Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ho Ho Ho, JCO

Holiday tidings to all from the Red Bulls, who rolled out former Metros and Man C assistant and Chicago Fire boss Juan Carlos Osorio as the 11th head coach in franchise history today. Why should JCO succeed when the ten others have failed? Good question. A parade of coaching legends have led the Metros since its founding in 1996, and only two; Octavio Zambrano (4 gms. over .500), and Bob Bradley (1 game) finished their terms at the helm with positive records.

Osorio noted at today's press conference that the team was solid up front (though the team only scored 4 goals in their last five '07 matches) and had trouble at the back (though NY held MLS Cup Finalist New England to a single goal in their two-match playoff series).

Does JCO have a safety net? RBNY honcho Marc deGrandpre noted that Osorio "doesn't have to win the championship" to keep his job, but MdG does believe that Osorio will get the Red Bulls to the playoffs. Of course, that's just what Bruce Arena did, which wasn't good enough. de Grandpre, through a bad poker face, noted that Arena resigned and wasn't let go after the team's failure to advance in the MLS Cup playoffs. Umm-hmm.

Osorio needs to have a quick 2008 start to get some attention for the marketing-starved team, though Arena's '07 Red Bulls went 3-0-1 before coming back to earth. Perhaps MLS will schedule Becks & LA early in the season to lift ticket sales early rather than late in the season.

Kansas City, Hello.
The woeful Wizards are a state vote away from landing their own soccer-specific stadium in a development similar to the Harrison, NJ Red Bull Park development (without the industrial waste). The 2010 "Three Trails" project will include 12 soccer fields, a 250-room hotel, retail, office, and residential space. Good luck to them. Not sure how they'll find 18,000 fans to attend, but here's to hoping.

Here's a quick snapshot of MLS stadia and status heading into the new year...

Eastern Conference
Chicago: Toyota Park (SSS)
Columbus: Crew Stadium (SSS)
DC United: RFK Stadium - plans for SSS stalled
Kansas City: Arrowhead (NFL) - SSS state vote from fruition ('10)
New England: Gillette (NFL) - early discussions for SSS
New York: Giants (NFL) - SSS in construction (tee hee) ('09)
Toronto: BMO Field (SSS)

Western Conference
Chivas USA: Home Depot Center (SSS)
Colorado: Dick's SG Park (SSS)
FC Dallas: Pizza Hut Park (SSS)
Houston: Robertson Stadium (NCAA) - SSS plans in discussion
Los Angeles: HDC (SSS)
Salt Lake: Rice-Eccles (NCAA) - Sandy SSS to open in '08
San Jose: Buck-Shaw (NCAA) - SSS plans in the works for '10
Seattle ('09 expansion): Qwest Field (NFL) - No SSS plans

Soccer-specific stadia in MLS
2008: 8 of 14 teams by year-end
2009: 9 of 15 teams by year-end
2010: 11 of 15 teams should KC and SJ open during the year

US on the road in WCQs
The WC 2010 CONCACAF Semifinal Round schedule puts the Yanks on the road on August 20th and September 6th before three at home; on September 10th, and October 11th and 15th. The final match in the four-team group is away on November 19th. If the US falls to Dominica or Barbados in the June two-leg tie then the semis are moot, but I've got a good feeling the Yanks'll go through. Probable Semifinal round opponents are Guatemala, Cuba, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Concacaf Champs Cup Draw Set
2-time defending MLS Cup champ Houston Dynamo will meet Municipal of Guatemala in the first round of the 2008 CCC in a two-leg tie in March. Supporters Shield winner DC United faces Harbour View of Jamaica on the other side of the bracket.

Should Houston advance, Mexico's Atlante should await in the semis. The Mexicans take on Costa Rica's Saprissa in round one. DC would likely face Pachuca in round two, who'll be favored over Motagua of Honduras in the opening round.

No MLS side has taken home the trophy since the Galaxy won it in 2000.