Friday, October 27, 2006

A Heaping Bowl of Pessimism

Friends, here are a Starting XI-ful of reasons why the roller-coaster Red Bulls' season will end at DCU this Sunday. (6pm, ESPN2)...

XI: The only playoff series win in Metro history was clinched on the road at Dallas (Mathis scored two to beat the Burn on 9/20/00). The Metros have been eliminated by DC United twice, in 1996 and in 2004.

X: The Red Bulls have a single road win this season, a 2-0 decision July 19th at Columbus. DC is a little better than the Crew.

IX: That win at Columbus was one of only two matches this season that RBNY won by more than one goal (the other was the 6-0 shellacking of RSL on August 26th).

VIII: DC had a +9 goal differential at RFK this season, NY had a -7 on the road.

VII: DC's two active leading scorers (Gomez, Moreno) had 25 tallies between them this season, NY's (Guevara, Stammler!) had 13.

VI: DC's Bobby Boswell just appeared in Cosmo. NY's Seth Stammler just appeared in Maxim. (Advantage NY, methinks).

V: DC has never lost a playoff series or championship game to a team not named the Chicago Fire.

IV: DC did not give their best effort of the season last week in NJ and still won. They'll be even tougher with a large home crowd behind them.

III: The NY Coaching Staff is chock full of former DC players and coaches: Arena, Harkes, Williams, and Agoos. The only United player with NY experience is Jaime Moreno, who spent one disappointing season in the Swamp.

II: NY needs a win. The Red Bulls had 9 in 32 matches this season. DC only needs a tie. United got at least a tie in 25 of 32 games this season.

I: DC is a club with Supporters Shields, MLS Cups, US Open Cups, InterAmerican Cups, etc. etc.. NY has that La Manga Cup from a few years' back. Hmm.

Prediction: DC 2, NY 1: DC wins series, 3-1 on aggregate.

Here are your soccer television selections for the weekend, times ET. Don't forget to change your clocks (and the batteries in your smoke alarms) on Saturday night before you hit the sack. Have a great weekend.

Saturday, October 28th:
9:30am: GER: Bayern Munich-Eintracht Frankfurt, GOL
10:00am: ENG: Liverpool-Aston Villa, FSC
12noon: ENG: Newcastle-Charlton, FSC
12noon: ITA: Udinese-Roma, GOL
2:15pm: ENG: Watford-Tottenham, FSC
2:30pm: ITA: AC Milan-Inter Milan, GOL
4:30pm: ESP: Gimnastic-Real Madrid, GOL
6:30pm: BRA: Fluminese-Gremio, GOL
7:30pm: MLS: New England-Chicago, DK, FSC, HDNet
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas-Atlas, TELEF
8:30pm: MLS: FC Dallas-Colorado, DK
8:30pm: COL: Millonarios-Bucramanga, GOL
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-Tigres, GALA
12mid: MEX: Monterrey-Veracruz, GALA

Sunday, October 29th
9:00am: ITA: Lazio-Reggina, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Fiorentina-Palermo, FSC
11:00pm: ENG: West Ham-Blackburn, FSC
11:00pm: GER: Stuttgart-Schalke, GOL
1:00pm: ITA: Cagliari-Sampdoria, FSC
1:00pm: MEX: UNAM-Morelia, UNI
3:00pm: ARG: Indpendiente-River Plate, FSC
3:00pm: ESP: Atletico Madrid-Real Zaragoza, GOL
5:00pm: GUA: Municipal-Comunicaciones, GOL
6:00pm: MLS: DC United-New York, ESPN2
7:00pm: COL: Quindio-Atletico Nacional, GOL
8:00pm: MLS: Houston-Chivas USA, DK, FSC, HDNet

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scary Good

BASAs Chairman and MLS highlight video creator extraordinaire scaryice of Climbing the Ladder has created 2006 top-ten goal videos for each MLS club. Here's the Red Bulls version:

Scary is single-handedly helping MLS grow, providing league-oriented content that the league...well, doesn't. Way to go, ice.

Carnival of Soccer #6: Getting Butts in the Seats

Taking the reins from Jeff Bull over at It's a Simple Game, I'm here today to invite soccer bloggers one and all to take part in the Sixth and latest installment of the Carnival of American Soccer!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is as follows:

You've just been handed the plum position of MLS Marketing Director. MLS regular attendance (as I'm sure you know) reached its peak in the launch year of 1996. Since 2000, attendance has been relatively flat (thanks, Kenn):

2000: 13,756
2001: 14,961
2002: 15,821
2003: 14,898
2004: 15,559
2005: 15,108
2006: 15,502

Many of the tickets that your clubs sell or distribute go unused, creating unfilled stadiums that don't look so good during national TV broadcasts, which will increase next year with new ESPN and Univision contracts. The growing number of intimate, soccer-specific stadiums, has not produced a significant attendance boost.

Your commissioner has said that your three target market groups are, in order of priority:
-Youth soccer players and families
-"Core soccer fans"

Without changes to the league structure or season (i.e. single table, no playoffs, etc. etc.), and with a reasonable but not unlimited marketing budget, what will you do to give MLS the "cool factor" that will ensure an attendance increase next season and beyond?

Being the benevolent carny that I am, I'm giving you until Monday, November 6th to have your submission ready. Maybe a brave soul who'll be attending the Supporters Summit in Frisco can deliver our rantings to the MLS brass there. Can't wait to see what we come up with.

Monday, October 23, 2006

MLS Cup Ticket Info

Considering making the pilgrimage to Frisco for MLS Cup in three weeks' time?

Call Evan Mitz in the FCD front office. He'll attend to all your ticketing needs, and provide you priority seating, even.

You can reach him at 214-705-6752 or through the magic of the interweb at You'll be glad you did.

Information about this year's Supporters Summit, hosted by FC Dallas supporters' group The Inferno can be found here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Playoff Preview: NY/DC Game 1

After the most turbulent season in Metros/Red Bulls history (and that's really saying something), New York is gearing up to face the foe of foes in DC United in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs starting tomorrow at Giants Stadium (2pm, FSNY, DK).

While Red Bulls' Head Coach Bruce Arena says plays down any notion of rivalry, DC is at the top of many NY fans' hate list. I mean, would NY fans get as torqued up for Columbus? Doubtful.

It's been a strange season for MLS' most successful franchise. United stampeded their way through the first twenty games of the season with a staggering 13-1-6 record, including a fourteen-match unbeaten streak and a six-match win streak. After building a hefty distance from their Eastern Conference rivals, however, United suffered from a significant lack of focus, finishing the regular season on a 2-6-4 streak and three straight losses since September 30th. DC's Coach Nowak faces a challenge similar to many regular-season champions... how to push the intensity button after a long stretch of meaningless games.

New York's Arena has said that he views the two-game series as little more than "practice" for next season, which doesn't do much for fans that have watched their club win a single playoff series (vs. Dallas in 2000) since the league's inception. As you surely know the Red Bulls eked out a playoff berth in the season's final match for the second consecutive year. This year's NY team started out 0-1-5 before hitting the win column on May 20th vs. Chivas. Though NY finished the regular season on a three-match unbeaten streak, the Red Bulls played their best stretch in July under then-interim and current assistant coach Richie Willams (3-0-0 with three shutouts).

DC easily handled New York this season, finishing 2-0-2 with +4 goal difference. Here's a breakdown of tomorrow's key matchups.

The DC forwards vs. The Red Bulls' back line:
Jaime Moreno and Freddy Adu vs. Todd Dunivant, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, and Marvell Wynne (and Jon Conway). It's hard to believe that Moreno, an 11-year MLS vet, is only 32 years old. Moreno's 11 goals puts him only behind midfielder Chrisitan Gomez on the club's '06 scoring chart. The Bolivian's 10 assists prove he's lethal: an unselfish goal scorer. While Adu started 29 of United's 32 matches this season, his two goals and eight assists note that the youngster still has a long way to go. The NY defense has been strong of late, though the Wizards made Conway & company look awful on KC's first goal last week. Still, they've allowed only one goal per game since allowing four at DC on September 23rd. Advantage: DC

New York's attackers vs. The United defense:
Youri Djorkaeff and Jozy Altidore vs. Brian Namoff, Bobby Boswell, and Facundo Erpen (and Troy Perkins). Youri certainly offered less in terms of on the field production (2G/4A) for the Red Bulls as the season moved along, certainly less than he did during the 2005 campaign. Tomorrow will hopefully be the first of many playoff games for Altidore, who has been the shining light of the Red Bulls this season. DC has allowed nine goals in its last four MLS matches, not the kind of momentum a team want heading into the playoffs. Erpen, with his silly name and three goals, is a scoring threat moving forward. Advantage: Push

The Midfielders:
New York's Chris Henderson, Amado Guevara, Danny O'Rourke, and Dema Kovalenko vs. DC's Josh Gros, Ben Olsen, Christian Gomez, Brian Carroll, and Matias Donnet. It can be argued that no two midfielders are as important to their respective teams' success that DC's Gomez and NY's Guevara (who is in top form with a hat trick last week). The two have combined for 22 goals and 16 assists this season. Assuming the two stars negate each other, the supporting casts offer lots of MLS experience (902 MLS regular-season appearances between them). DC's newcomer Donnet, however, may provide the difference. Expect lots of hard challenges on the Swamp's fieldturf, especially from Kovalenko and Carroll. Advantage: Push

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena vs. Peter Nowak. What a strange matchup. One coach needs to suddenly elevate his talented club's effort. The other has said publicly that these games are auditions for next year. Weird. Advantage: DC

The oddity that is the MLS playoff setup sends the higher-ranked club on the road for Game One. MLS playoff games are usually poorly attended, with so little advance warning to sell playoff tickets. Of course, the Eskandarian family of Montvale will be well represented, cheering as usual for their boy who'll start on the DC bench. I'm sure DC fans will be in healthy number and voice as usual. Advantage: (Sadly) leaning to DC

The Prediction:
To paraphrase Winston Zeddmore, DC "has the tools, has the talent," to beat the Red Bulls. They haven't lost to them all year. If Guevara displays the form he has this month, though, New York has a chance. Given the Red Bulls' sorry 1-8-7 road record, they must win tomorrow to have a shot at advancing. I don't see it. DC wins, 1-0.

Here what's on the tube this weekend. (times et).

9:30am: GER: Werder Bremen-Bayern Munich, GOL
10:00am: ENG: Everton-Sheffield Utd., FSC
11:30am: GER: Wolfsburg-Stuttgart, GOL
12noon: ENG: Aston Villa-Fulham, FSC
2:00pm: MLS: New York-DC United, FSNY, DK, HDNet
2:00pm: ESP: Real Zaragoza-Betis, GOL
2:30pm: ITA: Cagliari-Torino, FSC
4:00pm: MEX: San Luis, GALA
4:00pm: ESP: Dep. Coruna-Atl. Madrid, GOL
6:00pm: BRA: Santos-Figueirense, GOL
8:00pm: MEX: Tigres-Chivas, TELEF
8:30pm: COL: Ind. Santa Fe-Cucuta, GOL
9:00pm: MLS: Colorado-FC Dallas, FSC
10:00pm: MEX: Atlas-Monterrey, GALA
10:30pm: ITA: Messina-Empoli, GOL

SUNDAY, Oct. 28
9:00am: ITA: Catania-Lazio, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Udinese-Inter Milan, GOL
11:00am: ENG: Reading-Arsenal, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Valencia-Osasuna, GOL
1:00pm: MLS: Chicago-New England, ABC
1:00pm: ENG: Tottenham-West Ham, FSC
1:00pm: UNI: Toluca-Santos, UNI
3:00pm: ARG: Racing-Boca Juniors, FSC
3:00pm: ITA: AC Milan-Palermo, GOL
4:00pm: MLS: Chivas USA-Houston, ESPN2
5:00pm: MEX: Club America-Toluca, TELEF
7:00pm: COL: Atl. Nacional-Pasto, GOL

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Soft Sell

The time: Last evening

The place: The posh Hilton at Short Hills,NJ, approximately 20 miles from Manhattan

The occasion: A meet-and-greet between MLS, AEG, and Red Bulls brass and prospective Red Bull Park suite buyers and sponsors

In attendance: MLS Commissioner Don Garber, AEG President and CEO Tim Lieweke, AEG NY President Nick Sakiewicz, various SUM/MLS and AEG staffers...and yours truly

I had a chance to press the flesh last night with some of the big names around the league at an event used to get some of the monied NJ gentry to pony up for Red Bull Park luxury suites.

Here are some tasty learnings:

-Lieweke: "If Red Bull Park is ready on time (July 2008), Chelsea will help christen the stadium."
-Don't be surprised to see a single table next season
-Univision matches will be Sunday night affairs
-Don't be surprised to see Figo in an MLS uniform next season (as reported by the always wonderful Metrofanatic)
-The Rapids' stadium rights naming announcement is imminent
-Kraft may be getting serious about his own SSS for the Revs
-Team Services, which was a league-office group dedicated to helping clubs build promotions and sell tickets will soon be reinstated. The group was discontinued in the great contraction of 2001. This should be a huge boon to markets where ticket sales have been slumping.

Following up on Trecker's recent article concerning marketing to adult fans, I had a lengthy conversation with two SUM guys. I asked them, given Garber's three target markets (Youth, Hispanic, Core Soccer), what type of serious effort whould be given to attract the adult MLS fan, the fan that wants to go to the game with a bunch of buddies and knock back some beers. The response, which disheartened me was (paraphrasing) "It's easier to get families into the no-alcohol sections that it is the other way around." (Sigh).

UPDATE/ONE MORE THING: In light of the field quality problems at the HDC since the facility opened, I asked an AEG exec about the issue of "overuse" at Red Bull Park. I was told that the partnership with Red Bull, and the physical limitations of Harrison, should prevent events like the X-Games at RBP. There certainly will be a slate of non-soccer events, but they should take it easier on the playing surface (which will be heated) than those held at Carson.

I'll have thoughts on NY-DC tomorrow. Let's go Mets.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Un Partido Grande

The Rumble in East Rutherford. The Fight for the Right to Party. For All the Marbles. Loser Goes Home. One and Done, etc. etc. etc. Yes, tomorrow's night's Red Bulls-Kansas City Wizards regular season finale at a chilly Giants stadium is a de facto playoff game, though a draw puts KC through. For the second straight season, NY has waited for the season's final match to determine its playoff fate. Tomorrow night could also be Youri Djorkaeff's final MLS match, and inactive Eddie Johnson's last night as a Wizard.

FSNYs airing of the game on a 2 1/2 hr tape delay will hopefully prod New York-area soccer fans to get their butts to the swamp. To the winner, a first-round date with a talented but slumping DC United side that is 1-3-2 since September 1st.

Here's how I see things breaking down:

The Kansas City forwards vs. The Red Bulls' back line:
Scott Sealy, Josh Wolff, and Dave van den Bergh vs. Jeff Parke, Marvell Wynne, Carlos Mendes, and Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). Sealy has paced the Wizards this season with nine of the club's forty-one goals. Dutchman van den Bergh has two goals in his first twelve MLS matches. Wolff has had a sub-par year. KC's offense has been clicking of late, scoring ten goals in the club's last four matches. New York relied a little too much on keeper Conway late in Colorado last week, though the mile high air played against the Red Bulls. The NY defense has been stingy down the stretch, with just seven goals allowed in the team's last five games, including two shutouts. Advantage: Push

New York's attackers vs. The Wizards' defense:
John Wolyniec and Jozy Altidore vs. Ryan Raybould, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, and Jose Burciaga, Jr. (and Bo Oshoniyi). Woly and Jozy didn't hit the net last week in Denver, but a home crowd may pump up the ebony and ivory scoring tandem. Arena may consider starting Mike Magee and bringing Wolyniec in late in the game if New York needs a goal. KC has solid veteran defenders, including national teamer Conrad, whose broken jaw is still healing. Rookie Raybould is the one to take advantage of. Advantage: Kansas City

The Midfielders:
New York's Youri Djorkaeff, Amado Guevara, Danny O'Rourke, and Dema Kovalenko vs. Kansas City's Jack Jewsbury, Davy Arnaud, and Sasha Victorine. The midfields will be the difference-makers tomorrow night. Amado is playing extremely well lately, but traditionally has trouble meshing with Djorkaeff, who'll want to do something special in his possibly last night as a Red Bull. Kovalenko provides the X-factor. The Wizard side of the ball offers three skilled veterans that can both start the attack and score. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena vs. Brian Bliss. If, as Bruce says, he wants to pass up the allocation and win this game, he should be able to push his team's buttons. Bliss is still learning, but his squad is 2-1-2 in its last five. Advantage: Push

Many NY players know that this could be their final outing with the club. Hopefully fans will brave the cool weather and turn out. Bliss knows new ownership won't look kindly on missing the playoffs. Red Bull knows next year is when the fun really starts. Advantage: Push

The Prediction:
The first goal will be critical. If KC gets scores in the game's first ten minutes, New York will fold. If the Red Bulls score first, it'll be a nail-biter until the end. Aw, heck, the team did it last year on the road. At home, it'll be that much easier. New York wins, 3-1

Here are your television selections for the weekend (times et). Enjoy.

9:30am: GER: Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin, GOL
10:00am: ENG: Arsenal-Watford, FSC
12noon: ENG: Reading-Chelsea, FSC
2:15pm: ENG: Middlesbrough-Everton, FSC
6:00pm: BRA: Sao Paulo-Juventude, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Monterrey-Tigres, GALA
7:30pm: MLS: New England-Columbus, DK
: MLS: New York-Kansas City, DK (10pm TD on FSNY)
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas-San Juis, TELEF
8:30pm: MLS: Houston-Colorado, HDNet
8:30pm: COL: Millonarios-Atletico Nacional, GOL
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-Morelia, GALA
10:30pm: MLS: Los Angeles-FC Dallas, FSC, DK
12mid: MEX: Atlante-Toluca, GALA

SUNDAY, Oct. 15
9:00am: ITA: Torino-Chievo, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Inter Milan-Catania, GOL
11:00am: ENG: Newcastle-Bolton, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Celta de Vigo-Valencia, GOL
1:00pm: MEX: UNAM-UAG, UNI
3:00pm: ARG: Banfield-River Plate, FSC
5:00pm: MLS: DC United-Chicago, ESPN2
: MLS: Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake, FSC, DK
: COL:
Independiente Medellin vs Deportes Tolima, GOL

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New Colorado Rapids Logo

Shadowy MLS insider Not Doug Logan has produced the new logo and color scheme that the Colorado Rapids will sport next year when they open their new Commerce City stadium. The new "claret and blue" Rapids will nicely mirror KSE's NHL club, the Colorado Avalanche. Note the "SC" for soccer club at the bottom of the logo. Or is it a "96" to denote the team's founding year? Hmm.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What NY Sports Fans Watched 10/7/06

The Red Bulls-Colorado match on MSG pulled a 0.2 in the New York DMA on Saturday, doubling the television rating for NJ Devils and NY Islanders matches on the same day. Here's a sampling of sports ratings, courtesy of the Newark Star-Ledger. In the NY DMA, each ratings point represents 74,000 households.

Saturday, October 7th:
Mets-Dodgers: 14.9
Yankees-Tigers: 12.6
Padres-Cardinals: 2.7
Stanford-Notre Dame: 1.9
Arkansas-Auburn: 1.4
LSU-Florida: 1.1
Texas-Oklahoma: 1.0
Tennessee-Georgia: 1.0
Clemson-Wake Forest: 0.9
Michigan-Michigan State: 0.5
Rangers-Flyers: 0.5
South Carolina-Kentucky: 0.4
NTRA Horse Racing: 0.4
Oregon-California: 0.3
Red Bulls-Rapids: 0.2
Pittsburgh-Syracuse: 0.2
Devils-Stars: 0.1
Islanders-Sharks: 0.1

Some observations:
  • Even though the Mets were in prime time, I'm floored that they drew more than the Yankees
  • I guess horse racing still has an audience
  • There's A LOT of college football on television
  • RBNY should feel good about the interest in the club, now the front office has to get folks off their couches & into the stadium. Harrison can't get here soon enough

Red Bull PR Earns a Brownie Point

Metro is a free daily newspaper hawked on the streets of NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia. Boasting a NY circulation of 300,000, Metro is mean to be read over the course of a subway ride, then dumped (or recycled). In depth it ain't, and its sports section is far from expansive.

So imagine my surprise today to find a nice two-column story and photo on Saturday's key Red Bulls' match vs. Kansas City. Although the piece does identify KC as "the Wiz" and New York's potential first-round playoff opponent as "the DC United," the small story does do a good job framing the team's situation.

If you're so inclined, please write Metro sports editor Dave Kraska at and thank him for the coverage. I did.

Baby steps, people.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sad Day

The entire US Soccer community is saddened today by the loss of former US Assistant and Colorado Rapids Head Coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick. To learn about the incredible impact that the New Jersey native had on the US game, visit BigAppleSoccer.

On a lighter note, Kristian Dyer and Jason Endres have a terrific interview up on MetroFanatic with former Metro GM and current AEG NY honcho Nick Sakiewicz. Say what you want about Nick, but one wonders if his Metro legacy would have had more shine if the Harrison stadium project became a reality years ago instead of weeks ago.

On a much, much lighter note, the Red Bulls followed my prediction to a T on Saturday in Denver, making Saturday's swamp battle vs. the Wiz a defacto playoff game. Hopefully New York fans will show up for what may be the Red Bulls' season finale, and the return of Marvell Wynne will push NY into the postseason.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mile High Goodbye

The Red Bulls really showed the 15K+ and the few thousand watching on HDNet something special last week when they upset Chicago to move into playoff position for the first time since August 26th. The fact that I had to wait for days to see Jozy Altidore's game winner on "Red Bulls Insider" on the official team web site was truly asinine, however. By giving HDNet an exclusive broadcast, does the league think that fans will rush out to finally make that HD set purchase just to see the game? Really.

So tomorrow night's match at Denver can provide some breathing room for NY in the playoff quest. A win against the Rapids, combined with a KC home loss to Chivas, would set up a tie-and-in scenario for New York in the season ender vs. the Wizards in the Swamp a week from tomorrow. Here are the current Eastern standings:

Team, Pts, GD, (matches to play)
1. Y - DC United, 55 +16 (2h)
2. X - Chicago, 44, +4 (1h/1a)
3. X - New England, 42, +2 (1h/1a)
4. New York, 35, +0 (1h/1a)
5. Kansas City, 32, -2 (1h/1a)
6. Z -Columbus, 30, -14 (1h/1a)

Here's a breakdown for tomorrow final MLS match at Invesco field:

The Colorado forwards vs. The Red Bulls' back line:
Thiago and Nico vs. Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes, and Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). Journeyman Thiago Martins is on his ninth MLS squad (or something). He has a single goal this season. Nico, though, is the real deal up top for Colorado, with seven goals and five assists. The Argentinian is on a five-match scoring drought, though, and Colorado has scored only three goals in its last five games. New York will be missing Marvell Wynne as a result of his two yellows vs. Chicago last week. Utility man Seth Stammler should pick up the slack. The Red Bulls' goalkeeper controversy will only last until the season's end, when future hall-of-famer Tony Meola hangs it up. Advantage: New York

New York's attackers vs. The Rapids' defense:
John Wolyniec and Jozy Altidore vs. Dan Gargan, Aitor Karanka, Mike Petke, and Hunter Freeman (and Joe Cannon). Jozy has become a terrific story in the rollercoaster Red Bulls' season. His teenage legs may prove meaningful in the mile-high air late in the game. Woly hasn't scored since September 3rd. Can't imagine he'll go the full 90. Colorado's D has three shutouts in its last six outings. Mike Petke will always find love in the NY area. I have never heard of Gargan or Karanka, but they sound like Klingons. Yes, I'm a geek. Advantage: Push

The Midfielders:
New York's Chris Henderson, Amado Guevara, Danny O'Rourke, and Dema Kovalenko vs. Colorado's Terry Cooke, Kyle Beckerman, Pablo Mastroeni, and Jacob Peterson. Youth national-teamer Beckerman is tied with Nico for the team league in goals, and first-round draft-pick Peterson has had a good rookie campaign, with two goals and three assists. Cooke has dished out ten assists from his wing position, and Mastro is Mastro. Looking at their midfield, you'd think that the Rapids would have a better record. For NY, Youri is back with the club, but is out with bursitis (the old man). Henderson will attempt to fill in on the wing, but in the end will be an achilles heel for the Red Bulls. Advantage: Colorado.

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena vs. Fernando Clavijo. Last week, the Bruce was able to coax a win from his team last week against an opponent that had nothing to play for. With the Rapids also fighting for a playoff spot, Arena won't have the same luxury two weeks in a row. I have absolutely no opinion of Fernando Clavijo as a coach, just as I have little opinion of the Rapids' team personality. Advantage: Push

The Rapids will say goodbye to its current home ground tomorrow night, which may generate a home crowd... or not. Colorado attracted a whopping 3,800 fans to its last home match on September 13th, which is pathetic, even for their standards. Colorado won't have Clint Mathis, and New York won't have Wynne or Djorkaeff. Advantage: New York

The Prediction:
The Red Bulls don't have to win this game. They can make it easier on themselves by winning, which means of course that they won't. A 1-1 draw.

On The Tube
Euro 2008 quallies cut into league play this weekend... (all times ET):

2:00pm: EURO '08: Denmark - Northern Ireland, FSC
2:00pm: URU: Nacional-Cerrito, GOL
4:00pm: EURO '08: Serbia - Belgium, FSC
4:00pm: EURO '08: Italy-Ukraine, TELEM
4:00pm: MEX: San Luis-Monterrey, GALA
5:00pm: BRA: Fluminese-Sao Paulo, GOL
7:30pm: MLS: DC United - New England, DK
8:00pm: MEX: Tigres-Cruz Azul, GALA
8:30pm: MLS: Kansas City - Chivas USA, DK
8:30pm: MLS: Chicago - Columbus, FSC, DK

8:30pm: MLS: FC Dallas - Los Angeles, HDNet

8:30pm: COL: Junior-Cucta, GOL
9:30pm: MLS: Colorado - New York, DK
10:00pm: MEX: Atlas-Pachuca, TELEF
10:30pm: HON: Marathon-Universidad, GOL

SUNDAY, Oct. 8

1:00pm: MEX: UNAM-Atlante, UNI
1:55pm: USA: WNT vs. Iceland, ESPN2
2:00pm: URU: River-Penarol, GOL
3:00pm: ARG: River Plate-Boca Juniors, FSC
4:00pm: BRA: Goias-Corinthians, GOL
5:00pm: MEX: Club America-Necaxa, TELEF
6:30pm: COL: Ind. Sante Fe-Ind. Medellin, GOL

Godspeed, Mooch.

ESPN's Skipper: "They'll Bring In Some Stars"

I work on the business side of the media industry. This morning I had the good fortune of attending an industry breakfast with John Skipper, EVP, Content for ESPN (pictured).

John is responsible for the creation, programming, and production of ESPN and ABC sports content across all media platforms.

Skipper recently signed the ESPN contract delivering MLS its first rights fee. As part of the deal, ESPN will take over production of MLS broadcasts on the Disney networks starting next year, saving the league millions of dollars.

Here's a summary of Skipper's comments:

  • "I have the best job in America... to walk into bars and impress men... not that that's my intention." (Got big laughs)
  • Ingrained in the ESPN culture is the notion that "we serve fans. Fans decide what content is available, we don't."
  • "Our intention is to be the leader in every area, print, web, TV, radio, Spanish...the goal is to make the other guys in front worry about us"
  • "We're getting back to what people care about: games. In the last year, we've built our portfolio of properties, including:
    • NASCAR (Feb .07)
    • Big Ten
    • Big East
    • World Cup through 2014"
  • "Eventually, soccer will work. Some folks don't believe it, but they don't have the assets that we have."
  • "We'll be creating content to support our properties. For instance, we'll have 10 hours of NASCAR documentaries in Feb '07, to be shown each weeknight in primetime the week preceding ESPN's first NASCAR race on Saturday night. The documentaries will populate a "100 Greatest Moments of NASCAR" property to be:
    • Counted down on SportsCenter
    • Turned into a feature in the magazine
    • Rolled out on and ESPN 360 Broadband service
    • Turned into a coffee table book
  • Q: "Do the NFL and NBA TV networks create a concern for you?"
    • "No, most sports fans are fans of more than one sport... also, we can report on tough league issues that they won't."
    • "For instance the NHL is talking of starting a network. They're having trouble getting half a million people to watch for two hours... what are they going to do for 24 hours a day?"
    • "We will continue to co-exist with these networks... until they go out of business."

On the recently failed ESPN Mobile service...

  • "Mobile was the opportunity to make the most money in the wireless space."
  • "We thought that phone number portability was the key to get folks to move to our service... we didn't count on wireless companies' aggressive retention programs... they give away $300 pieces of hardware to keep customers... If you think Sports Illustrated in tough, Verizon is a mother. That said, we intend to be #1 in wireless sports content distribution."

I approached Skipper afterwards and thanked him for supporting soccer and MLS. He said that he was at the Red Bulls-Chicago match on Saturday night. He said that next year "the league will bring in some stars... we'll have some original content around MLS... Thursday night MLS matches will get the TNT-NBA treatment."