Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bradley stays on

After a month and a half of speculation concerning the future of USMNT manager Bob Bradley, yesterday he grabbed the torch and jumped into the legendary gauntlet which no American manager has ever before successfully negotiated: the English Premier League. Fellow American Randy Lerner has assigned Bradley the daunting task of succeeding Martin O'Neill at Villa Park!

Just kidding.

After a month-and-a-half-long job search, after prodding the managerial job market in Europe (but with "no opportunities at this point"), and after heavy rumors linking Jurgen Klinsmann to the USMNT post, Bob Bradley has signed on with the USMNT for another four years. This one is true, as you know.

I love this news.

Enough from me.


New deal with Adidas

An Associated Press article came out yesterday on ESPN.com, reporting that Adidas and MLS signed a new eight-year contract that will run through 2018. The article suggests the deal is worth more than $200 million (according to "a person with knowledge of the deal"). A favorite site of ours, Footiebusiness, also has a nice article on the deal, which includes more information than the AP one.

Specifically, merchandise, equipment, uniforms, and increased advertising comprise the deal. However, the fact that MLS has a renewed strong partnership with Adidas is good for other programs too, as well as the league generally. For example, neither article mentions the Generation Adidas program, but Don Garber's statement that Adidas has "a clear vision for the sport in North America," and that it "[sees] MLS as a cornerstone of that vision," suggest that Generation Adidas has a reasonably healthy near future.

Footiebusiness also references this surprising (to me) statistic in this article in the Sports Business Journal: annual MLS merchandise sales have increased 600% over the past five years, topping out at $300 million most recently. The article then answers the first question that came to my mind: for how much of that jump can we directly thank David Beckham? Only $300,000 Beckham revenue dollars were made, but it's unclear by the text whether that was just in 2007 or to-date. Let me do some math...600% over five years made $300m, which means five years ago there were $50 million in merchandise sales...so that's a $550 million increase over five years, only $300 thou of which was directly from Beckham. That tells a pretty damn good story for the rest of the league. Or maybe Beckham's influence has been greater than Grant Wahl would have us think, in terms of raising interest in the rest of the league.

Anyway, merchandise is one of three major sources of revenue for most of the soccer world (the other two being gate and TV). While TV has been dispairingly flat over the past few years, and attendance has been up and down (down last season, up this season), it's good to know the league's merchandise sphere is doing this well.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Revs fall to Union, Jankauskas out?

Revs lost to the Union on Saturday. The Revs were pretty bad and so were the Union. Neither team did anything to win the game. Not many chances on either side. A pretty bad soccer game to watch. From what I've heard there were a few those this past weekend.

According to zerozero.pt Jankauskas has left the Revolution to return to the Lithuanian league. Sometimes zerozero gets these wrong but they're pretty reliable for the most part. Keep a look out on the Revs official site over the next few days to see if this is legit.

Spanish league started this league. My pick is Real Madrid. You can't bet against Jose Mourinho. Lets see how Malaga does, Jesualdo is now the coach there. Lets just say he and Mourinho do not get along very well.

Wigan with the big win this past weekend. Good stuff.

Look for this site to improve over the next couple of months. Me and John plan on making it a full site before the end of the year.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


On Tuesday Braga advanced to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in the club's history. They did this by defeating a Sevilla team that has been a regular in the competition. This is a huge win for Braga. It's a small club in a city with less than 200,000 residents. The club's administration has done a great job the last 5 years or so managing the club's finances. Unlike most other clubs in Portugal, Braga is not heavily in debt and tend to live within their means. From a financial perspective this win is huge. I'm not sure how much they're getting for qualifying for the group stage. I've heard as low as 5 million EUR and as high as 15 million EUR. Lets say it's 10 million EUR. For Braga that's a lot of money. The team's salary is well below that level. The club stands to make even more money via the gate and could advance to the next stage of the competition. They got a good draw, Arsenal, Partizan, and Shakhtar Donetsk. It won't be an easy group but it's certainly within their reach to qualify for the next round. I hope they do and that they can use these new funds to cement themselves as a regular competitor for the Portuguese championship. ABOLA is also reporting that Hugo Viana is close to leaving Valencia and joining Braga on a free transfer. He was on loan at Braga last year and was a big part in their drive for the title last year. His addition would be a big boast for the team.

Sporting was able to travel to Denmark today and overturn a 2-0 loss at home with a 3-0 victory to move on to the next round of the UEFA Cup. I didn't see that coming.

Porto was also able to advance. They have played very well thus far.

Should be a fun year over in Europe.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bradley to Villa?

One more thing. Bob Bradley told Sky Sports recently that his people contacted Aston Villa about the managerial vacancy there. It's all very cloudy, because neither the caretaker manager at Villa nor Bradley himself has taken a hard stance. Personally, I want Bradley to stay at the USMNT post for four more. It would be cool to see him at Villa, and it would be cool to see a fresh face coaching the US, but I think once the novelty wears off I'd like most of all to have Bradley be the guy at the helm of my most selfishly held home team.

Stu Holden didn't really get into the game this weekend until an hour into it, and overall was a peripheral figure (by get into the game I mean find his place in the game; he did start). Good game though, Bolton 3-1 West Ham. Altidore played about 15 minutes for Villarreal in a Europa League game. I didn't see it, but he better get some playing time this season. It'll be hard at that club. Very very important season ahead for these two.



"What's that? Uh-- d-- playoffs?? Don't talk about.....playoffs?? You kidding me? Playoffs??" Ahh, the soothing sounds of Jim Mora. It's the only Mora track I have on my iPod.

As Mora's Indianapolis Colts fell short of the playoffs in 2001, so it looks like the Revolution will in 2010. What is it-- 8 straight seasons they've made the playoffs under Nicol? Something like that.

The Revs have lost their last two, after going 8 straight games without a loss (which included 3 wins and a draw in the league). It was bound to end sometime. They sit 6th in the East and 13th overall, with ten league games to go.

I expect Nicol to prepare his team for the defining game of its season on September 1, the SuperLiga final. It's at Gillette (I can't make it, but it's nice that it's a home game). It's also the game that will most likely decide whether they win anything this season. Not that anybody cares that much about SuperLiga, but the Revs have been able to at least partially salvage otherwise lost seasons in this fashion a few times recently, by winning SuperLiga in 2007 and the US Open Cup in 2008. It's something, and I hope they win it, but I think it would look much better as an accessory than as the main attraction in the trophy cabinet, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I've missed the last two Revs home games for other personal commitments. Andrew and I will both be at the game this weekend, and with a pretty big crowd. Can't wait. I'm really excited to see Philadelphia, even though their record isn't good.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

MLS Salaries, KC, New DP

The MLS players union recently released an updated listing of salaries which includes two of New England's most recent signings. You can check them out here MLS Salaries. Lets take a look at the Revs.

Two names that jump out are Jankauskas ($240,000) and Colaluca ($133,000). If Jankauskas were healthy he might actually be worth the salary. But as we all know he hasn't been. The Revs have paid him a pretty big salary to sit on the bench hurt and watch games from the sidelines. I'm pretty sure his contract runs out at the end of the year. I will always remember Jankauskas for what he did in the Champions League, but as a Revs fan I'd have to say that they shouldn't resign him. Colaluca is in the same boat as he hasn't been healthy for most of the season. Again, cap space tied up with a player who isn't healthy.I'm a bit surprised by Alston's salary ($124,000) since it's only his second year as a pro. Did he sign a 1 year deal as a rookie then get a good second contract? No surprise that the rookies are making the minimum. I haven't taken a look at the complete list but I assume that most rookies make the league minimum. I don't think we really discovered anything new about the Revs through this list. They have some significant cap space being occupied by players who aren't healthy. One thing I'd like to see when these lists are released would be to have the years remaining on the contract next to the salary as we'd get a better idea of cap flexibility for future years.

Revs were in KC tonight and lost 4-1. Always tough to play away mid week and then play away again a few days later. I'm not a big fan of Gibbs on the left side. Not his fault as he's always been a center back. But, he may be the best option at this point as it seems Nicol has lost confidence in Sinovic. The Revs are going to have to go on a pretty impressive run to finish the season if they want to make the playoffs. It's going to be tough. It starts on Saturday with a must win at home against Philly.

San Jose announced the signing of a DP, Giovanni. The Brazilian has played for teams including Barcelona, Benfica, and Hull City. He's a good player on the wing. He's very fast and skillful. He's solid in the air. I haven't seen his salary but I'm going to assume it was on the lower end of what a DP gets. Something around 500,000 - 700,000 a year. I'd say it's worth it for that money as he's a good player who's going to improve the team and help the team win. He's not going to sell tickets like a Marquez or a Beckham (a specific population or casual fans), but he's going to improve the team's play which can help draw in fans who follow the European leagues but not MLS. Signing players like Giovanni will help raise the quality of games which will help convert these soccer fans into MLS fans. That's why I really like this signing.

I'd have to say that so far my Wigan prediction looks like pure genius haha.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Is it too late?

As we've all seen the Revolution have been struggling at the gate. Attendance has been on the decline for several years. This year's attendance has been pretty bad contrary to what management states. I wish I could say that I'm surprised with these attendance numbers but I'm not. Anyone who's been following the team pretty much saw it coming.

Which leads me to this interesting comment made by Jason Davis over on Matchfit USA. Here's the quote, "Where's New England's obviously needed Portuguese star?". Well Jason, I along with many others have been asking this question for many years. The closest thing we've ever had was Chiquino Conde (who is from Mozambique). I really enjoyed watching him play here during his short stint with the Revs. Jair was solid as well (from Cape Verde). True, neither are from Portugal but both are from countries who Portugal still has close ties to. The others I won't mention as I've been in a good mood lately and don't want to get myself all riled up.

If the Revs were to sign a big time Portuguese player would it be enough to draw Portuguese fans in? The answer was once a clear yes but as time goes by I'm not as sure as I once was. I have actually felt disrespected by a couple of their signings. That's how bad they were. These signings leave a bad taste in our mouths. Perhaps even if they do sign a player the impact won't be as great as it once could've been.

I don't get why they didn't go out and sign a player especially with the stadium so close to Providence, Milford, Hudson, Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River. They've tried but apparently they haven't tried hard enough.

What do you think? Will the Revs ever make a Portuguese signing that we can proud of?


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Revs with a big win

Revs got a big win last night 1-0 over Houston to keep their playoff hopes alive.

I sat in the Fort as I usually do. I haven't noticed this much this year but I noticed it last night. Where the Rebellion usually sit there were a few groups of people sitting waiting for the start of the game. The Rebellion showed up and started doing what they usually do (standing, singing, making lots of noise and what not). Well, these people were visibly upset and left that section of the fort and moved to the right. I know the Revs have been making an effort to inform people about the Fort and what it is, but it appears not everyone who buys tickets to the Fort knows what they're getting into. For example, last night a youth soccer team was going to sit right behind the Rebellion but they moved right before the game started. I kind of wish they hadn't, I would've loved to see the chaperons reactions once the game started haha. Anyways, the Revs should make a continued effort to inform people who buy tickets to the fort and make sure they know exactly what it is so that people aren't upset. Perhaps the Revs should block off a few rows for the Rebellion, The Riders, and The Army so that people know that's where they sit.

Lets get back to the game. The Revs played a solid game. They were able to control most of the possession and spent much more time in the final third than Houston did. However, they still weren't able to create many quality chances. The goal was a bit lucky as Nyassi totally whiffed on his shot and the ball went straight to Stolica and he placed it perfectly. But hey, luck's a part of the game, sometimes it goes in your favor sometimes it doesn't. Last night it went in our favor, I'll take it.

Houston didn't really do anything in the final third until they were down 1-0. After the goal they applied some pressure but were never able to create any clear scoring chances. In the end the Revs still weren't able to create many chances but they played well enough to deserve the win. It was a solid game to attend.

Wed. the Revs are in Chicago. It's going to be a tough game with the Fire's additions of Castillo and Ljunberg. They've been playing well. Should be an entertaining game.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Portuguese First Divison

Portugal's first division is often overlooked, but if you take a look around Europe you'll find that many of the players on the top teams across Europe got their start in Portugal. It's the league I follow most closely. If you're interested in following it you can head over to espn3.com and stream some games. They stream 1 game per weekend and it's free. If you live somewhere like New Bedford, Fall River, Cambridge, or Lowell you can head over to the local Portuguese club or Portuguese owned bar and watch all the games there as they are broadcast here in the States via RTPi and Sport TV.

One of the biggest problems in Portugal has been that clubs are in bad shape financially. This is due to a number of factors but can be attributed to two main reasons; corrupt club administrations and clubs not living within their means. Unfortunately many club presidents see the presidency of a club as a way to steal a lot of money while at the same time not living within the club's means. These two things together have been catastrophic for clubs like Setubal, Guimaraes, Estrela Amadora, and countless others. Even the big 3 clubs face tough financial times.

I could go on and on about the problems the league and clubs face. But I don't really feel like typing 200 pages right now so I'll move on to this year's season.

Champion: I'm going to go with FC Porto. You can probably guess who I support. But really, I do believe that they will win it. They have a good young coach in Andre Vilas Boas. He was an assistant to Jose Mourinho for several years. He's going to bring out the best in players such as Belluschi who didn't always see eye to eye with Jesualdo Ferreira. They've made good additions such as the signing of Joao Moutinho. They have a good starting 11 and have a deep roster. They have some younger players who could make an impact such as Castro and Ukra. Varela is a player who I'm expecting will have a big year. I also expect a deep run in the Uefa Cup. They've got a team that can win it. Hey, they did it Mourinho's first full year as coach.

Second Place: Sporting. They have looked good during their pre season. The addition of Maniche is a big one. He's on the decline but I think paired up with Pedro Mendes they're going to form a very good partnership in the midfield. Matias Fernandez is another player who can make things happen coming out of the midfield. He had a tough year last year adjusting to the league. Now that he's more familiar he'll be a more consistent performer. Another player who has looked very good so far has been Sinama Pongolle. The team's biggest question mark is defense and in goal. I still don't think they have a reliable left back and Rui Patricio is very shaky in goal. That being said I still expect them to have a good year and go far in the Uefa Cup although they have a tough draw against Brondby in the next round.

Third Place: Braga. Domingos had a great first year as coach leading the team to a second place finish and a chance for Champions League qualification. They were able to bring back Luis Aguiar who will be their playmaker in the midfield. Andres Madrid has also looked good so far. A talented player who has seemed lost the past two seasons. I think this one's going to be different. The loss of Hugo Viana is a big one as he was the team's big playmaker last year but I think Domingos will have this team ready to play. Braga has Sevilla in Champions League qualification. It's a tough draw but I think it's winnable. Making the Champions League would be a huge financial boast for this club. The fans and city of Braga deserve it.

Fourth Place: Benfica. Last season was a fluke. Plain and simple. I am still not convinced that Jorge Jesus is a good coach. Also, Benfica's best friend Ricardo Costa is no longer a part of the league's disciplinary commission due in part to the Hulk fiasco that occurred last year among other things. So what that means now is when David Luiz and Luisao committ fouls deserving of cards they might actually get carded as opposed to last year when they'd laugh and tell the ref. that it was a fair challenege and the ref. would laugh and say "ok, I believe you". Rui Costa better watch out, now that Ricardo's gone he can't go walking into the tunnel with a bunch of thugs and start fights with the opposing team. Remember when I was talking about problems with the Portuguese League. Well, here's the biggest problem, Benfica. To be honest, I'd take it one step further and say their Portugal's biggest problem. But hey, that'd require a pretty big history lesson. So lets just leave it at that.

The other team in Europe is Maritimo. They've got a good coach in Mitchell Van Der Gaag. Their roster is decent. Djalma up front is good. One thing that I'd like to see them do is reduce the number of foreigners on the roster and give the youngsters of Madeira a chance to prove themselves. The island produces a lot of good players. They should be given a chance to show their talent on their home soil.

So, who could surprise some people this year. Well, it's always tough to determine in Portugal. Before the season begins you'll find a couple of clubs with good rosters and then those clubs barely avoid relegation. Usually, this is due to some very bad coaching. Lets take a look.

Academica could be a surprise. Jorge Costa is now their coach. He coached Olhanense last year and barely stayed in the top flight. However, Olhanense played some very good soccer last year. I'd say the poor results were a result of having a very young team. At Academica he's got some good players who have experience. They'll be battling for a Uefa Cup spot.

Now this is just random. Naval has 6 French players on their roster and a player from Guadeloupe. Very random as it's not very common to find French players in the Portuguese League. They had quite a few French players last year as well, so I guess since they had a bunch they figured they'd hire a French coach too. It's probably a good move. I just hope they play some attractive soccer.

So after reading this you know who I support and who I clearly do not support. A site worth checking out is www.zerozero.pt This site is great for all leagues, not just the Portuguese league. They have rosters and line ups for all of the major leagues as well as historical results for all major leagues and competitions. It's very easy to follow if you don't know any Portuguese.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

European Season

Here's a response to Andrew's post. Let's get this out of the way: good job getting rid of Joseph Niouky.

Concerning the EPL: My pick is Man United to win it. True: they didn't make any headline signings other than Javier Hernandez. However, Hernandez IS a big deal in my opinion. Not only that, but it's time for the young players to take over the team; Ferguson has been blooding the new generation over the past couple seasons alongside the old guard. These players are as good as new signings as far as the first team goes. Welbeck, Macheda, Gibson, the Da Silva twins, and Evans are some of the main players I'm talking about. I'll go with these players to turn Man Utd into a winner, and I'd like to see a young league champion too.

I'd also like to register my prediction that Barcelona will win La Liga again. As much as I love Mourinho, I'm going with my other favorite club manager in the world to take it home again this season.

Also, Diego back in Germany will be GOOD. Wolfsburg could make a major comeback in the league this season after a disappointing 2009/10.

Di Maria will suck at Real Madrid. I can't believe Mourinho signed him. I watched him in three full games last season: once against Porto, once against Sporting, and once for Argentina against Catalunya. He sucked in all of them, despite scoring a goal against Catalunya. I asked Andrew to verify my judgment (which was that Di Maria was a piece of crap, and had no business being praised the way he was as the next diamond out of Argentina), and Andrew generally agreed with me. (The reason I asked Andrew is that he knows the Portugese league better than I do.)

Just throwing these out there. I could draw my explanations out much more detailedly (made "detailed" into an adverb) than this, but I figure I hate it when TV analysts try to apply science to predictions, so I'll leave it at this and consider them guesses. Except the Man United one, of course-- that's fact. The Barca bit too. And also the Di Maria thing...he sucks. Yeah, I'm unsure about Diego though. Seriously.


English First Divison

Like many others here in the US who follow MLS, I also follow European soccer quite closely. So I figured I'd write about some of the leagues over the next few days and share my thoughts. Lets start with the English league.

Chelsea are the defending champions and we've seen some clubs such as Manchester City and Tottenham emerge as challengers for the top 4 spots. It's tough to call as all of the big clubs have some very big question marks. There's no clear cut favorite. I can easily see how someone could predict Chelsea to win it all and then see them come in fourth. So here's my prediction.

Champion: Arsenal. The last few years I didn't really consider these guys to be true challengers. They were just too young and every year it seemed like one or two very important pieces would be leaving. They've been able to keep their squad intact and have one more year of experience. I just think their time has come and this is their year.

Second Place: Manchester City. A full preseason with Mancini will be a big difference between last years team and this years. I know a lot of people will laugh at this but I think they're the real deal. They've made some good improvements on the defensive side of the ball and we all know what they can do up front.

Third Place: Manchester United. I had a hard time picking between United and Chelsea here. I don't see how United's transfers over the summer have made them much better. They picked up Hernandez who will help them out up front but they already had a pretty good offense. It's the midfield and the defense I'd be worried about. I don't see it holding up for an entire year. By the way, I find their new jersey to be pretty ugly. It's the AON I don't like, I just don't like the way it looks. The AIG looked much better as did the Vodafone. Just not a fan of the AON.

Fourth Place: Chelsea. They're old and on the decline. John Terry isn't going to be able to hold that back line together and Ricardo Carvalho is now gone.

Liverpool will become the next Leeds. Yeah, probably not but I'm not even considering them as a threat to the top 4. I honestly thing a finish in the bottom half is highly possible. Tottenham could certainly challenge for a spot in the top 4.

Sunderland could surprise some people as could Wigan. I can't see either challenging for a top 4 spot but I think they'll be battling it out for the Uefa Cup.

Those are some thoughts. I know I didn't provide much analysis but I kind of just wanted to throw some things out there just for the hell of it. I follow other leagues much more closely which I'll cover in much more detail in the coming days.

Oh yeah, there was some Revolution news today. They got rid of Joseph Niouky. Good move. Now bring in a DP. Ok, we know that's not going to happen. I'd write more but I'm sure The House of Soccer will do a great job covering this topic so I'll leave it to them.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dunkin Donuts

I went to Dunkin Donuts this morning to get the usual iced coffee and noticed a stack of flyers on the counter by the cash register. The Revs are partnering up with Dunkin Donust for Customer Appreciation Night. The promotion is as follows, for $30 you can buy a ticket to one of four games and you get a ticket for free. So you get 2 tickets for $30, ($15 each). $15 for a ticket along with free parking is a good deal. I think it's safe to say that Dunkin Donuts is the most popular place in New England when it comes to getting coffee in the morning. This gives the Revs some good visibility in the area. It's also interesting to note that at least 2 of these games are the same games that go along with the Papa Gino's promotion we wrote about back in May. The Revs have done a similar promotion in years past with Dunkin Donuts. It'd be nice to see the results of the promotion from years past and compare them to this years. The first game that includes this promotion was the game this past Saturday with DC United. The game has slightly more than 12,000. Lets see how the attendance is this Saturday, which is included in this promotion. All in all it appears to be a good promotion which can hopefully draw some casual fans to a game.

One last thing. If you see the flier take a look at Shalrie Joseph's face. Priceless.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Revs Win! What's with the Martino Hype?

The Revs beat DC United last night at home 1-0. Not a very good game to watch though. Probably the worst game I've been to all year. Neither team really did anything the entire game. The Revs had one chance and they scored. Game should've ended 0-0. But hey, the Revs were able to win so you can't complain with that.

I don't get what all the hype is about in regards to Kyle Martino as a color commentator. He's not bad but he's also not that good. He's ok. I guess he's good in comparison to most others in MLS but that's not really saying much. I'm not trying to hate on the guy or anything, I just don't see what all the hype is about. I still think Harkes is the best one around in MLS. He's not great either but I think he's solid. Speaking of Martino, Fox Soccer has cancelled Fox Football Phone In. That's a shame. I really enjoyed the program. I liked Eric Wynalda on it. Sure, every once in a while he says something stupid, like "Kasey Keller is the best goalie in the world" (note: he didn't say that on Fox Football Phone In, he said it before a game in the 2006 World Cup) but at least he was interesting to watch and had his own opinion on things. They're replacing it with a show hosted by Martino. It appears that the program is geared more towards the casual fan. Maybe I'll check it out. Hopefully it's good but I'll miss Nick Webster as well. Enjoyed hearing what he had to say.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Super Liga

Many people have written about the Super Liga. Is it good or bad for the league? I think it's a little of both. There are some positives. The games are usually pretty entertaining so we get to watch some good soccer. It's also a way for markets like LA, Chicago, Dallas, and any other market with a large Mexican community to draw fans to their stadiums. Hopefully some of these fans are impressed with their local MLS team and they come back to watch some MLS games. The winning team also gets a pretty good bonus for winning the tournament. Extra money is always welcome if you're an MLS player, especially one who makes near the bottom of the ladder.

Well, there are some negatives as well. Teams have to take time off from the MLS season to compete in this tournament. You risk losing players to injury in games that don't matter (yes, the Super Liga doesn't really matter, I could care less who wins it). It just adds a burden to your team especially if you're still in the US Open Cup and/or the Concacaf Champions League.

So at the end of the day is it worth having this tournament? I'm not sure. It depends on how much weight you give the pros and the cons. In New England's case I'd say it isn't. There isn't a large enough Mexican population in the area for these games to draw a significant crowd. In this regard it's much more beneficial for the markets listed above. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching the games but in the end it's a tournament that just doens't matter. If New England wins in the final I won't consider the season to be more of a success because they won a meaningless trophy. Likewise, if they lose I won't be too disappointed.