Thursday, January 29, 2015

Final Thoughts on USA-Chile

In our piece the other day I talked about three things that I wanted to watch for during the USA-Chile match last night. Here's what I observed:

1) A strong start and a strong finish. I want to see these guys avoid giving up goals early and late in matches. This requires mental toughness in addition to physical stamina which really should be our calling card.

So we certainly started strong jumping out to an early lead inside the opening ten minutes. But we didn't finish strong. Yeah, we didn't give up a LATE goal, but we were scored on twice in the later portions of the match. I read on that we've been outscored 9-0 in the second half of matches since the World Cup. Yes, some of that is due to substitutions, but no matter how you look at it, it's not a good number. At some point, we're going to have to figure out how to finish matches.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Weekly Top Tens - 1/27/15


1) Diego Costa (Spain) - Chelsea - 17
2) Sergio Agüero (Argentina) - Manchester City - 14
3) Charlie Austin (England) - Queens Park Rangers - 13
4Alexis Sánchez (Chile) - Arsenal - 12
5) Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) - Swansea City - 9
5) Saido Berahino (England) - West Bromwich Albion - 9
5) Papiss Demba Cissé (Senegal) - Newcastle United - 9
8) Robin van Persie (Netherlands) - Manchester United - 8
8) Graziano Pellè (Italy) - Southampton - 8
8) Wayne Rooney (England) - Manchester United - 8
8) Diafra Sakho (Senegal) - West Ham United - 8
8) Eden Hazard (Belgium) - Chelsea - 8
8) Harry Kane (England) - Tottenham Hotspur - 8
8) Christian Eriksen (Denmark) - Tottenham Hotspur - 8

Superman and the SoccerSmith Q&A, Episode 3

Welcome to Episode 3 of Superman and the SoccerSmith's 4-4-2 Soccer Q&A. Let's get right to it this week!


1. SoccerSmith (SS) - Seattle Sounders 2nd round draft pick Tyler Miller opted to sign with SVN Zweibrücken of the German 4th Division instead of signing an MLS contract. Miller was quoted as saying “I have always followed European soccer, I knew that’s where many of the top players were, and thought if I could get over there, who knows what could be possible… I want to play in the best league in the world, currently that is in Europe.” What do you think of his decision?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

World Cup, Here We Come!

The U.S. U-20s survived a scare against El Salvador coming away with a 2-0 victory and in doing so, punched their ticket to the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand this summer. The U.S. opened the scoring in the first half when Ben Spencer headed home a rebound into an open net, but El Salvador wouldn't go down quietly. Keeper Zack Steffen denied Jose Villavicencio on a penalty kick in the second half to keep the game 1-0 before substitute Paul Arriola slotted home the insurance goal in the 68th minute.

So now the U.S. gets to prep for the June World Cup. It's an interesting list of countries that will be playing in it too. While South America and Africa are still yet to determine their representatives, powerhouses Spain, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, France, Belgium, Costa Rica and Australia all failed to qualify. Instead we'll see Myanmar, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Fiji, Hungary and Austria. Now there's still Germany and Portugal and Mexico and whoever comes out of South America and Africa, so it's not like there's nobody there, but you have to think that the U.S. should at least be competitive. The draw will be determined next month, stay tuned.

As for the rest of the CONCACAF U-20 tournament, Honduras defeated Guatemala 2-1 to clinch their World Cup berth while Mexico defeated Panama on penalties 4-2 to win the tournament. The U.S.'s Romain Gall shared the Golden Boot with Mexico's Hirving Lozano while Gall and defender Shaquell Moore both earned spots in the tournament's Best XI. Mexico (4) and Panama (5) filled out the rest of the roster.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

US U-20s Get Ready for El Salvador

Here's a look at how El Salvador has done so far in the tournament:

1/10 - Tied Honduras 2-2
1/12 - Tied Haiti 1-1
1/15 - Defeated Canada 3-2
1/19 - Lost to Mexico 3-1
1/22 - Defeated Cuba 2-0

They've had goals scored by:

Juan Barahona (Santa Tecia F.C.) - 3
Jose Villavicencio (C.D. FAS) - 3
Bryan Pérez (C.D. Luis Angel Firpo) - 1
Romilio Hernandez (Louisville) - 1
Nelson Moreno (Club Social Ciclón del Golfo) - 1

And if you're thinking that El Salvador is going to roll over for the U.S., just look back to 2012 when the U.S. U-23s missed out on the Olympics when they surrendered a 94th minute equalizer at home to El Salvador's Jaime Alas which knocked the U.S. out of the tournament. And this was a USA squad that had players named Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen, Freddy Adu, Mix Diskerud, Juan Agudelo, Joe Corona, Brek Shea, Teal Bunbury, Joe Gyau, and Terrence Boyd. Today's match with a trip to the World Cup on the line is scheduled for 5:00 in Jamaica.

Goals, Goals, Goals

Busy week for MLSers around the globe. Here's some of the highlights:


Lots of MLS action here as Orlando City DP Bryan Rochez scored twice including a stunning game winner from outside the box. Rochez now as four goals in the tournament as Honduras gets set to face Guatemala with a trip to the U-20 World Cup on the line. Rochez wasn't the only MLSer to score in this game either as Toronto's Jordan Hamilton and Vancouver's Marco Bustos both scored for Canada.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

U.S. U-20s advance to Knockout Round

The immediate crisis has been averted. The U.S. took the full three points from Trinidad and Tobago yesterday with a 1-0 win thanks to a late goal by LA Galaxy forward Bradford Jamieson IV. With the win, the U.S. clinches second place in Group A, and now waits to find out which opponent will be standing in their way to a berth to the U-20 World Cup. Panama won the group going a perfect 5-0 without yielding a goal in group play while Guatemala took third. Group B wraps up play today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Superman and the SoccerSmith Q&A, Episode 2

Welcome to Episode 2 of Superman and the SoccerSmith's Soccer Q&A. We're trying out a new format this week, let us know what you think. And without further ado, we bring you the 4-4-2.


1) Superman (SM) -  The MLS SuperDraft just happened. Considering that college athletics aren't nearly as important in other countries who have much better domestic leagues, and so many kids are going to play abroad (either in lieu of college or sometimes during), how important do you think it is to keep this uniquely American process going?

SoccerSmith (SS) - In a word, the reason we have drafts in professional sports here in the States is to create parity. The weakest teams get the highest picks and it allows more teams to be able to compete on a shorter timeline. You could argue that this makes our top clubs weaker because they can't build a pipeline of top flight talent to constantly replenish their own stocks, but I think it's better for the league as a whole. In 19 seasons, the league has seen nine different champions and ten different clubs win the Supporter's Shield (team with the best regular season record). Compare that to the last 19 seasons in England where there have been only four Premier League Champions (Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City) or Spain where only nine clubs have won a title since 1929.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekly Top Tens - 1/19/15


1) Diego Costa (Spain) - Chelsea - 17
2) Sergio Agüero (Argentina) - Manchester City - 14
3) Charlie Austin (England) - Queens Park Rangers - 13
4Alexis Sánchez (Chile) - Arsenal - 12
5) Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) - Swansea City - 9
5) Saido Berahino (England) - West Bromwich Albion - 9
5) Papiss Demba Cissé (Senegal) - Newcastle United - 9
8) Robin van Persie (Netherlands) - Manchester United - 8
8) Graziano Pellè (Italy) - Southampton - 8
8) Wayne Rooney (England) - Manchester United - 8
8) Diafra Sakho (Senegal) - West Ham United - 8
8) Eden Hazard (Belgium) - Chelsea - 8
8) Harry Kane (England) - Tottenham Hotspur - 8
8) Christian Eriksen (Denmark) - Tottenham Hotspur - 8

US U-20s Defeat Jamaica, Inch Closer to Qualifying for the World Cup

Columbus Crew striker Romain Gall converted a pair of penalty kicks as the U.S. defeated host-nation Jamaica 2-0 yesterday to inch closer to advancing to the next round of the CONCACAF U-20 Championships. With 7 points, the U.S. now just needs a draw against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday to clinch third place in Group A. Gall now has 5 goals in the tournament to lead all scorers, but it should be worth noting that in their three matches against teams that aren't Aruba, the U.S. has scored just once in the run of play, and that was a Cameron Carter-Vickers header off a corner in the opening match against Guatemala. The U.S. offense will have to become more productive moving forward if they hope to reach the World Cup.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Big Match-Ups This Weekend in U-20 Tourney

With just two match days remaining in group play, today's matches in Group A and tomorrow's matches in Group B carry some serious long-term implications. Here's a breakdown of how things could shake out for each team:

Group A

Panama - Perfect through three matches, Panama is in the driver's seat in Group A, and can clinch the top seed, and a berth to the U-20 World Cup with a win and a Guatemala loss or draw. They take on Trinidad and Tobago today and Guatemala on Wednesday.

Guatemala - Currently in second place, Guatemala can advance to the next round with a win over Aruba today. If they can follow that up with a win over Panama on Wednesday, they'll win the group.

United States - The U.S. currently sits in third place by virtue of the goal differential tie breaker. They face the Jamaicans today and Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, and a loss to either club with likely result in their elimination from the tournament due to the first tie breaker being head-to-head results. That said, the U.S. controls their own destiny, so if they're eliminated, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Trinidad and Tobago - Trinidad and Tobago takes on Panama today, but for them, advancement will all come down to their finale against the United States. A win over the U.S. will put Trinidad and Tobago through as long as Jamaica doesn't beat the U.S. and demolish Aruba, in which case goal differential would likely be in the Jamaicans favor.

Jamaica - Despite earning just one point through three matches, Jamaica can still make a push for the final spot. If Trinidad and Tobago wins just one of their final two matches, and Jamaica beats the U.S. AND puts up a big number against Aruba, Jamaica could go through. That said, a loss to the U.S. will eliminate the hosts.

Aruba - Aruba has been outscored 17-1 through three matches. They have been virtually, if not mathematically, eliminated.

Group B

Mexico - Mexico, the tournament favorites, have outscored their opponents 14-1 through three matches. A win against El Salvador tomorrow, or Haiti on Thursday, will clinch the group and a spot in the U-20 World Cup.

El Salvador - Currently in second with five points, El Salvador have a tough match with Mexico before finishing up against cellar dwellers, Cuba. A win and a draw would be enough to put El Salvador through to the next round as they own the head-to-head tie breaker against Canada.

Honduras - Honduras's ability to advance will pretty much come down to their final match with Canada on Thursday provided they avoid a slip-up against Haiti tomorrow.

Canada - Canada gets cellar dwellers Cuba tomorrow in a match they should win, but their advancement will likely hinge on an ability to beat Honduras in their Group B finale.

Haiti - Haiti hasn't been eliminated, but they'll have a tough road ahead with matches against Honduras and Mexico and to have a realistic chance, they'd probably need to come away with wins in both.

Cuba - Like Aruba, Cuba is really just along for the ride at this point and they'll wrap up with matches against Canada and El Salvador.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

DeRo Scores in Loss to Iceland

Dwayne De Rosario may not be done yet. The 36 year old MLS veteran doesn't have a contract for the 2015 season, but after scoring yesterday for Canada in a friendly against Iceland, it's clear he still has a little bit left in the tank. In 14 MLS seasons, DeRo has scored 104 goals while tallying 77 assists, but his production has dropped off significantly following the 2012 season. Over the last two seasons, one each with DC United and Toronto FC, DeRo scored just 4 goals in 43 matches. He scored just once for Toronto in 19 games last season. Still, my guess is that someone's going to take a flyer on him. Lots of teams could use his veteran presence and his championship pedigree (he's won 4 MLS Cups). I would not be surprised to see him end up in Montreal, but we'll see how it plays out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MLSers Bag 6 Goals as US U-20s Achieve First Victory

The U.S. finally broke out of their offensive slump with an 8-0 win over my native Aruba this afternoon. Columbus's Romain Gall scored three times in the game's first 32 minutes, LA's Bradford Jamieson IV scored on each side of the intermission and San Jose's Tommy Thompson added another as the U.S.'s MLS contingent was well represented on the scoreboard. The U.S. now once again controls its own destiny as it currently sits ahead of its two remaining opponents, host-nation Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The U.S. will take on Jamaica on the 18th and finish group play against Trinidad and Tobago on the 21st. The U.S. currently trails both Guatemala and Panama in Group A. Only the top three teams will advance. Emerson Hyndman and Amando Moreno also scored for the United States.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Superman and the SoccerSmith's Q&A, Episode 1

The Blog is happy to introduce Cory "Superman" Leonard this week as we introduce a new column, Superman and the SoccerSmith's Q&A. Without further ado:

Round 1

SoccerSmith (SS): Should MLS teams fear the price tag associated with bringing Jozy Altidore back to MLS?

Superman (SM): I'd say that with what some teams are paying for "designated players" versus the quality of some of those players, yes, they should be wary of his associated price tag. He is not as proven yet as players like Kaka, Henry, Gerrard, or even as experienced as guys like Dempsey or Bradley. For my money, one great season in the Netherlands followed by a season and half of mediocrity in England does not warrant his price tag.

SS: I agree that cost is a concern, but when you figure Toronto FC could lose Jermain Defoe, and that New York already lost Thierry Henry, Altidore seems like a logical fit for both clubs. That said, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Dom Dwyer and Gyasi Zardes were hardly household names a year ago and they combined to score over 60 goals last season suggesting that spending money to bring in quality strikers isn't always required to generate offense. I would like to see Jozy catch on somewhere though. Whatever he's doing now isn't working and it's hurting the National Team.

Round 2

SS: What are your thoughts on Klinsmann's latest roster and all of the new faces in camp?

SM: I, for one, am very glad to see new faces in camp. I like Klinsy's approach of going here and there and wherever he can to find these guys with actual, proven (or semi-proven)talent. We need new blood with real skills for all the upcoming tournaments and the only real way to find out what these people are capable of is to put them in the camp environment and play them in friendlies. The old guard was great, and most of them are still strong players, but if we are going to truly challenge for World Cups in the future the torch has to be passed to the new guys.

SS: I'm with you, I also think the new blood puts everyone on notice and establishes that no one has a guaranteed roster spot. In theory this improves the competition and allows him to put together the best possible roster. My only concern would be that at some point, you want to start honing in on your final team and give the guys some time to play together. It is still pretty early in the cycle, but I think we saw a notable lack of chemistry on the field in Brazil this past summer and that's something we'll need to address moving forward.

Round 3

SS: Can Sporting KC bounce back from last season's end of the year collapse or are they now just another middle of the pack team?

SM: Man this is a tough one as I count myself amongst the SKC supporters. I think we have a very good core group in Besler, Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and Zusi, but if we don't shore up the defense a bit and re-learn how to close out games this could be a very long season indeed. At the end of last season it seemed we either were chasing games or got a lead that we couldn't protect. I think a strong D-mid and someone to partner up with Besler now that Collin is gone needs to be a priority. If those things aren't addressed and the winning mentality isn't re-installed it could be a very ho-hum season.

SS: Sporting also has the added challenge of life in the Western Conference this year. There's obviously no shortage of talent on their roster, and they've brought back Roger Espinoza and acquired Columbus's Bernardo Anor to bolster the midfield, while adding Hungarian striker Krisztian Nemeth to add some offense. I think you're right though, there are still some moves to be made, especially in the back where all they've done is bring in Jalil Anibaba. And the fact remains that from August 1st until the end of the season, Sporting won just three times in thirteen matches (3-8-2), and all three of those wins were against non-playoff teams (Chivas USA, Chicago and Toronto). Were the players just rundown after a long season? Whatever it was, that issue needs to be solved, because the team that was on the field at the end of the season was certainly not competitive.

Round 4

SM: How do you feel about how NYCFC and MLS is handling the Frank Lampard situation up in New York?

SS: I may be in the minority here, but I really think this is a non-story. Yeah, it would be nice to see Lampard suit up on Opening Day, but if NYCFC is ok with letting him stay in England, then I don't see why it's a big deal. I get that it makes us look like a second-rate league, but let's face it, we are still a second-rate league. Maybe it's a marketing ploy and Lampard's going to start spreading the word about how accommodating MLS is and that will grease the skids for future internationals to come here. We'll see. But I really think that a year from now, people won't remember that Lampard didn't show up until July and life will go on.

SM: My biggest problem with the whole thing is the hit the fans of this fledgling club are taking. You're already having to split fans with the Red Bulls, you put all this hype around Super Frank playing for your club come opening day, and then you say he won't be there till after the EPL season is over? New Yorkers are a hard bunch, and it's not outside the realm of possibility to see people demand season-ticket refunds and basically tell the whole club to go to hell. Will it matter in a year? Probably not. But I don't think The City Group is getting off on the right foot with their brand-new fan base.

Round 5

SM: DeAndre Yedlin at Tottenham. Too soon or the right time?

SS: This is a tough one. My gut tells me that it's too soon, but how do you turn down an opportunity to play for a team of that stature? I just worry about some of the promising prospects who have gone out there before him: Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Brek Shea, Freddy Adu... They all left young, and stuff hasn't panned out for them in Europe. Maybe Yedlin's different, but I would feel better if Yedlin was going there to be Tottenham's starting right back today, and not a project for their future or a role player. Honestly, I would have preferred he stay in Seattle, but those are mostly for selfish reasons. I love what the Sounders have been doing as far as building an organization. They have talent, they have depth, they're racking up the hardware, and they're built to be good for the long haul. I think Yedlin could have been a part of something special had he stayed, but as I said, I can't fault him for leaving.

SM: Honestly I'm also kinda torn on this one. On the one hand, I'm very proud to see a real homegrown player getting the call to go play at one of the biggest clubs in the EPL. For me it shows where the sport is headed in our country and how good the talent here could be given time. At the same time, I have the same concerns you do. Will he actually get first-team minutes? Will the stress of living and working in a whole different country at such a young age get to him? And there's this to consider. Tottenham have had a plethora of managers in the last 5 years or so. What happens if that trend continues and he's not in the next guy's plans? Time will tell, but I honestly have a good feeling about this kid.

Round 6

SM: For me the quality of play in the MLS has taken a few large steps in the past few years, but it's still seen as a "retirement home" for big-time players. How much longer do you think it will be before MLS can land legitimate 5-star talent who aren't 30+ years old?

SS: I think for MLS to truly be a "top" league, our teams need to perform better on the international stage. Year in and year out, the Champions League title eludes our sides, and with few exceptions, it hasn't been close. We're certainly closing the gap between us and Mexico at the club level, but they still have the clear advantage. The biggest difference isn't necessarily talent, but depth. They're able to go 20 deep of top-level players whereas MLS sides typically go maybe 14. Those extra guys are the ones that get starts in tournaments advance clubs to later rounds. Because we don't have that, we see sides like Portland and New York and Sporting all crashing out in the Opening Rounds of the Champions League which is ridiculous. So yeah, success at these tournaments is what's going to put the league on the map. If we can jump ahead of Mexico, we'll start pulling more of the quality talent from Central and South America, and that will ultimately lead to us getting 5-star talents who are still in their prime from around the globe. I think we're getting there too. I mean, years ago, who would have dreamed that Thierry Henry and David Beckham and Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard and Kaka and David Villa and Robbie Keane would be in MLS at all?

SM: Gerrard. Villa. Kaka. Lampard. All big names, all set to make immediate impacts on their clubs. Unfortunately these guys are all, at a minimum, 32 years old. Which is not to say that they don't have anything left in the tank, but by professional soccer standards (and by professional athlete standards in general), they are on the back end of their careers. I agree with you to a point on the CONCACAF Champions League. MLS squads, at present, do not have enough depth to put up an honest fight and compete for a trophy. However I think the answer to that problem has to be solved internally. More and more guys are leaving at a young age and going abroad to play because there either isn't a local academy or the one that's there just isn't as good as one they can join out of the country. Until we can solve that problem and keep our young talent here and developing we will continue to get major talent who happen to be in the final stage of their careers.

That's all for this week, folks. Follow us on twitter at @cjleonard03 and @SoccerSmith15.

Monday, January 12, 2015

U.S. U-20s in Serious Trouble

Two days after a draw with Guatemala, the U.S. found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss to Panama. The U.S. now finds themselves in 5th place out of the 6-team Group A and in serious jeopardy of missing a trip to the U-20 World Cup. If they have any hope of advancing, they're going to have to figure out a way to score some goals. With just one goal in two matches, the U.S. offense is tied for the worst in the tournament. The U.S. plays Aruba on Wednesday in what has become a must-win match.

In other tournament news Orlando City's Bryan Róchez (Honduras) scored against El Salvador on Saturday while Toronto FC's Jordan Hamilton scored twice against Haiti.

Weekly Top Tens - 1/12/15


1) Diego Costa (Spain) - Chelsea - 15
2) Sergio Agüero (Argentina) - Manchester City - 14
3) Charlie Austin (England) - Queens Park Rangers - 13
4Alexis Sánchez (Chile) - Arsenal - 12
5) Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) - Swansea City - 9
5) Saido Berahino (England) - West Bromwich Albion - 9
5) Papiss Demba Cissé (Senegal) - Newcastle United - 9
8) Robin van Persie (Netherlands) - Manchester United - 8
8) Graziano Pellè (Italy) - Southampton - 8
8) Wayne Rooney (England) - Manchester United - 8
8) Diafra Sakho (Senegal) - West Ham United - 8
8) Eden Hazard (Belgium) - Chelsea - 8
8) Harry Kane (England) - Tottenham Hotspur - 8

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Where Are They Now? The 2005 USMNT U-20s

It's been 10 years since the 2005 CONCACAF U-20 tournament, let's take a look at that squad that clinched a World Cup berth and see how everyone ended up. The U.S. won all three of their matches that year beating Trinidad and Tobago 6-1, Panama 2-0, and Costa Rica 2-0. You've probably heard of some of these guys...

U.S Opens with Draw vs Guatemala

For about 89 minutes, the U.S. had the upper hand and seemed destined for a win and 3 points, but FC Dallas Academy product Andy Ruiz hit a blistering volley from outside the box in the 90th minute to salvage a draw for the Guatemalans. Defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, who currently plays in the Tottenham Hotspur system, had given the U.S. a lead earlier in the second half with a header off a corner. MLSers Matt Miazga (New York), Kellyn Acosta (Dallas), Tommy Thompson (San Jose), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA) and Romain Gall (Columbus) all started for the U.S. Here are the highlights.

In other action, Panama took an early lead in group A with a 4-0 win over Aruba behind a pair of goals by Ismael Diaz (Tauro FC) while host-nation Jamaica rallied for a 2-2 draw with Trinidad and Tobago after falling behind 2-0. Junior Flemmings' 94th minute free kick was the equalizer. Group B opens play today with Mexico taking on Cuba, Honduras taking on El Salvador, and Haiti taking on Canada.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Breaking Down Klinsmann's Latest Camp Roster

Two movie quotes come to mind when I look at Jürgen Klinsmann's latest Team USA camp roster

From Miracle:

You're missing some of the best players. I'm not looking for the best players... I'm looking for the right ones.

And from Major League:

Who are these f%ckin' guys?

Gerrard and Keane Reunited

Steven Gerrard is headed to LA. The former England Captain and Liverpool Legend will join the Galaxy in July during the transfer window. Gerrard will join forces with reigning MVP Robbie Keane for the second time in his career. The Galaxy hope it goes smoother this time around as Keane's stay at Liverpool lasted less than a season after he signed a four year contract in 2008. That said, even in the short time, the two showed they could play together. Here's a clip of all of Keane's Liverpool goals, keep an eye out for Gerrard as he too features in a number of the highlights.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

U.S. Remains 27th in Latest FIFA Poll

The U.S. remained in 27th in the latest FIFA poll, one that saw 146 of 209 teams hold steady from the last ranking. Here's a more detailed look at the rankings:


1) Germany - 1725 pts
2) Argentina - 1538 pts
3) Colombia - 1450 pts
4) Belgium - 1417 pts
5) Netherlands - 1374 pts
6) Brazil - 1316 pts
7) Portugal - 1160 pts
7) France - 1160 pts
9) Spain - 1142 pts
10) Uruguay - 1135 pts

Monday, January 5, 2015

Canada, U.S. Set U-20 Rosters

The U.S. and Canada both announced their rosters today for the upcoming CONCACAF U-20 Tournament and both are well-represented by young MLSers. Here's a rundown of who your MLS reps are, and what they've done in the league so far. First, the Americans:

Matt Miazga - Defender - New York Red Bulls - 8 appearances, 6 starts, 1 assist
Tyler Turner - Defender - Orlando City SC - No MLS experience
Kellyn Acosta - Midfielder - FC Dallas - 28 appearances, 20 starts, 1 assist
Romain Gall - Midfielder - Columbus Crew - 3 appearances
Bradford Jamieson IV - Striker - LA Galaxy - 2 appearances, 1 assist
Tommy Thompson - Striker - San Jose Earthquakes - 13 appearances, 8 starts

And the Canadians:

Marco Carducci - Goalie - Vancouver Whitecaps FC - No MLS experience
Samuel Adekugbe - Defender - Vancouver Whitecaps FC - 5 appearances, 2 starts
Manuel Aparicio - Midfielder - Toronto FC - No MLS experience
Louis Béland-Goyette - Midfielder - Montreal Impact - 1 appearance
Marco Bustos - Midfielder - Vancouver Whitecaps FC - No MLS experience
Kianz Froese - Midfielder - Vancouver Whitecaps FC - 1 appearances
Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé - Midfielder - Montreal Impact - 5 appearances, 3 starts
Jordan Hamilton - Striker - Toronto FC - 1 appearance

Weekly Top Tens - 1/5/15


1) Sergio Agüero (Argentina) - Manchester City - 14
1) Diego Costa (Spain) - Chelsea - 14 
3) Charlie Austin (England) - Queens Park Rangers - 12
4Alexis Sánchez (Chile) - Arsenal - 10
5) Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) - Swansea City - 9
5) Papiss Demba Cissé (Senegal) - Newcastle United - 9
7) Robin van Persie (Netherlands) - Manchester United - 8
7) Graziano Pellè (Italy) - Southampton - 8
7) Wayne Rooney (England) - Manchester United - 8
7) Diafra Sakho (Senegal) - West Ham United - 8
7) Saido Berahino (England) - West Bromwich Albion - 8
7) Eden Hazard (Belgium) - Chelsea - 8

Sunday, January 4, 2015

5 Thoughts for Sunday - 1/4/15

1) The big news in MLS this weekend is that the legendary Steven Gerrard, of Liverpool and English National Team fame, is coming to MLS. The New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC have been previously been linked to Gerrard, but the LA Galaxy appear to be the frontrunners at this point. Gerrard, who turns 35 in May, is just shy of 500 appearances for Liverpool with whom he's played since 1998. He also logged 114 CAPs for England scoring 21 goals including one against the U.S. at the 2010 World Cup. And yes, he'd probably be the perfect fit to replace Landon Donovan.


2) We're less than a week away from the start of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The tourney kicks off on January 9th with the U.S. grouped with Aruba, Guatemala, host-nation Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Panama. The U.S. opens with Guatemala on the 9th. A number of MLS players expect to be appearing in the tournament, but the final rosters aren't expected to be posted before tomorrow.

3) DC United keeper Bill Hamid, the reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year is rumored to be drawing interest from Europe. Hamid has been the starter for DC for the last 4 seasons, but posted career numbers for United in 2014 setting highs in saves (110), shutouts (10, and wins (14). If DC were to lose Hamid, they still have Andrew Dykstra who backed up Hamid in 2014 going undefeated in 4 starts. DC already lost Joe Willis this offseason in a trade with the Houston Dynamo. With just 2 keepers on their roster and the Champions League quarterfinals looming, expect DC to add another keeper before the season starts.

4) The Chicago Fire continue to make moves this season most recently signing Brazilian defender Adaílton. Chicago has already added African strikers Kennedy Ignoananike (Nigeria) and David Accam (Ghana), Trinidad and Tobago National Team midfielder Joevin Jones, and ex-Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens fresh off his stint in Norway. On the heels of a 6-win season (that included a record-setting 18 ties), it's no surprise that the Fire are looking to shake things up a bit.

5) 17 year old Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem became a U.S. citizen this week after several years with the German Youth National Team. U.S. Soccer has already started the process to make him eligible to play for the U.S. Men's National Team. Here are some highlights of him with Arsenal.

Friday, January 2, 2015

One For the Road

So I didn't mention this guy the other day when talking about top offseason acquisitions partly because he's headed to an expansion team in Orlando City, but let's talk a little bit about Bryan Róchez. One of the youngest designated players in MLS history, the now 20 year-old Honduran helped lead Honduras's U-20s to a gold medal at the 2013 Central American Games, already has 6 CAPs for the Honduran Senior National Team, was the Liga Nacional de Honduras's second leading scorer during the 2013-14 season while scoring 20 goals for Real C.D. España, and he'll be a member of Honduras's U-20 Squad in the upcoming CONCACAF U-20 Championship. 

In parts of 3 seasons in Honduras, Róchez amassed 30 goals for Real España. He also scored in the Group Stage of this year's CONCACAF Champion's League in Real España's 1-1 home draw with Municipal (Guatemala).

Now with a chance to play alongside a big time playmaker in Kaká, Róchez, a natural scorer, should have no shortage of opportunities. Keep an eye on him during the upcoming CONCACAF tournament. Honduras is grouped with Cuba, Canada, Haiti, Mexico and El Salvador.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

MLS Ironmen

How many MLSers started every game last season for their respective clubs? Eight. And of those eight, only three of them weren't goalkeepers. Here's the complete list:


David Ousted - Vancouver Whitecaps - 12-8-14, 13 shutouts
Jon Busch - San Jose Earthquakes - 6-16-12, 6 shutouts
Luis Robles - New York Red Bulls - 13-10-11, 6 shutouts
Stefan Frei - Seattle Sounders - 20-10-4, 9 shutouts
Steve Clark - Columbus Crew - 14-10-10, 8 shutouts

Field Players

Bobby Boswell - DC United - Defender - 1 goal 3 assists
Giles Barnes - Houston Dynamo - Midfielder/Striker - 11 goals 5 assists
Raymon Gaddis - Philadelphia Union - Defender - 0 goals 2 assists

Robles also started every game in 2013 for New York.

Designated Player List Heading into 2015

Happy New Year, Everyone! Here's a rundown of the league's designated players as we head into 2015. For kicks, I've broken them up into four categories:

The U.S. Men's National Teamers

Chris Wondolowski - San Jose Earthquakes - 25 CAPS, 9 Goals
Clint Dempsey - Seattle Sounders - 110 CAPS, 39 Goals
Omar Gonzalez - LA Galaxy - 24 CAPS, 0 Goals
Michael Bradley - Toronto FC - 91 CAPS, 12 Goals
Maurice Edu - Philadelphia Union - 46 CAPS, 1 Goal
Eddie Johnson - DC United - 63 CAPS, 19 Goals
Matt Besler - Sporting Kansas City - 23 CAPS, 0 Goals
Graham Zusi - Sporting Kansas City - 28 CAPS, 3 Goals
DaMarcus Beasley - Houston Dynamo - 121 CAPS, 17 Goals
Jermaine Jones - New England Revolution - 48 CAPS, 3 Goals