– One Nil to the Arsenal – By: Rob Dominguez

April 26, 2010

I’ve delayed writing this for about as long as I think I could have. It’s been over two weeks since our trip to Barcelona. On that day, the gunners were set up to create football history. The opportunity to once again – as had been done again and again this season – comeback from the brink of elimination and secure a place in the next round of fixtures. More importantly, a victory assured hope and gave something for the faithful to hold onto. What can be said about the performance that was put on by the gunners? Simply, that there were no Arsenal men on the pitch. Only eleven individuals. Boys.

Impostors is the adequate description. How else can the performance of the Arsenal players be addressed? From the very beginning, forget Bendtner’s goal, the style – or lack thereof – was not that of my beloved gunners. It wasn’t that of English football. It wasn’t that of top flight football. It simply looked like a group of frightened children. I know this sounds critical, especially since I’ve never walked onto a professional pitch, kit on, boots laced and listening to 98,000+ fanatics screaming my name, or wanting me dead. But, to be given that kind of opportunity, wouldn’t you imagine that you’d WANT to play a better game than the pure pish that was exhibited by those Arsenal lads?
There was one glimmer of hope: Robin Van Persie. Now, several seasons ago, I certainly had my doubts. I was not the biggest fan of RVP – aside from the fact that he resembles a tyrannosaurs – but I’ve changed my position over the past two seasons. I thought he performed excellently last season, and for this campaign to have started so well and get smashed so soon – dreadfully depressing. But, when he stepped onto the pitch for the closing sixteen of regular time – the game once again became alive. And, for the first time that night, Arsenal were on the pitch.
Here’s to you Robin – I sincerely hope next season the weight is thrust upon your shoulders and you help take us all the way.
“We’ve got that double feeling,
whoah that double feeling…”

Kop Talk: “It’s Easy Being a Liverpool Fan” – By: Julian Kersh

April 23, 2010

A few times in recent months, that damn phrase has come up to me… “It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

I’ve had friends report some barely casual Manchester United fan (or guy in a Manchester United jersey) throwing the accusation toward them while reaching for another Busch Lite. And I, myself, had a run-in with those meaningless words one day in the least likely of places from the least likely of people – the Department of Communication and Journalism parking lot on campus from a Fulham fan.

I noticed the FFC sticker on the guy’s car and made the mistake of trying to strike up a causal conversation about the EPL, since those opportunities are pretty rare in Auburn, AL. As soon as he uttered those words, I was ready to put a brick through that back windshield of his.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

I wonder where people come up with this assumption, especially those who clearly show little to zero consistent attention to the English Premier League. I’ll grant you, maybe if this were the mid-80s I could stomach such comments with cocky laugh and a “Jog on!” but not now…

What exactly makes it so easy to be an LFC supporter? That’s an honest question. I’m not being rhetorical. If you have an answer, please, leave it below! Barring our Champion’s League trophy of 2005, where’s the success? I’m not shaking a stick at the 2006 FA Cup, but that certainly wasn’t what we were aiming for that year. So again, show me what makes it so easy to wear my Gerrard jersey under my work shirt on game days and my LFC dress socks that stick out of my tennis shoes.

The club has seen more than its fair share of success during its 118 years, but I’m puzzled as to what makes life easy for a modern Liverpool FC fan, especially this season. Let’s look back at what’s unraveled during the 2009-2010 season that’s been all green pastures and pink cupcakes for our boys in Red… allegedly.

– Third game of the season we lose 1-3 to Aston Villa. It was a sign of a rough year, because if you could have been able to watch the game but see none of the goals, you’d expect the opposite scoreline. Lucas scores an own goal in the 34th to get them ahead. The game ends with Liverpool on 70 percent of possession and three times the shots of Villa. We hit the post, did everything we could, but it was one of those nights (and foreshadowing of the season’s motif) that no matter what we did, we’d come up short.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– We lose to Sunderland 1-0 because Darren Bent strikes a beach ball for the goal. No, I’m not saying he scored off a delicate, floating shot. He literally struck a beach ball with his shot and the deflection caromed past Reina into the net.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– Let’s hop over to the Champion’s League. We concede not one, not two, but three 90th+ minute goals in the group stage. Two of those grab wins for Fiorentina and Lyon at Anfield, and the second by Lyon steals them a tie in France. Gooooooooooood morning, Europa League!

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– Are you an LFC fan? Love conceding stoppage time goals? Stoke City scores a 90th minute goal in their home stadium Jan.16 to steal our points, making it a draw and setting up low confidence for away games.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– In keeping with 90th-minute fun for the Reds, we give up a penalty in the 90th minute in the FA Cup to Reading. They of course convert and equalize, and go ahead in overtime to advance.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– Arsenal game ends in a 1-2 loss. It was very tough and could have gone either way if replayed. But that’s before you factor in Cesc Fabregas’ BLATANT handball in the dying minute. The result should have been a red card, potentially a penalty, and if nothing else, Stevie G is firing on frame from exactly 18 yards out. What was the actual result? Nothing, no call on one of the clearest hand balls of the season.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– Aquilani, who has shown promising intelligence and attacking flare the few times he’s been able to step on the pitch with 100 percent fitness, has been injured and ill the entire season, never giving him a consistent streak of time to get settled in. $30 million has sat on the bench.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

– And the easiest part of our season! Injuries to Benayoun, Aurelio, Skrtl, Insua, Johnson, Gerrard and Torres. At least five of them are regular starters. What was Torres’ form when he wasn’t battling injury? When he came back for his first game since early January to battle the Rovers on February 28, he scored the first of eight goals in seven games before he went out with injury again. Even prior to his severe injury in January, El Niño was hindered from top form by nagging ailments.

“It’s easy being a Liverpool fan.”

(Oh, let’s keep an eye on Benayoun’s alleged offside against Atlético Madrid and see if it comes back to keep the Reds out of the Europa League final. He was onside by a good two steps when the player’s foot touches the ball to play him through, and the assistant took his sweet time deciding to make the incorrect call.

“It’s easy being…” Eh, you get it by now.)

With our finances seemingly stabilized for the time being (at least headed on the right track now), the future looks bright. I’m confident the two stars of Anfield will stay in the rightful home, and the Reds will be back battling for multiple trophies next year.

You could tell me to stop whining and say, “That’s football.” Sometimes you have a bad run. Sometimes the goal seems to be six inches smaller for your team. But when you look at everything that has gone against Liverpool this season, it’s more than just “football.” I’ll be the first to admit we’ve put together some ghastly performances, but between the numerous injuries, stoppage time goals, crucial moments falling the other way and beach balls, it’s certainly not easy being a modern Liverpool fan.

Oh Aggregate! God shed his grace on thee – By: Julian Kersh

April 13, 2010

The aggregate system is beautiful. I’d venture to say it’s perfect. And while it often tears the beating heart from your chest, that’s the very thing that makes it so wonderfully thrilling.

Let’s travel back to a year ago next Tuesday. Liverpool and Chelsea played one of the most electric Champions League fixtures in recent memory. The Blues advanced to the final match that night on the back of a 4-4 draw at home that was filled with drama, shocks and thousands of fans for each side holding their breath for the better part of the 90 minutes.

Any 4-4 game is going to be exciting, I’ll grant you, but what made this one particularly special was the beauty of the aggregate system.
In a snow ball’s chance that someone is reading this who isn’t familiar with the aggregate (or that anyone is reading this, for that matter), I’ll detour to explain. Many tournaments at the professional level use the aggregate system once the tournament progresses out of the group stage. The two teams paired up play each other twice – once home and once away. The composite score between the two teams at the end of both games decides who advances, with most away goals being used as the marker to break ties. Got it? Admittedly, I still have some trouble calculating it out at times.

Let’s jump back to that game. The aggregate system had everything to do with its brilliance. Liverpool lost 1-3 at home in the first leg against Chelsea, so when they traveled away to Stanford Bridge that night, they knew they needed a 3-0 win to advance without going into extra time or penalties.

When Liverpool found themselves up 2-0, they were “in heaven,” as the announcers put it. They were en route to pull off the least likely of results, and the crowd was getting a thrilling game. Of course, the game ends up 4-4, but the breakneck-pace, sense of urgency and high-score were all because of the aggregate.
‘Pool knew the score they had to achieve and knew that wasn’t going to happen if they came out with their usual, methodical style. From the whistle, they were throwing men forward.

Imagine the likely alternative, where the two teams would play one game on a most-likely neutral site. You’d lose those second legs that almost always promise to be exciting.
In this scenario, the two teams would play their respective games, but keep it conservative. The aggregate forces initiative and demands consistence and quality.
Versus a one-fixture system, the aggregate doesn’t allow teams to get complacent. It’d be easy for teams to get sloppy with a 2-0 lead in the dying minutes of a game. Sure, they might concede a goal, but there’s no way they’ll let in two during stoppage time.

Nope, they can’t think that way, not even for a second, in the aggregate system. Conceding that crucial moment and giving the opposition an away goal in the final minutes is often the difference in who advances. Teams have to be crisp and unwavering.
And imagine the excitement this brings to spectators – we can’t get complacent either.
We have to stare, sitting on a fragile lead praying that each time the opposition comes into possession that they’re not mounting that attack that ties the game and crushes our dreams at hoisting the cup overhead.

I learned that lesson the difficult way. Yet another Liverpool-Chelsea fixture on a night of European cup football, and Liverpool lead 1-0 in stoppage time. As the final minute ticked away, I felt comfortable enough to take a breath, stop gnawing away my finger nails and chit-chat with my roommate and kinda-sorta girlfriend.
What’d I get for my complacency? A John Arne Riise own-goal in the 95th minute that ultimately proved to be the undoing difference for Liverpool as they lost the second leg 3-2 (‘Pool would have advanced on a 3-3 aggregate score with more away goals).
So, you see, the immense importance of away goals is probably the most special part of the aggregate system. It puts you on the tremendous highs of Cloud 10, and then rips you down to the darkest chasms of football despair… all over a two week period!

Anyone hung up on the system? Well, you’re probably just bitter you’ve caught its harsher side more times than not.
“But away goals or not, they composite score is still even! Let them play overtime!”
Weh. While overtime is exciting, I’d rather have the system in effect that rewards teams for their performance on the road. Entering a packed opposing stadium on a night of European glory and not sitting back? That’s ballsy and is commendable. And what’s the aggregate do for teams with such gusto? It commends them.
Teams should be rewarded for not packing it in and hoping for a 0-0 draw on the road. For those managers who have the confidence in their boys to not play the 4-5-1 on the road, me and my friend Aggregate salute you.

The aggregate promotes attacking because the away goals are so vital. And what’s more exciting – the prospect of overtime if the teams are level after two but have different away goal tallies, or the constant incentive for teams to play more daring, aggressive football? Yeah, it’s certainly the latter.
While there probably aren’t many people who know the system well and still dislike it, I thought I’d write this piece anyway because it’s not an attempt to convince (although I do try it at times), rather, it’s a declaration of my love.
It’s like your girlfriend. She wants to hear nice things said about her from time to time, even if she knows you feel that way. Today, I’m merely voicing my love for this brilliant cup format.

Here’s to you, Aggregate! *toasts with Carlsberg*

Unrivaled Passion – By: Rob Dominguez

April 13, 2010

Some of the things we write on here are meant to be attempts at journalism, however – every so often – we feel the need to genuinely express ourselves in more personal terms – matters of opinion to be more specific. This is one of those articles.

Recently, I’ve wondered to myself what it means that we relentlessly pursue perfection, day in and day out, session after session, Saturday morning after Saturday morning. Why do we care so much? What interpretation of the human spirit can explain the sheer agony and unbelievably simple joy obtainable from this game we devote our lives to?

Now, arguably, that sounds a bit strong. To be clear, I was raised on the philosophy that there’s three things that matter in life: family, soccer and God – and in that order. So, I don’t want to leave you with the idea that I’m simply an exported version of your beer chugging, barcalounging DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscriber – but simply an impassioned individual – who, while thinking about sex every eight seconds, manages to squeeze in a bit of football for a significant portion of the other fifty-two.

So, back to the point at hand – what the hell is this whole thing about? As I see it, all people on this planet are simply separated by their opinions – opinions towards their passions. Show me the difference between a diehard supporter of Manchester United and a fan grilling his brats outside of Soldier Field. While one may have a seemingly wittier style of support – I guarantee they’re essentially the same person. Even the last point is arguable, simply based on the grounds of culture – what may seem usual and normal to one, can seem fantastically inventive to an outsider.

How can the passion be explained?

This was meant to be the point of this article – to answer “why”. The entire above background dialogue has been my attempt at procrastination while I collectively tried to bring my thoughts together on what this game means to its supporters. But, maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s not the same for every individual. Maybe we all have our own motivations for why we chase this high every time we step onto a pitch, argue over who will win the league, over who’s better: Scousers or Gooners (Gooners), but what it all comes down to is finding that singularity that sparked it for us all. Thus, I can’t say what this game means to the world and why – but I can say what it means to me and why.

This obsession started fifteen years ago. While I have memories from before 1995 – what I remember most is when I first got a copy of “Fifa 96” – one of the first games to be on CD-ROM, at the time. The reason I received this gift was because I had attended my very first year of soccer camp. And good lord, did I love it. On the first day, I “met” someone who I’d one day grow to call my coach, my mentor, and now my friend. Outfitted in hand-me-down soccer apparel (from the same wonderful cousins that sent me Fifa) I donned a bright blue jersey with an emblem I couldn’t make out at the age of six – I had no idea what “RFC” stood for. As I wobbled my way out onto the field after a water-break, I suddenly felt a great amount of pressure on my ears and couldn’t help but realize that I was airborne – reaching higher and higher until the Devil’s voice, in a thick Glaswegian dialect questioned, “Arrre you EVER gon’ wear THAT shirrrt again?”

Weeping (and probably wet-panted), I responded, “Nooooooo sir!” as I was dropped, sprinting away, hearing a chuckle that would become less terrifying over the years – but still brings chills to this day.

In the time since that hot summer day in 1996, I’ve broken an arm, bruised a rib and a lung, broken bones in both feet, ruptured my Achilles tendon, split my head and eye open, torn cartilage – and finally – a tendon to squash any dreams of continuing on and playing.

But it’s those rare injuries that are significantly outnumbered by the incalculable number of minutes spent on the pitch, the trophies won, the defeats shared, the moments that stick out in your mind that define what you did – what your life was about when this game dictated everything you did – the sacrifices made, and the memories that were made all along the way. The only time I ever regret coaching and not being able to play any more – is when I think of those moments. Then, the same way that I made memories and defined myself by the game I played – by the passion that I felt – I smile, because I know that coaching is simply the next step in my evolution of the love of this sport that I share with so many of the world.

I’d like to leave you with the opening dialogue from Fifa 06 (my ten year anniversary) said , in the thickest of Scottish accents, “Game after game after game, I realize now what is most important in my life: football. Show me something more thrilling than the perfect volley, tell me you’ve never dreamed the immaculate strike – imparted a moment when the entire nation holds its breath. Tell me that football is not our one common language, when the whole planet stops for 90 minutes to be witness to the one thing we all understand. Yeah, you could tell me I’m wrong. Some may say its just a game, but this is about heroes and tribes – loyalty and devotion. It’s our commitment and our passion, our battle and our belief. This. Is. Our. Faith. Feel the fever of the crowd, hear the roar of the faithful, this the beautiful game, this is your moment…”

Kop Talk: Are the Reds losing the faith? – By: Julian Kersh

April 8, 2010

This past week seems to be one of, if not the, lowest points in Liverpool’s season. Forget the deflation in the camp after an unprecedented drop-out in the Champions League group stage. And don’t even mention Reading, I repeat, Reading reducing our silver ware hopes to a lone glimmer when they knocked us out of the FA Cup.

This week has been the deepest, darkest pits for Liverpool’s morale.

Let’s flash back to the weekend when Liverpool drew 1-1 at Birmingham City. That’s a fine result on its own, but in light of their quest for Champions League qualification, it was like a shotgun blast to their knees.

Somehow, the score line wasn’t the must gut-wrenching part of the fixture.

When Mr. Benitez decided to pull Fernando Torres off the pitch in the 60th minute, everyone scratched their head, including Steven Gerrard. No, literally – he did.

Torres was confused, Gerrard was confused, and the Liverpool faithful were confused.

Now, I could dedicate an entire post to that moment and want it meant for the game, but I’ll try to keep it short.

I’ve read arguments that David Ngog coming on provided fresh legs that opened up our game, and we consequently turned up the pressure on Birmingham. But two of his clear cut chances came from him waiting on brilliant balls into the box. His legs had nothing to do with them, and nine times out of 10, you’d fancy Torres to stick them in the back of the ole onion bag.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The boost that comes to the squad when El Niño is on the pitch is something that irreplaceable, and certainly can’t be replicated by Ngog trotting onto the field (Disclaimer: I don’t dislike Ngog. I think he’s a young guy who has shown some very positive things, and I’m eager to see him develop over the next couple of seasons, but El Niño he is not, and never will be). Whether fit or not, playing at the top of his game or whiffing balls, he still raises the confidence of the Reds around him. Hell, I feel more confident about myself watching the game from my couch with Fernando on the pitch.

When you’re in a must-win situation, I just find it hard to justify pulling off who I believe to be one of the top three strikers in the world at the 60th minute mark when he’s showing no signs of injury.

After that decision, I think Rafa should sit down with Bruce Arena, and he can pat that moron on the back for his brilliant decision to come out against Ghana in a 4-5-1 during the 2006 World Cup when they absolutely had to leave the grounds with three points.

As denting as this was to the team psyche, now the articles are popping up with the team admitting their doubts.

Torres is admitting the summer sales of his fellow Spaniards Xavi Alonso and Arbeloa crippled the team mentally. He’s also saying, in a roundabout way, that his team isn’t good enough and new signings are a necessity for success next year.

Now if I haven’t heard two things more boosting to team morale! What fabulous indications of the atmosphere around the training grounds!

Even worse, and much worse, mind you, is Rafa Benitez backing these statements! Yes, Rafa is supporting comments about his squad not being good enough and the summer transfers hurting the team. He’s not only backing Torres in these comments, but he’s admitting his own faults!

This is unheard of, and is either signs of the fall of LFC, or of the Apocalypse. Wait, those are one in the same, aren’t they?

Rafa never let’s his deflector shield down. He’s always shields up. Until last week, he was still guaranteeing fourth spot. He’s always guaranteeing results and sticking to his guns on questionable line-up decisions.

This stubbornness, while annoying at times, is actually comforting, I’ve come to realize. It must be great, as a player, to have a boss like that who, no matter how he really feels, will never show signs of discouragement or lack of faith in his guys.

So for Rafa to pop up this week with this bleak outlook and negative reflection of his own career at Anfield, it’s truly saddening.

It’s particularly sad when he admits to banking on signing talent over the summer, but he also admits the funds aren’t there for such enlistments. Well, that said, I’m glad we decided to turn down a $110 million investment at the beginning of the week.

Maybe Benitez is siding with Torres on these issues to improve their relationship, to be buddy-buddy with the world-class forward in attempts to do anything possible to boost chances of him sticking around at Anfield.

I hope that’s the case, because to see the boys losing confidence at this stage in the season is going to close the door on that tiny glimmer of hope they hold in their hands.

I’m still not conceding fourth spot for them, and I’ll tell you exactly why next week.

Why next week? Because I’m tired of typing, reflecting on the week has depressed me for the moment, and I will have saved myself a lot of work if Clint Dempsey and Fulham find some way to steal a result at Anfield on Sunday.

Until then, you’ll never walk alone.

– One Nil to the Arsenal – By: Rob Dominguez

April 8, 2010

As I explain below – my energy is, for lack of a better term, off the pace (just like the Gunners). Thus, for the next three weeks – my weekly Arsenal contribution – will be targeted towards identifying the problems faced by the squad, and how to fix them. Hopefully, I’ll have regained my energy, and with it – the Gunners will be back in stride…

I put off writing this article about as long as I could. I did everything: updated my resume, went to work, spent extra time on the pitch, played some Fifa. Conceivably, it’s kind of hard to write about a team after they’ve been ripped apart by the best player in the world, and I still have little motivation to write this as I sit in front of my computer. As a fan, I’ve sat in front of my television week after week and thought to myself, “It’s frustrating work being an Arsenal fan”. That being said, I’ve tried to look at this situation that Arsenal are in – not as a supporter – but as a coach.

– The keeper –
Manuel Almunia. How you make my head hurt. From the bleach-blonde mohawk completely lacking style, to the performances put in between the sticks week after week completely lacking quality and consistency: why didn’t the Professor replace you? After the first seven minutes of his performance in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, everyone watching was mesmerized by his miraculous shot stopping ability and saves that were seemingly impossible. These reactions would prove to be a faint glimmer of hope to what is the reality of the most inconsistent keeper in the Premier League.
However, arguably, it’s not all Almunia’s fault that he’s complete shite. When you have a resource that’s never needed, never tested, how do you know it’s still good? With the back-line that Arsenal’s started in recent seasons (since 2006, when Almunia became first choice) there’s been little to challenge the angry Spaniard. The style of football played by Arsenal and the focus on possession grant little opportunity for other teams to possess the ball, thus leaving fewer opportunities to score. In any number of outings this season, it wasn’t losses of any great magnitude that had the Arsenal faithful hanging their heads – it was the losing of 2 points in crucial fixtures that may very well cost Arsenal the title race this season.
This all leads to a theme that seems evident throughout every area of the Arsenal game: consistency. To me, as a coach, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing what a team is capable of, and then turning round on themselves and playing nowhere near their potential. The ABILITY has been clearly evident in Alumina’s performances, scattered throughout the season in all competitions, but it has not – nor has it ever – been consistent. Leaving me to say, “It’s frustrating work being an Arsenal fan”.

If You Televise It, They Will Come – By: Julian Kersh

April 2, 2010

As a lifelong player and fan of the sport, watching soccer flourish in the States over recent years has been nothing short of exciting. Clearly, the sport is years and miles away from arriving at its deserved position on the professional sports totem pole in the country, but the last decade has seen terrific bounds in making this headway.
After weathering its rough infant years, the MLS has seen the development of many expansion clubs, the United States Men’s National Team has produced results and mild success enough to be acknowledged globally as a formidable opponent and increased television broadcast of international fixtures and UEFA competition shows more people in the States are latching on to the secret the rest of the world has been in on for ages. I’m going to pat the National Team on the back and bump it out of that three-item list and examine the first and third points more closely.

Sure, the MLS is growing and seeing success, but has it arrived where it wants to be? Certainly not, and its lack of games airing on general cable is the culprit with the most red on its hands. I understand that it takes time for a league, but it’s been years since the MLS started walking on its own – it just started its 15th season.

As I mentioned before, until this year ESPN had picked up the Champions League, providing the highest quality of soccer several times a week, every other week (with the exception of breaks in the competition). It also shows the World Cup, Euro Cup and many other international fixtures – even those not including our Yanks!
So please, someone give me an answer. Why, when the MLS is doing everything else in its power to arrive at the forefront of profession sports in the U.S., can we only find one, maybe two MLS games on general cable per week? That’s how you get people interested. You give them several opportunities to witness the sport and get sucked in. I’m fully aware MLS Direct Kick provides nearly all of the MLS action in a season, and the likes of Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN Deportes, etc. a substantial number of extra games, but those who subscribe to these extra channels are already hooked – maybe not to the MLS, but they’re hooked to soccer. The MLS’ goal shouldn’t be trying to grab the attention of people who already follow the English Premier League, La Liga or whichever league – they’re going to show interest in the MLS anyway, even if it isn’t their league of choice. You have to give those television viewers to whom soccer is still foreign the chance to see it, to understand it, to become immersed in it. Because us loyal fanatics know how little it takes to fall in love with the beautiful game. With only the Thursday night MLS matches, and the occasional Saturday afternoon match, it makes sense that despite all its other efforts, the MLS is still coming up just short of being a top sports league.

What do these efforts include?

Obviously there’s the ball-park $250 million contract (salary and endorsements) to bring David Beckham to the MLS. And while less substantial, both monetarily and in terms of publicity, there have been other signings for international, twilight players like Freddie Ljungberg and Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Past these big-impact players are more concrete investments, in both senses of the word – soccer complexes. First came the $28 million Columbus Crew Stadium in 1999. In 2003, the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., decided it wanted to blow the Crew’s stadium out of the water, boasting a $150 million price tag. Granted, it’s an entire complex and not just a stadium, but still, it’s a state of the art complex for any sport and home to several MLS Cup finals. Add in a few more mammoth soccer parks across the nation like $65 million Pizza Hut Park in Dallas and $130 million dollar Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. And the incredible $200 million Red Bull Arena had its debut weeks ago. Three other soccer stadiums exist for MLS teams with numerous others in planning or development. It’s fantastic to see state-of-the-art stadiums popping up around the country, but most of the time half the seats are empty (with exceptions like the Seattle Sounders and the exhilarating atmosphere of Qwest Field). Once again, those people at the games are the one’s already hooked on our sport. If the MLS want to fill those seats and get the league to a point it’s respected around the world, it’s going to have to start with more matches available to the masses.

Even if one more game was consistently shown a week, that’d be one more, each week, for seven and a half months. If the league is going to catch fire with any kind of pace, for me, many more games are going to have to air on channels accessible to the masses to really get people interested. That, or our boys are going to have to run riot in South Africa and bring home the cup! Come on, you Yanks!