Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Video: 80's Movie Describes Soccer's Awe

There may never be a more touching description of Soccer's power to affect the masses.  In the 1985 movie, Vision Quest, the late actor J.C. Quinn, playing Elmo, a blue-collar guy with friendly advice, gets the honor of handling some beautiful writing.

Vision Quest is a movie about a high-school wrestler, Louden Swain, who pursues a match with the state's best wrestler.  In it, Quinn tells Mathew Modine's character, Louden Swain, about one of PelĂ©'s fantastic goals.

The movie develops many characters while telling a story of persistence and eccentricity.  Elmo's descriptions of the goal and how the crowd reacted are a reminder of why Soccer is referenced so often as the world's 'beautiful game.'

This part of the movie is Louden's wake-up call for that night's wrestling match against state champion, Brian Shute.

Louden was moping around, feeling sorry for himself after losing his girlfriend, when he stops by to visit with his co-worker, Elmo.  They know each other from a big hotel, where Louden works part-time doing room service and Elmo is full-time as a cook.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Will an MLS Goalkeeper Ever Duplicate the 'Scorpion' Kick?

The legendary Columbian goalkeeper, Rene Higuita, perfected the 'Scorpion Kick.'

As the ball approached the goal in the air, Higuita would get his body ready and perfectly time his action to flex his torso and bring his legs back together in the air to boot the ball out away from the goal.

While he is in the air, the entire play resembles how a scorpion looks, thus, the nickname.

Higuita was the Columbian National Team goalkeeper for several years in the late 80's and 90's and made appearances in the 1990 World Cup. He would have been in the 1994 World Cup, but he got involved with the druglord Pablo Escobar and made bad decisions. His wrongdoing led to time spent in prison. This time coincided with the '94 WC.

At first glance, the 'Scorpion Kick' looks like a novelty shot. And, it was. But, over the years, Higuita honed the art of the kick to reach such a high level, that he would use it in game situations in which the kick would act as a real save.

Monday, December 8, 2014

NFL Considered Proposal for Competing Pro Soccer League

Seattle Seahawks/Sounders Stadium
According to emails and interviews, can confirm the National Football League (NFL) received a proposal in 2007 to start a pro Soccer league to compete against Major League Soccer (MLS) for the months of March through August/September.  It appears though, the proposed new Soccer league, never made it to the desk of the commissioner, Roger Goodell.

Sources reveal the proposal was rejected by the Communications/PR Director at that time and he had not consulted with Goodell.  At the time, his statement read that their focus was expanding their football base and expanding internationally; Soccer was not in their plans. 

New details have emerged about the proposal and what was being considered.

Matt Hill, a former Public Relations executive with the NFL, was the person who received the proposal.  He has said that there was a lot of positive discussion about the possibility of having a pro Soccer league play in the dormant NFL stadiums during the off-season, but the idea got killed off pretty quickly.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

MLS Cup Final Should Be Home and Home Aggregate Series

The formula is pretty simple, yet not commonly known by sports fans.  The aggregate system in FIFA international tournament soccer adds up the goals of two games, one home game for each team, to determine the winner.

I have to admit that the aggregate way has grown on me. Originally, I was against it.  I thought a two out of three series was the better way to settle things (and I could probably be persuaded again for the two out of three, but...).

I've watched the aggregate play out in soccer around the world and I've gotten used to it.  I like it because it keeps players completely engaged from start to finish for both matches, as every moment counts.

I think it is best to use it for the MLS Cup Finals.  Unfortunately, only one match produces the MLS Cup winner.

This season's MLS Cup Final is hosted by Sporting KC versus Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park, Saturday, December 7th at 4p.m. EST.  (Why 4p.m. is hard to figure out, but these playoffs have been sporadic and unorganized already in terms of scheduling.  And, Sporting versus Real sounds a little weird for our ethnocentric neurons, I know.  But, this discussion is for a different day or read here to discuss more about MLS nicknames.)

Most leagues throughout the world don't have playoffs.  The regular season determines the winner for that season/year.  MLS has decided to americanize its way to finding the champion of its league and does use a playoff system.

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Field for MLS Proposes 2-Point Goal

This design could best accommodate the sporting public's thirst for more consistent drama and contemporary strategies in Soccer. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

MLS Benefits from 'Short Attention Span' Caused by the Internet

Study after study indicates that time spent using the internet is making humans less patient and more neurotic.

From the moment people are waking up till the moment they go to sleep, time spent with the internet changes how people react and behave.  Its effects are impossible to ignore. 

The speed of the information from the internet is making it harder for people to concentrate on other things in life that are slower to develop and take more personal time, like reading a book or watching a baseball game.

The same was said when television came along so many years ago.  But, the internet has one big difference than its TV counterpart.  The internet pushes people to multi-task as part of their daily routine.

Now, people are getting used to an overload of information.  There's not time for the mundane.

Major League Soccer can thrive among sports fans.  It provides a more condensed version of drama than the other 'big four' spectator sports, including college basket and football.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

10 Rules Changes to Enhance MLS

Amendments are meant to assist the shortcomings that have followed the game under FIFA's watch.

FIFA has been slow to evolve.  This is not anything new and just about anyone would agree.

American sports fans have high demands for their sports and they insist on common sense and the best possible drama in every match.

Ten (10) Proposed Rule Amendments/Changes for Professional Soccer:

I. Each 45-Minute Half counts down to 0 seconds:
a. Games may result in a tie.
b. Games played in overtime are decided by first goal scored (Golden Goal).
c. Overtime is considered 15-minutes of continuous play after the end of regulation.

No New Teams for MLS Until 2016: New 'Jersey' Red Bulls as an Alternative?

Landmark near USTA Tennis Center and future of MLS in Queens. 
Without a doubt, the last few years has seen MLS grow by leaps and bounds. The enthusiasm for the league is palpable. The new teams added over the last few years, Philadelphia, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Seattle and Portland have completely changed the dynamics of the league.

The league is on a major uptick in attendance.  Television ratings have yet to catch on, but the sport is getting more headlines on national sports news programming networks.

Sports fans have appeared to be on the cusp of embracing pro Soccer and giving MLS another look on their sports spectatorship menu.

News from the commissioner's office, though, may bring MLS back a few steps and into oblivion, again.  Indications are Queens, New York will get the next new franchise, the league's 20th team, starting more than likely in 2016.  Thus, MLS will not be busy adding any new teams for the next three seasons.

With no new teams on the horizon for at least three seasons, what reaction should be anticipated from the sports world?  During MLS' inactivity in new markets over the next three seasons, how should expectations for growth and the mainstreaming of the sport be discussed?

Two major issues seem to be working against MLS.  There is a lack of promotion for pro Soccer in the U.S. from a geographical perspective and player personnel in the league is not developing quickly enough from year to year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Top 5 Most Relevant Designated Players MLS Should Pursue part II

'Relevant' meaning possible and significant.  In other words, Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo are not on their way to MLS anytime soon because there are other soccer leagues in the world paying more money for world-class star players in the prime of their careers.

Clint Dempsey made the first list in 2012.  Who will be next from it to play for MLS?

Many soccer experts would agree that Dempsey is world-class and in his prime, but he made it to MLS. Why and how?  Well, 32 million will attract many of the world's best and it's his home country's club league in which he played in years ago.

Which brings the conversation to the number one player MLS teams should pursue and the four other main attractions.  MLS pay what you have to in order to get these guys to sign.

1) Jozy Altidore is younger than Clint, but needs and deserves all the American accolades.  Coming off a hat-trick Friendly and scoring more often in general, with the National team and his club team, Altidore would bring the same fire to MLS as Dempsey.  Especially, if he could get paired up with another hotshot, like Dempsey is with Eddie Johnson.  Would he possibly fit well with Kei Kamara  or Graham Zusi of Sporting KC?

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Much Does a Soccer Nickname Matter in Atlanta, Minnesota and New York?

Branding is the name of the game in capitalist America.

How much is a good nickname worth?

It could be the difference between failure and success for a professional soccer franchise in the U.S.

I know it seems a little curious or impertinent to say a franchise's fortunes rise or fall on a nickname, but the nickname is typically representative of a bigger ideal.

Nicknames inspire and galvanize attention. Communities can become more involved depending on a nickname.  A great nickname can make it seem like there's a greater cause to be made.

There are times when the ideals behind a new team/club trump any average nickname.  If there is an awesome stadium, great players or passionate support groups, an average or bad nickname can be overcome.

Overall, what attracts fans to watch their local pro soccer team live or on Tv is determined by an array of factors.  It's a long conversation.

But, to disregard the influence of a nickname is a mistake.

If the right nickname is branded well and the area accepts it as their own, then, it becomes harder for any new investors to come in and steal a franchise away.

I think the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers are perfect examples.  Why reinvent the wheel and brand a new team if the nickname matches perfectly to the area's identity.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Is it Time for a New Nickname for Toronto FC?: Top 3 Suggestions

Toronto FC has made it known that it wants to be a contender in MLS. The signings of Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe give notice to their fans and teams in the League that Toronto FC wants to change its image.

The team known as the 'Reds' for their primary team color wants to turn the page on some lengthy losing and ordinary chapters. Toronto wants to become an exciting and dominant team.

With this exciting time for the franchise and so much change in the air, would it be a good time for some re-branding by trying a new nickname to replace FC?  Could it be something that would galvanize the public's attention and also help them to forget the bad start the franchise got off to since its inception in 2007?

FC as a soccer nickname has its challenges as I've opined on in the past. MLS Nicknames Confuse Joe Sixpack Sports Fan.

'Reds' is a nickname of sorts for the team, the unofficial one.  But, is there a better one out there?

If MLS Toronto has to keep the FC at the end, it can still place it after an original nickname.

For me, Toronto Reds FC doesn't work well enough and I would take out the FC completely.

Here are my top 3 suggestions: