premiership debut until the match away to West Ham United on January 13. “We expect him to make a big impact,” Coleman said. “He is strong, has good pace and a good touch. He has all the tools in his locker to be a good player in the Premier League.”


Fox to broadcast 2-hour special on the future of US soccer

First I will say sorry for the slow post rate this week...I am doing the holiday thing (i.e. eating to excess, drinking with my brother-in-law, and watching meaningless bowl games). And secondly, it's the off season and there is shockingly little to report unlike last year.

But on Jan. 11th the fine folks at FSC will be broadcasting live from the annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention, site of the 2007 MLS Superdraft with a 2 hour show on the future of US soccer. The show will feature guest like Commissioner Don Garber, and professional soccer hotty Michelle Lissel of Toronto FC. Should be good stuff.

The show airs Jan. 11th from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. (EST), will be hosted by Max Bretos.


The Youth Development land grab begins

Click map to enlarge

In a first for the new MLS youth system initiative RSL have announced a partnership with a Tampa-based amateur program. I'm not exactly sure how this plays into the "Home Territory" requirements that are laid out, but SLC and Tampa Bay seem about as close as Zidane and a full head of hair.

What does constitute a teams "Home Territory"? Again I'm not exactly sure; who really is when it comes to the vagueries of MLS rules. I mean who gets Pennsylvania? Do we chop it up into three pieces or do we settle this thing with a steel-cage ladder match in Harrisburg between Dema Kovalenko, Frankie Hejduk, and Alecko Eskandarian ?

Here's the press release:

December 20 2006Tampa Knights Players and Families

Real Salt Lake, a professional Major League Soccer team based in Salt Lake City Utah and the Tampa Knights Futbol Club in Tampa FL. announce a formal five year partnership in which the Tampa Knights F.C. is now designated as a Youth Development Program of Real Salt Lake (RSL). The Tampa Knights will now be known as "RSLFlorida". This partnership promises to be an excellent opportunity for local soccer players as the Knights become the exclusive Youth Development Program in the entire state of Florida for RSL.

Earlier this year Major League Soccer (MLS)launched a new initiative to restructure player development in the US. Next year each of the 13 MLS clubs are required to establish a youth amateur program separate from the professional club. These youth teams will give talented young soccer players with professional aspirations an excellent opportunity to pursue their dreams and progress under professional guidance at a rate not currently seen in America. MLS clubs will invest in scouting and developing talented players who will have the opportunity to train and grow under a MLS team's coaches and resources. MLS Youth Program participants will not jeopardize NCAA eligibility.

The RSL-Tampa Knights F.C. partnership is the first announced in the country to comply with the new MLS rule in which the professional team is associating with an out of state youth program. This exciting new partnership entitles RSLFlorida players to participate in youth clinics camps training sessions tournaments and reserve player matches offered by RSL coaches. Real Salt Lake strongly believes in promoting and advancing coaching education and will do this through annual coaching symposiums clinics and support services to the new RSL Florida teams to further enhance player development. Additionally RSL will provide financial support to the local club and it's teams for travel and competition.

Steve Pastorino General Manager of RSL quotes "RSL is excited to partner with an organization that shares our vision on how to develop young soccer players. We are proud to provide inspiration and aspiration to boys and girls in Tampa and all of Florida. We can't wait for RSL Florida kids to take to the field representing us."Earlier this year Real Salt Lake and Real Madrid announced a ten year agreement to affiliate and share resources and among other things work together to build a Youth Soccer Academy in Salt Lake. The possibility exists now for the RSL Florida club to benefit from the larger affiliation and see Real Madrid offer camps coaching assistance and expertise.

John Ellinger Head Coach of the Real Salt Lake has local ties to Tampa and is excited about the joint venture knowing the depth of talent from this area. John previously coached Adrian Bush General Manager with the Tampa Knights and Head Coach of Men's Soccer at the University of Tampa when Adrian played on the US National B Team. John will remain Head Coach of RSL and become RSLFlorida's Technical Director having oversight of competitive player development at the youth and senior levels. The new RSL Florida club anticipates significant direct interaction with the MLS coach as he and/or his staff will be involved in training tryouts camps and clinics. John Ellinger states his intention is to assist RSL Florida to become the number one club in Florida and in the country.

Adrian Bush remains General Manager of the new RSL Florida and states; "The affiliation is a great opportunity for soccer in the Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida. Our partnership with Real Salt Lake will provide more stability and structure in the program not only for the players and their development but for the coaches and their ongoing education and development. I look forward to the day that one of our own players who comes up through our system ends up playing for RSL or even Real Madrid."


Chivas takes out a loan, not the type that will end in broken knee caps

I certainly don't claim to know the in's and outs of the world of sports finance. Hell, I don't even know the in's and out's of my own finances (hey don't judge me, I'd like to see you try to file my taxes). But when I read this news piece about a $3 million-plus loan to 3 year MLS franchise Chivas USA I have to start to wonder if things are OK in goat's land.

Jorge Vergara is loaded. I mean Thurston Howell III loaded. I mean if he wanted to he could buy the patent on the number "4". So why in world would the club go to the well outside of their own farm so early in it's existence? Beats me, but I would think that any expansion team would budget for financial loses in the first few years. Perhaps they thought they would get just a few more butts in seats than there actually are. Maybe this is yet another example of the Chivas USA cockiness coming back to bite them in the ass (you know, that same cockiness that thought they would win the MLS Cup in year one).


Bradley names players for his first national team camp

Interim US Mens coach Bob Bradley has called up his first set of players for camp. With the upcoming matches against Denmark, Mexico & Ecuador all being friendly affairs he's chosen a side heavy on youth and MLS experience. My question is why Landon Donovan is listed as a forward when he seems to garner his best results from the midfield role.

And what's with Heath Pearce? Dude only gets invited to camp when none of the other foriegn-based players are there; it's like he's filling a quota of something so no-one can say it's all MLS players. Dude is like Franklin on the Charlie Brown cartoons.

U.S. Roster
Goalkeepers (4) - Joe Cannon (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Troy Perkins (D.C. United), Matt Reis (New England Revolution).

Defenders (9) - Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy), Bobby Boswell (D.C. United), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Bryan Namoff (D.C. United), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Heath Pearce (FC Nordsjælland), Dasan Robinson (Chicago Fire) Eddie Robinson (Houston Dynamo).

Midfielders (10) - Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), Brian Carroll (D.C. United), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Joshua Gros (D.C. United), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Brian Mullan (Houston Dynamo), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution).

Forwards (6) - Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Los Angeles Galaxy), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution).


Footie vacations trend comes to America

Have you ever wanted to go to Carlos & Charlies with your favorite MLS player, drink boatloads of rum, relieve yourselves on the back wall of a building in one of the scariest alleys in North America, and hopefully be in the background of a segment of girls gone wild? Or how about living out your British merchant ivory fantasies all the while wearing an officially licensed MLS kit? Well if you are a Revs fan these trips are for you.

And remember, anyone who says your dreams can't come true is a communist.


Seperated at Birth: Stern's Beetlejuice versus The Biggest Midget in the Game

You can't tell me they don't look alike. The real question though is "who is more exploited"?


Circus Soccer

So I may be waaaaaaay behind on this but have you seen this Brazilian kid Kerlon? Dude is sick like a sophmore cheerleader on prom night after a bottle of Everclear and bad shellfish. His signature move, nicknamed "The Seal", is basically him running the length of the pitch balancing the ball on his head. Needless to say, defenders hate this and foul him WWF-style to show their displeasure. Still it's probably right up there with the flip throw-in.

ESPN buys US rights to Euro 2008

This is pretty big. How big you ask? So big that it includes 2 games on ABC (MLS only has 3 for the entire season, including the all-star game). Looks like ESPN is really putting thier money where thier mouth is and finally getting behind soccer whole-hog.

What a great time we're living in when you don't have pay $20 to go to some bar to watch Euro matches on PPV. Heady times indeed.


No Klinsmann

My only question is who then?

Chicago Fire leave no mystery, issue list of foreign targets

Todays Chicago Tribune publishied a list of players that they are targeting for their Designated Player spot. In addition to names, the article also lists reasons why certain players would be of interest. Below is the list sans article.

10. Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 33 (Mexico): Blanco is the marquee name the Fire has been lacking, and he's as "flamboyant" as it gets on the field. But do the Fire want to give a large contract to a player who could be a headache in the locker room?

9. Miroslav Szymkowiak, 30 (Poland): The Fire could use a midfielder who is creative and strong on both defense and the attack.

8. Andriy Vorobei, 28 (Ukraine): Often overlooked are the many Ukrainian fans that could be courted by the Fire. A Ukrainian goal scorer with World Cup experience would help.

7. Denilson, 29 (Brazil): If MLS can land Ronaldo, why not his lesser-known teammate from the 2002 World Cup winning team? Denilson is currently wooing fans with his stepovers in Saudi Arabia.

6. Edgar Davids, 33 (Netherlands): Davids would add world-class experience to a young Fire team, and his goggles and braids make him extremely marketable.

5. Maciej Zurawski, 30 (Poland): Remember the masses of Polish fans that used to attend Fire games? Zurawski could bring them back if the Fire can pry him away from Celtic FC.

4. Jared Borgetti, 33 (Mexico): Borgetti is winding down his career in Saudi Arabia, but a solid offer from the Fire could put El Tri's all-time leading scorer closer to home and give the Fire its biggest Mexican star since Jorge Campos.

3. Luis Figo, 34 (Portugal): With Red Bulls' Bruce Arena showing little interest in Figo and the Revolution rarely showing interest in spending, the Fire could fill their right midfielder problem with one of the world's best at the position.

2. Adolfo Bautista, 27 (Mexico): Want a little personality in your designated player? This Chivas fan favorite is known simply as "Bofo", his bald head makes him instantly recognizable, and he wears the number 100 on his jersey.

1. Pavel Nedved, 34 (Czech Republic): Nedved's world-class status would bring in soccer die-hards and the curious. His sharp dribbling and dead-on shots from beyond 20 yards would bring them back. He showed he could still pick apart defenses against the U.S. in the 2006 World Cup and would give the Fire a playmaker alongside Justin Mapp.

It's great to see clubs sharing so much information but should Chicago not be able to land a single player from this list they are going to look like the guy who says he's bringing the cheerleader to the prom but shows up with some chick who is the marching band manager


"Disco Infiltrators" inadvertently create potential Red Bulls anthemn

Hooray! The new LCD Soundsystem album leaked! And I'm sure the label is busy tracking down every blog on the net that has it up get this while the getting is good!

A humourously maudlin look at modern life in the now-sanitized big apple, "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" is the song I will be singing the next time NYRB give up an 86th minute goal at home to Columbus....you just know they will.

*Game Over. DFA came knocking, so I had to be legit and take it down*


Best penalty ever!

If only someone could do this to Nick Rimando this season.

The 50-50 Ball: "Official" Supporters clubs

Of all of the things that make a futbol match transcend almost any other sporting event on the planet it is the unique style of fan involvement that is unparalleled in the sports world. The singing, the streamers, the flags, & the flares combined with the on-field choreography can can create an atmosphere so intoxicating it can take spectators to unthinkable heights (and sadly, unspeakable lows) while creating an insurmountable cauldron of intimidation for the away team.

Supporters clubs, so often the spearhead in the spread of this passion, are a vital part of this fan culture. While tradionally these groups are formed organically, as of late clubs the world over have begun to actively promote "official" supporters clubs. The MLS is no different and yesterday the Colorado Rapids announced their "official" club, benefits of which include apparel, members-only events with the team & coaches, soccer clinics, giveaways, a banquet, discounts, and "the privilege to have in the stadium specific items that are banned elsewhere in the venue, such as banners, flags, flags on sticks, noisemakers, drums, etc. " amongst other things.

Should clubs go as far as to manufacture their own groups in lieu of homegrown supporters clubs? You could argue that some teams have a marginal supporters group and need all the help they can get. On the other side of that is that the supporters group will be subject to the rule and whim of their respective teams front office.

What do you think? The ball is in the air, comment below.


The Colorado Rapids front office has a complex about it's "Dick"

Something I received today that came from the the Rapids PR dept.

Broadcasting and Media Request-
When speaking about the Rapids new stadium and soccer complex, please refer to it by its official designation, Dicks Sporting Goods Park, without using any shortened or altered versions of this name. The Colorado Rapids appreciate your cooperation.

Translation: no Dick jokes please.

I know how the business works and understand the need for sponsorship dollars but there's a line that has to be drawn. Lord knows what dastardly moniker will grace RSL's stadium should it ever comes to fruition (Church of Later Day Saints Park, "The Temple" for short). Now can you imagine the sponsors that would have stepped forward if WUSA would have had its own stadiums ("The New York Power would like to welcome you the Summer's Eve Field")?

Report: Red Bull New York negotiating with Dutch keeper

Soccerway is reporting that former Rangers, Man City, & Eindoven keeper Ronald Waterreus is in negotiations with Red Bull New York. He is currently on a short contract with AZ Alkmaar. Not sure what to make of this since I am not too familiar with the site but if this is true I would say that the in-limbo Tony Meola is most likely finished (as a player at least) in New York.

RBNY 2007 season opener announced

Want to know who New York Red Bull open the 2007 campaign against?
Click here
then start getting your tailgaiting supplies in order.

EDIT: Houston Dynamo also announce season opener