Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Because It's My Country, by Preston Zimmerman

Below are Preston's thoughts today on the United States Men's National Soccer Team. I thought they were insightful and worth noting, so I fashioned them into post.

It is truly, as Jared DuBois descriptively puts it: "his Network moment".

Take it away, Preston!

I thought it would be cool getting Klinsmann as US National team coach, but I think it's actually worse than when Bradley was coach....

Requirements to get on US National team under Klinsmann: Be a fake American, be born outside the US, have one US distant relative.

I see the team is calling in guys who are really germans who know they've got no chance of playing for Germany so they'll settle with the US. That's embarrassing when a good friend of mine says he met one of the guys at the airport and he couldnt reply back in English as US Natl player.

I try my hardest not to tweet US soccer stuff but there are some stuff out there that drive me crazy. Don't mistake any of my tweets for jealousy, I never expect to be called in or involved with anything and it doesn't hurt my feelings.

I would just like to see true, real Americans who would live and die for this country representing our country. But when the olympic team holds mini-camps in Germany with all 'european players' then something is wrong. The kids in college are just as good, if not better, than some of the kids from the reserve teams getting invited to camp. But the college kids don't speak German and they don't have ties outside the US so they don't qualify for the US under Klinsmann.

Am I the only one here who thinks this or are there others? People have to speak up when they don't like what's going on. If Klinsmann was winning and very successful with his approach then my words would carry no weight, but I don't see any success squeaking out 1-0 wins against CONCACAF villages isn't success...

People can bash me for whatever reason, but I hate seeing my country's national team being misused and disrespected. I know plenty of guys who are in MLS and know what it's like to play for their country who deserve a look for the US team. I hope the US team wins and dominates just as much as anybody else because it's my country and I want my country to be #1 and dominate.

Don't want anybody to take my tweets negatively or as criticism to make somebody look bad, I just have passion and interest in the US team.

Preston Zimmerman is currently playing in the 3. Liga in Germany. He is American. He is also only one of 3 out of 26 foreigners on his SV Darmstadt 98 side.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crew Offseason, Outside Looking In

So the Renteria contract ending thing and him playing at a high level in Venezuela has got me thinking... What are the other Crew players doing in the offseason to stay sharp. Not to say taking some time off is bad, just sayin'... Let's take a look.

NOT DOING ANYTHING (as far as I know)
Andy Gruenebaum, Justin Meram (no news on him over the break. Seems frustrated though. Just a hunch. Camps, I see. Excellent player), Bernardo Anor (shares same hometown with Renteria. I imagine he is in Venezuela as well.), Tom Heinemann, Eddie Gaven, Sebastián Miranda, Chad Marshall, Will Hesmer, Danny O´Rourke, Eric Gehrig, Shaun Francis, Aaron Horton, The new goal keeper kid.

Emmanuel Ekpo (Nigerian NT but no games), Julius James (Trinidad NT in Nov.), Rich Balchan (in rehab, seems to be determined. I like this guy), Tony Tchani (Generation Adidas player but missed the trip to Holland due to illness?)

Emilio Renteria (Heheh. Yeah! Playing competitively in Venezuela. On the national team that will be in Phoenix on Jan. 21.), Robbie Rogers (say what you will, he has been trying out all over England. That's something), Dilly Duka (Generation Adidas is keeping him busy. Had two goals in three games during time in Holland).

Not a lot of news on the team this time of year. Looking at the calendar I see that there is a pre-season thing down in Charleston, SC in a couple months. Thinking about going. But till then... I hope the folks on the team are working hard. This time of year offers an opportunity in a way. A competitive advantage can be gained over the other teams.

Are the Crew taking advantage? It's not only the players that need to keep things moving. Team supporters, fans, bloggers, etc... they need to keep supporting, cheering, writing, and asking questions. Like... are we going to overpay for Renteria because we are lazy?

Seattle became the keepers of Major League Soccer in a few short years. DC's Goff is and has been MLS royalty in terms of league writing and respect. FC Dallas has a guy out there holding it down. The Crew need to be a part of this if they are to remain relevant.

The Crew list...

1. David Burgin. Alive! and my favorite soccer writer. Period.
2. Aaron Katzeman. Better and more professional than the local paper's beat writer. And. Will be writing on the Crew long after I am.
3. Scott Briggs. PBR? Impressed. Doin' it.
4. That Massive thing Report. Kill the mid-west cliche-like negativity. More harm than good last year but... it is the thing to read for Crew fans. No link, though. Still upset about the hot flashes a couple writers got mid-season last year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sparkling Form

All quiet on the Crew front... No news on Emilio Renteria yet. Time is running out (his contract is up on Dec. 30). I have to believe he plays very largely in the goal scoring make up of the ver.2012 Crew. I really, really hope that Columbus is all over this. They have to be right? See, this is what bothers me about Major League Soccer. All this time off. The intensity level is zero while the rest of the world is operating at the highest levels. Arg. Frustrating. Anyhow... Outside of Renteria the Crew don't have a whole lot of goal scorers. Well... proven scorers, anyway. Heinemann is ripping it up playing for fake Northampton in FIFA 12. Ladies like him too (tea ladies that is).

Real Northampton is in sorts after today's Boxing Day game. Not looking good. Mess of a game, again. The Cobblers went down to 10 men and blew 2 leads. Not good. Dangerously close to non-league now.

Stoke pulled out the draw, though. For folks that get paid to follow the BPL, I realize that it wasn't pretty, but to me? I've worked everyday since the end of October. I got off a little early and got to catch the final 35 minutes of the game in HD. To me... I got to see a couple long Delap throws. A couple tackles. A couple chances. A side financially solid and full of heart and pride. It was a beautiful in a way that most don't get.

I'll take the point and proudly say that I'm happy they play how they want.

What a great 1st half of the season for the Potters.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Here's a translation of the Renteria Article today

I guess the Crew have not locked up Renteria yet. His contract ends next week and he sounds open to anything regarding his future.


By: Nestor Romero Zerpa /

The national team "Vinotinto" will play its last game of the year on Thursday at the Metropolitan Stadium Cabudare with Costa Rica.

Emilio Renteria, Columbus Crew striker in MLS in the United States, was summoned for this last game by Cesar Farias.

The "Deer" talked to and conveyed his excitement about this new appointment with the national team selection:

"I'm happy about the call and I'm psyched Farias has me in the game against Costa Rica. We want to close the year with a victory and continue the momentum that has been taking the team into the year."

Cesar Farias players gathered on the lawn of Misael Delgado Valencia Sports. There, the national coach talked a while with the group convened. During the gathering, Renteria said that: "We must be ourselves to enjoy the great time of selection, but with much responsibility. We want to close the year in a good way, that's the goal."

As for his physical condition after finishing the season with the Columbus Crew, Emilio, said: "I ​​feel very good in that regard, I only took off for a week. I'm training with Caracas FC and I'm ready physically for this confrontation."

The Caracas striker, ends his contract with the American club on December 30 this year.

Finally, on short-term plans in his career as a professional footballer, Renteria said: "I want to stay abroad, among the possibilities is the return to Caracas FC, ​​they are part of my family and my agent is looking some offers."

UPDATE Dec. 23: Venezuela fell to Costa Rica 0-2 last night. Emilio Renteria played 75'.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chad Marshall Signs 'Legend' Contract

Chad Marshall and the Crew agreed to a deal today that keeps him in town through the 2015 season (4 more seasons).

Marshall has already been with the team for eight years. He is 27 years old. I haven't heard the details of the pay but it was not announced that he was made DP. That means he is still not making enough for the team to tag him as such (for cap purposes). He was already making $320k so we can deduce that it is likely he is still in that range.

Based on his play last year I value him in the $260k range.

That said. What do you pay a guy who is about to become the player with the following:

- Most Minutes with the Crew ALL-TIME (needs 19 more games)
- Most Years with the Crew ALL-TIME (about to join Oughton with 9)
- Three Supporter Shield's and a MLS Cup

The group he is jumping in time with the Crew is impressive. Mike Clark, Jeff Cunningham, Brian Maisonneuve, Frankie Hejduk and Brian McBride. All with eight years in house.

Chad Marshall comes off as your typical stoic center back but in reality he is quite different. He is deceitfully quick and has incredible closing speed which you only really see on display when he his making up for another teammates mistake.

Mr. Marshall also isn't the same kind of player Crew fans are typically drawn to. You don't hear about him partying with supporters. No pictures of him at (defunct) Hudson Street or (not defunct) 4th Street drinking with the fans. He has no twitter account or any other real presence in social media. Nor does he go out of his way celebrating goals (most often from corners) in front of the North Deck. You never even really see much more then a clinched fist and a look of satisfaction when another player scores a goal.

It's almost like the typical stoic center back demeanor haunts him. He has all the parts that make one, yet he doesn't not show that last important part that finishes the cliche.

This contradiction could be one of the reasons he has been kept off the National Team in recent years. He should be that cliche, but isn't. It can be cringe worthy for me to hear some supporters and fans clamoring for his call up to the USMNT. Not sure why that is, really. Maybe that's part of what I'm writing. Me clumsily trying to figure out why that bothers me.

Marshall grew up in Southern California. Looking at the map, his Rubidoux High School (black and gold, incidentally) seems to be just a bit outside of L.A. Seems sort of like a Greensboro is to Research Triangle, a Fredericksburg to DC or a Circleville might be to Columbus. Yet, the mere connection between him as an equestrian and his Stanford University spell tell a much different story.

And that different story is the one that lead me to writing all this in the first place.

Proud to have Chad Marshall signing on with the Crew for a few years longer. If parts of Crew Stadium weren't already earmarked to have his name etched on them, they certainly will be by 2015.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Failing to Ignite

The Crew getting similar MLS hot stove fly overs from Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) and Jonah Freedman (

"Crew Stadium will always deserve props for being MLS's first soccer stadium, but let's be honest: It looks downright cheap compared to Kansas City's Livestrong Sporting Park and Red Bull Arena. Columbus's owner, the Hunt Sports Group, doesn't want to spend much money on its coaching staff, and the Crew hasn't created much buzz since the departure of Guillermo Barros Schelotto."

"Columbus: A midfield playmaker. Crew-ville is almost as tired of hearing “We need a new Guillermo Barros Schelotto” as they are of hearing the cliché “offseason overhaul.” But facts are facts: Columbus haven’t been anywhere near as dynamic since GBS departed Crew Stadium. A string-puller with even half his talent would help everyone in C-bus move on."


"Let's be honest": I happen to like that the Crew doesn't feel the need to make a big splash. Especially just to be fodder for an article about future articles Wahl will be writing.

The coaching staff comment is stinging. Pretty much saying it is "Ohio nice." But not off the mark entirely. I think the coaching staff is okay but the front office doesn't get enough attention. I like Wahl. What a bummer of a write up for the Crew though.

On the stadium; I just think they need to cover the fans from rain/snow, improve the video screen and replace the bench seating. I can have that quoted out if so requested.

Freedman was more affectionate with his wording but, I don't know anyone who lives in or supports "C-bus" and "Crew-ville."

Spitting into the wind here, I guess. Interesting though, how two national type media articles had similar blurbs/summaries.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


Working a lot during the Christmas season and wishing I had more time to go on about Stoke this winter. Pictures of smiling Stokies will have to do for now. Spurs down, Potters up...

...well, that and just realized Dean Whitehead laces up z umbro whilst probably sharing apical ancestors with someone I know. Have I gone on about why I like Stoke? I need to do that at some point. I really do. I mean that. And I will. Promise.

Friday, December 9, 2011

English Soccer League Major Ramble

JULY 2011: Four hundred thousand fans watched English Premier League clubs match up against several franchises from Major League Soccer on New World soil.

The Result: Thirteen total games. One MLS win. Twelve MLS losses. MLS Goal Differential: -22 (or less than a goal for and over 2.5 against)

Estimated Gate: $12.1 million (for good measure).

You don't have to go far in the Major League Soccer ocean before you bump into a comparison to one English football league or another. Every once in a while, you'll also come across a player training in Germany and say something nice about how the quality of MLS players can stand up to players in the Bundesliga.

I figure it about time I thought about it, myself. After all it is my responsiblity as a free wheelin' blogger, right?. Hmm. Okay, done. Even without the head to head friendlies, I'm done thinking on it. I was done before I thought on it. Which must be why I hadn't touched the subject in the past.

People seem to think of where MLS teams would fall in a one game match against some other team from a far away league. A Super Bowl like game. I hear that MLS teams could compete against bottom table PL sides or top table Champ League clubs (seems to be most common assumption). But, ya know, soccer is never about the one BIG GAME. Or the best 11 v. 11.

That is the reason I brought up the friendlies last summer. It was a test that matched up weakened, mid-season MLS sides against rusty, out of season, PL sides. Sort of a strange thing, admittedly. But, if you watch the sport enough you realize that it is always about that uneasy balance. Games are only as important as the side or country makes them. Who is healthy, who is pouting. Who the fans are chanting for. Who the manager doesn't get along with. Who was out drinking too late the night before.

A good example might be the Europa League and Stoke. How exciting is it to be a Stoke fan and watch them play European sides. Contrastingly, look at Manchester United falling to the Europa League. I expect them to exit at first chance.

Even that, however, is unfairly looking at top clubs in the world. The infrastructure it takes to make it to top competitions is so far and away beyond what we have domestically it doesn't even warrant comparison.

I've mentioned my Northampton Town Cobblers a few times over the years here. I like keeping up with them. Yes, nPower League 2. I'll even catch a game or three a year on the internets. I'll also catch a few FA Cup games between lower league teams online or on FOX Soccer. Even, gasp, Football Conference club action from five years ago on youtube. Only live game on English soil I can claim is a Kettering Poppies game over a decade ago.

What I see in these (those) games might not be titanic match ups involving the best athletes on the planet. What it does showcase is, for me, the difference in player savvy, creativity, heart, love, passion, and understanding. All things that Major League Soccer can't seem to find. No foundation underneath it and heavy rules and regulations above it.

I'm sure a full strength LA Galaxy could give West Brom a run for it's money in a meaningful game, on a beautiful 73 degree day... at full strength... playing in the Home Depot Center. I have not doubt in that.

And that is exactly what bugs me about reading most things comparing MLS to other leagues. Particularly comparisons to the English Football League System.

There are 6,000 + teams playing organized soccer in England.

My personal thoughts are that MLS sides, as they are currently structured, would not last a single average season in nPower League 2. In fact, I think they might find themselves betwixt the Anglican Combination Division Six (17th tier) and Southampton Saturday Football League Division Five (19th tier) were they to continue on past one season. And even then, they may have to forfeit a few because of the driving on the wrong side of the road and all.

Athletes and talent, the United States has. No question. Organized soccer structure that can sustain a leading place (club or country) in the world, still trying to find it. And that "IT" is why most venture out on fantasy comparisons between leagues. We have the player pool and money to pull "IT" together. We just need someone to do it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Liked this one, Stoke

Ran across this image this morning. Picture taken right after Huth's goal yesterday. Stoke won 1:0 at Goodison Park. Happy fan over here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Robbie, Renteria and Leadership

Robbie Rogers, Blackburn Rumors.
The People UK writer Alan Nixon reported last week that Steve Kean has invited Robbie over during the transfer window next month. If Steve Kean is still there in January, it may happen. Big if. Blackburn will be looking for a number of sparks after Christmas because they need to move up from the bottom of the table.

Jurgen Klinnsman’s relationship is lifting the value of Rogers. Time is now. He needs a change and Crew fans don’t seem to take to him (which is sort of a shame and sort of not).

A SHAME: Even with is National Team time he assisted on 7 goals last season. That’s 22% of open play goals the team had (32).

NOT A SHAME: On the other hand Crew record during his starts was a below average one (8 wins, 7 drawn, 10 loss) when compared to a player with similar number of starts (22/Gardner, 10-3-9 or 27/Gaven, 11-7-9 W-D-L).

Emilio Rentería, Tradesman.
“… I don’t like to be idle, what we get in MLS is too much vacation for a football player. I remember what Paladini (Rodolfo) the teacher Miguel (Cordero, Physical Trainer First Team) always say; a player should not be off for more than two months."

Looks like Renteria wants to run in the Copa Libertadores (similar to the Champions League for Central and South America) for the team he was with before he came up to Columbus (FC Caracas). He is training with them in the MLS offseason. The club tournament starts late January and ends in July.

Emilio has had a successful run with the Crew to date, very efficient goal scorer. Not sure who found him but his numbers much better in MLS over his time in Venezuelan Primera División. It would be surprising if Columbus loaned him out even for a short time considering what they expect from him this year. I say, let him run though.

Warms my heart that he's down there with fire in the belly. What's the rest of the team doing?

Now Hiring, Professional Soccer Field General (Columbus).
Good article by Adam Jardy in the Dispatch today. In it he reports that the club thinks its most pressing need is leadership.

Technical Director Brian Bliss thinks there is only one way to find a Field General, saying: “You’ve got to buy that and you’re only going to be able to buy that through the international market or a trade.”

Wait, huh?

Also looks like the team approached Tchani about this ‘field general’ role. “I’m going to try, I’m not comfortable with it.” Was Tchani’s response. All kinds of bad there.

It doesn’t appear that they need a leader on the field, rather; they need to take few steps back and find someone who knows what the hell a leader is.

Helltown Leadership Lesson #1: Tchani and Rentería’s quotes in this post are both about leadership, hunger and heart. Lesson #2; You don't have to ask a leader to be a leader.