Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tony, Harry, Freddie and Stalteri too... the ramblings of TG!

English teacher beware... this is a bit of a single paragraph craziness. It's been quite a week for soccer movers and shakers in the last week. First off, Juande Ramos get fired at Tottenham, seemingly only hours later, Harry Redknapp takes charge of Spurs leaving Portsmouth high and dry and on Monday Tony Adams officially takes over at Portsmouth. Okay... I think that's all the moves. One man is likely not going to get fired this year (other than the big name boys) would be Hull City Manager Phil Brown. With a quarter of the season gone, Hull have 20 points and sit 3rd in the English Premier League table. I would dare say that they could theoretically lose every game they have left and still stay in the English top flight. Spurs should improve with the hiring of Redknapp. It also means that Canadian Paul Stalteri has been given a lifeline to first team action. While playing and training with the reserve squad, Stalteri has been call a "model professional" and that can only show him to be a "team guy". Stalteri has been very kind to me in my professional career and I hope that Tottenham do the same for him. Tony Adams meanwhile has taken the helm for Portsmouth and if anything, it is providing another Englishman a chance at being a Premier League manager, something that is currently lacking in the English game. Here in North America, we could possibly be losing an Englishman, as it appears that David Beckham is on his way to AC Milan on loan from the LA Galaxy. According to published reports, he would be back for the beginning of the MLS Season, but once Beckham gets to Italy, he may not want to return. If it came to buying out his contract, Beckham is one of the few athletes who could buy his own contract out and go to whichever team might have him. Losing one underwear model in the MLS means that another one needs to arrive, so Freddie Ljundberg will be arriving for the 2009 season with the Seattle Sounders F.C.. Just down the I5 from Mike and I in Vancouver. I know Mike already has his Calvin Klein's ready to be autographed. For Seattle, it's a move that soccer fans will respect, a big name that can still compete, especially in the MLS. It also has a little Beckham to it. He's good looking, foreign and models underwear with the best of them... meaning, single Seattle women and soccer moms will also be appearing at the games with the Ljundberg jerseys. A good signing for Seattle, who at present look like they have the buildings of a quality first year team. Ljundberg on the wing or in the middle and former USA National team and Fulham goalkeeper Kasey Keller. He'll provide leadership and a good attitude. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Keller in a coaching role once his playing days are finished. Finally... MLS expansion is getting heated up. 7 teams in the running, people with various ideas on who will get a franchise and who won't. Montreal seems to be everyone's pick as the one city that WILL get a team. The 2nd team is up for debate. I have and will go on record saying again here saying that I would love to see the Whitecaps getting an MLS franchise. Whether they get one will soon be told, but something in the back of mind keeps telling me no. It would be sad for Vancouver, but I can't say that there seems to be an outcry from Vancouver fans wanting to discuss it.

And that's a wrap...

- TG

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stalteri Lives...

The sacking of Juande Ramos by Tottenham Hotspur has most likely made Canadian National Team Captain (and friend of Fulltime, the Football Show) Paul Stalteri a very, very happy man.

Stalteri, who was relegated to the reserves after returning from his loan stint at the end of last season at Fulham, has been drafted back into the first-team by new manager Harry Redknapp.

Stalteri will now wear number 13 (his previous #7 is now being worn by Aaron Lennon). The Canadian is one of five players to get recalled. Hossam Ghaly (#15), Adel Taarabt (#19), Kevin-Prince Boateng (#23) and Ricardo Rocha (#33) have also been given new squad numbers.

While it remains to be seen if Stalteri can actually get on the pitch and contribute, the move will at least give the Canadian some hope as the January transfer window approaches. If it doesn't work out with Redknapp, perhaps Stalteri can finally move to another club and get some first-team football.

In all, Stalteri has appeared 46 times for Spurs, scoring three goals.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whitecaps bid for the MLS

The Vancouver Whitecaps, fresh off their 2nd USL-1 Championship in 3 years has officially made their bid for an MLS franchise, the 17th or 18th team in the league. Seven teams have applied for the 2 spots, these include, Vancouver, Portland, St. Louis, Montreal, Ottawa, Miami and Atlanta and the 'Caps have a great chance of succeeding in picking up one of the two, but there are some problems. The league is likely going to grant a team in the east and one in the west in order to keep the league even. Which means it really comes down to Vancouver versus Portland and St. Louis, who would be considered a Western team.

Of the three western based teams, Portland's bid has the possibility of a stadium that can be played in now, and will be renovated, with real grass. The problem in Portland is whether or not the MLS wants the team playing in a multi-sport facility. St. Louis is in need of a stadium, and a question still looms about whether or not the financial backing is all there, since it's a mystery on who the other backers are. In Vancouver, the Steve Nash is the start power, Mallett is the connection to the league having helped the MLS set up a deal with Yahoo and Kerfoot is the main money man. Which of those 3 seem the strongest? Vancouver is definitely the powerhouse out of the three, but could that be one of the problems that Vancouver faces?

The 'Caps are the frontrunner out west, but many claim that Montreal is also a frontrunner in the east, but rumblings out of the MLS office is that they don't want to have two Canadian teams joining the league in the same year. One reason is that is because the MLS and Toronto are already having some problems with the broadcasting rights. No one is the USA wants to see TFC play and Toronto currently don't have a national TV in Canada, which may be fixed if another Canadian team joins the fray. The other problem is that in their 2nd season, TFC have shown very limited success on the field. They continue to struggle and are once again one of the worst teams in the league (Luckily for them expansion squad San Jose is just as terrible and the Beckham experiment seems to have failed on the field in L.A.) and that fear is that another Canadian team would be just as bad. The final problem Vancouver face is that they have been consistent in having about 4,500 fans at home games, but they have struggled to really build it beyond that. Would 18,000 people be interested in seeing the Whitecaps play week in week out in Vancouver in season 1? Yes... after season 1, not likely.

The decision will be made at the end of the year or early in 2009. Whatever the decision, here's hoping that a Canadian team gets the call and has all the support that Toronto F.C. have off the pitch... but with some success on the pitch.

written by Tyler Green

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Whitecaps in the USL Final this Sunday

The excitement is building for the Whitecaps playing in the USL Final on Sunday afternoon. Puerto Rico has shown that they are a class team not only in the USL but also in the CONCACAF Champions League. A win for the Whitecaps would be tremendous not only for the city and the team moving forward as the 'Caps attempt to move into the MLS for 2011, but also for the game in Canada and showing that yes, a Canadian team with Canadian players can be good. Montreal, who lost of Vancouver in the Semi-Finals are now concentrating on their CONCACAF Champions League group. A group in which they lead. Montreal is also showing what Canadian talent can do, in the USL and also in the CCL tournament against the best club teams from various CONCACAF countries. Montreal and Vancouver are proving that Canadians can play the game, and hopefully that translates to the National squad coached by Dale Mitchell. If only Toronto F.C. could get their act together and maybe this country might start to build up from the grassroots and clubs. Only time will tell, but with the success that Vancouver and Montreal are having right now, let's hope that they don't change their tune when the MLS comes calling.

written by Tyler Green

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Montreal Impacting CONCACAF

A few months back, July 15th to be exact, I wrote an article about wanting the Montreal Impact to be the Canadian representative in the CONCACAF Champions League, instead of Toronto and Vancouver (the Whitecaps were mathematically out of the contest at that point).

At the time, Montreal was struggling in the USL, but they were doing enough to get in. Most pundits who work in this business must have thought I was crazy, considering that Toronto should have been the team that won it (they do have the most money after all) and no one really thought that Montreal would make much noise. Well, 3 games into the group stage, the Impact sit in top spot in their group with 7 points, 2 wins and a draw. Three points up on the 2nd place squad Atlante. There is still a lot of soccer to be played, but right now, I'm glad that a Canadian squad is making waves in this tournament. It's showing that with a little bit of support, Canada can be a big power in CONCACAF. Starting at the club stage and hopefully moving beyond the club and into the country stage.

On Friday and Sunday, Oct 3rd and 5th, the Impact will play the Vancouver Whitecaps in the USL Playoffs, less than 48 hours after being OlĂ­mpia in Honduras. It will be interesting to see how this is going to affect Montreal. The advantage is with the 'Caps in this series. It would be nice to see Vancouver win the USL Championships and have the Impact concentrate on the CONCACAF Champions League title. Perhaps Toronto F.C. can get into the MLS playoffs and do some damage in that league, unlikely, but one can dream of a Canadian sweep. It's all coming in the next few months... an exciting time for football here in North America.