The State of US Soccer

Well, the World Cup is long over. They're prouder than proud over in the North End in Boston, and likely in Little Italy sections of cities all over the country. The English side is getting a much-needed retool. Coaches have been fired or quit. The stage is now being set for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

What of the US side? Plenty of talent, with Eddie Pope, DeMarcus Beasley, and Clint Dempsey, to name a few. If you ask me, there's goalkeeping questions, with World Cup disappointment Kasey Keller in his "advanced years" likely to not return for 2010. Brad Freidel, Blackburn Rovers man and hero of the upstart 2002 squad that helped put US soccer on the map in the new milennium, also in advanced years, and apparently deemed expendable by Arena this last time out in Germany. Tim Howard, the Man U backup and current Everton #1? He would be a good choice, but he is still somewhat inconsistent. Case in point, Howard's 4 goal giveaway allowed the Blackburn Rovers to advance in the FA cup vs. a limp Everton squad. How about Reading's Marcus Hahnemann? Perhaps, bet he's likely not going to make the cut. Another option worth considering is the Revs' Matt Reis, who has proved to be a solid player in recent years. We just have to hope there's a good netminder in MLS who will be seasoned enough by 2010. I must say, though, after the US's dreadful 2006 performance, our participation in 2010 World Cup is not a definite.

One other question is coaching. With the departure of Bruce Arena, we're left with a void. Arena coached the US team for 12 years, and his are big shoes to fill. My favorite, and apparently everyone else's favorite for the job was former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsman, nicknamed "California Klinsman" due to his full-time residence in the Golden State. An ideal match, right? Apparently not. Klinsman took himself out of the running as the big sport websites accidentally leaked that Klinsman had taken the job. Who we have is former Chivas USA boss Bob Bradley. Is he the right man for the job? Time will tell. Meanwhile, he has to pick up the pieces and get the national squad ready for the uphill battle to World respectability.

Becks is coming! Becks is coming!

Why would I get excited about the prospect of David Beckham, a player who I clearly feel is soft, coming to MLS? Simple, Beckham has a unique opportunity to put US club soccer on the World map. As you can imagine, there are those in Europe who claim this move is a selfish one, made for money and not for the good of the game. Most notably, Real Madrid's manager Fabio Capello, has benched David for the season, which is unfortunate for Becks, and also for LA, who stand to get a player who hasn't played a game in 8 months. The sentiment among English fans isn't much different. We soccer fans in the US should see it differently. Beckham can bring the European style of play to the MLS, but more importantly, he'll give us, and
certainly the LA Galaxy benefits most from this, name recognition. He'll
sell shirts, he'll sell out games, he'll be a literal cash injection for a struggling league. More older Euro stars need to consider doing this. I'd call out Zinedine Zidane to do the same, but if he does play again, it would likely be for a cushy Middle Eastern club, such as those in Qatar. Before the Becks move, MLS did have its influx of Europeans, but they were names like Youri Djorkaeff and Paolo Cannavaro. Not well known. I'd like to call upon more World Class player to finish their career in the MLS. Then, perhaps, in ten years or so, World Class players will consider the MLS clubs for start, middle, and end to their career.

On the flip side, the MLS is losing one of their World Class stars to the Premeirship. Clint Dempsey is leaving MLS, and more importantly for me, the New England Revolution, to play in Craven Cottage at Fulham. The transfer was the largest for an MLS player, at $3+ million. Unfortunately, this loss will hurt the Revs, at least in the short term. In the long term, perhaps another World Class striker will find his way to Foxboro. As for his choice of English club, I shake my head in disbelief on that one, too. Dempsey could have done better to go to a Newcastle or a Tottenham, or a Blackburn (I'll always mention my Rovers). This move does reunite him with his US tammates Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra. Will he propel Fulham to a decent Premeirship table position. Again, time will tell, but for Dempsey's, Fulham's, and MLS's sake, let's hope so.

Premeirship so far...

Well, the Premership 2006-2007 season is half over, and it is an exciting season indeed. Pre-season favorites, Chelsea put a bunch of money towards buying all of Roman Abramovich's favorite World Cup players, and yet they are still playing second fiddle to Sir Alex Ferguson and Man U. This by definition makes each Chelsea and ManU match exciting, regardless of opponent. Liverpool is quite anemic, in spite of adding some good players in the offseason, such as former Newcastle/Blackburn forward Craig Bellamy.

This has even led some to speculate on the future of Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez. Arsenal are still strong contenders, and I must admit that, in spite of myself, I enjoy watching an Arsenal match, because their intricate passing and footwork is the prime example of why soccer is "the beautiful game." Other top table clubs include the surprise Bolton and Portsmouth sides. Both sides did a great job retooling in the offseason, even though some pundits speculate that Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth side did some shady dealing to acquire his new crop of players. Blackburn may yet reach the top side, but a slow start, along with the fact that they can't seem to beat the big boys (Arsenal, Chelsea, and ManU), will likely keep Mark Hughes's club towards the center of the table. Cellar dwellers include the hapless Charlton side, with Hal's two long-lost brothers Marcus and Darren Bent.

West Ham United has been poor this year. Why is this, when the coup of the season was to bring the two Argentinian nationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, on loan to the club? Like the Yankees are finding out, you can't buy team chemistry. Also, expectations were too high following the Hammers' success of last season. The team is unfortunately not as talented as once thought. A crappy start led to the ouster of boss Alan Pardew, and now it remains for new manager Alan Curbishley to pick up the pieces and salvage the season and avoid relegation th the Championship. Lastly, Newcastle United are a surprise bottom-half dweller right now. Their play on the pitch has been indicative of that, in the games I have watched. A 3-0 pounding vs. Everton 3 weeks ago is evidence that the Magpies don't have it together. Currently, I'm watching Newcastle face Tottenham, and it looks like another loss for Newcastle United. All in all, with the season champ still very much to be decided, and matches in full swing, the second half of the season will be as entertaining as the first.

-Christopher J. Brigham


Not t be a homer, but Matt Reis is the best goalie in the MLS the last two season and at least deserves a shot at being considered for US team goaltender (though I am sure he will get hosed).

Hopefully Charton, if they are close to relegation, will sell-off their Bent Boys to give them a shot at striker on a decent team
Unknown said…
I think the US will always produce decent Goalkeepers if not world class ones. Due to most US sports being mostly hand based its just a matter of poaching such players of these sports over to football (soccer)

Brad Friedel is a legend, i would argue that he is one of the best in the Prem maybe Cech is better. Liverpool made a mistake in letting him go for nothing.

On the Beckham issue, i really do think he should have come back to england for a couple of seasons, though i do think he has alot to offer the MLS in its future, but the amount of money he will be getting is outlandish. The MLS i think needs to become more European in many aspects, 1 in its style of play 2 in its transfer system, the draft system for me holds it back some what. Also you need more divisions, i believe its the MLS and then college leagues under that with no promotion or relegation and get rid of the east west divisions and have one league its all to multifaceted for me and to much like other american sports leagues, it would create more interest from abroad though i dont know how the American football public would like it???

though it is an interesting time in the MLS and i do hope it grows bigger and better and does not suffer the same fate as its predecessors.

Also Come on Blackburn!!!!

Great point about the transfer system & relegation. I would model the MLS on the Premiership, it is obviously successful and draws in the rabid chaps.