Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stop. Quallie Time.

Panama City's rickety, boisterous Rommel Fernandez Stadium will be the site of the U20 World Cup qualifying tournament for the US, Haiti, Guatemala, and the host canaleros starting tonight when the US faces Haiti at 6:30pm ET on GolTV.

Although US Forward Andre Akpan has said that "the situation with the forwards is kind of shaky," the talented and deep US squad should be one of the top two clubs to advance to this summer's U20 World Cup in Canada. After Haiti, the US plays Guatemala on Friday and the hosts on Sunday. The top two nations in the group .

The Goose is on the Loose
New York-area soccer fans should head to Stout Pub on 33rd Street in Manhattan on Saturday to watch the US take on Denmark at 5pm, then stay to hear future Hall-of-Famer and Red Bulls coach Jeff Agoos answer questions about this year's upcoming campaign. As of this writing, the Red Bulls have yet to announce any free agent signings (Reyna, Wattereus, Ronaldo, hello!) so look for the New York fans to press Mr. Agoos about what to expect from Red Bull, and how it felt to score on Brad Friedel in the 2002 World Cup. While you're there, consider joining the Empire Supporters Club for the upcoming season. You'll be glad you did.

A Liga That's Super?
The MLS-FMF summer tournament was announced this past week, but something with the "SuperLiga" just doesn't seem right to me. If the object is to create battle-tested MLS squads and determine North American club soccer supremacy, then shouldn't some of these matches be played South of the border? I'm sure that the Houston-Club America match at Robertson Stadium will be pro-America, but MLS sides should face the full wrath of Mexican fans to earn respect. Playing all the games in the US just doesn't feel right.

Only 8 in USOC?
Yes, the summer schedule should be crowded. Yes, MLS clubs will be challenged with domestic players taking part in the Gold Cup, Copa America, and the U-20 World Cup, but cutting down the number of sides taking part in the US Open Cup isn't the answer. A recent US Soccer memo noted that only eight MLS teams will compete in this year's tournament. All 12 US-based teams should take part in the longest-running soccer competition in the country. There's been much written and debated about the value of the USOC, as US Soccer has been remiss in marketing the tournament properly. However, omitting top-level clubs isn't the answer. A thumbs down to the league on this one.

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