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Posts Tagged ‘MLS’

The looming strike and the C. Horridus work stoppage

March 15, 2010 5 comments

C. Horridus has been on life-support for a while.

One reason is because I simply don’t have the time. The more important factor, however, is also the more cynical one.

On days that I do have time, when I’m tempted to write something about the Union’s pre-season, I think of the looming strike. I think about all the effort I put into the site over the winter holiday and all the effort I’d need to put into it now. Then I figure there’s a good 30% chance it will all be for nothing. And so I don’t write a thing.

This is the side of the potential work stoppage that people forget about. This disupute affects more than just the players, the league, and, yes, the fans. It’s also about the professionals–or wanna-be professionals–who are staking a lot on the success of this league and the continued popularity of soccer in the US. What about Ives Galarcep and his stunningly succesful site? What about Match Fit USA? American Soccer News? Kyle J. McCarthy and his excellent reporting work on the Revs and the league?

These are all people who depend on MLS, who need the league to continue so they can continue doing what they want to do. If the league shoots itself in the foot, then what happens to these these guys? What about their careers?

And for me, as much as I would like to, I just can’t risk it.  If there’s no work stoppage, then great, I’ll start writing again as soon as the season begins. But my time is too rare right now to waste it on a league that may self-implode.

So MLS, are you listening? Don’t fuck things up. This situation affects far more than just a few hundred players and a gaggle of MLS owners.

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First callback name revealed [updated]

January 26, 2010 1 comment

Former Lehigh University goalkeeper Sam Bishop has started training with the Philadelphia Union, according to an article on the official Lehigh Men’s Soccer website.

Bishop received the callback the day of the second tryout:

“It was a great experience and it was fairly inexpensive compared to other open tryouts. I thought the tryout went ok and I ended up being one of 25 guys to get a call back out of a thousand. I went back for another tryout this past Sunday and that same night I got an email from an assistant coach inviting me to preseason camp.

Bishop is the first player reported to be called back. A story on the Temple News website claims that JT Noone is also in the Union’s pre-season camp, although it’s unclear whether Noone took part in the tryouts (especially since the just the Tuesday before he was still at the MLS Combine).

This news does not mean that either players have been signed with the Union or are guaranteed a roster spot. It is essentially the third step in the tryout process (and also provides the Union’s undermanned roster with some extra bodies on the practice pitch).

Updates after the jump:

Read more…

Sure, a strike would do irreparable damage to MLS, but, hey, at least this isn’t the Chinese Super League

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Alright, we’re all well aware by now of the upcoming negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement. Most people seem to come down on the side of the players and everyone seems to think that if a strike happens it will be disastrous for the league (me included). But, just for a breath of fresh air, I thought I’d turn the collective heads of US soccer fans eastward, towards China, where professional soccer is in an equally if not far more precarious situation.

Badge of the Chinese football association

Badge of the Chinese Football Association

In many ways, the situation in China is the opposite than in the US. The sport does not suffer from apathy among the general population. Soccer is huge in China and has millions of fans who predominantly support teams in the Premiership or Serie A. Go to any available field in the afternoon–on any day of the week–and it will be filled to bursting with pick-up games.

Yet, still, this country of 1.3 billion people fails to produce develop world-class talent and hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002. It’s top flight league, the Chinese Super League, struggles to draw crowds and develop a fan base.

So what gives?

For a country so big, with such an immense sporting infrastructure, the causes are numerous. Players lack structure, facilities, and top-class coaching. The developmental system for finding and training young players is inadequate at best (China excels in training athletes for individual sports but not team sports, as the Beijing medal count can attest). Chinese families also place a far higher value on academics than sport, so there is a great deal of pressure on children in China to excel at their studies while eschewing everything else.

But the biggest problem in China has nothing to do with the quality of the coaching, players, or youth development system. It has to due with corruption. Massive, systemic corruption. From march-fixing to gambling to pay-offs for relegation and promotion, the Chinese Football association has been a playground for corrupt politicians and businessman since it was founded in 2004. Just do a google news search with the words “China football corruption” and you should find about a week’s worth of reading material on the subject.

The situation is so bad that Chinese fans have given up on the sport. The national team is a national joke. A telling series of quotes from recent Irish times article helps explain the fans attitude better than I possibly could:

Ordinary fans are frustrated with the state of the sport in China. “I used to watch Chinese soccer games. Even when I was 22 I went to the stadium with my father to watch a soccer game. But the games were boring and the teams didn’t play well,” says Xiaoxiao (26) from Shandong province, who prefers Italian football these days.

“I’m a little bit pessimistic about the outlook for Chinese soccer. It has many bureaucratic problems in its system. If it wants to become world class, Chinese soccer needs fundamental changes,” he says.

Meng Xiajie (29), a teacher from Beijing, is a major Manchester United supporter. “A long time ago I used to watch Chinese soccer games, like the national team or Beijing Guoan. But I have to say I was let down. They have so many problems. The players don’t play like true professionals, you have the ‘black whistles’, game-fixing, scandals, problems with the system . . . I feel sometimes Chinese soccer is hopeless. But still in my heart I hope one day we will have great Chinese players,” says Meng.

Now even President Hu Jintao is getting involved. Last week, China announced the arrests of over 20 sport officials on charges of corruption, including the president and two coaches of the Chengdu Blades*, a team owned by England’s Sheffield United. If this latest batch of arrests doesn’t help end the corruption (and 20 arrests are honestly not likely to make much of a difference), then Chinese soccer may soon become completely irrelevant:

Some people, such as Nan Yong, vice-president of the Chinese Football Association, insist the current clean-up is the last chance to save the game. He said: “If match fixing and gambling remain rampant as now, Chinese soccer will be dead. We are ready to pay a huge price to weed it out once and for all.” (The Guardian)

So, MLS fans, as the CBA negotiations near, and you begin to anxiously fear for the future of the league, take solace in the fact that, even if a strike occurs, our situation still isn’t as bad as China’s. That’s got to mean something, right?

*A self-indulgent side note: I lived in Chengdu for three years and went to a few Blades games. Okay team, fantastic fans. For their sake I am really sorry to hear about the troubles at the club.

**Self-indulgent side note #2: My kind-sorta-semi-pro team once played the Blades’ youth team. I was hugely disappointed by the quality of play. The biggest difference between their team and ours was the size of our bellies and the amount of alcohol we had drunk the night before (we lost 4-1 with a little help from the ref). An MLS youth team would have demolished these kids.