Tuesday, November 08, 2005

2002 Redux

The MLS Conference Finals went almost as The Kin of Fish predicted them (see previous post), as New England will face Los Angeles at the Deep Dish this Sunday for the Silver Rothie. For all the talk about the MLS dynasty that is DC United, the Gals have shown amazing consistency in the league’s first decade, reaching the final match in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002 (winner), and now in 2005. This LA team looks a lot different from the one that beat New England at Foxboro in ’02, however. That team was led by MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner Carlos Ruiz, who scored 24 of LA’s 44 goals that season, and of course, the golden goal that delivered the Galaxy their only MLS Cup title. This year’s LA team also scored 44 goals, but the role of Ruiz (now in Dallas, or somewhere else) was played by the two-headed monster of Landon Donovan (12g) and Herculez Gomez (11g). LA benefited from a 5-2-1 late-season spurt (including the US Open Cup title), which generated the momentum to beat Supporters’ Shield winner San Jose and Colorado and reach the MLS final.

The Revs’ 2002 squad won the Eastern Conference in the regular season, albeit with a losing (12-14-2) record. The Revs that year (as this year) were led top point-getter Taylor Twellman, but the addition of national-teamers-in training Clint Dempsey (10g), Pat Noonan (8g), and Grenidadian Shalrie Joseph (6g) since 2002 gives the Revs more offensive weapons than LA. I’ll hold my prediction until later in the week, but I am in the Northeast…

Solo Toronto?
Jack Bell reports that the Canadian Club may be the only new entry to MLS in 2007, giving the league an unlucky (or lucky, if you think that way) 13 clubs for the season after next. Apparently none of the other expansion candidates (Milwaukee, Philly, Houston, Cleveland, St. Louis) will be ready to go in the next 18 months. Says Ivan Gazidis in the piece, “We want to get the right stadium, owner and market and will continue to be conservative.” Considering the lack of chatter over the future of Kansas City and San Jose, it appears that MLS’ little growth spurt may be slowing down. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal going with an odd number of teams. Other nuggets from Bell’s weekly article:

  • MLS will once again play a light schedule during next summer’s World Cup
  • MLS re-examines the much-derided playoff format each and every year
  • Bora Milutinovic’s name is in consideration for the Metros’ coaching spot (blech!)

Power Players
The excellent Steve Davis of the Dallas Morning News names the ten most powerful people in US Soccer:
10: John Skipper, SVP/GM, ESPN
9: Ivan Gazidis
8: Richard Motzkin, Agent
7: Lamar Hunt
6: Landon Donovan
5: Dan Flynn, US Soccer Secretary General
4: Sunil Gulati
3: Phil Anschutz
2: Don Garber
1: Bruce Arena

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