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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Projected Starting Lineups: Houston Dynamo

Projected Starting Lineup:



B. Davis---------------------------------Holden




Off the Bench: GK Tony Caig, DF Patrick Ianni, DF/MR Richard Mulrooney, MF Corey Ashe, MF Brian Mullan, FW Franco Caraccio, FW Kyle Brown

In the back, not many changes - substitute Ryan Cochrane for the recovering Bobby Boswell. He's had a couple decent competitive performances so far in CONCACAF Champions Cup, but if we keep anything in mind from last year, it's that consistent form is not Boswell. A lot of people were also touting Patrick Ianni to get a lot of time this year and that could still happen but it would hinge upon Robinson getting called away for USMNT duty and/or Boswell to get hurt, royally screw up. Ianni didn't turn many heads in the Olympic Qualifying either.

This midfield is getting younger as Stuart Holden and Corey Ashe start to work their way in there. Brian Mullan will start the season unhealthy and, unfortunately, it has become common for him to pick up knocks. After all, he is getting older. Expect Holden to build on his breakout season last year, if in fact he gets the starting position.

Brian Ching is back and healthy, but how long will that last? If he goes, and Wondolowski's up to new man Franco Carraccio to pull the load. Kinnear has also mentioned that he could put Brian Mullan up there or even speedster Corey Ashe. After that, there isn't much. The loss of Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua to the Austrian Bundesliga will certainly sting, but in what limited view we've seen Carraccio and Wondo, their workrate and effort should produce and/or create goals that are much needed. And who knows...maybe Ching has that 100% health year that he's been hoping for.

The defense has lost a step and that's basically because Craig Waibel and Wade Barrett have gotten another year older. Doesn't mean they won't be as effective as they normally are. They will be tested time and again, however, by a pacier offensive setups this year. I don't see Boswell as a step down from Cochrane. In fact, I see the exact opposite. Boswell might not return fully to his 2006 form, but he will come close. Barrett, Robinson, and Waibel will make damn sure of that. There's not a defense in the league that I'd be more scared to disappoint than one captained by those three.

Overall, same solid team. A couple injections of youth will help and just like last year, I think you'll see some others creep out of the woodwork. Rico is going to man the center and as long as he stays away from kicking people, it will be a good year for him. Look for John Michael Hayden to contribute this year too, but that blend of veteran leadership and new young blood is going to be the key to Houston's success. A three-peat is most certainly a possibility though, even in the midst of the most roster turnover Houston has had since their inception.

Outlook: 1st in the West

Projected Starting Lineups: D.C. United

Projected Starting Lineup:







Off the Bench: GK Jose Carvallo, MF Daniel Stratford, MF/FW Quavas Kirk, FW Rod Dyachenko, MF/FW Santino Quaranta, MF Domenic Mediate, FW Franco Neill

Jaime Moreno will be out for the first couple weeks of the season. Ben Olsen will be out injured at least a month. Luckily, DC is deep in both of those areas. What happens if Peralta or Martinez is hurt? Jeff Curtin in the back? Push Clyde Simms or Devon McTavish back?

United's season hinges on three things - 1. Emilio repeating last year or receiving enough help elsewhere to support him 2. Gallardo's efficiency and his comparison to Christian Gomez 3. defensive depth. Right now, number one will happen. Two, Gallardo is a question mark still but Franco Neill, Peralta, and Martinez have already proven that they can play to United's standards. If you're going on Gallardo's track record then clearly he's a more effective player than Gomez. Gomez, however, understood the MLS, had adjusted to its pace and physical nature. Gallardo has to still want to learn, adapt, and dominate...not just retire. Also add Fred in his second year to that mix. Three, that depth in the back scares me - as I've said before - but both Peralta and Martinez seem like durable guys, right?

Zach Wells must be loving his chance at starting keeper. It's his job to lose. Unfortunately, Wells has kept us from getting a glimpse at DC's other acquisition, Peruvian Jose Carvallo. I would expect Wells to have that great year that every one knew he would had if he got his chance. United fans could even forget Troy Perkins' name after a while.

The CONCACAF Champions Cup defeat of Harbour View allowed us, just like Justin Moose last year's competition, to get bullish on yet another aggressive midfielder. Devon McTavish, however, not only impressed us with his work rate, but he also scored his first goal since college, eventually ending up with three overall. Not bad. McTavish along with the continued progress of Marc Burch could be the glue to this line-up. If they have 11 trusty players and can avoid having an Erpen-like player on the field, United could run away with Eastern Conference. If it weren't for Angel, Reyna, and Altidore in New York, Joseph, Reis, and Twellman in New England, and Lopez, Marinelli, and Conrad in Kansas City, DC would run away with it. A narrow conference win will have to do.

Outlook: 1st in the Eastern Conference.

Projected Starting Lineup: FC Dallas

Projected Starting Lineup:







Coming off the bench: GK Ray Burse, Jr., GK Josh Lambo, DF Alex Yi, MF Marcelo Saragosa, FW Dominic Oduro, FW Ricardinho, MF Brek Shea, DF Blake Wagner

The thing about Dallas continues to be their streaky play. Long stretches of the season show that the Hoops are indeed the team to beat and then they come out one match and get blown out of the water. Last season, that mainly had to do with a leaky back four. Excuse the baseball analogy, but it's like the Phillies. You get a game where they win 12-0 over the Braves, then they lose the next three games 2-1, 1-0, 3-1. Waste all their juice in one game. Dallas was the same way. They would play like a team - win a couple, shut people out - then hello inconsistencies. Before you know it, they're on the outside looking in. Dallas was able to recover late last year, but ended up hurting themselves in the playoffs yet again.

This year could be different. If the hiccups are minimized, the Hoops could make a tear. The addition of seasoned Mexican international Duilio Davino and Atletico Paranense midfielder Andre Rocha should really help. Another year of progress on Dax McCarty and Arturo Alvarez can only do positive things. The emergence of David Wagenfuhr in the preseason is fantastic, but unfortunately the season hasn't started yet and he's got to carry this throughout a potential 40 game season. Juan Toja is supposed to be released this year from his outside duties and should be free to roam in the central pocket behind a very good off-the-ball runner Alvarez and target man Cooper. If Morrow keeps those tactics set, Toja could have a hell of a year. Having Ricchetti, McCarty, Rocha, and Wagenfuhr in support won't hurt terribly either. If - as shown above - Steve Morrow opts for 5 midfielders, you can also expect to see a little bit of the rookie Brek Shea either on wings on back at fullback.

The forward contingency of Kenny Cooper, Ricardinho, and the aforementioned Alvarez is decent, but it all rides on Cooper's continued good health. Everyone wants to see young Abdi Ibrahim, but I wouldn't bet on it. Abe Thompson - once healthy - will certainly feature up front and grab the same key goals that he got for the Hoops last year. It looks as if Dominic Oduro might either move on from Dallas or play a marginal role. His speed is insane, but his finishing has gotten much better since his Richmond Kickers Future days. Oduro featured well last season due to Cooper's unfortunate early season injury.

The one area Dallas can tout as their strongest is their keepers. Dario Sala has regained fitness and beaten out young blood in Ray Burse, Jr. The SuperDraft selection of toddler Josh Lambo raised a couple eyebrows as Burse, Jr. and Sala proved a formidable enough team. But Morrow pushed on, signed Lambo, and now rumors put Burse on a plane off to USL's Division One. A shame if it's true, but it is what it is.
Overall, it could go either way for the Hoops. A big range on their finishing spot and it depends mostly on the health and consistency of Cooper, Toja, and the effectiveness of Davino and Rocha. I really like the blend of youth and veteran leadership here though and that, in itself, could work out for Morrow and his boys.

Outlook: 5th in the West

Projected Starting Lineups: Columbus Crew

Projected Starting Lineup:

--------------Moreno----------N. Hernandez--------------

-------------------Barros Schelloto------------------------





Coming off the bench: GK Andy Greunebaum, DF Andy Iro, FW Jason Garey, MF Duncan Oughton, MF Adam Moffat, DF/MF Stefano Miglioranzi, MF/FW Brad Evans

The Crew lost some young talent this year in Kei Kamara and Tim Ward, but Sigi Schmid is bullish enough on the development of his other youngsters that he enters the season with little regret. Englishman and 2008 SuperDraft pick Andy Iro is set to see a lot of time in central defense, while Robbie Rogers and Adam Moffat have been the cream of the crop for the Crew this preseason. Add Eddie Gaven - who is still young as hell - and you got yourself a young midfield getting a little better with every season past.

A little turnover in the back has made the Crew a bit stronger. Gino Padula's transfer was confirmed and he is a big question mark as I have seen him labelled as a "fan favorite", but in the same breath an "utter joke". On the right side of the field, captain Frankie Hejduk will most likely start but Miglioranzi is certainly another option. In the center Chad Marshall can be a force but if only if he can avoid the concussions. Danny O'Rourke - a pint-sized scrapper - will man the central defense with Marshall or Iro (both big boys). He might even sit a little higher than Marshall allowing them two defensive midfielders at times - along with Brian Carroll - to spray long balls on the counter.

And that should be an option with the pace of their wings. Robbie Rogers, Brad Evans, and Eddie Gaven all have the significant pace needed to trouble even the best MLS defense. What is needed is consistency, which a playmaker like Schelloto can give - provided he doesn't spend his season dreaming about Gimnasia. Their last of line of defense is serviceable. Andy Gruenebaum spent a good portion of last year in the spotlight with his run of shutouts and overall inspiring play. Will Hesmer has been pegged as the next Marcus Hahnemann. Gritty, not awe-inspiringly athletic, but he has good command of the area and the ability to organize an above-average backline.

Overall, the addition of a quality striker - like the rumoured Maciej Zurawski - could have pushed the Crew over the hump of mediocrity. Apparently, the Hunt ownership group are still in interested in exploring the DP option and that might be the direction the Crew need to go to revisit their one glory year. I can't see that deal getting done this year though, which means another subpar year for the Columbus faithful.

Outlook: 6th in the East

Projected Starting Lineups: Colorado Rapids

Projected Starting Lineup:


-----------------------C. Gomez-----------------------------

C. Clark-------Mastroeni---------R. Gomes---------T. Cooke



Coming off the bench: GK Justin Hughes, DF Tim Ward, DF Stephen Keel, MF/FW Herculez Gomez, MF Mehdi Ballouchy, FW Conor Casey, DF Dan Gargan

Colorado shipped away last year's bust Nico Hernandez, almost shipped away their keynote player Mastroeni, and brought in a Christian Gomez that throughout the preseason is quite the question mark. Other than all that, things are just peachy in Colorado. Except for the effigy of striking resemblance to Fernando Clavijo hanging outside the "Dick's" front gates.

All kidding aside, if the Rapids are going to make a run of sorts this year - Gomez and Mastroeni will support it, but what really matters is the continued growth of their youngsters. Colin Clark had sort of a breakout year last season and is poised to really turn some heads this year. He might even find himself on Bob Bradley's radar by the end of the year. Second years Nico Colaluca and Nick LaBrocca should find themselves in a position to grab more playing time this year, even with the acquisition of Brazilian Rafael Gomes from Santa Clara in Portugal. Gomes has already shown his abilities in the preseason and could help take the pressure off of Christian Gomez in the middle. The other Gomez - Herculez - with a return to form, could really spark this team into some surprising results. Then you have Mehdi Bellouchy. He was supposed to be Real Salt Lake's playmaker, but instead was shipped to Colorado where he has been waiting in the wings. If Clavijo wanted to, Mastroeni could move back to central defense in his waning years and Ballouchy - if on form - could man the middle with Rafa Gomes.

The biggest question mark lies up top. A lot of people have been waiting for Conor Casey to show his former Mainz self. Due to nagging injuries and lack of fitness, we haven't seen that just yet. If he, along with Omar Cummings, can get the right service from Christian Gomez, you could see a breakout year from one of the two. Jacob Peterson is in that mix as well. Until Casey comes around and Cummings looks the better option, Jovan Kirovski will take a stab at the forward position with limited success last year.

The rearguard has seen some changes. Burciaga, Jr. comes over from Kansas City and if he keeps a cool head on and plays day in day out without making silly tackles, having massive brainfarts, the Rapids could then have a viable left-sided defensive and offensive option. I am still waiting for Ugo Ihemelu to bounce back to his early LA Galaxy form. Hasn't happened yet, but along with Petke, there are two seasoned defenders manning an altogether above-average backline. All this rides on whether or not Facundo Erpen goes spastic this year.

Another year in goal for Bouna Coundoul is exactly what he needs. His style of play, tenacity and aggression in and outside the penalty box will grow increasingly more instinctive as he continues to figure things out. Justin Hughes will have to wait his chance.

Outlook: 4th in the West

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Projected Starting Lineups: Chivas USA


Projected Starting Lineup:






Coming off the bench: GK Lance Parker, DF Jim Curtin, MF Jesse Marsch, MF Atiba Harris, FW Alecko Eskandarian

Last year's Chivas was plagued by injuries, but they still managed to win the Western Conference before falling in the Playoffs. This year, the trend has re-emerged early. Defender Alex Zotinca has already been ruled out for most of the season with a partially torn ACL. He has since had successful surgery, but that leaves Jim Curtin as your next viable option in the back, with two inexperienced players behind him in Bobby Burling and Eric Ebert. Depth is the biggest problem again this year, especially in the midfield.

The turnover was limited and the Goats filled a couple necessary spots with quality players in the offseason. The biggest X-factor is going to be the entry of Wicky into the line-up. In the midfield, Chivas generally allowed Kljestan and Mendoza to line-up in the middle and push to the wings, but with Wicky, Marsch, and Nagamura all adept at the central holding midfielder role, you could see more of the wings this year. Preki did well by making sure he signed Panchito Mendoza to long term contract as the kid keeps getting better every year. Add that to Kljestan, who is looking to build off of a 13 assist season, and you've got yourself that solid midfield intact. If it stays healthy. Depth is not great but an improvement upon last year. Atiba Harris and SuperDraft picks Daniel Paladini and Keith Savage could provide a much needed youthful boost to the midfield, but no way to know for sure until the season starts.

Up front, Razov and Galindo should be ready for another productive season. The addition of Alecko Eskandarian is a great one. A guy looking to re-prove himself in Los Angeles after being shipped across the country from DC to Toronto to Salt Lake and now the West Coast. You can expect Esky to bag a couple goals even despite last season. He would slot in nicely behind Galindo or Razov on days when one of the two strikers need a break. Along with Esky, you can probably expect the same amount of production from second-year Englishman John Cunliffe (3 goals in '07). If injuries take its' toll, which it most likely will with Razov - expect Chivas' new rookie target man Justin Braun to get some minutes as well. With the first annual Sueno MLS winner, Jorge Flores, he'll probably fill in on the wings.

Outlook: 2nd in the West

Projected Starting Lineups: Chicago Fire

One at a time and are the starting lineups you are looking at the start of the season.

Projected Starting Lineup:







First off the bench: GK Nick Noble, DF Brandon Prideaux, MF Logan Pause, MF Diego Gutierrez, FW Calen Carr, FW Andy Herron

Now there's a good chance Logan Pause will be in there for Bakary Soumare. The second year defensive midfielder has raw talent and had a decent year last season, but had too many brainfarts in the midfield and at times was a little too overly agressive. MF Logan Pause and MF Diego Gutierrez are both veteran midfielders that'll probably platoon the spot with young Soumare. The other option is playing Soumare sparingly in central defense. Gutierrez has also seen time during preseason in central defense. New acquisitions Frankowski and Herron shore up an already viable offensive punch of Rolfe, Mapp, and Barrett. Both Rolfe and Barrett had their hiccups last season, along with Mapp gone most of the season nursing an injury, so Frankowski should be the key to elevate all three back into production. The loss of Matt Pickens hurts, but nothing permanent as veteran Jon Busch is more than capable of taking over the reins.

If there are any SuperDraft picks poised to make a contribution, I would bet on defender Austin Washington, forward Patrick Nyarko and midfielder Stephen King. Nyarko could see some time along with Calen Carr if Barrett and Rolfe start to misfire, along with Barrett's expected absence for the Olympics in Beijing.

Chris Armas' retirement stings a bit as he was a vital on-field presence. Perfect combination of tenacity, leadership, and control. He will still be on the sidelines, and it will be up to Pause/Gutierrez to lead the squad. The controversy going on with Lidier Marmol - a tug-of-war between RBNY and Chicago - is pointing in the Fire's favor and if he is signed, you could see another

With Osorio gone and Hamlett in place, I think you're going to see a Bob Bradley/Preki switch-off here. The tactics won't change much, but Hamlett seems to have the Fire in better shape physically to start the season. The key will be how they blend together on the field - a demanding and aggressive Blanco will have to flow again with the laid-back Mapp. Frankowski is a question mark, but if there is one thing working for him, it's that Polish heritage. Overall, the Fire are going to have to avoid the crappy start that plagued them in 2007 and Blanco needs to survive a full 30 games without pissing anybody off in order for Chicago to make their mark. Realistically, depending on the impact of Frankowski and Blanco this year, you can still expect a fifth place finish in the East which may or may not give them a place in the Playoffs.

Outlook: 5th in the East

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Philly Best XI: Current List of All Pro Philly Players

We're drawing the line west at Harrisburg and east at the Jersey Shore (clearly...). These are all players that are playing or have played at the professional level recently.

Chris Albright - New England Revolution (Philadelphia, PA)
Dan Antoniuk - New Jersey Ironmen [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Byron Carmichael - Ocean City Barons [PDL] (Lumberton, NJ)
David Castellanos - Philadelphia Kixx [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Sammy Castellanos - Philadelphia Kixx [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Bobby Convey - Reading FC [ENG] (Philadelphia, PA)
Jon Conway - New York Red Bulls (Media, PA)
Jim Curtin - Chivas USA (Oreland, PA)
Jeff Curtin - D.C. United (Oreland, PA)
Don D'Ambra - Philadelphia Kixx [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Tony Donatelli - Vancouver Whitecaps [USL-1]/Kixx [MISL] (Glenside, PA)
Dan Gargan - Colorado Rapids (Philadelphia, PA)
Bill Gaudette - Columbus Crew (Hummelstown, PA)
Pat Hannigan - Miami FC [USL-1] (Philadelphia, PA)
Stephen King - Chicago Fire (Medford, NJ)
Chris Konopka - Bohemians FC [IRL] (Toms River, NJ)
Nick Labrocca - Colorado Rapids (Howell, NJ)
Jeff Larentowicz - New England Revolution (West Chester, PA)
Carli Lloyd - US Women's National Team (Delran, NJ)
Matt Maher - New Jersey Ironmen [MISL] (Cape May CH, NJ)
Pat Morris - Philadelphia Kixx [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Tim O'Neill - New Jersey Ironmen [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Ben Olsen - D.C. United (Harrisburg, PA)
Scott Palguta - New York Red Bulls (Toms River, NJ)
Jeff Parke - New York Red Bulls (Abington, PA)
Chad Severs - Otago United [NZL] (Vineland, NJ)
Julian Valentin - Los Angeles Galaxy (Lancaster, PA)
Peter Vermes - Kansas City Wizards/Technical Director (Delran, NJ)
Steve Wacker - Philadelphia Kixx [MISL] (Philadelphia, PA)
Jeremiah White - AGF Aarhus [DEN] (Lansdowne, PA)
Chris Williams - Philadelphia Kixx [MISL] (Elkins Park, PA)

Who would be your Best XI??? Are there any I'm missing...?






Clearly, we're in need of a pure striker, but Antoniuk is not as shabby as you might think. He has jumped around the USL First Division with Carolina, Portland, Atlanta, and two other teams, but he has done well enough to be named USL MVP-Runner Up in 2006.

Also, look at where former Ocean City HS standout ended up - New Zealand! Apparently, they love him out there...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Philly Interviews: USA U-18 striker Ryan Finley

There is no better way to start off the new direction of a blog than by interviewing a potential future MLS Philadelphia player. Ryan Finley is a name that one might not know well now, but certainly will in the future. He is a United States Under-18 striker getting ready to make his mark in college and on a higher level and what makes him unique to this blog is the fact that he grew in the Philadelphia Metro area (South Jersey to be exact). With the US Youth Teams, he has traveled to and scored in Argentina, Northern Ireland (Ballymena Tournament), Japan (Toyota International Youth Championship), etc. and is also one of 40 to be brought into the US U-17 Residency program in 2006 along with the LA Galaxy's Isreal Sesay and FC Dallas' Abdi Ibrahim. Finley will most likely make a name for himself in the PDL this coming spring as he plans to possibly take the field for the South Jersey Barons along side former MLS Draft Pick and South Jersey native Byron Carmichael. Likened a bit to Brian McBride, Finley will be on his way into college at the end of the year, but has said - if the right pro opportunity comes around - he wouldn't be too opposed to taking it. Maybe one day his path will lead to the Chester waterfront...

How has your experience been within the South Jersey Barons organization? Are there any other Baron products that we should be looking out for in the near future?

My experience with the Barons was very good. I played Super Y with them in the summer [for] two years. Now that I am back home from residency I plan on playing PDL with them also. As for other players I have played with a defender named Kevin Davis for a couple years. He is a big strong defender with a big left foot. I would say he is one to keep an eye on.

How was your experience at the US Under-18 Mega-Camp in early February?

I always enjoy getting called into the National Camps. Anytime you can be around that caliber of players is a good thing. A lot of colleges attended also, so that was a plus. Anytime I can wear the crest is an honor.

Did you always expect the sport of soccer would take you this far? You've been to Argentina to play, to the Bradenton IMG Academy to work with the best of your age group, to France, to Japan, to Northern Ireland, etc. Which was the most memorable?

I didn't always think soccer would take me this far. I am from a small town and played for a home town club for most of my life. Once i started playing with the regional teams and National Teams I knew that international trips would come up. Since I was a little kid I've always wanted to play soccer. Getting invited into the Residency program at IMG was an honor. I will never forget the times I spent there. As for the international trips, it's always fun to go abroad but the most memorable would have to have been Northern Ireland. Playing Czech Republic [there], we were down 2-0 at halftime. Came back to win 3-2 and I scored the winner so that's always a memorable event.

All that traveling as got to take its toll? What's the toughest part?

Yeah, the traveling does take a toll. The toughest part has to be either the time difference or just getting your legs back after a long plane ride.

With all that said, what is your plan for the near future? College, go pro, any thoughts on the new MLS academies? If college, which ones are you looking at?

Plans for the near future are to play PDL in the summer and go to college next year. If a pro offer came about, I would have to consider. After college, I definitely want to play professionally. As for college - I'm looking at Duke, Ohio State, St. Johns, UCONN, and Notre Dame.

Who has been your most influential coach along the way during your young career?

There are a couple coaches who influenced my career. First, Dean Fink, my club team coach, since I was 9. Also, Byron Carmichael and Raul Diaz Arce. Carmichael and Diaz Arce have really helped me take my game to the next level. They have taught me so much about being a forward and really have elevated my game.

If you could have one player feed you a cross, who would it be?

Feed me a cross I would say [Cristiano] Ronaldo or maybe Beckham.

Do you feel South Jersey has been able to provide to you a place to become the soccer you player you are now? If not, what needs to be changed in the area?

I think South Jersey has helped me become the player I am now. New Jersey as a whole is a great state for soccer. I have been traveling to PDA (basically, New Jersey's FC Delco) lately to do some training. As for something that could change, most of the big clubs are up in North [Jersey] so maybe a big club of our own.

Being from Lumberton and Rancocas Valley, do you ever run into/have you played with Byron Carmichael?

I laughed when I saw this question. I train with Byron and play with him in the PDL. Byron and I will be playing up top together this summer. [Sidenote: Could end up being as prolific as the Ruben Mingo/Byron Carmichael pairing from a couple years ago].

Favorite team? Player?

Favorite team, don't laugh at this one, but I like Reading. One of the coaches from the Barons is from that area so I just started to like them. My friends make fun of me because they like Man Utd, Arsenal, and Chelsea and I like Reading.
Favorite player would be [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy. I like to think I play like him.

Is there a player you mold yourself after? A favorite USMNT player?

I try and mold myself after [Ruud[ Van Nistelrooy. He is always in the right spot and scores goals in bunches. Favorite USMNT player - former one - would be [Brian] McBride but as of the present I like [Clint] Dempsey.

If you were planning to move to play abroad, what league would most suit your style of play?

Playing abroad I would say maybe England or Germany. England is a lot of hustle and speed. Germany has a lot of big guys in the league.

What do you think are the U-23 squad's chances at the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics?

Anytime you have a Jozy [Altidore] and a Freddy [Adu] in a squad you always have a chance. They hit a couple of speed bumps in qualifying, but I like there chances in the Olympics.

Who do you pick for this upcoming season's MLS Championship?

This is a tough one. I'm going to be a little biased but I think Red Bull. It would be nice for a championship to come to this area.

What would you think of playing on the Chester Waterfront in a couple years for the new Philly MLS team?

I would love to play for them in front of all my friends and family. I was happy when I heard MLS was coming to Philly. It's nice to build up the game in this area.

What do you think the new team should be named?

The name? This is another tough one. I'm not really sure about this one.

Thank you for taking the time and good luck with everything in the future, Ryan. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Philadelphia Eagle gets plucked for MLS duty...

Real Salt Lake has announced that Philadelphia Eagles executive Bill Manning will be President of RSL effective April 15th, 2008.
Manning, who has had a distinguished 15 year career in sports, joins RSL following four seasons as Vice President, Sales and Service with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL. While at the Eagles he was responsible for the team's corporate sponsorship and premium seating. During his tenure he led the corporate sales department to double-digit revenue growth and introduced new premium seating options at Lincoln Financial Field, in addition to managing the servicing of suite clients and Club Seat accounts.
Not exactly a huge coup, but an executive none-the-less. Nobody has ever scrutinized the business of Real Salt Lake, it's sort of more the on-field product that is the problem. New face for a new stadium and, hopefully, a new and improved team.

Next local paper on board, Courier Post chimes in

Don Benevento of the Courier Post interviews a lot of South Jersey high school coaches (including my old one, Joe Falana) with "Fans should get a kick out of MLS". Nothing too special, but it certainly shows that the word is spreading.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff Gammage talks about the origins of football's team anthems. Liverpool's 'You'll Never Walk Alone', West Ham United's 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles', and last but not least - and most importantly - the Sons of Ben's, possible Philly MLS anthem - Mummer Band backing and all - "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover".

Here's Sons of Ben singing at the MLS Philly 2010 Announcement.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"The Sons Also Rise"

A great piece on our new team and the spotlight is firmly on Bryan James and the Sons of Ben. Written by the always entertaining Steven Wells of Philadelphia Weekly.

Quick excerpt:

American soccer fan culture is as diverse as America itself. It cherry picks whatever the hell it wants from Europe, the Caribbean and Central and South America, and adds its own unique touches. Portland, for instance, just retired a real-life goddamn real chainsaw-wielding real Douglas fir-climbing real-life lumberjack mascot called Timber Jim.

How American is that?

With fans like these—fans like the Sons of Ben—who the hell needs David Beckham?

But don’t think American soccer fandom doesn’t know it’s got a way to go. At the England/U.S. game in Chicago in 2005, the hundreds of chanting, drumming and singing members of Sam’s Army were drowned out at one point by thousands of English men and women lustily singing (to the tune of the Welsh hymn “Bread of Heaven”) “Are you Scotland in disguise?” The dude next to me stopped drumming, pointed at the away fans with his drumstick, and said, “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”

Read it all here.

Western Conference Breakdown: Competitive season begins, FC Dalllas and Survivor

Chivas USA

Andrea Canales reports that Chivas has inked 4 to developmental contracts - read on to see who.

She also provides a league preview for ESPN Soccernet.

Colorado Rapids

This must be one of the bigger advertising efforts from an individual Major League Soccer club. Celebrate the World's Game...

FC Dallas

Apparently, Survivor the Game makes a cameo throughout the Hoops' preseason. Two teams are left.

Houston Dynamo

Jeff Bull at Center Holds It calls for us all to be Houston and D.C. United fans for the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Private parks popping up in Houston help cultivate the need for soccer in the Houston area.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Why is Josh Tudela more popular than David Beckham. Laurie over at the Offside - LA Galaxy knows...

Real Salt Lake

Watching RSL's new stadium go up piece by piece has been fun and here it continues. Now if only the Red Bulls would take a hint and do the same.

Real Salt Lake starts their own blog following New York, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and New England.

San Jose Earthquakes

Josh Molina at the Mercury News has an article on the positive cost benefit analysis done by the city on a tract of land in Edenvale. One positive step towards another soccer-specific stadium!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MLS Eastern Conference Run-Around: a DP, an injury, and Eating a Crow

Chicago Fire

A couple day old run down from Luis Arroyave of the Chicago Tribune about who should and shouldn't be the new captain of the Fire.

Columbus Crew

Former Lazio and Inter Milan player Matias Almeyda linked by the Washington Post's Steven Goff to Columbus. Does Columbus need another aging star?

Jeff Bull at Center Holds It continues his analysis of Columbus' quest to build their squad into something with the slight resemblance of a contender.

D.C. United

Match Preview for D.C.'s CONCACAF Champions Cup opener vs. Harbour View of Jamaica.

New York Times' Jeffrey Marcus writes a good article on second-time United player and former youth phenom Santino Quaranta.

Kansas City Wizards

Claudio Lopez signs on as the 6th MLS Designated Player and Kansas City's first. Though 33 and here to retire, Lopez still has a lot of pop left in his tank. The Wizards' blog shows us that with a vast array of El Piojo highlights.

Oz City's Guest Blogger Tony Felich can't win with Kansas City supporters. He eats his words for his previous "Cause for Alarm" post on Kansas City's future and still gets knocked for being a supposed 'fairweather' fan.

New England Revolution

Chris Albright in his underwear as the Boston Globe circulates pictures of New England's tour in Mexico so far. Take part in Ives Galarcep's caption contest for one the funniest pictures of the whole portfolio.

New York Red Bulls

Dane Richards is out for 3 months with a torn MCL. Pretty sucky fate for a guy many were looking forward to seeing continue his progress this year.

Red Bulls are gearing up for the Charleston Challenge Cup which will take place from March 15th-22nd. They will face off against Charleston from USL-Division 1, Toronto FC, and the expansion San Jose Earthquakes.

Toronto FC

More news - but nothing of action - on the Darren Huckerby to Toronto FC front.

Monday, March 10, 2008

US Olympic Qualifying Set to Start...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Cuba

Thursday, March 13, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Panama

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Honduras

Roster was released - as I am sure you have seen - over the weekend and some notable omissions include Gold Cup hero turned Derby County wantaway Benny Feilhaber, last summer's U-20 standout Robbie Rogers, and FC Dallas' creative midfielder Arturo Alvarez. Michael Bradley of Heerenveen was left out due to club obligations. Heerenveen is still in the fight for the Dutch Eredivisie title and/or European contention with Ajax and PSV and Bradley is no doubt a huge part of that. The goal is to finish in the top two of their group, beat their opponent in the semifinal and make it to the finals which guarantees them a spot at this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

GK (2): Dominic Cervi (out of contract), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders (6): Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

Midfielders (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)

Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg)

With this roster, I would certainly expect Piotr Nowak to go with Jozy Altidore as the lone forward, putting Freddy Adu right in behind them as they did at the U-20 World Cup. Zizzo has got to go on one of the wings as I remember his dismantling of the Brazilian defense in Canada as well. Expect either Eddie Gaven or Stuart Holden to patrol the other wing. I, for one, can't understand the necessity of carrying a Chad Barrett over an Arturo Alvarez, who is versatile and serviceable on either of the wings, in the middle, or up top as striker. Then again, I also can't understand the choice of 5 strikers when the tactic should be tailor-made for Jozy. Robbie Rogers has apparently been fighting an injury which makes his absence a bit understandable. I am just hoping that due to the lack of a Zizzo-like left winger, we don't see Freddy Adu put out there. He needs be tucked in behind Altidore where he can dictate the run of play and roam freely. What I really like about this group, though, is the attacking presence in the back. At the Olympic level, I think this crop of fullbacks - with only one appearing regularly for the senior national team - could make a play for the weakest spot on the field for our Nats. Wynne, Freeman, and Spector should do well (Spector won't be joining them until after the Group Stages though so Freeman and Wynne will be left to prove themselves).

The XI see being used:






First game is Tuesday at 8:00pm EST on Fox Soccer Channel. What's your take on the Starting XI?

Philly Newsline 3.10: What's in a name...?

Philadelphia Inquirer - Jeff Gammage: A piece on the naming of the new MLS Philadelphia team and yet another reference to the IronPigs. Leading names - AC Philadelphia, Philadelphia Athletic, Philadelphia Independence FC. Even AC Delco gets a nod from Gammage.

Ian Heath - So Philadelphia's Getting a Major League Soccer Team: The funniest part of this article is the one comment at the bottom of the page predicting Philadelphia to be the home of the first MLS fan fatality. Sons of Ben - are you capable of hurting anybody??

MetroFanatic: Let the rivalry begin. Red Bull supporters take a stab at naming the new Philadelphia franchise. I'll give them credit for originality...that's about it.

A New Meaning of Life...

Philadelphia MLS was introduced on Thursday, February 28th, 2008 at Turbine Hall on Chester's beautiful waterfront. Right next to the place where a $500 million complex - centered around a 20,000 person soccer-specific stadium - will stand. The large construction project on 'Rivertown' will begin to take place early in the fall of 2008.

With that announcement - and all sorts of informaton will be put up over the next couple days - my blog has welcomed a new direction. I will continue everything soccer-related - EPL, Ligue One, MLS - over at Center Holds It, but Because I Think... will now focus centrally on MLS Philadelphia and all that affects it. In all honesty, you will still see many other things on here but this will be first and foremost an aggregator of all things Philadelphia.