Sunday, September 26, 2010

Revs Impress

The Revs tied the Crew last night 2-2. Even though the Revs blew a 2 goal lead in the second half it was still a very entertaining game to attend. Both teams played very well and created many chances. It was one of the better games this year for sure. In fact, I'd say either last night's game or the game against New York, one of those two was the best game of the year.

If only the Revs played every game the way they played last night. They'd be in the playoff hunt.

The crowd in the Fort was very good. I was surprised to find out that only about 13,500 were in attendance. When I was there it looked like there were more.

Before the game I got the chance to watch the team warm up from the sidelines which was cool. Took lots of pictures. When Jankauskas came out I yelled out his name and when he turned around I pointed at my FC Porto hat that I was wearing. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. He looked a bit surprised. After warm ups as he was going back to the locker room I yelled "Jankauskas, we still love you at Porto!!" He laughed and again looked a bit surprised haha. He will always be remembered at Porto. He is a legend, he was the man who was fouled that led directly to this.

Enough said.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

2011 Season Tickets

You can now get 2011 season tickets for the Revs. Season ticket holders will once again get tickets for 18 games, 17 of them will be for regular season games and the other ticket will be for a special event (probably a friendly). Tickets for the fort are $200. You can't beat that. It'll be interesting to see what the renewal rate will be and to see how many new season ticket holders they can get. The prices for season tickets are good. The stadium location is not. I've talked to many people who would get season tickets if the stadium was accessible from the T. It's their biggest obstacle in convincing people to get season tickets. Lets assume that they do build a stadium in Boston (they are looking at Sommerville, lets just call it Boston). The demand for tickets will increase. How will this impact the price? I'm hoping the team doesn't jack them up as that would be a slap to the face of people who have been long time supporters of the team. But really, I have no idea what they'll do in regards to ticket prices if they do end up moving to Boston. That's just one possible situation, they take the fort and raise the price from $200 to $400. We'll see what happens. I just hope they can get something good done here in Boston.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MLS Expands Season

MLS announced today that the season will be expanding from 30 games to 34 games next year as a result of the two new expansion franchises joining the league. The schedule will remain balanced. MLS has been expanding and looks to keep expanding with Montreal joining after next season. With Montreal the league will have 19 teams. MLS is going to get to a point where there are more than 20 teams which poses a scheduling problem. In order for the schedule to remain balanced with more teams joining, the leagues has to add more games. So if you have 24 teams, that means each team plays 46 games for the regular season with 23 of them being at home. Obviously 46 games is way too much for MLS. To be honest, I think 34 games is really pushing it. Teams had 15 home games this year, they'll have 17 next year. I think 15 games was pretty close to being a perfect number. You throw in a friendly here and there and you're left with around 17 or 18 games. Then if you throw in Super Liga or the Champions League that number can go up to 20+. The more home games you add the tougher it is for season ticket holders to make it to all of them. Attendance throughout MLS has been improving but it's not at a point where the league should be adding games because the demand is there (something the NFL is currently dealing with). Adding more games also makes it difficult for teams to focus on the Champions League. The schedule is tight as it is, more games makes it even tighter. It looks like the most sensible thing to do going forward is to keep the season at 30 games and not have a balanced schedule, which sucks because I think having a balanced schedule is awesome. But it's going to get to a point where the schedule is going to be to tight and teams will be thin as a result of roster size limits and the cap. The league is going to be looking into this in October and hopefully they come up with a way to make it all work.

About John's previous post. I'm not to high on the idea of using ratings from sites like sky sports. There's just too much subjectivity there. I do agree though, draft based leagues are much better than salary cap leagues.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Speaking of fantasy MLS...

First of all, I didn't do Pick'em through the entire tournament. I don't think I quite finished the group stage.

Secondly, and what I really want to write about: fantasy soccer is pretty lame. There are two primary reasons for this.

Number one: every fantasy soccer site I've ever found goes by the salary cap system. That is, there's no such thing as a draft. It's a system, for those of you who don't know, where you get a certain amount of money to spend on X players, and players' values change over the course of the season depending on how well they do. Given this structure, there's nothing stopping everyone in a league from having the same players. In other words, joining a league only serves to display how you stack up against everybody else in the league, and there's no structural relationship between you and the other managers in the league except for the fact that you all registered your teams to be listed on the same exchange.

This is the way fantasy baseball used to be, about ten years ago. However, baseball has evolved almost entirely into draft-based systems, where you have the MLB universe as a common player pool, from which each team drafts X players. This creates a structural relationship between the managers of the league, because they are all competing with eachother for the same asset pool. It creates the possibility of trades, as well as reasons for managers in the league to interact and generally follow each other's teams. This interaction means competition. There is no such competition in salary cap-based leagues, because the structure makes it meaningless. Fantasy NFL is primarily draft-based too.

For some reason, fantasy soccer hasn't changed over. Maybe it's because fantasy sports are an American product and there's a lag between each evolution's spawning and its exporting. To me, draft-based leagues are leagues superior to salary cap leagues (get it?).

To make matters worse, most fantasy soccer sites have this rule where you can't sell players at their market price. Yahoo UK's rule is that managers "can only ever sell them at their purchase price." Ridiculous. The EPL's official site, on the other hand, says if a player's price goes up while you own him, you have to pay a 50% capital gains tax when you sell him (to whom? No one; it's just value lost into thin air). Similarly ridiculous. There are no taxes in fantasy NFL or MLB. It could be a cultural thing that keeps US-American sports in the draft sphere of fantasy sports, and the biggest UK sport in the salary-cap sphere. Maybe this rule, as well as the general prominence of the salary-cap system, is rampant in fantasy soccer due to popular soccer countries' socialistic leanings, namely England's.

(It could also be because players are usually bought and sold in soccer, whereas they tend to be traded in American sports. Then again, you don't have twelve Wayne Rooneys in the 20-team Premier League either.)

There's point one. Point two is that it's difficult to use quantifiable and categorical parameters to judge soccer performance of individual players. The most glaring example is goals. Some sites give goals the same value for every position, and some taper the value downward for more advanced positions. There are different ways to value a goal even from this skeletal lens. Take it further-- don't different goals have different value in real game settings? For instance, a stoppage time winner is more valuable than Didier Drogba's seventh goal of a 7-0 game, isn't it?

Take another example: a yellow card. Most sites give negative points for yellow cards. But that's such an elementary way to look at it. Isn't part of Javier Mascherano's real-life value his ability to choose his professional fouls cleverly? What about his sheer physicality? Would Maradona have made him captain of Argentina if he was a fair play champion?

I could pick through the rest of the common statistical categories in most fantasy leagues, but you get the picture. It's impossible to create a point system that effectively judges a player's value to a game.

The best scoring system I can envision is a system that puts a high statistical weight on a reliable man-of-the-match and/or player-ratings index. If you could have three or four statistics houses that put together player ratings and man-of-the-match aggregates from all the top soccer journalists in each league's country, then you would have a huge list of opinions of the most reliable journalists the country has to offer on each player's influence on a game. These statistics houses would serve as the Moody's and Standard & Poor's of the fantasy soccer world; as rating agencies put droves of financial professionals to work coming up with ratings of the market's debt securities, so would these statistics houses put droves of professional journalists to work rating every soccer player in the country. The result would be a subjective measure of each player's performance, but it would be an averaged result of a couple hundred of the top authorities' judgments.

This sounds like an impossibility, but these statistics houses wouldn't have to sprout out of the ground. They wouldn't even have to specialize in rating players. Sky Sports could have a statistics house with Sky Sports journalists; BBC could have a statistics house with their journalists. These two, and one or two others if they're created, could recruit top journalists from smaller companies just for their ratings. Or they could overlap a little. As long as you get a small handful of highly reliable ratings that fantasy leagues could insert into their value equation at 10-30% weight each (the weights could even be varied per each house's influence).

If I were feeling innovative, this is the sort of fantasy league I would create. Feel free to take this idea if you're a talented webmaster with a lot of server space and a reasonable share of patience. Information wants to be free.

Doubt it will happen.

Anyway, that's my ode to fantasy soccer. I'm a long-time, pretty competitive fantasy baseball and footballer. I wish there was a better way to play fantasy soccer.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

World Cup Pick'em

Back when the World Cup was going around we set up a group on yahoo and I said I'd post the results. I never got around to doing it until now, so here they are:

Pick Set
Correct Picks
Total Points
Possible Points
1 Wayne Bridge's Hurt Feelings 31 114 114
2 Leeds Utd 36 104 104
3 Pedro Miguel Carreiro Resendes 31 94 94
4 Mira Mar 30 92 92
5 Tommy Boy!!! 25 72 72
6 Jamie Jillett 26 52 52
6 Jay Six Pini 26 52 52
8 reaper1084 22 46 46

I was Tommy Boy!!! Most of the time I have a hard time picking a name for fantasy leagues, which was obviously the case here. I did pretty bad.

I wish MLS had had fantasy soccer. I think what happened was that they had some issues with the site at the beginning of the season since they had recently decided to bring it in house. So getting the site up and running was more important than having a fantasy game this year. That's just speculation, I'm not sure why they didn't have it this year. I hope they bring it back next year.

The MLS cards post will come in 2 weeks.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

International break

The USMNT didn't have an international friendly this weekend, unfortunately. Their next game is October 9 at Soldier Field in Chicago against Poland. However, this week has seen another big event for US Soccer, as FIFA delegates made their rounds around the US to a handful of stadiums and other proposed venues for USSF's World Cup bids. I didn't realize the vote was coming up so soon-- apparently it's December 2. Today's September 9. That's not too long a wait.

Apparently Obama didn't meet the delegates in person when they visited the White House. Instead, some of his "delegates" did it. I can't believe he skived off. America will never let him get away with this.

During the World Cup, I wrote that had made the "Soccer" link on its main page direct you straight to its World Cup page. Since the World Cup, it now directs you straight to "Soccernet US." To go along with this change, it has remixed the type of material it includes in "Soccernet US;" in the past, it was totally MLS and US Soccer-related, and there wasn't much material turnover. Now, it seems as though ESPN has loaded the page with global news that it thinks enterprising fans in this country might find interesting. For example, it includes controversial English news such as that related to Wayne Rooney at present, as well as anything it can come up with that insults France, or that reminds us of France's World Cup debacle. I'm not sure exactly how this "Soccernet US" evolution reflects the state of soccer in this country, but it's at least indicative that the attention is changing, for sure.

Barcelona won and Real Madrid drew in La Liga matchday one. Good.

Champions League starts in less than a week. Good.

America's game starts tonight (not to be confused with America's pasttime, which did not start tonight). It started an hour ago, in fact. Brett Favre is playing. He wears Wrangler jeans. For some reason I entered a fantasy football league this year with a $50 buy-in. I haven't played for the past three seasons. Wish me luck if it's in you.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Revolution 3-1 Sounders

The Revs won this weekend, 3-1 at home to the Sounders. The first half was pretty uninspiring; it finished 0-0 and involved a lot of aimless kicks from goalies and defenders that traveled to the other team's goalie and defenders. The second half, however, was entertaining, partially due to the soccer and partially due to the intensity. There were a couple nice goals, with good buildups, and the players left it all out on the field. It was a win that felt good despite the impending failure of the Revs' season.

The Sounders aren't the team they were last season. Even before Ljungberg left they weren't as good. Last night they played like an either scared or uninterested team on the road, and once they got their goal they were content to give up on the game and hope they'd done enough. Their attitude was totally different than Philadelphia's when they came here and won 2-1 very late in the game last week. Although they'd be in the playoffs if the season ended today, my cautious guess is that Seattle won't do anything special this season, to say nothing about the competition they'll be up against.