Shop Like a (Sponsored) Pro Soccer Player

It's Christmas time and tomorrow is Saturday. Chances are you will end up in a mall or grossly over-sized big-box store shopping for people you're related to. Now every publication and their designer dog has got a holiday shopping guide out there to help you part with your cash. And so does TOR!

But ours is real special (but not in a short bus kind of way) and comes courtesy of US Women's team midfielder/looker/reformed Catholic school girl Leslie Osborne and has one caveat: you have to really like Puma shit.

A Message from the TOR Dept. of Health & Social Causes

Tommorow, Dec 1, is World Aids Day. So if you get the horn do the responsible thing and rub one out for the cause.

Finally a Commentator Funnier Than Ray Hudson


We've not discussed anything The Office related in a while have we? No? Good because I want to share something but not be repetitive (which is a bad habit I have, along with with drinking only half a bottle of water).

So as great as Ricky Gervais is, the real genius for my money is Stephen Merchant; you may know him best as Ricky's muppet-faced agent on Extras. He is also the co-creator of and a writer for The Office, and The Ricky Gervais Show. Not a bad resume at all.

Recently he's lent his talents to an Alec Christie show called No Skillz in which merchant plays a regional soccer radio commentator. The show hasn't landed on US shores yet but you can watch the pilot in 3 parts at No SkillzComedy.com. Check the clip below to catch Merchant's best bit from the commentators booth.

That Hurt, But it Went By Fast: 1 Year of The Offside Rules


FYI this week marks the one year anniversary of TOR. What began as way for me to have a dialog with other like minds has become...well it still is just a way for me to have a dialog with other like minds. It's just that there seems to be more of them these days. If I haven't told you in the comments, via email, late night text message or phone call, thank you very much for reading and keeping me entertained.

After I realized that it's been a year I went back and looked at my 1st post, which I had totally forgotten about. It was all about the state of soccer in the states. This was written pre-Beckham Rule so it was a very different landscape in some respects, but the future still looked good. Maybe I should write an updated version sometime soon. For now, I'll leave you with a reprint of the original post since only about 20 people read TOR back then. Enjoy.


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.

School Girls, Money, & Timberlake: The Galaxy in NZ

School Girls image for The Offside Rules

Day 2 of Kiwi Beckham mania finds the island nation continuing to fall tits over tail for Goldenballs. 15,000 school children turned out to watch the Gals train -a crowd that would be a respectable attendance figure in NY or KC. What's more is that they were out of their little minds and screaming like tiny banshees who'd spent the morning snorting Pixie Stix off of the key to their mum's mini van. Don't believe me? Watch the tale of the tape then.

Nice of Lalas & Co. to let all the kiddies get their fix before the big game, innit? I guess if you're being paid $2 million to be there you kinda have to throw in the hand job for free before you really do it.

But it seems that someone is out to steal some of Becks shine! It's that pesky old Justin Trousersnake, in NZ and throwing out a wee bit of celebrity cock-block action!

And with that the TMZ on TOR action shall cease...for now.


Kiwi's Excited by Becks, Press Conference is a Bore

Eat Becks image for The Offside Rules

She looks happy doesn't she? Poor lamb probably doesn't know if she wants an autograph or an appetizer, bless her heart. This is the face of Kiwi Beckham-mania....very, very excited*.

The New Zealand media is pretty excited as well. You can tell when you watch the press conference, which you can see here in its entirety. You kinda feel bad for the other people on the panel because no one really wants to ask them a damn thing, except for maybe "could you move over to the left while I photograph David". They're basically extras, like those people in a film who are only there just to make it look real.

But thankfully one sympathetic reporter does ask them at least one question for the sake of keeping their self-esteem out of the paper shredder. It's still a painfully long 30 minutes, so if you've any wrist-cutting tendencies stay away.

*And to be clear the joke here isn't about weight & gender, it's about having your mouth open wide enough swallow an Englishman whole while being photographed.

Bobby Convey: Shirtless, Shortless Bad-Ass

I was watching this bit on Biography about Bobby Convey and it reminded me of one of the best American abroad moments I've ever seen. It wasn't his strike against Liverpool or his breakaway wonder goal that he put past Millwall, but something that didn't even occur during a game.

After defeating some crap team or other to earn Reading promotion to the Premiership, BC runs over to the corner to show love to the supporters. He throws his shirt into the crowd, turns to walk away but then decides he's going all out and throws his shorts into the stands, claps to the fans, runs away adjusting his junk, then disses a reporter citing that "he doesn't have any clothes on" as an excuse.

Needless to say the crowd ate this gesture up as if it were covered in BBQ sauce; a rapturous "Ole ole ole ole, Convey Convey" rained down on the pitch as our Bobby runs his half-naked ass into the locker room. Fucking awesome.

And by the way, Biography has some nice looking soccer clips on Marcus Hahnemann, Milan Baros and others that are worth a look (but without the guy with the deep voice narrating so it's kind of a ripoff).

Prepare Yourself for the LA Galaxy Channel

Superclub, Superclub OI OI OI!

You can't be a Superclub without your own online tv station. Man U's got one so it must be a fact. Enter the latest cog in the LA Galaxy-come-Cosmos plan to take over the futboling world, LAGalaxychannel.com. I'm not sure how legit this is but if it is, they plan to do it 'pronto'.

Something tells me that we (meaning fans like you and I) aren't supposed to know about this yet but if someone is negligent enough to keep an unrestricted test page out on the open Internet maybe you need someone to point out just how lax your new media department is. What with this upcoming experiment and their new blog they are proving to be an ambitious bunch though, and for this I applaud them.

I'm even a little jealous of them...y'all hiring?

The Galaxy Arrive in (Another) Land Far, Far Away

Off to Hobbit country then for the next stop on the Bucks for Becks World Tour, exotic New Zealand. Upon arrival at Wellington Airport the Gals where greeted by a mob of hyped-up Kiwi's, the media, and a man in a suit who did some sort of dance that involved brandishing a stick in a threatening manner.

Beckham also got to do the traditional Maori nose-nuzzling greeting with just about anyone who pleased. They should have charged for the privlege because so many of you ladies and homosexualists would have probably paid good money to smell his upper lip.


Except for this guy. No one, not even the always respectful and professional Becks, wants any part of that. Dude looks like he was a warthog in a past life and decided to keep the look.


It seems that the entire nation is in the grips of Beckham-mania. Even this interviewer seems like he's having trouble keeping his shit entirely together.

If you are one of the 3 TOR readers from NZ or just happen to feel like stalking him, a publication called Stuff has thrown all respect for safety and privacy out the window and
printed up a schedule to make your murder attempt/sexual advances that much easier.


Red Bull Park Construction Starts Next Week. Wait, Come Back!

Red Bull PARK image for The Offside Rules

Being jaded is a horrible thing. As a Southerner living in the Northeast it is a trait that I am slowly and unfortunately beginning to intimately understand. And it's mostly due to the perennially dangling carrot that is Red Bull Park.

But if this news story is to be believed then dreams can come true and my experiment in negativity can come to close soon; The Star-Ledger says that construction will begin in earnest next week. NEXT WEEK! Praise Jesus/Allah/Buddha/deity of your choice.

I'm toying with the idea of a TOR Champagne tailgate at the construction site the day work starts...anybody down for drinking in front of teamsters shout me a holler.

Big ups to BG the Pimp for the heads up. I didn't forget you baby!

MISL Talks Albany Expansion

Albany image for The Offside Rules

Albany, New York is a city I know precious little about. I have driven through it numerous times on my way to Montreal and have noticed that the skyline is made up of buildings that resemble the British Parliament, a smooshed egg, and several 30 story tall PS3's. Oh and I remember that on that show 'Night Court' Dan would always have to drive to Albany at the last minute for some reason.

I'll assume the brass at the Major Indoor Soccer League know more than that since they are talking about placing the league's tenth team there. The article talks about the $750,000 expansion fee in a manner that suggests that amount of money can't be raised without committing a felony. So I guess it's a good thing they won't be in line for an MLS side anytime soon, where the expansion fee is up around $30 million -which is the Gross Domestic Product of Tunisia or the Dominican Republic.

Remember how only 3-4 years ago it was only $15 million? People thought Rochester, with it's great green soccer stadium, was an inevitible shoe-in for an expansion club; now one of the owners checks are bouncing and the hockey franchise they also own is in trouble. Makes you wonder what would happen to a market like that in todays MLS reality.

I'll Give It To Ya Straight: Landon is on a Foot Fetish Site

Donovans Foot image for The Offside Rules

So you're getting a Landon Donovan 'twofer' today and this second part will definitely be memorable. Whether that is a good thing or not is highly dependent on whether or not you are into feet. I mean really into feet.

Me, I HATE feet. Yuck. Worse than anchovies. So please don't ask me how a Google image search landed me in a website dedicated to celebrity foot fetishism but holy toe jam, what a weird find. Anyway, this site called Barefoot Male Celebs has a page dedicated to the (to quote someone from the page's comments) "nice, hard-working professional athletic feet" of Landycakes.

I don't know why but I find the whole foot thing a little weird. Even weirder is the fact that an MLS player has fucking foot fetish fans. It's oh so gracious that the 'shrimpers' (that means toe suckers) are all offering to give him a pedicure and shit in the comments, it really is. But something about it is also just slightly pervy don't ya think?

Whatevs though,
I'm not here to judge -every body's got their something right? Now if you'll excuse me, I have sexy clowns website to get acquainted with.

Landon Likes To Play His Soccer in Warm Weather

Landon Beach image for The Offside Rules

It seems like Alexi Lalas has got finally got everyone to drink the Kool-Aid on the whole "LA Galaxy: Superclub" thing. Let's just take a wee moment to go down the checklist of Superclub requirements here:

1. Signed international superstar player, check
2. Sell more merch than a motherfucker, check
3. Get sexy, big name coach, check
4. Spend the off-season touring lesser footballing markets, check
5. Star players making overtures about playing in said lesser footballing markets at some later point in their careers.

How cute. Our Landon playing the Henry role for the one westernized nation who are in need of their own soccer Jesus more than we are. He could just swoop down from a Quantas flight from LAX and add a bit of that foreign flair that Americans are known for. Or will be known for one day.

Now if only they could get caught up in a match-fixing scandal with RSL, and if one of the less-attractive players gets nabbed with a prostitute (because he has to pay for it) and an 8 ball at The Standard hotel they will have truly arrived.


Dress Like Someone People Want to Sleep With

Becks Pitch image for The Offside Rules

I haven't mentioned one of my favorite clothing operations in a minute but since Becks was spotted rocking their new line while out on the lash in Vancouver with new wing man Peter Vagenas, I figure the time is now to give you the hook up.

What hook up is that? 15% off any order from Bumpy Pitch's mad decent Classic American Soccer Collection line. Just use the promo code SS08 when ordering anything from an Atlanta Apollos shirt (like mine) to a Washington Whips tee and save some scratch while buying yourself a nice little Christmas something.

And yes, if you wanna ball like Beckham you can fuck around and wear a Sacramento Spirit top like he is in the photo above. Big ups to Bumpy Pitch for snagging such a huge endorsement for the price of printing and mailing one t-shirt....Armani had to pay $40 million to get him to wear their drawers!


R.I.P California Victory

California Victory image for The Offside Rules

What's sadder...this tiny gaggle of men that passed for a supporters group or the damn-near silent death of 1st year USL side California Victory? I slept on this bit of news last week as I was gearing up for a Turkey-induced coma, but thought it was still worth putting out there.

Like the Toronto Lynx, their lunch was eaten the day that MLS announced it was coming to the area. This leaves USL 1 with only 11 clubs for 2008, and with Seattle leaving in 09 for MLS may be a serious blow for the league that already lost one club (Virginia Beach) at the beginning of 07. Hopefully the talk of an expansion club in Victoria, BC and one other city will come to fruition and keep this boat afloat.

Quote of the Day #2

Steve Coogan image for The Offside Rules

"It really bugs me. They say 'Oh, David Beckham -- he's not very clever.' Yeah. They don't say, 'Stephen Hawking -- shit at football.'"

Brit-wit comedian, former lover of Courtney Love, and alleged Owen Wilson enabler Steve Coogan takes issue with those who critique the intellect of Goldenballs. He's probably not a fan of A Brief History of Time either.

Brad Friedel: Comic Book Soccer Hero

Brad X image for The Offside Rules

If you read Du Nord yesterday -as you should every day of your life that you are not blind from Syphilis infection- you might have seen the barrage of coverage out of Cleveland on former US international Brad Friedel's newly-opened soccer academy in Ohio.

Check out this map of the grounds. It's better than most MLS and USL facilities in existence and is pretty much amazing. Basically this is our Brad's version of Professor Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and it's formation deserves the slow clap. And not to be an ass or anything, but why is it a private individual has had to put this together and not US soccer, or any of the MLS clubs? Just saying.

Here's some video courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer of the luckiest kids in America eating, pumping iron, studying and playing soccer like it's their job...which I guess it kind of is.

Ngwenya is Leaving on a Jet Plane. Probably Luftansa.

Joseph Ngwenya image for The Offside Rules

Every body's favorite dread that is not named Cobi, or Kyle is getting a shot at Europe. Houston's Joseph Ngwenya is headed to Germany for some training and a tryout with 1st letter of the alphabet fixated second division side Alemannia Aachen.

Good on you fella. If you can keep doing it like this the Jerry's will love you like they love beer, techno, and being dour. If not, screw 'em and come back to Houston for the three-peat. And besides, Alemannia's kits might give you unwanted Columbus flashbacks.

Quote of the Day #1

Holtz for England image for The Offside Rules

Jack Bell at the New York Times had the following gem hidden near the bottom of his weekly column today so I feel compelled to bubble it up a little.

During ABC/ESPN’s halftime show of last Saturday’s Kansas-Missouri college football game, the former coach Lou Holtz was asked which of the many vacant coaching jobs he found most appealing. “England,” Holtz said, with a laugh.

You know what, I ain't mad at the idea. If anyone could handle the stress, the over-sized egos, and the spotlight it's Lou. I don't know what kind of soccer knowledge he has but that old fart would have Wayne Rooney in fucking tears within 2 days of his first training camp. Someone make it so.

Video: Goldenballs Scores in Sydney

And just to exploit the Galaxy game in Sydney to the same extent that Becks is being exploited by the Galaxy, here's some video of Becks snaking free-kick. No matter how many times you see him do it, it never gets old. This shit is Elisha Cuthbert-bent-over-the-bed fine.

Galaxy Go Down 5-3 Down Under

Aussie image for The Offside Rules

80,000 + packed into Telstra Stadium to watch local side Sydney FC hang 5 on the Galaxy tonight/this a.m. (depending on what side of the international date line you call home). And they got what they paid for: not only did Becks score on one of his patented free kicks, but he also pulled out one of his now-customary leg injuries for Sydney's fucked-on-Foster's spectators (who are under the illusion that they play in the ACC or for Dave Justice-era Atlanta Braves).

He continued to play for about 20 more minutes after he was injured so apparently it's not as bad as Chivas USA fans would hope. But if I were holding any extras for the Gals upcoming match in Wellington, NZ I might try and move them before the morning injury reports are printed.

A few days before the match Becks revisited his kicking balls into the water PR stunt that he did in Brooklyn a few years back in Sydney; if you needs more Becks it's below for your viewing pleasure/obsession.

9RAW: Beckham kicks goals on Sydney Harbour
9RAW: Beckham kicks goals on Sydney Harbour


Condoleeza Rice: Blackburn Fan


Brad Friedel aside, this woman is the only Yank pleased with the result at Craven Cottage this past weekend. First Iraq now this revelation...someone likes their lost causes.

French Whore Henry Prick -Teases Stateside Fans

Le Francaise image for The Offside Rules

Now see, Tony Parker has already come for our women. Now Thierry Henry is talking about coming for our jobs. And the next thing you know a chiraz-soaked Jacques Chirac will be on Larry King saying "All your base are belong to us" through a haze of Galouse smoke.

All jokes aside, Henry would be an incredible acquisition for MLS, given the right market, if he comes over before he's old enough to be elected president (it's an election year so I've been brushing up on my presidential requirements: you can't be under 35 but you can't be foreign born). If he's at all serious about coming over here to play he's got to make a call on that soon, because like the article says there ain't much call for a 30-something striker. But you know that wouldn't stop someone from signing him anyway, even if he showed up to his first practice sporting a cane and and oxygen tank.

"He's Not Gay, He's Just English"

For the ladies and homosexualists out there, I've got something really special for you; the most homoerotic moments in footballing history. This shit is crazy…Roberto Carlos rubbing his hands up Becks inner thighs, some dude BITING another dude's wedding tackle, and all manner of man-on-man kissing & ass play. On the reals y'alls, we haven't seen so much repressed sexuality since that one 30 Seconds to Mars video.

Becks in the Sydney

Crikey bitches.

Sydney is the 1st port of call on the Antipodean leg of the Bucks for Becks World Tour™. Goldenballs arrived in Sydney on a separate (read 'private') plane from the rest of the team as he was departing from England instead of LA. The match against Sydney FC is slated for tonight in Sydney (for which 80K tix have been sold), but with that all that crazy international date line mess I think that may actually be tomorrow in North America. Which might actually cause your DVR to buckle under the weight of trying to figure out the math and may be the reason that the game won’t be televised here in the States.

The Gals have been in country for a few days already and were rolled out on the field as part of the half-time entertainment at Sydney FC's league match this past weekend. Becks was also falsely accused of snubbing a group of cancer kids and is apparently 'confused' by the ball used in Aussie Rules. Can't say the man doesn't generate headlines.

LA's newest acquisition, Clint Mathis has made the trip....and may stay there if Sydney FC has their way. They have enough beer and BBQ down there for him so I say fuggit, he should jump at the chance if it comes. They probably don't sell chewing tobacco there though so that's a minus.

Also of note is that Cobi Jones will play his final games in a Galaxy uniform on this tour of OZ and New Zealand. Is it just me or does it seem like the dude has already played a few final games already? This farewell tour has officially entered The Who territory.

And lastly, why is it that Perez Hilton of all people has the most coverage of any American outlet on this trip? Mind you it is all about Becks for them but still.


Video: Freddy's 90th Minute Golazo

We interupt this holiday weekend lull to inform you that The Biggest Midget in the Game done gone and done in it again. Of the bench, 90th minute goal to seal the victory for Benfica over Academia. The kid is turning into the Euro version of John Wolyniec.

Looking back on it now, what a colossal waste of time his stint in Salt Lake City was. Maybe somebody (including me) should have believed him when he was running off at the mouth about how he needed to be playing in Europe.


MLS Cougar Alert!!!

Not to make light of the issue of malaria, be disrespectful or to hijack Diego Gutierez's thank you message for his excellent charitable organization but....his wife is kinda MILF-tastic. Seriously, she is on some non-famous Demi Moore vibe and I ain't mad at her for it. Mr. Diego, you sir win the TOR prize for Cougar Hunter of the Year.

Mike Jones, City Hall and a Whole Lot of Orange

Bernardo Fallas at the Houston Chronicle got some excellent footage of the Dynamo rally at city hall last night. The streets of Bayou City ran orange with thousands of fans turning up to congratulate the team, make noise for a new stadium, see Dominic Kinear have a Howard Dean moment and witness Stuart Holden getting chopped & screwed to Mike Jones.


Mike Jooooones!!!!

I am in absolute tits-over-tail love with whoever thought it was a good idea to book him as the entertainment for this event. What better way to say to the casual sports fan that this league is not just about group sales to youth teams than to get a dude looks like a ninja turtle with mouth full of floss onstage with a plastic cup full of drank talking 'bout "Back then they didn't want me, not I'm hot they all up on me". THAT song is a perfect coda to the Dynamo tale. I love it.


MLS Teams With A&E for DVD Releases

Tasteful soccer ball image for The Offside Rules

In the last few years there has been precious little in the way of American soccer on DVD...and Miracle Match does not count. MLS looks to remedy that by teaming up with The Tasteful Channel aka A&E to release it's DVD's. The first product of this new joint venture to hit your DVD player will be a revisit of this year's MLS Cup.

All this is excellent as the home video market is one that the league has been passing by, Pharcyde-style. What would really bring foam to the Guinness would be if they got the people that produced these playoff shows back in 2005 to do these videos. It's totally NFL Films style, but totally ill. Edward James Olmos on the narration.

Even Outside the Bathroom, New Pele Book is a Good Read

Hey now. If the place you call home is nestled snuggly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, beneath Canada and above Mexico, there is a good chance that you are not working for a few days this week. Since MLS and USL are done for the year, and the national team played last week you may find yourself with some time on your hands. And you should dedicate the bulk of it to stuffing -the unsung hero of Thanksgiving; turkey gets all the press but it's over-hyped.

Gluttonous activities aside, you should take some time to read. Maybe even when you are not on the toilet. May I suggest the newly remixed Pele autobiography "My Life and the Beautiful Game", which features a new forward by Shep Messing and his moustache and a slew of new photos of Pele's playing time in America. And for the stats nerd in you there is an exhaustive appendix featuring every game and goal of his entire career, just in case you need that info for pub trivia night or something.

You can pick it up from Amazon or Barnes & Noble since your local library probably hasn't updated it's soccer books since the man was playing. Now get some Kleenex because we're going to get you all misty-eyed for those days of futboling yore. Check out the video above for some classic Pele footage set to some Band of Brothers/Medal of Honor music. You can't not feel all heavy when that stuff is playing.

Jay-Z on Freddy Adu

jigga image for the Offside rules

"And then I bid you Freddy Adu
Prodigal Child,
y'all not ready for the future"

Jay-Z, American Gangster 2007

In the last few days I've been pretty busy with work and this and the Du Nord bit I did yesterday and suffice to say I have been slacking a little and I apologize. I know I have been guilty of a few throw-away posts that have been sort of rushed. Also I have neglected to mention a few things.

For instance I forgot to mention that Jay-Z spits a Freddy Adu rhyme on his new record. But Ives got to it, so at least it's out there. Now mind you an athlete mentioned on a hip hop album is about as rare as a hooker in Vegas, but to get a American soccer player dropped on wax -a Jigga record at that- is pretty special. It makes you feel normal. It makes you feel like a real sports fan and not someone who lives on the fringes of the the sportscape. I love it. Ned Grabavoy is probably acting all Gargamel about this shit though since he threw up 'the Roc' and everything.

And as for the rhyme itself, is Hova a Freddy hater? It could be interpreted that way, but if you know anything about his lyrics you have to take in the entire track to get the whole picture. Hater or not, I'd just be impressed that he knew enough to have an opinion on The Biggest Midget in the Game.

If you want to have a listen to the track without spending money or committing a crime (because downloading music is as detrimental to society as skateboarding) has a listen via Youtube.

Dynamo Dominant, But Are They a....

Houston Dynamo: Dynasty image for The Offside Rules

Dynasty. Aside from Miami Vice, no other show encapsulated the 80's better or captured your stirrup-pants wearing mother's attention more….except for Falcon Crest maybe. It had it all; Linda Evans in shoulder pads, Diahann Carroll with one of the best 'guess-who's-coming-to-dinner' roles since the film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" and Heather Locklear at her 80's hot, huge-hair finest.

People are starting to call the Dynamo a dynasty. Unfortunately for all you Fiero-driving, 80's glory-seeking fans, Houston doesn’t have Heather Locklear & co. on the payroll. But they do have Dwayne DeRosario, Eddie Robinson and Dominc Kinnear who are the only members of the club to have all four rings from the San Jose era and the last 2 seasons. Is three people enough to call this club a dynasty? Or is it not about the personnel but the number of times won in a time period?

I'm sort of on the fence about it. On one hand they are essentially the same club and have undergone the same amount of turnover that any team would, relocated or not. On the other hand though 2 seasons passed between titles, which throws the consistency element out of the window.

Chime in on this because the topic of dynasties in sports is always a good one for bringing forth a wealth of opinions.

MLS Has To Raise The Bar on the Field, at the Bar

When I was young and sexy i.e. in college, I was known to show up at parties with a trunk full of enough booze to make a bootlegger envious. I'd have 2 coolers up front; one for mixers, one for spirits. In the back would be a third containing exactly 6 bottles of chilled champagne for the after party. Often times this 'champagne' was Korbel (hey it was college, I think I took home about 12K a year so cut me some slack) but on occasions when I was flush, like after disbursement checks came, I'd highroll with some Moet or Vueve Clicqout. Happy times.

The brand of champagne served in a locker room says a lot about a league. As brilliant as the 2007 season of Major League Soccer has been, we still have a long way to go to reach MLB status...Major League Baller.

Watch the clip above and skip past the tortured Taylor Twellman locker room press gaggle to about 2 minutes and 12 seconds in. It is there that you will see Stuart Holden, well on his way to being out of his tree, drinking 'champagne' and waxing poetic to the camera. I say 'champagne' because dude is drinking Le Grande Cardinale...the French cousin of Mumm's that only cost's about $6 bottle.

So for all the glitz, attention and spectacular play on the field this season we have a ways to go to even get to Korbel status. And that should be a league wide goal, with memo's sent to every front office and locker room. Let's raise the bar in 08 guys if not for the sake of the game, then for the sake of the after-party.

As an aside, did you ever see Stuart Holdens face after the Geordie's got hold of him up on Newcastle? Dude was fucked up good but he's still ticking. Bless 'em.


MLS Cup 08: Start Booking Your Plane Ticket Now

HDC image for The

One of the worst kept secrets of this past weekend was the location of the 2008 MLS Cup. In case you didn't know and don't know you stadiums on sight it's......in the Seattle Times.

The Best Photo From MLS Cup

Fenity Petition image for The Offside Rules

Good stuff DC fans. Hold them to their word.

FYI If You Need A Little More SF in Your Day....

I am the guest editor of DuNord today. How awesome is that? For those of you who don't read DuNord, start now...Bruce will give you ALL of the days futbol news like no one else.

Per Ives: Mathis to LA

Clint Mathis image for The Offside Rules

Didn't see this one coming but with the way things are over at RBNY I guess we shouldn't be shocked. Clint Mathis has be traded to LA for a third round draft pick so says Ives. Surely he's got to be worth more than that but who knows who is pulling the trigger on this trade being that they have no head coach at the moment.

This will be a return to the team Clint began his career with and his 4th club in 4 seasons...and his missus cannot be happy with that. As a New York fan I will miss 13 Legend; he'll always be a Metro.

On the bright side though I was sitting behind the goal when he put in number 45 to become the all-time scoring leader for the franchise. And it was a cracker!!!!!

Landon, EJ, & Ruiz Get to Keep Thier Salaries, Non-DP Status

Carlos Ruiz image for The Offside Rules

Presumably while chomping cigars and polishing brass pocket watches the bigwigs of MLS -aka the Board of Governors- voted to extend the grandfather clause for non-designated players one more year. In a nutshell that means that Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson can stay where they are without being named DP's. It also means that LA can do the same with Landon Donovan...and you know that's why it got passed. SI's Grant Wahl has the scoop.

I'm assuming this is the nail in the coffin this year for a second DP slot being granted. I heard from a different source that the vote for one was split 6-6 with Toronto abstaining; AEG, and Red Bull wanted it, while (surprise surprise) Kraft and Hunt didn't. If true it sounds like a real split may happen between old-school MLS owners and those that are a little more ambitious.

ESPN Reads The Offside Rules?

Soccernet image for The Offside Rules

That is a screenshot from ESPN Soccernet today. Did they bite the TOR style or am I being all egotastic? Oh well, such is the internet...we're all biting somebody so it may as well be me.

Taylor Twellman Can't Win, DeRosario Can't Lose

TT & DeRo image for The Offside Rules

Bet you $10 and old copy of 90:00 Magazine that this photo was not taken the past 24 hours. Life is full of dicotomy, and the way the result that these 2 get in Cup finals couldn't be further apart. DeRosario has won four, Taylor lost three. DeRo is feeling the love from the media today, while TT is feeling a little bit of heat (or more like his club is).

What's interesting to me as how these 2 could easily switch places because both sides have been so dominant the past few years, with the Revs bad luck being the only thing keeping Taylor ringless. Honestly, I really do feel kinda of bad for him...maybe DeRo will let him borrow one of his.

MLS Season 12 R.I.P.

MLS Cup image for The Offside Rules

MLS Cup came and went yesterday leaving me with an off season void; luckily I will be distracted for a few weeks by the upcoming 'Turkey season' (the 6 weeks tryptophan coma between Thanksgiving and Christmas), but after that who knows how my mental illness will manifest itself.

But before I go all crazy with boredom I do have a few quick-hits about yesterday's game. I'll be brief since every paper & blog on the US soccer landscape will be jabbering in your ear about it all day.

- Revs owner Bob Kraft looked disgusted and heartbroken at game's end...how long til his patience runs thin with a club that is clearly an afterthought for him? At least he came to the game this year.

-And even though he can't win an MLS Cup to save his job life, Steve Nicol is the best coach in MLS. But that may not be enough to stop Sunil from suggesting that he be given the boot (in addition to his job at the Fed, he's the president of Kraft Soccer).

-Surely someone who doesn't currently own a team wants to buy Houston. 2 championships in 2 years in the 4th largest city in the country and the only team selling out multiple playoffs games; with all the dogfighting going on for expansion teams, somebody has to bite on these guys.

-With all the big goals, skills, and experience that he has, Dwayne De Rosario is 29 years old and has never played a game for a 1st division European club. How crazy is that? I don't even recall anyone ever even putting in an offer for him. Mind-boggling.

-I don't know what bench was closest to the sideline mic's but damn they were swearing like, uh, me.

-TT cried y'all and that's ok. Jim Kelly should give him a pep talk since he's got nothing else going on.

-Was that a soccer game or a stickless hockey game? Cats were looking to bruise, hack, and break the opposition like I've never seen before and it made for an Ugly Betty of a 1st-half. So much for "the beautiful game".

-That was one of the best looking pitch's I've seen in a while, anywhere. If you see RFK's groundskeeper out on the lash anytime soon buy him a shot...he deserves it.

-I hope that Khano Smith never seeks a career in crime. How fucking dumb do you have to be to head butt someone DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE REFEREE?! He should spend some time on Capital Hill while he's Washington to learn how to not get caught doing things you shouldn't.

-There was a gay leather bar-level of beardedness on the field. It's over now boys, fucking shave. Pat Onstad was looking like pre-Botox Kenny Rogers out there.


The Sunshine State Just Got a Lot More Cockney


So about a year ago it seemed like every American with a private jet, and a trophy wife wanted an EPL side to call their own. The most notorious of these trans-Atlantic couplings was Manchester United falling into the hands of the Glazer family, owners of the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs.

In an odd reach-around it's been revealed today that London's West Ham are prepping to field a side in Tampa, officially the most ironic thing not to be found on a hipsters tee-shirt. Mind you the gap between USL1 (where the Hammers side would play) and the EPL is massive, but the move is equal in size to the difference in motives between the 2 investors; the yanks aren't in it for the football -it's strictly about getting more paper- while the Europeans are aimed at improving their club through player development.


Someone Should Really Get Viagra as a Shirt Sponsor?

What's a Friday around here without a dick joke? Incomplete (especially if you are DB from Austin ;).

I'll tell you what though. If Viagra can get you shooting bike-kicks from the half way line with enough forced to blow a hole in the back of the net they should be part of every teams pre-game ritual. I feel sorry for the ladies on the receiving end of that kinda power though...hate to see what that does to a cervix.

It's Official: AEG's Out, Red Bull Now Own 100% of Stadium


Oh dear sweet creeping Jesus, there is actually some seemingly good news coming out of the RBNY camp. It appears that the Red Bull buy out of AEG's portion of the Harrison stadium is now complete.

In other "I never thought this would actually happen" news, I finally cleaned the bathroom without having to be asked by my missus.

New Team But No Title Game: MLS Cup Won't Air in Seattle


With all the kumbaya going around about the new Seattle expansion side, how whack is it that MLS Cup won't be shown in the market? Wasn't there a bunch of talk of how Seattle was going to be this great TV market? I imagine that is only true if the games are, you know, on air.

RFK Seating Updated For MLS Cup?

RFK image for The Offside Rules

Check out the seating behind the goal in the photo above. Have the seats behind the goal been reinstalled? They haven't been seen since before the Nationals came into Estadio RFK. Now that they baseballers are gone, are these seats back? Or is the league using an old (and more aesthetically pleasing) photo on the homepage today? If anyone knows let us know, mmkay?

UPDATE: Mystery solved. Old picture, which is a shame. RFK wasn't half bad to look at like that.

And Then There Were 3: Schopp Called Up For Austria

Markus Schopp image for The Offside Rules

I read this great quote on Yanks Abroad yesterday about how DC United dealt with the playoff injuries to two of their key starting attacking players Emilio and Moreno.

"Because of the injuries, unproven (and that may be a huge understatement) players such as Guy-Rowland Kpene and Nicholas Adderly were forced to step in and attempt to make a contribution.

Let's take another look at this.

The league's leading goalscorer this season, and the all-time leading MLS goal scorer, were expected to be replaced by a guy who played his last professional soccer in the second-division Vietnamese league (Adderly), and another guy who just last season was playing PDL (Kpene)."

I'm not posting this as a shot at DC in any way. It's just illustrates that finding depth on the club level is not always the easiest thing to do. And sometimes it's not much better on the international front either. For instance Austria is so bad off that they have called in Markus Schopp to play against England. He is now the third RBNY player on international duty this weekend.

If you are lucky enough not to have had to watch him sit on the New York bench all season for a $175K (not to mention the $1m+ he's still getting from Red Bull Salzburg) you may not know that he's kinda crap. Seriously, he couldn't even start for RBNY yet he's getting called up for a mid-tier European national team against England. The depth pool must be tide-pool shallow in Vienna. M-A-D-N-E-S-S.

Maybe they think he can still do it like this.

Rumor: Real Madrid Interested in Signing Jozy

Jozy Altidore image for The Offside Rules

And so it begins. Setanta is reporting this morning that Real Madrid, REAL FREAKING MADRID!, is interested in signing the Boy King of New York & Jersey. The original source is local Spanish paper AS, but to be straight up with you I have no idea how credible it is so if anyone can offer any insight please holler.

Not even sure what to think about this now, but the prospect of him going to Madrid is a little much. Could I see him playing in Spain? Absolutely. But getting a real sniff of 1st team action at Real might be a stretch. Maybe Athletico Madrid would be a better fit. Let's see how this all plays out after the weekend.

Props to an anonymous reader for the heads up.


Jozy in South Africa Exciting, But It Isn't Everything

Jozy Altidore image for The Offside Rules

As Saturday's US men's tilt with South Africa gets closer, I find myself more excited about this friendly than MLS Cup. A lot of that has to do with the prospect of Jozy getting his first taste of full international football.

I'm really trying to reign in my excitement and happiness for him and the other 80's Babies. Since there is already more than a bit of hype out there about the game, maybe I should try a little harder. And I will, I promise. Right after I hip you to this Jeff Carlisle bit on this very thing and so much more surrounding this Saturday's match.

In the end though, whether the Boy King of New York & Jersey plays or not is of only minimal import. What's more important is how the team as a whole plays, travels and takes in the environment since they will return to South Africa for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and hopefully the World Cup in 2010. Coach Bob Bradley and the Boys Scouts live by the same motto: Be Prepared.

Luciano Emilo? MVP? Really?

Luciano image for The Offside Rules

Luciano Emilio is the MLS MVP for 2007. Really? Did he increase the asses in seats, rope in scores of Hispanic fans, turn his team around or have bootleg jerseys like Blanco? Did he single-handedly keep his team alive this season be scoring damn-near every goal they had like Angel? Nope...and yes I know he is the illest Brazilian north of Sao Paolo and west of the Spanish coast and he won the Golden Boot.

And isn't that enough? Can't we spread the wealth? Did he win it as a reward for his actions on the pitch or to further prop up a franchise in need of all the accolades it can get while they are trying to get a much-needed and deserved stadium? Or perhaps he got it because you can't give it to The Hunchback of Bridgeview because he was only here half a season (although he made the most of it). And just maybe he got it because as much as the league loves Angel, that NY/NJ franchise is undeserving of any rewards until it gets it's act together.

Anyone else love a good conspiracy theory?

Urinal Sliding: Do Not Try This at Home (or Away)

Oh my God. WTF is going on with Aberdeen fans these days? I know it's pretty hopeless to dream of an SPL Championship season up there, but fuck's sake that is no reason to chuck away all sense of self and turn the urinal into a Slip n' Slide.
This was shot in the bogs at Parkhead and has got to be one of the most disturbing things I have ever witnessed. But maybe that's because I'm not into water sports.

This Just In: New Images of Redesigned Red Bull Park

New Red Bull Park image for The Offside Rules

The American soccer myth that is the Harrison stadium aka Red Bull Park is akin to a mermaid; beautiful and intriguing but will you ever actually see it?

For now the updated rendering above is the only artifact we have to hold us over. As you may have heard the project is still mired in the legal mire of the Red Bull/AEG buyout. But since AEG will no longer be involved, Der Austrians saw fit to trade up on the existing design -which was definitely nice- for something newer, curvier and prettier; isn't what people always do after a divorce?

Note the subtle changes like the curved roof, upper deck only on 3 sides, and 2-color seating. If and when it ever gets built it'll be the nicest in the league, unless DC's gets done first.

Shout out to DH for coming through with the image.

MLS Anthem Gets the Official Re-Rub


For your listening pleasure the bigwigs, honchos, and musical directors over at MLS HQ have retooled the MLS anthem for this Sunday's cup final, the results of which can be heard here. They added some ghostly choral vocals in to the mix...just to make it sound that much more like the Champions League theme.

Now remember folks, who put out the original MLS Anthem remix waaaaaaay back in June! Just like P Diddy (mistakenly) said, we invented the remix!

Debacle! TOR Shut Out of Best Soccer Blog Award Voting


US Soccer is now deep in the throws of voting for it's 2007 Best Of Awards and it has come to my attention that this blog isn't even nominated. Which is 113% outrageous but whatevs. You can check out all of the blogs that are nominated here and if you feel that this snub is an egregious offense feel free to use the write in ballot (although to my knowledge no one has ever won anything ever on a write in).

Even though TOR gets no love, we will still spread love. We are officially throwing our unsubstantial weight behind two of the finest blogs around, the mighty Dunord and ThisIsAmericanSoccer.

MLS Fatheads for All of Your Outsized Fandom Needs

JPA Fathead image for The Offside Rules

You know you have stepped up as a league when accountants can now purchase freakishly large wall stickers of your best players for their offices. Fathead is not offering a small selection of MLS Fatheads featuring team crests and even a few players; JPA (as the image above would imply), The Hunchback of Bridgeview, Landycakes and of course Goldenballs -who is available in multiple poses and hairstyles.

You can peep the entire selection here. How odd is it though that Fathead has these and Wallbangers doesn't? You'd think with all the money the spend advertising on FSC (they are every third ad it seems) that they would have gotten to MLS first.


Images of Seattle Enormodrome Downsized for MLS

Qwest Field: Northside image for The Offside Rules
Qwest Field: Southside image for The Offside Rules

Someone sent us a couple of PDF's of what the downsized for your pleasure Qwest Field aka Gillette West will look like. Having something pretty to look at on the tarps is better than the vast expanses of solid blue at Gillette East for sure. So is tarping off the upper decks. I may, may, be down with this someday. Now if they buckle and get grass in the place that would certainly get them that much closer to getting an endorsement from TOR.

Oh and invent some way to project the football lines on the field instead of painting them.

Them Birmingham Boys Will Help You Score

Duran Duran image for The Offside Rules

For the sake of making this post only fractionally relevant I will inform you of the following piece of useless information. Duran Duran has played Birmingham's Villa Park -home ground of Aston Villa- exactly twice. They are the only band to do so. Interesting.


I went to see them last night in NYC and have to say that if you like chasing "women" as opposed to "girls" that shit was the fabled happy hunting ground, full of what I'll call sexy office workers who were taking semi-provocative photos of their big night out (they'll be the hit of the Accounts Payable Dept. today). Even if you are married like me, take your lady. Due to the constraints of what I like to refer to as -insert finger quotes here- reality, she will have to sleep with you even though she is all moist for John Taylor. Seriously, if their tour is coming to your local arena or theatre get tickets now.

Here's a tip if you decide to take my advise. The 1st hour they play their entire new Timbaland and Timberlake produced album front to back. So skip it (although 'Niterunner' and 'Skin Divers' are like 'AYO Technology' for the pop set). Then after a 10 minute intermission they launch into a shockingly dope 'electro' set where they get all robotic and cover Kraftwerk and "Warm Leatherette". Then in the final hour they cut the shit and head into full-on 80's glory seeker mode and drop the bangers...Planet Earth, The Reflex, Girls on Film etc.

Also someone used one of their tracks for some footy video or other. If you look closely you can see Edson Buddle having a possible narcotic-induced fisticuffs with Matt Reis.