Sunday, March 3, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 3

In the first edition of a soccer news round-up for your breakfast reading…

MLS First Kick
All eyes Saturday around North America were on Major League Soccer Opening Weekend. It was a split for the two Northwest teams in action as the Vancouver Whitecaps nabbed a 1-0 win over Canadian rival Toronto FC while the Seattle Sounders were denied by the woodwork twice in a 1-0 loss at home to longtime lower division rival Montreal Impact.

The Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake are in action Sunday. For complete MLS scores, links to video highlights and media reports, check out the NASR Today compilation of member reports and more.

On a side note, commissioner Don Garber was on his yearly Opening Weekend barnstorming tour, making stops in Vancouver and Seattle Saturday. The Cascadia Cup trademark issue came up at halftime pressers at both venues. Here is a transcript of his chat with media in Seattle.

US downs Cuba
MLS First Kick overshadowed the semifinal victory Friday by the US U20 men to avoid a potential embarrassment against Cuba, who surprised many by reaching the final four. The US, which clinched a World Cup berth with the quarterfinal win against Canada, earned a 2-0 win despite several players having returned to their MLS clubs or sitting out the game. They will play Mexico for the regional title Sunday.

Winter World Cup?
Speaking of FIFA and World Cups, news reports came out Saturday stating that FIFA is waiting, if not expecting or hoping, for Qatar to request for the 2022 World Cup to be played during the winter months to avoid the extreme heat the nation experiences during the typical World Cup calendar. Though it appears FIFA executives and some federations may be open to the idea, it appears the biggest opposition is the English Premier League although UEFA president Michel Platini is in favor of it. There is also opposition from the new CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb.

Howard's End? 
No, not the film. A streak that has kind of slipped the headlines here in the states is the lengthy run of starts for US goalkeeper Tim Howard, who saw his series of 210 consecutive games in goal come to an end Saturday due to an injury. His streak, ironically, was the longest active tally when fellow American keeper Brad Friedel's streak ended last October.

Talk about red tape
With all the talk about FIFA giving in on using goal-line technology, a low-tech aspect of the game saw a rule change made at the IFAB meeting a year ago that is now trickling down the ranks in the soccer world. As Wisconsin Soccer Central reports, the National Federation of State High School Association's has already implemented the rule. Apparently, referees were being confused by the tape.

For the record
During commissioner Garber's media session in Seattle he stated: "we’re proud of being the longest running professional league in North America." Just to be accurate, USL Pro is technically the longest-running pro league. MLS is the longest-running first division league. The current USL Pro (third division) is a merger of USL-1 and USL-2, the history of which both predate the 1996 MLS launch. USL-1 was previously the A-League / APSL, which dates back to 1985. USL-2 has had numerous names since being launched by USL (then USISL) in 1995 as… wait for it… the USISL Pro League. Of note though is that the Seattle Sounders (1994-2008), Portland Timbers (1985-90), Vancouver Whitecaps/86ers (1993-2009) and Montreal Impact (1993-2009) all played in the A-League prior to MLS' inception.