Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lower Divisions Preview – Part II: MLS Reserves

Part I - USL Pro     ||     Part II - MLS Reserves     ||     Part III - NASL 
With the new partnership between Major League Soccer and USL Pro, the MLS Reserve League, created in 2005, will take on a completely different vibe this year as it will undoubtedly continue to evolve over the coming years as more teams opt for different avenues for development of their first-team depth. Starting this year, the biggest changes are that four teams are out – having chosen to directly affiliate and loan players to a USL Pro side – and each team has two games against third tier opposition as part of their schedule.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Report: Spokane Shine select Dan Philp as new head coach

Philp handling his youth coaching duties during the Northwest Cup | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
With an announcement to come within the next week, INWsoccernews has learned from two sources close to the choice that the Spokane Shine of the Women’s Premier Soccer League have chosen Dan Philp, a current coach with the Spokane SC Shadow youth soccer club, as its new head coach. The news comes as schedules and new Shine venue details are also coming to light.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stories of the Day - March 26: Protest denied; US-Mexico; Good video

Most of today's reading material revolves around the US WCQ news and / or some video.

The rumblings of a protest coming from the Costa Rica federation in the aftermath of the SnowClasico actually came to fruition over the course of the weekend. But FIFA wasted no team in giving its response - NO. Costa Rica really did not have great odds of winning a replay, mostly because the procedures to submit a protest in itself - before even getting the matter considered - are ridiculously impossible to meet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lower Divisions Preview – Part I: USL Pro

Part I - USL Pro     ||     Part II - MLS Reserves     ||     Part III - NASL 
The third tier of American soccer kicks off its third season since the ownership split that led to the second division NASL being formed, and is flying into the campaign on the wave of heightened national publicity courtesy of its new developmental partnership with Major League Soccer. The league will see the launch of two new teams on opposite sides of the nation and a schedule incorporating the 15 MLS Reserve League teams while the other four clubs have opted to individually affiliate with USL Pro sides and loan players.

The two new clubs, bringing the league field to 13, will kick things off right away, featuring prominently in the slow trickle of a start to the league schedule. Newcomers Phoenix FC Wolves travelled to Fullerton to take on the Los Angeles Blues in the league opener Saturday night, falling 2-0, and will return home to host fellow expansion side VSI Tampa Bay FC the following Saturday at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. Tampa Bay then heads to LA for a Tuesday night contest before several other teams begin the season in earnest the third week of the league schedule.

Stories of the Day - March 25: MLS, USA & Mexico

The majority of the news over the weekend revolved around Major League Soccer's week 4 activity with Montreal posting yet another victory, the Texas clubs picking up a pair of wins, Seattle continuing to struggle and Chivas USA registering another shocking result, this time winning 4-1 in frigid Chicago. 

You can catch up with links to recaps, stats and highlights via the NASR Today's round-ups for Saturday and Sunday.

Aside from the MLS action, most of the interesting news items throughout the weekend continued to revolve around what Grant Wahl dubbed the SnowClasico. An AP report came out Sunday that Costa Rica was officially requesting FIFA to force a replay of the contest. Meanwhile, MLSsoccer writer Chris Bianchi makes the claim, despite initially feeling sympathy for the Ticos, that they deserved none following their whining reactions post-game that came off as a rehearsed excuse. Matthew Doyle, on the other hand, takes a look at three things learned from the contest.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stories of the Day - March 22: All about CONCACAF WCQ

Today's reading material is a special edition devoted to the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal. First, we'll start off with the week's big story off the field followed by looks at the games and more.


Speaking Out
In one of the biggest breaking stories in recent history regarding the US MNT, Brian Straus of the The Sporting News published on Tuesday a lengthy examination of the state of affairs for the team heading into the pair of qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico this week. Straus spoke to 22 players and individuals around the national team and many had some very harsh criticisms of the current US coach Jurgen Klinsmann, many of them relating to a perceived lack of tactical acumen, poor team management and terrible communication with the players and team, particularly on game day. Straus also ties the current player complaints, which should be pointed out are anonymous, to his past with the Germany and Bayern Munich coaching stints, referring to a book written by German national team captain Philipp Lahm, who wrote that all of the players at Bayern knew it wouldn't work with Klinsmann and they played the season in damage control. Following up on Lahm's thoughts, Straus points to his former assistant coach with Germany, Joachim Low, as the man who really deserved all the credit for the nation's success, leading the team to further success as head coach after Klinsmann's departure.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gonzaga, WSU reschedule spring friendly

The Gonzaga University women's soccer team announced today that their spring schedule opener at home against Washington State University, set for Saturday, has been rescheduled for April 7 (4:00 pm) due to a schedule conflict for the Cougars.

Stories of the Day - March 21: Abuse & Rescue; Staying Put; Selling Soccer

Today's morning reading material is a hodgepodge of items from around the globe ranging from the interesting to the bizarre. We'll kick things off with some unusual stories out of Europe.

Presidential Abuse
You always here about the occasional story of PA announcers crossing the line at the lower divisions of every sport, but at a Russian Premier League game recently, things went to a whole other level when the President of the Republic of Chechnya became involved. The short story is the PA announcer called the referee a 'donkey' after issuing a second yellow to a Terek Grozny player. In what was supposed to be an apology on behalf of the club, honorary team president Ramazan Kadryov, close ally of Vladimir Putin and the second-generation president of Chechnya (his father, who the stadium is named after, was assassinated in 2004), directed his remarks solely to those around football, but not the referee, referring to him as a 'sellout.'

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spokane's Mykines scores for Reign; Shine's Schrader among Sounders Women hopeful

Former Spokane Shadow and Mead High School product Marissa Mykines made a bit of a splash in Wednesday for the new professional NWSL side Seattle Reign in a preseason international friendly, scoring the second goal in a 3-1 victory against Fukuoka J Anclas.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stories of the Day - March 19: WCQ rosters; Bradley Speaks and more

Today's morning reading material has an overwhelming international flavor as we head into a week filled with World Cup Qualifying around FIFA.

A Thin 23
The big news of the day Monday was the release of the 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Costa Rica (home) and Mexico (away). A slew of injuries of late (not to mention Landon Donovan's hiatus) has left the team rather thin in player availability, resulting in what long-time national soccer writer Michael Lewis is calling the weakest list of players he has seen in quite some time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Whitworth University, Spokane Shadow director Sean Bushey takes position with Colorado Rush

Bushey has been the head coach for Whitworth University since 1996 | Photos: Gerald Barnhart

After nearly two decades as a fixture in the Spokane soccer community, Whitworth University head coach and Spokane Shadow youth soccer club technical director Sean Bushey announced Wednesday that he was stepping down from both organizations to take a position with the Colorado Rush, one of the nation's top youth soccer clubs.

Taking the Senior Academy Director of Coaching position at the Rush will reunite Bushey with his brother Erik, the club's technical director, as well as his son Cameron, the Youth Boys DOC. The university announced it will conduct a search for a new coach. The SSC Shadow have appointed Abbas Faridnia, a former Shadow PDL player under Bushey, the new Technical Director, expanding his role with the club nearly a year after the merger with his SSC Elite occurred.

Stories of the Day - March 18: Rivalries get hot; USL trials & top goals

The lackluster start to Rivalry Week in MLS on Saturday gave way to a pair of thrilling contests in Texas and California Sunday. Houston rallied from two down to pull even in Dallas only to see a controversial goal give the hosts the win. In the LA, the reigning champion Galaxy held a one-goal lead over 10-man Chivas USA, but the previously hapless goats fired back for an unexpected 1-1 draw for a pair of surprising results over the past two weeks. Here is the NASR TODAY round-up with links to recaps, scores and highlights.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stories of the Day - March 17: Health care; MLS biz & top goals

As I mentioned in the early days of this feature, the name may change - and so it has. Although the name has changed, the content will remain the same and it will continue to serve, on most days, as morning reading material.

This weekend is 'Rivalry Week' for MLS, but Saturday's action came up a little lackluster on that note, though the first match of the day served up a lot more drama despite the 0-0 score. New York dominated play with two shots off the woodwork and lost Thierry Henry, who skipped the post-game media, to injury late in a match that will also spark a lot more discussion on when MLS would implement goal-line technology that in the past year was finally approved by FIFA. Here is the NASR TODAY round-up of recaps with links to stats and highlights.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 16

Things are likely to get very serious today for MLS Rivalry Week. On that note, here are some serious stories for today's morning reading…

Soccer at the Pentagon
Earlier in the week I shared a story featuring the unique recreational soccer league at the Vatican. Here is a post from Steven Goff at the Washington Post, who shares an excellent video featuring the Pentagon Soccer Club. It is an excellent short-film documentary piece detailing the role the club plays for the Pentagon employees, often assisting in very emotional matters that show through in the video interviews.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring schedules under way for Idaho trio

Idaho State's spring schedule includes a lot of trips to the state of Utah | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The three Division I universities in Idaho are in the midst of their schedule of spring friendlies and training, highlighted by the recent meeting between Boise State and Idaho State last weekend. The University of Idaho plays its first match March 23.

The reigning Big Sky champion ISU Bengals kicked things off February 23 at the BYU Indoor Tournament, posting a 0-0 draw against Utah Valley University and falling 2-1 against Dixie. Utah native Laura Benson prevented a scoreless trip to Provo with a goal five minutes from time.

Soccer with Breakfast - March 15

Your morning reading material today is mix between stories about organizational leaders, sports venues and rivalries...

Pope Francis Loves Football 
With the new Pope hailing from Argentina, it is no surprise that media are making Diego Maradona 'Hand of God' references… as seen in the NY Daily News cover pictured. Pope Francis, as it turns out, is a football fan and has been, as quoted by a club source says, living in 'a permanent state of suffering' for San Lorenzo of Argentina.

The MLS Pope? 
Speaking of leaders, one of the founding fathers of MLS will be getting back to a more hands on role. It was announced Thursday that Anschutz Entertainment Group was being taken off the market after not getting the sales bids it was looking for to sell. In addition to the change of direction, the company also announced the departure of Tim Leiweke and that billionaire owner and chairman Philip Anschutz was resuming a more active role. If you are not familiar with the massive presence of AEG in sports and entertainment, this story has a lot of interesting information and numbers that will amaze you, especially the number of venues they own/control.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gonzaga Women begin spring slate against WSU March 23, host 7v7 April 27

Teams from throughout the region gather at GU for annual 7-v-7 event | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The Gonzaga women are just over a week away from kicking off their spring slate of friendlies, which will be capped off by their annual 7-v-7 event featuring schools around the region and alumni.

Soccer with Breakfast - March 14

Your morning reading material today is mostly about yesterday, because, well, it was an extremely busy day…

First there was the Algarve and Cyprus Cup finals across the pond with the US, Canada and Mexico playing. Then CONCACAF unveiled the Gold Cup schedule details in the morning. Then long-time US international Heather Mitts retired. And the night was capped off by CONCACAF Champions League play featuring the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo.  Here's the quick hits:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

US, Canada & Mexico to play in northwest Gold Cup venues

CONCACAF announced the groups and schedule Wednesday for the 2013 Gold Cup to be held throughout the United States in July. As stated before, the tournament will feature an unprecedented presence in the northwest with games in Seattle, Portland and Salt Lake City.

Soccer with Breakfast - March 13

Today's morning reading material does not revolve around the Seattle Sounders, it just seems like it after a historic win and the upcoming rivalry week showdown. Check out that and more…

Sounders Make More MLS History
First, they were making news about attendance numbers. Then, they went on a MLS-record three-year run as the US Open Cup champions. Now, the Sounders are the first club from the league to oust a Mexican club over the course of a two-game series in the CCL knockout stages, defeating Tigres 3-2 Tuesday evening in a dramatic comeback in the final 45 minutes in which they trailed 1-0 in the game at home and 2-0 in the series.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 12

Today, the morning reading material is all about international soccer…

Onto the Finals
The group phase of the Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup concluded Monday. Facing their former coach for the first time, the US played to a 1-1 draw against Sweden, led by Pia Sundhage, courtesy of a corner kick header buried by Alex Morgan to tie it up in the second half. The US advance to face Germany in the final Wednesday.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 11

The second week of MLS action is complete (scores, stats & video links here). Aside from the first-ever Canadian sweep (discussed here yesterday) and the stunning win by Chivas and collapse by New York Sunday, the news of the week will quickly shift to the coming week.

Confederation Confrontations
The big news this week will be the second legs of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals Tuesday and Wednesday. It kicks off with the Seattle Sounders at home Tuesday evening against Tigres. Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times reports that the Sounders are dealing with a few injury issues, but the visitors have already arrived with a 16-player squad minus many of their starters from the first leg and their Liga MX match Saturday.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 10

Saturday was a great day for Canadian soccer and a sad day for the sport in Egypt. This morning's reading material covers the vastly contrasting news out of both nations.

Canada Day: March 9, 2013
Mark that date down. It is a short history given the Montreal Impact are in their second year in the league, but yesterday marked the first time that all three Canadian clubs won on a single day / weekend in league play. The Vancouver Whitecaps edged the visiting Columbus Crew 2-1 and host Toronto FC surprised the defending US Open Cup and Eastern Conference regular season champion Sporting Kansas City by the same score.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 9

Today's morning reading material is quite the feast will a variety of topics spanning the globe and some of it following up on stories shared earlier this week.

Another US goalkeeper bites the dust…
Picking up where we left off yesterday with the news that Hope Solo and Jill Loyden are out of the WNT picture with injuries, it was learned today that Tim Howard is now also bitten by the injury bug with a pair of fractured bones in his back will keep him out of the lineup for a while, including the March MNT qualifiers. Howard likely will not have surgery as the bones are non weight-bearing are usually mended via rest. Meanwhile, Solo's surgery Thursday revealed her injury was worse than expected and she will now miss 3-4 months.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 8

When it rains it pours… or something like that. This morning's reading material covers some actual weather-related stories and one that fits that cliche metaphor. We finish off with the unique US-Latin America stories that are Tijuana and Herediano.

Snow in Colorado… 
The Rapids opened up their season in Dallas where snow is a rarity. This week, however, snow is almost a guarantee for their home opener according to weather reports that claim that Saturday's game will be coinciding with a possible foot of snowfall in blizzard-like storm conditions. The expected conditions have led to some creative marketing from the club to help push fans to come out. At least the visitors, the Philadelphia Union, may be ready for the conditions given the east coast has been hit by big storms the past few weeks.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 7

The NWSL season is just over a month away, but many of the US, Canadian and Mexican women - and other internationals - set to play for the eight clubs were in action around the globe starting today on international duty. So this morning's review is on the ladies…

US, Mexico win openers at Algarve Cup
It was Rachel Buehler's 100th appearance for the US, and she scored the opening strike three minutes into the second half. The story, however, will be dominated by Abby Wambach's tally to close the 3-0 victory against Iceland as it moved her within four of the all-time mark by Mia Hamm. Meanwhile, Mexico were 1-0 victors over Hungary. The surprise results from the opening games was Germany playing to a scoreless draw against Denmark and Norway topping Japan, 2-0.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 6

Cup Soccer Week: With MLS First Kick behind everyone, this week has really become all about cup soccer at the various levels. Let's take a tour…

Starting at the Base
The qualification process for the prestigious Lamar Hunt US Open Cup can be quite a lengthy one at the lowest levels with many state associations holding tournaments as early as the fall. In the northeast, Region I of the USASA has narrowed the field from the various state competitions and entries, setting up the Regional Tournament schedule for April though Maryland and New Jersey have yet to crown winners. Maryland will crown its champion this weekend while the semifinals take place in New Jersey.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 5

This is the third edition of this morning recap of top stories around North America. Still rethinking the column name so don't be surprised to see another name in the future…

Not Quite Yet NWSL
The preseason is just around the corner and the kick off of the first NWSL season is not long after, but things are not yet completely set. There is one pesky detail that still looms large over the league - the negotiations between the US Soccer Federation and the US Women's National Soccer Team Players Association over a collective bargaining agreement that would encompass their player contracts with the federation and with the USSF-managed NWSL. A deal is likely not far off considering the negotiations have flown under the radar compared to previous impasses between the two organizations. It is surprising considering how deliberate the federation was in creating the league that they did not make sure they had the CBA sorted out before the launch, but it was probably in the union's best interest to put the NWSL in do-or-die situation. Jeff Kassouf at The Equalizer has more details.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Soccer with Breakfast - March 4

This is the second edition of this morning recap of top stories around North America, but I am already rethinking the column name so don't be surprised to see another name in the future…

Attendance in LA
It is not exactly a surprise to anyone that Chivas USA would kick off the season with a lot of empty seats, especially since they cover entire sections of the Home Depot Center with team logo tarps. But a crowd of just over 7k for the home opener makes you wonder just how many lower division clubs will finish with better average attendance numbers this season, especially if the team remains a doormat on the field.

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.

Friday, March 1, 2013’s 2013 MLS Projections for NASR

North American Soccer Reporters, the association of US and Canada’s top soccer writers, unveiled Friday the NASR 2013 MLS Preseason Poll predicting how the clubs will finish the season and who each team’s most important player will be over the course of the season. As a member, the following was my ballot submission for the poll with a brief snippet for my rationale. [Order – Team – Most Important Player – Rationale]

Looking for more season previews? Check out the league site [Preview Central] or Soccer By Ives. Also, INWsoccernews will be managing a fantasy league team via the MLS Fantasy League site playing in the SBI (code # 7655-1695) and MLSsoccer ExtraTime Radio (#7953-1611) leagues as well as creating a league for INWsoccernews readers (# 12061-2220).