Thursday, July 29, 2010

Couple other things

As Andrew mentioned two posts down, there has been a lot of other news that we haven't posted about due to busy personal schedules. Here's my take on a few.

The Sporting-Celtic game at Fenway was awesome. It was really cool to see a soccer game in that stadium, with a greater number of constantly-enthusiastic fans than any baseball game you'll see there. Seriously. People aren't loud non-stop for any baseball game, anywhere, no matter the stage; it's due to the nature of the sport. I already loved Fenway before this game happened, but to see it with a crowd the quality of which it deserved was pretty incredible.

Another positive concerning that game was my T ride going in. It's common to see the trains loaded with Red Sox fans on home game nights, but it was something else to see them loaded with Celtic and Sporting fans, all dressed in green. A lot of them were visibly passive soccer fans-- their green Boston Celtics T-shirts suggested this. But the atmosphere was nevertheless great.

The other major thing I'm writing about today has to do with the USMNT. After speculation about Bob Bradley going to Fulham, and a host of names thrown around for the US job, Mark Hughes has been hired at Fulham. It also came out today that Bradley will in fact coach the team for the August 10 friendly with Brazil. His contract does actually last through that game, so it's not as if this means he's staying on once it expires. However, I'm surer (and equally hopeful) that he and the team are leaning toward renewing his contract. I've been a Bradley fan pretty much since he took over, through all the "fire Bob" moments, and I hope he stays on.

The Brazil squad for that friendly looks great. Out with the old, in with the young. I wish I could go to that game, and if it were on a weekend I would.

Yeah, so Steve Ralston retired. Poor guy. Can't agree on a contract with the Revs. Goes to his hometown to get a 2nd-division team off the ground alongside Nicolas Anelka's brother. Half the ownership group backs out. Team can't afford to pay Ralston. Comes back to the Revs. Comes into a friendly for thirty seconds, and suffers a freak injury unrelated to the knee problem he recently came back from. That's his career ended.


Letter from Brian Bilello

The Revolution sent out a letter, signed by COO Brian Bilello, to season ticket holders a couple days ago. Unlike the previous two, this one didn't have to do with SuperLiga. It said the team will open up seating on the west side of the stadium next season, the side that's normally tarped off. The cameras film the game from the tarped off side, so you may not have known it was tarped off at all if you've only seen Revs home games on TV.

As I began to read the letter, I immediately asked myself the following question, in the hope that the letter would answer it: why are they opening up the other side of the stadium when they've experienced drastically decreased average attendance the past two seasons? They can't even fill the Fort unless Landon Donovan is playing in the game (I mean-- unless his team is playing and people expect him to play at the time they buy their tickets).

Bilello answered my question by saying the organization has noticed "hightened enthusiasm in the stadium" when there are people in the west side, and that there has been increased demand for midfield seats. The first part of this can easily be explained away like this: the only games for which the west side is open to fans are Brazilian and European preseason tour games and David Beckham games. The second part of Bilello's reasoning could be true, but I have my doubts that there's more demand for those seats now than there was two years ago; I think the demand is either constant or down, but that the team is finally giving in because it's desperate for a bigger gate. That's me speculating.

By the way, you can all see updated average attendance each week at Gotta keep these executives honest.

Oh yeah, I should probably add that I think it's cool that they're opening up the west side next season. Seems relevant.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Mike Videira Waived

According to the Revs official site Michael Videira has been waived.

I don't get it. Why waive Videira and keep Khano Smith? At least Videira tries. He was never really given a chance with the Revs. Last year when he did play he did ok, especially for a rookie. This year he made no appearances even as the Revs suffered injury after injury. Did he do something stupid that got Nicol to hate him? Or did Nicol just not like him? I don't know. What I can say is that he should've been given a chance to play, especially given the current roster.

So what's next for him? My guess is that he'll find a PDL team to latch on with. He is Portuguese. Maybe he has some family over there and he can give the 3rd or 4th division a try.

The Revs currently have 2 open roster spots with the retirement of Steve Ralston and the release of Videira. They'll probably be signing two players to fill these spots. Probably 2 of the trialists that they've had recently. I highly doubt they'll bring in a DP but you never know.

There has been plenty of news in regards to the Revs lately. Like winning 3 games in the Super Liga. Oh and there was that game at Fenway and some friendlies that were played in New York. Both John and I have been pretty busy lately taking care of some things in our personal lives. We hope to get these things settled soon and return to normal here at the site sometime soon. You'll know once you see the posts start coming in, like the second part of my MLS cards post that keeps getting delayed.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

DP's and a stadium?

The Revs picked up another win in Super Liga yesterday. I have mixed feeling on the Super Liga and whether it should exist or not. There are many positives and negatives. I'll cover those another time, probably after the season is over. The big news yesterday wasn't the game itself but instead was the announcement after the game. It was a big one as the Fire announced that Nery Castillo was announced as the team's new DP. He joins the team on loan but the Fire have the option to purchase him at the end of the loan spell. No word on what the Fire might have to pay to keep him. This is great for the league as the Fire have a large Mexican fan base and Castillo is a good player. He's only 26. He's not one of those guys coming on the decline at the age of 32. I think he could prove to be a very good fit here and really help the Fire.

Another signing that looks to be completed sometime this week is Kansas City signing Omar Bravo. It's another good singing. He's been a good player and I think he still has a lot left in him. It appears that Chivas has confirmed the move but I haven't heard anything official from Kansas City.

Meanwhile the Revs are rumored to...

reports indicate....

there are rumblings of...

...well there's pretty much nothing in the works as far as a DP for the Revs goes which is quite annoying.

But hey, check out this article over at about a possible stadium in Sommerville. Now that would be pretty cool. It appears that there will be good public transportation via the greenline and possibly some bus routes I would assume. A stadium for the Revs could be the centerpiece of the redevelopment. I sure hope it is. It looks like a good site and I know that there have been Revs fans who in the past have supported the site for a stadium.

I will be posting part two of MLS cards soon. I've just had some things going on which are taking up some time. Hopefully it's up next weekend.

I'll also be posting the results of our World Cup challenge.

The Sporting vs Celtic game this Wed. at Fenway should be a good time. I haven't seen the roster for Sporting yet but I think they're bringing a complete squad. I'm looking forward to the game.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Relatively Slipping

I'll try to make this short. Sometimes I post about non-Revolution MLS games and/or news, and forceably make it pretend to be Revolution news by comparing the actual news with its subject's counterpart in the Revolution. Know what I mean?

The Chicago Fire have said via Twitter (at least that's where I read it) that they will announce a DP this Saturday, July 17. Also, as has been well-publicized, NYRB have signed Thierry Henry (nice performance by TH14 on Jimmy Fallon). NY now has two designated players, and is highly rumored to be trying to exercise its relatively new right to sign a third. Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts recently said the Galaxy are going to announce another DP in the next few days, insinuating that that player is Ronaldinho (scroll a bit over 3/4 into the recording to hear that part).

I'll rope this into Revolution news by saying that the Revolution have, in fact, not signed a DP, and are not rumored to be going after one, as far as I know at least. Maybe someone else has a scoop I haven't heard yet (other than Billelo's standard "we look into it on an ongoing basis but haven't found a good match" claim). This is serious, because each time another MLS club buys a DP or builds a stadium, it makes the Revolution's lack of those particular items more and more noticeable. By comparison, it makes the Revolution a less and less exciting team to follow, and it also makes Bob Kraft a cheaper and cheaper owner (again, relatively speaking).

See how I did that?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Revs Best LA, the better team wins

On Saturday night the Revs the LA Galaxy. The better team won. I really can't stand to watch teams that are coached by Bruce Arena play on the road. He's so defensive. He rarely plays for the win and pretty much always plays for the draw. It's boring soccer. So when the Revs did the bulk of the attacking on Saturday it wasn't much of a surprise.

It was a good win for the Revs. They didn't play great but they played alright for the most part. (I've been told that alright isn't a word). Well, it is for me and the purposes of this site. They kept attacking and eventually scored on a nice free kick by Perovic. Nyassi's goal was great. Sure, it wasn't great in the sense that it was some 30 yard blast that the goalie had no chance at. It was great in that Nyassi did exactly what he's supposed to do. He crashed the net in hopes of a rebound, which there was which led to the goal. Doing these simple things correctly is what can make a bad team a decent team and a decent team a good team.

The attendance for the game was great with just over 20,000 fans. The Galaxy are usually a good draw with Beckham and now Donovan as a result of the World Cup. Neither played but there were probably a good amount of people there expecting to see them. There was also a tournament held at the stadium before the game and by the looks of it, it appeared that if you played in the tournament you got a ticket. I may be wrong on this but if I'm correct then this probably skewed the attendance number a bit. Either way, there were 20,000 fans who saw a solid game of soccer. Hopefully some of them come back for some more.

Part of 2 of my MLS cards post will come. I just haven't been able to do it because I've been pretty busy with some things. It will come soon, I think this weekend.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Attendance Figures

MLS Daily ( looks at MLS attendance figures on an ongoing basis. They posted a chart with season-to-date average attendance for all the teams, with a percentage change from last season's average for each one.

The Revolution scored pretty low, obviously. Despite an overall MLS increase of 9.63%, three teams have had a decreased average from last season: NE, Chivas, and San Jose. NE's drop is the greatest of the three, at 19.92% (this year's number stands at 10,603). Not only that, but the article provides a link to the final 2009 chart, which shows the Revs yet again with the largest dropoff from the previous season in the league, at 21.90%. What that amounts to is an average attendance that was fourth in the league at 17,580 in 2008, and is now third from bottom at, as noted above, 10,603.

The poor support shows at games, even in the Fort. The home opener this season was great; there was so much going on in the Fort that it was almost its own event, in addition to the game in front of us. Since then, however, even the supporters groups have diminished each week, in numbers as well as enthusiasm. Also, why don't supporters groups show up to non-league games? The Fort was utterly empty at the Cruzeiro game (on a Sunday), and nearly so at the Benfica game (ok, it was a Wednesday). It seems that there's been a deterioration of support to accompany the deterioration of quality of soccer the past couple seasons. Good thing they're not on ESPN too often; if I'm trying to draw casual soccer fans to MLS, I'm showing them the quality of the Galaxy and the full-ish Home Depot Center, or the resurgant Red Bulls in their Red Bull Arena, or Seattle with there 36,000+ crazy-blue-and-green fans per game. I'm not showing them the Revolution. Not in 2010.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Same old same old

Sometimes it may appear that we're a bit negative here at the old Boston Ultras HQ. At one point I even started to wonder if we were the only ones and that most other loyal Revs fans were actually quite content with the team. Well, if Mike Burn's answers are any indication of how Revs fans (those of us who are left anyways) are feeling these days then we're not alone. He pretty much got blasted by everyone who posted a comment. Which in fairness, his answers deserved. Here's one quote taken directly from one of his answers

"If fully healthy, we feel our current roster is more than capable of challenging for a league title."

No. I was going to write about how that isn't the case but if he's not going to do a good job answering our questions then why should I bother.

I help run a website dedicated to the New England Revolution. What am I doing with my life?

To be fair to Burns. He probably has little to no power in calling any real shots. Like signing a DP, at the end of the day he probably has little say. I could be completely wrong on this, but I think that's what the case is here.

I had a question about players on loan and how often times you can get these players for free. But he didn't do a very good job answering it. I probably should've asked "Can you explain the rational behind the Khano Smith signing?" Yeah, he probably would've completely skipped that one.

Lets move on to other things, like the 5-0 thrashing on Friday night. I watched the game on Comcast Sports Net. They had some clips of Nicol saying some stuff that was filmed in some studio before the game., I forget what exactly he said. Anyways, did anyone else notice how red his face was? It was like a tomato. He looked like Toni after a Benfica game.

Part 2 of my post on the 2010 MLS cards will be put up sometime this weekend.


Monday, July 5, 2010

MLS Game Of The Week

There were two really good games last night. At 9 o'clock eastern, I watched Colorado draw NYRB 1-1. By the end of that game, the ESPN2 Game Of The Week was about 20 minutes in, and I watched the Galaxy beat the Sounders 3-1 in the remainder of that one.

When I watch non-Revolution MLS games, I tend to ask myself why we can't have such a quality team here in New England as the ones I'm watching. Yesterday was no different. All four of these teams were noticeably better than the Revs, and deservedly have better records as a result.

When 10:30 rolled around, I had to make a decision about whether to finish watching Colorado-NY or to watch LA-Seattle from the start. I chose to finish Colorado-NY because it had been such a great game, and I didn't expect LA-Seattle to quite measure up to it. Omar Cummings stood out-- not only for his goal, but for creating a handful of exciting scoring chances and half-chances. Not only that, but the two teams generally passed the ball exceptionally well. Colorado were clearly the better team, but NY were decent too. It was just a great game to watch.

Having said that, ESPN got it right when choosing the Game Of The Week. This was the game they advertised during World Cup quarterfinal games, hoping to hook in a few casual soccer fans to try watching an MLS game. The fact that it was Donovan's return was reason enough to show this game over the Colorado-NY game. Casual American fans who've watched this World Cup, but hadn't watched a soccer game previously since the last World Cup, have no idea who Omar Cummings is. Or Conor Casey. Or Juan Pablo Angel. Landon Donovan is the guy they'll tune in for.

About the actual game, it was almost as exciting as the first one. The main reason it didn't quite live up is that it was definitely more one-sided. The LA defense had one lapse that led to the goal-- which Steve Zakuani took very well-- and Seattle had a few half-chances and counterattacks late in the game; LA bossed the game otherwise. That said, casual viewers would not be let down by the quality of the game; the passing was great, there were great goals, teams attacked, there was no diving or injury-faking. It had everything I expected from a top-level MLS game. Plus, they got to keep the camera on Donovan when the ball was out of play, and talk about him when there was nothing else to talk about.

It was a great pair of games, and MLS's Game Of the Week turned out to be a very good advertisement for the league. I hope people actually watched it.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

MLS Cards Part 1

I've been collecting sports cards since I was 3 years old. It's something I've always enjoyed doing. So naturally when MLS cards started appearing I started doing some collecting. Unlike other sports, MLS only has one set per year which is made by Upper Deck (UD). This isn't a surprise as for many years baseball, hockey, basketball, and football had only one set per year. Eventually multiple companies entered those markets and now you have Topps, UD, Fleer, Score, etc. making sets for these sports. I think Score and Fleer have actually been bought by Topps and UD but their brands still exist. Maybe in the next 10 years Topps or another company will also enter the marker. For now we have UD which has done a pretty good job for the most part. Anyways, back in May the 2010 UD MLS set came out. Beckett which is the top source for card pricing and product reviews does a segment online and in their price guide called Box Busters in which they review different sets. Check out the link which is a review of the UD 2010 MLS Set. It's a good review and a nice intro to the set. You can also check out this breakdown of the set which gives you a good view of what the set contains. You can also check out the official UD site for the official checklists for the set.

I recently got a hobby box and I'll post my own opinions of the set in part two of this post.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Fire and RSL games, other

I'm watching the New England vs Real Salt Lake game. I started watching in the 35th minute, roughly, and it's now the 60th, and counting. They're already down 4-0. They were listless against Chicago last weekend, but Chicago weren't stellar. A single great goal separated the sides. This time they're paying through the nose for their incompetence. It's pretty bad. I'm rooting for RSL to pour it on so that Steve Nicol's job starts to lose its nearly impenetrable shield.

The best offensive moments for NE are when Alston makes runs with the ball forward. (Robbie Findley should have just made it 5-0. Back to what I was saying...) However, he's been pretty bad defensively. Ives Galarcep has him on his to-watch-for defenders for WC 2014. He had a good season last year, but he's having a sophomore slump, and is probably a victim of a generally poor team. Anyway, he has a long way to go to be an international defender. A long way.

It must be nice to be a Philadelphia Union fan (not a Philadelphia sports fan in general, but of the Union at least). What a great future they have. Jack McInerney-- there's a player to look for in 2014. I've just branded him my favorite young American player. The Union are just about with the Revs in the standings now, but the two teams are going in totally opposite directions. Very young team, and with Peter Nowak and his staff presiding-- there's nobody I'd rather have with the responsibility of preparing the young studs of the league, and the country, than Nowak. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him for taking the job in the first place, even though he was great helping Bradley with the senior team, and great also in the 2008 Olympics.

It's now the 75th minute, and it's still just 4-0. That's a small moral victory for the players. Hopefully Robbie Findley scores, in order to further my personal short/medium-term hope for this team.

((EDIT-- Findley has scored. 5-0. Pretty nice goal by him, pretty indifferent defending by the Revs.))