Thursday, May 22, 2008
A couple weeks ago, MLS Philadelphia hired their first two executives - Dave Debusschere as Chief Financial Officer and Rob Smith as Director of Operations. Debusschere joins from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Smith is the longtime FC Delco director. FC Delco is one of the premier youth programs in the company and being a longtime coach of the game, Smith is a perfect choice for this job. If there is someway MLS Philly can incorporate FC Delco into their youth academy and development programs, we will already be caught up tremendously in terms of producing and fostering soccer talent.
Smallwood gave us a couple tidbits today...
- season ticket sales are above 4,500, over 23% of the desired capacity - 23 months before the home opener
- construction on the stadium will break ground in the fall - a mere 3-4 months away
- the SONS OF BEN will get their own special section and possibly entrance to the Chester Waterfront Stadium according to Dave Mosca, the senior VP of Corporate Partnerships
- the brand, logo, etc. will be unveiled by the end of the year
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Each day we'd wake up, eat breakfast, go to school for a few hours, go back and train, and then hang out until the end of the day. We would lift weights and do other things like that a couple times each week. It's a lot more involved and intense than I just made it sound but that's the bare essentials of the program.
Within the Galaxy organization, who has offered the most in the way of help and advice?
Greg Vanney and Chris Klein, in particular, have really helped me out. They are both very good players who are very experienced and great guys. Landon [Donovan] and David [Beckham] have also offered a lot of help on the field.
Are you close to full health? What are your goals for your first MLS season?
I am in full health and I’m hoping to learn as much as I can in my first year. We have a lot of good, experienced players to learn from and a great coaching staff and I’m hoping to improve various aspects of my game. If I get first team minutes it would be an added bonus but my primary goal is to make sure that I improve a lot and that I’m a much better player by the end of the season.
One of the major keys to our success this year will be staying healthy. If we can minimize injuries, we’ll be able to have a very successful season.
I saw that the Sons of Ben were able to interview you earlier in the year. How has the Riot Squad and the Galaxians treated you upon your arrival into the Galaxy organization?
I’m slowly getting to meet some of the Galaxians and Riot Squad members and they have all been very welcoming. They’re great fans, knowledgeable fans, and very passionate about the club. They are a huge part of the success of the Galaxy and it’s an honor to play for their club.
I also got to meet some of the Sons of Ben at the draft and through email and they’re all great guys. Their passion and organization was a major part of Philly being awarded expansion. I have no doubt that they will become one of the best supporter groups when the team starts playing. It’s funny because they already are!
Favorite player? Team?
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Snippets and quick retorts below:
With all due respect to the "Sons of Ben" (SOB) - the Philly-based fan
group on steroids that successfully pressured business owners, state legislators
and league officials, and helped close this deal by deflecting shots from
naysayers - Major League Soccer is just plain boring.
With all due respect, the "boring nature of Major League Soccer" could be that
you've never had a strong enough allegiance to a team to really care about the
development of a team, on-field and off-field. MLS is 13 years old. Don Garber
repeatedly says we're taking baby steps in the progression of the league. Most
"naysayers" don't understand that. They expect the product on and off the field
to automatically on par with the NFL, MLB, NBA. Give it time.
Even if MLS wasn't overshadowed on TV by better leagues and vastly more talented teams, there's still the almost total blackout of intelligent soccer commentary in all major media outlets. When Jon Stewart and Drew Carey talk about pro soccer more often (and more intelligently) than Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon (the "Pardon the Interruption" sports-show guys), you know your sport really doesn't matter.
We all know Max Bretos and Christian Miles have a long way to go, so do Paul Caligiuri, Christopher Sullivan, etc. Think about every English commentator. They've been raised on the game, standards are a bit higher, etc. Our commentators are as young as the professional game. The more games they cover, the better and more prepared they'll make themselves. Anything that Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon say against the sport of soccer is publicity for the league. Frankly, I'll take it.
This isn't MLS' fault, of course, but it's hard to justify $250 million to lure David Beckham to America and a series of expensive soccer-specific stadium deals when the league as a whole is still millions in the red.
We all know now that Mr. Beckham COULD make $250 million. His guaranteed salary is $5-6 million a year though. As for Soccer-Specific Stadiums pushing the MLS further into the red. Several teams have already turned profits - and have since 2005. Think about the nascent stages of ANY PROFESSIONAL league. Think about the English Premier League in the late 1980s. There has to be significant spending in order to build your league. Don Garber knows that, Ivan Gazidis knows that.
The 2,600 temporary construction jobs and 800 full-time jobs will be a nice boost to the local economy, to be sure, but what percentage of the good jobs will go to actual Chester residents?
I saw Chester Mayor Wendell Butler at the MLS Philly 2010 Press Conference and trust me, he seems like the guy that wouldn't allow otherwise. I don't have a great source but I have heard that over 70% of the Chester casino's staff are from Chester or the surrounding area.
He goes on to mention positive things - youth participation, ties to ethnic communities, but fails to touch on the fact that 3,400 have already put their deposits two years in advance. Call me biased, but there has been nothing more fun to watch than the development of Major League Soccer. The ebb and flow of public sentiment. The progression of teams. Every year it gets better and better, and this was after years of inconsistency. It's safe to say, however, this league is here to stay. Let's revisit this in 10 years when Philadelphia has won several MLS championships, draws 18-20k a game, and soccer finds its way past the NBA into the Big Three.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Introduce two U-20 Gambian players and succeed? Sure. Steve Nicol certainly knows what he's doing and his opener - without the services of Twellman - truly pays homage to his ability to man manage and bring along young talent. Let's not forget Adam Cristman who worked well with Nyassi and Mansally. All three - along with the veteran presence of Steve Ralston (let's hope that shoulder's okay) and the patrolling of Joseph/Larentowicz in the middle - helped put together an attack that even Houston's defense couldn't withstand. On the other end, however, Parkhurst dealt with Ching effectively, while it's pretty certain that Wondolowski should not be in there.
2. Terry Cooke
When did Terry Cooke get fast? We knew he had a boot, but his speed and tenacity was the difference versus the Galaxy. Could it have been the Englishman just wanted to show up his former teammate Beckham? If that's the case - the opening goal in a 4-0 drubbing of the Galaxy and two subsequent assists will do just that. We can expect another big service year from Cooke. Someone explain to me how Cooke got awarded that second assist on Colin Clark's goal??? Clark dribbled for what seemed like an eternity before beating Cronin near post...at what point does Cooke's initial pass become "unassisted"?
3. Kenny Mansally/Sainey Nyassi
These kids can play. Nyassi burnt Houston on the wings and was able to finish his first goal ever in his debut. Mansally had his hand in the first goal and looked strong on the ball with an uncharacteristic poise for a first year striker. If Mansally and Cristman do well enough up top, does Taylor Twellman technically become expendable?? (Answer is probably no...). Sainey Nyassi was hyped up a little less than Mansally throughout the preseason, but he arguably was the more effective player. Not even Corey Ashe had an answer for his speed on the wings. Both players if consistent provide the Revs with a depth that could account for the loss of Dorman and Noonan. Let's wait for week two though...
4. Maykel Galindo
He did it at the expense if FC Dallas' new acquisition and Mexican international Diulio Davino, but no matter how it happens, the Goats came away with a point. Davino mishandled a trap and Galindo capitalized by pouncing on it and sending it straight through Dario Sala's legs to equalize with 5 minutes to go. What it made it more impressive was that Galindo is still recovering from sports hernia surgery and isn't at 100%. The Cuban international then kissed the Chivas USA shield during his end-of-the-game interview. The guy is class.
5. Claudio Lopez
Eddie Johnson who? Lopez and Ivan Trujillo ripped apart a decent D.C. United defense with the help of Carlos Marinelli. Already, this is shaping up to be one interesting year. If I'm not mistaken though, there were some crazy results at the beginning of last year too. Anyways, Lopez is class and looks like he'll end up being another DP success. In fact, you could almost say that about all the DP debuts.
6. Dema Kovalenko
The guy got stiffed by RBNY and sent on over to Salt Lake (stiffed in the sense he's more of a big city guy, Chicago his "adopted home", etc.), but he made the best of his first appearance. Dema, within two minutes of coming, served a cross that was redirected into the Chicago goal by young Bakary Soumare. In a questionably sloppy game, Kovalenko got the job done. On top of that, Kova was just recently sworn in as an official citizen of the United States of America.
7. Adam Moffat
One hell of a game winning goal for Columbus from the star of the Crew's preseason. A developmental contract that looks to make a significant contribution to the Crew's run this season. Reminds me of a younger Kerry Zavagnin.
8. John DiRaimondo/Nick LaBrocca/Kosuke Kimura
LaBrocca, the NJ native, and DiRaimondo really frustrated the hell out of an almost non-existant Los Angeles midfield. Fernando Clavijo's injury predicament forced him to go with a lot of new blood. Kimura held his own at right back, keeping Donovan pretty quiet throughout the whole game. From the get go, it was clear who wanted to win the game and all three were a huge part of that.
9. Traveling Toronto FC Fans
TFC had something like 2,000 supporters travel down to Columbus to take over Columbus Crew stadium. The Crew still outplayed them in the end, but Crew Stadium was still Toronto's for the afternoon. Take those supporters away and you have one pitiful Columbus crowd. Mr. Gillett, you want a team? I got one for you...
10. Jon Busch
The seemingly eternal back-up began his Chicago starting career with a big game. A potent Real Salt Lake offense tested him again and again, forcing him into 8 saves. Busch, who last started regularly in 2004 with the Columbus Crew, looked shaky in the beginning but ultimately showed well and solidified his number one spot. In 2004, Busch was the brightest spot on a decent Columbus team - he posted a 1.07 GAA and a 12-5-12 winning record. Then he was replaced....Here's to hoping he finds that success again.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Van den Bergh--------Stammler--------------Richards
Off the Bench: MF Danleigh Borman, GK Zach Thornton, FW John Wolyniec, FW Oscar Echeverry, DF Chris Leitch, MF Mike Magee, MF Sinisa Ubiparipovic, DF Eric Brunner
The projected lineup might look off, but it's what it would be with everyone healthy. Unfortunately, Osorio isn't going to have that luxury from the get go. Richards is out for the first month of the season, where rookie Danleigh Borman might fill in. Many who saw Borman during the preseason said he was more than capable of providing the energy needed to match a Richards, but there aren't many that can match his pace. Van den Bergh could man the left wing, but lacks the pace to do so all season. If you melded the speed and energy of Richards with Van den Bergh's crossing, you'd have one hell of a dangerous player. The biggest question mark for the Bulls this season will be the health and efficiency of 1st DP Claudio Reyna. He has looked good in the preseason, but all it takes is a knock to the thigh to put him out of commission for a while. If he stays healthy, though, this RBNY could find the consistency they sorely needed last year. Winning three, losing three, winning two, etc. If Reyna goes down however, a once again healthy Mike Magee could really get his chance to shine again. In fact, you could see those two platoon in that attacking mid role. Seth Stammler will play the Kovalenko role, winning balls and distributing. Great thing about Stammler is his versatility. If needed, he can play anywhere in the back.
The defense is led by the duo of Mendes and Parke in the middle. Last year's real deficiency was the outside fullbacks. Goldthwaite came over from Toronto and didn't do much, but there is much pointing to that having changed. Hunter Freeman was oft-injured last year, but showed well in Olympic Qualifying and - yet again - if healthy could make an impression this year. Depth in the back is their strong point - first round SuperDraft pick Eric Brunner will see some time while Chris Leitch is serviceable.
Up at the top, you have easily the most feared duo of strikers in the league. Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel have worked well together so far and look to build on that this year. Osorio brought in Oscar Echeverry to share time with Jon Wolyniec when Altidore leaves for the Olympics in China. It has yet to be seen whether or not Echeverry can play well beside Angel, but we know that with Wolyniec it's a bit iffy. Expect Angel to hit for 20, at least, and Altidore to grab a good amount.
Jon Conway gets his starting chance in goal this year. Just like Steve Cronin in LA, it's his position to lose. Backup Zach Thornton, although getting up there in age, is perfectly capable of taking it away from him. UPenn grad Danny Cepero - said to have a promising future - has apparently been loaned out to USL Division 2 side Harrisburg City Islanders.
If the Bulls keep scoring and the defense tightens up unlike last season, Osorio could have a Championship team on his hands. You need people to play to their potential though - that means you, Reyna. I can't see it all coming together this year. 2009 is a better bet. The Bulls will start strong and fade late, hanging on for a playoff spot and most likely a first round exit.
Outlook: 4th in the East
Off the Bench: GK Doug Warren, FW Adam Cristman, MF/FW Sainey Nyassi, DF/MF Joe Franchino, DF Gary Flood, DF Rob Valentino, DF Amaechi Igwe
Sitting here watching the home season opener vs. Houston and I find it interesting that not one, but both of the Gambian youngsters are on the pitch for the Revs. Both are certainly to figure more into the year than previously though. Kenny Mansally had a monster of a preseason and Nyassi took some strides with him.
On to the forwards and Mansally has apparently won the fight vs. Cristman and already in opener, you can tell why. The Gambian along with Twellman and Cristman makes a pretty decent frontline trio. The loss of Pat Noonan stings, but it seems like Nicol thinks his youngsters are ready. Steve Nicol looks to also give his wingers free reign with new signing Mauricio Castro, the aging but still productive Steve Ralston, and the youngster Nyassi. Wells Thompson will look to avoid a sophomore slump. The Revs have one of the strongest center midfields in league, even without the services of new St. Mirren man Andy Dorman (he's lighting it up over there by the way). Jeff Larentowicz and Shalrie Joseph, when on point, organize and connect both the offense and defense, making their transitioning almost seamless.
The defense has Jay Heaps moving into the center with Michael Parkhurst. His move to the center is to make room for the new acquisition of Chris Albright, who is coming off a long, arduous recovery from last year's season-ending injury. Khano Smith and Amaechi Igwe could potentially platoon at left back. Both, however, will provide more pace on the wing and a bit of an attacking flair. Other contributors will be second year Gary Flood and Clint Dempsey's favorite person Joey 'the Rat' Franchino. Depth issues were addressed with the signing of Chase Hilgenbrinck, who has returned from the professional ranks in Chile. He first landed in Colorado, but was waived and picked up by Nichol.
Need I say much about Matt Reis? The man knows how to organize a backline and keep the net clean. He's got all those MLS Cup appearances to prove for it. Doug Warren is a capable backup but might only see time in the Open Cup. Overall, the Revs lost some, gained some, but gained an attacking depth that could in fact push the Revs back into the MLS Cup. If they get there, they win it. If they lose, they lose early and it'll be because of a lack of depth.
Outlook: 2nd in the East
Friday, March 28, 2008
As the report says - that's 18% of the stadium filled with not one dime spent on advertising.
Less than 20% comes from Sons of Ben members...which means we can expect 1,000 more at least in the coming months. But why so few so far? Any answers to that?
About 60% of the deposits come from Pennsylvania. 30% from New Jersey. And 10% from Delaware.
We can expect a spike in season ticket deposits when construction starts on the Rivertown stadium. People might be a bit reserved at buying tickets until the project gets off on the right foot.
It looks like Peter Gammage is going to be the go-to guy at Philadelphia Inquirer. Hopefully, along with work here to get some more info, we will have updates monthly.