Friday, January 29, 2010

Troy Perkins Excited for Return to DC

Perkins returns to DC United in a move that will hopefully prove good for the Black and Red.

The question for Perkins though may be a little different?
But he sees his exposure to "the mentality of European football," the constant pressure to improve in training and perform for fans, as a crucial step in his own development -- a testing experience for the man who had already established himself as a noted workaholic in his first United stint.

"It is a different mentality than here," Perkins said. "They may not be as athletic and quick, but they have the overall mentality of structure and technique. They're constantly training technique and just the little things from a young age, and they're involved in that program from a young age. So that's the big difference from there to the U.S.

"The two years we had there -- I don't even know how to describe them. They were more than what I wanted, and more than what I ever expected. I learned a lot about the game and about myself, and I feel I've really grown in both areas."
While I am happy as a DC United fan to see Perkins in goal this year, I think the move will spell doom for being named to a World Cup Roster spot this year. True, with the incredible form of Marcus Hahnemann recent weeks at Woverhampton, Perkins was on the bubble at best. But Perkins is still pretty young as far as goalkeepers go and he may yet be able to link up with a bigger European league and team in teh future. Particularly if he is able to repeat his 2006 Goalkeeper of the Year performance.

Keith Olberman: "Arrogant" is a Racist Codeword

I am not making this up. Keith Oblberman said that when white guys (read Republican white guys since Olberman is as white a Wonderbread) call the President "Arrogant" or "flippant" or "a punk" (all quotes from Republican commentariat, they are actually using racist language and don't want to be caught out for being racist.


I'm white and yeah, I will use the word arrogant to describe Olberman. Now is that racist?

Paulson: Without bailouts, unemployment may have reached 25 percent

Really? Isn't that a bit of a self-serving statment that is almost impossible to prove? Kind of like the statistics for "jobs saved."

Turf Wars

Carol Pogash, writing at the New York Times has the story of California's "Turf Wars," the battle to have soccer fields for kids to play on. In Piedmont, California:
The number of soccer players has doubled in the past 15 years, and philanthropic soccer parents have promised $8 million to carve two athletic fields, complete with synthetic turf, out of an open hillside. A parking lot, bridge, elevator and a snack bar would also be built.

But opponents say plans are too grand and threaten the health of children and wildlife. They would rather share a field in neighboring Oakland.

Taken aback by the vehemence of the opposition, Eric Havian, president of the Piedmont Soccer Club, said: “We’re not proposing to put a coal mine here. We’re talking about a playing field for children.”
That's true, we aren't talking about a strip mine, we are talking about a soccer field, made of artificial turf.

I am of mixed opinion about turf fields. On the one hand, I absolutely hate them for professional (MLS) level teams. It does affect the game at the top levels and I would just as soon not see them. Plus, professional stadia have professional groundskeepers who can keep a field in decent condition.

But when it comes to youth fields or league soccer fields, I can see the attraction of a few fields being turf fields. The use that youth soccer fields go through is tremendous. A professionally maintained, professional venue might see fifty or sixty games a year on the field. A youth soccer field could see fifty or sixty games a month. For some fields, 8 games a day on Saturday and Sunday, plus possible training or mid-week games can easily translate to 20 games a week on the field. No field, no matter how well maintained is going to survive as a grass field with that kind of useage. Add weather to the mix, and a well used field, a month into a soccer season could be little more than a mud bog in front of the goals and at midfield with four patches of green in teh corners connected by a thin strip along the sides.

Modern turf fields, while expensive to install, last longer and are easier to maintain. They don't need watering in drought conditions, don't puddle up in monsoon weather, and don't turn in to mud bogs. They do have their drawbacks--they can be brutally hot in the full summer sun. Tey tend to get used for other sports as well, American football, lacrosse, etc. Also, by the end of a 45 minute half (or even a 30 minute half), I have lots of those little black rubber bits in my shoe, they are ruining my socks slowly but surely. But the advantages are many.

You can play dozens of games a day and not ruin the pitch. With the addition of lights, you can play early in the morning and well into the evening. The modern astroturf field is softer that the days of old, doesn't give you as bad a carpet burn when you slid and won't twist your angle while running. As a referee, at the end of the day, my knees don't hurt nearly as bad although I may have lost several pounds in water weight during the summer (believe me, I could use the loss).

But the most important thing is that artificial fields are used and well used. The purpose is to give kids a place to play and a place to play safely.

As for environmental concerns, what rubbish. These same environmental nutjobs complain about the lack of safe playground equipment, so they want natural substances as cushioning, but then whine about what to do with all those tires that need recycling. The artificial turf fields put those old tires to a good, safe use. Toxicity concerns don't amount to anything since I don't see many players sitting down to picnic on the surface--the odd faceplant notwithstanding. As for ruining a "natural habitat," more hogwash. A grass soccer field that is used for dozens of games a weekend is not used by any animal save for a few ants. And as for that beautiful green grass, after a month of games, well see the description above.

I would think that a few artificial feilds in heavily used areas will keep other areas of a park free for other uses, insread of constantly struggling to find more and more field space.

Obama and the myth of job creation / The Christian Science Monitor -

Mark Lange, a former Department of Labor and presidential speechwriter during the George H. W. Bush presidency, writes about job creation.
Does official Washington really believe that we’re waiting for government to generate jobs, somehow? What is the effect of an American president reciting everything government might do to support job creation – loans, tax cuts, high speed rail, clean energy, basic research, community colleges, student loan forgiveness – while asking nothing of the people themselves?

There’s actually very little that any administration can do to create sustainable, real employment – other than reduce the cost of credit (which the Federal Reserve has long discounted to record lows).

The “deficit of trust” Mr. Obama spoke of tonight – and sounded so determined to resolve – referred to that of a people and their government. But where real job creation is concerned, Americans should start by trusting themselves.

To do something about the state of the soup we’re in, it would be helpful if the president and commentariat would focus less on the way Washington works, and more on the way the rest of us work.
Lange looks a the need for the average American to be the driving force for job creation, by being optimistic and working hard to getting jobs.

But the line that really hit me was this one:
You’ll hear much talk pegging the “true” US unemployment rate at over 17 percent, when we include what the Labor Department classes as “discouraged workers” – those “not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them.”

Media make money merchandizing misery – which does a great disservice to those who need to stay motivated to look for work, the hardest job there is. To do it right, you have to keep faith in yourself, and with your family, for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
I also like this bit as well:
There’s nothing exotic about “knowledge work” – we all work with our brains. Some of us use them to run our mouths. Others, our hands – on paint brushes, keyboards, school chalk, machine tools – but we all use our brains. And we can all use them better, starting tomorrow.
For all the blubber about creating high skill, high pay "knowledge worker" jobs, there is nothing sacred about the economic impact of a knowledge worker over and above say a blue collar worker who sweats in his or her job. In fact, a blue collar worker may actually create more jobs for those "non-sweating" workers than the other way around.

MLS and players extend bargaining to Feb. 12

At least they are talking, but the longer that the sides wait until coming to an agreement the harder it will be to either strike or lockout the players.

Some considerations that have to be considered, in addition to pre-season matches/tours. The CONCACAF Champions League resumes competition on March 9 and Columbus Crew is the only MLS team still in the competition. If a deal isn't reached, MLS could jeopardize its ability to put four teams into the competition in the next year.

White House Orders New Location For Terror Trial

Not surpisingly. In the end, having the 9/11 trial in New York was always a bad idea.

As more and more Obama "initiatives" start to fall by the wayside, how much longer can he survive as any kind of an effective leader.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More on Spending Freeze

From Nate Silver:
I'll let the economists talk about the wisdom of curtailing government spending in the middle of a massive consumption deficit, but what concerns me more is the politics. Specifically, the sort of cognitive dissonance that is going to be created in the mind of the average voter when the White House is promising to freeze spending on the one hand (or, more accurately, this will be the media caricature of their gambit), and on the other, trying to defend its stimulus and its health care reform package, trying to excuse the bailout package as a necessary evil, and perhaps trying to champion new programs.
Ok, I know I am not the average voter, tending to lean right on matters of fiscal policy, but from a purely spectator point of view, I can't wait to see how the White House justifies the "dissonance" as Silver calls it.

The spending freeze simply isn't going to be able to do much, we are talking pennies on the dollar of the overall fedeal budget. But at the same time, I do think that Obama needs to be at least partially congratulated for at least thinking about the current fiscal policy and what is sure to be its deleterious effects on the economy, the future and the fiscal health of our country.

Megan McCardle on White House Spending Freeze

[T]his is Obama's mouth writing checks that his legislature can't cash.

U.S. Debt


Obama is set to propose a discretionary spending freeze. The problem is that discretionary spending is far and away a smaller section of the federal budget than most people realize.

Think of it this way, Medicare, Social Security, Debt servicing and other mandatory spending are like your mortgage, insurance, utilities, loan/credit card bills, and grocery bill, you simply cannot live without those expenditures nor can you simply stop spending on those items without serious consequences.

Thus, these are not discretionary--they are mandatory spending. Your discretionary spending might be entertainment, dining out, clothing, etc. You can freeze those things and either decrease or stop that spending all together.

For the U.S., the problem is a bit more difficult, because a spending freeze means--at the very least--a pay freeze for most government workers. That also means possible layoffs by the government--adding to the unemployment problem.

Interesting, huh.

Manchester United and Arsenel in Battle for Fulham's Chris Smalling

Two of the Premier Leagues big clubs are looking to sign Fulham's reserve center back Chris Smalling. Reportedly, the figure is around £7million.

The 20 year old Englishman has made four appearances for the Cottagers this year, doing well and obviously impressing Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex. A bidding war would be a nice payday for Fulham, but Arsenel is likely to be a better place for Smalling, with Arsenel obvious centerback problems and lack of depth (Sol Campbell is no solution).

Monday, January 25, 2010

If Only the NFL, MLB, NBA Were As Tough

Look, we all know that some athletes have taking banned substances or steriods (even if not banned by MBL at the time) or illegal drugs from time to time. It is wrong and the players know it. If they get caught and agree to seek professional help and follow through, they should be given every opportunity to keep their career alive. Case in point Santino Quaranta for DC United.

But if the player refuses professional help and/or refuses to follow through on that help, the the club/team should fire them. Well PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie (First Division) have fires striker Jonathan Reis after positive test for a banned substance.

Good. The quicker the punishment is meted out and publicly to the extent necessary--the better. Banned substances, whether illegal drugs or performance enhancing substances should be swiftly and immediately punished.

Good News for Fulham

Bobby Zamora may be back this week aginst Tottenham. Can he refind the form that he had before his injury?

I hope so. Fulham's attacking prowess looked a little weak over the weekend in the FA Cup.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Have to Go To New York This Year

If only to go to a game at the new Red Bull Arena (okay it is in Harrison, NJ). They look they are doing the stadium right, hopefully they will bring a bit more of a game to the pitch--but not too much against DC United.

Holden Likely to Go to Bolton

Stuart Holden looks likely to join Premier League side Bolton on a short term deal until the end of the season.

The Power of Soccer

Even amidst the devastation of Haiti, soccer raises its proud and beautiful head.

Thanks to the Original Winger

Stadium Authority OKs feasibility study for soccer stadium -

The Baltimore Sun reported earlier this week, that the city has requested a feasibility study regarding a possible soccer specific stadium in Charm City.

The stadium is thought to be an effort to lure DC United to the city, a move that I think will be futile. However, the move by Baltimore might get other DC area jurisdiction, including DC itself, to get off the dime to get a stadium deal done for the Black an Red.

However, there might be some benefit to having a stadium in Baltimore anyway. Crystal Palace USA, based in Baltimore and currently playing at Towson University could benefit from a small stadium, perhaps 10,000 to 12,000 seats. Crystal Palace USA will be playing in the Division 2 league next year and they certainly have plans. Last year, CPUSA played in the 3rd Division of U.S. Soccer (USL-2) and this is the first year to move up.

I would like to see a small stadium for CPUSA and a 25,000-30,000 seater in the DC area (preferably in the city itself). I think that given the state of soccer in Maryland, this would be a useful move.

Update: As the commentator pointed out, CPUSA plays at UMBC, which is actually a bit south of Baltimore.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Incredible pictures

These are just cool.

Doctor's Office Hit By Meteorite

Fortunately, no one was hurt. But what are the odds?

Pizza Deliveryman Shot And Killed During Robbery In Philly

Not good news. Many years ago, my brother was assaulted while working as a pizza delivery driver. Seriously, these drivers don't carry a lot of cash.

Computers down at all 168 California DMV offices


Dealing with the MLS

This Is American Soccer's Adam Spangler talks to U.S. Youth International Lee Nguyen, who has been plying his trade in Vietnam but was wanting to make a move back to MLS in 2010 but won't be doing so after failing to come to a deal with the MLS.

Most people don't know who Nguyen is unless you follow the U.S. Youth National Teams on just about every level, but is not on the full national team radar. The motivation for Nguyen may have been to get back on the national team radar and redirect his career. But according to Nguyen, all that was offered was a league minimum contract for five years--a very long time for the 23 year old. Not even performance based contract, i.e. a contract that rewards him for minutes played, goals, scored, etc.

This is a problem with the MLS, they tend to be so frugal that they drive off decent talent what actually want to play in this league. Sort of a strange homecoming for a young man who four years ago was actually courted by the league and offered a Generation Adidas contract for the former high school player of the year and college freshman of the year.

A Presidential Commission to Study the Debt

In all the hubbub on Wednesday of the Scott Brown victory in Massachussets, buried a bit in the news was a report on an agreement between Congressional leadership the White House to appoint an 18 member presidential commission to the national debt.
Faced with growing alarm over the nation's soaring debt, the White House and congressional Democrats tentatively agreed Tuesday to create an independent budget commission and to put its recommendations for fiscal solvency to a vote in Congress by the end of this year.

Under the agreement, President Obama would issue an executive order to create an 18-member panel that would be granted broad authority to propose changes in the tax code and in the massive federal entitlement programs -- including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- that threaten to drive the nation's debt to levels not seen since World War II.

The accord comes a week before Obama is scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union address to a nation increasingly concerned about his stewardship of the economy and the federal budget. After a year in which he advocated spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a huge economic stimulus package and a far-reaching overhaul of the health-care system, Obama has pledged to redouble his effort to rein in record budget deficits even as he has come under withering Republican attack.
I am a bit confused, Congress controls the purse strings of the nation and along with the President has authorized somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple of trillion dollars of new spending, burdening the debt even further.

Ironically, on the same day as this debt commission deal was announced, those very same Congressional Democrats proposed a $1.9 TRILLION increase in the debt limit.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but the idea of a presidential commission appointed by a president who has done more to trash the nation's debt standing makes me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. This commission will give ideas and recommendations. I don't have a degree in macro economics, but I do have a family, a personal budget and a fair amount of debt as well. The answer to lowering the debt is to not spend more than you bring in as revenue, put some of the revenue you have coming in toward paying down you debt.

I'm sorry, but it isn't that complicated a process, it is a process that the average American faces everyday. You don't need 18 economists to tell the President that, he can just appoint 18 average Americans. But then, "average Americans" is a concept that the current administration can understand.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering

There are lots of young women out there playing soccer who have some mad skills. Check out the video of U.S. National Team members YTobin Heath and Casey Nogueira displaying some mad ball skills. If you want to see these young women playing this year, Heath will be playing for the WPS Atlanta Beat and Nogueira will be playing for the LA Sol.

By the way, if you ever wondered if female players can't be tough, look up the story of Sky Blue FC's Christy Rampone, who is among other things, the U.S. Women's National Team captain, leader of the Sky Blue FC, and was on a team that had three coahces, including herself, at the helm of the WPS team. Rampone was the player coach for the team that had a huge run through WPS playoffs, knocking off the three top teams in the league to lift the inaugural WPS Cup.

So what you say? Rampone was lifting the WPS Cup while three months pregnant.

Professional Soccer at Disney World

WALT DISNEY WORLD® Pro Soccer Classic will be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex on February 25 & 27 and will feature MLS clubs FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, and Toronto FC. Disney is noting that tickets are $13.50 per day to see two games. That is a steal of a deal. True, it is pre-season. I hope this becomes a regular event and is well attended.

If you are anywhere in Florida on those days, I suggest going. Granted, New York sucked last year, FC Dallas and Toronto were mediocre at best, but still at that price? I can't even take my daughters and I to the local high school game for that little.

MLS Gets Another Soccer Specific Stadium

This time in Kansas City. The KC stadium will be the 10th soccer specific stadium in the league. While I am happy with KC's movement, the fact that DC United still don't have a stadium deal in place is fairly galling.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown Wins, But Don't Get Cocky

Look, I am as exuberant as the next conservative out there and I do enjoy this kind of challenge from Moe Lane: T
his message goes out to every vulnerable Democratic Congressman representing a Republican or even centrist district – and after tonight, who among you is not vulnerable? It is a simple message: we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. The easy way is, you suddenly decide that you have a burning desire to spend more time with your families. So you don’t run for re-election, you walk off stage technically undefeated, and you go join a lobbying firm. The hard way is, you do run for re-election, and we pry you out of your seats.

We want to do this the hard way. We will enjoy doing it.

That’s your only warning. And remember: nobody is going to be able to save you. If the President, the DSCC, the DCCC, the DNC, the SEIU, ACORN, and the netroots couldn’t manage a win in Massachusetts… what do you think that they can do for you?

Moe Lane
But as many people are likely to point out, this is not the time to get cocky. Sure we can spend a day gloating (after all, a Republican won a Senate Seat in Massachusetts for pete's sake), but tomorrow is back to work to move forward and get the country's fiscal health revived.

On the MA Senate Race

From Glenn Reynolds (the Instapundit):
SO, BROWN WON. This is big news; while the White House is still in the healthcare bunker, things like Jim Webb’s move for a “suspension” until Brown is seated suggest that Democrats in Congress, being closer to the front lines, have a better idea of what’s really going on. We may still see something called “health care reform,” but it seems much less likely that it’ll be anything like ObamaCare, and if they do somehow ram ObamaCare through they’ll see anger that’ll make the Massachusetts special election look like a cakewalk.

But while Scott Brown could get elected as the anti-Obama figure — and while others will be able to pull that off in the fall — the GOP needs to be sure that it doesn’t just look like it’s lining up for its turn at the trough. Polls show that most Americans want smaller government, even with fewer “services.” Running on a platform that money’s better kept in voters’ own pockets, rather than handed over to special interest logrolling and vote-buying, will work: If it’ll work in Massachusetts, it should work pretty much anywhere. It is a fashionably-gloomy line among some on the right to say that the country’s too far gone in statism and the government-handout parasite culture to support such an approach — but again, if you can make it with this in Massachusetts, you can make it pretty much anywhere.
There is no doubting that Brown's win is big news on the electoral front, but if the GOP is going to expand on the victory, they will have to learn the lesson about smaller government that Reynolds points out. Whether they do so or not remains to be seen, but given past performance of the GOP in the past six years, I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Volokh Conspiracy will have guest bloggers Craig Lerner and Nelson Lund, professors at George Mason University School of Law discussing The Supreme Court’s Cult of Celebrity. They will have a series of posts on the subject with legislative ideas. Their proposal is interesting:
Judging from recent confirmation hearings, there is now a consensus that Supreme Court Justices should be humble servants of the law, highly respectful toward precedent and without personal agendas of any kind. Few informed observers expect this to happen. After describing some of the institutional factors that operate to discourage adherence to the traditional ideal of judicial duty, this article proposes four statutory reforms that could help the Justices stick a little closer to the promises they are expected to make, and do make, at their confirmation hearings.

First, Congress should require that all Supreme Court opinions, including concurrences and dissents, be issued anonymously. This should lead to fewer self-indulgent separate opinions, more coherent and judicious majority opinions, and more reason for future Justices to treat the resulting precedents respectfully.

Second, Congress should require the Court to hear at least one case certified from a circuit court for every federal question case they choose from their discretionary docket. This would reduce the temptation to assemble a docket consisting largely of interesting or high-profile cases, and encourage the Justices to grapple with more of the important but unglamorous issues vexing the lower courts.

Third, Congress should forbid law clerks to draft judicial opinions, and move them to the office of the Court’s Librarian, where they would do legal research for the Court rather than for individual Justices. Truly humble and old-fashioned judges should study the precedents themselves, discuss the law with their colleagues (rather than with their handpicked votaries), and write their own opinions.

Fourth, Congress should require Justices to serve part of their time on lower federal courts, as they did for the first century of the republic’s existence. Restoring “circuit riding” would give the Justices some on-going experience with playing the role of a modest judge whose decisions are subject to appellate review and who is often required to interpret and apply muddled Supreme Court opinions.

If serving as a Supreme Court Justice were to become a full-time, non-delegable job with fewer opportunities for personal aggrandizement, the Justices would behave more like judges than legal celebrities, Presidents would have more incentive to appoint genuinely able people, and fewer Justices would insist on staying in the saddle past the time when they can even mount the horse.
Looking forward to this series.

The meaning of Massachusetts - Clive Crook

For those of you few readers out there who live under a rock or only care about soccer, ther eis a special election in Massachusetts today that has become little more than a referendum on President Obama (although I would think that unfair to both candidates). Clive Crook at the Altantic wonders, no matter what happens or who wins, whether Democrats will take the time to learn anything from the incident:
Democrats are far too preoccupied with how to ignore a defeat in Massachusetts, if it turns out that they lose. Do they try to delay Brown's arrival in the Senate? Do they try to push health reform through with reconciliation? Does the House pass the unamended Senate bill, avoiding the need for another vote?

Good questions, no doubt, and not easy to answer. There are pros and cons in each case. But it would be a great error for Democrats to concentrate on these tactical matters as though the scare, let alone outright defeat, in Massachusetts did not raise bigger questions. Coakley might still win, of course. (Nate Silver says the race is too close to call.) But even if she ekes out a narrow victory, Democrats urgently need to stop and think--not about how to cram through health reform while they can, but about why everything is going so wrong.(links in original)
The answer is probably not.

Of course, I don't see Republicans learning anything either. The GOP has fielded a quality candidate in Scott Brown and he has made a race of it. But the question that should be asked is how much of his success is driven by the general GOP desire to break the filibuster proof majority in the Senate, than in putting forth a quality option to single party rule.

Brown has been made the poster child of the GOP for 2010 and if he wins, he will be exalted as a messiah. But, I haven't heard Brown posit any interesting or unique or even moderate alternatives to anything the Democrats are doing. Will the GOP learn lessons? Will Democrats learn lessons?

Sadly, probably not.

Instapundit on Haiti Relief

Instapundit and a reader comment on the Haitian relief effort and the arrival of bigwigs (namely the Clintons). Not a pretty portrait. Prof. Reynolds notes:
Bigwigs should travel on flights bringing aid, and if we had a better class of bigwigs that would be a given. But in anything like this, however well-executed, lots of things are going to go wrong, because that’s the nature of the beast. Have we exceeded that threshold?
I don't think we have, but we also don't seem to have thought creatively.

Sure, some assets are in place, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson (an aircraft carrier), the U.S.N.S Comfort (a floating first class hospital) is one the way if it hasn't already arrived and thousands of troops. But here is a thought--is any aid flowing overland from the Dominican Republic? Santo Domingo is a short helicopter flight away from Port Au Prince and most of Haiti. Stage a few dozen H-53's from Santo Domingo and you can move a lot of aid in a helicopter train.

I just saying, I don't think people providing aid do so in a creative way.

Donovan-Everton Courtship

As reported by Andrea Canales at, after Landon Donovan's two match performance with Everton and a performance that shows that the American talisman has gotten past his European nightmares, it appears that Everton and Donovan are doing the courtship dance.

With Landon Donovan having just signed a four year-$9 million contract with MLS the dance is one. Canales points to a contract provision in Donovan's MLS contract that is rumored to exist and one that I said previously probably existed when Donovan signed his contract. Back when Donovan signed his new deal with MLS, I said that it is probable that he has a $10 million buy out clause and if he wants to go, the MLS/L.A. Galaxy has to let him go. Canales put the price at €7 million, which is just about $10 million at current exchange rate. That would be about 6 million pounds, which might be a bit of a steal for Everton.

The question becomes, will Everton make the offer and when. As Canales pointed out
It would be hypocrisy of the highest order for Donovan to seek to extend his loan deal at Everton, after he had criticized teammate David Beckham for leaving the Galaxy hanging half the season. Donovan had previously taken pains to point out that his contract was only for loan deals that would return him to Los Angeles before the MLS season officially began. That's what happened last season with Bayern Munich, though Beckham's loan was different and lasted until July.

It's a different issue, however, if Donovan is putting himself on the market to be sold. Donovan reportedly has a release in his Galaxy contract that allows for him to transfer if he A) wants to go and B) if a club can meet a pre-set price agreed upon with MLS.
Adding to the problems that Donovan (and all other MLS players) is the possibility of a work stoppage (either a lockout or a strike) which would impact his ability to play in the run up to the World Cup. If there is a work stoppage--would Donovan be able to extend his loan? Almost surely.

However, if Donovan continues his progression with the Toffees, it might be worth the money to Moyes to spend it, getting an impact player for a relatively small amount of money (by Premiership standards).


Ha! Ha! Ha!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime to Pay the Tax on My Beer in MD?

Not being a big beer drinker or any alcohol for that matter (not that I am opposed to drinking those legally permitted to drink and doing so responsibly), this particular tax won't affect my wallet, but it does chafe me a great deal.

A five cent a drink tax failed previously in the General Assembly, so the state is doubling down, thinking "Well if we try a 10 cent tax, maybe our citizens won't mind when we impose a five cent tax instead." Keep in mind there is already a sales tax on alcoholic beverages at Maryland 6% rate.

What the proponents of this tax don't get is that, just about everywhere in Maryland is not far from another state where there won't be this tax. So, people in western Maryland might make a quick jaunt to West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, or Virginia to buy beer (and save $2.40 a case or $1.20 a case on a five cent tax). Additionally, there will be those poeple who might buy a beer or a glass of wine with dinner who will forgo that beer or wine on a regular basis to avoid an additional tax.

The consequence to Maryland--less tax revenue than projected. Oh and a boon to the economies of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia who will get a bump in their sales tax revenue.

Hey General Assembly, here is a thought--how about spending less before doubling down on a drink tax.

Is the Responsibility Tax Legal?

I have ot tell you, I am no big fan of large banks, I think they take advantage of their size to impose one size fits all solutions to individual circumstances. So, in general I have little sympathy for them. But when the Obama Administration announced a plan to tax big banks (loosely defined of course), I had a big pause. It sounded fishy to me. Tim Cavanaugh points to a number of possible reasons why such a tax would be unconstitutional. Cavanaugh, also made this point:
The targets of the fee are the largest banks, almost all of which have already paid off their TARP loans with interest and purchased their warrants from the Treasury Department. Add to this the limited scope and duration of TARP under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and you've got pretty limited ground for building a new 10-year tax.
So, in order to ensure compliance with TARP programs directives, the Obama Adminstration seeks to impose a tax. But these banks who have repaid their TARP Loans (the efficacy of which remains questionable) have no further obligation under TARP cannot be forced to pay more.

Imagine this, you go to one of these big banks for a loan for say a new car. The bank gives you the loan of $20,000 (I know, cheap car but bear with me) and you agree to pay the bank 5% interest over five years and pay the whole loan with interest back in five years. You pay back the loan in four years by being diligent and paying a little extra here and there over he four years. Sounds good right.

Well, imaging having paid back the loan and interest in full, the bank decides you have to keep paying for that extra year because the loan period was five years. Such a move would be sure to see that bank in court and in front of the bank regulators for your state and possible the federal government. You would be incensed, wouldn't you?

That is what the federal government is trying to do to the big banks, make them keep paying even though they hae repayed their TARP loan.

Who is the biggest loser in this big bank tax--that's right kiddies--the people who bank with the big banks. Where do you think the bank is going to go to get the funds to pay that tax? To their accountholders in the form of various fees (like this one), lower interest rates for savings accounts (as if they could get any lower) and changes in account contracts. Now big account holders might complian a little, but it is the average Jane and Joe that this is going to hit harder.

Follow on effects could include fewer loans since the bank will have to pay additional taxes, higher interest rates on loans made in order to recoup the some money toward taxes, don't be surprised to see a user fee for things like online bill pay.

I don't know, without further research if the tax is truly unconstitutional, but I will tell you this, it is not wise policy making.

Cool Cloud Photos

I just thought these pics were just amazing.

The MLS Labor Countdown Clock is Ticking

Now that the MLS Draft is complete, now the that USSF has resolved the Division 2 debacle, there remains one major hurdle for American soccer in 2010--the MLS/ Player's Union need to coem to a resolution regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Not much has been heard of late regarding the negotiations, which to be honest I see as a good sign. Parties that aren't talking tend to spend their time blaming each other in the media. But if neither side is yapping at the media, then they are probably talking to each other.

Soccer America's had an interesting story that the MLS announced last week regarding future labor relations within MLS. Longtime MLS executive Todd Durbin has a new portfolio, labeled the Executive Vice President of Player Relations and Competition, where he will oversee player contracts and serve as the contact point for the Player's Union. Durbin will also oversee the development youth programs and relations with the lower divisions of soccer in America, academy programs and other player development initiatives as they come up.

I think this is a good sign from the MLS. Many of the issues the Player's Union has are related to player development and rights. The personnel move also demonstrates that MLS is taking seriously the need to spend time on player development and relationships with the lower divisions of soccer in America. Some people may look at this and think that MLS is laying the groundwork for a promotion/relegation system. I simply don't see that happening, as much as I would like to see it happen. Rather, I would think we would see the development, at least initially, of an informal farm system similar to Major League Baseball, but that too could be years down the road.

Finally, having a single point of contact will also allow the Union Leadership to communicate effectively with the League offices. I don't know the quality of Durbin's relationship with the players or Union leadership, but I see the move as a positive one by the MLS. Whether it has any effect on the CBA negotiations is another matter, but at least some groundwork is being laid by the league.

Friday, January 15, 2010

An Equal Protection Argument If There Ever Was One

Philip Klein points out a real problem.
In their latest effort to pass a health care bill by any means necessary, Democrats have struck a "tentative deal" with their big labor allies to exempt union benefits from a tax on high value health care plans, CongressDaily reports.

The idea itself is nothing new. Back in June, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus floated the idea of shielding union benefits from the new tax, but it was set aside. In September, President Obama declined to take a clear position on this so-called "carve out." But now that the excise tax has become a sticking point in negotiations between the House and Senate -- and one that threatens to cost Democrats union support for the bill -- the exemption idea is evidently back in play.

If this policy is adopted, it would mean that there could be two Americans receiving the exact same benefits, but one American may be taxed and one wouldn't, and the only difference would be one of them being a member of a union. This is unseemly and unfair, even by the standards of Obamacare. It has nothing to do with policy-making. It's simply an outright bribe to a constituency that has contributed handily to Democratic campaigns.
I don't like the health care plan, I think it is a solution in search of a different problem than we have in this country. But if Congress is to pass a plan, the plan needs to impact every American in the same way.

The problem with this idea is that is creates classes of citizens based on nothing other than the group underwriting their health care plan. Creating classes is fine, if Congress wants to tax "Cadillac health plans" they probably have the power to do so, but they can't tax one group of Cadillac plans different from another, identical, set of plans.

Political Gaff of the Week

Which will probably cost Martha Coakley a seat in the Senate. Coakley, stuck her foot in her mouth when discussing teh conscience clause, she says that devout Catholics should not work in the emergency rooms:
Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.

Martha Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.

Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Martha Coakley: (……uh, eh…um..) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.
first off, let's be clear, this exchange contains a fair number of non-sequiters, i.e. Pittman's two statements are necessarily connected since birth control is not generally dispensed in the emergency room. But Coakley could have still simply agreed with Pittman and said yes, in the emergency room you still have your freedom of religion.

But saying that having devout religious beliefs conflicts with being an emergency room worker is ludicrous. Indeed, I would think that giving the suffering often present in emergency rooms, a health care worker either becomes incredibly cynical about human nature or develops a deep belief in the divine. There doesn't seem to be much room for anything in the middle.

Given that nearly 2 out of 5 voters in Massachussets is Catholic and it is not unreasonable to believe that there are emergency room workers who are devoutly religious in other faiths, this simply doesn't strike me as wise politics.

Colossal Miscalculation On Health Care

The always brilliant Charlie Cook, points out that the Obama Administration has made a colossal mistake by talking about health care and climate change, rather than taking a page from the Clinton Administration and focusing on the economy.
Honorable and intelligent people can disagree over the substance and details of what President Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to do on health care reform and climate change. But nearly a year after Obama's inauguration, judging by where the Democrats stand today, it's clear that they have made a colossal miscalculation.

The latest unemployment and housing numbers underscore the folly of their decision to pay so much attention to health care and climate change instead of focusing on the economy "like a laser beam," as President Clinton pledged to do during his 1992 campaign. Although no one can fairly accuse Obama and his party's leaders of ignoring the economy, they certainly haven't focused on it like a laser beam.
I can't say that I am a big fan of Bill Clinton on a personal level, his faults have been well-detailed and unnecessary at this point, but Clinton presided over a massive growth in the economy. Now that economic growth had its problems as well, but the economy was always foremost in Clinton's mind.

Like Cook, I think the Obama Adminstration is trying to do something for the economy, but putting it, at best, second or third in domestic priority behind programs that are going to add to economic woes much more than detract from them, the signals from the White House are mixed.

We can debate what I consider to be the growth of the nanny state, but when 1 in 10 Americans who are wanting to work can't find work, that is a big problem and that problem has to addressed first. What I find interesting is that Americans believe that something must be done regarding healthcare, but most people want to see the economy put on a sound footing first because that is the only way we can address healthcare.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jozy Altidore On Haitian Relief

U.S. striker Jozy Altidore speaks to CNN about the Haitian earthquake and relief. Altidore's parents both hail form Haiti and the younger Altidore has made charitable trips to the country on a number of occaisions.

Altiodre is quite poised in the interview. It is hard to believe he is just barely 20 years old.

Good News for U.S. Men's National Team?

Teh Algeria squad unsettled?

Another Big 4 team crashes out of FA Cup

Liverpool's woes continue after getting bounced from the FA Cup in a 3rd Round replay against Reading. The humiliation is compounded by the fact that the match took place at Anfield.

The only hope for the Reds for silverware this year is the Europa League, which they were sent to after failing to advance into the Round of 16 for the Champions League. Reading's Shane Long netted an extra time winner in the 100th minute, after Liverpool gave up a penalty in the 90th minute that allowed Reading to equalize and force the extra time.

Making matters worse for Rafa Benitez is that Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard left the game early with injuries.

The calls for Benitez's sacking will no doubt intensify in the coming days, but that will come at a massive price for Liverpool's board since Benitez just signed a four year deal reported worth some 25 million pounds, a hefty price tag for sacking a manager.

MLS Draft Day

Today is the MLS SuperDraft--read just plain draft--for college players. Taking place in Philadelphia, the MLS Draft (I refuse to call it a "SuperDraft") is poised to bring in another very talented pool of players. To be sure, the 2010 class is going to have do well to compare with the 2009 class, a class that suprassed every draft class by a country mile. Matching the performance would be good start.

The expansion Philadelphia Union will get the first pick and it is pretty much a done deal that the upstarts will select Oregon State's Congolese striker Danny Mwanga.

The struggling New York Red Bulls have the second selection and they will probably take the best player in the draft in Virginia's Tony Tchani. Sure, they could have taken just about anyone, but lets face it, after last year's debacle, the Red Bulls need to take the best player period and Tchani looked the best in the MLS combine.

The third overall pick goes to San Jose Earthquakes, where Frank Yallop needs a lot of help along the spine of his team. Wake Forest standout and U.S. U-20 player Ike Opara should start looking for his way to San Jose.

Fourth up is Kansas City Wizards, Akron striker Teal Burnbury is likely to be selected for the Wizards. But one has to wonder if Coach Peter Vermes, a defender himself, might not take a defender and take a page from Bruce Arena, thinking the best way to improve his team is to stop shipping goals. But unlike last year's draft class, I don't see a lot of truly standout defenders.

Fifth overall pick will do to FC Dallas. The Hoops need someone who can provide service to Jeff Cunningham, and will be looking for a strong, playmaking midfielder. I would think Akron's Blair Gavin may entice Schellas Hyndmann, a man used to working with young players.

FC Dallas, also get the sixth spot as well, so who does Hyndmann go for in this spot (assuming he doesn't trade the spot away)? Trade bait would be my guess, someone flexible with lots of potential and that guy would be Wake Forest (and local boy) Corben Bone, another talented midfielder with skill and pace.

As of yesterday, the seventh pick was DC United's but overnight, the Black and Red traded their seventh pick, midfielder Fred and allocation money to Philadelphia to get the right to Goalkeeper Troy Perkins. (a little more on that deal here and here). So the Union get another top ten pick in their first draft. What to do for Peter Novak--he got his first choice, but gave up the allocation spot given to expansion teams, I think Philly will look for a defender and reach a little deep for the big boy from Creighton, Chris Schuler, for help in the middle. At 6-4 and a muscular 200 pounds, Schuler could turn out to be this year's Omar Gonzalez.

Columbus will pick eighth and after the news that talisman Guillermo Barros Schellotto has agreed to a significant pay cut and loss of designated player status, look for the crew to sign foreign talent up front. Schellotto needs an apprentice and that may be Amobi Okugo from UCLA.

New England need a striker because Taylor Twellman's health is in serious doubt and even if Twellman comes back next year, you have to wonder for how long. Andrew Wiedeman is the kind of guy they need, a goal scorer like Twellman and with Shalrie Joseph providing service, Wiedeman is just their guy.

Chivas USA's new coach Martin Vasquez needs a midfielder who can move the ball around and replace his aging spine, the best (and most flexible) player would be UNC's Zach Loyd-a strong holding midfielder unafraid of a tackle and good with the ball at his feet.

Seattle's Sigi Schmid had a wonderful first year for the Sounders, but how to avoid a sophomore slump? Get a goal scorer, a midfielder or a defender? I think Schmid goes with a midfidler with promise and picks Dilly Duka.

The 12th overall pick will go to Columbus (who like Philly and New York get two picks in the first round). Can they pass up Toni Stahl, the Finnish midfielder? It might get a little crowded on the Columbus midfield line, but Stahl could also be trade bait as well.

Chicago Fire need a little depth up top as Brian McBride probably has only a year, maybe two left in his storied career. Harvard's (yes that Harvard) Andre Akpan is a great selection for the Fire, a big target style striker with a nose for goal and a bit of pace about him.

New York Red Bulls second first round, and 14th overall, pick will probably see them go after Generation Adidas youngster Jack McInerney. He didn't have a great U-17 World Cup or a great combine and might be something of a work in progress, but the young man has no fear of a tackle and lots of energy. If Hans Backe can develop the young man, you could see a potential star.

The L.A. Galaxy looked pretty solid all around, but with the possibility of maybe losing Landon Donovan after the World Cup, they will need a fresh attacking midfield option and that option will probably take the form of Wake Forest's Austin da Luz, a player who fits well into the spot that Donovan would vacate, wide left or through the gut. Da Luz may not have Donovan's speed, but he does have the touch.

Finally, the last pick in the draft goes to MLS Cup holders Real Salt Lake. With Yura Movsisyan heading to Europe and the possibility that Robbie Findlay may follow (with a good World Cup showing), Jason Kreis is going to need a speedy goal scorer and Wake Forest's Zack Schilawski fits that bill well. A goal scoring machine at Wake, leading the ACC in goals, but also setting a school record for appearances with 99--proving he is durable as well in the toughest college conference in the country. Articles - Perkins returns to D.C. United - 01/14/2010

So who doesn't have a first round pick? Houston, Toronto and DC United. DC United might end up hurting worse of this group.

You can follow the draft on ESPN2, ESPN 360 (like me) or a whole host of bloggers following live.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

U.S. Soccer Trims List of Potential World Cup Host Cities

And then there were 18 and the U.S. Bid committee went big.

The list of cities:

Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C. The average stadium size is for these cities is about 78,000. If the U.S. gets the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, you could see 65 games with an attendance figure over 5,000,000. That is some serious attendance.

What I find interesting about this list of finalists is the number of cities on the list without an MLS franchise nearby (within an hours driving distance or so), Atlanta, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, Phoenix and Tampa, six or 1/3 of the cities and when you add Baltimore and San Diego to the list you have nearly half of the cities without a current MLS franchise. It makes you wonder what the MLS plans would be for these cities, if any.

It is good to see a good chunk of southeastern cities on the list.

Heard: Dennis Miller on Third Party Slogan

From yesterday's Dennis Miller show in an interview with Tucker Carlson a possible slogan for a potential third party in America.

The Role of government should be:

1. Kill the terrorists before they kill us.
2. Take less and less of my money.
3. Get out of my life.

No a bad summary. Miller is unabashedly pro-war on terror and is up front about it, which is why he leads with what he does. But really, this is a pretty good summary for what a federal governmetn should be doing:

1. Protecting America and Americans from those who would do us harm.
2. Living lean and taxing Americans only for those matter strictly related to item 1.
3. Not interfering with how people want to live their lives.

We as a nation have forgotten what it means to have a small government, to have the freedom and responsibility to live their lives in the manner they choose.

You should check out the Dennis Miller Show. I get the iTunes feed, which focuses more on the interviews he does.

Friday, January 08, 2010

One American Soccer Crisis Down (for a while), I More to Go

Yesterday, in a hastily arranged press conference the United States Soccer Federation announced a compromise between the United Soccer Leagues and the North American Soccer League for Division 2 professional soccer in America. The details of the dispute are many, but it breaks down like this for those of you who don't follow the story.

1. The United Soccer Leagues (USL) were previously owned by Nike, who had bought the league as part of a much larger deal, but never were really interested in sponsoring or running the league. Early in 2009, Nike announced it was selling the league.

2. A group of team owners (who would become known as the Team Owners Association (TOA) were operating under the belief that they were the leading bidders to buy the league.

3. However, in a massive surprise move, the league was sold to Nu-Rock Soccer Holdings which sparked a revolt.

4. As tensions between Nu-Rock and the TOA escalated, the TOA began talking of a breakaway league, a league which in the fall resuscitated the old North American Soccer League brand. Teams that apparently had commited to play in the USL next year, started bolting for the new league. Law suits followed.

5. Both the USL and the NASL applied for sanctioning by the USSF as a second division league. Sanctioning is important for soccer leagues since it allows players and teams to take part in international compeititions as well as permitting the league to use official resources, such as referees and other matters.

6. On December 30, 2009 the USSF announces that it will not sanction either league and essentially orders the two sides to get into a room and hash out a deal in seven days.

7. Yesterday, it was announced that they had a deal.

For more information on the USL/NASL/TOA/USSF dispute, I suggest reading Brian Quarstad at Inside Minnesota Soccer and Kartik Krishnaier at The Kartik Report. Additionally, Set Piece Analysts has both podcasts and written summaries and opinions.

So what is so important about second division soccer, particularly in a nation in which soccer is a "second tier" sport? There are a lot of reasons, but simply put--development of the game.

With Major League Soccer occupying, for the most part, large metropolitan areas, and coming to the end point of their legitimate size, second division soccer serves the usually smaller markets, but markets with a massive soccer following. Some examples would include Cary, North Carolina; Minneapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, and so on. To be sure, places like Miami, Minneapolis and Atlanta could hardly be considered small cities, but outside of the second division, you could look at a map of the U.S. and draw a line from DC to Columubus, OH, to Kansas City to Houston and everything in the Southeast would be without professional soccer, including all or part of 13 states, including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Even now, MLS is not in any of those states.

But it is not just about serving fans, but second division soccer is also about serving teh development of the game. The new composite league will apparently have a provision that either requires or rewards in some fashion having a certain number of roster positions being filled by U.S. U23 players and younger. This is an important move as it is apparently the first true realization by USSF that if it wants to develop the U.S. Player pool, more players have to develop some professional experience or at least have the option to do so, prior to their leaving college.

The number of slots I have seen is four, which I would like to see as high as six or seven, but even at four, you would have 48 USL/NASL roster slots being occupied by the U.S. U23 player pool. Some of these players will make the jump to the MLS and maybe even other leagues, which improves player development and improves both the U.S. national teams, but also the MLS and U.S. professional soccer in the eyes of the world.

But Division 2 also serves as a place where CONCACAF players can come and play professional soccer exposing not only those nations to American soccer, but helping to increase the level of play.

Division 2 soccer is not big news outside of the immediate soccer world, but this move eliminates one big hurdle for American soccer's development in this crucial World Cup year. Having a staple second division puts more pressure on MLS and the MLS Players Union to come to an agreement that will further benefit American soccer moving forward.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Miscarriage of Justice

In the pivotal trial scene in the movie A Time to Kill (and the John Grisham novel of the same name) lawyer Jake Brigance, played by Matthew McConaughey, describes the tragic scene of the rape and assault of a little black girl and at the end of the retelling, asks the jury to imagine that the girl is white, evoking the not the racial prejudice of the southern town in which the story was set, but the passionate disgust that a rape of a child engenders. It was brilliant lawyering and brilliant storytelling with an effective end.

In 2006, the Duke Lacrosse Rape case became national news. A black woman working as a stripper, accuses several white, admittedly privileged, Duke lacrosse players of viciously raping her. Durham, NC is a largely black city with the bastion of white privilege of a private university set among the city. The story immediately made headlines and then the story began to unravel. The accuser's story had a lot of holes in it. A prosecuting attorney, with political ambitions, seizes on the case, makes a series of serious and egregious errors that ultimately results in his downfall and ultimate disbarrment as an attorney. Serious and severe failings of police procedures, prosecutorial misconduct and a dangerous mix of ill-informed Duke faculty, with a predetermined, politically correct conviction of young men who hadn't even seen a courtroom yet, and a media willing to latch on to a story that fit a narrative mold of white privilege abusing black, working class women was too much for the nation to ignore. Ultimately, the young men are exonerated of their alleged crime, but their lives are forever shattered, altered forever in the world of the internet where good deeds go unnoticed, but misdeeds, real or imagined linger forever.

Now imagine everything you know about the Duke rape case is exactly reversed and you will have an idea of the case of Eric Frimpong.

Eric Frimpong is now entering the third year of a six year sentence for a rape that appears to have never happened. Frimpong, a black soccer player from Ghana, who was a player for University of California Santa Barbara and their 2006 NCAA title winning team, was accused by a white woman, apparently with power connections through her father, but with an admitted alcohol problem and a history of blackouts. The accused was an immigrant from Ghana, unfamiliar with the legal system and no previous interactions with the law and with a story that was wildly inconsistent with the accuser's story.

There are similarities between the Duke case and the Frimpong case, not just an accuser lacking in credibility. DNA evidence of rape was practically non-existent. What DNA was found on the accuser didn't belong to Frimpong, but another man who was never seriously questioned as a suspect. Bite marks on the victim were examined by one forensic expert who said his results were inconclusive, so the police went to a different expert who said that it was Frimpong. The problem is, for those unfamiliar with the case of Brady v. Maryland, is that any evidence that may be exculpatory of the defendant must be turned over to the defense. The first expert was identified until later.

I strongly urge everyone to read the lengthy article by Joel Engel, who along with his uncle, spent thousands of volunteer hours reviewing case files and tracking down unfollowed leads, witnesses and evidence, talked to experts of all kinds and found dozens of gaping and not so gaping holes in the case. Engel's investigation was used by Frimpong's attorneys, including pro bono work by Skadden Arps (one of the biggest law firms in the world), to argue the appeal.

An appellate ruling should be handed down in the next couple of weeks.

If, after reading all this information and Engel's story, you want to help defray the costs of Frimpong's defense, click here.

B-E-A-utiful Clint Dempsy Goal

Check out this strike from yesterday's match with Stoke City. Although Fulham lost 3-2 after a disasterous opening 37 minutes, this strike is probably Fulham's goal of the year:
Brilliant strike.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Some help for Landon Donovan

Donovan, who has joined Everton on a 10 week loan, got a little help in making the bench or starting line-up for the Toffees as Everton has suspended Brazilian striker Jo for disciplinary breaches.

How a new Designated Player rule will shape Major League Soccer - Daily Soccer Fix#storyjump

Steve Davis has a pretty good peice up taking about the MLS Designated Player rule, a three year experiment that is coming to an end officially, although all indications seem to indicate that it will continue. Davis notes that some people in and around MLS are worried that the addition of a second DP will create a small market/big market split like that which exists in baseball.

With a strict salary cap in place and also not likely to disappear even in a new collective bargaining agreement, a small market/big market split seems unlikely. However, there is a much greater concern that would need to be addressed if a second DP were to become the norm.

If clubs are willing to pay for a second DP, they must--indeed they are morally obligated--to ensure that all players, even the most junior development player is paid a living wage of no less than $50,000 per year and must be willing to guarantee those contracts.

From a purely academic sense, I have no objection to a second DP, but you cannot have two or three players making six or seven figures a year and then have players making less than $20,000 a year. But if owners are willing to part with seven figures a year on two players, they need to make sure they are paying their full squad a living salary for a professional athlete. For a league that has demonstrated, not unwisely, a concern for the bottom line, having to DP's and a group of four or five junior players making less a year than a DP makes in a month is a moral outrage.

So if owners like those reportedly in LA, New York and Seattle are willing to pay a second DP, those same owners had better be lobbying their peers vociferously for a minimum salary and guaranteed contracts.

Let the Silly Season Begin

For those who follow soccer on an international stage, today is the opening of the January Transfer Window, where players are permitted to change clubs either permanently or on a loan basis and play for different clubs.

It tends to get a little ridiculous, with rumor swirling and twirling around. Obscene transfer fees are discussed and "never going to happen" rumors are posted every couple of hours.

It is fun to listen to and watch, but this year, I am going to try and keep my speculation to a minimum. I hope.