Is Mauro Biello better than Frank Klopas?

Montreal Impact Quiz

Photo Credit: Eric Bolte of USA Today

Frank Klopas was the head coach and director of player development at the beginning of the 2015 season.  This arrangement did not last until the end of the season.  Why did he not last?  Of course, the main reason is the record of 16-16-26 since he took over before the start of the 2014 season.  In addition, the players grew frustrated with his style and methods of managing.  As mentioned in the article by Lloyd Barker http://montrealgazette.com/sports/soccer/mls/montreal-impact/lloyd-barker-klopass-puzzling-moves-helped-speed-his-departure (2015):

Klopas’s lineups had been a talking point virtually throughout his tenure as Impact head coach.  True to form, it was no different against TFC.  Seven of the Impact starters against TFC were playing their third match in only seven days.  That’s a tough request.  Two of the other four starters were playing their second match in only four days — not exactly an easy task, either.  Both of TFC’s goals exposed the Impact’s high level of fatigue.  It’s not like Klopas had no other options.  In fact, he had multiple reliable and well-rested choices: defenders Eric Miller and Wandrille Lefèvre; midfielder Eric Alexander and striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel who all started on the bench.  Klopas did use Miller, but made a mind-boggling change when Miller was substituted into the game in place of Romero, an attacker, with the Impact down a goal in the 80th minute.  It was a head-scratcher, one that only Klopas could try to rationalize.  It’s no wonder the unhappiness and frustration of the players had been so evident during the past several weeks.

In addition, there was the issue with Patrice Bernier that came to the surface.  His wife posted on Facebook that Bernier’s treatment is “unacceptable and disrespectful”.  After these comments, Bernier decided to take a leave from absence from the team.  This player is one of the leaders of the team and now he was taking a leave of absence.  One cannot underestimate leadership with in the team dynamic.  After the loss to the Impact’s rival, TFC, Klopas was dismissed from his duties.

Montreal named Mauro Biello as the interim head coach.  This coach and former player is actually from Montreal.  He actually played for the Montreal Impact  on three separate occasions.  He brought the pride he had for playing for the Impact in to the coaching position.  The players noticed this but pride alone did not turn around this season.  Biello has shown an ability to navigate from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 with ease.  Once they are in a 4-3-3 this is beneficial for the Impact as they now have three central midfielders, in addition they had to cover less ground.  Against Toronto FC in last week’s playoff match they deployed the 4-3-3 with Ignacio Piatti playing at the left flank, this gave Piatti a chance to have a creative impact (pun intended) on the match.  With the addition of Didier Drogba and Biello’s tactical nuisances, let us see how far they make it in the playoffs.  For the time being, Biello they look the better fit for the Impact!

Playoffs: Major League Soccer Style!

MLS 2015 Bracket

 Image provided by mlssoccer.com

What does Major League Soccer (MLS) do differently than most of the footballing world? One word says it all: PLAYOFFS! Most soccer leagues around the world do not have playoffs. The season is played; the team at the top of table wins the league. This is not the case in Major League Soccer. First, there is not one table; there are two tables in this league. Since the league covers a vast amount of land in two countries, the owners thought it best to split the league in to an Eastern and Western conference. In addition, the majority of games played by each team will occur within their own conference. Reducing wear and tear throughout the season, as most teams travel by air to matches was the thought behind this. This means there is not a balance schedule.

With the two expansion franchises of New York City FC and Orlando City SC that entered the league this year, this takes the total amount of teams to 20. At the beginning of the season with the expansion of these new teams, the commissioner announced an expansion of playoff teams to 12. Yes, that is right; more than 50% of the league gets a ticket in to the playoffs. This caused much consternation amongst MLS circles. Even though fans were and still are wary of this many teams obtaining access to the playoffs, almost every team was still involved in the playoff hunt in to the last month of the season. From a business perspective that was the goal to ensure fans were engaged for as long as possible since there is no promotion or regulation.

Six teams from each conference get in to the playoffs. The top seed from each conference obtains home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The team with the best record overall no matter the conference has home field advantage for the MLS Cup if they make it to that point. This year that team is the New York Red Bulls. The first two seeded teams from each conference receives a bye while the third through six seeded teams compete in a one game knockout round match. The excitement is that once in the playoffs start anyone can win the cup. For most purest this does not seem fair as the team with the best record should be crown champion. In North American sports, this is the norm for over a century to have playoffs. The thinking is that if you really are the best then a team needs to play against the best with the highest pressure on them. The regular season is considered a ramp up to the playoffs and then finally to the MLS Cup match. There is not a right or wrong way to crown a champion; this is just another avenue to accomplish this.

Knockout round matches start October 28, 2015

For more United States based soccer content, please click on the link below to access my soccer blog.

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Hec

 

Lampard V Gerrard in the MLS

Gerrard v Lampard

What an interesting league the MLS is becoming. More and more legendary players are jetting off to the US for their career swansong. The league now boast an array of stars who, although past their best would collectively form an awesome team. Clearly the likes of Kaka, Pirlo, David Villa, Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard believe that the lifestyle (plus the money) on offer in the United States compensates adequately for the lowering of footballing standard.

It is also fascinating that the curious tale of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will continue in the MLS. Two iconic players for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively who went head to head through their careers will continue to do so across the Atlantic. Who will fare the best in MLS? Will Lampard continue to beat Gerrard in the scoring stake? At 4/6 the odds via BetSportsway the bookies are betting on Lamps.

Gerrard v Lampard

As you can see from the above stats Lampard has scored more goals throughout his career than Gerrard, albeit having played more games (so I guess you would expect that). What is interesting is if you divide goals by games Lampard gets a score of 0.29 compared to Gerrard’s 0.26. Quite simply there is nothing in it.

Personally my money will be on Lampard (provided he can wrestle pens from Villa at NYCFC) to outscore Gerrard. Although Gerrard will benefit from a standard of football below that of the Premier League and the pace and the intensity will be below that experienced in England. The reality of Gerrard’s aging years has seen him move further back into a more defensive midfield holding role. This is how Brendan Rodgers deployed him in the last couple of years anyway. Years of ‘swashbuckling’ around the pitch have clearly taken its toll of the former Liverpool skipper.

Playing in the same position as Gerrard (with the exception of the aforementioned latter years) in the centre of midfield, Lampard while a superb footballer in his own right has been and is a different type of player. While not scared of a tackle, he was not renound for getting ‘stuck in’. His game and his extraordinary goals record (he scored 211 time in 648 games for Chelsea) resolves around being in the right place at the right time. For this his natural game should allow him to continue to do so with a general lowering of standard.

There is one final consideration – the quality of the team and their teammates. It is all well and good Lampard being in the right place at the right time if the ball is there! New York City FC are newbies to the MLS and no one knows how they will fare. Yes they have some big names in Villa, Pirlo and Lampard but what of the other 8 players on the pitch?

LA Galaxy on the other hand are an established franchise and current MLS Champions – therefore on the face of it a better team that NYCFC.

Clearly there are a lot of ‘ifs, buts and maybe’. But if I was a betting man I would still go for Lampard over Gerrard on this one.

MLS Quiz Database Update

MLS Quiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last couple of weeks we have been working hard to increase our football quiz database beyond the England and indeed Europe.

Our latest update has seen us expand our database of ‘soccer’ teams from the otherside of the ‘pond’. Fresh from our recent article on Major League Soccer we have added the following trivia quizzes:

Major League Soccer

LA Galaxy

Chicago Fire

New York Red Bulls

Seattle Sounders

Kansas City Wizards

If you are a fan of any other MLS franchise and would like us to add your team then get in contact and let us know.

So what is Major League Soccer (MLS)

MLS Quiz

The major soccer league or “MLS” as we know it is the professional soccer league in both the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1993 although the first season didn’t take place until 1996. It was founded as part of the Unites States Successful bid to host the 1994 World cup which went down flawless and in which the United States received huger credit for.

The “MLS” is composed of nineteen teams, sixteen in the Unites States and only three in Canada. The season in the Unites States differs from that of Europe where in runs from March until December with each team playing 34 times in a season and then the winner being awarded the “Supporters Shield” and then ten teams compete in the postseason MLS cup playoffs which then ends with the championship game “The MLS cup”. A bit like the “NBA – National Basketball Association “The teams in the MLS are divided into Eastern and Western conferences and midway through the season the teams break for the annual “All star game”, this is a friendly game which includes the finest players from the MLS against a club from a different league.

After its first season, MLS suffered from a decline in attendance. The league’s low attendance was all the more apparent in light of the fact that eight of the original ten teams began playing in stadiums owned or rented by American football teams, most of the venues with capacities of 60,000 or more. Also the leagues quality was cast into doubt when the U.S. men’s national team, which was made up largely of MLS players, was eliminated in the first round of the 1998 World Cup by losing to all opponents in the group stage and finishing in last place. However this all changed after the 2002 World cup when the United States made the Quarter finals of the world cup leading to the resurgence in American soccer and in particular the MLS. So in its first season after the world cup the MLS set an attendance record when 61,000 people witnessed the LA Galaxy take home their first title.

It is commonly known that when the season finishes in the MLS a few players will be loaned to a premier league club in England until the MLS season kicks off again in March, this is to keep a players fitness going and also to help out a premier league club who maybe do not have sufficient funds to go out and buy a player in the January transfer window.

In 2007 the MLS pulled off its biggest coup when David Beckham signed for the LA Galaxy, this made International headlines across the world and was seen as a positive signing for the Galaxy and also helped the MLS acquire more big name signings which to this day can be seen at all teams around the MLS. One of these big names is none other than Thierry Henry who played his football with Arsenal before moving to Barcelona and who now plays with New York Red bulls. Robbie Keane, another player that played his football in England moved to LA Galaxy and is currently captain and doing remarkable things. Another big name that has just been announced and will be moving to Toronto FC is Jermaine Defoe who currently plays for Tottenham Hotspur; he is the latest premiership player to join the ranks in the MLS after agreeing a four year deal. After his successful five years playing for LA Galaxy, David Beckham left the LA Galaxy in 2012 and now there is big talk that he will be setting up a franchise in Miami.

The MLS has faced criticism from FIFA and some domestic soccer fans for neither abiding by the FIFA calendar nor changing the league schedule to one that begins in August and ends in May to coincide with the European leagues. The criticism received is because the current March to December format clashes with CONCACAF GOLD CUP and also the WORLD CUP and other FIFA-sanctioned international competitions held in June and July. This only leads to top players abandoning their MLS teams during those two months so they can compete in these tournaments, and thus makes it harder for the league to recruit more of the world’s best players.

In my opinion the Major League Soccer is still a long way away from being on par with major leagues around Europe and this clearly shows with players joining the league when they are clearly past their best and also because it is not the number one sport in the U.S and to be honest it will never be as you have the likes of the NBA, NFL and the MLB all ahead of the MLS. One can only say that since its existence in 1993 the MLS has proven people wrong and to this day is still going strong.

Although he has long since left the MLS check out David Beckhams Greatest Ever MLS goals:

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Dodgers Stadium Set to Host First-Ever Soccer Game, Proves Sport Growing in U.S.

Even 10 years ago, this type of game would never have been played. First off, teams like Real Madrid and Juventus weren’t making stops in the United States. And second, one of baseball’s classic venues would have turned its nose up at the idea of hosting a silly little soccer game.

But it’s 2013 and soccer (yes, football) is growing in America. The popularity of the MLS — and strong ratings for international games (especially the women’s team) — shows the United States is slowly, sometimes painfully, seeing that soccer is truly a compelling game.

American soccer fans are in for a treat this summer when the International Champions Cup invades six different cities across the nation between July 27 and August 7. The tournament features eight of the world’s biggest clubs, who will face off in elimination games. While many exhibitions have a ho-hum atmosphere to them, this series packs some must-see clubs – and an historic angle.

The event will also be hosted in one European city (Valencia, Spain) – with the championship game scheduled at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida on Aug 7.

Besides Miami, the other American host cities are New York, San Francisco, Phoenix, Indianapolis and a particularly interesting location in Los Angeles. No Rose Bowl this time – we’re talking venerable Dodgers Stadium and its first-ever soccer match. (More on that in a minute.)

The high-profile teams playing in the tournament are AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus of Italy’s Serie A; Chelsea and Everton of the English Premier League; and Real Madrid and Valencia of Spain’s La Liga. The Los Angeles Galaxy are the lone representative from Major League Soccer (MLS).

The first round of the event includes AC Milan vs Valencia in Spain, while Juventus takes on Everton in San Francisco. The Los Angeles Galaxy meet Real Madrid in Phoenix for a particularly juicy match, and Inter Milan squares off against Chelsea in Indianapolis. The winners will play each other in a semifinal round, while the losers continue to play each other in a consolation series.

The L.A. games are perhaps the most interesting, simply due to the unique location. Those who buy International Champions Cup tickets in Los Angeles will be a part of history when they see the first-ever soccer match at Dodgers Stadium since it opened in 1962.

The 56,000-seat venue will be converted into a soccer pitch on August 3. The game will showcase the winner of the Juventus vs Everton showdown against the winner of Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. – with an earlier game at 5 p.m. between the losers of those two contests.

So how will Dodgers Stadium – which is now the third-oldest ballpark in all of Major League Baseball – make way for soccer?

As this map shows, the soccer field will be constructed at an odd angle to make sure a decent-sized pitch fits into the playing surface. One net will be placed down the third base line in front of the visitors’ dugout, while the other net will face it from its location in right field.

There isn’t a specific regulation size for soccer pitches, but there is a minimum and maximum size for FIFA-regulated games. The minimum length is 100 yards with the maximum being 120 yards, while the minimum width is 50 yards and the maximum set at 100 yards. However, there is some leeway for exhibition games.

Typically, when a baseball stadium is converted into a soccer pitch the infield dirt needs to be dug out as well as the pitcher’s mound.

Sod is then laid and the field markings are painted on when everything’s ready. The hard part of the job is removing the dirt and making sure everything will be level with the existing turf.

The dirt and clay is usually removed with a backhoe, small bulldozer and some type of conveyor belt system. But since soccer is a relatively low impact sport (except for the goalie boxes), the outfield grass isn’t expected to suffer any significant damage.

The complete list of venues include the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Met Life Stadium in New York, Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles and Miami’s Sun Life Stadium.

6 Things We’ll Miss Most About Beckham


Goal for England

Unless you’ve been living in a closet for the last week or two, you’ve probably heard the news that David Beckham – after 20 incredible years – is calling it quits in professional football. Becks is stepping away from the game on his own terms, and though his best play has been behind him for a few years now, it’s really been quite a graceful exit for a player whose legions of fans hoped for just that.

So, as life as a football fan without Beckham begins to set in, let’s honour him with a brief look back. Here are the 6 things we’ll miss most about the great David Beckham

1. The Winning He may never have brought England a World Cup, but Beckham can hardly be faulted for that, and it’s certainly worth noting at the end of his career that he won just about everywhere else he went. A 1999 Champions League title and 6 Premier League wins with Man U, a La Liga victory with Real Madrid, and an MLS championship with the LA Galaxy are just a few of his teams’ myriad accomplishments on the biggest stages.

2. The Determination Former team mate Jonathan Woodgate notes, in a recent tribute to Beckham, that Beckham’s career was about proving people wrong. Let go by Manchester United, Beckham won with Real Madrid. Cut from the England national team in 2006, Beckham was back in 2008. Criticised for moving to the U.S., Beckham brought more attention to the MLS than anyone ever had, and won a championship with the Galaxy. His career was full of a furious determination

3. The Field Play Watching Beckham play at the height of his power was like watching a player who could see the future. Beckham’s on-field precision and play were so strong that a fan might want to consult Acuvue’s guide to astigmatism to make sure he or she was seeing clearly. His control of the ball, particularly in setting up team mates and taking his famous free kicks, was simply otherworldly at times.

4. The Smile Despite all the winning, all the determination, and the furious ability Beckham continually displayed on the field, his smile will be missed. On television, in interviews, and even on Hollywood’s red carpets, Beckham always seemed incredibly at ease, and truth be told the image for a pro athlete of his calibre was refreshing.

5. The Advertisements Plenty will site shirtless photos of Beckham on billboards first when discussing what they’ll miss most. Football fans prefer to focus more on his on-field stardom, but the ads were certainly prevalent and unique.

6. The Celebrity Finally, we’ll miss his simple, raw celebrity. Beckham may at one point have been the best player in the world – but he has undeniably been the most recognise
able for some time now, and the game of football will miss that celebrity. Beckham brought attention to the beautiful game every time he appeared publicly, and his reputation will be sorely missed.