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Leagues: MLS

Quick Kicks: Chivas Surging, TOA/USL News, Crew Advance


The next few days promise to be big ones in US professional football. Major League Soccer has proven this summer and into the fall to be the most compelling and competitive first division the English speaking world. The MLS season comes down to the next few nights of football: every match in the final weekend has an impact upon the title race, unlike the final weekends in most European leagues.


 Further down the US football pyramid, The United Soccer Leagues representing divisions two through four as well as major youth and amateur clubs is in flux. I have been informed by a source very close to the situation that the dispute between the Team Owners Association (TOA) and USL will be resolved one way or another, within the next 48 hours. Both the USSF and MLS have intervened in the proceedings and I am told by a source close to the TOA, that MLS Commissioner Don Garber, in particular has been insightful and helpful in the process.


Back to MLS: On Thursday, Chivas USA has an opportunity to take control of the Western Conference race at Toyota Park against Chicago. The Fire have been poor at home for the best part of two seasons now under Denis Hamlet, and with Preki’s team hitting its stride and Zach Thornton playing lights out, I fully expect Chivas to walk away with something.



Congratulations to the Columbus Crew who achieved a result against the woeful and embarrassingly outclassed Puerto Rico Islanders in Bayoman on Tuesday. The Crew’s result coupled with Saprissa’s loss to Cruz Azul puts Columbus through to the knock out stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.


As far as the Islanders are concerned, they have failed miserably both in USL and CONCACAF this year, despite the single achievement of knocking Toronto FC out of the tournament. Colin Clarke’s increasingly negative football and head scratching squad choices make me wonder if he got the most he could get out of this team during the 2008 calendar year and should have moved on.


Puerto Rico’s failure also calls into question whether the Caribbean region is being given too many teams in the Champions League. The Islanders were far from the best team in USL this year and did not win a group stage match in CONCACAF. Yet, they were given easy passage into the tournament as one of the few truly professional teams in the region they qualify from. Granted the Islanders were impressive in the 2008-09 tournament, but easy qualification plus being grouped with the embarrassingly bad Toronto FC pre Julian De Guzman in the play in stage made the Islanders road to the group stages as easy as possible.



The news last week that Avram Grant was approached by Red Bull New York should be encouraging for MLS fans. This sort of move to bring in a technical director and a manager who has actually accomplished something on the club level and international level, (previous Red Bull/Metros managers like Carlos Alberto Parriera, Carlos Quiroez and Bora Milutinovic all had been away from the European/North American club game for a while when hired.) should be emulated across the league.


The standard of management in MLS is still woeful, despite what many of the league’s defenders may claim. Simple tactics and in game adjustments often times are lacking from MLS matches. Unfortunately, this often carries over when players from the league feature at the international level.



It has been my intention to tape a podcast with United Mania’s Chris Webb for the past several days. Chances are we will still tape a show this week, but our schedules have clashed and I had some painful dental work the other day which also complicated matters.

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  1. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    October 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Well, MLS had 5 spots this year and 1 team that got out of the group stages……without a doubt MLS’ spots need to be reviewed. MLS is 1 for 4 and 1 for 5 in the two years of this event. USL is 2 for 3, still. The FMF is 8 for 8 while mostly playing reserves.

  2. Kristian (

    October 23, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Kristian not Kristen hehe

    Yes, without a doubt Clarke was to blame. Not only did we lead in all 3 home games – we also led in Saprissa and ended up losing 3-1.

    Seeing how most of the games progressed and the talent on the bench, the Islanders should have ended with 10 or more points. Sadly, we’ll have to wait for next year.

    But you mentioned that the Caribbean should maybe get fewer spots, well with the MLS getting 4 spots this year and only one team advancing … I think the MLS hasn’t fared that much better.

  3. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    October 22, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Kristen correctly states that I have a soft spot for the Islanders. I think an issue with the team was Clarke’s meddling tactics and yes, I believe they were a colossal failure in this years Champions League. They led all three home games at half and didn’t win any of them. With the depth Clarke built into this team, they should have been as strong in the Group Stage this year as they were last year when they got 8 points.

    Arrieta and Steele or only better this year, and Marcelin really grew into one heck of a player. Yet, the team failed in USL and CONCACAF. Ultimately, Clarke is to blame.

  4. yankiboy

    October 22, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Mexico: I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt asassume that you are jokling and not looking to troll…

    You make some big assumptions:
    1) that none of us follow the Mexican Primera

    2) that we actually care about your opinion of how we invest our time (but thanks a lot for the pointer–De los gustos no hay nada escrito)

    3) that we need to be told what to talk about

    Seriously, Bro. You did give me a good laugh this morning. You must have been joking.

    Enjoy the superclasico this weekend.


  5. Mexico is WAY better

    October 22, 2009 at 6:50 am

    After yet another miserable showing by your league in the CCL, why the hell would you waste your time with it???

    Watch the Mexican League. It’s better. This weekend is the SuperClassic. You all should be talking about that

    • daniel

      October 22, 2009 at 9:51 am

      nah, I’ll stick with The MLS, I like supporting my home league. Plus how Exciting has FC Dallas been lately. It’s going to be one of the most memorable weekends in MLS history.

      I just can’t control the excitement. I Can’t wait.

      Plus im not from Mexico so it really just doesn’t interest me but if your interested go for it.

  6. eplnfl

    October 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Poor record at home is a mild term for Chicago’s home record. Yet, with some money on the line you will see Blanco be the spark plug he was for the Mexican team. Mcbride is back and Chris Rolfe wants to go out a winner in Chicago. Look for a big effort out of the Fire.

    Yet, I won’t be surprised if they lay an egg.

  7. IslandersFC

    October 21, 2009 at 3:12 pm


    All 3 home matches, we outclassed the opponents, except maybe the second half of the Cruz Azul match. If not for wrong coaching decisions, we would’ve ended up with at least 9 points.

  8. pete20

    October 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Nice to hear the USL issue is being resolved. I’m happy that Garber can contribute. Hopefully this will lead to a closer and more productive future between the two leagues. I believe the gains far exceed the losses in a mutual relationship.

  9. yankiboy

    October 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Kartik, let me get this right: Puerto Rico Islanders were “woeful” and in the clubs’ USL campaign and CONCACAF, it “failed miserably”. I’ll be the first to say that as an avid Puerto Rico Islanders’ fan that I am disspaointed with both the USL1 and Champions’ League outcomes but to brand them a miserable failue is not only offensive it is just plain wrong.

    League: Islanders came 3rd. They were a whopping 5 points behind the 1st place Commisioner Cup winning Portland Timbers. Out ot 30 matches the Islanders the Islanders record was 15W 8D 7L. Does that look. They took points in 76% of their matches. No they didn’t win the ultimate prize, the USL1 Championship trophy. But I hardly call that record a “miserable failure”. Seriously. the club fell short of the league goal but it is not like they went to hell in a handbasket.

    CONCACAF Champions League: True the club failed to win any of it’s 6 group Stage matches (another disappointment). The club lost all of the away matches (not a big surprise) and it did not win at home. The three points from the three draws was clearly not enough to make it out of the group but it is not like they were not were blown off the field. They had 3 “pretty much to be expected” results in place where many MLS and Central American clubs haven’t historically done in better (Estadio Saprissa in Costa RIca and Mexico City) and they got the same result at Crew Stadium that MLS sides have pretty much gotten this season (the Columbus Crew are a good side–they are the reigning MLS Champs and top of the MLS regular season table last time I checked).

    Does the Caribbean region get more teams in the competition than it “should”–I can easily see the merit in that position. The Islanders performance was not the worst of the Caribbean trio that participated this year.

    Your critique on the clubs futility comes of as heavy-handed even whebn being read by a supporter who expected more sucess with the two afforementioned campaigns.

    The bottom line is that while it wasn’t up to the previously high Cinderella-like standard of last year’s Chamipons’ League run and USL1 season this year was not actually that bad for a second division club where the club ownership doesn’t have the financial capital to realistically do any better than it already so admirably has. The Islanders player salaries were the lowest in the group–by far. They got beat by teams with better economic resources that should have beat them…

  10. C Webb

    October 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Kartik and I plan on covering the DC match from last night plus their playoff push and of course cover the US’ matches against Honduras and Costa Rica.

    We’ll have the show done and up in running in a few days.

    Feel better Kartik!

    Nothing worse than having dental issues 6,000 miles from home

  11. EastLAChiva

    October 21, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    One game at a time. Chivas USA hasn’t scored more than 2 goals in a game.
    We should win in Chicago, but its easier said than done. Maicon, Padilla, and Sacha all need to have good games.

  12. Ted Meyer

    October 21, 2009 at 1:04 pm


    You forgot about D.C. United going down to Mexico and getting a result. D.C. United went down to Mexico and took the lead of a fabulous Chris Pontius goal, and I believe it is the first time a MLS side has gotten a result in Mexico. Yes, it means we have to rely on a team that has yet to win a game at all in the group stages to get us through to the next round, but it is still a sign of progress for MLS teams.

  13. Kristian

    October 21, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Kartik, I know as a closet Islanders fan you have been particularly annoyed at Clarke’s style this year but to label the Islanders’ performance as woeful I think goes a bit overboard. You either let your frustration take the best of you or you were watching another match.

    The Islanders played a match that meant nothing to them without Bill Gaudette, Andres Cabrero, James Marcelin, Dan Gargan, Domenic Mediate, Fabrice Noel, Kendall Jagdeosingh, Osei Telesford, and Sandy Gbandi – all out due to injuries, etc. There were only 3 subs on the bench. So a 1-1 against the MLS champs with a really nothing to play for and a decimated squad seems like a good outcome to me. They played for the fans and to defend their home stadium.

    Trying not to be too biased, the Islanders were the ones who looked like the better team for most of the match and while we didn’t get the win – everyone in the stadium was proud of what the team did.

    While I’m not going to defend Clarke’s tactics (they suck), the Islanders were the only ones to open with 2 CCL games on the road and they had the incredibly ridiculous schedule in September that saw them play 4 games in 6 days and more than 16 games in a span of a month – all while traveling great distances. Look at every other single CCL participant this year and see if they’ve logged the miles that the Islanders have, they don’t come close. And then keep in mind that the Islanders have just a fraction of the salary and money of most of the big clubs participating this year.

    Still, the Islanders were the only team to get a point out of Cruz Azul and almost a win at that. Was it still a disappointing run in the CCL this year? Yes. But they’ve still gone farther in the competition than any MLS club has unless a US club can get to the Final this year.

  14. Tom

    October 21, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I’m not sure the MLS is the most compelling league, but this weekend and the last couple of weeks have been exciting. The nature of the English Premeir League, with its regular season being the championship, the 4 places in the Champion’s Leaugue (3 automatic), and relagation, make it really exciting right from the beginning. As has been said, the Championship can’t won early, but can be lost. Reminds me of college football. The MLS is not so compelling in the spring, but more exciting for more teams at the end. The leagues are different, that is OK. I enjoy both.

  15. jmb321

    October 21, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Can you provide more detail as to what “…MLS Commissioner Don Garber, in particular has been insightful and helpful …” means in real terms?

    Also have your read Kuper and Symanski’s “Soccernomics” yet?
    Interesting read with some new slants on the future of soccer.

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