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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

OT: The Soccer Thread: August 2012

Welcome to August! Notable Events:

Olympic Women’s Gold Medal Game: August 9
Olympic Men’s Gold Medal Game: August 11

(Both will be aired by NBC on or about August 15)

EPL Kick-Off: August 18
La Liga Kick-Off: August 19
Seria A Kick-Off: August 25

Let the excitement begin!

RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: July 31, 2012 at 10:35 AM | 1942 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Mattbert Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4202174)
The dream of Leandro is like the dream of finishing above Arsenal...it seems realistic enough to hope for, but alas. Less that 2 weeks until Newcastle and I guess it will be Defoe leading the line. Blargh!

I think Damiao is a pipe dream, but I have sneaky suspicion that Adebayor will be wrapped up before the season opener.

Gazzetta is "reporting" Bologna are asking €20M for Gaston Ramirez. That's a decent bargain for somebody.

Arsenal have confirmed the Cazorla signing, reportedly for even less than Ramirez's asking price. A bloody steal for the Goons.

In more great press for Liverpool, their shirt sponsor has gotten itself into a spot of bother with the US authorities. Oopsie.
   202. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4202175)
Maybe they just need to get used to the idea, is what I'm saying.

I'm a little puzzled why you are so enthusiastic about the Team GB thing. I'm generally against any more homogenization of local identities than we already have so I like that Wales and NI and Scotland do their own thing.
   203. Mattbert Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4202177)
I figure most English fans don't really know the difference anyway, and would love to have some of those Welsh and Scottish players come World Cup time.

English fans are acutely aware of the difference. To the extent that they wish they had players from the other home nations, they just wish those players were English.
   204. zack Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4202179)
Maybe they just need to get used to the idea, is what I'm saying. I get that the Scots hate the English....but do the Welsh and the Northern Irish? Hell, the Northern Irish are actually actively pro-English as a political reality, if I understand things correctly. I think my point was that if at least other home nation fans got to see Team GBR win a major international trophy they might warm to the idea a bit. I figure most English fans don't really know the difference anyway, and would love to have some of those Welsh and Scottish players come World Cup time.


Are you trying to write a textbook on (uh, imperial?) privilege? I don't know how much is actually left and how much is just historical, but that's kind of the point...we don't get to make that determination. The last sentence is especially bad.

Fortunately this is just soccer, so who really cares, it was just striking to me.
   205. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:46 AM (#4202180)
English fans are acutely aware of the difference. To the extent that they wish they had players from the other home nations, they just wish those players were English.

I think 'Arry thought Bales's name was actually "Too bad he's not English".
   206. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4202190)
   207. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4202195)
Some final thoughts from last night/Canada in general:
- I don't know if this tournament has changed my opinion of any player as much as it has of Melissa Tancredi. In the past, I've always thought of her as a hold-over from an older Canada, a bulldog who wasn't much on the ball, and someone who just got playing time because her backups (most notably Kaylyn Kyle) just weren't very good (Jonelle Feligno aside). While she should have probably been sent off in the final, throughout this tournament, she's had a great first though, a wonderful connection with Sinclair, and has repeatedly served up great crosses.
- Desiree Scott has been tremendous for Canada. She's great at breaking up opposing attacks and sets the tempo phenomenally from the base of the midfield. She's definitely up there with the best defensive midfielders in the world.
- Scott's great performance really highlighted, for me, the US' weakness in that area. With Boxx out, they keep getting caught up-field (Carli Lloyd really does lack the discipline necessary for that position) and their attacks seem overly fast-paced and disjoint. There's a lack of control in the way they play that is often there when Boxx plays and can set the tempo, as well as provide the link from the defense to the offense. Why didn't Sundhage include a replacement for Boxx (Meghan Klingenberg?) instead of all the attacking players in the squad?
- I want Ali Krieger back.
- I'm afraid to see Aya Miyama against Kelley O'Hara.
- The Cheney-Lloyd axis in the center of the midfield really feels very redundant. Cheney isn't a particularly good defender and while she's an excellent passer, they either don't want to utilize her or Carli Lloyd is already filling her role. Either way, the team looks much better when Tobin Heath is in the middle instead of her (Heath's a better defender, for one, and certainly a better dribbler). Then again, I'm a card-carrying member of the Tobin Heath Fanclub, so I'm probably wrong on this :p. Either way, against Sawa-Sakaguchi, they need to be a LOT more disciplined defensively.
- Sauerbrunn is a lot more composed than Buehler at the back. She's slower, but more composure might be more useful against the Japanese forwards. I doubt Sundhage is going to change her backline, though.
- John Herdman is coach of the tournament for me. Canada have been playing out of their mind for the last couple of months, culminating in this tournament. Given that personnel-wise and stylistically there's not all that much different about this Canada squad, I'm not sure what the difference is (maybe all of Herdman's team-building stuff?). I'm also curious to see if Canada is genuinely this good or if they're just temporarily playing out of their skins.
- I'm a lot more pessimistic about our chances against Japan this time around. The defense was far from good against Canada and there's an absence of positional and defensive discipline all over the midfield. We'll have to solidify a lot in order to beat Japan who, in all fairness, haven't played near their best this tournament either.
- Germany must be really, really upset that they aren't at the Olympics. Even the side we saw at the Women's World Cup (which played well below their level) could probably beat both the US and Japan on their current form.

EDIT: erm, that was a lot longer/more pretentious than I intended. Sorry.
   208. zack Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4202208)
- The Cheney-Lloyd axis in the center of the midfield really feels very redundant. Cheney isn't a particularly good defender and while she's an excellent passer, they either don't want to utilize her or Carli Lloyd is already filling her role. Either way, the team looks much better when Tobin Heath is in the middle instead of her (Heath's a better defender, for one, and certainly a better dribbler). Then again, I'm a card-carrying member of the Tobin Heath Fanclub, so I'm probably wrong on this :p. Either way, against Sawa-Sakaguchi, they need to be a LOT more disciplined defensively.


I thought Heath looked like one of the worst players in the France game (well, other than the entire back line), consistently giving up possession against very little pressure. Was that just early-tournament jitters (or my mistaken impression)? It's clear she's one of the best dribblers on the team in the snippets I've seen.

The US seems to be relying on brute athleticism a little too much this tournament. Which makes some sense when you have the best atheletes, but it's not like they're lacking for skill either. I wonder when they'll have their Hungary '53/ summit series game.
   209. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4202213)
I thought Heath looked like one of the worst players in the France game (well, other than the entire back line), consistently giving up possession against very little pressure. Was that just early-tournament jitters (or my mistaken impression)?

Heath has something of a history of dribbling into the corners and losing possession. In that game, she was particularly bad - ordinarily, she skirts the line between "that was amazing!" and "ack, we get that you can dribble, stop overdoing it!". I find that when she plays in the middle (as opposed to the flank), she passes first (instead of dribbling first), which really improves her overall skill (like many great dribblers, she's very aware of how good she is, which means she normally does it too much). That might just be my interpretation, though. Regardless, I don't think she's been qualitatively worse than Lauren Cheney this tournament and will at least provide something sufficiently different to Carli Lloyd in the middle (as well as some defensive skill, which Cheney, whose natural position is actually higher up on the pitch, is less capable of).

I wonder when they'll have their Hungary '53/ summit series game.

The only potential problem with this is that the US also has the best-developed youth infrastructure for women's soccer in the world. This particular team might end up losing to someone far worse/some team on the rise in a shocker, but the only result will be Pia getting fired, a lot of the older players (Boxx, Lepeilbet, Rampone, etc) being pushed from the side and a new, more modern style implemented (which will only be a good thing, frankly). I don't think, in women's football, the US can ever reach a serious "high water mark" because they have so many really talented players who don't even sniff the national team or bench-warm or are forced into other positions, so if they ever seriously fail, they will just revamp and go into the next tournament still with more overall talent than any other nation (Germany potentially excepted). At least that's what I'd guess.
   210. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4202214)
The US seems to be relying on brute athleticism a little too much this tournament. Which makes some sense when you have the best atheletes, but it's not like they're lacking for skill either. I wonder when they'll have their Hungary '53/ summit series game.

I'd agree the team needs a better manager. The defense is a mess and the offensive game is undisciplined and helter-skelter. As well as they do, you can't help but think they should be doing even better.
   211. I am going to be Frank Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4202218)
The US relies a little too much on route 1 football. Between hoofing it long so Morgan can chase or at Wambach to knock down. Admittedly it works - Morgan and Wambach are both very good at getting and controlling those balls.

Why is it that the men and women can't seem to find good defenders?
   212. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4202223)
I'd agree the team needs a better manager.
Weren't we discussing in some thread what the next step for 'Arry could be? I think I've found it.
   213. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4202227)
I get that the Scots hate the English....but do the Welsh and the Northern Irish?


Umm, perhaps you have heard of the IRA.
   214. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4202228)
It doesn't really bother me, it's just odd. The UK is a country. The USA doesn't have separate teams for California and Texas. Italy doesn't have separate teams for Sicily and Puglia. It stymies my sense of congruity. If Scotland and Wales want their own soccer teams, they can revolt and form their own countries. If Northern Irish fans want one, they can move to Belfast.

I suppose it must seem like I'm just trolling at this point, but it generally is confusing to me. One country, one team, like the rest of the world!
   215. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4202231)
Weren't we discussing in some thread what the next step for 'Arry could be? I think I've found it.

'Arry in charge of the USWNT would be hilariously fun. They've already got the Just ####### Run Around part down so he wouldn't have much work to do, really.
   216. Mefisto Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4202244)
I agree with most of 207-211. I can't stand Heath out wide; she's awful there. She did seem much better in the center, but I'd need to see more of her there.

I see a LOT of the young talent in SoCal via the girls club I've run. Most of it just gets wasted because the national development program is so geared towards Route 1 football. Smaller, speedy, skilled players get ignored both for ODP and for college programs. It's a real shame -- the US could be just as successful and yet play a much more attractive style.
   217. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4202245)
Umm, perhaps you have heard of the IRA.

Right, but Republicans are the minority in NI.
   218. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM (#4202251)
VIVA MEXICO!

   219. Mattbert Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4202268)
Jonathan Wilson wonders about the respective lots of African and Asian football.
To an extent, the sense of a breakthrough was illusory. Where African football has developed over the past decade or so is in widening the base. The likes of Angola and Togo can qualify for the World Cup, Zambia can win the Cup of Nations but, for all the great African players playing at the highest level in Europe, the thought of an African team winning the World Cup seems no closer now than it did in 1990 when Cameroon became the first side from the region to reach the quarter-finals.

Asia's base is much narrower and, while the total is increasing, there are far fewer Asian players playing in the world's top leagues than Africans. But Japan and South Korea both have established domestic leagues and a coaching infrastructure; there is a clear route for development that doesn't involve the discomforting practice of agents hawking teenagers around mid-ranking clubs on a different continent.

European coaches who worked in Japan – the likes of Philippe Troussier and Ivica Osim – used to complain about "android football", the sense that the game was learned but not felt, that players were disciplined but lacked initiative or imagination. To an extent that was Japan's undoing against a dogged Paraguay in the last World Cup: lots of neat passing but little in the way of penetration. A new generation that has grown up with the J-League – that has assimilated football from an early age – is beginning to change that.
   220. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4202272)
If Scotland and Wales want their own soccer teams, they can revolt and form their own countries.
Well, the Scots are working on it. And so are--at least some of--the Welsh.
   221. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4202273)
Right, but Republicans are the minority in NI.


Never said they weren't. You asked if the Welsh and Northern Irish hate England. The answer is, yes, some of them most definitely do.

It doesn't really bother me, it's just odd. The UK is a country. The USA doesn't have separate teams for California and Texas.


Because California and Texas aren't their own countries.

If Scotland and Wales want their own soccer teams, they can revolt and form their own countries. If Northern Irish fans want one, they can move to Belfast.


Scotland and Wales are their own countries, and Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Plus wanting their own soccer teams is the reason why Scots and Northern Irish players sat out the Olympics. That's how we got to this conversation.
   222. zack Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:30 PM (#4202279)
I don't think, in women's football, the US can ever reach a serious "high water mark" because they have so many really talented players who don't even sniff the national team or bench-warm or are forced into other positions, so if they ever seriously fail, they will just revamp and go into the next tournament still with more overall talent than any other nation (Germany potentially excepted).


I was thinking along the lines of the latter bit. I didn't mean they'd be finished (nor do I think the England men are), just that at some point a team is just going to pass circles around them and force them to play a more refined style.

One country, one team, like the rest of the world!


But what is a country? The Faroe Islands are an autonomous country but also under the protection of Denmark. Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth of the US. Guam is a not-self governing territory of the US. Bermuda is a non-self governing overseas territory of the UK. According to China, Taiwan is not an autonomous country. Hong Kong is a special region of China. Palestine is whatever the hell it is. All of these nations have football associations and national soccer teams.

But anyway the IOC agrees with you.
   223. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4202303)
agh, I meant move to Dublin. That was dumb.

Anyway, consider me convinced. Arguement over, I lose.
   224. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4202310)
Finally saw the Tancredi head stomp on Lloyd from yesterday. Now I don't feel bad at all about the questionable calls going the US's way.
   225. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4202312)
Heh, was about to post something similar.
   226. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4202315)
Dos Santos already out?!
   227. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4202316)
Dos Santos already out?!

Weird. He was creating chances. He scuffed his two open shots, but he was still dangerous all half.
   228. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4202317)
Finally saw the Tancredi head stomp on Lloyd from yesterday. Now I don't feel bad at all about the questionable calls going the US's way.

Me, too. She got away with murder all game so her complaints about the ref being biased ring very hollow to my ears.
   229. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4202320)
"The first 20 minutes looked like All Japan," -Broadcaster

Kenta Kobashi ran out on the field and suplexed Dos Santos on his head.
   230. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4202321)
This would be a pretty good WBC semis too.
   231. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4202324)
I want the bowling pin-esque hat that Japanese fan had. Awesome.
   232. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4202325)
And that is why I don't root for Mexico.
   233. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4202329)
NICE CAMERAWORK THERE NBC!!! LOVE MISSING GOALS
   234. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4202330)
Wow, horrendous turnover.
   235. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4202333)
Indifferent defense too. Nice work by Peralta
   236. Mefisto Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4202336)
I just saw that stomp; completely missed it last night. That deserves a suspension, and she just lost all sympathy from me.
   237. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4202337)
Lots of nice one touch passing by Japan.
   238. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4202350)
Fat lady's singing. Viva Mexico!

Can't below the number of empty seats at Wembley. Such a shame.
   239. Swedish Chef Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4202379)
NICE CAMERAWORK THERE NBC!!! LOVE MISSING GOALS

Don't blame NBC, nobody in the world got to see that.
   240. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4202397)
I was thinking along the lines of the latter bit. I didn't mean they'd be finished (nor do I think the England men are), just that at some point a team is just going to pass circles around them and force them to play a more refined style.

Oh, okay. I definitely agree with that and, if I had to guess the team, I'd put my money on the French.
   241. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4202443)
Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth of the US. Guam is a not-self governing territory of the US.


Don't want to hijack the thread, but just wanted to note that I find Puerto Rico having it's own team bemusing and Guam's flat silly.
   242. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4202446)
Don't want to hijack the thread, but just wanted to note that I find Puerto Rico having it's own team bemusing

I, for one, never tire of seeing the Puerto Rico Islanders in the CONCACAF Champions League.
   243. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4202468)
Don't want to hijack the thread, but just wanted to note that I find Puerto Rico having it's own team bemusing and Guam's flat silly.


Or that white guy Bill Gaudette is their keeper.
   244. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4202550)
They ... are better than Scotland right now.

So's Gabon.
   245. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4202562)
No idea how South Korea didn't get that penalty, the Brazilian defender didn't make it hard at all to see.
   246. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4202575)
Don't want to hijack the thread, but just wanted to note that I find Puerto Rico having it's own team bemusing and Guam's flat silly.
I think far-and-away the silliest is that Guadeloupe sort-of, but not really, has their own club. If the next Messi is born in Guadeloupe*, he would play for France in the World Cup (and the European Championship) but he could also play for Guadeloupe in the Gold Cup, assuming they hadn't played for France in the past five years. It's just bizarre.

*Odd of this happening: Not great
   247. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4202621)
Hey, it could happen. Lilian Thuram, Ronald Zubar and Pascal Chimbonda are from Guadeloupe. Dmitri Payet is from Réunion. Florent Malouda was born and grew up in the ambiguous locale of French Guiana. Heck, Cristiano Ronaldo could be playing for the Portuguese equivalent of the Faroe Islands if the Madeiras were considered a nation by FIFA.
   248. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 06:21 PM (#4202713)
#### is flying around the twitters about Leandro and Spurs... now it's up at the Guardian, though it's just "they believe they are close to a deal."

Add Leandro, get the Modric situation settled, and this is a top 4 club.
   249. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 07, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4202723)
#### is flying around the twitters about Leandro and Spurs... now it's up at the Guardian, though it's just "they believe they are close to a deal."

Now is the time to act. All the big boys are currently distracted by Llorente announcing he wants to leave Athletic. Levy, get them in a room and don't let them leave until they sign a piece of paper. DO IT! DO IT NOW!
   250. Mefisto Posted: August 07, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4202752)
Soccer "moneyball" discussion here.
   251. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 08:26 AM (#4202979)
Sunil Gulati on the the state of Women's pro soccer in the US

Gulati is useless so I wouldn't expect him to get anything done. It must be worth it to some corporate sponsors to help establish a woman's league, no? I'm thinking two leagues initially to make travel as easy as possible--one west coast and one in the northeast--with the two champions meeting in a Super Bowl type event at the end of the year.

West Coast:
Vancouver
Seattle
Portland
San Francisco
LA
San Diego

East Coast:
Toronto
Boston
New York
Buffalo/Upstate New York
Philly
Baltimore/D.C.
   252. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 08:47 AM (#4202990)
Shouldn't a women's club league be affiliated to MLS? They could use the same stadiums, same team names - like sporting clubs in Europe. Infrastructure is the killer cost for starting a league, and if they just affiliated to MLS, that would solve a lot of the problems.
   253. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 09:03 AM (#4203002)
Shouldn't a women's club league be affiliated to MLS? They could use the same stadiums, same team names - like sporting clubs in Europe. Infrastructure is the killer cost for starting a league, and if they just affiliated to MLS, that would solve a lot of the problems.

Maybe, but the MLS will need to step up and I think that might limit the markets they could move into. There was a decent women's pro league independent of the NBA until the WNBA and I think it could be argued the NBA jumping in didn't help women's pro basketball at all. They would have been better off finding their own markets independent of the NBA which they were in the process of doing until the NBA jumped in and killed the process. Certainly if MLS clubs want to buy a franchise they should be allowed to, though. Beggars can't be choosers, but I think the control of the league should be independent of the MLS. I think you run the risk of being the MLS' annoying side project if you function under their umbrella.
   254. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 09:05 AM (#4203004)
I think you run the risk of being the MLS' annoying side project if you function under their umbrella.
That's a good point. It's more important that the league can do what's best for the league than that the league can defray a bunch of infrastructure costs.
   255. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4203008)
That's a good point. It's more important that the league can do what's best for the league than that the league can defray a bunch of infrastructure costs.

They really deserve a league and I'd certainly go see games in New York if they ever start a team here. It would be a lot of fun to kick start something like this. Talk about a dream job!
   256. zack Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4203054)
Arjun is the one to ask about women's soccer, but I followed WPS a little bit because of the WNY Flash, the club from my hometown that won the WPS last year and the zombie WPS this year.

I think the first question to ask is why WUSA and the WPS* both failed, and failed quickly. I think it's extremely unlikely that a women's soccer league could consistently fill MLS size stadiums, and would be better off using 2nd and 3rd tier club stadiums, some of which are in large metropolitan areas. Both former leagues used almost exclusively smaller college stadiums, only the short-lived Chicago team used an MLS stadium. The W-league has been kickin' it for 15 years, and they play mostly in high school stadiums I think.

I think a real problem is paying the athletes enough, the national team players probably get more from the NTDP, and having the NTDP play directly in the league (as happens in hockey, for one) might be too unbalancing. I read somewhere that Marta now makes $400,000 after moving to a Swedish league, but I think that might be more than the rest of the team combined.

*Probably because they had a team named magicJack. Just magicJack.
   257. zack Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4203058)
For example, from that site I posted last month, here are the attendance numbers from last year (no idea how accurate they are):

WOMEN’S PROFESSIONAL SOCCER            G       Total         Avg.
Western New York Flash                       9      43,925        4,881
Atlanta Beat                                 9      43
,559        4,840
Boston Breakers                              9      39
,992        4,444
Philadelphia Independence                    9      24
,970        2,774
Sky Blue FC                                  9      19
,239        2,138
magicJack                                    9      18
,299        2,033
WPS TOTAL                                   54     189
,984        3,518

               W
-LEAGUE                     G       Total         Avg.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC                       7       8,805        1,258
DC United Women                              5       4
,016          803
Charlotte Lady Eagles                        5       2
,718          544
Seattle Sounders                             7       3
,800          543
Long Island Rough Riders                     5       2
,149          430
Virginia Beach Piranhas                      5       2
,065          413
Santa Clarita Blue Heat                      7       2
,883          412
Atlanta Silverbacks                          5       1
,851          370
Quebec City Amiral                           6       2
,209          368
Northern Virginia Majestics                  5       1
,732          346
Fredericksburg Impact                        5       1
,656          331
Victoria Highlanders                         7       1
,867          267
Dayton Dutch Lions                           3         761          254
Ottawa Fury                                  6       1
,523          254
LA Strikers                                  5       1
,236          247
Colorado Rush                                7       1
,681          240
Rochester Ravens                             6       1
,385          231
Colorado Force                               7       1
,537          220
Laval Comets                                 6       1
,239          207
North Jersey Valkyries                       5         979          196
Hamilton FC Rage                             6       1
,018          170
New Jersey Wildcats                          4         602          151
Pali Blues                                   6         686          114
New York Magic                               1         112          112
London Gryphons                              6         650          108
New Jersey Rangers                           5         513          103
Toronto Lady Lynx                            6         480           80
W
-LEAGUE TOTAL                             148      50,153          339 


WPS drew pretty good crowds, probably the largest ever for women's soccer in the US, and failed hard. Way to support the ladies, Toronto.
   258. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4203062)
I read somewhere that Marta now makes $400,000 after moving to a Swedish league, but I think that might be more than the rest of the team combined.

Yes, there are very few pros in the Swedish league and no economy for more, but the chance to get Marta is quite irresistible for club presidents.

About the other issue, in Sweden there is very little overlap between the clubs that play men's and women's soccer at the elite level.
   259. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4203064)
My own take on the WPS and the current W-League, WPSL situation from an older thread (http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/bill_james_mailbag_-_6_5_12):

post 41:
Right now, it's been mismanagement, low turnout, and high salaries that have prevented women's soccer from surviving. The WPS shut down partially because of the Dan Borislow mess (mismanagement. And legal stuff), partially because they couldn't fill stadiums (and they play in college arenas! Here, Western New York are the possible exception, which says more about Rochester, famous as the home of Abby Wambach, than women's soccer, I'm afraid. So, low turnout) and partially because the top stars in women's soccer just demand salaries beyond the scope of the league, with the possible exception of the Flash (Marta, for example, was signed by the Sol three years ago, for $1.5 million. The Sol collapsed [after winning the regular season and losing in the final], she moved to FC Gold Pride [still on the same contract], who collapsed after winning the championship, then moved to Western New York, who won the championship before the WPS collapsed this spring. It's not really a coincidence that either a) all of her teams were better than everyone and b) they all [with the exception of the Flash] collapsed). It says something that the new women's leagues currently in operation (W-League and WPSL Elite) are dominated by the teams with a few US/foreign nationals (Seattle Sounders Women, Pali Blues, Boston, NY Fury, the new WNY Flash), but don't have ANY/very few (the Sounders are the exception here, but their costs are partially covered by the MLS club and they're in Seattle, so they actually sell tickets. Besides, they have Solo, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux) superstars, so they have lower costs and can afford fewer fans. The level of the sport is lower, though.

We don't really have anything like the Frauen-Bundesliga (Frankfurt, Duisburg, and Turbine Potsdam, among others, are all excellent, superstar-playing teams), Damallsvenskan (it's actually really good. And competitive) or other European leagues (women's Olympique Lyonnais might be the greatest team on the Earth) here, sadly.


post 47 (by "puck"):
Aren't these mostly funded by the parent teams? I also thought they were closer to semi-pro than what the WPS and WUSA were trying to do. Edit: but not as low on the semi-pro scale as W-league and WPSL-Elite; I did not mean to imply that.


post 51:
Depends on the team. For the majority of the teams, yeah, but some of the more successful ones make their own money (I'm thinking of Potsdam explicitly here, though I think this is true for some of Damallsvenskan teams).

note: I mean Tyreso, Malmo and a couple of others here
and
I don't think this is true. Salaries (at least for the top teams. These *are* bigger [EDIT: i.e. they have more teams] leagues than the WPS ever was) are higher in the Frauen-Bundesliga and Damallsvenskan than here and they've had a lot more success at recruiting the top players globally (it says something that, when the WPS collapsed, Marta went to Tyreso in Sweden [though her salary was mostly paid by sponsors - the kind of sponsors that, after their initial years, the WPS and WUSA struggled to get]). Many European leagues are a lot closer to semi-pro (WSL in England, for example), but the Frauen-Bundesliga, Damallsvenskan, and Division 1 Feminine are fully professional, afaik (the former two a lot closer to the quality of the WPS, though. France is basically Lyon, Juvisy, and a lot of randoms). The current US set-up (W-League/WPSL Elite) is semi-pro, though.


note: a lot of the Swedish/French league players *do* have to have second jobs to support themselves, so in that context, they're less than fully professional, I guess

that might be a bit useless out of context, but hope it helps - I can go more in-depth as to my own opinion (I imagine Mefisto will be very useful to ask, also) if you want :)
   260. zack Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4203066)
And to cap-off the triple post, in that article they ask Gulati about the possibility of making the women's world cup biannual, and he says:

"You can't create world championships where they don't exist," says Gulati, who's also a FIFA insider. "I think having the Olympics and the world championship is different from the men's side, where you've got top pro leagues and the European Championship and Copa Libertadores and all those things. You can't manufacture growth of the [women's] game. So it's going to take time"


Which is basically saying "We don't want to spend a dime more on women's soccer". The only reason the World Cup hasn't money-grubbed it's way to annual competition is that it would kill the men. The women don't have that concern, since the whole article is about how they have no where to play.
   261. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4203073)
WPS drew pretty good crowds, probably the largest ever for women's soccer in the US, and failed hard. Way to support the ladies, Toronto.

It would be a challenge, no doubt. It would take a partnership between sponsors, maybe a channel like NBC Sports and some trial and error on what markets might have the greatest appetites. I would love to try this...with other people's money, of course.
   262. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4203075)
Which is basically saying "We don't want to spend a dime more on women's soccer". The only reason the World Cup hasn't money-grubbed it's way to annual competition is that it would kill the men. The women don't have that concern, since the whole article is about how they have no where to play.

I thought that was an odd response, too, since there's a clearly a lot of interest here in the Women's WC. It's like he can't be arsed about it which is why I think a new league will just about have to pretend the USSF and FIFA don't exist except as obstacles to overcome. Maybe let Sepp Blatter design the short-shorts or something to make him feel included.
   263. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4203090)
Also some useful links (from my favorite women's soccer sites):
http://equalizersoccer.com/2012/05/28/gulati-all-comers-invited-to-womens-pro-soccer-roundtable-on-future-direction-of-the-game/ Gulati in May. The comments are pretty hilarious.

Fake Sigi on a new women's league (with a link to Peter Wilt's proposal from last year. I like this rebuttal personally):
https://soccer.fakesigi.com/building_a_better_womens_soccer_league.html
Bonnie Ford takes a stab at it last year:
http://espn.go.com/espnw/commentary/7349329/why-put-women-soccer-stage-fail
Jenna Pei on the same topic:
http://www.allwhitekit.com/?p=8389

New England Mutiny player Ciara McCormack (she has an awesome blog, I would read it if I were you) ranting a bit:
http://girlscansocceradventures.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/womens-soccer-if-you-cant-do-it-right-dont-do-it-at-all/
http://girlscansocceradventures.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/left-behind-a-prediction-in-ten-years-w-no-womens-pro-league/
   264. Topher Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4203103)
If you actually want a women's league to succeed, the first thing you need to do is transform that god-awful atrocity they call a "kit". You need uniforms that promote a more female aesthetic. Tigher shorts, perhaps something that resembles a volleyball uniform.

I'd really like to know what the demographic breakdowns are with Zack's numbers. To me it is important to know if there is any effort in trying to sell tickets to a single adult male or if that is still somewhat of a lost cause. If it is not a lost cause -- and the optimist in me thinks we might be there -- I'm not sure that it makes sense to have franchises in the major cities that were typical of WPS. How many Boston weekends would a WPS ticket be in the top 5 entertainment options? Top 10? Now if you are just looking for the stereotypical women/children audience that might change things but let's assume you can sell tickets to men without children. I think there are too many other options for men to get them to buy tickets in the major markets; it's not that they won't buy tickets, but it isn't the preferred option. To me, the Rochester model looks to be the most sustainable. I say this without prejudice, what else are you going to do in Rochester? Choose AA/AAA baseball towns where women's soccer would normally be on the front page of the Sports section (assuming they still publish daily). This is just off the top of my head, but a city like Des Moines or Wichita seems like it might be a better target than Boston. Or go for 2nd city instead of the primary one. WPS would be a bigger deal in Colorado Springs than Denver and I'm guessing the Colorado Springs population would be much more likely to attend games 10 minutes away than making the 90 minute drive to Denver. Cost of living is typically less in those cities as well and that should help a tiny bit with the lack of wages the women are likely to receive.
   265. Topher Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4203117)
To use myself as an example. I'm in the 18-35 male demographic and do not have any kids. I live in Minneapolis. I like women's basketball. I have attended two NCAA women's Final Fours. I like the Minnesota Lynx. I almost never go to their games. There are better things for me to do, such as go to Twins games, and even when there aren't that many better options ... I don't suffer through the Minnesota winters so that I can spend my summers indoors!
   266. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4203121)
To me, the Rochester model looks to be the most sustainable. I say this without prejudice, what else are you going to do in Rochester?
I would probably agree with this, actually. Rochester's been a really good city for women's soccer, though, as I think I've theorized before, this may be somewhat because Abby Wambach is a bit of a local celebrity (she never played in Rochester, but I know a few people from Rochester who were very informed about women's soccer because they heard of/liked her, and so went to see the Flash). When MagicJack (Wambach's club at the time) visited the Flash, for example, they drew 15,404, but this was also the first game after the Women's World Cup, so it is difficult to isolate specific effects. I'd personally theorize it was both, given that other teams receieved much smaller bumps in attendance after the WWC.

Just to add some more thoughts onto the pile, it's useful to note that the Seattle Sounders Women have drawn very well. There are two mitigating factors, however: first, it's Seattle. They love their football. Second (and more importantly), they've only drawn a lot in games where their marquee players (Morgan, Solo, Rapinoe) were expected to play. Once they left for training camp for the USWNT, the attendance dropped (I think). This was an issue that was brought up in one of the articles I linked. Anyway, just something to think about :)

EDIT: Also, for the record, I totally disagree with the "make the shorts tighter" bit Topher mentioned above.
   267. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4203139)
I'd agree that putting teams in second tier cities without other major league teams could be attractive, but I wouldn't cut off the major cities completely. Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and San Francisco all seem like they could be strong markets for a women's league, for example.
   268. zack Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4203173)
Rochester (wooooooo!) has historically out-drawn it's size in soccer, dating back to the NASL Lancers. It'd be tenuous to extrapolate from that one example. But I do agree that smaller, preferably soccer-specific and professional stadiums are the ideal location. It'd also help to start out small and grow from there, but both of those factors run counter to the fact that they make it harder to meet the salaries that the stars will demand, and if you want to go anywhere you need to have the faces of the national team prominently featured.

I say this without prejudice, what else are you going to do in Rochester?


In ascending order, the (lacrosse) Rattlers, (indoor lacrosse) Knighthawks, (soccer) Rhinos, (hockey) Amerks, and (milb) Red Wings all out-draw the (women's soccer) Flash. Rochester is also atypical in that it has no D-I college sports other than RIT hockey, the universities in the area are learnin' schools.

You need uniforms that promote a more female aesthetic. Tigher shorts, perhaps something that resembles a volleyball uniform.


Has 'make the clothes tighter!' ever succeeded for any women's sport, ever? Beach volleyball, maybe. It's always the first, and usually last, suggestion. You kind-of denigrate the "moms and daughters" demographic as...unloyal I guess, but that is and should be the core demographic for women's soccer. You know how many girls play soccer?
   269. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4203175)
There really should be one in Western Mass. Amherst/Northampton could probably support a team on their own, maybe you'd have to put it in Holyoke or Springfield or Pittsfield, though.
   270. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4203183)
You need uniforms that promote a more female aesthetic. Tigher shorts, perhaps something that resembles a volleyball uniform.

Has 'make the clothes tighter!' ever succeeded for any women's sport, ever? Beach volleyball, maybe. It's always the first, and usually last, suggestion. You kind-of denigrate the "moms and daughters" demographic as...unloyal I guess, but that is and should be the core demographic for women's soccer. You know how many girls play soccer?
Seriously. I really don't know any female athletes who find their uniforms unfit for a "female aesthetic". That seems to be double-speak for "better for male ogling", which is as you say, a terrible idea.
   271. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4203193)
note: a lot of the Swedish/French league players *do* have to have second jobs to support themselves, so in that context, they're less than fully professional, I guess

I downloaded the detailed analysis of the Swedish league's economy from the Swedish FA. 2011 the 14 clubs paid a total of 23M SEK in player salaries, which is roughly $200K per club. So, yeah, apart from a couple of high-profile players, nobody makes a living on playing in that league.
   272. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4203218)
I downloaded the detailed analysis of the Swedish league's economy from the Swedish FA. 2011 the 14 clubs paid a total of 23M SEK in player salaries, which is roughly $200K per club. So, yeah, apart from a couple of high-profile players, nobody makes a living on playing in that league.

I'm really amazed that this exists. Good for you Swedish FA. Just some questions purely for the sake of curiosity (since you have the numbers and I can't seem to figure out how to download them for myself): the Damallsvenskan has twelve teams, so does this figure include the relegated teams from the year before/promoted teams for the next year? Also, is there any idea of the distribution of salaries by club given? It'd be really interesting to see how much of an effect the salaries of Tyreso, Malmo, Goteborg etc. have on the overall league. Thanks anyway, that's awesome information!
   273. Topher Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:10 PM (#4203234)
Really? The "tighter shorts", "volleyball", "promote a more female aesthetic" are direct quotes from Sepp.

Shame on you guys for not picking up on that.

[edit] Shame on me for combining a tongue-in-cheek post with a serious one.
   274. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4203241)
the Damallsvenskan has twelve teams, so does this figure include the relegated teams from the year before/promoted teams for the next year? Also, is there any idea of the distribution of salaries by club given?

Ooops, I should have counted on 12 teams, I was hypnotized by there being 14 teams in the table, so they pay $270K or so in salary per team.

I don't have salary figures per team but I have total expenses in KSEK ($1=7SEK):

LdB FC Malmö      15 536    10 428
Tyresö FF         11 928    7 918
Linköpings FC       7 890   7 541
Kopparb/Göteborgs FC 7 355  6 324
Piteå IF         6 889    Div 1
KIF Örebro DFF   6 710    5 615
Umeå IK FF       6 599    8 285
Kristianstads DFF 4 851   3 754
Hammarby IF DFF  4 756    4 124
Dalsjöfors GoIF  4 157    Div 1
Jitex BK        3 816    3 564
Djurgården IF DFF 3 762   2 627


First figure 2011, second 2010.
   275. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4203242)
Okay, awesome, thanks! Pretty interesting stuff and pretty much the expected distribution of expenses that one would predict. (EDIT: although I wonder why Umea are the only team to have their expenses drop from 2010 to 2011. Maybe some player came off their books that year or something?)

Really? The "tighter shorts", "volleyball", "promote a more female aesthetic" are direct quotes from Sepp.

Oh, ha, I have no idea how I missed that.
   276. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4203247)
So..thinking about Damiao, I think the only clubs he can go to besides Spurs, realistically, are Juventus, Man U and Chelsea. No one else has the cash, the need or the room for a non-EU player (I'm looking at you Milan). A Portuguese manager, his best friend established and happy with the club, no other big clubs in for him, and a presumption that the spending next summer won't be nearly as big because of the perceived ramifications of FFP and a similar and more highly regarded player in Fernando Llorente making himself available means it is now or never for Spurs. I'm just wondering now how they'll #### this up.
   277. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4203248)
although I wonder why Umea are the only team to have their expenses drop from 2010 to 2011.

They were close to bankruptcy and had to cut costs.
   278. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4203250)
I think we need to look at it from both ends, player and club. I'll do that using specific examples; understand that because I'm doing so I will be very careful not to offend anyone.

Let's take a "typical" WPS player. I'll use Ali Riley as the example. I assume you all know who she is: left back on the NZ national team, played for Rochester in the WPS. She's a good solid player, but not a WPS star like Wambach, Morgan, Marta, etc. I'm using her because I know her and her family very well. She came from my club and played on my daughter's team for 3 years (her father would phrase that the other way :)).

Ali's a smart kid. Her father is a professor of economics at UCLA, her mother went to Harvard. Ali attended Harvard-Westlake, the top private school in LA, and graduated from Stanford with a 3.8 GPA. Think about what this means in terms of salary. She could make good money in lots of jobs. If she's going to play soccer professionally, she may be willing to give up some of that for the fun and the opportunity, but there are limits to that. She's probably not going to play for $12,500/year. That puts a real constraint on what a professional league can pay its players.

Now let's look at the Pali Blues. They practice and play at Pali High. That used to be my club's practice field until we found one we prefer about 10 years ago. The problem from our perspective is that it's very hard to get to. That made it difficult for us to attract players who had to make the commute, and it's similarly hard for the Blues to gain spectators (see the numbers in 257). The commute times on the Westside of LA are a real problem, even putting aside how many other things there are to do here.

The Blues have tried very hard to generate fans within the local soccer community. A few years ago they offered our club (the largest and most successful on the Westside) a deal on tickets in an effort to get the kids and parents out to the games. Basically, each kid went once (I'm exaggerating, but it's close to that). It was a novelty for them, but not an attraction (if that makes sense). Part of this, again, goes back to the other options available in LA. But part of it is that girls just aren't as willing to watch games as boys are. All of us here watch sports all the time. My experience with the girls in the club, including my own daughter, is that no matter how much they're dedicated to playing, they won't spend much time watching professional or other games. This is true whether it's the Pali Blues, the very good UCLA team, the Galaxy, or the EPL on TV. And, of course, young boys won't watch the girls play because they're, well, girls.

If I were to locate a women's professional team in SoCal, I'd probably try to find a small field in an accessible area of Orange County. It's the center of what is the largest population of girls soccer in the whole country. Even then, there's plenty of competition from other sports and entertainment. The other option might be a relatively isolated area like Santa Barbara, which supports good girls soccer (and has some fine college players). That would be similar to Rochester. It would have the attraction for the players of living in Santa Barbara and might make up for the limited salaries the league could then offer.

The other thing a league requires is stability. It takes a while to develop a fan base and loyalty. That means many players are going to have to play for low wages for a long time in order to create those. Think MLB in the 19th C. Any new league will need the long term commitment or else it's just a novelty.
   279. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4203251)
Steven Fletcher handed in his transfer request making Martin O'Neill's 12 million pound dream that much closer to reality. Ellis Short is going to be a poor man by the time he leaves England...
   280. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4203265)
I tried to figure out once if there are any countries in the entire world where the average pro soccer player does not make more money than the average adult male of soccer-playing age. Finland was the only one I could conclusively say yes (aside from all the places where there is no pro soccer). Seems also true for Sweden? Norway? Denmark?
   281. Topher Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4203267)
Great example with Ali Riley, Mefisto. Forgot about the choices these players have to make in terms of soccer wages compared to having a "real" job. That's an excellent point that I was neglecting to consider.

Yet another reason why I just roll my eyes at the US Youth Soccer model. It's so screwed up that the US soccer talent pool comes from the most well-to-do families in the country. I come from a very middle class family, but I had to have "the talk" with my parents when I turned 15 and they let me know they weren't going to continue paying for club soccer. I was free to play HS soccer, but they weren't going to continue to pay the fees for registration, coaching, travel, lodging, etc.. I totally get how the mega-expensive training has to be the model for a lot of sports but soccer ain't one of them.

Not that anybody should be thrilled for $12,500/yr, but for the non-Stanford grads it wouldn't be nearly as severe a cut in pay. Is there anybody in the US national pool that didn't go college? (That cuts both ways, of course, but still ...)
   282. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4203270)
I tried to figure out once if there are any countries in the entire world where the average pro soccer player does not make more money than the average adult male of soccer-playing age.


Before the last CBA, the MLS would have qualified. Salaries were pathetically low.
   283. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4203282)
Fantastic post, Mefisto, and certainly brings up a lot of things to think about. I think your last point regarding stability is possibly the most prescient (which is saying something - you really brought up a lot of different issues and provided fascinating insight); in order for a real women's league to develop/take root, not only will players have to play for low wages for a long time, but investors will have to be willing to lose money for a fairly long stretch of years. That's been one of the biggest problems with both the WUSA and WPS, who came with a lot of inital interest/some initial investment, but couldn't have any kind of stability for any length of time.

The current Pali Blues roster is pretty strong in terms of overall skill (Whitney Engen, Cami Levin, several other WPS veterans etc). Do you know if there's been any increase in interest in the past year or are the only players capable of drawing crowds "name" players like Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach?

Is there anybody in the US national pool that didn't go college?

There's been a big dust-up in the women's soccer community recently when Lindsey Horan, an eighteen year-old Colorado Rush striker and UNC (women's soccer powerhouse) commit chose to avoid college (and her scholarship) to sign for Paris St. Germain in a two-year, six-figure deal. The always-opinionated Ciara McCormack had a post about this one.
   284. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4203284)
Seems also true for Sweden? Norway? Denmark?

The average player in the highest league is safely above average adult salary in all three countries. There are plenty of full-time players in divisions below though.
   285. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4203286)
Has 'make the clothes tighter!' ever succeeded for any women's sport, ever? Beach volleyball, maybe.
How dare you speak ill of the runaway success of the Lingerie Football League!
   286. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4203323)
Yet another reason why I just roll my eyes at the US Youth Soccer model. It's so screwed up that the US soccer talent pool comes from the most well-to-do families in the country.


This is absolutely a huge problem. I'm very sensitive to it because our club draws from, among other areas, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, and Santa Monica. There are people in those areas -- people I know personally -- who have far more money than average (we've had a least one billionaire parent and many millionaires). When I created our club, I intended it to be a club for good soccer players, not a club for kids whose parents have lots of money. But the fact is, the parents with money have to subsidize those who don't or else we lose the poorer kids. Those wealthier parents realize they're doing that and they tend to demand something in return for their money. This creates real tensions for both me and our technical director.

As I understand the European programs, the parents don't pay. The professional club (on the boys side), or the national team, identifies a player it wants and then pays room, board, training and education. This continues only as long as the player succeeds. There are good and bad aspects to this, but it does eliminate the problems faced by the US system.

Do you know if there's been any increase in interest in the past year or are the only players capable of drawing crowds "name" players like Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach?


I can't say. I wasn't tracking it over the last year. Our technical director knows the Blues management very well and he works with them. But because it isn't directly related to the club, I haven't talked to him about for a year or so.

One other point I want to reiterate. I mentioned before that the existing ODP program, from which most national team players come, is poorly structured IMO. Because the US women's team has emphasized size over technical ability, that's what the ODP camps look for. Our club has had a number of players go to ODP, including 2 last year invited to the US national team camp (U15), but IMO they weren't necessarily the best technical players. This creates bad incentives for all coaches, especially since it's often easy to win with good athletes at the young ages rather than good technical skills. The pressure to win is immense.

   287. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4203343)
A couple of years after I graduated high school in Salinas, California, there was a kid on the soccer team who was considered a phenom. His little brothers were selling his autographs to other little kids and Steve Sampson--at Santa Clara at the time when they were a soccer power--was recruiting him big time. He was Mexican and instead of going to Santa Clara he started playing for a Mexican-American semi-pro team and disappeared. I wish I could remember his name but I imagine it's a common story with soccer players from poor immigrant backgrounds here. Coming from where I come from it seems weird to me there aren't more players of Mexican descent in our national team set up. I know Klinsmann has made a point of trying to tap into that talent pool but I'm not sure what success they're having or, to be fair, what kind of talent is there.
   288. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4203369)
As I understand the European programs, the parents don't pay. The professional club (on the boys side), or the national team, identifies a player it wants and then pays room, board, training and education. This continues only as long as the player succeeds.

I've never heard of a junior national team doing anything more than calling up players for the occasional camp or tour.
   289. Topher Posted: August 08, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4203383)
Because the US women's team has emphasized size over technical ability, that's what the ODP camps look for.


Unless things have changed dramatically in the last couple of years, I don't think ODP pool is any different for the men. Hitting your growth spurt early and having a metabolism that allowed you to gain weight/muscle was at least as important as talent for ODP selection.
   290. Mattbert Posted: August 08, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4203398)
This blog on how possession statistics are (apparently) calculated was linked off the soccer "Moneyball" roundtable discussion that Mefisto shared yesterday (#250):
If the general public has a perception of possession as being a time based statistic, the data providers have, in my view, an obligation to provide that statistic. The formula has to be some variant of time over time in order to be a valid measurement of possession as most of the world understands it.

Instead, in this framework, the basic unit of possession appears to be the pass attempt, meaning that unless you try to play a pass, you have not possessed the ball. If true, and the correlations we're looking at sure make it seem like it, that leads to a whole catalogue of problems.
   291. I am going to be Frank Posted: August 08, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4203433)
Does anyone know how the AAU circuit works for basketball? Where do the teams get the funding? Most of the NBA-level talent do not have the resources to pay for much of anything.
   292. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4203471)
Mattbert, it's my understanding that "time of possession" is estimated by the formula team-passes-completed/total-passes-completed-by-both-teams. So the blog you linked is correct and the TOP statistic is less useful than the name would suggest.
   293. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4203491)
Lucas Moura to PSG is official

I'm just a little baffled about the hype over Moura. These transfer fees for young Brazilian midfielders are just nuts.

Speaking of Brazil, they are now 13th in the world by the FIFA rankings, just behind Greece and Russia. The USA is 36th, just ahead of traditional powers Wales, Libya and Mali. There are currently 7 teams worse than South Sudan who have played a single game now in the history of the country. And in case you're wondering, of course I take these rankings deathly serious. Why wouldn't I?
   294. Mattbert Posted: August 08, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4203506)
Mattbert, it's my understanding that "time of possession" is estimated by the formula team-passes-completed/total-passes-completed-by-both-teams. So the blog you linked is correct and the TOP statistic is less useful than the name would suggest.

Which makes it even more troubling that possession % statistics for the same match can vary significantly depending on whose match report you read. I had always chalked that up to different outlets having different definitions for when to start/stop the "clock" for possession, but if they're using a relatively concrete counting stat like passes?
   295. Topher Posted: August 08, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4203523)
#291, re: AAU basketball

AAU makes the US soccer model look like, well, a model.

At the non-elite level, you are mostly talking about paying for things is a fairly legit manner. The coach may be a volunteer and various expenses are paid for by a combination of the player and local sponsors. (Local grocery/drug stores often sponsor teams.)

At the elite level, it is a complete mess. A lot technically comes from the coach himself, but how he obtains that money is quite questionable. At that level you also get a lot of money from the shoe companies trying to funnel players into the shoe-sponsored college. A lot of Nike AAU teams have players that won't go to an Adidas school and vice versa. AAU coaches can be paid under the table by boosters for directing a kid to the college. This was just in the news, the quotes from Tom Penders are quite interesting. Over the table, college coaches that are recruiting a player will pay for service of the AAU coach to teach at summer camp of the college coach in order to gain favor with the AAU coach. AAU coaches take some this money and "invest" it into the AAU program so that the process can repeat itself next year.
   296. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4203524)
I had always chalked that up to different outlets having different definitions for when to start/stop the "clock" for possession, but if they're using a relatively concrete counting stat like passes?

I don't think they all are, and every outlet probably have their own methodology and fudge factors. I know Opta had an article about how they moved from peons with stopwatches to an estimator based on passes (still recorded by peons, but with less stress involved). Maybe there's still stopwatch-wielding peons out there.
   297. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4203549)
   298. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: August 08, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4203569)
I wish I could remember his name but I imagine it's a common story with soccer players from poor immigrant backgrounds here.


I think it was Clint Dempsey, who grew up in Texas, who said that he wasn't the best player on his teams growing up and that a lot of promising kids just got completely lost in the shuffle.
   299. Swedish Chef Posted: August 08, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4203586)
   300. I am going to be Frank Posted: August 08, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4203686)
#295 - I knew it was shady, just didn't know how shady. However, the "system" does seem to identify the best players early on and its rare they'll miss a top player. Although basketball is definitely easier to identify the true "talents."
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