Sounder at Heart Archives for January 2009

Designated Players - worth their weight in meh

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Once upon a time I critiqued the man who is now the manager of SBNation's soccer network and his stance on the DP. I ran some with or without you numbers and titled it really poorly. I was learning the whole blogger thing back then, trying too hard to make a dent in the world. In general it was apparent that MLS teams played more open games with a DP for 2008, more goals for, and more against.

Rumors of a Second DP Renewed

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Rumors of a Second DP Renewed

Steve Davis (who also writes at Daily Soccer Fix) has a hint that there are owners pushing for a Second DP slot, but that there is a first goal of getting the empty slots filled first. Yes, Seattle is one of those teams.

Part of the reason many teams don't use their DP is because you get one shot, and getting that shot wrong bears a high cost.

Boxing Day Links Roundup

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In what I hope I can make a weekly endeavor I'm going to start posting a links round-up. For those that follow me on twitter most of these won't be new, but hopefully I can provide greater context now.

So over the past week these are the stories from around MLS, Cascadia and the world of soccer that have fascinated me.

Osvaldo Alonso - Holding Mid, or something more?

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Early in the season Seattle fans went from wondering who the Cuban exile is, to instead knowing that not only was he a solid player from the USL-1 but another great defensive midfielder in the league. While yes, MLS has a lot of good holding/defensive midfielders, Alonso is one that still managed to stick out from that crowd.

Galaxy sign Juninho

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and two other guys.

Just the wrong Juninho - this one is 20. The others are 21. Most notable about the signing is something that Carlos has been hammering into my head for over a year now - all have 5 years, or more, or professional experience. One started his pro-days at 13.

They were on the Sao Paulo team that won a trophy at the 2007 Dallas Cup, defeating Real Madrid and Chelsea en route to the title.

Scrapping the Designated Player Rule

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Yes, I am suggesting exactly that. My complaints are different than most though. It isn't that I don't like the idea of 1, 2 or 3 great players residing on a given MLS side. It isn't because I think they are a huge risk, and too often don't contribute to the marketing of the team.

I want the rule abandoned because I don't think it is fairly applied (Galaxy and Donovan), and because it isn't being used to build the sport in America, and Canada.

Cascadia's Fields of Dreams

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Stadium news from our Cascadian brothers today, as both the Whitecaps and Timbers have some announcements and renderings concerning their stadiums.

Up to the North we find out that the temporary facility looks better than many of the permanent stadiums down here. The Empire Fields site will be used for all of 2010, and part of 2011 as BC place goes through its major rennovation.

Draft Profile: Dustin Corea - IF he signs a GA deal

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With updates to Buzz' 2010 GA target list, particularly due to the news that there are a few official signings, I was hoping that the first player I had targeted for profile would be on the list. At this time, he is not. But what Dustin Corea is, is a player beyond his years. One of only 6 players on the above linked target lists still in high school.

Is Modern Football about to die?

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Normally when the word "administration" comes up in football, it concerns clubs which languish in League 2, or maybe League 1. In the past there as been occasion of teams in the English Championship that have been threatened, and even a few that have suffered the penalty.

Right now, Southhampton (L-1), Salisburty City (Conf) and Chester City (Conf) are suffering the effects of Administration.

Guaranteed Contracts are Death in a Salary Cap League

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With all the news about the CBA out there these days (ok, a few stories Romero, Denz) I thought that a key point would be the key areas where the Players and League disagree. Some of these may have compromises, some will not. There will be points where one side or the other will get their way.

The main issues where the Players and League disagree are the following -

- Guaranteed Contracts
- Free Agency
- Club Autonomy
- Salary Floor
- Developmental Players

The secondary issues that are not necessarily CBA related (ht to denz again)

- Salary Cap
- Designated Player Slots
- Allocation

This isn't necessarily going to be another series of stories, but I think that the topics might build on each other.

Leo Gonzalez - Answering the Left Back Dilemma

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When the season started we were all surprised that Zach Scott was the starting left back. A role and position that he had clearly earned, and every match he answered that call. He was gritty and determined, a strong defensive presence and not quite what Sigi wanted. Coach tried Nate Sturgis there to see if a bit of offense could be mixed in, and that didn't work well, nor poorly.

Draft Preview: Andre Akpan

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In the first of my series looking at draft prospects that are likely to be in the 8-14 range, and generally on offense, I start with Andre Akpan. Not because he was Mike Fucito's teammate for a few years, nor because his coach played with Taylor Graham at Stanford, but because in one of the first mock drafts of the year Soccer by Ives had him listed 11th.

Tracking the Free (Primary Window 2010)

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On January 21st, pending a CBA agreement, the primary transfer window will open for Major League Soccer. As usual I will start to track those players that would be available on a Free. While the Designated Players get all the attention, there have been several free transfers and loans that have really helped the league step forward.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - First Sounder to Europe?

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The star player on defense for the Sounders. He was used primarily as a man marker or as a kind of sweeper shutting down the second ball. Solid lateral quickness and good speed means that even though he makes mistakes, he can recover.

Currently only on loan, Sounders FC have to use some of their remaining allocation dollars in order to lock him in for one more year at the least.

A poll on the upcoming SuperDraft

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There are many theories as to how to manage a draft. Some look only to the best player, in MLS that may mean only Seniors (ready-now) or it could mean Generation Adidas guys (likely not ready immediately but salary cap free).

Others look at the draft to fill holes, and the Sounders have a holes on the wing and in central midfield, and possibly in fullback.

Scouting Matters

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And even more so in a Salary/Roster cap league. Mistakes cost more in MLS, a bad pick wastes money and a roster slot. For MLS the ability to scout talent from college, from the lower US divisions and internationally is the ability to discover players and get them at value. It is the ability to find a player like Darrius Barnes for New England, Zach Scott, or Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.


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Sure, I may be sounding like a broken record, but let's look at a few stories that are out there right now, and then think about why MLS is not able to take advantage of the situation.

Landon Donovan is likely to loan out to Everton. That's great news, but for many US players things are actually kind of ugly over there in Europe.

All I want for Christmas - 2009

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I did this last year, and have thought about not doing it this year on the network, but decided that it may engage enough readers, so I'm going to give it a go.

1- I want a CAM. I actually didn't see as many problems with converting scoring opportunities, but I certainly saw weaknesses at the team level in beating a defender with ball at feet.

Full League Plus/Minus

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It uses a different methodolog than I do (only counts 11 v 11, no extra penalty for Own Goals), but it does it for all 15 teams in League play. He provides the counting and rate stat, as well as adjusting for the team to reduce the impact of being on a great team.

Most notabaly different player due to methodology is Seb Le Toux.

It Could Be Worse

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More photos » by Tom Pennington - AP

Browse more photos »

For all the grief that people, including myself, give Major League Soccer; it could be much worse. At least in MLS the team's that perform the best in the regular season qualify for a tournament.

Seb Le Toux Going Away Party

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Yeah, if you haven't heard, there's a party to thank Le Toux for his 3 years in Seattle. It is today at 3PM at Elysian Fields. It is NOT an autograph session, it is a thank you Le Toux session.

ECS led the organization of this event with Gorilla, Alliance Council and North End Supporter help.

Tyrone Marshall - From TFC castoff to Team Defender of Year

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Just over a year ago it was announced that Marshall was acquired from Toronto by Seattle for allocation money (salary cap exempt monies). Generally TFC fans were giddy, they loved that they were going to cast aside a veteran centerback for free money. Yesterday, the Sounders announced that Marshall was named the team Defender of the Year as voted on by his teammates.

Do Expansion Teams get better by just existing?

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Part of what needs to be addressed this offseason is how much roster churn is necessary, and how much would actually hurt the Sounders chances in 2010. There is an expectation amongst many fans that a team should get better just by playing together, and if that is the case, then the Sounders should have very little churn.

MLS and the Hispanic Market

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This week the Wall Street Journal published an article on the efforts American sports organizations are making to attract Hispanic fans. Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic group in the US and their buying power is growing rapidly as well. Included in the article is a brief discussion of how Hispanics figure into MLS' plans:

Many Hispanics hail from countries where soccer -- known there as fútbol -- is a national passion, which Major League Soccer is trying to tap.

Combination Play: Leo and Zakuani

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Bossing the Flanks

So let's start with a quick run down on the interplay between wide midfielder and full-back in modern soccer. The wide areas of the pitch are far less dangerous than the centre, so wing play comes down to exploiting space in those wide areas to provide some mechanism to deliver the ball into the penalty area.

Open Source MLS

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Recently Jimmy Conrad wrote a piece at ESPN's Soccernet about his vision for MLS. He likens it to Linux, but honestly, his ideas are not in the mold of Linux. Sure, he's willing to respond and listen to feedback, but he is not necessarily advocating adopting an Open Source and/or Democratic model for MLS, just for his own "blog" at Soccernet.