Monthly Archives: February 2010

The World of Soccer

The Philadelphia Union have most of their roster set now after the expansion draft, the MLS SuperDraft, and other transactions they have made. They accumulated their first 10 players in the expansion draft, then made some moves, then finished strongly with an A+ effort in the MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia.

Expansion Draft Players:

  • GK Brad Knighton
  • DEF Shavar Thomas
  • DEF Dave Myrie
  • DEF Jordan Harvey
  • MF Shea Salinas
  • MF Stefani Miglioranzi
  • MF Andrew Jacobson
  • S Nick Zimmerman
  • S Alejandro Moreno
  • S Sebastien Le Toux

Soon after the expansion draft, the Union acquired GK Chris Seitz from 2009 MLS Champion Real Salt Lake, and the rights to sign DEF Danny Califf from a Danish club, FC Midtjyland. Just a day before the 2010 MLS SuperDraft is when the Union really started wheelin n dealin, though. They traded their #1 allocation spot (essentially the same thing as waivers, allowed D.C. to pick their former GK Troy Perkins back up) and some money to D.C. United for MF Fred and the #7 overall pick in the draft. They also traded money to FC Dallas for the #6 overall pick.

SuperDraft Players(in order):

  • S Danny Mwanga
  • MF Amobi Okugo
  • S Jack McInerney
  • MF Toni Stahl
  • MF Kyle Nakazawa
  • GK Brian Perk

Soon after the SuperDraft, on deadline day, the Union picked up US international DEF Michael Orozco on loan from Mexican Primera club San Luis.

Players Not picked up in any Draft:

  • GK Chris Seitz
  • DEF Danny Califf
  • MF Fred
  • DEF Michael Orozco

I know what you’re thinking now, what is deadline day? And what is a loan? Deadline day, as you can imagine, is like the trade deadline in American sports. In soccer, in Europe, and everywhere except America, deadline day is February 1st. This is the last day you can complete a loan, swap, or transfer. A swap is a trade, they just call it a swap in soccer, and usually its not small amounts of cash and a player, if it happens, and its rare for a swap to happen, it’ll be a player and a whole lot of money for a player or possibly a couple players but that’s even more rare. A loan is where a player is given to a team for no fee for an amount of time. The team he is given to pays his weekly wages. There are a couple situations where a player is loaned instead of being fully transferred, and I’ll get into that later. A transfer is really just a purchase. This past summer Real Madrid bought Christiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for 80 million pounds, or $125,555,200.58

Typically, the players who are loaned are in one of these situations:

  • A young player from big club with a ton of potential who isn’t seeing much first team action is loaned to a smaller club, and a worse team, to develop. i.e. Danny Welbeck from Manchester United to Preston North End, where United manager Sir Alex Ferguason’s son is in charge.
  • A player from a small club who has proven himself as an elite player in the league. Oftentimes a small club will loan this type of player to a big club so that he can play with the big club and they can decide if they want to, and how much they’re willing to spend to transfer him into their club. Some of these loan deals have a clause putting a transfer fee on the player. Much like a team option.
  • A big name player with a big time wage who is not in good form at all. Whenever someone is loaned, they negotiate a weekly wage with their temporary club. Robbie Keane, captain of Tottenham Hotspur FC, was in absolutely pitiful form, and had stopped playing much for the first team, so Tottenham loaned him to Celtic FC, where he would be able to step right in and start every game he is fit for. Tottenham doesn’t pay his wage, Celtic gets a potentially great player for the rest of the season in an attempt to win the Scottish league.

Stuff you should also know if you’re trying to be a soccer fan:

  • The MLS is literally the only soccer league in the entire world that has a draft. How do teams get players then? A team can sign someone whenever. It is not completely ridiculous for a 9 year old to be a professional soccer player. A team signs these players, and they go to the clubs youth academy. This is school, kind of. They do go to class, but they also play a whole hell of a lot of soccer. When a player is 18, he is no longer eligible for the youth academy. At this time he will sign somewhere, usually the same club he’s been at. Generally speaking, no one will play first team soccer for a top division club until they’re at least 17. Wayne Rooney was playing for regularly for Newcastle United at 16 but he, and some others are the exception.
  • Most countries have 2-4 leagues, no playoffs, and at least one domestic cup. Lets take England for example. They have about 59 leagues, the Barclays Premier League, the Coca-Cola League Championship, and Coca-Cola Divisions 1 and 2, also known as Football Leagues 1 and 2. And then there are half full-pro and half semi-pro leagues under that, i.e. Conference North. They also have about 600 cups to win. The big one is FA cup, the Football Association Cup. This is one where the entire Football Association is involved. Everyone from the Premiership to Football league 2 is in it. It’s awesome, one of the big name clubs is always taken down by a little guy i.e. Leeds United over Manchester United this year. They also have the League Cup, currently sponsored by Carling, making it called the Carling Cup, where most clubs are involved and the Johnstones Paint Trophy where Football League 1 and 2 are involved. There are even some more after that, and they can qualify for UEFA club tournaments.
  • The reserve team actually plays against another teams reserves. Within a day or two of the first-team game, a clubs reserve team will play against the same club the first team is playing againsts reserve team. This is to keep players in game shape, get a look at a young player, a whole bunch of reasons.

I’m sure theres tons I’m missing here, and you have questions. So ask them.

What are my thoughts on the Unions team? I love it so far. They’re going to be a very strong defensive team right away, possibly the best in the MLS. They may struggle to score at times, but hopefully Danny Mwanga will step up as a rookie, and Alejandro Moreno will pull some extra weight as a veteran. The midfield is also going to struggle, because they are young. Fred will play a key role in the Unions success in their inaugural season. In June, the European transfer window opens back up. Raul, a striker currently riding the bench behind Karim Benzema and Christiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid, is looking to move. He has mentioned the MLS, and the Union are a definite candidate to acquire him. The New York Red Bulls may end up with him because they are being true to New York sports, and looking to make a team of superstars (there have also been rumors about them bringing in Thierry Henry). Bobby Convey, currently of the San Jose Earthuakes, graduate of Penn Charter, will eventually sign with the Union. Maybe not this year, but probably eventually. Calrence Seedorf of AC Milan, who holds the record for UEFA Champions League titles with 3, may sign too. If he does, he will most likely be the best player in the MLS. He’s an attacking midfielder and would be a great signing.

That all being said, the Union are going to draw a lot of games this year especially. As fans, we’re going to be looking at a lot of games with less than 3 goals total, and a ton of 0-0, 1-1 draws. The key to success in a soccer season is to not lose, which sounds like well no shit Bronco, but theres more to it. Standings are done by points, you receive 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, and 0 for a loss. If you can just keep moving up with the number of points and never stay still for more than a match at a time, you’re going to have success in any league.

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Brian Westbrook: Now a Former Eagle

The modern era of the Philadelphia Eagles came one step closer to ending today, as Brian Westbrook will be officially released today.  The team will announce the move at a 3 pm press conference today, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer:

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/homepage/20100223_Eagles_release_Westbrook.html

After the departure of Brian Dawkins via free agency last summer and the unfortunate death of Jim Johnson only a few weeks later, this move further depletes the Eagles organization of the leading members of the extremely successful teams through most of the past decade.  Now the only pieces left are Donnie Mac, Big Red, and David Akers.  Half of Jeremiah Trotter too, I guess.

We’ll have some sort of commentary coming later on about this…

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Highlight of the Week

Ok so this is the highlight of the week. I think YouTube might have recently lost a court case because I’ve noticed that lately the amount of sports highlights on YouTube has gone down considerably. So, again, you will have to go to another site. Sorry.

I cheated a little with this one. The Olympic hockey yesterday was great. If you’re even just a little bit of a hockey fan, yesterdays USA vs Canada game was captivating from the first minute to the last. The final goal of the game was nothing short of remarkable. I hope you all enjoy my pick for highlight of the week.

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/assetid=5e0ee02d-96cd-4df5-957a-9ec88ec58653.html#showdown+sunday+top+goals

Bronco

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A New Beginning

For a young male, I know no other sources of pure joy or frustration than the relationships they have with their Mother, their girlfriend, and their favorite sports team.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008: I was at 32 North Chapel in Newark, DE.  I had never seen a Philadelphia sports team win a championship other than Bon Jovi’s Philly Soul.  Top of the 9th, 2 outs, 0-2 pitch from Lidge.  As the ball traveled from his hand to the mitt of a waiting Carlos Ruiz, only one thought traveled through my mind: What do I do if they win?  This has never happened before in my lifetime.  Slider.  Strike 3.  Game Over; Series Over; World Fucking Champions.  I jumped up and screamed something that wasn’t English and ran.  I ran out the door, down Main street Newark, up Center St, and back to 32 North Chapel greeted by a shower of beer and champagne.  After I calmed down and caught my breath, everything began to sink in and I watched everything unfold.  Images from the locker room and field, calls and texts from friends and family, mayhem on the streets of Philadelphia; a rightful release to years of mediocrity and failure.  Two days later, a parade.  Joyous, Chaotic, Debaucherous, none of these words can describe the atmosphere of  2 million people cheering and saluting their new heroes.  Feelings and images that I had never experienced nor will I ever forget, no matter how many more or few chances will arise in the future.  They did it; it was Philadelphia’s year.  It was our year.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009: I was at my house in Newark, DE.  Top of the 9th: Rollins just flied out to Nick Swisher for the second out.  I turn off the TV and go upstairs.  I can’t watch; I was deflated.  A whole spring and summer of watching games, following headlines, and hoping for another 2008 campaign was coming to an end.  A season of great wins, bad losses, players exceeding expectations, superstars struggling, injuries, trades, and the death of an icon was about to come to an end.  I was heartbroken, again.  I had experienced this before, but it never seems to get easier.  The richest team in baseball history was taking what could have been/should have been ours.  Pure frustration.  Minutes later, I hear my neighbor across the street shout from his porch “Fuck the Yankees!” and slam his door.  The series was over; Yankees win 4-2.  New York and New Jersey converged outside my house and played “Empire State of Mind” over and over.  I hate that song and hated their success that night.  I knew their emotional high and was jealous beyond belief.  It wasn’t our year…we came close, but it wasn’t enough.

Now, your mother will always love you, no matter what you do.  As long as you get good grades and stay out of jail, your frustration level with her will be at a minimum.  Significant others will always be great in the beginning and frustrating the longer they stay around.  Always a potential for heartbreak, especially when you become attached, but you can always find a new one and move on.  Sports teams are different.  The beginning of every season is the same.  Optimism and the pursuit of a championship are on the mind of every player and fan.  Rarely, you get that moment in the sun.  Most of the time, it’s a series of ups and downs that usually ends in heartbreak.   In one 2 week stretch, you can sit there and think to yourself  “We are dirty this year.  No one can touch us.”  or  “Jesus Christ, if that guy hits into another double play, I will go down there and punch him in the head.”  And with the end of every unsuccessful season, you  wonder why you spent so much time and energy on a relationship that only left you feeling empty.  In the back of your mind, you knew this was going to happen.  They do this to you every year, how could you let yourself become so exposed?  So you break up for some much needed time off; change your focus to get your mind off of it.   And then, after an off season of trades and free agent signings, they come back and you realize how much you missed them.  The cycle starts over and you remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Our Philadelphia Phillies started that cycle Thursday.  Pitchers and Catchers had their first organized workout down in Clearwater and their first spring training game is less than 2 weeks away.  Despite the not so perfect end to the 2009 season, it has never been a better time to be a Phillies fan.  The team went into the off season as the best team in the National League, but that didn’t stop them from securing a bright future.  The Phillies off season included free agent signings of C Brian Schneider, RHP Jose Contreras and Danny Baez, two time gold glove 2B and former Phillie Placido Polanco.  These were big signings for the club: Bullpen help, backup catcher, and, if all goes well, a replacement for Feliz over at 3B.  Feliz was an outstanding fielder, but if Polanco can keep his fielding percentage respectable, his bat will turn an already potent Phillies’ lineup into a nightmare for opposing pitchers. But the big story over the winter months was the trade that brought Roy Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia.  In my opinion, it was a fair trade all around.  An Ace for an Ace and plenty of prospects to fill in the gaps for the three teams involved.  But Philly got their man, as well as a starting rotation that should be taken very seriously across the baseball landscape.  Also, by resigning old standbys like Joe Blanton, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino, the franchise’s foundation couldn’t be stronger going into 2010.

So here we are, at the beginning of what could possibly be the best Phillies team to ever take the field.  They are the defending NL Champs and have only gotten better.  No other team has improved as much as the Phillies have since their last game.  They are the team to beat; In the past that phrase was just a cliche.  Now it is a fact based on credible evidence.  The entire league now knows about the Phillies and will be waiting to give them their best shot.  The Phillies know this and couldn’t be more anxious to get the season started.  And neither can I.  Enough Snow!  Give me back my Phillies baseball.

Also, I would like to take this time to thank the Maryland BBall team for going 2-13 from 3 point range last Saturday against Duke.  You made me look like an idiot.

-FredEx

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The Big Hurt

Holder of one of the greatest sports nicknames of all time, Frank Thomas has retired from playing baseball after 19 seasons of professional baseball.

Most of those 19 seasons were spent with the Chicago White Sox. In his 15 years with the White Sox, he racked up 448 homers, and 1,465 runs batted in. What most impresses me about the Big Hurt is his career .301 batting average. Nowadays, most power hitters, like Thomas, may hit .280, Ryan Howard this past season hit .279. Even a bigger difference between the two hitters is that Thomas, over 19 years, struck out an average of 97 times per year, and never more than 115. Ryno, on the other hand, strikes out an average of 194 times per 162 games. That is exactly double, which is crazy. I didn’t even mean for that to happen. He finished his career with 521 home runs, and 1,704 runs batted in.

Thomas came in the top 10 for MVP voting 9 times. He did so in 1991-1997, 2000, and 2006. He won the AL MVP on two occasions in ’93 and ’94. In 2006, he came in 4th in MVP voting and had 39 home runs and 114 RBI’s. He won 3 Silver Slugger awards in ’93, ’94 and 2000. He was mainly a DH, but when he did fill in he rarely made errors with a .991 career fielding percentage. Right now, I sound way too much like Tim Kurkjian rattling off stats.

In my humble opinion, I consider him a first ballot hall-of-famer. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said it would be a disgrace if Thomas isn’t voted into Cooperstown on his first ballot. Growing up in the 90’s, Thomas was one of those players every kid new about. Everyone wanted to be as good as Frank Thomas.

He was drafted 7th overall in the 1989 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. The Phillies drafter Jeff Jackson 4th overall that year. Who the hell is Jeff Jackson? Yeah, exactly, he never made it to the majors. Tyler Houston was the best player drafted in front of him in that draft and he didn’t play one third of the games Thomas did. Mo Vaughn, Tom Goodwin, and Chuck Knoblauch were all also drafted in the first round of that class.

Most importantly about the Big Hurt, he is an esteemed graduate of The Auburn University. So to you Frank, War Eagle.

Bronco

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Floorslappers Part 2

Sorry for the long delay, but for some reason my Mom thinks my grades in school are more important than sharing my views on white stiffs with everyone on the internet.

8. Travis Diener- On paper Diener should be the number one floor slapper of all-time, lets take a quick look at his resume: Born in Wisconsin one of the whitest states ever, went to Marquette, point guard who loves to shoot the three, has played with some quality white guys (Steve Novak at Marquette, Tyler Hansborough, Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy while with the Pacers), and on top of all that nobody looks more like a floor slapper. No one on this list looks more like an alter boy/boy scout/science fair winner than Travis. He has no tattoos, plays hard, can shoot, and has probably never owned a rap cd or flat brim. So why is he so low on the list with such an impressive resume? Travis never really developed any douche like qualities that are needed to be an all-time floor slapper. I do respect him for getting a 3 year 15 million dollar deal, because if he can get 5 million a year for his basketball talent I should get at least 8 million a year for whatever the fuck I decide to do in my professional life.

7. Kyle Mcalarney- Huge bonus points for being the poster boy of the Outside the Lines report on the lack of white-american players in the NBA. If you haven’t seen it, Mcalarney essentially says that if he was black he would be in the NBA, and that NBA General Managers have a bias against players like him. I could not agree more, GM’s do have a bias against guys like him, guys who are slow, small, take bad shots, and who cannot play any defense. Kyle’s inclination to smoke pot hurt him severely, an elite floorslapper would never risk hurting his teams performance by experimenting with recreational street drugs.

6. The 2001 Trio of Indiana White Guys- My favorite trio of white guys in the history of the game, Kyle Hornsby, Tom Coverdale, and Dane Fife. Two of these three guys are already college coaches, need I say more?

Ron Mexico

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Highlight of the Week

Couldn’t find it on youtube, so you’re going to have to go to ESPN.com for this one. Backyard Brawl basketball style. This was the best game of the week, but how bout them Quakers taking down the #22 Big Red of Cornell. But then losing to Whiskas Lions.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4910758

Enjoy,

Bronco

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