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Offline elan

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MLS to EPL?
« on: December 21, 2012, 06:18:19 PM »
MLS Powers San Jose and Los Angeles Just Maybe Could Hang in the EPL
By Paul Miller(Featured Columnist) on December 19, 2012


Could San Jose and Los Angeles, the last two MLS Supporters' Shield winners, avoid EPL relegation? It would be close, but just maybe they could.

The annual MLS Cup has led to another round of annual questions about what this soccer league means and its place in the larger football world.

American soccer fans tend to fall into one of two groups. One refuses to acknowledge MLS exists, because the cool kids only talk about England and Europe. The other continues to believe MLS is improving and sees the American league (prematurely) knocking on the door of premier status.

Neither view is wholly defensible. Proving MLS exists, however, is a little easier than comparing the American league to its overseas counterparts.

The Supporters' Shield was the selection vehicle for MLS teams. English clubs place greater emphasis on league tables than FA Cup runs, and tables dictate promotion and relegation.

The Supporters’ Shield is awarded to the team with the most points in the MLS regular season. The last two teams to win the Supporters’ Shield are the San Jose Earthquakes and the Los Angeles Galaxy (the latter of which also has won the last two MLS Cups).

Americans love championship games. And Americans especially love underdogs who can make that magical Cinderella run to get to the championship game. That’s just part of the national character. Being the better team on paper is less important than winning in the end, head to head.

Fans of the “beautiful game” elsewhere tend to see it differently. They, too, want results on the field over analytical team strength. But they are more apt to view results over an entire season as having greater importance than tournament performance.


San Jose and Los Angeles clearly are not comparable to Manchester United. No argument there. But neither are most teams in the EPL.

If we are going to pursue the relegation question, then we need to look at the teams currently straddling that line in EPL standings. At the moment, those teams are Southampton and Wigan Athletic. However Southampton is only a point behind Sunderland and has a game in hand.

It’s a coin toss, but let's use Sunderland and Wigan Athletic for comparisons.

We will “baseline” on San Jose and Los Angeles rosters for the end of the 2012 season (postseason moves don't count) and compare those to the current rosters for these two EPL teams that are striving to avoid relegation in the ongoing 2012-13 season.

 

Minding the Nets

The English teams open a lead in this comparison with their keepers.

Wigan Athletic’s frame is protected by Omani keeper Ali Al-Habsi. He’s not just the class of this four-team group. While a dark horse, he could be in the running for best of the two leagues, at least in terms of shot-stopping ability.


Al-Habsi is on loan from Bolton. How Bolton could let this guy wander away from them like that is truly baffling from outside the situation. Whether it’s recording clean sheets or stopping penalty kicks, Al-Habsi nearly single-handedly kept Wigan out of relegation last season.

Sunderland’s dynamic duo, Simon Mignolet and Keiren Westwood, are both solid keepers. Though MLS has some fine keepers of its own, most American clubs would be happy to have either of them.

Mignolet has 12 caps with the Begium senior team, and Westwood has 14 with Ireland.

Jon Busch is the 36-year-old starter for San Jose. Busch’s best season was 2008, when he was named MLS keeper of the year and part of the league’s Best XI. He had a single appearance with the USMNT during a 2005 friendly.

The Galaxy’s Josh Saunders is sound but has never been seen as more than serviceable in MLS. He made a single appearance with the U-23 U.S. team, but since then he has appeared twice for Puerto Rico’s senior team.

 

Defense

Sunderland widens the gap with defense.

With backs like Wes Brown, Phil Bardsley and John O’Shea, and a bunch of English and Irish caps between them, neither of these two MLS teams nor anyone in the American league can compare on paper.

Add in a young Danny Rose and fan-favorite Carlos Cuellar, and you have the defensive foundation for a team that arguably should be higher on the EPL table.

The Galaxy, in comparison, have Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant and Sean Franklin, with seven USMNT caps between them.

Gonzalez in only four seasons with the Galaxy has been named Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, MLS Cup MVP and one of the league’s Best XI twice. He is a rising star, potentially both in club and international terms.

But as impressive as those accomplishments are, for context place them next to the resume of Sunderland’s Brown, with 23 caps for England, and 232 appearances with Manchester United.

Wigan Athletic’s back line features Honduran international Maynor Figueroa and Scottish international Gary Caldwell. Add in Ivan Ramis, who played on Spanish national youth teams, and Paraguayan international Antolin Alcaraz, and you have a respectable club defensive unit in general.

By EPL standards, however, Wigan Athletic’s defense is suspect.

If you still have that coin handy, toss it to determine whether Los Angeles or Wigan Athletic have stronger defenders on paper.

The San Jose Earthquakes this year lived by the defensive mantra of just making sure they scored more than the other team. That approach amazingly won them the Supporters’ Shield, but it doesn’t work often and San Jose had their share of lucky results along the way.

The Earthquakes have a handful of serviceable MLS defenders, like Victor Bernardez and Jason Hernandez. But San Jose’s immediate postseason moves tell the story. That club signed three veteran defenders from the re-entry draft.

 

Midfield

Los Angeles strikes back with midfielders.

Two of the Galaxy-designated players are Landon Donovan and David Beckham, even if Beckham has announced he's leaving the team. However, L.A. is deeper than that, with under-recognized contributions from Juninho and Mike Magee.


Beckham, though older and less mobile, brings game experience from Manchester United and Real Madrid. And even his strongest detractors acknowledge the former England captain remains lethal on free kicks.

Donovan impressed while on loan to Bayern Munich and even more so at Everton. But fans who understand his importance to MLS knew a transfer wasn’t likely so long as Donovan was on contract stateside.

San Jose led MLS in scoring. The Earthquakes are more than Golden Boot Chris Wondolowski. Statistics say they were a team of playmakers in 2012.

While the focus was on Wondo and his chase of the league scoring record, the Earthquakes fielded a balanced and unpredictable attack. A full 12 players recorded multiple assists this year. Midfielder Marvin Chavez, a mainstay for the Honduras national team, led the pack with 13.

San Jose’s midfield does not get the respect it deserves, at least in attack phase.

Another point of direct comparison between the leagues can be found here as well. Center attacking mid Simon Dawkins is on loan to the Earthquakes from Tottenham.


The Jamaican has never made an appearance with the Spurs (after being loaned to Leyton Orient and San Jose), but has 53 appearances in two seasons with the Earthquakes. Tottenham, however, is not living in fear of relegation.

Sunderland’s midfield does not have the same on-paper pedigree as its defensive unit.

Sebastian Larsson is Sunderland’s answer to Beckham as his side’s free-kick specialist. He is considered one of the more dangerous on set kicks in the EPL.

At wing, Sunderland will play defender Rose, who like Dawkins is on loan from Tottenham. And James McLean is a 22-year-old Irish international who also shows a ton of promise at winger.

Wigan Athletic has quality but not standout middies.

Jordi Gomez, a Spaniard who played on his country’s U-17 team, adds some scoring punch with 10 goals over the last three and a half years. Irish international James McCarthy, a native of Scotland but with Irish family ties, could be a rising star. And fellow midfielder Jean Beausejour, a Chilean international, is another playmaker.

 

Attackers

The edge here goes to Los Angeles. It might be more than an edge.


Robbie Keane has played and, for the most part, excelled at a wide collection of clubs: Wolverhampton, Coventry City, Inter, Leeds United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Celtic, West Ham and Aston Villa.

Keane, who is still only 32, has found the net an amazing 189 times in senior club play. He also is the leading scorer for Ireland with 54 international goals.

Edson Buddle joined Keane up top for the Galaxy in 2012. Buddle has been an MLS journeyman as well as a U.S. international. An earlier history of unfortunately timed injuries limited his role on the national team.

Up the coast from Los Angeles, attack is synonymous with San Jose’s Wondolowski. Wondo tied the MLS scoring record with 27 goals in 2012. However, Earthquake forwards Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon also are solid.

Wondo has won two Golden Boots, lost a tiebreaker for a third, was named to the league’s Best XI twice, and this year added MVP honors.


His performance in the 2012 MLS All-Star Game offers another point of EPL comparison. Chelsea’s John Terry chased him down at halftime to tell Wondo he was a nightmare to cover.

Sunderland’s big gun is Scottish international Steven Fletcher. Fletcher was a standout at Burnley before coming to Sunderland.

Frazier Campbell adds speed as well as versatility, playing up top for Sunderland or on either wing.

Leading Wigan Athletic in scoring this season is Arouna Kone, a quality striker from the Ivory Coast. Latics fans also look for production from 23-year-old Franco di Santo. Di Santo this year had a first appearance with Argentina’s senior team.

 

Other Considerations

Comparing MLS and EPL teams is a bit like comparing apples and carburetors. The situations in which they exist are as different as the time of year in which they play.


An English football club enjoys the type of fan support that is more akin to American NFL franchises. Because of that support, and the revenue that comes with it, EPL teams operate on a different financial plane.

Consider the following data on team average salaries, as reported in May 2012.

Sunderland pays its players an average (converted from pounds) of $2.4 million. Wigan Athletic’s average player salary is $1.8 million.

The MLS clubs have more modest average salaries of $500,000 (Los Angeles) and $100,000 (San Jose).

If an MLS team had EPL-like support, obviously it could compensate its players better, which would allow bolstering the roster with stronger players.

Much is made of the grueling nature of an EPL season. Whether it is any more grueling than other leagues is a subjective matter.

Los Angeles in 2012 competed in 49 games, between league play, domestic and confederation tournaments, and then finally with the MLS Playoffs. Sunderland, in comparison, only played in 45 matches during the 2011-12 football year.

But consider that MLS teams are playing for a spot in the playoffs. A team like San Jose in 2012 had a pretty good idea for much of the season it would qualify. Los Angeles, in contrast, had to struggle down the stretch.

One result of this playoff approach may be differing levels of play intensity. In hockey, conventional wisdom holds that playoff defense is far more intense than regular season defense. Perhaps this happens in all playoff-structured leagues.

As an aside, another piece of NHL conventional wisdom is that wide open and high scoring teams from the regular season tend not to survive long in the playoffs, once they hit the higher intensity defensive play. Now think back on what happened to San Jose in MLS this year.

EPL teams fight for every notch on the table. The top notch of course has its honors. Above a certain level, and it’s off to the UEFA Champions League the next year. Below a certain level, there’s relegation to the less-celebrated English League Championship ranks.

(For those who don’t speak British, Championship is the second level, followed by a third level, which is called League One. Would you expect anything different from the land of Monty Python?)

There may be something more grueling in this English and European approach to regular season games. But the first point stands that if Los Angeles and San Jose were in the EPL, both would have resources to bolster their rosters accordingly.

 

Bottom Line

The MLS teams, even with their lesser budgets, are comparable to these EPL teams. Los Angeles on paper appears fairly even with Sunderland, as does San Jose to Wigan Athletic.

The above points suggest that Los Angeles or San Jose, and especially San Jose with its 2012 defense, would struggle to avoid EPL relegation, as Wigan has for several years.


At best, either could be seen as having lower-level EPL qualities, but a more sober view might conclude a wing and a prayer would be required for Los Angeles and San Jose to avoid relegation from the EPL to the Championship ranks.

Presumably, this would also be the case in the handful of Europe's other truly “premier” leagues.

Maybe the truly amazing aspect of this is we are talking about an American league that is only 16 years old, and built on a fraction of the financial resources some older leagues enjoy, yet attempting to make this comparison at all.

That alone sounds like a win for MLS.
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Offline maxg

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2015, 06:00:48 PM »
Well, I for one anxious to see what kind of Impact ah ole Drogba gonna have on The Impact. Will it be Drogba reminding us of KJ  :devil: or to old to Mata.  ;D

Offline Peong

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2015, 06:31:58 PM »
With all the big players moving to the MLS maybe we should concentrate on getting players in there.
 

Offline Dinner Mints

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015, 07:10:30 PM »
With all the big players moving to the MLS maybe we should concentrate on getting players in there.
 
If Molino come back full strength and Joevin keep growing and KJ join and mash it up and Cato doing his thing, we'll start to be seen more favorably as a source I'd imagine.

Offline g

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2015, 08:09:59 PM »
MLS has to break their existing wage structure to draw the best talent.

The best players cost money, MLS is not a feeder for europe so the better bet is to maximize with marquee talent which will bring the network money and make an open wage structure sustainable.
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Offline R45

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2015, 10:59:20 PM »
From all the MLS games I've seen (some in person, others on TV), the biggest issue I still see is defence. I still find that quality defending is lacking, and most of the marquee players brought in continue to be midfielders/strikers. When Montréal brought in Nesta to the D, it did wonders for their structure.

Offline Football supporter

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2015, 07:00:22 AM »
I'm just hoping that on August 6th, their defending at set pieces is woeful!!

Offline maxg

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2015, 05:02:14 PM »

Offline asylumseeker

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2015, 06:13:14 AM »
Drogba seems to be a good fit for Montreal culturally. Hoping the vibes on the field yield something equally fitting or better.

Offline maxg

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2015, 12:35:10 PM »
Drogba seems to be a good fit for Montreal culturally. Hoping the vibes on the field yield something equally fitting or better.
I sure he will love summers here for life, everybody does. Then when (foot)balls start to freeze, everything does get real cold..that is real test

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2015, 01:31:05 PM »
Drogba seems to be a good fit for Montreal culturally. Hoping the vibes on the field yield something equally fitting or better.
Then when (foot)balls start to freeze, everything does get real cold..that is real test
So daz when?  September?  :devil:
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Offline maxg

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2015, 02:09:58 PM »
 :rotfl: :rotfl: :yellowcard:

Offline asylumseeker

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2015, 11:20:19 AM »
DC @ the Impact today. When does Drogba debut?

Offline Mose

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2015, 12:13:25 PM »
DC @ the Impact today. When does Drogba debut?
No word from the team. They say he needs time to get into game shape and gel with the rest of the team. They have everyone excited though.
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Offline Jumbie

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2015, 04:18:07 PM »
DC @ the Impact today. When does Drogba debut?

September!  ;D


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Carlos "The Rolls Royce" Edwards

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Offline asylumseeker

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2015, 04:57:09 PM »

Offline Mose

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2015, 05:43:21 PM »
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 05:45:26 PM by Mose »
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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2015, 08:00:31 PM »
Salt. Can't find any online.
Try calling.

You in the 514?

Not yet, been looking fuh a Canada Goose store since Palos start issuing meteorological warnings  :P

Offline Mose

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2015, 10:49:18 AM »
Salt. Can't find any online.
Try calling.

You in the 514?

Not yet, been looking fuh a Canada Goose store since Palos start issuing meteorological warnings  :P

 :rotfl: Yeah, well doh look to wear it this weekend unless yuh planning on getting ah easy sweat!
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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2015, 03:49:19 AM »
Sebastian Giovinco: A TFC saviour, and maybe the finest player in MLS history
By Cathal Kelly (The Globe and Mail).


Just inside his right elbow, Sebastian Giovinco has a tattoo of a smiling cartoon blob flashing the “L” sign over its forehead.

“Loser,” Giovinco explains, in a rare burst of English.

The “loser” is Giovinco himself.

After deciding six months ago to leave Juventus (hand way up here) for Toronto FC (hand way down there), he was slated in his national press.

It is difficult to fully capture the influence that group has over the opinions of soccer-obsessed (i.e. all) Italians. If those silken jackals want a coach fired, he’s fired. If they want a player gone, he’s gone. And if they decide you are no good, you stop mattering. Woe betides the man who catches their sneering notice.

“Most of them were saying, ‘You’re afraid to challenge yourself. It’s simple to go into an easier league. That’s why you’ve chosen Toronto,’” Giovinco says, speaking through a translator. “It was just common chatter. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Very obviously, it bothered him. A lot. He spent the bulk of his introductory news conference wielding a metaphoric hacksaw, cutting all ties with the country of his birth: “In Italy, I had many problems.… I wanted to find a city, a team, that from the beginning welcomed me.”

Within a month of arriving in Canada, he’d decided on the tattoo.

“You think I’m a loser. I know that’s what you think I am. So, this is for you guys,” he says flatly, staring hard at nothing. He purses his lips in that very Italian way and waggles a hand dismissively.

Giovinco’s translator, Antonello, summarizes thusly: “It’s an eff you.”

It can be fairly said that while Giovinco would probably be a great player were he fully contented, his engine runs at much higher RPMs on resentment. To hear him tell it, the golden pitch that got him to Toronto was, “We want you.” (The offer of $7.1-million [U.S.] a year – then the highest salary in league history – probably helped as well.)

But no one else put it to him that plainly. So here he is, reimagining what soccer can be at this level and transforming a cursed franchise.

Throughout its history, TFC has not sailed the seas of MLS. It’s dragged the ocean floor. The team has spent stupid amounts of money trying to solve the problem. It’s still not solved.

Currently, the team has one hand flailing above water level, trying to hang on to a playoff position. This looks very much like déjà vu – a good run through the beginning and middle of the season, undone by a hundred-storey swoon at the end.

The difference in this case is Giovinco. He is keeping this team afloat by force of will. Only two dozen games into his MLS career, he may already be the finest player in league history.

You could describe what he’s done statistically.

Kelly2 He has more goals (16) than the next five scorers on his team combined. He leads MLS in combined points – goals and assists (27). Despite playing from a recessed position, he’s taken more shots on target than anyone in the league (53).

It is axiomatic in soccer that no player can create offence by himself. Giovinco is the exception that proves that rule.

But to fully appreciate Giovinco’s magic, you have to watch him. Everyone else is playing checkers. He’s playing three-dimensional chess. He has that special vision – literal and figurative – that allows him to see what’s going to happen an instant before anyone else. Then he has the speed and skill to fully exploit that foreknowledge.

I put it to him that it all looks very easy when he does it. I can tell when the statement is only half-translated that he’s already offended. He wants to explain all the work that goes into … I cut off the translator.

“No, what I meant to say is that you look like you’re working on a different level from everyone else.”

He does me the favour of looking at me now.

“Grazie,” he says. Then, “Thank you.” Disaster averted.

Giovinco was raised in industrial Turin, the son of a metal worker and a waitress. He has a younger brother who plays professionally in Italy’s third division.

Giovinco’s parents are from the south – Calabria and Sicily. They went north looking for work. This common migration marks every Italian who makes it as a permanent outsider.

At eight years old, he was spotted playing in a suburban children’s league by scouts from Juventus. He was brought into the club’s academy.

In Turin, they call Juventus the Vecchia Signora – Old Lady. The nickname is a pun, but the club is mother to all the city’s fans.

As just one example of his stubbornness, Giovinco continued to support his employer’s bitter rival, AC Milan. He only shifted his allegiance grudgingly.

“Oh, well. When you’re 15 years old at Juve, it’s normal to root for them,” he explained later. He signed his first professional contract at 17. At that point, he was already training with the senior team.

Despite an abundance of talent, his career at Juventus never fully launched. He was loaned out twice to lesser clubs and cut a sporadic figure on the national team. He was in and out of favour with a series of managers.

Most of this was down to his size. Soccer players are not big men, but they tend to have muscular heft, especially in the lower half. Giovinco is both small (5 foot 4) and wispy (listed at 137 pounds). Judging by the look of him, he may be the only professional athlete in North America who inflates his weight.

We are sitting in a trattoria in tony Yorkville. Giovinco lives a couple of blocks away at the residences of the Four Seasons Hotel. He has arrived straight from practice in a T-shirt and shorts. He has a diamond bracelet on one wrist and a watch the size of a dinner plate on the other. The Italian-speaking wait staff are “Ciao”-ing up a storm.

He makes a great point of stopping to address each person in turn.

“Is everybody eating?” he asks.

No, you go ahead.

This is a bad breach of table etiquette, but Giovinco doesn’t want to insist. He shakes his head sadly.

He has a long discussion with the waiter about lunch. He wants a salad, but it isn’t on the menu. He lists off what he’d like in it – chicken, goat cheese and a light dressing. He inhales the first plate in the Italian style – fork and a hunk of bread acting in tandem. Then he orders another. It’s twice as big. It’s gone just as fast.

He apologizes. “I don’t eat like this all the time. I do have salad, but I’m an Italian.”

By that, he means that he usually eats real food – pasta, pizza and such. It’s charming to meet someone with a hang-up around food that works the opposite way. He’s spent his life trying to gain weight.

Asked for his favourite restaurant in the area, he says, “My home.”

This is the key allure of Toronto for Giovinco. It’s completely different than what he’s used to, but allows him to remain the same.

He moved here with his long-time partner, Sharj (it’s her eye that you may have seen tattooed photo-realistically on the back of his neck), and their toddler son Jacopo. By all accounts, Giovinco, 28, prefers the comforts of family life to the city’s club scene.

This was not the case with Jermain Defoe, the big-money bust who preceded Giovinco. As such, it was a factor in making Giovinco the highest-paid Italian player in the world. Toronto FC hoped it was getting a highly motivated workaholic. In turn, Giovinco was hoping he could finally put his job in its proper perspective.

In Turin, he was hounded – by the press and fans. The fixation was exacerbated by the fact that he was a local product.

“You can’t go for a walk with your family. You can’t go buy an ice cream. There is too much passion. They’re always on you: ‘Please, please, please.’ Here, it’s different,” Giovinco says. “They are more respectful. Let’s call it ‘educated.’ They understand. In Italy, it’s too much.”

When the pressure is more reasonable, he feels a responsibility to be accessible. He recounts a recent chance meeting with a major sports star whose name he’d rather not have printed. Giovinco asked for a picture together. He was rebuffed.

“Not a good person,” Giovinco says darkly in English.

Then, back in Italian: “I will take a picture with anyone who wants one. All they have to do is ask. If I don’t want to take a picture, there is an easy way to solve that problem – I don’t leave my house.”

The owner of the restaurant has come over now – a fellow Calabrese. He wants to know if Giovinco wants any hard-to-find favourites. Perhaps some soppressata (cured sausage) or ’nduja (a spicy meat spread)? The owner’s mother is going to make it for him, special. Giovinco is aglow.

“I’m in love with this city, the lifestyle,” he says.

Is it the soccer or the culture that attracts you most?

“For now, of course, it’s more the lifestyle. I hope in the future it will also be the soccer. It [the quality of the North American game] is different. You can’t say it’s not.”

From someone else, you might go ferreting around in that quote for an insult. But not Giovinco. He calls things by their real names and has fully delivered on his high-priced promise. What more could a city want?

Given how well he’s playing and the changeable nature of his profession, will he stay if a much bigger European club comes for him? He’s on a five-year deal, but traditionally soccer contracts don’t mean much if a player is motivated to leave.

“I’m happy to stay. This is a long-term project. But if Manchester City calls you? I don’t think it will happen. If they really wanted me, they would’ve asked me before. That’s being realistic. Of course, once something happens, you need to think about it. But I’m very happy here. I don’t think I’m going to leave.”

It’s the sort of non-weaselly commitment that Toronto FC will be just as happy to hear. The team should worry about whether Giovinco is included in Italy’s squad at Euro 2016, to be played in France. Exclusion from England’s national set-up is what drove Defoe around the bend.

Giovinco has yet to receive any assurances, but Italy’s manager Antonio Conte is a long-time admirer. Giovinco calls making that team “very important to me.” It would be a profound coup for MLS as a whole if one of its players featured in soccer’s most difficult tournament. It’s never happened.

Giovinco doesn’t seem terribly bothered right now. He’s finished eating and is in no hurry to rush off. Jacopo will wake up from his nap in a half hour. They’ll spend the afternoon horsing around. Perhaps later they’ll all go for a walk. Having been denied the pleasure for so long, he’s a great fan of the lazy urban stroll. He’ll take a few pictures, but mostly he’ll be ignored. As he prefers.

For now, the best soccer player in North America is happy to let soccer sort itself out. He’s busy concentrating on living the bella vita, overseas division.

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2015, 03:55:52 AM »
Galaxy and NYC bring the MLS glamor, and Didier Drogba is ready to go
By Richard Whittall (The Guardian, UK)


LA v NYC: the glitzier half of MLS’s growth strategy


It’s fitting that in the same week when the Philadelphia Union announced their sister club in the United Soccer League would play in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – the town once home to the legendary American soccer club Bethlehem Steel FC– the LA Galaxy will host New York City FC on Sunday in a glitzy, star-­studded affair.

Here are the two sides of Major League Soccer’s long­-term growth strategy. On the one hand, we have two clubs that have both heavily exploited the league’s infamous “Designated Player” rule, which allows club owners to pay players out of pocket above the maximum salary and over their allotted roster budget. Their line­ups – which include Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Andrea Pirlo, Robbie Keane, David Villa, and more recently, Giovani dos Santos – are the product of the league’s desire to gain global recognition and commercial power on the (relatively) cheap. While DP salaries are in some cases astronomical, the league’s maximum roster budget sits at a very affordable $3.49m, while the league’s minimum salary for its roster fillers is still a miniscule $50,000.

On the other hand, we have another MLS-­owned club entering the third tier USL PRO league, the culmination of a partnership first struck in 2013 to help the league’s clubs to better develop talent in­-house. The Philadelphia Union’s choice of location is rich in symbolism: Bethlehem Steel FC (1907­-1930), a five-time winner of the US Open Cup, were one of America’s best club sides in the early 20th century and an integral part of the nation’s footballing heritage. Though Bethlehem Steel were stacked at their height with paid Scottish and English journeymen, they represent the deep roots of the sport in America, and will now become the latest part of MLS’s drive to develop elite players to partner its expensive stars.

Can these strategies successfully co­-exist, particularly with a wage gap that shows no signs of narrowing any time soon? For now, MLS believes its approach – which combines piecemeal, club­-led player development with some slightly ­faded Euro club star power – will see it not only survive, but thrive in the coming years.

Didier Drogba’s debut, enfin


Speaking of expensive, ageing star power … for the Montreal Impact, a team hanging on to the final playoff spot in the East with a nice pile of games in hand they’ve been carrying around pretty much all season, Didier Drogba’s much­ballyhooed MLS debut couldn’t come soon enough.

That it will be coming at home against the Union, a team whose defense (and troubled former keeper Rais M’Bolhi, it must be said) has conceded a conference­-leading 43 goals this season, is even more mouth­watering for a club which has relied on Argentinian midfielder Ignacio Piatti for much of its output.

The Impact have enjoyed a week’s rest before Drogba’s anticipated debut, a welcome respite after a tough sequence of matches. Montreal fared as well as they could, managing a pair of admirable draws with Vancouver and the New York Red Bulls, and suffering a fluke 0­-1 loss against Eastern Conference leaders DC United. With a good number of road games left, a fit Drogba will be invaluable if Montreal want to keep their chance at a post­season berth alive.

The only question is whether the Impact’s midfield, which includes Marco Donadel and the returning Justin Mapp, can give him the service he needs to thrive.

San Jose’s Wondo-­dependence wanes


Away from all the glitz and glamour, DC United will host the San Jose Earthquakes meet for some old-school MLS play. Front and centre for the visiting team is Chris Wondolowski, who this week added another record to his collection. His brace against Sporting KC this past midweek, part of a shock 0­-5 rout, put him on a century of goals for the Quakes. He’s the only player to reach the milestone for the club.

San Jose are not out of the running yet in a very competitive Western Conference, only three points behind the Sounders for the last playoff spot with a game in hand. Though Wondo has been front and centre this season, his teammates have risen to the occasion of late, and so has the club. While Wondolowski accounts for 11 of the Quakes’ 29 goals, their most recent winners came from Clarence Goodson and Cordell Cato, the latter of whom also scored a brace against SKC.

A shock, team-­led result against an unpredictable DC United could further ease the pressure off Wondo as it ratchets it up on Seattle.

Fatigue may continue to catch up with Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City looked for a while to be flourishing amid a tiring stretch of matches. After a tough-­fought comeback win against Real Salt Lake in the US Open Cup a week and a half ago, SKC managed to complete another 4­3 comeback against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Perhaps it’s no surprise that ahead of their midweek game against the Earthquakes, centre-back Kevin Ellis readily dismissed concerns about fatigue.

“We’re all the same. We’d rather be playing games than practicing anyway, so we’re enjoying times like this.” Of course, Sporting KC promptly lost 5-0 to San Jose, one of their worst ever home defeats.

Fixture congestion is a fact of life in Major League Soccer, but five games in fifteen days is a tall order for any club. Now a tired and demoralized Sporting KC will travel to Mapfre Stadium to face a Columbus team eager to hold off New England and Toronto FC in the Eastern standings. Worse, Sporting will be without Benny Feilhaber, suspended for his last-­man challenge on Quincy Amarikwa.

SKC may now be wishing it had a practice session instead.

Whitecaps hold on to Morales, but Mezquida is the man of the hour

While the Vancouver Whitecaps may be wondering how they let three points slip away against Sporting KC last week, they did manage to hold on to something vital–the club gave attacking midfielder and team captain Pedro Morales a multi-­year contract extension. “We don’t want to lose our top players,” Robinson told Metro News, a reference to former star Camilo Sanvezzo who left for MX Liga side Querétaro in a haze ahead of the 2014 season. “We’ve done that before and it hurts, so we’re going to try and make sure that doesn’t happen and … Pedro will be the first of a couple we’ll try and tie down.”

Yet while Morales will be worth a great deal for the Caps in the years to come, he is in a fight for a starting spot with Uruguayan teammate Nicolás Mezquida. This weekend Vancouver will host title rivals FC Dallas at BC Place, and it will be interesting to see how coach Carl Robinson will deal with the sort of problem most MLS coaches would love to have.

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2015, 04:16:59 AM »
Salt. Can't find any online.
Try calling.

You in the 514?

Not yet, been looking fuh a Canada Goose store since Palos start issuing meteorological warnings  :P

 :rotfl: Yeah, well doh look to wear it this weekend unless yuh planning on getting ah easy sweat!

Since Drogba will likely take the field for only a few minutes in the second half, ah glad ah will be sitting this one out.

(My neighbours are there now and they din get de memo. :rotfl: They left armed with jackets aplenty. Ah know better. Rong dis time last year ah went on a turn through de Gaspé and it was alright).

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2015, 07:47:21 AM »
New coach for Drogba in the works.

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2015, 12:29:59 PM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/LOfbWqw06eI" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/LOfbWqw06eI</a>

Didier Drogba's hat trick helps Impact defeat Fire
By Bill Beacon (The Canadian Press).


It seems all the fuss about Didier Drogba was warranted.

The former Chelsea and Ivory Coast star scored a hat trick, including the tying and winning goals in the second half, in his MLS start to lift the Montreal Impact to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.

The sellout crowd of 20,801 went wild when 37-year-old Drogba headed in his own rebound for the decisive goal in the 65th minute and were on their feet for another ovation when he was named star of the game.

"The crowd was amazing," said Drogba. "This man of the match at the end that they gave me, I give it to them."

It was Montreal's first match since Mauro Biello replaced the fired Frank Klopas as head coach and the Montreal native saw a masterpiece from the Impact's latest designated player.

Drogba opened the scoring in the 27th minute and came up with two more after Kennedy Igboananike put Chicago ahead 3-2 early in the second half.

"I really wanted to score but most importantly I wanted to win the game," said Drogba. "Since I'm here, we haven't won a game, so it was something I really wanted to do.

"We did it together today and I'm quite happy for the manager and I also want to thank Frank who was here before. This result was also for him."

ESPN stats reported he is the first player to get a hat trick within his first two MLS games.

With both clubs missing key defenders to international duty, the goals came freely.

Wandrille Lefevre also scored for Montreal (9-11-4), which ended a four-game winless run. Montreal moved ahead of Orlando into the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Jeff Larentowicz, on a penalty, and Gilberto also had goals for the Fire (7-14-6), who have not won away from home this season.

Drogba, who made his Impact debut with 31 second-half minutes in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United two weeks ago, returned from a toe injury to make his first start.

The big-bodied striker was an imposing figure in front of the Fire goal, but he also did his bit on the defensive side. He had seven of Montreal's 15 shots, including four of the nine on target.

"It's a different dynamic now," said fullback Nigel Reo-Coker, who set up Drogba's first goal with a precision cross from the right side. "It reminds me of old school Manchester United with the fullbacks pushing on, overlapping runs, and playing very attacking football, knowing we've got the opportunity to put crosses into the box for a first class striker to finish."

The moment the crowd was waiting for came when Drogba brought down Reo-Coker's pass, brushed defender Eric Gehrig aside and slammed in his first Impact goal.

Nine minutes later, Maxim Tissot tripped Harry Shipp and Fire captain Larentowicz made no mistake from the spot.

Montreal went ahead again when Lefevre headed the ball in at the far side from Marco Donadel's corner in the 43rd, but less than a minute later, Glberto equalized when he stepped in front of Lefevre and redirected Igboananike's pass.

Igboananike leapt over a crowd to head in a goal in the 59th, but then Drogba went to work.

Ignacio Piatti played a free kick quickly to put him in alone to equalize in the 61st minute.

Four minutes later, Calum Mallace slipped a pass across the box. Drogba's volley was stopped by Sean Johnson, but he headed home the rebound.It seems all the fuss about Didier Drogba was warranted.

The former Chelsea and Ivory Coast star scored a hat trick, including the tying and winning goals in the second half, in his MLS start to lift the Montreal Impact to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.

The sellout crowd of 20,801 went wild when 37-year-old Drogba headed in his own rebound for the decisive goal in the 65th minute and were on their feet for another ovation when he was named star of the game.

"The crowd was amazing," said Drogba. "This man of the match at the end that they gave me, I give it to them."

It was Montreal's first match since Mauro Biello replaced the fired Frank Klopas as head coach and the Montreal native saw a masterpiece from the Impact's latest designated player.

Drogba opened the scoring in the 27th minute and came up with two more after Kennedy Igboananike put Chicago ahead 3-2 early in the second half.

"I really wanted to score but most importantly I wanted to win the game," said Drogba. "Since I'm here, we haven't won a game, so it was something I really wanted to do.

"We did it together today and I'm quite happy for the manager and I also want to thank Frank who was here before. This result was also for him."

ESPN stats reported he is the first player to get a hat trick within his first two MLS games.

With both clubs missing key defenders to international duty, the goals came freely.

Wandrille Lefevre also scored for Montreal (9-11-4), which ended a four-game winless run. Montreal moved ahead of Orlando into the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Jeff Larentowicz, on a penalty, and Gilberto also had goals for the Fire (7-14-6), who have not won away from home this season.

Drogba, who made his Impact debut with 31 second-half minutes in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United two weeks ago, returned from a toe injury to make his first start.

The big-bodied striker was an imposing figure in front of the Fire goal, but he also did his bit on the defensive side. He had seven of Montreal's 15 shots, including four of the nine on target.

"It's a different dynamic now," said fullback Nigel Reo-Coker, who set up Drogba's first goal with a precision cross from the right side. "It reminds me of old school Manchester United with the fullbacks pushing on, overlapping runs, and playing very attacking football, knowing we've got the opportunity to put crosses into the box for a first class striker to finish."

The moment the crowd was waiting for came when Drogba brought down Reo-Coker's pass, brushed defender Eric Gehrig aside and slammed in his first Impact goal.

Nine minutes later, Maxim Tissot tripped Harry Shipp and Fire captain Larentowicz made no mistake from the spot.

Montreal went ahead again when Lefevre headed the ball in at the far side from Marco Donadel's corner in the 43rd, but less than a minute later, Glberto equalized when he stepped in front of Lefevre and redirected Igboananike's pass.

Igboananike leapt over a crowd to head in a goal in the 59th, but then Drogba went to work.

Ignacio Piatti played a free kick quickly to put him in alone to equalize in the 61st minute.

Four minutes later, Calum Mallace slipped a pass across the box. Drogba's volley was stopped by Sean Johnson, but he headed home the rebound.

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Re: MLS to EPL?
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2015, 03:44:14 PM »
MLS says they're 'more competitive than EPL,' wants tournament against them
By Kevin McCauley (SBNATION)


MLS commissioner Don Garber was at the Soccerex convention in Manchester this week, and he threw some bombs.

On competitiveness: "We see some of the challenges of competing in the Premier League. We have wealthy owners but we are very committed to the idea that at the start of every season every fan can think their team can win a championship."

On promotion and relegation: "There is no promotion and relegation in hockey and basketball and they work really well. It is not happening in MLS any time soon."

And on a competition against the Premier League: "I would love to find a way that we could play our cup champion and our league champion against an FA Cup and league champion in a tournament, and play it in New York City every year."

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

 

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