Tag: mls

NY Red Bulls: Best Fit for Gerrard

As most of the football universe has announced already it looks like Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest English footballers ever, will transition to the MLS to finish out his career.  Where he ends up is still in question, and something that probably will not be finalized until he finishes out his final season at Liverpool FC.  I want to tell you why he shouldn’t go to the LA Galaxy and why the NY Red Bulls are the best fit.

The short answer: Mike Petke.

Credit mlssoccer.com

Ignore the awful hair choices of the late 90s. Over the last two seasons as NYRB Manager, Petke has transformed the Red Bulls into a possession oriented squad with an emphasis on strong defense and lightning fast offense.  The team loses Thierry Henry to retirement, but adding Gerrard would allow the team to stabilize its midfield and continue the transformation Petke started in 2013.  Petke emphasizes a pretty standard 4-4-2, often with a holding central midfielder, which the aging Gerrard would slide into perfectly.  Given his experience, Gerrard would have no problem patrolling the center of the pitch in the MLS for years to come, with Tim Cahill behind him captaining the defense and sending through balls to fellow Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips until opponents’ defenses caved.

Compared to what seems to be the only other option, the LA Galaxy, Gerrard would fit into the Petke system better than the Bruce Arena way of life.  Arena has struggled with more defensive type setups over his recent years in the MLS, formations that would accent an aging central midfield superstar, forcing a Steven Gerrard type to be a goal producer rather than a captain and facilitator.  He would be judged by statistics, rather than pure football performance.  The Galaxy have been successful when they’re blatantly outscoring opponents under Arena, not by merely outperforming their opponent on the pitch.  In Los Angeles, Landon Donovan was the LA Galaxy, which resulted in other Designated Players coming into the MLS and playing second fiddle (i.e. Beckham, Keane, Omar Gonzalez…maybe that one’s a stretch).

Maybe, just maybe Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard are BFFs and this is all about them playing the rest of their careers together and laughing at all the money they’ll be making to hang out in California for the next 5 years…

Credit: Dailymail.co.uk
Credit: Talksport
Credit: theGuardian

Seriously there are a lot of these pictures on the internet, forget everything I said, this bromance is just what the MLS needs.  It might even help all the Liverpool fans cope with what is the 2014-2015 BPL season. 😉

“Captain God” is MLS and LA Galaxy Bound

You figure a legend like Steven Gerrard would only come to USA if he was headed to one of the big markets in the MLS. Both LA Galaxy and the NY Redbulls have recently freed up a Designated Player spot. NY Redbulls are an interesting one just because Frank Lampard is supposed to come back to NYCFC (we’ll see when) and join David Villa in starting a rivalry with NYRB. Something in my brain is blinking saying, “Why wouldn’t one midfield legend want to compete with another in such close proximity that a simple half hour drive or train ride could have them grabbing a cup of tea together in a downtown cafe?” LA Galaxy have the “Donovan” spot available. This one that needs to be completed with someone of equal or greater soccer cultural relevance. This could be easily filled with the services of the Red’s legend. And so we continue, Orlando City still has a DP spot that could (should…cough….definitely be) be used for him. But we all know that will not happen. As big as the opportunity for a Floridian soccer market stranglehold that Orland City has, I don’t see it overtaking the lures of New York or Los Angeles. But, Steven Gerrard is a different type of player with loyalty and commitment not often seen during the past generation and one that will continue to dissolve into obscurity. According to this report from the MLS: Galaxy to Sign Gerrard, Gerrard is already on his way to LA. It will be strange to watch him in anything but a Liverpool kit but I am looking forward to him in the MLS, with whichever club finally captures his signature.
Liverpool v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

USL PRO To Apply For Division 2 Status With USSF

From Reckless Challenge:

United Soccer Leagues (USL) just concluded their Annual General Meetings in Clearwater Beach, FL this week. Usually, the biggest news to come out of the AGM is the general format of the schedules. Well, Reckless Challenge has learned those details, but that news will be delayed in favor of news that could change the landscape of soccer in America. Multiple sources have confirmed that USL PRO plans to submit an application to USSF for Division 2 status in 2017.

It’s long been speculated that USL PRO would try to achieve D2 status in the future. The nascent partnership with MLS made it seem inevitable. Reports coming out the USL AGM now make it a certainty.

What is less certain is whether or not the league will meet the requirements to make the leap from D3 to D2. The current rules governing division recognition were rewritten this year. A presentation at the USL AGM demonstrated that the league could satisfy about 85% of the current requirements with the clubs, ownership groups, and facilities in place today. One of the shortfalls that USL PRO would have to overcome is the net-worth of a few ownership groups.

Reckless Challenge, however, has also learned that the criteria for being sanctioned are likely to change by 2017. It remains to be seen whether the changes will enhance or diminish the chances of USL PRO to be officially recognized as a D2 professional league.

This would be huge news for American soccer if USL Pro achieved second tier status. Currently the NASL is the second tier so if USL PRO achieves second tier status then it would be interesting to see what happens to the NASL. There’s still a long way to go before the becomes a possible reality but if it does then the American soccer landscape could enter some turmoil. If USL PRO gets granted second tier status then there’s no doubt that the NASL will challenge that ruling and the lengthy legal battle that would follow could greatly hurt American soccer. The fact that MLS and USL PRO have such a strong partnership will also raise some eyebrows since NASL is technically a competitor to MLS while MLS and USL PRO have a symbiotic relationship. This is something to keep an eye on in the next few years because the possible repercussions are enormous.

Orlando City SC Unveil Inaugural MLS Jersey

From MLSsoccer.com:

And it’s purple … all over.

The jersey, made by adidas as are all the uniforms in MLS, also features sponsor Orlando Health across the front, three stripes down the sleeve, a gold trim and the phrase “This Is Orlando” on the necktape as a nod to the supporters’ groups.

To recognize the club’s history, the jersey will also feature the old OCSC logo on the inside of the jersey underneath the current MLS logo. In addition, there’s a 3D crown above the words “Orlando City” on the back of the jersey, highlighting the club’s USL championship titles.

OCSC supporters can pre-order their jersey — short sleeve or long — on the club’s official site,www.OrlandoCitySC.com.

*Slow clap*. Orlando City SC is joining the prestigious line of MLS expansion clubs who truly understand how to brand themselves. This purple jersey is fresh. It is very hard to go beyond the traditional color scheme of normal soccer kits but if done right a team can create a truly unique kit. Case and point is the bright orange of the Netherlands national team. Orange is a tough color to make work but when done right it makes your team stand out. Purple is less common so it takes extra care to make it work. Orland City SC pulled it off though. Kaka will look so good in this as he knifes through MLS defenses next season.

MLS Announces Ownership Group For LA FC Led By Henry Nguyen

From MLSsoccer.com:

A new era for Major League Soccer in Los Angeles began today as MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced that a new team has been awarded to an ownership group led by entrepreneur Henry Nguyen, sports and entertainment leader Peter Guber, and sports veteran Tom Penn.  The new club is scheduled to debut in 2017 in a new soccer stadium in the greater Los Angeles area built specifically for the team.

Along with Nguyen, Guber and Penn, the new team’s ownership group includes: Ruben Gnanalingam, co-owner of the English Premier League’s Queens Park Rangers, Vincent Tan, owner of the Football League Championship’s Cardiff City and FK Sarajevo of the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former Los Angeles Lakers star, Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises and an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers,Mia Hamm Garciaparra, U.S. women’s soccer great, Tony Robbins, America’s #1 life and business strategist, best-selling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Nomar Garciaparra,former Major League Baseball star and SportsNet LA baseball analyst, Larry Berg, senior partner at Apollo Global Management and a co-owner of AS Roma, Allen Shapiro, CEO of Dick Clark Productions and managing partner of Mosaic Media Investment Partners, Chad Hurley, co-founder and former CEO of YouTube and the founder and CEO of MixBit, Rick Welts, President and COO of the Golden State Warriors Basketball Club, Bennett Rosenthal, co-founder and senior partner of Ares Management and a co-owner of AS Roma, as well as Kirk Lacob, Mark Leschly, Mike Mahan, Irwin Raij, Paul Schaeffer, Brandon Schneider, Jason Sugarman and Harry Tsao. A few additional prominent owners are expected to be added to this list shortly.

The rumors are true and it seems like the new LA MLS franchise will have a solid ownership group behind it. What I don’t understand is how MLS teams insist on calling themselves “football clubs” instead of “soccer clubs” like Orlando City did with their new franchise. It’s a weird idiosyncrasy that keeps popping up with MLS teams. The adoption of the European way of doing things makes sense to a degree but the forceful adoption of the word football is getting confusing. We as Americans need to choose one word or the other and stick with it. Mini rant aside I am pumped for this new franchise. LA is a strong soccer market and it is about time they had two strong LA franchises in place to grow that market even further.