Tag Archive for US Soccer

RSL face their biggest challenge so far this season Sporting KC

For Real Salt Lake Saturday night will provide one of measuring stick moments of the season, when they head to Sporting Park and take on SKC.  Most folks acknowledged that moving SKC and Houston to the West made a very tough conference even tougher, for RSL that is especially true given their history with both sides.  Tough hard fought matches are the norm when these two meet, last year saw a 0-0 draw but more often than not the guys from KC have gotten the better of RSL, a over all 8-5-4 advantage for SKC, with a very good 5-1-3 when the match is played on their pitch.

Both sides have been kinda neurotic in how they have played so far this season, RSL adjusting to the 4-3-3 and national team callups, SKC dealing with some big roster changes (gone are Collin, Saad, Bieler, Sapong and both Kronberg and Gruenebaum) then toss in a hamstring injury to Zusi and you see a very different looking side than you have been used to.  To the credit of both sides they have adjusted fairly well, with 2 wins and 2 draws, SKC did lose one match while RSL still have to taste defeat this season.

The teams have two opponents in common early on in the 2015 season, both sides had 0-0 draws against Portland, and both sides faced Philly, while RSL were lucky to get a 3-3 draw in a very strange match. KC came from behind with two stoppage time goals to get a 3-2 win in a match were they were really outplayed for the vast majority of the match.  Those results lead me to believe that both sides are really looking for their new identity in 2015, be it personal or formation changes.

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A new anthem for the USMNT – We Stand United by Branden Steineckert

So I am by no stretch of the imagination a huge music fan, but I have a huge respect for talented people who can make music that entertains.  Branden Steineckert (@801PUNX) is one of those guys, he was with The Used, he is with Rancid, but he is more than just a guy in a band, he is able to take his love and passion for soccer and use it to do amazing things.

First it was “Believe” his anthem for Real Salt Lake, which still gives fans like me chills every time I hear it live or watch the video for it, which has been viewed almost 1/4 of a million times. Branden is also a huge US Men’s National Team fan, and just like he applied his talent and passion for RSL to “Believe” we now have “We Stand United”, his anthem for the USMNT.

His ability to create chants that are easy to remember, have a catchy rhythm and still express his (our) passion for our teams is simply amazing.  I am proud to know Branden and far beyond his talent is a guy who is simply a great guy, always willing to say hi to fans, always willing to pose for a picture and whenever he is in Salt Lake City, I know where to find him when RSL is playing a home match, right in the front row of section 35 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

My advice to you is to watch the video, learn these lyrics:

HERE WE STAND UNITED
WE’LL NEVER BE DIVIDED
FIGHT AND SING FOR VICTORY
FOR EVERY GENERATION
WHO REPRESENT OUR NATION
AND BATTLE FOR THE USA

HERE WE ARE, WE ARE
UNITED STATES
AND WE ALL, WE ALL
CAN CELEBRATE
THAT WE ARE, WE ARE
UNITED STATES
AND PROUD TO BE THE USA

because I expect they will be heard from now on in every stadium where the USMNT plays, at least if we as fans have any sense about us.

Oh and if you want to buy the song from itunes you can.

Thanks Branden for all that you do to support RSL, the USMNT, and the beautiful game in general.

That’s How I See It

Official Press Release on new Major League Soccer deal

Straight from MLS:

TV deal logos

For Immediate Release    

Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer Sign Landmark Television and Media Rights
Partnerships with ESPN, FOX and Univision Deportes

  • Eight-year Agreements Begin in 2015
  • Nationally-televised Matches will be Anchored on Friday and Sunday
  • Univision Becomes First Spanish-language Network to have Exclusive Night with U.S.-based Major Professional Sports League  

 

NEW YORK (May 12, 2014) – Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer have signed new television and media rights partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, reaching eight-year agreements with the networks to televise MLS and U.S. Soccer matches in the United States through the end of 2022.  The announcement was made today by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. Soccer CEO/General Secretary Dan Flynn, ESPN, Inc. President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper, President, COO and Executive Producer for FOX Sports Eric Shanks and Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez.

For the first time in Major League Soccer’s history, all three television partners will feature an exclusive MLS Match of the Week, providing soccer fans throughout the country with a destination day and time for each network.  The Univision family of networks will televise a game of the week on Friday evenings — primarily on UniMás — and a wrap-up show on Sundays.  The Friday night match on the Univision family of networks will be the first time a Spanish-language television network will have its own exclusive night with a major professional sports league based in the United States.

Soccer fans will be able to enjoy a doubleheader of MLS action every Sunday, as ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will televise back-to-back MLS matches on Sundays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET, respectively.  More than 125 MLS matches will be televised annually on the three networks.

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ESPN, Fox and Univision show MLS the money, now what?

An estimated $90 million dollars a year is what the deal will be worth according to reports out this morning, that is a huge bump from the current $18-20 million a year and could be just the game changer that MLS needs to become one of the top leagues in the world, or is it?

Here are the details as provided by SBJ/SBD:

New TV

Now I have been more than a little critical of the level of commitment over the past decade by both ESPN and Fox, and you only have to look at the fact that not a single MLS match has been shown on ESPN/2 yet this year to know why.  The new plan calls for both to broadcast 34 matches a year, yes that is one each week (or equivalent of), and another one each week on Univision and now you have almost 100 matches being carried on a national level.  Now before you get too excited that actually isn’t a big move forward, this year NBC/S will have 40 MLS matches on, there are 48 on UniMas and/or Univision Dep. and 14 more on ESPN/2.  The big new will be the regular time spots, Univision on Friday nights, and both Fox and ESPN on Sundays, fans have asked for a regular time slot and they will now have it.  For me the big upside is that now national matches aren’t trying to compete with all the matches that are played on Saturdays, which I think will help ratings out a lot.

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Michael Bradley comes to MLS, what it could mean to the rest of the league

A lot of us have roommates, some because they are friends and others to divide up living costs.  A lot of us carpool or take public transit, some because it is environmentally good and others to save money.  For the 25% plus of MLS players who reportedly made under $50,000 last year I imagine it was a lot of the second, most don’t play in cities where their parents live so crashing in their basement isn’t an option.   Now when compared to the league minimums of other professional sports leagues in the US this number will either make you laugh or cry:

So at the low end of the list is the NFL, a bit of a surprise to me, but consider that just 18 players in all of MLS in 2013 made more than the league minimum of what a NFL player would make, 501 made less.

Now it is kinda unfair to compare MLS which is a very young league with those who have been around a lot longer, but clearly if you want to compete for the very best athletes in the US you have to be able to offer them something closer to what they can make in other leagues.

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Why the US Open Cup matters, and matters so much to Real Salt Lake

Tuesday night Real Salt Lake will play the second most important match they have ever played at Rio Tinto Stadium, the 2011 CCL final was the most important.  This will be the third time RSL will be able to lift a trophy at home, they failed in their two previous attempts (2008 Western Conference Final & 2011 Champions League Final).  Of course it is funny how some people don’t put much weight behind the US Open Cup, saying that MLS teams rarely take it seriously, that US Soccer doesn’t really care about the tournament, but it is kinda strange when you compare the realities to those statements.

5 years ago I would have agreed that most MLS teams dialed it in when it came to the US Open Cup, the format changed often and it was hard to get fans interested in it.  Then came back to back to back titles by the Seattle Sounders, who showed that it was the easiest path to Champions League.  Last year more teams put out top lineups and the final between Sporting KC and Seattle was played before 18,000 plus fans and saw SKC win in a PK shootout.  This year we saw more teams (not all) put serious effort into US Open Cup, it sure was the case for RSL.

In the first Open Cup match for RSL, they put out a mixed lineup (Saunders, Palmer, Watson-Siriboe, Salcedo, Wingert, Morales, Alvarez, Velasquez, Beckerman, Sandoval, and Findley) and used all 3 subs (Plata, Grabavoy, Stephenson).  It took RSL extra time to get their 3-2 win over Atlanta, but clearly showed that the team was going to take the tournament seriously.  The second match for RSL was against Charleston again saw a very experienced lineup used (Saunders, Wingert, Maund, Borchers, Beltran, Velasquez, Beckerman, Morales, Grabavoy, Garcia, Sandoval – subs Stephenson, Plata, and Findley) and again it took 120 minutes for RSL to secure their 5-2 win.

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Welcome back, a bit of catch up and house cleaning

So I owe all of you a bit on an apology, the last month has been a very long one for me.  I was excited to be able to really enjoy being a fan for the World Cup Qualifier, that was followed by a rough fight with a nasty round of being sick, and then a huge week at work with several projects coming due at once.  So I am sorry for the lack of posts over the last month, but now I am back and have a whole lot to say over the next few days and weeks.

However I must first put in this plug for Saturday, we beyond lucky that we got both a World Cup Qualifier and the Gold Cup (with the USMNT).  It wasn’t Seattle, New York, LA, Dallas, or any other market that was selected for both, it was Salt Lake City, and I get there was some friction between some of our local supporter groups and the American Outlaws last time around, but I really hope that everyone comes out in great numbers and great voice on Saturday.  Our boys deserve the level of support that we are known for in MLS, and as you watch this video clip you can understand how important this match is to our players (Kyle, Nick, and Tony) and how proud they are to be able to play at their home stadium:

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Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman talks USMNT, RSL and more.

It was just about two years that I had a chance to spend some time talking with RSL’s Kyle Beckerman, you can read that interview on my old blog rslsoapbox.com, on Friday I was able to ask Kyle a couple of questions after RSL practice.  I am impressed with how consistent Kyle is in his maturity about the USMNT and RSL, and it is clear that you can tell that he is a player who is really enjoying his time both with his club and representing the US.  I have a feeling that as good as Kyle has been over the years, that the best is yet to come.  Here is the video of his interview:

I suggest making it out to as many RSL matches as you can to see Kyle in action, and don’t forget that you will also have two chances this summer to likely see Kyle with the USMNT as they play at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 18th in a World Cup Qualifying match against Honduras, and then on July 13th when the US will take on Cuba in Gold Cup action, which is part of a double header that will also feature Costa Rica (likely with Alvaro Saborio) that will take on Belize.

That’s How I See It

USA 0 – Mexico 0, is this a coming out party for MLS and soccer in the US?

When a team has managed just a single draw in 20 years against a particular opponent at a particular stadium, getting another one is a big event.  When a team normally fills their ranks with players from European leagues but instead stocks the team with players from MLS due to injuries and other issues, it can be a big event.  When these things impact what many people consider one of the most heated international rivalries in sport, it is big.  That is what happened on Tuesday night when the US Men’s Soccer Team took the pitch at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to face the Mexican National Team and in the past two days there have been many published thoughts about what happened and what it might mean for both soccer in general and for Major League Soccer and US Soccer specifically.  Who am I not to jump on this bandwagon and offer some thoughts?

The biggest thing that has jumped out to me after the match isn’t what most people have focused on, for me it has been the number 7,000,000. That is the number of people in the United States that watched the match on TV, the most ever for a World Cup Qualifying match.  4.6 million of those people watched the match on Uni Mas, while 2.4 watched the match on ESPN.  That number on ESPN was 47% more than people who watched the NBA match that was showed at the same time on TNT (LA Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks), that is a huge accomplishment for US Soccer.  I think the appeal of the US vs. Mexico match, along with the excitement of last week’s US vs. Costa Rica match (the snow match in Denver) sure helped boost ratings.  These numbers both on of these networks were record highs for this type of programming, a great accomplishment for the networks, the teams, and for the fans of both sides.

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Two down and thirty two to go for Real Salt Lake & other news

So on Saturday night RSL lost a tight 1-0 match to DC United, and to be honest neither team looked nearly as good as I expected them to, a part of that might be the way the respective midfields match up, a part could be that we are still very early in the MLS season and teams are still adjusting to new lineup, teammates, and such.  Still, remember back to what Garth Lagerwey has said for a few months now, RSL will look better in June than they do in March and they will look better in October than they do in June.

So there were some real upsides on Saturday night, perhaps none more than the late match energy of Lovell Palmer who was a ball of energy on both sides of the ball and could be pushing for a start on Saturday against Colorado if he is fit enough to go the full 90.  I think Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe were rock solid in the match and worked well in tandem of who was going forward and who was covering space, the teamwork and communications between them seemed to be spot on.

On the downside, I think RSL lacked a bit of energy early on in the match, it seemed to lack the intensity of the San Jose match, but that is somewhat understandable on a short week, a long trip to the East coast and your second road match in 7 days.  You also have to remember that we were taking on two teams that finished in the top 3 last year, the two finished with a combined home record last year of 22-2-10.

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