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Soccer in Sin City

Posted on August 29, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

(Photo from Press Release)

This past week Las Vegas got a little closer to bringing the MLS to Sin City when the city reached an agreement on an estimated $410 million soccer stadium. Now as one may expect, this agreement is contingent upon the MLS actually approving of a team heading to the desert, whether it be an expansion team or a current team in need of a move. With all that said I think I speak for many of us when I ask…is soccer in Las Vegas really a good idea? Well why don’t we take a look at some of the things that may come up if the MLS really does decide to gamble in Nevada.

 

History of Professional Sports in Las Vegas:

Obviously one of the big worries is legal gambling, but I will be straight up honest right now and say that although I consider myself well versed in many aspects of professional athletics, gambling doesn’t happen to be one of them. At the very least, I am not knowledgeable enough to make a good argument one way or the other in this article, so I will abstain from speaking of this potential problem for now.

When it comes to professional sports in Vegas, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. It’s one of the largest cities in the United States to not have a professional sports team and most relatively large attempts at having a professional team in the city have failed. 

Whether it be the XFL (remember that folks?), the Canadian Football League (yeah remember when they tried an American expansion as well?...ok well I do) or the UFL, every single attempt at professional American football has flopped in Vegas. In fact in the cases of the CFL’s “Las Vegas Posse” and the XFL’s “Las Vegas Outlaws”, both teams only lasted a year before folding (mind you, the XFL only lasted a year as a league in general). The Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL did last a little longer, but eventually folded three years after their 2009 inception.

As for minor league sports, Las Vegas is represented by both hockey and baseball. The AAA, “Las Vegas 51’s” are a part of the New York Mets organization and the ECHL’s “Las Vegas Wranglers” serve as an affiliate for the NHL’s, Calgary Flames. Although the Wranglers have had success as a team, the franchise has found itself homeless in 2014 which resulted in having to ask for a voluntary suspension from operations until the 2015-16 season. As for the 51’s, they have only managed to fill half of their 9,000+ stadium over the past few years and they currently sit in last place for average attendance in the Pacific Coast League this season so far.

Sure college sports have done ok in Vegas and both Rugby 7’s and National Finals Rodeo tend to be a hit in the city, but they are only there for a short time before they leave each year. It’s hard not to worry that even those popular events wouldn’t suffer the same consequences if they were given time for the shine to wear off.

Weather:

I will be the first to admit that I am a weather nerd, so it’s always one of the first things I think of when an outdoor sport like soccer decides to move to a climate known for its severe weather one way or the other. Given the current MLS schedule, it seems nearly impossible that an MLS team would be able to play outdoors in Las Vegas being that through the midway part of the season, Vegas is pushing triple digits in the daytime.

Although the summer lows in Las Vegas do reach the almost perfect temperature of 75 degrees, it would still take some time for it to cool down to that level. San Jose is known to start matches as late as 8:00pm, but as I type this right now at 7:47pm in late August, the temperature in Vegas still reads at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even putting soccer indoors would be rough as I have been inside arenas in that sort of heat and it doesn’t get much better inside…in fact most of the time it’s worse.

 

Not Worth the Gamble:

I am trying to come up with any pros to having soccer in Las Vegas, but to be honest I am drawing a blank. I feel bad for the true soccer fans that do live in Nevada, but I couldn’t imagine them being enough to support a franchise, especially when attendance in the MLS is on the rise and we know there are other options that will surely do better, such as Sacramento here out west. Experimenting with soccer in Sin City at this point seems completely reckless and irresponsible as the league is finally finding its feet.

I would love to be proven wrong, trust me. If soccer ended up taking off in Vegas, it would basically be the first professional sport to do so and how amazing would that be for the growth of the game domestically? But the realistic side of me just can’t see the sport fitting into the personality of the city whatsoever.  Perhaps I am missing something and if that is the case, feel free to post your comments and let me know. Maybe I just need to be more of a gambler.

Posted in Football, Futbol, Las Vegas, MLS, Sin City, Soccer, USA

Top Three Americans To Watch In The Premier League This Season

Posted on August 22, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

The brand new Premier League season isn’t even a week old yet and already we have had the drama of Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United losing their opening match to Swansea, as well as the return of Mario Balotelli…only this time in Liverpool FC red.

Along with all that we also finally have confirmation that America’s own rising star, DeAndre Yedlin will be taking his talents abroad at some point in the not so distant future.  Tottenham has officially signed the youngster, it’s just a matter of whether he’ll dawn a Hotspurs kit immediately after the current MLS season or if they will wait until a later date. With all the buzz surrounding Yedlin, as well as other Americans looking to come back to their home country, I decided it would be worth it to look at my Top Three Americans playing in the Premier League this season.

 

3. Jozy Altidore – Sunderland

I have this feeling Jozy will be a lot more fun to watch this season as the pressure is somewhat off of him, at least relatively speaking.  There was a lot of talk during the offseason whether Altidore would come back to the states or not, but according to Sunderland’s Manager, Gus Poyet, Altidore is happy where he is and you could make the argument that it was his presence off the bench that may have lifted Sunderland to a game tying goal in their opener against West Brom.

Injuries have always been a problem for Altidore and it’s likely fans of the New Jersey native will be holding their breath every time he stays down on the pitch for a spell, but if Altidore can stay healthy and can play with a care free attitude, I do believe he could be a difference maker for a side that struggled last season immensely.

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2.Tim Howard – Everton FC

Not much of a shock Tim Howard would be in the Top Three, especially since America’s brick wall announced he will be taking the year off from National Duty. That means our only chance to see Howard will be in the Premier League between the pipes for “The Toffees”.  

Everton had a bit of a disappointing start to their season with a Week 1 draw with Leicester City F.C., but many people including myself still believe that Everton could at the very least find themselves in a Champion’s League position by the end of the season. It goes without saying that Tim Howard will need to be…well….Tim Howard for that to happen.

He’s made the position of goalkeeper “cool” here in the states much like his predecessor, Kasey Keller and if you were lucky enough to watch him during the 2014 World Cup, you know exactly why. Howard is not only one of the top Americans to play the game, he’s one of the top goalkeepers in the world to play the game. 

1.Geoff Cameron – Stoke City……for now

Geoff Cameron could be one of the most underrated Americans in soccer. Perhaps it has to do with his position or the fact he plays for a mid-table team that hardly ever gets notoriety here in the states even though they have a history of at least letting their American players see time on the pitch.

What makes Cameron interesting this season though might actually have to do with his asking to leave Stoke City. Now I understand that he does have Serie A and Bundesliga teams eyeing him, so he would no longer be an “American in the Premier League” if either of those leagues landed him, but since he is currently in England and Hull City looks to be the front runner anyway, I feel like this makes Cameron a very interesting player this season.

Although defense is his strongpoint, Cameron truly is a utility player who has played solid throughout his career. After attracting some attention during the World Cup and now having teams pursue him, hopefully more people will open their eyes to the player he is.

Posted in Bundesliga, DeAndre Yedlin, FIFA, Football, Futbol, Geoff Cameron, Homegrown, Jozy Altidore, Kasey Keller, Premier League, Soccer, Tim Howard, Tottenham, USA, USMNT, WC2014, World Cup

2014 Premier League Predictions

Posted on August 14, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 1 Comment

 

A whole new season of Premier League soccer is only a couple days away and so it’s time for me to make some predictions that everyone can save in their memory and use to embarrass me when I end up being completely and terribly wrong. You know what they say though? One of these days….I’ll get it right. So without further adieu, here are some of my predictions heading into the 2014-2015 season.

 

Who is the most likely "Dark Horse"? 

In my opinion that would be Everton. It’s hard to consider a team with names like Mirallas, Lukaku and Tim Howard a “Dark Horse”, but the truth is that they are. However, Everton showed to be a talented side last season and one that could definitely shake things up when they wanted to. With their biggest rivals losing a name like Suarez (insert another bite joke here) and many of their own players hitting their peak, I think the upcoming season could be huge for Everton.

Of course Everton isn’t the only team who could prove to be a bit of a shock, in my opinion Tottenham could end  up being kind of like Everton was last year. I’d also watch for Newcastle to improve on their mid table finish last year.

 

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Who is most likely to be relegated?

After just being promoted this season, I think there is a good chance QPR and Burnley will both find themselves back in The Championship League after all is said and done. That said, I do believe Leicester will keep their heads above water while West Bromwich Albion joins QPR and Burnley in being relegated.

 

Who will lead the league in scoring?

Well with Luis Suarez out of the picture, that should open the door for last year’s runner up, Daniel Sturridge.  Yaya Toure should be in the mix as well, but he will have to compete with teammate Sergio Aguero just as he did last season. Wayne Rooney should improve on last season’s tally as well, giving Sturridge a run for his money.

 

My final predictions?  1. Daniel Sturridge 2. Wayne Rooney 3. Sergio Aguero

 

Who will be crowned Champions?

This one is obviously the big question and one of the tougher ones.  Although I am a believer when it comes to Daniel Sturridge and I am not a fan of Luis Suarez’s antics, I do believe Liverpool will struggle a bit without the double threat. That might open the door for Sturridge to score more goals, but being that the two of them scored a combined 52 goals last year, there is no way Sturridge  will be able to put the team on his back and make up for the loss of Suarez.

Reigning Champions, Manchester City FC on the other hand have their goal scoring duo of Aguero and Toure still intact. There aren’t a lot of reasons why they shouldn’t repeat, so it will take a team coming in who doesn’t have a lot of reasons why they shouldn’t snatch the championship away. Manchester United FC might be that team. Although guys like Rooney may be getting a tad bit long in the tooth, we all know they are still capable of brilliance.  ManU is also full of superstars and although that might not always be a good thing, brand new Skipper, Louis Van Gaal may just be the right guy to turn all of the egos into a Championship team once again. With names like Fellani, Van Persie, Cleverley and Welbeck on your roster, it’s hard to argue against the Red Devils…… Unless of course you are Chelsea FC who have their beloved Didier Drogba back, as well as other worldwide superstars like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas.

So how do I believe the Top 5 will look by the end of this season?

  1. Manchester United FC
  2. Manchester City FC
  3. Chelsea FC
  4. Everton FC
  5. Liverpool FC

 

Let me know what you all think as well! Cheers to a brand new season!

Posted in BPL, Chelsea, EPL, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Premier League, Tottenham

No Calendar Change for you, MLS!

Posted on August 07, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

 

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Over the All-Star weekend, many things were discussed regarding the MLS including already announced expansion teams, speculated future expansion teams, promotion/relegation never happening, as well as a claim from FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, that the MLS will change over to a traditional FIFA calendar in the future. Now, with all due respect to President Blatter, I do try to take things coming from him with a grain of salt, but that didn’t stop the discussion from starting and that’s why I am here to tell you why a calendar change won’t work in the MLS. Where shall I start?

 

Competition from Other Popular Sports during the Fall/Winter Months:

This is obviously one of the first concerns that comes up whenever this discussion rears its ugly head. It’s a very legitimate one too. Those for a traditional FIFA calendar argue that the MLS could hold matches on Fridays and Saturdays, but even then the MLS will still be competing with the NHL, NBA and NCAA football. I don’t care about the level of popularity that the NBA and NHL have either, the truth is, the NHL has been fighting to be noticed over the past few years as well and they’ve gone out and made it happen. The fan demographic may be a tad bit different, but with networks like NBC Sports being both soccer and hockey heavy, many of us have become fans of both sports (or you were just born that way like me) and you can make a good argument for the NBA taking away viewers as well. Take that all away and Fridays are still not great nights for TV anyways and Saturdays with NCAA football games would end up being deadly for the MLS.

As much as we’re trying to fit in with the rest of the world, we are also trying to keep our own identity as well, so even though European League matches would be on earlier in the day, a ton of the American soccer fans here who still find it hard to transition from European leagues to the MLS would find it even harder when they already got their fill for the week. The fact starving soccer fans have little to turn to in the summer besides MLS does work in the favor of the domestic league.

All in all, this argument should be enough to keep things the way they are, but let’s move on….

 

The Weather:

I should have started with this, because it’s the obvious.  England, Spain, Germany and Italy are all relatively moderate climates with parts of Germany arguably being an exception of sorts. Not to mention the size of the countries are drastically smaller than the USA, so it’s a little easier to know what to expect.

Sure if we were just talking about the West Coast, all would be fine. Seattle down the coast to Los Angeles is the perfect climate for a traditional FIFA Calendar, but let’s just move a little bit west…..does anyone remember USA vs. Costa Rica in Colorado? That match was played near the spring! Colorado and Utah both see weather like that frequently throughout the fall and winter and we haven’t even gotten to Chicago, New York, New England, Philadelphia, and D.C. yet. There is a good chance that at least two weeks out of every winter month, at least two teams would be playing in significant snowfall and that might be a conservative prediction. Of course if the weather was to get really bad, multiple games would be postponed and the calendar would get completely thrown off.

USA is a big country my friends, our varying climates make it nearly impossible to hold outdoor sporting events in the fall and winter. This is why the NFL has so many indoor stadiums and please don’t say that’s a possibility for MLS soccer. New stadiums in Kansas City, New York, Colorado and Utah have all been built recently for the soul purpose of soccer and those would all likely be subjected to inclement weather in the winter months.

I realize there have been games in Europe played in the snow and I realize the players and fans survived and I do believe that the MLS would survive through a couple of those as well, but with a traditional FIFA calendar we wouldn’t face a couple of those a season and they wouldn’t be just fluke snow storms, we would face a couple or more a month and they would likely be blizzards. 

Once again, this argument should be enough.

 

Attendance at Games:

This one can go with both of the above arguments. The MLS is still a growing league and will continue to be one for years to come. The truth is that the MLS is gaining new followers in the summer, because it doesn’t have much competition from other sports and spending a sunny day at a sporting event is a good pull. Once people take the bait, they finally see how awesome the sport can be and although that may not be the lone reason the MLS is growing, it is a part of it.

Due to both weather and other sporting events in the winter, the attendance that the MLS has worked so hard on building since 2009 would likely plummet in places like Chicago and New England. Even in Seattle where there are numerous rabid soccer fans, you’d be crazy to think that competing with the Seahawks wouldn’t harm Sounders ticket sales, regardless of what days the games are being played.

The MLS is an American league and it’s American Soccer, sure we all love what we see in Europe, but we love it because it’s Europe and it’s different. When it comes to the MLS though, we have to do what’s best for us. To me it’s not about establishing a league that fights to get noticed with the European leagues, it’s about establishing a league here in the United States where we can help grow the sport on American soil, however that may be.  We’re not England, we’re not Italy, we’re not Spain and we never will be, but that’s not a bad thing! Those places and those leagues will always be there for us to enjoy, but the MLS is ours and we need to make it work here our way. Summer soccer for life.

 

 

 

Posted in All-Star, Calendar, FIFA, MLS

My Past and Present MLS All-Star Team

Posted on August 01, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

Major League Soccer isn’t even 20 years old yet, but it’s easy to forget some of the all-time MLS greats with the surge of talent that has taken hold of the MLS over the past five years. In honor of the upcoming MLS All-Star game in Portland, OR, where the best in the MLS will be taking on Bundesliga Champions, Bayern Munich, I decided to make up a list of my all-time starting XI MLS All-Stars. I’ve tried to mix in some older players from my childhood with current players, please feel free to share your team as well!

 

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(4-3-3)

 

Goalkeeper:  Kasey Keller, Seattle Sounders FC

This is obviously one of the tougher positions to pick based on the fact that the USA has always produced phenomenal goalkeeping and many of them have played in the MLS at some point. Tony Meola was obviously a close second and current stars like Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson all rank up there near the top as well. However, when it all comes down to it, Kasey Keller dominated throughout his whole career including his final stint in the MLS back in his home state of Washington with the Seattle Sounders. He’s the kind of keeper that gives his team a win when they should have lost 5-0. There are many keepers that are deserving, but in the end, I am putting Keller between the pipes.

 

  

 Defense:  Eddie Pope (DC United, MetroStars, Real Salt Lake) , Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Carlos Bocanegra (Chicago Fire, Chivas USA) and Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders FC)

Eddie Pope’s MLS accolades are incredible. That said, it was a much different league when he was at his prime, but still when you look at what Pope did for the MLS it is hard to argue that he might be the best defensive player that the league has seen.

Matt Besler on the other hand has proven himself in the much improved MLS, landing him a solid spot on the USMNT’s World Cup squad this year, as well as interest from European clubs. Just as he has in the past though, Besler continues to stay loyal to his home in Kansas City where he and Sporting KC are reigning MLS Champions.

Carlos Bocanegra is one of only two MLS defenders to win back to back “Defender of the Year” awards, a feat he accomplished in the 2002 and 2003 seasons with the Chicago Fire. After spending a few years squad hopping in Europe, Bocanegra returned to the MLS this year to help revive Chivas USA.

Along with Bocanegra, Chad Marshall is the only other MLS defender to have won back to back “Defender of the Year” honors, both of which he won with the Columbus Crew in 2008 and 2009. This year he fell into the hands of Sigi Schmid and the Seattle Sounders and he has once again proven to be one of the most solid defenders in the league. He isn’t particularly flashy, but flashy isn’t always a must for a defender, especially when you make it look as easy as Chad Marshall does.

 

  

 Midfield: Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy), Carlos Valderrama (Tampa Bay Mutiny, Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids), Kyle Beckerman (Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake)

For all that he’s done for USA Soccer, as well as the MLS, there still has always been a love/hate relationship with fans and Landon Donovan. He’s not the most personable guy in the world, but what he’s accomplished on the pitch both domestically and abroad is phenomenal and he continues to pour it on to this day. I have been fortunate enough to see “LD” play multiple times in person and he never disappoints.

Carlos Valderrama was one of the first international players to really make waves in the MLS. Part of that was thanks to his bright blonde afro, but an even larger portion had to do with the Columbian’s playmaking skills. I mean the guy was chosen by Pele as one of FIFA’s top 100 greatest living footballers….how can I argue with Pele?

I have always enjoyed watching Kyle Beckerman play, as his skills as a shutdown midfielder are terribly underrated in my opinion. He’s been a large part of Real Salt Lake’s success season after season and is one of the first players I would call upon if I were setting up my own fantasy team.

 

  

 Forwards:  Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

I realize these three are all current players and I feel like I should be burned at the stake for not including Brian McBride, but since this is my team, I am just going with my gut and this is who I would choose. I remember watching Thierry Henry play for Arsenal, Barcelona and the French National Team when I was a kid and always being in awe of what he could do with the ball. Henry in his prime rivaled Ronaldinho as being one of the most entertaining players in the world to watch and even now as his career nears its end, he is still worth the price of admission.

Robbie Keane has it all, he can setup a play, he can finish one off, he’s hard to knock off the ball and he can rile up the opposition as well. If Keane is playing against your team, you’d be lying if you said you don’t shutter every time you hear his name called. Since playing in the MLS, Robbie Keane has established himself as one of the top strikers in the league and he’s one of my personal favorites.

It may seem like people like me are still a little hung up on Chris Wondolowski’s incredible 27 goal season back in 2012 where he tied Roy Lassiter for the most goals scored in a season. Although his 11 goals last season seems miniscule compared to 2012 and his five so far this year doesn’t make a lot of heads turn, you have to remember that injuries and National Team duty have played a huge part in those smaller numbers. Wondolowski’s poaching abilities are some of the best and that’s why I would add him to my All-Star team, Past and Present

 

 

Posted in All-Star, Carlos Bocanegra, Carlos Valderrama, Chad Marshall, Chris Wondolowski, Eddie Pope, Kasey Keller, Kyle Beckerman, Landon Donovan, Matt Besler, MLS, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry

2014 MLS Shockers

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

WRITTEN: 7/18/14

 

We’re a little over the halfway point of the 2014 MLS season and there have been plenty of shocking results along the way.  Some teams have fallen from grace while others have flown away from the ashes and found new life in the playoff picture. Rather than focus on those who are having struggles though, I am instead going to focus on the three teams that I feel have shocked us with their play this year and give you my thoughts on whether they can hold on or not.

 

Number 3: Chivas USA

I know Chivas USA is currently out of the playoffs right now, but you’d be lying if you said you weren’t expecting more of the same from them after witnessing a winless streak that lasted from mid-March to nearly mid-May. However a switch seems to have flipped as of late and the Goats now find themselves only three points out of the Western Conference playoff picture with a game in hand against fifth place FC Dallas.

Chivas USA hasn’t exactly been blowing away competition, but they have shown the grit and determination that is needed to make a playoff push over these last few months.  Their recent 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps could end up being a huge road marker for the squad as Vancouver is right there on the bubble with them.

How do I think this will turn out?  Call me crazy, but I think I am becoming a believer that these guys could actually make the playoffs this year and turn some heads.  There have even been rumors that USMNT star Jermaine Jones has contemplated joining the team and regardless of the outcome, none of the publicity is bad for the mindset of the Goats.  They should be fun to watch down the stretch.

 

Number 2: Toronto FC

This was a tough one, because I could have just as easily included New England Revolution in my Top Three, but given the fact Toronto is in a position to make the playoffs for the first time ever? I had to go with the Canadian side.

I know many people will argue that the Reds stacked their team during the offseason with names like Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, but let’s be honest, this team has struggled so much since their inception that it takes a lot more than two superstars to right the ship.

Their road hasn’t been one of the more consistent ones this year, but they have been in every match and their play is a vast improvement from what we are used to seeing. As I said, it will take a lot more than a couple superstars, but Jermain Defoe’s ridiculous work ethic doesn’t look like it’s coming to an end any time soon and if Jonathan Osorio can get even better with his services, he and Defoe could become a potent 1-2 punch.

I am still not sure I see Toronto making the playoffs this season unless they can find a little more consistency week in and week out. With The New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union hot on their tail, there will be no time for relaxation in these last few months.  That said, I do believe this is only the start for Toronto FC and they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. New York City FC cross-border rivalry anyone?

 

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Number 1: D.C. United

After a 2013 season that saw only three wins for the storied MLS club, D.C. has seen a HUGE improvement in 2014 kicking it with reigning Champions, Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Although United did snag former Sounders star, Eddie Johnson during the offseason, it’s actually been Argentine, Fabian Espindola who has been the standout this season with seven goals and eight assists so far. They didn’t let a rough 0-2 start to their season worry them and have been consistently solid ever since.

I have little doubt that D.C. United will make the playoffs this year. Barring any ridiculous meltdown, they have shown to be an above average squad. Wins against Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC are very promising and I don’t think it’s crazy to think that they might in fact be a realistic contender to represent the Eastern Conference in the MLS Cup. As for beating the Western representative?  Well that’s for another day.

 

DC United "The District" Shirt  

 

What do you guys think? 

Posted in Chivas USA, DC UNITED, Football, Futbol, MLS, Soccer, Toronto FC

Red, White and Blue Collar

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

 

 

The conversations about the USMNT haven’t stopped even though it’s been nearly a week since the 2014 World Cup ended. For those of us who love seeing the progression of the sport here in the USA, this is a good thing. It’s nice to see people show genuine interest in what Klinsmann and the boys should do to prepare for their 2018 Russia Campaign.

Although the World Cup ended with mostly the favorites in the mix for the title, it doesn’t take away from the fact that teams like Costa Rica, Mexico and of course, The USA left their mark on the 2014 tournament and provided a much better than expected outing for CONCACAF. 

Although I am a huge soccer fan, I don’t have all the answers to why CONCACAF had a breakout year in relative terms.  However, the few things I did notice – at least to my eye – had to do with a more straight forward, blue collar take on the game. It wasn’t always about flash (although there were some spectacular moments from each team) or about star players, but more about teams who gritted out each match. And I don’t mean “gritted out” in the sense of “hung on by their fingertips”, I mean they came out to play hard working soccer and it seemed to work quite alright for them.

It’s understandable for most people to come to the conclusion that adding some flash to that blue collar style might be the answer to an even more successful outing in 2018. That said, I can’t help, but wonder what would happen if instead, we added more blue collar style players? You know the type? Mike Magee, Jack Jewsbury, Conor Casey (who has had some success in a USA kit), Lamar Neagle, you get the picture.  Now I do understand that those players I just mentioned – with the exception of Lamar Neagle – will all be in their mid-30’s by the time 2018 rolls around and they are unlikely to ever see an appearance with the USMNT for the remainder of their careers, but I do feel players with their style could have a place in future World Cup tournaments. 

Of course when you think Seattle Sounders, you think, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, but take a look at a good portion of goals scored by either of those two and more than likely you will see Lamar Neagle played some part in the buildup and it is worth mentioning that he has also come through with his own clutch goals on a number of occasions.  Mike Magee’s record speaks for itself and I think it’s safe to say that he might be one of the more missed guys in Los Angeles and now one of the more beloved guys in Chicago. Both Jack Jewsbury and Conor Casey will forever impress me with their work ethic and how they continue to contribute to their squads even when they are all, but forgotten about by analysts and experts.

We’ve seen Brazil abandon their “Samba Style” and we’ve seen a unit like Germany dominate. Although Germany does possess some flash, the secret to their success – in my opinion – rests in the fact that they are 100% a hard working team. Every part of Die Mannschaft is running on all cylinders throughout each match and although not all their goals may be highlight reel worthy, they score a bunch of them. I understand that each player on the team is at a higher skill level than the MLS players I mentioned above, but I feel like the blue print is similar. I know it’s called “The Beautiful Game” for a reason, but I feel like I am starting to see a grittier beauty become much more effective over time. 

The MLS still has a ways to go before it gains worldly respect, but it played one of its bigger parts in this year’s World Cup and I imagine it is likely that this trend will continue.  Personally I think it would be exciting to see a guy like Lamar Neagle get a chance to at least show his stuff in a tournament like The CONCACAF Gold Cup and see what happens from there.  I am doubtful guys like him are even a tiny blip on the radar right now, but I am optimistic the result would be a satisfying one if we gave hard working players a chance to prove themselves a little more often.

Which lesser known players would you like to see get a shot?

Posted in 2018, Chicago Fire, CONCACAF, Conor Casey, Football, Futbol, Gold Cup, Jack Jewsbury, Lamar Neagle, Mike Magee, MLS, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Russia, Seattle Sounders, Soccer, USA, USMNT, World Cup

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