Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts on the new MLS CBA

Lets start this off by saying, just about any agreement was going to be better than a player strike. The league has made nowhere near the impact on the hearts and minds of the average American soccer fan, much less, the average American sports fan to be able to survive a strike. Of course, I wanted to see the MLS finally take the steps to ensuring the longevity of the league by finally valuing their players. Raising the salary cap, and addressing the abysmally low ($34,000) league minimum salary were obvious priorities.

One can find all of the details of the CBA here. And below I've outlined my opinion on several of the key points:

1. Salary cap increases to $2.55M in 2010 (2.315 in 2009), and will increase by 5% each year through 2014.
Lets face it, the MLS isn't a major league yet, and won't be able to offer an impressive salary cap until it can draw the advertising and media monies other sports have. That being said, I think the MLS could have gone higher, perhaps up to $2.75M.

2. Increased player benefits including: raising league minimum salary to $40,000, 401K contributions, health care, appearance fees, better travel coverage, bonuses for winning, bonuses for participating in exhibitions.
A $6,000 increase in the league's minimum salary isn't overtly generous, but when all the benefits are taken into account I feel that the increase was mostly sufficient. And the standout here for me is player incentives for winning. Hopefully this will incentivize teams to put their best product onto the field day in-day out. And the MLS will now cover player's health insurance?? Smells like a SOCIALISM..

3. Possible establishment of a reserve division.
This could be great for talent cultivation, but remember its in the "committee" stage. My opinion: don't hold your breath.

4. Guaranteed contracts for players that are at least 24 years old and have 3 years of MLS service.
I think the goal here is to keep players in the MLS and prevent talent from migrating to other leagues. There could be more in the CBA to keep our players here, but this is a step in the right direction.

All in all, I think this is a win for the players. Lets be honest, the majority of the owners in the MLS aren't turning a profit. I commend the owners for making the concessions (yes, they are modest) to keep the players from striking, a blow that the league may not have survived.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dempsey is Back Baby!

Clint "Deuce" Dempsey capped a remarkable 4-1 Fulham victory over Juventus with a beautiful goal. The perfectly placed chip shot pushed aggregate of the Europa league series with Juventus to 5-4 in favor of the Cottagers. Not many people would have expected Fulham to advance, especially after losing 3-1 in Italy last week. This was a nice way for Demsey to be welcomed back into the team after a lengthy recovery from a knee injury. Enjoy the goal below.

Monday, March 8, 2010

FA Cup: Fulham and Tottenham Draw

A 6th round FA Cup match-up saw Fulham and Tottenham play a relatively evenly matched fixture this evening. For Spurs, the twin towers of Pavlyuchenko and Crouch couldn't break the deadlock and apparently Harry Houidini didn't deem this match important enough to let Defoe see any time on the pitch until the 82nd minute (even though he has scored in all previous rounds of the Cup). Bobby Zamora put in a solid effort, holding the ball up well, but couldn't convert any chances. Fulham could have definitely used a creative, active and accurate player like the injured Dempsey to add to their attack. After this 0-0 tie, each team will get another shot to make it to the next round with the all-London replay at White Hart Lane.

Whatever the outcome, for me this season has been a pleasure as Fulham has cemented themselves as a quality/mid-table Premiership team, gone far into the FA Cup and played will in the Europa League (Juventus is up next, ouch). It would be nice to see Hodgson pick up a more dynamic center midfielder to control the game and some durable, quality support to run up front with Zamora.

On a side note, Gareth Bale: Man or Ape? You be the judge...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thoughts on USA vs Netherlands

De jong is a piece of crap for laying down that dirt-McGirt tackle on Holden, a-la last weekend’s Aaron Ramsey leg breaker. It’s a friendly for Christ’s sake.

DMB getting the nod to be subbed on for the injured Holden. Looks like he needs to stock up on some Monster Milk as I think he weighs about a buck-thirty soaking wet.

Robbie Findley is not the answer.

Bornstein brain fart + Sneijder selling the penalty = 1-0 lead for the Dutch.

I don’t know much about Man City’s De Jong, but I have zero respect for him. First that tackle on Holden in a game with absolutely zero consequence and then a comical flop when Beasley didn’t even touch him. It’s stuff like that that ruins games and gives the sport a bad name.

Who is Alejandro Bedoya?? Got his second cap coming in for the invisible Robbie Findley. Almost drew a penalty too.

I hope, for their own sake, that the Dutch pick up their game before South Africa. I was not really impressed with their play. Cheap PK and a deflection for their goals.

With that being said, the Dutch have a really deep roster. For every big name they subbed out, another world class player came in.

Tim Howard is a beast. USA has had some of the best goalkeepers in the past 15 years, no doubt. Keller, Friedel and now Howard. Guzan is a stud too. At least we have one position locked down for a while…

Bocanegra showed his experience and calmly headed in the only USA goal.

USA picked up its play and pressured the Dutch in the last 10-15 minutes with Goodson and Altidore both having good scoring opportunities. It will be interesting when Onyewu, Clark, Dempsey, Feilheber and maybe even Charlie Davies are healthy.

99 days till the big dance….Bring it on South Africa!