The Sweeper: Conspiracy in American Soccer?
Blog of the Day
The blog of the day in American soccer has to be one made by an anonymous author on a popular US-blog ripping the US Soccer federation in a quite wild, spectacular, and absolutely unsubstantiated fashion. I don’t link to anonymous authors, so you’ll have to find it yourself if you want, but lets just say this kind of blogging nonsense from someone who somehow managed to get accredited by CONCACAF to the Gold Cup damages the entire circle of American soccer blogging. Sure, there are real issues with US Soccer, but this was an absurd way to address them.
Not only did this puerile but popular post lead to America’s soccer community wasting half the day discussing the piece’s problems, this kind of sub-conspiracy-theorist gutter blogging does damage to those of us who would really like to explore the problems in US Soccer and to gain accreditation to future events. Will CONCACAF be so willing to give a blogger a media pass at the next event if they read the nonsense that resulted from this? Will US Soccer be as willing to open up to bloggers who want to actually investigate (and not just speculate on) their internal workings? Sure, we can hope everyone sees the difference between them and us, but we’re all hurt by this in a small way. And I’m sorry I’ve had to give it even more coverage by even writing about it here. Onto real news and interesting writing:
- A disappointing result for DC United in the CONCACAF Champions League, as they’re held to a 1-1 draw by Firpo of El Salvador at home. Except for the DC players, it didn’t even feel like home — goalkeeper Milos Kocic said “Today, we felt like we weren’t playing home. We felt like we were on a neutral field. I was screaming, I was yelling at guys, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, this is our field.” Does anyone know what the attendance was? (I can’t find it listed it on the DC site). Even more depressingly for DC, Firpo only qualified for the tournament after replacing CD Chalatenango, who messed up their registration. Even more depressingly for MLS, DC have long been one of the teams to really take CONCACAF games seriously.
- Bad news in Argentina, as the continual debt crisis is threatening the start of the new season next month, according to Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona. “There is no doubt that the beginning of the tournament is at risk because several clubs have very big debts.” Clubs have been unable to pay players, who have lodged a complaint through their union. The problem, Grondona said, is that fewer and fewer players are assets of the club that can be sold to make revenue — “The invention of… agents was a misfortune,” he said. “It can’t be that a person owns 30 percent of a player and another 40 (percent). It seems like we’re talking about cows.”
- Eric Wynalda has replaced Steven Cohen on U.S. show Fox Football Fone-In; I don’t think that will make the show much more watchable, but it’s no great shame for American soccer if we have to hear less of Cohen’s nonsense about Hillsborough, and his general lack of knowledge/interest in MLS made him an odd choice for a national phone-in anyway.
- Excellent round-up by Melissa on the playoff situation across women’s football in the US, including the odd nugget that the Washington Freedom have a chance to win both the W-League and WPS.
- This media conference call with US Soccer boss Sunil Gulati is not very interesting, but I like the way he gently explains just how dumb Sepp Blatter is when he makes comments about MLS needing to play a Western European schedule. “In principle, both [MLS Commissioner Don Garber] and I agree that would be a good thing, but we’ve also explained to the FIFA president that temperatures in Chicago are not like the temperatures in London or Paris in January. They’re more like Helsinki or Moscow. So the challenges are a little bit different. … We can foresee being on a European-type calendar, but also pointing out that not everyone plays on that calendar, primarily for those weather reasons.” Just pointing that out, Sepp, ‘cos it’s not bleeding obvious….
- Villa manager Martin O’Neill expresses his frustration about being leapfrogged by Man City due to their outrageous spending. Nothing new there, but he also notes one reason why their league title challenge will be bolstered by coming from so far back in the pack — they have no European football to drain and distract them all season. Not to mention they are finally signing defenders.
- Good piece on Dynamo Moscow’s search for Champions League glory (or even mediocrity) from the ever-excellent Jonathan Wilson at the Guardian. It’s interesting that Russian teams have been very successful in the UEFA Cup since the big money started rolling into their coffers, but that any success in the Champions League has eluded them. Obviously, the competition is much tougher in the latter, but you’d think there’d be some improved performance — though as Wilson points out, the scheduling is hardly ideal for Russia with the group stages kicking off just as they end their long summer season. He also notes something interesting – “no side from any of the seven largest metropolitan areas of Europe – Istanbul, Paris, Moscow, London, St Petersburg, Berlin and Athens – has ever won the European Cup.” A fact worthy of a book on its own.
- ESPN will air MLS in the UK on its new international football channel, starting next month. It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is; we all know here there is a spectacular range in the quality of play and stadia from game-to-game. As Richard Whittall wonders, will this mean UK-based journalists make more or less fun of MLS now they can actually see it?
- Interesting piece by James Waterson at When Saturday Comes on the aftermath of Scarborough FC’s collapse a few years ago, and the two competing non-League clubs that sprung up after them — dividing the supporters’ base, with Waterson concluding that “Scarborough United remains a very distant prospect”.
- In Italy, Paul Grech takes a look at Pisa AC’s latest financial collapse — a torrid rise, fall, rise and fall again.
- At the Guardian, Rob Bagchi suggests owner Mike Ashley might have “squandered his opportunity” at Newcastle and it’s time for him to walk away. Uh, you think? Is this a reprint from a year ago?