30 March 2007

The Fan Guide Project: Fundamental Progress...

Okay, we're up to 17 contributors to the DC United Guide for New Fans (title temporary, and suggestions will be accepted.) At this time, all of the articles that will go in the first version of this document have at least some text associated with them. That's good, but some articles are in better shape than others. Here are some key needs:

  1. The Quiet Side: We need someone to talk about the enjoyment (and yes, there is enjoyment) of watching a game on the quiet side. For the "Buying Tickets - Locations" section.
  2. Opponent Bios: Some good stuff here (Especially the person who wrote Chicago) but we need New England and Kansas City to have something written for them, and I feel like all of them could be touched up just a bit. Article is here.
  3. Food: We'll probably have to be a bit more diplomatic here. But the information is mostly there, provided someone knows where to get Guiness (and if Red Hot and Blue is open). Also the tailgaiting section should be expanded. Here's a link to Food.

If we can do that, then the first major section of the guide will be in pretty good shape, and we can focus on the three remaining sections. Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed, and to those of you who are helping find people to contribute (HT to BigSoccer, Who Ate All the Cupcakes?, and My Soccer Blog

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Friday, Freday

INTERNATIONAL FREDLY: The big news is the signing of Fred. But I think the hidden story reported over at the Australian version of FourFourTwo is that he came without a fee. Which means, as far as I know, that United has yet to use ANY of their allocation money. Let me think: Emilio - No fee, Casal - No Fee, Wilis - No Fee, Fred - No Fee. We still are sitting on a boatload of money. Potentially very cool.

CLUB OVER COUNTRY, EVEN IF THE COUNTRY IS BOLIVIA?: Interesting report here regarding the Captain:

The team was minus some of their better players who are plying their trade outside their country because of a club-versus-country debacle. These include Juan Carlos Arce (Corinthians-Brazil) and Jaime Moreno (DC United USA) who, according to reports from Bolivia, were only prepared to play in the Copa America match against Venezuela.
I'm guessing that this was a situation where Moreno wasn't saying he was outright refusing, just that the Venezuela match will be easier for him to tailor into his schedule. I, for one, would love to see Jamie get a few more caps for his national side, even if he misses a few MLS regular season games. He was overlooked far too often.

MLSNET PREVIEW - EVEN THEY KINDA BUY INTO THE LEGEND: MLSNet's Charles Boehm writes the DC United Season Preview, which is now up. I would write about the content, but I'm still amused by the headline, which even though it portrays the concept of "rightful place" (ie MLS Champions) as a viewpoint belonging to D.C. United, you kind of get the sense that the author may, in some small way, agree with the idea. Consider the headline for the FC Dallas preview is "'Change' the byword for FC Dallas" -- I think we got the better hype.

COYS: Spurs Odyssey looks at the upcoming match against Reading to think about once upon a time transfer target Bobby Convey, and the match that brought him to their attention. You might want to remember as well.

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29 March 2007

Fan Guide Update: We're Moving, But There's a Long Way To Go

Well, we've got about 10 contributors and at least a start on most of the articles. Still, WE NEED YOUR HELP. Even if all you want to do is copy-edit and tighten up some confusing wording, that helps. Also, please try and reach out to fans you know personally and get them to help chip in on writing. We need a section on tactics, and on "How to tell if United is doing well even if no one has scored...". Or contribute just one player bio. Or a team blurb. Or write up the data on the Supporter's Group you belong to. All of this helps. Please, we're not going to let up until we have the best possible product we can get.

My thanks to those that have already made some fine looking contributions. But we're still definitely in the early stages, not nearly ready to go to press.


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Fred's Official

Press Release. I think the protracted acquisition process may have inflated the concept of Fred in our minds. Let's remember that while he seems to be promising, he has yet to play a minute for United in a game of consequence. So let's welcome him to the team (even though he's been with 'em in Mexico for the past few days) and don't expect him to be the instant fix for the situation on the wing. Give him time. Certainly don't be disappointed if he doesn't make an impact against Chivas.

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The Complicated Economics of Bobby Boswell (Dot Com)

There's been talk recently of trying to build more star power into MLS, and certainly it's part of the ESPN package for MLS game production. MLS, ESPN, probably even US Soccer are eager to see some players venture forth and become a brand in their own right. To put this in perspective, there are some leagues in the USA that sell their game based on their stars. The NBA is probably the most conveniently used example, but you can throw NASCAR and Golf into that mix. The NFL seems to sell itself less on stars and more on team loyalty and game product, although certainly it was a few stars, their marketing is not about the stars they have. Major League Baseball is a hyrbrid, but probably drifts more to the player-centric theory of marketing.

The push of Bobby Boswell (and to a lesser extent Ben Olsen) into the public consciousness can be seen as an extension of MLS's desire to create personalities it can market soccer around. Last year it was "Embrace the Colors," but the message was mixed when they kept showing images of Donovan, Mastroeni, and Adu. This year the focus will be much more about marketing players as emblems of their team, a sort of soccer synecdoche.

Personally, I like the idea to a point. MLS has some great stories and personalities to which fans like me can form a strong connection. The DCenters has been in the tank for Boswell for about two years, so we're thrilled to see him get the proper attention from the world. Similarly, we'd love to see Jimmy Conrad, Brian Ching, Kenny Cooper, or some others step forward for their team as people in addition to soccer players.

The interesting thing is what pressure this may put on the league. If, for instance, MLS/D.C. United is successful in turning Bobby Boswell into a media star, then they now have invested a certain degree of the team's identity with a player. So what? So Bobby refused a contract renegotiation recently. In essence, D.C. United in supporting BobbyBoswell.Com is strengthening Boswell's negotiating position while weakening their own. The gamble, of course, is that DC United's value as a brand also increases as much, if not more, than Boswell's value as a brand. But to some degree they have now forged a link between the two. Which is, I think, fascinating, since it's going to be tougher to United to say goodbye to someone they've packaged in a nice black and red website. It's interesting. I hope United pays the man his money.

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The Fan Guide Project: Up and Running

The development area for the Fan Guide project is up and running here. Oscar set this up over the last two days, and it is really, really awesome looking. So huge thanks to him for getting this ready.

If you are interested in helping us, please register for the wiki (the typical name and email stuff, we're not harvesting phone numbers or anything) and help us write the articles. The main sections will, hopefully, contain the links to individual articles. So let's get writing! We'll be posting updates about this pretty much every day from now until we're done with the first draft. I've also added a link in our "Essentials" Section.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, read this and then read this.

And also, if you think we forgot to cover a topic, well, go ahead and write an article for it and link it up.

Let's do this!

UPDATE: My thanks to Matt W for writing the Apparel article. If you're looking for a tone or style to emulate, this is pretty much exactly right. Perfect. And hopefully the site is becoming easier to use all the time, as I've added links to all the (first round) of desired articles. SPREAD THE WORD! HELP US OUT!

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28 March 2007

Fan Guide Update: Plan of Attack.

Okay kids, here's the plan. We'd like to get a document finished and ready to be distributed before the home opener of April 14. Which means we really should have something done by April 7. So, here's the plan.

First, a draft outline of the overall document was created. Read it, and think about what parts you might be interested in writing, or if we missed anything.

Tomorrow we hope to have a Wiki based system coming online for purpose of writing the individual sections. Feel free to start contributing your writing to any of the articles, which should resemble the outline posted above. You'll have to register with the Wiki to contribute (so as to avoid anonymous drive by vandalism that seems to plague Wiki projects), but we won't sell or turn over any data. It's just a way of protecting the project from annoying jerks.

Around April 3-5, we'll grab all the articles that people have written, perform an editing pass (and maybe add some graphics and the like), and then PDF a document. We'll post that for public copyediting, and once that's done, we'll try and present the finished product to United.

A few guidelines and notes: Do not contribute any copyrighted material. We will be transferring all copyrights to D.C. United if they choose to run the guide at their place, which means anything you contribute you agree to turn over. We'll try and keep everyone credited though. Remember our target audience is new fans, so don't write overly complex but don't patronize either. Cover the basics in clear detail, but leave the complexities for another time. Also, we're not out to slam any other teams or supporters. Hell, if this project works we can see that perhaps others might want to do the same thing we are.

If you know of anyone who may want to contribute, tell them. The more writers we can get, the better (and faster) we can stand this thing up. Your help is needed. As soon as the wiki is ready to go online, we'll post a link here. Look for it either tonight or tomorrow. We'll also be providing updates on this project daily.

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DC Starters Crush Tecos Reserves

The press release just came out. DC won 3-0, with two of the goals coming in the first half when our starters were on the field. Moreno had two assists, with goals by Emilio, Gomez, and Casal. It's interesting to me that Boswell played the full game as it shows a distinct lack of depth in that position.

Also, according to this Medio Tempio article, Chivas staff were at the game taking notes and video taping. I guess they are taking United pretty seriously.

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Fantasy Football Part 2 - MLS Leagues

In part one of this two part series I blogged about the great game that is Hattrick. In part two I am going to blog about the different MLS fantasy leagues. Fantasy teams are a great way to learn about the league. I urge everybody who reads this blog to at least sign up and pick a team (it's completely free).


The best MLS fantasy league hands down is MFLS or Major Fantasy League Soccer. It is much more in depth than the official MLS fantasy site. There are plenty of DC United fan divisions for you to choose from, and if you are new to the game just choose one of those. However, if you are a serious fantasy leaguer and want more facets to the game then The Black and The Red FA is for you. Basically created by BigSoccer poster Lowecifer, it sets up weekly games against other DC fans in addition to the rankings that MFLS provides in each division. I have never been in The Black and The Red FA until this year so I don't know too much about it, but it sounds great. There are five spots left in The Black and The Red FA, but anybody can sign up for other divisions.

Official MLS Fantasy

The official MLS Fantasy site is done through SportsNews last year and isn't as good as MFLS. It is still fun to put a team in and play, but even I stopped paying attention to it half way through last season. Not to mention that they still don't have it set up for 2007. This is also free, so it is fun to just put in a team and see what happens if they get the league going in time.

DCenters Draft League?

I was trying to get a small DCenters draft league going, about 8 people. But I don't know how much interest there would be. By draft league, I mean where you sit around with a bunch of people at a bar and draft players, then make fun of each other's picks. Its a great time. To my knowledge there is no MLS fantasy league with a draft. So we would be the first, and hopefully the guinea pigs for similar leagues around the country. This would be a really cool project to blog about what works and what doesn't. I am not sure if I have the time to work this all out, but it could be a great experience if we could get it to work. Like I said though I am pretty busy, so if there isn't a lot of enthusiasm in the comments then I will just put it off till next year.

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Danger Man

There's going to be a neat update later today on the Fan Guide project we talked about yesterday, but first some DCU related stories to read while the team prepares in Mexico....

WIN FIRST, THEN WIN STYLISH: Ian Penderleith with an interesting column on stylish soccer, and what it takes to play attractive soccer in MLS. I think this is a fascinating column, because I am of two different minds about this. If you are a team with a tradition of winning and performing well, then I do expect you to start playing more attacking and stylish soccer. However, if you don't have results or a history of getting points, then I can't really demand you move away from a bunker/counter mentality. Think of the first year of CD Chivas USA, when they played attacking soccer, but played it so badly they got trounced. Then Bob Bradley refocused the team, changed their mentality, and they got results. Now I would hope that once they've felt comfortable with getting results they start to go back to more attacking soccer. I love the 4-3-3, and would like to see it more.

PATRICK MCGOOHAN WILL TAKE THE LEAD ROLE IN "CHRISTIAN GOMEZ: THE MOVIE": Sideline Views finds that the Mexican media is giving Christian Gomez an interesting nickname (HT: DuNord).

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27 March 2007


RFK is our scene.
Troy keeps his sheet clean.
Christian’s the MVP
And we trust in Jamie.
When it comes to the goals,
Emilio is the king.
Emilio, Emilio, Emilio, 'milio

While the dummers keep the beat
He scores with his head and his feet.
Though this team has come far
We still want one more star.
Luciano’s a nice start,
Emilio, Emilio, Emilio, 'milio

He doesn’t speak English yet
But he knows “it’s in the net!”
From Brazil to DC
From the west to east
From Richmond to Bal’more
Emilio, evermore!
Emilio, Emilio, Emilio, 'milio

(Now, can I get someone to play guitar on this?)

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Follow-Up and Call to Action

Last week we had an interesting discussion on what we'd like to see improved with DC United. Lots of great discussion and several good ideas were floated, and two ideas seemed to resonate particularly well with the readership.

  1. Street Teams: Getting people to do visibility around DC focusing on 18-24 areas.
  2. New Fan's Guide: Providing some form of orientation to fans who had not attended a United game previously.

Well, since I have so sense of personal shame or embarrassment, I forwarded a link to that post with a message highlighting those two points to D.C. United. In short order I was told that the message had been forwarded to various marketing folks, and further information may come back.

Now, I don't have anything on-the-record from anyone, but here's what I do know regarding this information.

  1. Street Teams Implementation: While there doesn't seem to be a group focused on visibility by, for instance, putting up posters, there are people who apparently tour the city and suburban soccer fields and give tickets to people wearing DC United colors. This program will be running from about March to June. So if you're involved in a rec league, or following a league, don't be afraid to wear your DCU shirts outside. Now, that's not quite the same thing as what was being suggested by our reader Adelino. So let's definitely keep this idea in mind as something we may wish to push more on in the future. If United may not do it formally, perhaps one of the Supporter's groups might be willing to implement something...
  2. New Fan's Guide: The idea was apparently interesting to United's marketing folks, but they were talking about hiring a writer or perhaps finding a template to tweak. I think we can do one better. So here's what I say: We write our own orientation guide. Yeah, us. Just a few pages, covering things on where and how to buy tickets, what to wear to the game, what to look for during the game, and what to do after the game if you want to see more. I figure we can make our own document and turn it over to United. Am I saying they'll use it? Nope, I have no guarantee on that whatsoever. Hell, we may give them something and they could decide it is useless. Or they may decide its useful, but want to do their own revisions. But I figure, as fans, we know a lot about what potential new fans might need to know, so we should do it.

Now, I don't have time to write this myself, but if people are interested, I think we can put together a group where each person will write a section within an outline, and then we can turn the whole kit and caboodle over. No more than a paragraph or two from anyone, to keep things manageable. If you're interested, drop an email or leave a comment. In the event we go forward with this effort, we'll keep you posted on the updates. And even if United doesn't decide they want it, The DCenters will happily host the end product for future Google searchers. What say you?

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26 March 2007

Unified Blog Theory

First, why did no one tell me Dan Loney has a blog? Giving Dan Loney a blog is one of those inherently obvious choices, like Sean Connery as Indiana Jones' dad. You see it in your head, you think it'll be good, and then the execution is even better. Thank goodness.

We also now have a Chivas-USA blog. Combined with the the addition of some other blogs for LA and other blogs at The Offside, and throwing in Soccer y Futbol for Houston, you pretty much a blog covering each MLS team out there. That's great, and I believe the first time there's even been an attempt at that. Awesome.

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Just Quickly...

Did anyone else feel incredibly frustrated by the USA-Ecuador match? I mean, isn't this exactly the kind of result we want to see in a match under different circumstances, but exactly the result that means nothing given what the circumstances we had? Landon putting up 3 on Ecuador is frustrating because you know he can be a good player, but you want to see him demonstrate it under conditions other than the ones we saw yesterday. When he puts up three on foreign soil against a South American team, then I might be truly invigorated. Right now it just feels so... so... I dunno, like I've been here before. Yes, I know Ecuador had a higher FIFA ranking. Doesn't matter (check the Elo ratings instead). At home on a gawdawful pitch we should win that one anyways. That's all. I just can't feel all good about this yet.

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Stokes Army: Now Operating From Camp Lejeune (and other notes)

WE'RE IN STOKES ARMY: Triangle Soccer Fanatics locate DCU alum David Stokes with the Carolina Railhawks. We, of course, wish him the best of fortune with his new team. And thanks to TriSoccerFan for tracking this one down.

NAME ON, NAMOFF: MLSNet wage-slave Dave Lifton catches up with Bryan Namoff. Key graf:

"It's all about adaptation," Namoff said. "You have to ride the ups and downs of a season and work hard so that you're ready once that opportunity presents itself."
True of so many things.

THE FALSE SPECTER OF HISTORY: Fellow toiler in the MLSNet Grammar Mines Charles Boehm alludes to the Pumas match:

Two years ago, United ventured into the lion's den for the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions' Cup semifinal against a top-caliber Primera Division club after a disappointing 1-1 result at home, only to be torn limb from limb as Pumas UNAM took full advantage of a raw D.C. side with a 5-0 thumping in Mexico City.
You know, I was fearful that Boehm was pretty much the exact article we were trying to preempt a few days ago. Fortunately, Boehm points out that the similarities between the Chivas and Pumas matches are pretty much superficial in nature:
In that 2005 meeting, United took on Pumas with an untested back line that was still in flux after the loss of team captain Ryan Nelsen, and most of the lineup produced poor performances that were compounded by the effects of the high-altitude setting in the Mexican capital.
That sounds about right.

SHARE AND ENJOY!: The first real episode of The Soccer Show was pushed to my iPod this morning. Naturally, I listened to the entire thing on the way to work. It's heavily DC United focused, and caters to the United fan. Which is great for me, but that being said, it seems like the potential for a wider MLS audience to get something out of this show exists. For United fans, it becomes one of the two most important podcasts you get.

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23 March 2007

Gather 'Round and Listen Kids, Uncle D Wants to Say Something

Some Advice If You Want to Get Into This Soccerblogging Thing...

Dear reader, this post probably doesn't apply to you. That's a good thing.

I've gotten to know many of my fellow soccer bloggers over the past two years of running this blog, and each and every one of them is a good person. I've met fans of other MLS teams, other DC United bloggers, even the occasional press person and a few MLSNet writers. I like these people. I may occasionally mock them, or wonder about their sanity, or think they may be out and out wrong about something, but I don't for a moment think that I'm somehow a better fan or person than they are.

For the most part, I'd like to think that we in the DC United section of the soccersphere get along. I will admit, when "A Little Less Conversation" (now sadly bereft of updates) started up, I was worried that what small voice I had carved out for myself out here would be lost. I was wrong. Reading other blogs, even the ones that work in the DC area such as Quarter Volley, An American's View..., Soccer Insider, La Norte DCU, and even the most recent arrivals has made this place much more enjoyable. Rather than rambling monologues I feel like there's a multi-threaded conversation that exists without the feeling of trying to shout each-other down that might exist in another environment. It's good. I like it.

Which is why I want to say this to everyone out there who has or is thinking of writing a soccer blog -- Don't Eat Your Own. If there is something that is sure to make me annoyed with you, it's when one writer decides to enhance their reputation by tearing down their compatriots. I don't care how talented or clever you are, how much access you have, how insightful or intelligent you are on the page -- don't do it. Mock, disagree, parody... that's all fair game. But don't set yourself up as the "true fan" at the expense of others.

I haven't seen this in most areas of the soccersphere, but I have seen it. And I don't like it, not one bit. The old rule applies: You make fun only of those with more power than you have, and you don't do that to people with less. If you catch me doing it, flame away in the comments and I will apologize. If it starts becoming the norm in these parts, then this world will be a lot less fun to be a writer in. I don't want the soccersphere to become the equivalent of a far-right/far-left blog attack fest. That only makes ideologues feel good and leaves most of the public cold. So I'm asking you, if you think this might apply to you, to stop the destructive, vindictive, and petty writing and get on to things we can all agree on -- That Alexi Lalas is a Twat. Agreed?

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Think of the Children, and their Reading Comprehension

Yesterday, Steve Goff noted that no decision on whether Fred would be allowed to have "Fred" or be required to have "da Silva" on his uniform. Well, today's Kids section in the Washington Post may force their hand. In an article about one name athletes, Fred is used as the newest example. Surely the Front Office can't face the prospect of hundreds of tiny faces, with tears rolling down their cheeks, wondering where this "Fred" is and why their parents keep pointing at "Da Silva." No, the only choice now is for the uniform to read "FRED" and give our kangaroo stuffed animals (with miniature Brazillian flags) as a promotional item for FRED day.

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Fantasy Football Part One - Hattrick

Hattrick is a great internet based game where you are the owner of a fictional soccer team. It is possibly the best internet based soccer game available and the base service is completely free. Like many games it adds a little bit of content when you put some money down. Right now it is $32.40 for a full year, but because there is no competitive advantage I would suggest playing for free the first season (3 months) to see how you like it.

Basically, you trade players, promote youth team players, build stadiums, hire head coaches, set you line up for each game, and basically run a soccer team. You play two matches a week, one in your league (Sunday if you are in the US) and one US Open Cup or friendly (Wednesday if in the US). A great part about this game is that if you go all Lexi Lalas on your team and keep trading people or keep messing with the team you don't do as well. So you really only have to remember to sign in twice a week and set your line-up for the games.

If you are into soccer I can't stress how cool this game is. It is a lot of fun and doesn't take up a lot of time. I feel like a lot of people are missing out because they haven't heard about it. If you don't already play, you should definately give it a try. Right now it is the off season, so a great time to sign up, but you can do so anytime. It takes about 3 or 4 days for them to process your request and then they give you your team and have a nice tutorial for new managers.

Some great Hattrick helper applications, are VHattrick to set your line up and the Hattrix network, specifically the x-files for more information, x-ray to scout your opponents, and cup mangager to run any friendly cups. I would suggest that all newbies read the Hattrickwiki as well. It really helped once I realized it was there. Unfortunately, parts of VHattrick and the x-files cost money, but have some services for free.

For any DC United fans that already play, I am always looking for friendly games. My team are the Arlington Avengers. Look me up and send me a message, maybe we can support each other or play a game after the Open Cup is done. Also, any one that already plays hattrick please put your thoughts in the comments section, so people can get a couple of views on the game. I would really like to build the DC United contingent of this game so I have pleanty of people to play friendlies against.

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22 March 2007


We've updated the blogroll, and want to give a special welcome to the new additions and tell you to check them out. As is our want, a special call-out to DC United focused Ben Olsen's Beard, which is just a fabulous name for a blog, especially in some of the more fabulous interpretations. Although, I wonder how they feel every time he shaves it. It's kinda like Bruce's Belly if they found out Arena had just entered NutriSystem.

Also, if you've been in contact with me about a link, and don't see one, feel free to send another email and pester me.

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Midweek orientation

"32"1 LIFTOFF: Okay, so, I had RSVPed to the Boswell party, but felt like crap when I left work. So I missed it. I know, that is bad fan behavior, but there you have it. However, others did make it to celebrate the launch of BobbyBoswell.Com, and I salute them. Charles Boehm on the launch of the website with Bobby. The Far Post, of course, has pictures. Ian Penderleith was there and decided to play grandpa to all those young people with their rock and roll and clothing and whatnot. So was Nats fan Miss Chatter, whom we have had the pleasure of hanging out with from time to time, so kudos to all of you. Now, we may have to throw down when Bobby gets around to announcing the skills challenge. Oh yes.

TRAINING FOR CHIVAS: MLSNet lackey Dave Lifton on how United hopes to have learned from their previous match. And Steve Goff on young Fulham reservist now United winger Yinka Cassal.

STADIUM OPINION WATCH: The Washington Times once again rumbles vaguely about the DC United stadium deal:

City financing for the $700 million-plus Anacostia waterfront stadium for the Washington Nationals baseball team is much more egregious than Mr. Pollin's request. The same may also prove true of the city's planned giveaway of 110 acres of Poplar Point to build a soccer stadium for D.C. United.
"May also?" Weren't you guys trashing the deal two months ago without having seen it, and now you're pretending to have an open mind? I think we all see a charade of consideration when it is being set up. Of course, if you are actually withholding judgment and know you were a bit rash before, perhaps you should admit that.

CHRISTIAN GOMEZ IS YOUR MVP. MINE TOO. Climbing the Ladder does the world a service with a Christian Gomez goal compilation.

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21 March 2007

The MLS Roster Pages: Why Won't They Update? We have answers.

The Kin of Fish, in a post last month, bemoaned the lack of updates to MLSNet roster pages. Indeed, many of the rosters seem grossly out of date, and Fish slammed MLSNet for it. Well, hold on a moment. This situation is more complex than you might think.

First, some of you may be surprised to learn that MLSNet is not the same as MLS. True fact. MLSNet is, essentially, a venture that MLS has contracted to in order to provide online services. Now, for roster data, the process for updates runs like this:

  1. Team updates their roster
  2. Team notifies MLS Headquarters of their revised roster
  3. MLS notifies the Elias Sports Bureau to update the rosters
  4. MLSNet receives a feed from Elias which is supposed to contain the updated information

Seem overly complicated? Well, yeah, but the that's the system that the league has in place. Now, in most cases, teams have yet to provide their final rosters to MLS Headquarters, which means no updates. In at least one case (Real Salt Lake) an updated roster has gotten to league headquarters, but for whatever reason Elias has not updated the roster feed. Which means the problem is either with MLS Headquarters not notifying Elias, or Elias not implementing the update.

The real problem, from what I can tell, is that most teams aren't very good about providing updates to MLS Headquarters. However, there are exceptions. In addition to Real Salt Lake, I'm assured that both the New England Revolution and DC United do pretty well in keeping things up to date. As for the rest of the teams... well, hurry up you slackers!

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5 Things I Don't Like About D.C. United

or... Schedenfreude is not a productive sentiment. That being said, it's pretty fun.

Ives Galarcep is just out-and-out ripping up Red Bull New York at his blog. When the local media that should be sympathetic is going after your front office, well, it's not good.

It's tempting just to link and leave it at that. But as the producers of Celebrity Big Brother say: "The unexamined life is not worth living." I now propose a corollary: "The unexamined soccer team is not worth supporting." I write a lot about D.C. United, and my complaints are typically about players, or tactics, or strategy. But as for the organization, I'm usually bubbly and effusive with praise. The organization is one of the best in MLS, in my well-published opinion. They've always been kind and generous in their dealings with this blog. But since I know I probably sound like a cheerleader, I wanted to write about the things I don't like about the D.C. United organization. To be fair, I've never made an issue of this really, or complained to anyone, but let's be honest: I think there are areas where the organization could improve. Here are five things I don't like about D.C. United.

  1. The first-time fan experience: United is excellent with its hardcore support, but I wonder about the new fans that randomly decide to go to a game. United doesn't seem to offer much in the way of orienting people to soccer or to D.C. United in particular. A key branding point of United is our tradition of excellence, but that can also leave potential new fans to wonder if the best times have passed them by, or if they should be doing ten years worth of reading to catch-up. Sometimes fans will be seated directly behind the Supporter's Section, and complain about all the people standing in front of them. Yes, I know, get over it. But that's not the point, these fans had no idea that the supporter's stand. DC does the right thing and gets these people reseated, but still, how would they know before they got to the game or when they selected tickets? Proposed Solutions: Two things. First, the DC United website should host a "First time at RFK?" section with basic info on fan seating, history, game, and current team. Just enough so that people feel oriented with what they're about to watch. Second, I seem to recall Ted Leonesis used to have "Caps University" sessions where people could get a quick briefing to hockey before watching a game. I could see United doing something once or twice a year along the same lines: Get some people in a room, explain the various laws (Tonight guest lecture: Judah Cooks on Passively Offside) then go watch a game. Would these work? No idea, but I do get the sense that if you want to make the transition from first time fan to casual fan, or casual fan to hardcore supporter, the fan has to make most of the effort. I say: Grease the wheels a bit.
  2. Dealing with Departure: It seems like the organization has had a recurring problem with traded players feeling blindsided. Petke and Eskandarian come to mind as recent examples. Proposed Solution? Surely there has to be a way where the confidentiality of transaction negotiations can be balanced with giving a player the head's up that they are on the block. These players are professionals. I would hope they would handle such news with maturity and decorum. If they can't, then they probably shouldn't be wearing the shirt in the first place. Do the right thing, and give them a bit of warning before the media gets it.
  3. Color outside the lines: DC has many things that work for them, from their scouting operations to the way in which they handle player development. Despite that, there seems to be a bit of conservatism in handling players. United, I get the sense, feels like they have a system that works. If it works, they are unwilling to deviate from it. The departure of Jay Needham, the unwillingness to use the Designated Player allocation on Gomez, all of these are decisions emblematic of a "system-first" philosophy. That's not to say they're the wrong decisions, but I'm not sure that they are necessarily the right ones. I'm curious to see if that trend continues, or if DC is willing to change and adapt the system to the situation. Proposed Solution? Not sure that one needs to be implemented yet, but just a willingness to embrace change would not be a bad thing.
  4. RFK: The party line from supporters on this is "It's a dump, but it's our dump." And more accurately, most of the failings of RFK are the result of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission and having to share an outdated facility with another professional sports franchise rather than DC United's Front Office. That being said... it's time for a new home. Proposed Solution? Poplar Point, obviously, but failing that, RFK could use a little more flair. Is there any way to get local vendors to have stands that compete with Aramark?
  5. Disobedience: I get the sense that Kevin Payne feels that United has to be the flagship franchise for MLS, and that United will go out of its way to support and represent MLS even at the expense of the team and our competitiveness during the season. I don't think he needs to feel that way. Proposed Solution? At this point, United has enough credit built up that it, by itself, should have some sway with the league as a whole. It's not just AEG and Red Bull that can push for changes in structure. I think United should be a bit more selfish when working with the league.
Now, these are pretty much all nitpicks considering the state of most franchises, but I wanted to at least give you some of my thoughts. Feel free to add your own.

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I detect a certain degree of resignation among a subset of D.C. United fans regarding the CONCACAF Champion's Cup. The 1-1 draw with Chivas at RFK has led many to believe that the defeat in Mexico is inevitable, and that DC's best hopes are to avoid a complete humiliation. I can understand this, but it's wrong. The Anxious Auxiliary Brigades are quick to point out that 1-1 was the result after the RFK leg with UNAM Pumas, an uncomfortable prelude to a 5-0 beat-down. History, it seems, would dictate these worries.

Readers of the DCenters know a few things: First, we don't believe that large margins of victories in single games are true indicators of talent so much as multiple small margins of victory. Five-nil is definitely within the fluke classification. Second, we don't believe that history is determinant. Just as people will be quick to say "Those that do not study history are bound to repeat it" people seem just as quick to equate that to "I've studied history, and this is what has happened, so this is what will happen." That second statement of historical determinism is bullshit of the highest order. Things change. DC doesn't lose in knockout competitions to MLS Teams. Unless it is the Chicago Fire. Until it was New England. Similarly, on the reverse side, DC is not doomed because of some macro-historical pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Let me ask you a question, those of you that watched the Chivas match either on-screen or in-person: Did you feel that D.C. United looked bad because they weren't playing as well as they could, or because Chivas was so much better that D.C. looked bad in comparison?

I personally feel that many of the problems in the Chivas match were not caused so much by Chivas, but rather by United. That's not to say that Chivas wasn't a skilled team, and didn't cause United problems. But I didn't feel like I was looking at a team destined to play United off the pitch. DC made DC look bad more than Chivas did (although Chivas played their part.)

All this is saying that I think United can play a better game in Guadalajara. Of course, they may well play a better game and see Chivas step their game up a notch or two as well. But it's not set in stone that this is a repeat of the 2005 Pumas second leg. The forces of history are not necessarily a match for Ben Olsen.

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20 March 2007

Around the Net

For your reading pleasure, to pass the time until we get official confirmation that we've got a better Fred under contract, I've collected this motley assortment of vaguely DC United posts.
  • The Metrologist responds to D's earlier post about self loathing, and after reading it, it seems Red Bull fandom is suited to a few tortured souls.
  • Vasco USA tries to predict the Eastern Conference and has unexpectedly high hopes for some teams.
  • Quarter Volley is a bit resentful of the fans who've asked about coming to see DB play against us in August. I say - make them come to another home game. Bundle that ticket like your local cable company bundles GolTV and FSC into the premium tier. Bonus points if your friends actually work for the cable company.
  • Ives looks at the USA midfield and expects our man in the midfield Brian Carrol will see the field.
  • Bobby Boswell's blog is set to launch today, the Far Post has the plan to win some tickets.


19 March 2007

DCist Steps Up to the Plate

Even when it is under a soccer field.

According to DCist Matt:
Indeed, Kyle and I will be reporting all of United's home matches this season. You'll see some limited coverage of their away games as well.
This is good stuff. We blogged a little while ago about the sub-cultures of soccer, and the DCist certainly speaks to a certain sub-culture of DC. It is also good news because it is just one more news outlet that continues to improve its United coverage. Adding the DCist to the new Comcast contract and Goff's Washington Post Soccer Insider I believe we are starting to see a trend.

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Monday's Black

First post of the week will be a little scatter-shot, but there's some interesting reading out there:

SELF-LOATHING: First, I defy anyone to read this article over at the Metrologist and not conclude that the hatred for DC in New York is much more about New York than it is about DC. Key graf:

those who have been around a while may easily remember that (early titles or not) Metro and DC were more or less equal in crowd numbers through the first half of MLS's existence, and the Metro diehard core was always a little more...how do we say this nicely...."credible" than the weird assortment of fake Mods, knife-toting Salvadorans, and margarita-mix buying, tailgate-ticketing elements that constitutes your average DC crowd. That is, until the bulk of the Metro faithful was beat into a fine powder by shit results, shit management, and a shitty gameday experience, and drifted away on the winds.
Now, you don't have to agree with the basis of that statement (and I don't) but you can still see that the one of things that infuriates RBNY followers is that DC is a consistent example of "What it Could Have Been Like" to them. It would be one thing if DC had just been a dynasty for 11 years, but to humiliate the fans in New York even more we had to suck for a good three years before coming back to prominence. New York has never managed such a rebound, and we even had to prove it was possible. The fact is, DC has been very, very fortunate in the type of leadership we have received. It's worth remembering, and it also explains some of the abject hate we get from the hardcore supporters of other teams, especially when those teams have consistently underperformed (Columbus, New York...)

LATE REPORTS: DCist and Off-wing have recaps of last week's game which are worth reading. For those who care about the behind the scenes stuff, generally I try to get everyone into Debrief before noon, but I'll try and link up other reports as they become available.

¿CUÁNTO MÁS NEGRO PODRÍA SER? THE ANSWER IS NONE MORE BLACK: Yes Mexico, you have your own Spinal Tap.

ROTATION: John Haydon expands on Tommy Soehn's philosophy of using more reserves in the Times This is interesting because we know that Soehn called out DeRoux and Moose in during the Screaming Eagles meeting as people he wanted to see play more, and now we have Carroll the Younger to add to that mix. I should also note that Soehn did not mention Domenic Mediate, which was probably a sign.

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16 March 2007

Call for Video!

If someone taped the game, and would like to make a nice YouTube video of a Chivas player sliding groin first into a goal post, we certainly wouldn't object. And we're not the only ones.

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Debriefing for 12.A.03: CD Guadalajara

Leg #1 - DC UNITED 1 : 1 CD Guadalajara

Six Word Novel Recap

Chivas plays well, acts like jerks.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

NEW!!! Kyle Gustafson has some great photos. And yes, Chivas fans have a point about the goal we scored. Ben Olsen does seem to be taking out the Chivas keeper with a full-on Donald Brashear.
The Washington Post
, Steve Goff
: "...United had to work very hard just to salvage a tie at home and now faces the prospect of having to win the final leg of the two-game, total-goals series April 3 in Guadalajara to advance to the Champions' Cup finals."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: " Emilio's goal -- his fourth in three games with his new team -- lifted United to a 1-1 tie against CD Guadalajara at RFK Stadium, putting the aggregate
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "
The passionate rivalry between the CONCACAF nations was clearly felt at the club level as well, with heavy tackles flying in while both sets of fans looked to drown out the other's cheers."
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "Our attack needs to get much better and get everyone back on the same page that we were on against Olimpia. If that is to happen, we have a fighting chance in the second leg."
BlackDogRed: "...if ever a tie felt like a loss this was it."
Hexagonal Blog: "The comm said that this was a great result for United - well, it's better than 0-1, but not what was required in the end. It changes the task on 5 April from 'impossible' to 'very difficult.'"
DC Soccer, Joseph Schoenbauer: "Therefore, MLS teams in this competition never really stand a chance, and if say, DC United or the Houston Dynamo, who defeated Pachuca 2-0 tonight in the first leg in Houston, does pull off a remarkable aggregate victory, it will be a one off that will give no real justification for perceptions of MLS fans and fans around the world to believe that this will become a regular result in years to come." (Note: This was left in our comments last night. I can't find a link to it on DCSoccer itself, but it's a hell of an article.)

(NOTE: We may add more recaps to this list as we see them. Or we may not. It depends on how lazy I am. But I think Off-wing, SE Pod, SE Match Report, Barra Bravand a few others will be coming.)

The Good

  1. Atmosphere: I know... the Chivas fans were louder and outnumbered the United fans. It was a strange feeling, but also a somewhat exhilarating one. It made it a clear choice for our side: Do we give up knowing we can be drowned out at any moment? Or do we sing as loud as we can for as long as we can? I can honestly say, and I have no idea how it was on TV, that we did the latter. I applaud the effort.
  2. Defensively Tighter: I wrote yesterday that I wouldn't be surprised if Chivas managed to play balls into the box, but I wanted our defenders to deny them space. For the most part, that is exactly what happened, and the backline of Erpen, Namoff, and Boswell pressured the Chivas attackers well. Yes, all three made gaffs, but they were rare for the most part and not nearly as problematic as the last match against Olimpia. The defense as a whole kept its shape well.
  3. Leadership: Olsen and Boswell were very obviously quite vocal, especially in the second half. It is what I want to see from them, the willingness to rally and take command.
  4. Stephen DeRoux: Look, it's not like he had a great game, but he played better on the wing than I thought he would. I may have been wrong about him.

The Bad

  1. 20 minute warm-up: Yes, this is the same point as last time: United was not well in the first 20 minutes.
  2. Developing Chances: If the defense did their job in stopping attacks, distribution was still a bit of a problem. Even when that worked, United was much too indecisive in midfield to create much of an opportunity. Part of this may have been that Chivas marked out attackers better than Olimpia, but that's not the entire story. They could have done more here.
  3. Brian Carroll: Multiple goofs, slow, and awkward out there. Not a good basis for his national team selection.
  4. Jaime Moreno: Look, I'm not about to say it's time for him to hang it up. It just may be that it takes him a few more games to warm-up and get into form given his age. I'm willing to give him half a season if necessary. But it bears watching.
  5. Divas Guadalajara: I'm stealing this from Tucksider in our comments from yesterday. It's a great phrase, and fits well. Also, check out the very insightful comment from someone who is I think a DCenters reader over at Soccer by Ives. Matt Y on the difference between Ben Olsen and Chivas. I think he refutes Ives nicely on this one. Seriously, and I mean this in the most derogatory way possible: Chivas comported themselves like a bunch of Italians Footballers out there.

Man of the Match

Tough call on this one. Merit award to Ben Olsen, but despite the own goal, my man of the match is Bryan Namoff. He kept this game within reach with multiple neat steps, headers out of the box, and classy tackles. Seriously.

Final Thoughts

In the fiftieth minute, Moreno has tracked back to help stop a Chivas counter. With Namoff also back, he made an attempt to step in and take the ball from, I think, Mejia. He clipped a bit of Mejia's foot, who went down just inside the box. The referee motioned for Mejia to get up.

In Guadalajara, that's going to be a penalty (although it really should probably be an indirect free kick inside the box.) I fully expect again that, at times, we'll be jobbed by the officials.

The result was about what I expected, but I'm not doom and gloom about this. Am I expecting a win in Mexico? No, that'd be foolish. But neither am I writing this off as a series already lost. United has more than a theoretical chance. Underdogs? Sure. But they were underdogs when this series started. They can, and will, play better.

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Highlights of DC United vs. CD Guadalajara

Not many highlights in this one folks. Pretty ugly game all around, but here they are if you want to see the goals. This is the home leg of the two game home and away series.

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First Impressions - DC United 1 : 1 Chivas Guadalajara

Chivas proved two things over the course of the game I just saw. First, they were the better team over ninety minutes. Second, they have no class.

On the first point, Chivas was clearly the more dangerous team, although the United defense did well to contain them for the first sixty minutes. Namoff especially made several vital interventions before his effort was spoiled when he deflected Bravo's shot past Troy Perkins. The main problem for United was that they couldn't seem to generate chances when they had possession, and never really put Chivas on their heels. A significant problem was that United was consistently beat to 50-50 balls, and were never confident when making moves on Chivas players. That could be preseason form, or it could just have been nerves. Or perhaps Chivas really is that better in the marginal situations. However, certain players did play their heart out, and in addition to Namoff I should credit Ben Olsen, Christian Gomez, and Clyde Simms.

On the second point, Chivas were a bunch of divas and thugs throughout the night, blatantly mugging the United midfield and then pouting on the slightest call. Pathetic. Special call-out to Gonzalo Pineda (#7), who was in a give-and-take with Ben Olsen all night. At the end of the match, Ben did the honorable thing and went to shake hands. Pineda took the outstretched arm, and with his left hand delivered a shove to Olsen's face. Pineda is a useless wretch of a human being. He wouldn't know class if you spotted him the C and the L. Fuck him.

All in all, the Chivas fans were decent and loud, and probably outnumbered the United faithful three to one. I respect the fans, but honestly, your team did not earn your love with their deportment tonight. The United supporters, well, we did our best, and I have no voice left to show for it. I am proud of all who stood through the game.

Again, this was what I expected as a result, and while the odds are against us, it can still happen. This isn't over.

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15 March 2007

Match Briefing for 12.A.03: Chivas Guadalajara

Match #: 12.A.03

Opponent: Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Mexico)

Six Word Novel Preview: Home away from home? Not RFK.

CONCACAF Champions Record: First Match of Semifinals
CD Guadalajara - 1962 Champions (Corrected, see comments)
D.C. United - 1998 Champions

TV: Fox Soccer Channel, 8PM

Radio: ??

Previous Meeting: DC United 2 : 2 CD Guadalajara (August 24, 1997) [Note: Corrected, see comments]

The Stakes: You're going to hear a lot about how this will be a measuring stick about MLS. I don't buy these arguments. This game is simply a match beteween DC United and a Mexican team that's playing quite well in their league right now. For DCU, the questions about the defensive play will come to the forefront, and the ability to manage Chivas's wing play and counter attack will say a lot about how much progress has been made. DC United needs a lead coming out of this leg to maintain a decent hope of advancing, but hope is not dead with a draw.

For Chivas, the stakes are lower. They would like to come out of RFK close enough to take the win at home. Sunday they will be playing Club America at Estadio Azteca, and will no doubt want to take three points in that match. While they may not be looking past D.C. United, they may have to deal with a small case of fixture congestion that causes them not to play their best XI for the full 90 minutes.

Previews from the DCUniverse: DCUnited.COM, Ian Penderleith, Washington Post, Washington Times, The Offside: DC United, UnitedMania, DCist, Off-Wing Opinion (others added if/when we see them).

D's Location: Kinney has an extra ticket. Or rather, he had one. It's mine now. I just need to pay him. I'm not missing this game. No sir.

What to Look For: From Penderleith's article above: "The defense also practiced dealing with balls coming in from wide positions, as this is where D.C. feels Chivas can be at its most dangerous." That jives with what we saw from Chivas in their game on Sunday. And it will be a key. I'm not saying that I expect defenders to deny Chivas the ball on passes or early crosses in from the wing, but I damn sure expect them to deny Chivas space. If DC can be opportunistic in exploiting mistakes from Chivas, and limit the Chivas' supply from the wing, they can win this game. Key players to watch: Erpen, Namoff, Olsen. Also watch Perkins not on how well he goes from side to side, or how well he kicks the ball, but how quickly he can get up or down in his positioning.

Expectations: Every fan of Mexico on the East Coast will be at this game. That means you, yes YOU, must have a ticket and be in black. Walk up and buy one. I don't care if you own a DC United replica or not, get a black button-up wear the damn thing. Hell, it works for Jay-Z. If you're on the quiet side, you damn well clap along when a certain drummer shows up in your section. If you're on the other side, you sing, you clap, and you stand. If it rains, you do not head to the back. You get wet. Or bring something with a hood, provided it is black. Okay, PSA over.

The fact is, I expect a draw. While that won't bode well, it isn't the end of the world. United can score goals in other countries. Remember they put a number up in the Sudamericana away leg, even though they lost. Anything better than a draw, and DCU will have exceeded expectations. A loss is, however, a disappointment.

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Vorsprung Durch Technik

Match preview and some other stuff coming up, but first...

The reaction of most people to the MLS-Bundesliga partnership has been a yawn. That's not surprising, but it may be misguided. One of the things we've written about before is the lack of knowledge transfer between teams in MLS. The methods for success by one front office do not seem to be distributed to other teams, despite the single entity structure. To me it is the single most simple way for MLS to improve all aspects of its performance: Share non-competitive best practices. Marketing, Community Outreach, Fan Service... all of that should be a source of constant communication among MLS teams, not just within MLS teams.

The Bundesliga partnership, if nothing else, perhaps creates a chance for this to occur. If MLS Front Offices, especially those that seem particularly inept, won't listen to their peers, perhaps they'll listen to Europe. If so, the league as a whole will benefit, and this will be one of those events that seemed less important at the time than it really is. If, on the other hand, certain MLS Investor/Operators remain so convinced of their own genius that they feel they don't need to learn from anyone, then it'll just be more of the same. I hope that the former situation, for the good of the league, takes hold.

More on all sorts of stuff later.


13 March 2007

We Belong to Something Bigger than Ourselves: The Free Beer Movement

Once upon a time, some red-blooded American was thinking about soccer when suddenly the skies parted, thunder clapped, and he was struck in the head by an errant Chris Albright shot. In that moment there was something of an epiphany, and he saw how to market soccer far more effectively than any TV ad or cross-promotion with a European league. Later, when the throbbing in his head subsided, he wrote down his thoughts on piece of parchment. This parchment was faithfully transcribed in illuminated manuscripts by inebriated monks, and was finally writ verbatim on the internet.

Sadly, that man is no longer with us. No, he's not dead, it's just that he's had to move to some piddly country in Europe (Hint: Stella Artois) in order to be a good and upstanding husband.

Last year The DCenters launched Operation: Deflower! as part of our attempt to keep Free Beer, as they say, afloat. There have been calls for a sequel of some sort, and we agree. Last year we saw wonderful participants in Salt Lake, Minnesota, New York, and DC. That's nice, but I feel we can do better. The question is, what? I ask for your thoughts and suggestions.

If you have any ideas on what we can do to continue the legacy of the Free Beer Movement, then please tell us. We'll repost some of your suggestions and see if we can get something rolling here. And remember... FORZA SUDS!

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Practice and Perfection

Dave Lifton has been posting practice updates over at the SE Podcast (here and here) and now gets a MLSNet.COM byline (?!) to give you a quick update on the DC boys getting ready for the Goats. All three are good reads.

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The Karma Police Have Issued an All Points Bulletin for Fred

It seems like Australia is now recognizing the fact that Melbourne Victory midfielder Fred will make his way to DC. Steve Goff has pretty much been definitive in his reporting on this matter, and indicates that Fred may help DC United on the wing as well. All good stuff, right?

Well, I'm not entirely sure. As best I can piece together, the A-League has a similar situation to what now exists in MLS. There's a salary cap in place, but one player for each team can be exempted from the cap, similar (though not exactly identical) to the Designated Player exemption in MLS. The Victory had used their exemption already, which limited what they could pay Fred. Which means he has signed here.

That would be an interesting footnote if it didn't have a strange resonance to potential future developments here. Christian Gomez has reportedly refused to renegotiate his contract under the salary cap, instead wanting to become United's first Designated Player and be paid more than the maximum salary. So far, United has not made this move, reportedly offering Gomez max salary for the next several years but not more than that and not using the Designated Player rule. The situation that benefits United in obtaining a new player now might well be identical to the one in a few years that could lead to the departure of the current MLS MVP from United. Is it definitely going to play out that way? No way to know. But if one is inclined to believe that the wheel turns...

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12 March 2007

Double Negatives

I don't normally write about other leagues, but I would like to acknowledge the efforts this year of Chelsea FC, PSV Eindhoven, and Blackburn Rovers. The world owes you a debt of gratitude. That is all.

DC United Reserve Schedule

USSF released the ref schedule for MLS' Reserve League over the weekend. Below are the DC United games, with times and location thanks to ZmanGunner on BigSoccer. Home games are in RED.

Sun 4/15 – 10:00 AM - KC @ DCU - RFK AUX FIELD
Sat 5/19 – 6:00 PM - DCU @ TOR - BMO FIELD
Sun 5/27 – 10:00 AM - HOU @ DCU - RFK AUX FIELD
Sun 6/3 – 10:00 AM - DCU @ LA - HOME DEPOT CENTER
Sun 6/10 – 3:30 PM - NY @ DCU - RFK AUX FIELD
Sun 7/15 – 10:00 AM - DAL @ DCU- RFK AUX FIELD
Sun 8/5 - 6:30 PM - DCU @ NE - GILLETTE STADIUM
Sun 9/2 – 10:00 AM - DCU @ DAL - PIZZA HUT PARK
Sun 9/9 – 5:30 PM - NE @ DCU - RFK AUX FIELD
Sun 9/23 – 4:30 PM - DCU @ CHI - TOYOTA PARK
Sun 9/30 – 10:00 AM - TOR @ DCU - RFK AUX FIELD

You will notice that 6/10 game against New York and the 9/9 game against New England are directly after the regular team games at RFK. Because the reserve league matches are free this basically means two games for the price of one. I expect that anyone who reads this blog regularly will take advantage of this deal.

I also urge everybody to come out to the other reserve league games. You sit on bleachers directly next to the touchline and get to yell at opposing players where you know they can hear you. If enough fans to come out to these games it definately helps DC United, but also gives the games a bit more intensity to help develop players thoughout the league. Plus it is a lot of fun and last year the Screaming Eagles brought doughnuts and bagels to some of the early games.

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Keeping Tabs Abroad

Two items to begin with. First, watching Chivas in preparation for Thursday. Second, thoughts on Alecko Eskandarian.

CHIVAS BRIEFING: If you're like me, which is to say, if you're obsessed with the local soccer club, then you do things like watch Univision on Sunday to check out the Chivas - Pumas UNAM match. I see that some people on BigSoccer did the same, so I find it interesting that they have a completely different viewpoint than I do. So read their thoughts, but here are my impressions.

Chivas is a much better team than Olimpia. I know that should be obvious, but it is a point which emotionally I think many of us, including perhaps me, are inclined to ignore. We shouldn't. They are fluid team that possesses speed, tactical savvy, and determination. That being said, they are beatable.

Watching them play Pumas, I was struck that they were able to attack the Pumas back line in two different ways. They could run the ball through the center circle and then kick it out to the wing for the cross. They could play the ball in early from the wing through the air and find attackers who could beat their marker one-on-one. Both methods created clear chances for Chivas, and Pumas was saved only a lack of finishing. Twice, attackers were in alone on the Pumas keeper. Twice the save was made when the low show was contained by an outstretched leg. The fact is, Troy Perkins (or Jay Nolly) will almost certainly have to deal with similar situations in the next two games, so studying the positioning of the Pumas keeper and the way he got down to stop those shots is informative. It is also interesting that the one time Chivas took a high shot one on one with the keeper it started a sequence that put the ball in the net, only for it to come back for the offisde call.

Similarly, at the end of the first half Chivas had two free headers on crosses in from the wing. The first was over the crossbar, the second bounced off of it. It will benefit DC if we can get some similar good fortunate.

Chivas pressures well, at the top, through the midfield, and down to the backs. That being said, the backs are prone to ridiculous giveaways, with each by my reckoning making an Erpen-esque giveaway to manufacture a chance for Pumas. Their clearance and distribution out of the back is somewhat suspect, and I would think DC could create a chance to two here that they will need to finish. That being saids, their backs when pushed play well in a compact form, making a defense difficult to break down. Pumas' best chances in the second half came from shots outside the box (one of which clattered off a post.) DC may have to take some long-shots as well (Long as in 16-24 meters out, not 40). I don't think we'll be able to dribble it in.

In all, Chivas was impressive in their road match, especially during the 60th to 70th minutes where they strung together a beautiful set of passes and the touches for UNAM were limited to clearances back to the Chivas midfield. They're a good team. But not so good that I walked away thinking it would take a miracle.

ALECKO IN TORONTO:Bill Urban gets a few quotes from Alecko Eskandarian. Key graf:

"It is actually a little bit surreal," he said. "I became a family with everyone at D.C. United, so it's definitely a change, but it's part of life, and I think it will probably be beneficial in the end."
I still root for him. Good luck up there, Alecko. Stay healthy.

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09 March 2007

Jay Nolly: The DCenters Interview

The DCenters got a few minutes with new D.C. United keeper Jay Nolly over the phone while he's training in Florida. Questions from Kinney, Oscar, and myself in plain text, and Jay's answers are in bold. We were curious about how he felt suddenly appearing against Olimpia, what the transition from Salt Lake to DC was like, and what he hope to accomplish this season.

How was it coming into the Olimpia match on such short notice? What were you telling yourself when running out to the goal?

It was definitely something you didn’t expect happen. But you have to be as prepared as you can. I was quite excited when running out, but felt I was ready to go. Everything came together, though it started out rough in the first 5-10 minutes. But I hope to build from there.

Are you prepared to play Chivas? Do you expect to start?

I’m prepared, but I'm not expecting to start. You never know how things are going to go. I just try to be prepared.

How did you find out you were traded to DC United?

Honestly? I had called home to see how my mom was doing, and my mom told me the day after it happened. Then I checked my email, and I had gotten an email from Mark Simpson. It had all happened when I was out of town. That's pretty much how I found out about it.

How is it, as a professional, to be traded across the country. How do you make that transition?

It’s tough. When you move from Salt Lake to DC, everything is… it's a bigger city, more expensive, the roads are more complicated. Also, coming in while you’re in preseason, you know you’re in DC for two weeks, then at camp for two weeks, than back… it’s tough when you have a girlfriend, family, to try and adjust to it all.

When coming from RSL to DC, you took a trip through Europe, most notable with Celtic. How was that experience, and did you learn anything from it?

Celtic was an opportunity to train with the team for a few weeks. I did real well there, before Christmas. That’s when I found about the trade. I trained with the first team, saw a few [Celtic Midfielder Shansuke] Nakamura free kicks, and he didn’t beat me. It’s fun to see the intensity level, and to see how the organization works. So when January came around, they [Nolly's agent] said let’s take you around to a few places. It didn’t work out, but Simpson stayed in contact with me.

What is it like practicing with a team against which you set a career high 11 saves last season?

Uhhhh... I try and hope they don’t remember that. It’s tough coming to a team who I would say is the best team in the league. The professionalism of the players and the organization. That’s something that happens wherever you go. It takes time to get into the mold.

What are the differences between the RSL/DC organizations?

I would just say that DC, since they’ve been established, in their 12th year, they know what they’re doing. Everything is set up right, so there are no questions. The professionalism of coaches, players, people behind scenes, they've all got their stuff together.

What does Coach Simpson emphasize with you?

Right now we’ve been just been working hard. Since its pre-season, they just break down the body and get you as fit as you can. There's a lot of handling, a lot of stuff with bungees, all trying to get you as fit as you can.

Do you hang out with anyone on the team?

Bobby Boswell’s my roommate. We get to hang out a lot. I talk to Moose and Rod a bit. Once the season starts, it’ll be easier to get into things.

What are your goals for this year?

Push Troy as hard as I can so Troy can get better. I think that’s how a first team goalie gets better -- by having a second string push him as hard as he can. And that’s how I can get better.

Do you own a dog? Do you take this dog for walks? In so doing, do you ever have problems with your footing? Just saying…

I do like dogs, and I would take my dog out. I would just take a ball and let him run for it. No need to mess around with the pothole parks.

Sounds like you've thought that out. Do you actually own a dog?


Do you play FIFA or Winning 11?

I have played FIFA, but I don’t play a lot. I don’t own a video game system. You know, when you’re living with your girlfriend, you should focus on her…

Oh, I dunno. My wife lets me play --

-- Well, maybe if it’s a wife situation....

Do you own a watergun?

I used to own a lot of waterguns. Great, cheap entertainment.

Thanks Jay. Anything else you want to say?

Just that I'm
more than excited to be here. This is the best organization in the league.

Thanks to Jay for taking time out of his day to talk to us, and the DC United Communication team for helping hook us up. Also, big ups to Mark Simpson for always keeping in touch with Jay during his period abroad.

UPDATE: The RSLFM report is linking to this story with the title "Nolly's Backhanded RSL Insult?..." Just in the interest of full disclosure, we edit these interviews a bit, taking out extraneous text (a lot of "Errs" and "ya knows" and stuff), and not printing everything exactly word for word. We don't change anyone's words, or make edits that change the meaning, but sometimes we take stuff out. In this case, the full exchange between us and Jay was as follows:
ME: What are the differences between the Real Salt Lake and DC United organizations?
NOLLY: Well, uhhhh... I don't wanna, you know, tread on any footste---
ME: Oh, I'm not asking you to burn any bridges.
NOLLY: I would just say that...well... DC, since they've been established, in their 12th year, they know what they're doing. Everything is set up right, so there are no questions. The professionalism of coaches, players, and the people behind scenes... they got their stuff together.
ME: Cool. Moving onward... uh... lessee... Has Coach Simpson been emphasizing anything with you in training?

Just to be clear, Jay wasn't trying to say something bad about RSL, just something nice about DC. We all cool now?

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08 March 2007

Ben Olsen: The Face of D.C. United

Just a quick note: Tomorrow we'll run our interview with Jay Nolly. Find out about his excellent adventure in Europe, what it is like going from Salt Lake to DC, and more!

Okay, now as to the purpose of this post. It seems to me that Ben Olsen is being marketed as the new face of D.C. United. He'll be doing the "Director's Commentary" on the Comcast replays of DC matches this year. The big placard in front of RFK has replaced Freddy Adu with Ben Olsen. Personally, I think this is an excellent choice. Ben is articulate, charismatic, and fun to listen to. I have two minor quibbles, only one of which I will share. Does anyone else look at the picture that's at RFK and think that, with the beard and the frizzy hair, he looks a bit like a human Q-Tip?

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07 March 2007

United Close to Aquiring Fred

According to Goff, United are close to aquiring another Brazilian; Fred. No, not Lyon's Fred, Melbourne's Fred. Fred is an attacking player that usually plays Striker or A-Mid for Melbourne. It seems United plans to play him on the wing. Where have we seen this before?

Fred had 4 assists in the A-League's championship game to help Melbourne to a 6-0 win. He also has some talent as a spokesperson. Much like the Emilo signing, we won't really know what type of player United got until we see him on the field. Actually, DC hasn't even signed him yet, and United isn't even commenting on the player after the breakdown in talks with Ruy ealier this offseason. It seems to me that this might be a good signing if it goes through. I don't know enough at this time, but we definately need someone to fill in at the wing position, so hopefully this guy can be the man to give United some width to their play.

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06 March 2007

Diablo on Demand

Just a quick further word on Marco Etcheverry being hired by DC United. Yes, as fan this makes the cockles of my heart warm. But as an amateur analyst, I have to ask this question: What is Marco doing, and what is he not doing? According to the press release that Kinney linked to earlier, Diablo's duties are:

...scouting activities, serving as a liaison to Latin American countries and working as an ambassador for D.C. United domestically and internationally. Etcheverry will also work closely with D.C. United Director of Youth Development John Maessner in providing training and technical support for United's youth teams and academy programs.

All good stuff, and all valuable contributions to D.C. United. I mean, he's kind of a minister without portfolio. My wife called him Kevin Payne's new "Karl Rove, only not evil." Still, I seem to recall that Marco had gotten his coaching certifications (wasn't he working on at least a "C" license at one point?). And while there's a lot of club management related activity, there doesn't seem to be a lot of coaching responsibility here. And I have to wonder: What if a coaching opportunity comes along?

There's another possibility here. Given these various demands, Marco could lean a great deal about running a professional club. If offered coach/ownership of the right club in the Liga Boliviano, might he take it? Yes, that's a wild bit of speculation, but part of me can shake the feeling that while it's great to have El Diablo back in black and red, it might only be for a few years. Okay, speculation over. I'm just going to enjoy having him around now.

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05 March 2007

In Which I Discover that I Would Make a Bad General Manager

As Kinney recapped yesterday, a whole mess of stuff happened right before the second leg of the Olimpia match. We'll get to each of them in turn for more detail. One of those was the waiving of Domenic Mediate. Dom was one of those guys, like Shawn Kuykendall, that I had an irrational favor for. A player on the margins who put his heart into the game. I wanted Domenic to succeed. When Ihmelu chopped him down in the LA Game last year, it even started one of the few anger-tinged debates we've had in the comments here. He was a guy who, despite tanking on my fantasy team in 2005 with Columbus, I really liked.

I'll admit, I was disappointed to learn we waived him. From a business standpoint, it's probably the right decision. From an ethics viewpoint, DCU is probably in the clear since they gave him time to heal and then compete for the job. Still, though, if I were a GM I'd have a hard time cutting a guy who took a broken leg for my team last year. Yeah, I'd give him something of a pass for most of a season. Is that good business, or good soccer? Probably not. Ethically, I think all DC had to do was give him time to recover and a shot at re-earning his way onto the team. That being said, I feel horrible about seeing him leave. I know, there's little place for sentimentality when pursuing championships. It still bugs me. Mock me in the comments.


04 March 2007

DCU News and Updates

So United decided to go press release crazy just before the Olimpia game on Thursday. I know that my fellow bloggers and I saw all this then, but were just too keen on the game to mention it then. But lots of news happened and I think I will take this slow Sunday to catch up on it.

1) DC United Waive Mediate: This is very unfortunate news, I was hoping that Dom would be recovered enough to contribute this year. He played well last year and would have given DC some depth this year. Basically, Mediate could not be a developmental player this year and United did not think that he was worth a regular spot as he was coming off a brutal injury. Did I mention that I can't stand Ugo Ihemelu. It is probably the right move by Payne & Co but still is a downer. Here is hoping that Dom catches on somewhere. Personally I am hoping for a USL team so I can root for him again.

2) Marco is back with United: Crypitcaly alluded to by D. The official press conference was just before the Olimpia game. Marco will be the Special Consultant to the President (Payne not Bush).
In his new role, the legendary playmaker will serve in a number of capacities, ranging from scouting activities, serving as a liaison to Latin American countries and working as an ambassador for D.C. United domestically and internationally. Etcheverry will also work closely with D.C. United Director of Youth Development John Maessner in providing training and technical support for United's youth teams and academy programs.
This is a great move by United, Etch is somebody who can add legitamacy to United both among the local hispanic population and in South America. He is a graduate of Tahuichi Academy, one of the most famos player development acadamies in the world, so he probably has a few tips on how to build United's youth program. All in all this is great news as United keeps a legend involved and allows him the flexiblity to help where needed.

3) Catch DCU on Comcast SportsNet: For the first time ever you will be able to catch every DC United game on TV. Well if you have HDNet, but that isn't CSN's fault. This is a great deal, its four years, has ancillary programing, and according to Goff, a rights fee. The ancillary programing includes another round of "Brunch with DC United" that brought us some of the classic games last year. This year it will show the best (and worst) games of 2006. Also, this deal introduces a new program entitled D.C. United: Director's Cut, which will be hosted by Ben Olsen. The rights fee is important too, it is either a first or second in MLS (depending on the KC contract signed earlier this season). Great deal for DCU and great to see CSN get involved to this extent.

4) DC finalizes its Pre-Season Plans: This schedule includes the rumored game against Motagua in Florida and a trip to Mexico before the Chivas away leg. Smart planning by United's Front Office. Hopefully it will pay off.

5) Perkins should be ready for Chivas: From Goff's blog, he states that Perkins should be ready by March 15 to take on CD Guadelajara at Estadio RFK. This is great news as I am not exactly confident about Nolly after his time in the Olimpia game. Goff also reports that United are trialing Brazilian forward Welton Silva and Danish/American defender Jamil Fearrington. Jamil posts on BigSoccer. Also mentioned are the rumors we have heard about an undisclosed player that DC is looking at bringing in.

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02 March 2007

DC United v. CD Olimpia Second Leg Highlights

For those of you who missed the game. Here is a youtube video.

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Debriefing for Match 12.A.02: CD Olimpia

Leg #2 - DC UNITED 3 : 2 CD Olimpia
Aggregate - DC United 7 : 3 CD Olimpia

Six Word Novel Recap

The rain fell. So did Olimpia.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "United claimed a 3-2 victory before 8,181 spectators to win the series by a 7-3 aggregate score."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: "The D.C. United faithful likely will chant Luciano Emilio's name plenty this season. United's new Brazilian acquisition scored two exquisite goals last night against his old team, CD Olimpia of Honduras..."
UnitedMania, Jimmy LaRoue: "Olimpia threatened United's defense on numerous occasions, especially in the first half, and it was rewarded with a 30th minute penalty from Hendry Thomas after Bryan Namoff's foul in the 18-yard box."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "
United's back line were making things even more difficult for themselves with some slipshod passing under high pressure and they finally paid the price in the 29th minute when Namoff scuffed his clearance deep in his own corner and compounded the error by clipping Barahona as he cut back onto his right foot in the penalty area."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: (yes, a second article, dude earns his paycheck) "With the 7-3 win on aggregate against Olimpia, United advances to take on CD Guadalajara (better known as Chivas) in the tournament's semifinals, with the first leg scheduled for March 15 at RFK. The Mexican giants present a substantially more imposing obstacle for the Black-and-Red, but United's veter
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "With the exception of the second goal, our [DC's] defense looked very composed and in control. I would have to say that Boswell, Erpen, Namoff and Simms killed off about 10 minutes of the match at the end, simply with their ball control. Erpen still had a few of his "WTF!?!?!" moments, but Boswell showed exactly why he will be a regular part of the USMNT this summer with his ability to cover for his fellow defenders."
BlackDogRed: "One distinct difference I see so far between Nowak's and Soehn's philosophies is Soehn is sending Erpen forward far more regularly, loping a midfielder behind to cover, and I think this signals a far less rigid - and hopefully far more joyful - system."
(NOTE: We may add more recaps to this list as we see them. Or we may not. It depends on how lazy I am.)

The Good

  1. Emiliorgasm: When Luciano Emilio first was announced as coming to DC United, I wondered if he was good enough to help the team more than our beloved Alecko Eskandarian. Now I'm starting to wonder iff the rest of the team is good enough to use Emilio. Seeing him in person is seeing more than just great finishing. He does so many things well, from runs off the ball to little touches to other players into space to glancing headers designed to take advantage of another's well designed run. Simply an amazing home debut.
  2. Tactically Sound: Coach Tom Soehn has already shown he is not Piotr Nowak. Two substitutions at the half was something I don't recall seeing once last year, especially with one of them being for Moreno. He also showed the ability to think differently. When I first hears Olsen's name announced, I had assumed he was coming in for McTavish. That he came in for Carroll showed flexiblity in Soehn's line-ups, adapting to the situation in a way that called for it. These are good changes in my mind, hopeful ones that show that Soehn is showing his own way of doing things. This is his team now.
  3. Clyde Simms: One of his best performances to date. What impressed me was not only his ability to step into passing lanes and take possession, but how quickly his head was up and he was usually able to distribute the ball.
  4. Facundo Erpen: I know, he had his share of bad giveaways, but these weren't nearly as often, or as dangerous, as they were in the past. Most of his risk taking involved poor decisions near the center line, as opposed to out of the box. He also showed real class on several tackles, and given that I rag on him occasionally I wanted to laud his performance last night.
  5. Boswell: Is really, really, really, for real. Part of me keeps thinking that as much as I love the guy, he may suddenly show that he's not as good as we think he is. Instead, he just keeps solidifying his game.
  6. Jamil Walker: How can a guy who took three clear chances and sent two off them off Olimpia's keeper's face get on the Good list? Because of everything that led to those chances. He was more active in all aspects of the game, from making good runs to harassing Olimpia through the midfield. Excellent all-round effort from the second half substitute.
  7. Ben Olsen: He took the Captain's armband from Moreno for the second half, and provided excellent on-field leadership and composure from the defensive midfield position.

The Bad

  1. 20 minute warm-up: Not sure why, but United was quite ragged the opening twenty minutes of the game in all aspects.
  2. Wing Speed: This is still a problem. McTavish was abused in the opening half, although he recovered somewhat in the second half. Gros also found difficulty in both shutting down his side defensively and in beating Olimpia defenders to through balls down his side.
  3. Jaime Moreno: It's tough to say something bad about a legend, but his opening 45 minutes were not inspiring. I can usually understand his decision making when he chooses to pass rather than pull the trigger, but his decision to pass up a shot in the twentieth minute when he was in on the keeper was truly befuddling, as his pass to McTavish was across three Olimpia defenders and put McTavish into a much tighter angle that Jaime was in.
  4. Cohesion: We're still definitely in pre-season form. Or, if you want to be pessimistic, end of last season form. It's showing up in little ways, and can get much better.
  5. The Perkins Injury: Nothing against Jay Nolly, but seeing Troy limp off the field was not a good feeling. I know we want him to come back for the game on the 15th, but I'd even prefer he missed the game rather than come back too soon and make things worse. Get well, Troy. Don't worry about "soon." We'll worry about that. You just get better.

Man of the Match

I want to give this to Clyde Simms, but Emilio deserves it. Welcome to DC, Luciano Emilio. Merit awards to Simms, Boswell, Gomez, and Olsen.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the game, the rain has subsided to a small drizzle. Across came Olsen, Boswell, and Gomez, applauding the supporters for their efforts. Boswell even fist bumped the D.C. United shield on his jersey. "It's nice to see you all again," their applause said. Well, it was nice to see them again as well. We've missed this. Good to have it back.

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