Archive for the ‘MLS’ Category

Op-Ed: The Surgence Of Freddy Adu

This editorial by the staff of The Shin Guardian

Freddy Adu, surging against Mexico...

The juxtaposition could not be more stark….

Freddy Adu returning to MLS.

Had I told you that statement would make our publication–say two, three years ago–you would swear the publish date was 2020 and Adu’s resume would include at least one European trophy in hand.

And you’d probably suggest he’d be headed to the starry Galaxy in LA or the nouveau Cosmos playing in some cush, quaint digs off a Flatbush-bound train in Brooklyn.

But that’s not the case. It’s 2011 and the man who Nike once crowned American soccer’s prince-come-king returns to the States with a somewhat unique perception and with a passport that shows a winding–if ultimately fruitless–trail through Europe and one final crusade to the nether regions of Turkey.

Had Adu made this move as recent as January of this year, his homecoming might be perceived or labeled–rightly or wrongly–a flat failure, or more appropriately, the most glorious and spectacular failure of an American abroad yet. Even Eddie Johnson got some run at Fulham. Hey, wasn’t Adu once invited to Old Trafford by the knight himself? Yes and yes.

Didn’t Adu once adorn Pepsi ads, date pop stars and rule the Olympics one year? Wasn’t he the reason YouTube was founded? Yes, yes, yes and no, but he’s got more hits than Rick Astley on the video site.


The Philadelphia Union today announced the signing of attacking midfielder Freddy Adu on a free transfer from Sports Lisboa e Benfica of the Portuguese First Division.


Adu found himself in January toting around the gargantuan ball-and-chain of a contract from Benfica–the club who procured his services from MLS in 2007–and wearing the scarlet letter “A” for “Amateur” as reports of late night tomfoolery and practice pitch unprofessionalism leaked out to the media from the several player trials and loans he went on (Belenenses, Aris and more). Every pushpin destination, a coach seemed to challenge his behavior.

But it’s now August and my how quickly perceptions can change, and for Adu this did in all of 30 minutes and then 90 more.

How one gets back on the map...

The lead-up began just a few months earlier this annum.

First, a sojourn to to Rizespor in the Turkish 2nd division and if you want split hairs, Adu at this point had exhausted his European destinations.

Sent to a town with less than 100,000 people and no airport, distractions would not be a challenge that Adu had to surmount this time around.

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Portland Timbers: Huge Whistle Advantage

Are the Portland Timbers enjoying a massing advantage, homefield advantage, both or neither?


(Yes, we do need to get the home counts at Jen-Weld. Don’t have ’em yet.)

MLS All-Stars vs. Manchester United: Live Commentary

Will Shalrie play the boss man tonight?

Kickoff promptly….that is about 55 minutes after the broadcast start time of 5pm PT. 5:55 PT for the kickoff.

It’s the MLS All-Stars vs. Manchester United and this time Kevin Alston won’t be playing rightback.

Red Bull Arena is the site as Manchester United continues their raucous North American tour.

Chicharito likely won’t be in the line-up for the visitors–having been held overnight at the hospital with symptoms of a mild concussion.

For Domestic FC, Hans Backe filled out the All-Star roster with speed. Will he use it on the flanks against United?

Will Shalrie Joseph boss the midfield?

Here we go shortly….


Chicago Fire Secure Pavel Pardo; Release Kristic

"Pardo" me Kristic, my turn....

The Chicago Fire–all-star deficient this week–will bring aboard former Mexican international Pavel Pardo. The defensive midfielder will be added to the Fire’s roster upon pending Visa clearance. No terms we disclosed.

The Guadalajara, Mexico product will be eligible for selection by interim head coach Frank Klopas when the Fire host the Philadelphia Union.

Just a few weeks ago, TSG got a question on who might be a good fit and our choice was Dejan Stankovic, a central defensive midfielder for Milan. That pick was of course a reach and, in Pardo, hopefully the Fire get a man who can provide some backline protection as well as maintain the ball to huck it up field on the wing to Marco Pappa.

The 35-year-old CDM was most recently with Club America and was a Bundesliga champion with Stutgart in 2007.

The Fire release Bratislav Ristic to make way for Pardo.

MLS: Reviewing Preseason Predictions…It’s Not Pretty

Those who frequent TSG know we pride ourselves on accountability and the axiom, “you can’t look at a single observation, you have to look at the entire body of work.”

On the former, witness Defense Exhibit A below. We probably should have doctored up some of the predictions (Kenny Cooper for Comeback Player of the Year or Eric Alexander for Breakout Player), but we didn’t.

On the latter, we give you Brek Shea (check out our interview with him), the lead MVP candidate with multiple positive observations in the first half body of work.

And now, let us cringe:

(By the way, it’s “tie-up” columns like this where I think, might be time to redo that layout at TSG. But then I think. I need another coffee and the feeling escapes me.)

B-, C+? We're being kind...(click to enlarge)


• CJ Sapong, best rookie and biggest surprise wrapped in one? Brek Shea or even Rich Balchan might have something to say about that.

• Will the Philadelphia Union still have time to fizzle this year?

• Is Donovan Ricketts just a tad overrated given that the Galaxy defense has stumbled much more with Gonzo out, not Ricketts?

• What does the 2nd half see for Philly’s Sebu Le Toux?

• Best keeper? Perhaps the best question…

The 2011 MLS All-Stars According To Hans Backe

Hans Backe has spoken.

Sean Franklin...but you knew this picture was going here...

Below is his game-day roster to match Manchester United in the MLS All-Star Game July 27 at Red Bull Arena. That last statement was contradictory I know.

As long as Brad Davis was on the roster, it was mostly acceptable. Some consternation over the exclusion of Chad Marshall and Joel Lindpere.

I did not think Charlie Davies deserving of all-star status at this time.

Your thoughts?


2011 MLS All-Star game-day roster

Goalkeeper: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Faryd Mondragón (Philadelphia Union)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Bobby Convey (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy), Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake),Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls).

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo),Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Omar Bravo (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Cummings(Colorado Rapids), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Inactive All-Stars (Note that another six inactive All-Stars will be chosen via player voting): Kasey Keller(Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Rafa Marquez (New York Red Bulls), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

Friday Feature: Bring Out The Bloodhounds….. The Union Need To Find Some Goals

No offense, but there is a better record and more to cheer about at PPL Park in 2011

This is a guest feature by Matt Acconciamessa, founder and editor of US Soccer Daily.

All we are saying…

…is give us a goal…

The chants and pleas of the PPL Park faithful sitting there above this sentence and far too often this young season.

The Union are stringing together great results here early in the season and put together the club’s first ever winning streak, but it would be a challenge to label it scintillating soccer.

Through 9 matches, the Philadelphia Union have managed to score just 6 goals.  It’s a stark contrast to the 2010 side that put together attractive, attacking play in their inaugural campaign, and a statistical comparison of the two seasons (through 9 matches) reflect that.

Before delving into that, it bears mentioning that there was a lot of offseason change in Chester, with several key contributors leaving, a couple of recent signings assuming more prominent roles, and some entirely new faces joining the squad.  Defensively, everything’s “coming up Milhouse“; Carlos Valdes and Faryd Mondragon are two early contenders for the All-Star team, if not the Newcomer of the Year award.

The Union's offense, Homer-Fail Whale-style...

Offensively?  Well, the analogy there would be if Homer laced ’em up.

Alejandro Moreno and Shea Salinas departed via the expansion draft, Fred through the re-entry draft, and Andrew Jacobson through trade.  Thus far, Carlos Ruiz has been called upon to fill Moreno’s shoes as a target striker, while players like Justin Mapp, Keon Daniel, Amobi Okugo, Brian Carroll, and Kyle Nakazawa have taken on bigger roles in the midfield.

This new crop of players has struggled building chemistry and maintaining possession in the attacking half all season, leading to a noticeable drop off in several notable offensive categories.  Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Statistical comparisons between 2010 & 2011 seasons through 9 games:

Shots per game (’10 to ’11)- 10.89 down to 7.56

Shots on goal per game- 5.67 down to 2.89

Corner kicks per game- 4.22 down to 2.11

Goals (goals per game)- 11 (1.22) down to 6 (0.67)

Goals from the run of play- 9 (81.8%) down to 3 (50%)

Across the board, the Union are failing to create as much in the final third as they did a year ago.  Daniel and Mapp have had some promising moments out wide, but haven’t been able to consistently stretch the defense, leading to a lot of stalled attacks, back passes, and a lack of corner kicks won.  The same can be said in the middle of the park, where there hasn’t been a ton of creative play going forward thanks in part to some conservative lineup selection.

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