Serious About Soccer

Talking about all things Soccer. Its Soccer, its serious… but not always.

THE WEEK THAT WAS

The week that was

MOVING ON

To the shock of no-one, Owen Coyle was not named as the new Celtic manager, missing out by (one would assume) a wide margin to Brendan Rodgers. With the club losing 1-0 to the Chicago Fire at the weekend (a club almost as bad as they are) this news may have led some Dynamo fans to despair but, on Wednesday evening, it was announced that the Dynamo and Coyle had agreed to “mutually part ways”. Assistant head coach  Sandy Stewart also stepped down, leaving Wade Barrett, Paul Rogers and Paul Caffrey to take charge of the team this weekend. Wilmer Cabrera is the rumored favorite to replace Coyle at the moment, but who else could land in Houston?

The Dynamo weren’t the only struggling team to jettison a coach this week either, with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds parting ways with Marc Steffans, despite just earning their first win of the season, and replacing him with Navy coach David Brandt. The four time NSCAA coach of the year has the best winning record among active coaches in the college game and is looking to hit the ground running with his new USL team.

THE FINAL 23

Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled his final 23-man-roster for the Copa America Centenario at half time of the NY derby/red wedding on Saturday and it’s actually a pretty strong line-up. Klinsmann himself went deeper into some of the reasoning for the selections in a Q & A with US soccer after the revelation at half time that Jordan Morris just missed out on a place in the squad to Chris Wondolowski. It’s a 50/50 call really and even Morris himself doesn’t seem too upset about it.

That choice could in fact be good for Morris, allowing him to hop off the US hypetrain for a while and focus on developing in Seattle. However, one player firmly riding that locomotive is Christian Pulisic, who this week pleaded with fans to “let me be a human being” while simultaneously promising to become the best player he can be. That particular train also appears to be driven by Klinsmann himself, who stated this week that Pulisic is in contention to be a starter when the US opens their tournament against Colombia a week today.

GETTING READY

With the squad announced, a short handed US side, featuring a number of players not in the Copa America squad, struggled their way through a 3-1 “scrimage” win over Puerto Rico on Sunday. The real warm up began on Wednesday though, as the US took on Ecuador and managed to secure a 1-0 win thanks to Darlington Nagbe, which may bode well for Jurgen’s goal of reaching the final four this summer.

Geoff Cameron missed that game through injury, leaving some doubts about his fitness for the tournament, with some similar concerns also raised about Timmy Chandler.

Brad Guzan did play though and the new US number one was pleased to keep a clean sheet, he’s also looking forward to this summers big tournament, naturally, but could the Aston Villa keeper be looking to follow Tim Howard’s example and make a move back to MLS? The two goalkeepers are certainly still friends off the pitch though, depite Guzan finally usurping Howard’s place in net.

The US’ final warm up game is this Sunday when they take on Bolivia at Children’s Mercy park in Kansas City.

FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY…

11 of the 23 players in the US squad currently play in MLS and there are plenty of other stars from the league who’ll be involved in international soccer around the world this summer. However, two players who won’t be involved for their country are Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco, after the two missed out on Italy’s 30-man preliminary roster. Italy coach Antonio Conte opted for a strange explanation when he said that the two must “pay the consequences” of their move to MLS, a statement that some have quite rightly taken issue with. No-one is really questioning Pirlo’s exclusion but, given the poor state of the Italian national team’s attacking options, the Giovinco omission is strange. Toronto FC certainly believe their star player should have been included but, ever the humble man, Giovinco himself has simply vowed to fight his way back into contention – something that may be made easier once Conte departs for Chelsea after the Euros conclude.

One of the biggest names in MLS did get a reprieve on Thursday though, with news that Kaka has been called into the Brazil squad for the Copa America Centenario to replace injured midfielder Douglas Costa. The Orlando City star has never before appeared in a Copa America.

TIME FOR SOME TECH

Good news for fans of correct calls, as it’s been confirmed that this summer’s Copa America Centenario will feature goal-line technology in every game, which should really be the standard for all soccer games at this point and not considered news.

Oh, and the tournament is getting an official song too, written by Pitbull (who seems to be on some kind of FIFA retainer for rubbish like this) and someone called Becky G.

THE MASSACRE IN THE BRONX

The first Hudson River derby of the season has been and gone and it turned out to be one to forget for New York City FC. For, rather than being the coming out party than some had predicted for the side, the game instead saw them get murdered. Ripped apart limp by limp as the New York Red Bulls cruised to a 7-0 victory. The Red Bulls fans retain their long held bragging rights over their “rivals” for now, and continue a light-hearted tradition as well, but small pockets of “fans” from both sides caused embarrassment for their teams outside the stadium.

The game did mark the first appearance of the season for Frank Lampard, who was subsequently booed by his own fans upon his introduction. Many could argue this was fair enough but, in typical tone-deaf tradition, Lampard shrugged it off as fans having a problem with him for being injured. Except its about so much more than that Frank. No-one even knew you were injured for a long- period of time this season and that in itself is part of the problem, the fact that you don’t see that is worrying. Meanwhile, fellow DP washout Pirlo has stated that MLS is too much running and not enough technical ability, which may be partly true, but still just sounds like the complaints of a man who can’t keep up with the pace of the US game.

As for NYCFC themselves, the only way is up, but could David Villa have seemingly accidentally stoked the fires for the next game and could one of the club’s biggest problems be the stadium they currently call home?

WHERE NEXT?

San Diego is one of the cities strongly linked with MLS expansion at the minute but, in the meantime, could the city be set to gain a new USL franchise? It certainly seems like the league is interested, with rumors that a new team could be installed in time for the 2017 season.

San Diego isn’t the only city that could be heading to the USL though, with another investment group apparently looking to bring America’s third division to El Paso.

Reno 1868 have already secured their place for 2017 and on Wednesday showed off their brand new crest.

Up and across in Detroit, the city’s NPSL side, Detroit City FC, opened their season at the newly revamped Keyworth stadium in front of a strong crowd of 7,410 supporters. An almost (but not entirely) unheard of crowd at that level. Things continue to go well for the small side and, while the prospect of an MLS side coming to the city looms large in the distance, Detroit City FC co-owner David Dwaihy isn’t concerned about that possibility.

Sacramento seems the most certain lock for an MLS franchise since Beckham looked towards Miami (heck, they may even get there first at this rate) and, when the city is eventually awarded their MLS franchise, we now know how many fans will initially be able to fit into their new built-for-MLS stadium.

THE GOVERNOR

While their legislation may have passed, Minnesota are currently still waiting for the final approval on their stadium bills in order to move ahead with their planned home, with their fate now in the hand of  Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

Regardless of what happens though, United will still need somewhere to play next season, and reports suggest the club is favoring TCF Bank Stadium, home to the University of Minneosta’s American Football team: The Minnesota Golden Gophers.

 

SOUNDERS SET TO MAKE SOME SIGNINGS

While Jordan Morris is still finding his form its fair to say that, with the Seattle Sounders currently sat 8th in the Western Conference, the season hasn’t started the way the fans would have wanted. Garth Lagerway isn’t exactly thrilled with it either and the Seattle Sounders General Manager is promising two new signings during the next transfer window. Could one of them be Uruguayan international Nicolas Lodeiro?

 

INCOMING?

Could Orlando City be set to add some defensive reinforcements? Reports have them linked with Stoke City defender Dionatan Teixeira. If signed he wouldn’t be eligible to play until the secondary transfer window opens on July 4th.

Things have gone quiet on the Zlatan Ibrahimovic front this week, except for the Swede himself saying he knows where he’s going now. But for anyone who was working the idea of Zlatan replacing Robbie Keane at the LA Galaxy, the Irishman seems to have banished those notions, claiming he still has a few years left in him and talking about a different world star he hopes to play alongside.

 

OUTGOING

DC United parted ways with Markus Halsti this week, bringing an end to the Finnish international’s troubled time in the nation’s capital.Could another member of United’s squad be set for an exit? More reports have emerged linking star defender and US international Steven Birnbaum with a move to Europe, this time with Dutch side Feyenoord.

The Philadelphia Union also said goodbye to a player, recalling Michael Lahoud from his loan to the New York Cosmos in order to instantly sell him to Miami FC.

HEY NOW, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR

Voting is now open for this summer’s MLS All-Star game, which see’s the best of MLS take on Arsenal at the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium. Just one small change to be aware of for anyone planning to attend: The time of the game has changed, reportedly to avoid a clash with the Democratic National Convention.

OUT OF ACTION

The MLS Disciplinary Committee has handed out its punishments for Week 12, with fines for three teams and the Impact’s Johan Venegas as well as a one game suspension for Sporting Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza. Interestingly there was no extra punishment for Kendall Waston following his end of game meltdown after the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-2 loss to the Portland Timbers. Waston had taken to social to apologise for the incident (not to Asprilla though, just to the ‘Caps fans) but the lack of any action from the Dis-Co suggests that a much bigger punishment could be forthcoming.

LESS FOREIGNERS PLEASE

Another interesting omission from Jurgen Klinsmann’s US squad was Omar Gonzalez, who’s currently starting for Liga MX side Pachucha, who find themselves in the Clausura final with the best defensive record in the league.

Yet there could be trouble ahead for players such as Gonzalez, after Liga MX officials agreed to a new rule seriously curtailing the number of foreign players teams can include in their squads.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB

CONCACAF has a new general secretary, with Philippe Moggio, a former banker, set to take the reins. Moggio, who was also the NBA’s senior vice president for Latin America and represented Colombia in Tennis’ Davis Cup, takes over from disgraced former occupants Enrique Sanz and plus-sized whistle blower Chuck Blazer.

As for the new CONCACAF President, Victor Montagliani has been in post for a couple of weeks now and there’s an interesting interview with the new regional leader on his targets alongside his new, official manifesto.

In other CONCACAF news: Keep your eyes open for news on Monday of the federation’s biggest club tournament too, as the draw is set to be made for this year’s CONCACAF Champions League group stage. Will the Vancouver Whitecaps manage to avoid getting drawn with another MLS side? Time will tell.

AND FINALLY.

Jozy Altidore’s latest injury may have forced him to become a spectator for the Copa America Centenario, but thanks to a kind donation from the injured Toronto FC striker, thousands of people in Haiti will also able to watch their own country’s games as well.

Congratulations to bearded defender and Tormund Giantsbane lookalike Nat Borchers, who this week welcomed a new baby daughter into the world.

And, we all know the Western Conference is stronger than the Eastern Conference, just look at the combined table over the last few years, it’s a fact. But why is this?

ONE TO WATCH

The Colorado Rapids vs The Philadelphia Union – Saturday 9pm ET, MLS LIVE

There are games with more star power this weekend (Montreal Impact vs the LA Galaxy for one) but, in terms of interesting storylines this has to be the best game: The Rapids and the Union are two teams which most people, if they’re being honest, had finishing near the bottom of their division. And yet with over a third of the season gone they find themselves not languising near the bottom but in fact sitting atop the East and the West.

The Rapids are missing Kevin Doyle and Jermaine Jones for this one, which makes things more difficult, but considering the fact that the game is in Denver and the strength of the West vs East (They may be first in the east but the Union would only register sixth in the Western Conference) The Rapids are favorites to just edge it. Don’t expect a lot of goals though. If you want those, watch either New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC or NYCFC vs Orlando City.

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2016 by .
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