29 December 2005

Loose Ends (Really, I'm Not Posting)

A few loose ends to tie up. First, the story on the 41 year old Nigerian striker that was mentioned in The DCenters from a few weeks back seems to have been a rumor. In other words, totally false. That might explain why their agents never responded to emails from TheDCenters.

Second, reader Carey Gaughan sent me a link to an Eleanor Norton press release indicating that the crazty attempt to hijack Poplar Point is out of the Budget Reconciliation bill. See bolded section. Also interesting is that it sounds like the land swap vote will come up in early '06, but we'll see. Thanks Carey.
Third, regarding the Houston stuff, it sounds like MLS has locked down many of the proposed names, and that 22 December was when it happened. Now, I didn't check every name, so if someone wants to compile a complete list of which of the proposed names are actually available, more power to you. I would do it, but I'm not posting during this holiday week. Just so you aren't duplicating, here's what I got:
MLS Has: houston1836, houstongatos, fchouston
MLS Does Not Have: houstonstars, houstonapollos.

27 December 2005

Houston Website Development (Also, I lied, this is the last post of the year)

I caught DuNord's citation of the Houston Republic FC idea, later to be revealed as a hoax. Now, while that appears to be conceptual art, I was intrigued enough to poke around and see what I could see. And on a whim I did a WhoIs search for houstonrepublicfc.com... Nothing. What about republicfc? Nope. But, as an interesting note, I did find out that fchouston.com (Note: Currently has a placeholder page) has been registered on 19 December 2005 for three years by a Phil Green. Could that be the same Phil Green who is the general manager of MLSNet.Com? I wonder... And I wonder how Houston fans will feel if their team name is nearly identitical to FC Dallas?

What about other team names? Well, houstongatos.com is also under construction, and registered to a private name, but only for one year, but was registered on 22 December. Houstonstars.com is registered in Mexico City. Houstonapollos.com is a minor league baseball team. Houston1836.com? Registered on 22 December...

My guess is that FC Houston, if it does belong to MLS Net (and I think the evidence says it probably does) will eventually redirect to the final name... It should be noted that not all the names are available, and I can't imagine MLS choosing a name that might involve a website fight. Which means the Apollos are out. Ditto the Stars. But the fact is that an FC Houston derivative is very, very possible.

It's Always Better on Holiday

Forget it, I'm closing up shop until 2006. Holidays are meant for relaxing, which is what I aim to do. See you in January.

21 December 2005

Who does DC root for?

Sorry I am behind on things, like posting the Jamie O'Connor interview. I promise to get to it, but real life has suddenly become a bit more demanding recently. However, I did want to show you a picture I grabbed while walking around L'Enfant Plaza. There, in the window of a sports shop, was a framed picture you could buy. I find it interesting for what it does show, and what it doesn't. And, no, there was no label like "Teams of RFK". It was just simply what it is:

16 December 2005

Keep the Cups in San Jose (or "History as Commodity")

I haven't seen anything in coverage about this, but I had an idea while reading Don Garber's committment to bring a franchise back to San Jose via expansion. If you really mean that, if you want the true Earthquakes to come back, then it seems logical to me that all of San Jose's history should go to that team, and not to the team in Houston. In my mind, that means that the City of San Jose, through its elected officials, should be allowed to keep the two MLS cups. The actual hardware. That doesn't belong to Houston, but to the Earthquakes. Also, the Supporters' Shields that were won in San Jose definately belong in the Bay Area, and not in Houston. All of that accumulated history belongs to the Earthquakes. Houston starts with a blank slate and no stars. Let San Jose be the first expansion team to put two stars on its kits when they arrive.

If AEG objects to this, well, tough. Those MLS Cups were awarded to the San Jose Earthquakes, not to the Houston, um, I dunno, the Houston Sams or whatever. Let San Jose keep the cups.

But only if you really are serious about a team coming back.

DC isn't where the action is right now.

DCU alum Steve Rammel has joined the cast of the LA Galaxy as an assistant to Steve Sampson. Rammel had 15 goals while with DC United before he was traded to the Colorado Rapids. He was acquired from the Washington Mustangs, a phrase you won't see that often in MLS.

DCU fans are delirious with joy over the wedding of Nick Rimando to Jacqui Little, as performed by Mister Ben Olsen. Over at A Little Less Conversation, Soccaplaya says Nick is having the best week of any DCU player (Also see his discussion of the DCU back line). And a DCU_fan at Live Journal also joins in the well wishing. He speculation then moves from the thought of Nick's honeymoon to Dema's resigning with the team. What is it with that guy? He's getting Elvis magnetism... But aside from that, glad Nick is getting married. Maybe now he'll settle down and stay at home on some of those crosses, rather than wandering out like an cat on the prowl.

Do I have an opinion on the move of the Quakes? Yes, I'm obviously sad to see it happen. I think, as a whole, the San Jose fans are certainly more dedicated than some fans in MLS. I hope MLS wasn't paying lip service to the idea of returning to San Jose, and forces Houston to start with a blank history, while preserving the Quakes history (and two stars) for whomever comes next. Bruce's Belly wonders aloud if AEG might have not really had their heart in making things work in San Jose. Maradawga, on the other hand, says "Don't blame AEG". I say that we need to blame someone, so I'm going to blame that hussy Houston for being a complete homewrecker. Yeah, you heard me Houston, I don't want to see you hanigng around with any more of our teams. And it's the middle of winter, some of us are dressed appropriately and not in that hoochie-outfit like you were, trying to lure innocent MLS teams to your layer.

15 December 2005


Okay, this time I should have enough time to respond to comments... The DCenters Interview Series moves to the next subject with Vice President of Marketing Jamie O'Connor. We'll be discussing the image of DC United as well as what DC United as a brand means. This time I'm actually announcing the interview before having conducted it, so if you have some questions you are curious about, get them to me by Friday morning and I should have time enough to consider them for my question set.

If you're curious, it usually takes me a bit to actually write a coherent post once the interview is conducted, so I'm hoping to have this post on next Wednesday.


Yesterday Steve Goff updates DCU's contract situation. In short: Rimando - signed. Ben Olsen - Gonna be signed. Kovalenko and Filomeno - Only back if they agree to less money. Various fans over at BigSoccer are up in arms about Rimando's getting a new contract year. Maradawga even takes a shot at the poor kid. Frankly, I disagree with them all. Rimando is a good keeper who deserves a starting role on most teams. Yes, he's flawed, but most of the keepers in MLS are flawed right now. Signing him settles the GK situation for DC, but also preserves DC's ability to trade him later if they so choose. Rimando is someone who can start for DC, but also can provide you value if you do decide to make a shot at a trade. Olsen still has production left in him. Not resigning Kovalenko makes sense as well. I love the guy, hell, I gave him one of my seasonal awards, but DCU is all too familiar with the salary crunch. If Kovalenko doesn't come back, I'll be sad to see him go, but he is a bit pricey. Ditto with Filomeno. There's value there, just not at the prices DC is paying.

Also, the Tide Online reports that DCU may be close to signing two Nigerian players, one of whom is 41 years old. (Note: Formatting is awful, but readable if you have FireFox and turn the style sheet off). Some quick research revealed that this article got the name of the agent for these players wrong, his real name is Chief Akinyemi Tajudeen. The DCenters has sent him an email for his comments on what these players bring to DCU, and we'll let you know if he gets back to the DCenters. I'm not holding my breath.

[Hattips: BigSoccer]

14 December 2005

Boris Flores: The DCenters Interview

This article is the first in a planned series of interviews with DC United Front Office managers about how DCU executes key aspects of its organizational activities.

When DC United indicated that they might make some of their Front Office staff available for interviews with The DCenters, the first name The DCenters asked about was Boris Flores. Mr. Flores is the Manager of Hispanic Relations for DC United. For non-Spanish speaking fans, such as myself, the operations of DC United in the Hispanic community appear to be hidden behind the language barrier. Soccer Digest once noted that DC United was exceptional in its efforts to market to a Hispanic audience, and any first-time visitor to RFK will notice that from bilingual PA announcements, banners taunting opponents in both English and Spanish, and from the songs bellowed by a diverse crowd, a Latino presence definitely has shaped the DC United fan experience.

Boris Flores spoke by phone with the DCenters for half an hour on how DC United has achieved some of its success in marketing to the Hispanic audience, the challenges involved in such a venture, and what DCU does differently from other organizations in MLS. He was very candid when we asked him questions, and some of his responses on what he can, and what he doesn't, take credit for are surprising. Here is some of what he told the DCenters.

On Himself, and the Job
Mr. Flores is 34, and has worked for DC United for five years. "I used to cover the team for El Tiempo Latino, which is now owned by the Washington Post. I joined DC United, and was a press officer for a time. " The DCenters was curious when his current position was created-- and what it entailed: "[The title was created] in September of 2002...It is hard to explain the job." He paused for a moment trying to find the right way to describe it. "I manage and oversee the marketing, advertising, communications, outreach and sales targeting Latino audiences. I also work with the PR Department."

This cross-departmental scope of his position is one manner in which DC United works differently from other MLS franchises. Neither FC Dallas nor San Jose have an individual listed filling a role similar to Boris. Teams like the MetroStars, Chicago, and Los Angeles do, but Boris believes that those individuals work "within a department. Just within the Marketing Group, or Communications." Boris works across groups, helping to ensure a consistent interaction between DC United and the Latino community.

Mr. Flores also oversees DC United's participation in a weekly Spanish television program, as well as its participation with Spanish radio. Listeners thrown by the abrupt switch of WHFS (99.1 FM) from its "alternative rock" format to "El Zol 99" may have noticed that DC United has advertised on the new radio station, whose ratings improved markedly with the format change (source for ratings: dcrtv.org).

MLS Outreach, but a Larger Scale
Don Garber reaffirmed this year that one of the three main markets for MLS was the Hispanic community. In 2001, MLS recognized it wasn't across franchises in penetrating the Latino market. As part of a new effort, a series of "Hispanic Heritage" nights were held by each team, the first starting with Columbus. Boris allows himself a small laugh. "We've done that much bigger this year. We had a Hispanic Pride Week, events were planned all week." The event was developed in coordination with a Hispanic Advisory Committee which was formed in coordination with DCU. Several Hispanic business owners participate in the council, and provide suggestions on how DCU can tailor its outreach programs. The Hispanic Pride Week culminated in a soccer-clinic which attracted over 200 children, each of whom had written an essay on their heritage. "We provided music for the parents while the kids played on the [RFK auxiliary] field. We wanted to make it a family-type event. Players came out, most of the Hispanic players except Jamie Moreno, who was playing in that Real Madrid match. Hispanic families are tight-knit."

The family aspect is one that Boris particularly is concerned with, and wants DCU not just to target individual Latino fans, but families as a whole. "It's good to get children with their parents. Many families are working two jobs, they don't have much time with their kids. We want DC United to be something they can do as a family."

Why Is DC United Successful With Latinos?
One of the more interesting admissions from Boris is that while he believes DCU is doing more to market to a Latino audience than many, and developing several new initiatives, he believes that much of the success in developing the fan-base has nothing to do with his work. "Hispanic fans are very savvy. If the teams are not winning, it is tougher to get them to come out. DC United had domestic and international success. We had players like Moreno and Raul Diaz Arce to set the foundation, and now players like Christian Gomez. Anglo fans will often come for entertainment, but Latino fans want the three points." The early on-field success helped DCU find its footing in the community, providing a product that was worth showing up for. He also credits the Latino fan base for responding to DCU's success, and integrating it into their sense of community without prompting from DC United.

Specific Initiatives
I asked Mr. Flores about how DCU sells its tickets to the Hispanic fan base. I mention that I had read that DC United sells tickets at a discount to Hispanic owned businesses. Those businesses in turn sell the tickets at face value to the community. "For small business, yes" he confirms. But that's only half of how it works: "We have a package for Hispanic businesses with marketing elements. It ties into a monthly magazine insert" into Spanish language periodicals. This effort started in 2001, and has helped lead to the development of strong ties with smaller Hispanic owned business, and larger corporate sponsors, such as Pollo Campero.

With input from the Hispanic Advisory Committee, Mr. Flores is pursuing new options. He says that a soccer tournament for Latino league teams is in the early stages of planning. He's thinking of new ways to help bring families to United games. To tie DC United ticket packages into community events for the entire family.

I ask him about the possibility of separate outreach to the African-American or the GLBT communities. He notes that he has participated in community outreach events, including the one The DCenters caught mention of on WUSA TV-9. He works in conjunction with the Community Outreach coordinators on these matters, and not solely on Latino concerns, and urges me to discuss those matters with that department.

Tips for Other MLS Teams...
When I ask him if other MLS teams have asked DC United for advice, he seems to indicate that they don't specifically. "We have an annual meeting, where we discuss how to translate success into other markets. We share our successes and failures. But we're blessed with the market in DC. I mean, New York is a big market, but," he pauses, "no championships." Again, on-field success makes the job easier.

When I ask him for one tip for other teams, his answer is one that I think explains how DCU tailors some of its marketing even within the Hispanic community, and helps explain a weakness of those that view the Hispanic community as a monolithic whole. "You have to identify the make-up of the community, then get involved. See what's important to them, understand them. Know exactly what you're dealing with. In a market with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, soccer is not the number one sport. Baseball is number one. So you have to understand the make-up, and know how to work with 1st and 2nd generation families." I'm reminded of a word he used earlier: savvy. The fans are savvy enough to know a good soccer product from a bad one, and a failure of an organization to be savvy could lead to being blindsided to marketing to the wrong set of fans entirely.

Challenges and Final Thoughts
I ask him if he's worried that increased penetration among other core markets identified by Don Garber might remove some of the special atmosphere from RFK. "Not at all, different ethnicities, families, it will all continue."

As an Anglo, I realize what's bothering me. I ask for one favor: "Can you get the English PA announcer to lighten up and be more like the Spanish PA Announcer. He's way more into the game, I dig that guy." Boris laughs, and promises to see what he can do.

13 December 2005

Why Freddy Will Not Play for Ghana

There are so many reasons, but let's take the most cynical one that I come up with off the top of my head: Money. Freddy is viewed as the great US Soccer hope. Accordingly, Freddy gets mad bank from firms who want his endorsement for the US market. Now, suppose Freddy decides to play for Ghana, what do you think happens to all that endoresment money?
Now, there are dozens of more noble reasons for Freddy not to join Ghana in Germany, and he may even choose not to play for Ghana based on those reasons. But if you believe the worst about Freddy (and I, for one, don't) , if you really believe that he's a player who's in it for himself first and everyone else second... well, the move doesn't even make sense then.
So let's stop with the Freddy to Ghana stuff unless he indicates any sort of willingness to change sides. Which he hasn't.

Misc. or Less

Not much to say today, which is nice since I have things to do. I don't have much to comment on the RSL-Colorado swap of Cunningham and Mathis other than an email I sent to Maradawga wondering if DCU might swap Kenny Arena for Nkong with Colorado. The Dawg pointed out that Nkong had been waived by the Rapids. A valid point, considering Kenny has also been waived. Ah well.

Also, the DCenters Interview Series will kick off tomorrow, with our first guest: Manager of Hispanic Relations Boris Flores. Boris was the first name I asked about when the opportunity to conduct this interview series was discussed. I'm fairly excited about this, since many non-Spanish speaking fans might have no idea of what DCU is doing with the Latino community. Hopefully this interview will help provide some insight. The second interview in the series will hopefully be lined up soon as well, allowing me to announce the lucky subject and perhaps give you a chance to suggest some questions before we sit down to talk about how it all works.

12 December 2005

Countries and Localities

The DCU United stadium sales show continues on, and the Washington Post has a great article on the sales pitch. Interesting details on what the competition for Poplar Point might be, and how Kevin Payne thinks the stadium would be a better deal not just for United, but for the local residents.
Apparently, Ghana still wants Freddy to play for them, even after he's turned them down once. Um, no. He's ours.
Finally, a side question. During the FIFA WC Draw program, there was an uncomfortable moment as Ghana was placed into its group. Mentioning that the team was known as the "Black Stars" the announcer said something along the lines of "How fitting that Cobi Jones will draw their lot for placement." Um, why? Was it just a play on words because Cobi is a black US Soccer star? It seemed odd, since as far as I know Cobi has no real connection to Ghana other than playing their clubs while with the LA Galaxy. It just seemed... odd. If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd appreciate it.

11 December 2005

Turtle: Feared

I went to a division III school in Pittsburgh, but many of the people from my High School went to UM, so I've sort of adopted them as my surrogate Division I team in all NCAA Sports. So it's nice that the Terrapins are national champions. Congratulations... Any chance you might let Jason Garey fall to 7th in the SuperDraft?

10 December 2005

Defining Success in Germany by Defining Failure

Just a quick post on the World Cup Draw, which I would probably have to write more on if this were a general US Soccer Blog. Initial reactions from WCiS, The Dawg, Mike H., and the like are all along the "Ouch, tough group, but let's get out anyways" variety. But really, if the US doesn't make it out of the group stage, considering the competition, does that mean the USA didn't succeed? I don't think so.

There's a concept in linguistics or some such field that you can define a word through its inversion. In other words, the word "dog" means the opposite of all those things that don't mean "dog." Similarly, I think the best way to evaluate a successful 2006 campaign is to define failure for the USA first. Expectations are higher for this team that at any point in recent memory based on the '02 results, and rightfully so. Just making it to the World Cup, and then getting shelled by the other teams, making us pack up our kits in our Steve Sampsonite luggage for the plane ride back would be a failure. We've got to get a few results. Puttings aside the FIFA Coked Up world ratings for a moment, and looking at the ELO ratings for the teams gives us the following picture:

Czech Republic (#5, 1931 rating)
Italy (#7, 1909 rating)
USA (#14, 1820 rating)
Ghana (#56, 1597 rating)

Expectations dictate that we should get 3 from Ghana. Getting one point from the other two games is also possible. So that's the line for me. 4 points. Anything less and the World Cup is a failure. 4 points (1-1-1) is acceptable, but not really a cause for joy. 5 points or more and I'm ready to say that the US has taken a step forward again. The sad thing is that 5 points, a situation we get only where no team beats the US (1-0-2), might not be enough to advance if we see a situation where there's a three way tie at the top of the group with 5 points. Then we're down to tiebreakers. Still, if the US doesn't advance and gets 5, then I think Bruce Arena and the team can hold their heads high coming home. If we somehow advance to the group stage with 4 points, I'm willing to give that a tenative successful designation.

So that's the expectation level: 4 points. 5 is success. 3 is failure. Plan your feelings accordingly.

09 December 2005

So How Does It All Work?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that the DCenters was working on a few special ideas for the offseason. Well, next week, one of those will hopefully begin. It is the contention of The DCenters that DCU, as an organization and business, works pretty well, and better than most in MLS. Why should that be the case? To try and help answer that question, The DCenters is hoping to interview a series of people in DCU's office to get a sense of what they do, and perhaps how they do it differently than others. We think we've just gotten the first of these interviews line up, so that's why I think I can announce this without jinxing the entire concept. In this series, we aren't talking to the more visible names in the office, but rather the people tasked with specific jobs of managing part of DCU's overall strategy.
The first part of this series should start Wednesday, but if you have questions or ideas for various people in the DCU office, or just a specific question about what the organization does as a business, feel free to drop it in the comments or in an e-mail. Hopefully, this series will be an interesting look at how things work off the field.

Kids and Adults

And it's 1-2-3 who are we playing for? The draft order came out for the 2006 SuperDraft on January 20th. DC United has the 7th overall pick in the first round. They also have the 7th pick in the 3rd round (31st overall), and fourth round picks #3 (39th overall) and #11 (47th overall). DCU's draft strategy has been hit or miss the last few years, so we'll see how it goes. Full list from Soccer America here.

Sister sister, he's just a baby, we wanna make him stay up all night: From Kali's neck of the woods comes this approving article on the Freddy Adu situation. Short version: Freddy needed to be grounded. While taking a pretty hard-line tone towards camp Adu (although ultimately praising Freddy for coming around) the article does seem better informed than some others. I'm not sure I agree (in fact, I know I don't agree with all of it), but always interesting what those in other areas of the country think of the situation.

08 December 2005

What's Good for the Goose

As I noted previously, I was wondering about the possibility of signing DCU alum Jeff Agoos to a one-day contract to allow him to retire in a United kit. So I sent an e-mail inquiring about this to DCU, and Doug Hicks, Vice President of Communications, said the following: "The practice of signing a player to a one-day contract is more often used in American football...we will be working with Jeff in the future to find a way to appropriately thank and honor him for his playing years with United."

So there you have it. There's not going to be a one-day contract, but DCU is looking into doing something for a guy who gave us a lot. Good. Decent stuff, all the way around and back to 1996. Looking forward to whatever they come up with.

The Draw

The wonderful spouse sent me this link to a taxicab confession about... the World Cup Draw tomorrow. A nice read which I highly recommend, as it both provides a good overview of what to hope for, as well as a look back at the progress of US Soccer. Enjoy


Commenter K on yesterday's quick wrap wonders aloud why the NHL gets ESPN SportsCenter coverage, but MLS gets excluded. He's got a point that I'm not sure would have existed six years ago. I don't want to pick a fight with our estimable NHL friends, so I'm not going to say that MLS is better or more popular than the NHL. I don't think that argument would hold water. But certainly MLS and the NHL are in the same tier of popularity in the post-lockout world? So why does NHL get game recaps in SportsCenters, and MLS doesn't?

K wonders if the new TV Deal with ABC will help things, and I think again he's got a very good point. While most of the focus on the TV contract has been "Wow, maybe they'll show commercials for upcoming games!" it might even be more effective just to have highlights shown Saturday night. Saturday night during the summer doesn't have much competition from sports other than baseball, so getting 5 minutes of "In MLS Action, a wild-one out in Columbus..." would be great. The local sports show, Comcast SportsNight is willing to do this, so it is not impossible to fit it into the format. Not only that, MLS lends itself to this sort of packaged editing. For everyone that complains about soccer's length, you'd see just the highlights, and soccer highlights are often breathtaking displays of athleticism that might actually make the league look good. Sure, long-time fans are just as excited by possession building to a crescendo, only to be thwarted by a well-timed tackle from a DMid, but that takes some experience watching the game to appreciate, and we need more eyeballs at this point.
So perhaps there is a chance. The new TV deal's most effective marketing might not be ads, or game-time placement, or anything like that. It might just be 5 minutes a night where over-excited, lingo-spewing, slang-inventing pseudo-hipsters recap games. I think we deserve it.
Then again, if I have to listen to Stephen A. Smith explain how Freddy represents the "NU SKOOL" of MLS, I might just have to shoot myself.

Well done, faithful traveler.

DCU-alum and Metro Jeff Agoos retires from MLS, and he will be well remembered for his service to DC. As I wrote on BigSoccer, I do hope that DCU made (or makes) a one-day contract offer to Agoos to let him retire as a United defender. He earned it. I thought about writing an appreciation of Jeff, but David Lifton did that much better than I could in his excellent "Looking Back" series. Read and remember.

07 December 2005

Opening Positions (other than 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6)

We Keep Freddy
The original title of the article on Freddy's "DC United: I love it!" comments was that they had "resolved their differences." Now it says "Adu, United, Air it out". That seems more accurate, based on my original observations on the matter.
Metros at RFK for MLS Opener
It sounds like the the opening national television game for the MLS season will be the home opener against New Jersey. If so, that makes it at least three years in a row that DC has gotten the first game for MLS. The record over the last two games is 2-0-0, so that's good. However, there are a few things that strike me as odd: First, why the disrespect to LA? They're the champs, they should be in the first game (Possible Answer: LA is playing San Jose, or wherever, since that's the hot rivalry, so perhaps MLS doesn't want to showcase the "look at the team we moved despite their success game". I have no evidence for that at all.
Ms. Klum wants you to take notes
If it is possible that there are people that read this blog, but not We Call It Soccer, well, get over there right now since Joe has kindly drafted a "follow the world cup draft and fill out your groups" aid, complete with beer coaster. If all soccer fans had this kind of inginuity, then right now we'd be complaining about Chis Berman's stupid-ass nicknames like Brian "Christmas" Carroll and Josh "A dozen's dozen" Gros.
The chess notation above is an extremely geeky joke related to the world cup. I admit this. I have no shame.

06 December 2005

And the answer is... Boring.

The article that Steve Goff teased in his chat is now up: Adu, United Resolve Differences.

Except that they really didn't. A close reading of this entire article tells you nothing. Go read the entire thing, and see if your analysis is like mine. For instance:
In his first media interview in seven weeks, Adu told The Post: "We laid everything on the table and everything is resolved. It's over and now we can concentrate on winning the championship again."

Followed by:

"It's not so much what Peter told me, it's what I got out of it," Adu said in a telephone interview from Bradenton, Fla., where he has begun off-season training. "There were misunderstandings between both sides and we settled that. I don't want to go into specifics and details, but it's behind us now. I'm glad I had the meeting with Peter, I'm glad I had the meeting with D.C. United and everything worked out great and I'm looking forward to the future...I don't want to go back and talk about that and dwell on it. What happened is past now and that's that...I love D.C. United."

Now, I'm happy that he loves DC United. I'm happy he'll be staying here at least for the start of next year. But there is nothing here that makes me think that the fundamental difference of opinion between Adu and Nowak is resolved. Which, given that there is a clock on Adu's US playing career ticking away, may never have to be resolved. But the same thing that happened before Chicago can happen again at any time. Adu doesn't want to talk about what happened then. Nowak won't talk about it. Their differences are being left to mutual amnesia.

Which may work. Or it may not.

This should be fun. Unless it is boring.

If I were, say, Matt Drudge, I'd have a big siren on the page right now, based on the following comment from Steve Goff's Washington Post chat going on right now:

Washington, D.C.: Is Adu still not talking to the press? I'm surprised there hasn't been an article in the Post about his call-up to the US MNT camp.
Steven Goff: Funny you should ask. Check washingtonpost.com early this afternoon. Freddy speaks!

Then I would say something like "IMPACTING..." And then I would probably write about how great King Kong is going to be, and how brilliant Peter Jackson is, and how Hilarly Clinton...

And you would all delete me from the bookmark list.

John, before you go: grab the mike, address the crowd, use a steel chair

Ives Galarcep column today for the HearldNews is a nice little slice of MetroStars "Hot Stove" action....

...If "Hot Stove" is a term you can use in soccer...

...If "action" has any place near the word "MetroStars".

But regardless, aside from the "Which side will Freddy play for" during the first Metros - United fixture, we also have this little bonus:

Metros head coach Mo Johnston's search for an assistant coach has apparently led him to a familiar face in New Jersey soccer. According to sources, former U.S. national team captain John Harkes, once considered a long-shot candidate for the MetroStars head coaching position, is near the top of Johnston's list of potential assistants. MetroStars Director of Communications Matt Chmura confirmed that Harkes is being considered, but he would not reveal any of the other candidates on Johnston's list. Another candidate for the assistant coach position, Manchester City assistant Juan Carlos Osorio, appears to have fallen out of contention.

Now, if Harkes heads over the Metros, I appreciate that he'll be able to coach, which is something he has wanted for a long time. I just hope he acknowledges that this will ruffle some feathers here in DC. So do it right, Harkesie, and then come back to us someday when you turn on the Metros.

05 December 2005

Construction: Next 10 posts (or so...)

If things start to look weird around here, well, everything is okay, so don't panic. Basically, I'm going to try and experiment with the look and feel of this site. Most of the time you shouldn't notice anything, but it is possible that you might catch me in the odd moment of messing around.

What am I looking at? I'm thinking of moving to the white background for the text. I want to keep the black/red/white color scheme, so I'll also be trimming the site in red, and using a black header graphic of some sort. That's the plan, at least. Not sure how well it is going to work out, but we'll see. If it look awful, I can always go back.

04 December 2005

And He Makes Baby Jesus Cry

This is only tangentially soccer related, but if you were wondering "who is a national disgrace?" well, check out the answer according to Google.

Why does this matter at all? Because the Ward 8 stadium presence is, I think, helped if the Washington Nationals get a new stadium. And they also need an owner. That helps both DCU and their companion baseball team, by providing a presence that allows them to both try to escape RFK.

Anyways, my congratulations to those that led the campaign to properly label Mr. Selig until ownership is established. Well done indeed.

Now if we can only get Google to accurately report playoff failure.

02 December 2005

Made for the Super Club

See, the news is a little slow around here, but I imagine you don't just read this for the links to reputable sources, but also for my poorly thought out blather and opinions. So here we go...
The spouse was watching Made on MTV last night, and I caught about the last half-hour of it. Capsule summary? Fat, gay kid wants to play for high-school soccer team. MTV gets MetroStars coaching team to help the kid out with training, practice with the team, and generally get fit. Mo Johnston makes a great cameo on helping the kid receive service from a few corners. Kid makes the high-school varsity team (there are no cuts), but is not a starter. This bums him out, until amid raucous cheers he enters as a sub around the 85th minute. He gets burned, but does later make a pass which may (or may not, could have been editing) leads to a goal for his side.
Okay, now, the "comic" possibilities from a DC United perspective are huge here, and yet I'm going to pass on them all. Let's face it, there was a time in the United States when the worst thing you could be in school was weird, or an ethnic minority. Those times have largely passed, but life ain't easy in high school especially if you are fat. Or gay. And especially both. In the mid 90s, at my high school in suburban Washington, DC, there was a movement to put together a gay/straight alliance. This is a fairly liberal area of town, but there were reports of the occasional student throwing things (empty cups, the occasional stone) at the lesbian that was starting the club. Not an encouraging sign. Life may be easier for high schoolers of non heterosexual orientations, but easier does not mean easy. It's tough. Having parents that aren't okay with your sexuality makes it even more difficult. Add that to the entire body image thing, and you have a recipe for huge amounts of pain.
This kid was not entirely sympathetic even once you put aside the body-type and sexuality issues. He whined... he whined a lot. Even in 20 minutes of TV. He suffered from a huge self-esteem problem. The Metros, to their credit, helped him with that. And one of the biggest lessons that they taught the kid was that whining, while cathartic, doesn't get you anywhere. By the end of the episode, the kid was much less whiny (but still somewhat). He was really, honest-to-god, trying. He doesn't become a starter on the team, and he shouldn't. He probably doesn't even deserve to come in as a late sub, but that sort of thing is needed from a "happy-ending" perspective. But his emotional growth was huge. If he's going to handle the difficulties that his life in high school, and even to a lesser degree in college, is going to throw at him, than the Metros helped him with that. Soccer does that more than any other sport. It relies on you playing a team sport, and when you get burned you let down 10 other players on the field. You've got to be tough to deal with that. Now, he's a stronger personality. Let's face it, the issue of gays in sports is one that's still viewed as a titillating side-note (just read any given Deadspin poll on the issue.) It's a freak-show to some. The Metros know that they are opening themselves to be mocked by others who want to take cheap shots ("Ha-ha! Fat gay kid on the Metros... he'll fit right in!"), and they went ahead with the episode anyway. Good for them. They have helped that kid probably more than anyone has probably helped that kid in his life. I can only hope that DC United would do the same if the kid had lived in Anne-Arundel County. And I hope the kid stays with things, and develops a mental toughness that will serve him well in life, and in places far away from the pitch.