Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Coming Soon!

If you've come to the site for the first time, I apologize for the inconvenience. I've removed many articles for placement in upcoming book. Look for publishing release in upcoming weeks...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

MLS Team Becomes First to Sign ESports Player in U.S.

It was bound to happen. Major sports teams in the U.S. are finding ways to incorporate Esports into their plans for the future. One team is already budgeting for it, NYCFC of MLS.

We knew Esports were a serious spectator entertainment option, as news trickles in week to week about different tournaments being promoted around the world, celebrity partnerships and million dollar leagues. I'm not sure whether or not we should call it a sport, because being athletic is not required, but as entertainment, it can't be denied. By the way, athletes don't always win at sports. Go back and look at John Daly's highlights for golf. I guess Esports ends up in the debate with bowling, golf, darts, billiards and others, on whether they are sports, or not.

In whatever form you decide to think about Esports, one thing seems certain, they are here to stay. The younger generations are the deciders now, and Esports is one of the best ways to connect with them. Any sport making a push to be more popular wants to have those Esporters and Eathletes along for the ride. I have profiled EA FIFA a couple of times on this site. It has been a transcendent product, intertwining all classes of people to the game of soccer, including those from the inner-city. And, it has become a form of competition as a spectator sport to real-life soccer. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Atlanta United FC Poised to Make U.S. Pro Sports History

Expansion teams don't tend to make the playoffs. In tracing the modern history of professional sports in the U.S., it's rare to see teams making the playoffs in their first year of existence. Winning the title as an expansion team would seem near impossible in a league of more than 20 teams (The Chicago Fire achieved the feat in 1998 with 12 teams on board in MLS). Yet, after three weeks of the 2017 Major League Soccer season, expansion pro sports franchise, Atlanta United FC, looks like a serious championship contender.

Since the most recent change to winning MLS Cup was redesigned for the 2015 season, the top six seeds from each conference get entry into the tourney. So far, a #3 seed and a #4 seed have won the championship. Atlanta just needs to make the playoffs, and their outlook is decent for winning MLS Cup.

As things sit now, Atlanta is in first place in the Eastern Conference (Orlando has yet to play its third game), with more than twice as many goals than any other team in the conference. Arguably, team goals scored is the most important statistic in pro soccer. With 11 goals, Atlanta leads the league in goals scored. Atlanta is led by top individual league scorer, Josef Martinez, an international designated player from Venezuela.

Atlanta has kick-started its career, by showing right away the kind of pep in their step fans can expect to see from game to game. It could be the story of the sports year, if it weren't for the lack of respect MLS has in the U.S. and how soccer rules are applied in guiding the sport's existence.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Is this the Year that Liga MX Succumbs to MLS?

If it does happen, if MLS finally overtakes and seizes the soccer mantle from Liga MX, the change may endure. Once MLS moves up the ladder of 'world league status', it might not be falling back down anytime in the near future.

It would be a watershed moment for MLS to pass its nemesis, that holds not only the 'popularity' card, but also the 'talent' card. Even according to Don Garber, the commissioner of MLS, Liga MX is the superior skilled league.

Becoming the best and most popular soccer league in the United States should be the primary goal for MLS. Considering all of the sports entertainment options competing against MLS, it must eventually solidify itself as at least the number one option for soccer enthusiasts in the U.S. As things stand, MLS is behind second place English Premier League and first place Liga MX in U.S. television ratings. 

It would seem that 2017 is the year for MLS to take advantage of its own good fortune and of Liga MX's blunders. Atlanta and Minneapolis metro areas, as expansion franchises for MLS, fill in some of the empty soccer areas on the U.S. map. With key territories of the Upper Midwest and Southeast now more under the umbrella of MLS, logic would dictate better Tv ratings.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Vibrant Metros Chosen Over Big Metros for MLS National Tv Schedule

You know the overweight guy that falls asleep in the bleachers and the sports broadcasters can't help themselves, showing him for a few seconds, usually surrounded by's an awkward moment. That awkwardness feels the same watching fans picking their noses or eating too much. It's like an invasion of privacy on fans who are simply choosing how to spend their leisure time. Apparently, it's easier to track down these uncomfortable fan situations when the stands are empty.

For this season, MLS is trying to avoid national broadcasts with empty stadiums. The league is passing over some of the bigger metro markets to focus on the markets that are thriving. The national schedule is emphasizing Seattle, Kansas City, Orlando and Portland while placing less emphasis on New England, Dallas, DC United and Chicago.

This is at least one good move by the league in trying to change the perception of professional club soccer in the United States. It's an attempt to grab casual sports fans and prove that the game is not boring. It may improve national Tv ratings. Usually, excitement at the venue translates to a better television viewing experience and less excitement will generally mean lower ratings.

Unfortunately, a better reputation for national MLS viewing won't help local broadcasts for teams who can't fill their stadiums. And, better local Tv ratings for MLS games are an integral aspect for claiming the league is robust. All of the Tv ratings for MLS need to improve.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Next Most Logical Rules Change for MLS

USMNT's Graham Zusi, at World Cup 2014
The soccer world seems a little shaken up after last week's declaration by FIFA's Marco Van Basten, head of the Technical Development department, who said he is overseeing possible rules changes for offsides, amount of playing time, substitutions, how fouls are handled and deciding tie games. Pundits, players and fans are curious to see the direction FIFA is headed in trying to provide for more 'intentional game action.' This is the perfect time to look at the next most logical big rules change likely to happen in MLS.

What I think should take place in coming seasons in MLS is just an extension of what has already been taking place in past seasons from Liga MX, MLS and the most recent World Cup, water breaks at the 30th and 75th minutes.  Even the Premier League instituted water breaks because of the pressures of not being considered as having 'safe' conditions to play under. It all has to do with the rising temperatures, due to global warming.

The Brazilian court ordered water breaks for the World Cup. It just makes common sense. Typically, in all games throughout the universe, without breaks, the only time players take drinks of water is when a player is down and injured on the field. How ridiculous is that and how ironic.

Water breaks have been happening in MLS since 2011. It only makes sense to carry them on from season to season without having to discuss things further. But, I'm suggesting that the water breaks happen regardless of how hot the weather gets. That's right, regardless of playing in a dome or playing in fall weather, let's have water breaks! One per half seems about right, to get things started.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Legacies on the Line in MLS Cup 2016 for Bradley, Altidore

What earned Landon Donovan his nickname of 'Legend' wasn't his time in the Premier League or Bundesliga. Leagues in which he became one of just a few Americans to have scored goals. And, although he is the all-time leader in goals scored for the USMNT, I'd have to say that his accomplishments as an all-time great with the team is not his most noteworthy achievement. His moniker of 'Legend' took hold as he won six MLS Cups and became its all-time leading goal-scorer.

Donovan became a cultural icon because of the combination of his stellar USMNT play and his contribution to several MLS Cups. No other American soccer player comes close to approaching the status of Donovan and may not for a long, long time. Only a player that dominates and helps win a World Cup for the U.S. could surpass Donovan's records and reputation.

However, there are a few players that could make their marks on American soccer forever by winning an MLS Cup. Two of those players take the field this Saturday for Toronto FC as they go up against the Seattle Sounders for the grand prize, MLS Cup. It seems quite natural that Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley should be together in this pursuit. Donovan had David Beckham, why shouldn't Bradley and Altidore go for it in tandem?

Could Bradley and Altidore ever unseat Donovan and Beckham as greatest MLS tandem?

What a shame Clint Dempsey isn't playing for Seattle this Saturday. Get well soon, Clint. Arguably, Dempsey, Altidore and Bradley are the three next greatest American players after Donovan. They are numbers two, three and eleven respectively for all-time goal scorers of the USMNT. And, they are all notable assist leaders for the team.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What About Promotion 'Without' Relegation for MLS?...part II

Is this the perfect time for USSF to reorganize 'Division 2' and include a Promotion only tool?

There are new developments and transitions taking place in the minor leagues of pro soccer in the U.S. The NASL is in tumult and its complete demise may not be far away. Its rival, USL, appears ready to take over the mantle of 'Division 2', the highest level of pro soccer below MLS. There are rumors of all the NASL teams moving over into USL and rumors of the New York Cosmos closing its doors for good. USSF is involved and reigning over some of the key decision processes for the leagues because it is the organization that creates parameters for how leagues must exist.

If the remaining teams from NASL do move over to USL, it may have close to 40 teams in it.

The most interesting dilemma for the next level, Division 2, is how to manage a competitive league with a significant amount of teams playing as 'reserve' teams. Reserve teams are the minor league partnerships for MLS teams, playing for experience at the highest level possible.

As the soccer minor leagues in the U.S. readjusts to a new landscape, one of the lingering issues that many soccer fans feel has not been fully addressed is promotion/relegation. As MLS grows to 28 teams for sure, according to commissioner, Don Garber, there remains speculation for how many more teams will come into the league. As I've written before, I believe there could be a total of 40 someday, with two conferences of 20 teams each. My belief is that MLS needs more teams than MLB, the NBA and the NFL because it needs to break the mainstream barrier.

Whatever the settled number of maximum teams ends up being for MLS, some well-populated metro areas will still be out of luck for entry into the league.