By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Aug 2, 2012) US Soccer Players -- In Thursday’s edition, Tony asks what the future holds for the expansion class of 2004, Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake.
What is Chivas USA’s long-term plan?
It has been considered for a while that an athlete’s prime years are generally in the 27-30 range, give or take a few years depending on the athlete. Speaking broadly, by this point, you’ve got enough experience that you know what you’re doing and your body is still able to recover.
A quick look at former US National Team player Robin Fraser’s roster shows four players in that range, Nick LaBrocca, Dan Kennedy, James Riley, and Oswaldo Minda (compare that with Salt Lake’s eight players in that range and a few more about to enter it).
Yesterday, Chivas acquired 34-year-old Designated Player Shalrie Joseph from New England, presumably to slot in with veterans such as Danny Califf, Alejandro Moreno, and Juan Pablo Angel.Now, at some point down the road, Chivas presumably will have a few international slots/salary cap room available, but picking up a player such as Joseph is the mark of a team adding a veteran for a late-season push, not a team building for the future. The standings, and Chivas’ attacking output (they’ve been outscored by Chris Wondolowski) do not bear that out.
Is it time for some changes at Real Salt Lake before next season?
Former US National team player Jason Kreis and General Manager Garth Lagerway have built a team in Salt Lake that is often both easy on the eyes and a winner. Along with Seattle, Salt Lake is a blueprint for what this League can be outside of the major metropolitan areas. However, this season the red cards have come out at key times (such as against San Jose and Herediano) and the team has fallen short in competitions it prioritized, such as losing to Minnesota in the US Open Cup.
By my count, RSL has played 11 games against teams in the playoffs, with a 4-5-2 record, and a -4 goal difference. Yes, the goal difference is skewed by their 5-0 surrender to San Jose (after red cards), but there’s only so many times a team can claim to be getting the short-end of the stick when it comes to calls.
Some change might be forced on them by the League’s salary cap. RSL wouldn’t be the first team to put together a solid run and win one of the available competitions, only to find their 'reward' was the need for a quick rebuild. For the longer term (read next season and beyond), Lagerway and Kreis have some questions to answer about how they want to move forward and what kind of team they want.
What percentage of penalty kicks have not been converted this season in MLS?
There have been 51 penalty kicks this season, and 11 of them (22%) were not converted.
How does Seattle General Manager (and part-owner) Adrian Hanauer feel about MLS’ evolving Designated Player guidelines and how the guidelines affected his team wanting to balance signing new DP Christian Tifferts and keeping Alvaro Fernandez?
He might feel like his hands were tied, according to an interview with the Seattle Times, especially when it comes to allowing designated players to go out on loan. “In that regard, you could start stockpiling designated players, loan them out all over the world, let them improve or find the optimal time when you needed an outside midfielder back and make a transaction,” Hanauer said.
It's certainly an interesting twist, but who knows how the League would respond if a club actually tried to do it. After all, MLS has never been shy about altering rules as situations arise.
In terms of number of television viewers, who did better this weekend, MLS or European teams playing friendlies?
According to Soccer America’s Business Insider, it was MLS. The Dallas - Galaxy game drew almost 400,000 viewers on Saturday and Philadelphia - New England had more than 230,000 viewers on the NBCSportsNetwork. According to Soccer America, the Dallas - LA game was watched by more people “than the combined viewership for the Chelsea - AC Milan and Liverpool - Tottenham games the same day on ESPN2.”
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.