Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sons of Ben to get their own stadium section on the Chester Waterfront

There's been little going on on the surface of MLS Philadelphia - but as you can tell from this update from the Philadelphia Daily News' John Smallwood...there's a lot going on underneath.

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

MLS Philly Website Revamp, Sounders FC

A much better presentation overall...complete with some "Where are they now?" features. Starting with Bob Rigby from the Philadelphia Atoms' inaugural and championship season. Not to mention a Philly Soccer history bit that's going to go up week to week, written by Steve Holroyd.

Read up.

Also, Don Garber recently said the season ticket sales are up past 4,000 now. Damn right. And for those who were under a rock or something, the new Seattle MLS franchise beginning play in 2009 will be called Seattle Sounders FC.

Here's the logo -

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Q&A with LA Galaxy defender Julian Valentin

Soccer brings you everywhere and nobody knows that better than Los Angeles Galaxy rookie defender Julian Valentin. Did a little bit of digging and I found a college project of Valentin's that gives you the lowdown on exactly where soccer has taken him...Most notably - Argentina, South Korea, and Finland. A Hermann Trophy semifinalist, Julian has had one hell of a soccer year. In mid-December, his collegiate career at Wake Forest came to a close in dramatic fashion. The defender was playing a great College Cup vs. Ohio State until the 81st minute when a cleat connected with his face, leaving him stunned and in need of 30 stitches. The Demon Deacons won and Julian was right back out on the field for the team championship picture - bloodied face and all. Plain badass. Valentin has been described as a "coaches' dream" and more importantly, a true Philadelphia player. Intestinal fortitude, work ethic, professionalism, and talent now find the Lancaster, PA native learning from Ruud Gullit and the Galaxy in Los Angeles. According to his map, he's been there before...but never under these circumstances. Olde City got the chance to ask him about his experiences - past and present.

In such a young career, you’ve gathered quite a bit of accolades and memories. An Under-20 World Cup victory over Brazil, a well-deserved NCAA Championship, numerous appearances for all youth national team levels. Which has been the most memorable?

I think that each memory was special in its own way and I carry each bit with me. The National Championship was sort of a culmination of lots of hard work and commitment, something very special. But there's nothing like representing your country - it's everybody's dream and playing in a World Cup is the highest level possible (at any given age group). I'd have to say that playing in the U-20 World Cup, particularly beating Uruguay in overtime, assisting on the game winner, would be my most memorable moment. I'll never forget hugging Mike Bradley at the corner flag after the scored the winner.
A graduate of the residency program and, in fact, a captain of that program – what was your experience like there? Care to give us a day in the life of a player in the Bradenton-based program?
I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the Residency Program. It was a great experience and a great way to grow up with the game. I played with some great players, many of which are playing for top European clubs right now and had fantastic coaches.

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.

Can you see yourself playing abroad at some point in your career? If so, which league abroad would most suit your style of play?

Playing overseas has always been a goal of mine every since I was young. European culture thrives on the game and being immersed in that is something that would be awesome. Right now, though, I'm just focusing on the Galaxy with all of my energy.

The Bundesliga would suit my game well because of the physical play and I've always liked to watch Munich, Werder Bremen, Leverkusen, and all the others. My favorite league, though, is the English Premier League.

A four-year contributor at Wake Forest is no joke and you were one of three huge Demon Deacon prospects in 2008’s SuperDraft. More prospects like Marcus Tracy and Cody Arnoux to come – what makes Wake Forest that rich in talent?

First, the professionalism of the program is one of the main reasons. Coach Vidovich treats us like professionals and holds everyone to a high standard both on and off the field. He's as good as they come as a coach and players tend to grow up fast in the program.

The way that we play is another main reason. Coach Vidovich bases our game around collective, team play and that creates good individual players. When you play well as a team, players are able to better display their individual talents in the appropriate way. We play an attacking style that is based on passing, ball and player movement, and try to play an advanced game in college.
The other big thing is recruiting. Coach V. and the staff know what sort of people will turn into good players and the program is surrounded by good people. He has a great eye for talent.

Pat Phelan and Brian Edwards both landed in Toronto. You in Los Angeles. How has the transition been in Los Angeles so far?

It's been great. We have a big rookie class in LA so there are some "built-in friends" so to speak. LA is a lot different than Lancaster (or Winston-Salem) but I really like it here. I live a few blocks from the beach and have a nice little apartment with some of the guys on the team.

Being a rookie, have the veterans imposed anything that could be classified as ‘hazing’?
No. All of the older guys have actually been very welcoming and helped a lot with the adjustment - both on and off the field.

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.
Gotta ask about Ruud Gullit. You had one hell of a coach at Wake Forest and then you are drafted into the tutelage of Gullit. What does he bring to the Galaxy organization?
Coach Gullit brings so much to the table. It's a great privilege to play for someone with such a resume, both playing and coaching. He's a great coach, knows how to teach the game and he runs a good training session. When he says anything, you just listen because you know what he’s experienced in the game. And if you get a chance, watch some videos of him on YouTube – he was totally dominant.

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.

What’ll be the key to the Galaxy’s success this year?

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.
Despite the rise of new soccer-specific stadiums all over the country, many still proclaim that the Home Depot Center is still the “mecca” of America soccer. True statement?
True. Of course I’m biased, but I definitely feel that the Home Depot Center is the best soccer stadium in the country (and I’ve been to most of them). The stadium field is amazing and the atmosphere is fantastic (thanks to the great fans that we have here). Along with the stadium goes the locker room and lounge, quality training field, weight room, training room, and all of the other things that the facility has to offer. Everything here is world class and it’s a privilege to play here.

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!
Born in Lancaster, ever ride in a horse and buggy? Go to Dutch Wonderland?

Never rode a buggy but visited the “Real Amish Farm” on Route 30 near the outlet malls. I have a bunch of Amish neighbors, walking distance from my house. We love to go to Dutch Wonderland – it’s mainly for little kids but they do have some sweet water slides and solid funnel cake.

Favorite player? Team?
Hard to pick just one but I love watching John Terry – our playing style is similar. I love Steven Gerrard as an attacking player. My favorite team would have to be Manchester United. (I’m aware of the disparity here.)
As a defender, who has been the toughest opponent to shut down?
Hard to think of one in particular because there are always different challenges with different forwards. Charlie Davies and Patrick Nyarko come to mind, though.
You had another Philadelphia area member on your NCAA Championship Wake Forest squad. Did you and South Jersey’s Jamie Franks ever go head to head before college?
We did when we were young. It was a tournament at USTC. He played for Medford Speed and I played for a club called FC Leeds United (now PA Classics). I don’t remember the result though but I’m pretty sure we won.
How would you go about marking Cristiano Ronaldo??

I would kick him every time touched the ball.
Where do you see the [Philadelphia] Phillies ending up this year?
I see the Phils with the Wild Card again. I think that ATL will bounce back but we'll beat out the Mets. We obviously need a bit more depth on the mound but we definitely have what it takes to make a run at things.
Julian, thank you for taking the time and good luck with the rest of the season. Hope to see you in an MLS Philly uniform one of these days...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Philly Newsline 4.2: A Negative Editorial, "A Fan's Case Against Local Pro Soccer"

Philly Daily News published this opinion from former Penn Charter head soccer coach and adjunct professor at Philadelphia University, Mark Franek.

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.

Further comments???

Monday, March 31, 2008

10 Bright Spots of MLS Week 1: The Gambians, Cooke, and a Salute to Youth

1. New England Revolution
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 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

Projected Starting Lineups: New York Red Bulls

Projected Starting Lineup:



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

Projected Starting Lineup: New England Revolution

Projected Starting Lineup:



K. Smith-----Parkhurst----------Heaps----------Albright


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

Projected Starting Lineups: Los Angeles Galaxy

Projected Starting Lineup:

-------------C. Ruiz--------Gordon------------

-----E. Allen--------------------Donovan------




Off the Bench: MF Josh Tudela, MF Pete Vagenas, MF Brandon McDonald, DF/MF Sean Franklin, MF Mike Randolph, GK Josh Wicks, DF Julian Valentin, DF Ante Jazic

It's a bit thin after David Beckham, Carlos Ruiz, Landon Donovan, Chris Klein, but that's what makes this all so interesting, right? Greg Vanney and Abel Xavier will have their good days and bad days in central defense, but the real keys lie with newcomer Michael Gavin who fill in until Ante Jazic returns to health and form. Chris Klein's move to the back could be challenged by a motivated rookie in Sean Franklin, both looked semi-decent in a bunch of the preseason matches. The other rookie that could step in and play well is U-20 World Cup standout and Philadelphia area native Julian Valentin. It will be interesting to see how this all pulls together, especially with a bit of a disconnect between the holding midfielders and the defense.

If inexperience lies anywhere it's in the holding midfielder role. Lalas and Gullit want Beckham free to spray those nasty long balls all day, which means there needs to be a guy in the middle willing to win the tackles necessary to get Becks open. Alvaro Pires has talent, but has lacked consistency so far. Josh Tudela is a fighter, but counters his won challenges with really crappy passing. If all that can figure itself out, you could see a pretty decent midfield. Either way, though, you can never bet against a midfield holding two players like Beckham and Donovan. On any given day, the Galaxy can be the best in the league. Just depends if they want to make that a commonplace occurance.

Up at forward, Carlos 'El Pescondito' Ruiz is going to have a monster year. He is still around, he likes where's playing now, and he's got both Donovan and Beckham playing him crosses. I'll eat my words, but he's got no way out of this one. In LA, he either performs or finds another league to play in. Expect a 15 goal season from the guy, with Alan Gordon in a purely supportive role. In fact, I could see a 4-5-1 tactice if Gordon fails to produce. That way, there would be two ball-winners to distribute to Beckham and Donovan. The rest could fall in place from there.

Goalkeeper Steve Cronin has waited his turn and it's his job to lose. Back-up Josh Wicks will be waiting in the wings to see if he can sneak in there. Kind of like Ray Burse, Jr. with Dario Sala last season. Cronin has talent, but I think it will be a Bouna Coundoul-like first starting season for him. Great saves mixed with some pisspoor mistakes.

With all that said, the Galaxy could fall into their rut from last year, but a return of Vagenas and Jazic to active duty could solidify a decent line-up. Better than most people think. Still can't put them high in the Western Conference until I see all the questions get answered. That's a lot of rookies getting time, but Gullit seems confident, and I see a playoff spot to say the least.

Outlook: 3rd in the West

3,400 Tickets and Counting: Philly Inquirer

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it's 3,400 season tickets and we're still two full years away from sitting in that 20,000 person Rivertown Stadium next to Turbine Hall.

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.

Projected Starting Lineups: Kansas City Wizards

Projected Starting Lineups:





Off the Bench: DF/MF Sasha Victorine, FW Scott Sealy, MF/FW Eloy Colombano, MF Kurt Morsink, DF/MF Aaron Hohlbein, GK Eric Kronberg, DF Jonathan Leathers

Claudio 'El Piojo' Lopez has his visa and is ready to go. Whether or not he'll be fit for the first game, well that's a different question. If that's the case, substitute Sealy in for Lopez. Believe it or not, based on his preseason, I think you're going to see Trujillo outperform Lopez and Sealy this year as he looks like he's got the work ethic to do so. This trio is much improved for the Wizards and could strike 'Angel-Altidore' fear into MLS defenses if they mesh.

In the midfield, Arnaud will get to concentrate on providing service again and will have several options instead of always looking for Eddie Johnson. Harrington is an industrious presence on the right wing and he undoubtedly will look to build upon his successful freshman year. Between those two, I would expect at least 15-20 assists. The platooning of Zavagnin and Victorine should prove effective, while those two scrappers free Carlos Marinelli to provide the proper service to the front line. All of Kansas City seems to be priming Marinelli for a record year as his preseason has him fitter and more composed than ever. Rookie Roger Espinoza is another guy to watch once he gets healthy again.

Along with their DP, the Wizards also have questions about defensive depth. Jimmy Conrad is the right leader for this team and will push Tyson Wahl to have a banner year, but after the starting four - it's rookie Jonathan Leathers and midfielder Sasha Victorine to provide help. Harrington could also move back to fullback, but he's much more dangerous on the wings. Aaron Hohlbein will also see significant time and if, between him and Wahl, they can take pointers from Conrad, the Wizards could have a very successful year. Nothing really needs to be said about the keepers. Kevin Hartman is a year older, which doesn't change much in the long run. If needed, KC has a very capable back-up in Eric Kronberg though.

Overall, as said above, KC's success depends on the development of the supporting cast around Marinelli, Lopez, Trujillo, and Conrad. That success however also is attached to the productivity of the new signings. If Marinelli, Lopez, and Trujillo can work together, this will be an extremely dangerous Wizards team. One capable of overrunning New England, DC, and RBNY in the East.

Outlook: 3rd in the East