Three Thoughts from Red Bull Arena – New York Red Bulls 0, DC United 0

Snow GlobeSummary of an exchange I had many times last night:

“What’d you do earlier today – parade?”

“No I was over at the Red Bulls game.  Good time.”

“Oh yeah, who won?”

“Zero-zero.”

And then I’d get that look.  Half sympathetic, as if the result indicated that I’d wasted an afternoon out in Jersey.  Half confused – how can they let things end in a tie?

Yet anyone who watched yesterday knows the score was not at all indicative of the quality or pace of the game.  Journey, not destination, right?  A few thoughts this morning after an up-tempo, chippy, thoroughly entertaining contest in Harrison.

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Thierry Henry is Frustrated, And That’s a Good Thing

AngryBull 

Thierry Henry isn’t happy.  An article by Grant Wahl in last week’s Sports Illustrated caught the attention of the MLS community, with mixed reactions.  The widely distributed portion of the three-page article is Henry’s claim that winning a title in Major League Soccer, “is more difficult than in any league in Europe.”  As Wahl notes, there’s nobody better equipped to make such a judgment.  Henry has won at every level, bagging a World Cup, European Championship and a league title in nearly every league he’s competed in – except Serie A, where he played sixteen games, and MLS.

But it wasn’t the initial statement that created waves, it was Henry’s reasoning; “[In Europe], I didn’t have to tell [ex-Arsenal and France teammates] Robert Pires or Patrick Vieira what to do, so I was concentrating on what I had to do.  I’m not having a go at anyone; I’m just saying that it’s easier to have guys who know exactly what it takes.” [Read more...]

I’m Surprised Red Bulls Fans Aren’t Living in Padded Rooms – Question of Club Identity as it Relates to Red Bull New York

PicassoI woke up Sunday morning with good intentions.  After browsing around online for a bit my goal was to do some laundry and get work done.  Then I landed on this post over at Empire of Soccer, and began my descent into the rabbit hole.

First of all, go read that post.  All credit to “RBNY Optimist” for generating the ideas that set me on the path to writing this.  Wish I knew specifically who the writer was so I could give more credit by that chosen handle will have to suffice.  Honestly, go read the post, react in your own way.  This is simply my extended reaction. [Read more...]

Why I Bought a New York Cosmos Season Ticket

RocketLaunchLast week, while browsing the internet/Twitter, I happened upon the New York Cosmos website – specifically the season ticket page.  Or season ticket deposit page (details).  The rebirth of the Cosmos – who will begin play in the recently re-booted North American Soccer League this August – has been of interest to me, but I hadn’t actually considered buying tickets until that moment.

I certainly intended to buy tickets when the Cosmos eventually (inevitably?) joined MLS, complete with an upgraded roster and new stadium.  What I hadn’t really considered was watching the “new” Cosmos in their infancy, playing games at Hofstra University located well west east of the city.  Yet after a few minutes spent thinking about it, including a glance at the schedule (seven of eight games played on Saturday night – convenient), the drive (roughly 40 minutes from Brooklyn), and the price ($96 for eight games) I decided to submit a deposit. [Read more...]

New York Cosmos Belmont Stadium Plan is Intriguing for New York Area Soccer Scene

BlueprintThere might be a hell of a lot of soccer being played in and around New York City very soon.  A recent, unilateral, stadium proposal by the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) has created an interesting power struggle.  The Cosmos franchise – the most famous and successful in US professional soccer history – has been attempting to reboot for the last few years.  It’s long been assumed that the franchise will eventually link up with Major League Soccer, joining as the league’s 20th team and fulfilling commissioner Don Garber’s wish for a second, high profile, New York area team.  Yet this planned $400 million, 25,000-seat stadium near the existing Belmont Park Race Track puts the franchise in direct competition with MLS, and the league’s proposed stadium near Citi Field in Flushing, Queens.  [Read more...]

Copa America – US Men’s National Team Ready to Swim with the Sharks

The United States Men’s National team has always had a regional dilemma.  On one hand, affiliation with the CONCACAF qualifying region has allowed the USMNT to take advantage of inferior opponents and advance to six consecutive World Cups.  On the other, the US really only has one quality rival – Mexico – and the overall level of competition doesn’t adequately prepare the team to compete against the world’s best.

Recent news suggests the United States is making progress towards a logical solution – taking advantage of the super competitive neighbors to the south.  Reports state the United States is in discussions to host CONMEBOL’s 2016 Copa America Centenario – a special 100 year anniversary celebration of South America’s premier international competition.  Negotiations are ongoing, but the proposal itself (briefly reported as “finalized”) is exciting. [Read more...]

Why Losing is Good for Manchester City

In March of this year, Manchester City, on top of the Premier League, was doing the impossible.  Inundated with talent, bolstered by wealthy owners, Manchester’s other club had turned rival Premier League juggernauts into sympathy cases.  Chelsea couldn’t outspend City, Arsenal had become its feeder club, Liverpool a punchline.  Even Alex Ferguson couldn’t come up with a solution, with comparably meager financial resources at his disposal.  City was unassailable, too talented, too deep.  The club’s financial advantage had reduced the Premier League Season to a coronation.  Fans of competitive balance in sports were resigned to the inevitable. [Read more...]

John Terry – Bulletproof

I’d love to sit in on one of John Terry’s pregame speeches.  See him at work on the practice field, in the locker room.  Because John Terry must be one inspiring son of a bitch.  If you played word association in English soccer, “captain” would immediately evoke an image of a pale, sneering John Terry.  He’s worn the armband for Chelsea since 2004; England for five of the last six years.  And his ongoing run as Chelsea’s captain is certainly a head scratcher. [Read more...]

Final Thoughts – International Break – US Men’s National Team

Club soccer returned this weekend after last week’s break for World Cup qualifying.  Rather than focus too much on the action in MLS and abroad, let’s wrap things up with the US Men’s National Team as it enters a four-month hiatus before the final round of CONCACAF qualifying begins this winter.

The biggest story in American soccer two weeks ago was the omission of Jozy Altidore from roster for the United States’ final two games in the third round of CONCACAF qualifying – games in which the USMNT needed a result to advance.  Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision was widely criticized within the US Soccer community (media, supporters) for a couple reasons.  First, Altidore has been a fixture on the team for years, so it was simply strange to see a roster without his name on it.  Secondly, despite poor showings in recent international appearances, Altidore’s form has been excellent in the early portion of this club season.  Playing for the Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, Altidore opened the season with eight goals in as many games, compared to fifteen goals all of last season.  Klinsmann, who has espoused a philosophy of club form influencing national team selection, was not persuaded by Altidore’s production.  Furthermore, Klinsmann opted to pass over Chris Wondolowksi, far and away the top scorer in Major League Soccer. [Read more...]

That’ll Do, Klins: USA defeats Guatemala 3-1, Advances to Hex

Never a doubt.  After a lot of hand wringing last week about Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster decisions, specifically the omission of Jozy Altidore, USA took six points from six and advanced to the fourth and final round of qualifying for World Cup 2014.  After defeating Antigua and Barbuda on Friday night, Klinsmann’s team only needed a draw at home against Guatemala to advance.  What they got instead was a 3-1 victory, and an attacking performance that should inspire confidence going forward.

There was a sense of calm heading into this game despite the United States needing a result to advance.  If disaster was going to strike, Friday felt like the night.  Battling the worst team in the group, away, in a driving storm on a muddy field, USA needed an injury time winner from Eddie Johnson to secure three points.  Disaster averted; Klinsmann’s experimental attacking unit came through.  Barely.  All they had to do tonight was play to a draw against an inferior opponent, on a pristine field in front of American fans.  And for about five minutes everything went according to plan. [Read more...]