Mar 30, 2009

No top club action = no Top 25 this week

Of course no "top" club action does not mean there weren't some professional clubs in action. Here in the U.S., for example we had a full slate of Major League Soccer games (MLS does not honor FIFA's international match schedule. A result of the old tradition of isolationism perhaps?) Whatever. Rather than bore you with a recap of the national team games, we figure this as good time as any to get you caught up on what's been going on stateside.

But wait! There was top club action that took place, it just wasn't men's soccer. In Los Angeles, the Women's Professional Soccer league played its inaugural game. Having watched both yesterday's MLS match and the WPS one, we can say the latter was far more interesting. And not just because some of the girls are hot.

The WPS is not just for American girls women but a veritable all-star league of the best female players everywhere. Yesterday's game featured the Brazilian Marta (widely viewed as the best player in the woman's game these days) and U.S. national team captain Abby Wambach, among many others (most, though not all significantly better looking than the aforementioned. No, there cannot be a women's soccer article that doesn't mention their looks. We've come a long way but not that far yet. Get used to it). Marta's Los Angeles Sol defeated the Washington Freedom 2-0. Go ahead and laugh at the team names. The pure soccer skills on display were lightyears ahead of what is offered in MLS. These girls women can flat out play. They may lack the size and strength of their male counterparts but their technical skills are for the most part, picture perfect. Let me put it to you this way: If MLS players had the soccer skills of WPS players, it would be the EPL.

Now that we've offended all the purists with our talk of women's soccer, let's move on to MLS. After two match days, two teams remain with perfect records: Chivas USA and the Seattle Sounders. The latter are an expansion team that features a name (Freddie Ljungberg) Arsenal fans may be familiar with. The club hasn't needed Ljungberg's help thus far. He sat out the first game with some injury but got his debut in the second, coming on right after the hour mark when his team was leading 1-0. They ended up winning 2-0 over Real Salt Lake (so named because Utah's royal family are investors). Seattle has yet to give up a goal this season. They won their first game against the New York Red Bulls (last year's MLS Cup finalists) by 3-0. Speaking of the Red Bulls (who play their games in New Jersey), they hosted the New England Revolution in their home opener (in New Jersey) on Saturday night. New England, as some of you may know, are coached by a guy (Steve Nicol) Liverpool fans will have heard of. The game ended in a 1-1 draw but Nicol told me his team played better than they did in the season opener, when they defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0.

Did I mention the Red Bulls play their games in New Jersey? They still have the New York name (as do the New York Giants and Jets, two (American) football teams that also play in Jersey). Apparently the league originally intended for two teams in the New York metropolitan area (and named the existing team the New York/New Jersey Metrostars to reflect this. The team later dropped the "New York/New Jersey" moniker, but when the Austrian energy drink company bought the team a few years ago they slapped the New York label on it, presumably because nobody in Austria has heard of New Jersey). The reason I mention this is that there will soon be a second team in the New York area, called FC New York. It will not compete directly with the Red Bulls, at least not yet, but will be placed in the United States Soccer League's top division. The USL is kind of like the second division to MLS, though this being America there is of course no promotion/relegation. But MLS has taken USL franchises and turned them into MLS squads before, most recently with Seattle (and will do so again with Vancouver and Portland in 2011). This information comes to me from the Borough Boys, a supporters group that launched a few years ago to help bring a team to one of the five boroughs (hence the name). The 'Boys may be a bit disappointed with FCNY however, as it will be neither a major league club nor (in the beginning at least) play its games in one of the five boroughs. Instead it has apparently targeted Hofstra University's stadium in Long Island as its home grounds. Long Island, of course, is quite possibly the only place that is more like New Jersey than New Jersey. But an official announcement is expected for Wednesday and more may be learned at that point.


  1. Just a correction - the US Women's National Team captain is Christie Rampone, not Abby Wambach (though she was considered the best player in the team before her pre-Olympics injury). As for good-looking female soccer players, watch a Boston Breakers game because they got Heather Mitts and Amy Rodriguez. Or St. Louis Athletica for Hope Solo. Or Chicago Red Stars for Lindsay Tarpley. Or just search for "WNT" on youtube.

  2. Thanks for the correction. Apologies for sounding like a sexist pig. I know who those players are (and actually like some others better)