Written by Will Parchman

JJ

MLS is getting weird again.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Jermaine Jones saga’s been spiraling into a successive series of shady depths for weeks. It started just after the World Cup, when Jones and MLS connected over a possible deal (which was either after or before Jones took the greatest Instagram to ever Instagram). Jones fired the first salvo when he reportedly turned down a 2.5-year, $6 million contract from the league, but negotiations continued.

The situation hit a new bizarre depth on Wednesday night. At about 9:45 p.m. PT, Ives Galarcep dropped this bomb on the world.

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Written by Reshad Bahadori

Christen Press

The 2014-15 ECNL season is dedicated to celebrating the Amazing Young Women that have helped mold this league into the top female youth soccer platform in the world. As part of the campaign, ECNL is encouraging amazing young women to share their stories. Christen Press, current member of the US Women’s National Team, professional women’s soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars, alum of ECNL Member Club Slammers FC and could be on the cover of the next Wheaties Box! But, she needs your help to win Wheaties NEXT!

Let’s celebrate and support this amazing young woman by helping her get on the cover of the next Wheaties Box where she can represent all #ECNLAYW! Below is an open letter from Christen!

Fellow Amazing Young Women:

My name is Christen Press and I am a professional women’s soccer player for the United States Women’s National team and the Chicago Red Stars. It is with great excitement that I introduce you to Wheaties NEXT—a first of its kind competition. I am privileged to announce that I am competing in this challenge and have an opportunity to earn a coveted spot on the front of the next Wheaties box. But I need your help!

Supporters can vote for their athlete of choice by logging workouts on the following website: mapmyfitness.com/wheatiesnext. The competition runs from July 1st- to August 31st. Most importantly, for every workout logged for Team Press, General Mills will make a generous donation to Grass Roots Soccer- a non-profit organization that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV. http://www.grassrootsoccer.org

Find out more about the rules of the competition by logging on to wheaties.com, visiting facebook, or youtube.

Here’s how you can help:

Sign up for the Wheaties NEXT challenge at mapmyfitness.com/wheatiesnext and start logging!
Rally your friends and your network, by sharing the above link.
I look forward to having your support, and feel free to reach out with any questions: footballschristenpress@gmail.com.

Thanks for supporting,

Christen

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Written by Will Parchman

french

The hulking Ataturk Olympic Stadium sits on the western outskirts of Istanbul, and its enormous capacity makes it a harrowing place for visitors. It’s perhaps best known as the site of Liverpool’s miracle Champions League final victory over Milan. On Tuesday, Arsenal arrived for the first leg of a Champions League play-in game against Besiktas, and the venue lived up to its five-star reputation.

Thunderous boos and whistles rained down at every Arsenal touch. During several moments of particular emotional venom, the stadium’s camera emplacement shook. Late in the second half, fed by the crowd’s manic energy, Besiktas coach Slaven Bilic was sent off the touchline. The game ended scoreless, but it was a fitting showpiece for the game’s most expansive club competition.

Hours later, on the other side of the world, the Portland Timbers walked into Providence Stadium in the Caribbean hamlet of Georgetown, Guyana and were greeted by an enormous patch of dirt. The Timbers were 2,500 miles from home to face Alpha United in the opening group game of the CONCACAF Champions League, and the optics weren’t great. The newly built stadium seats 15,000 and is primarily used as a cricket ground, which means the scene looked like this.

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Written by Will Parchman

michler

When Terry Michler speaks, people listen.

Michler is the ostensible dean of high school coaching in the American soccer history books. Since taking over at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis in 1971, Michler’s amassed 884 wins, nearly 100 more than anyone else in high school soccer history. For comparison’s sake, Anson Dorrance at UNC is sitting on 719. Michler is also still coaching at 67.

I recently spoke with Michler for an upcoming feature series encapsulating some of the most impressive records in high school soccer history, and one answer of his piqued my interest. I asked him whether he felt as though the American soccer player between the ages of 14 and 18 – his specialty – had changed at all in the last 43 years. I found his answer fascinating.

While admitting there’s been a sea change in the way we approach development, he claimed that it may not all be for the best. Probably his most coherent point toes the street ball line and acknowledges that the for-profit club model has strangled a lot of the spontaneity out of our soccer. I’d disagree that fewer age groups is for the better, though. While a smaller bottleneck to the top does help foster fierce competition, it narrows your ability to ID a wider swath of players. It also limits your ability to institute a playing style from a younger age. If you don’t get them until the U16 level, that’s probably an issue.

You may agree or disagree with parts (or the entire thing), but here are Michler’s words on the topic. Check back on TDS soon for the full feature.

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Written by Will Parchman

nm

According to Albuquerque news station KOB, several members of the New Mexico women’s soccer team are alleging brutal hazing on the eve of the 2014 season. Among the allegations, players allegedly “were forced to strip naked, consume large amounts of alcohol and were sprayed with urine,” according to the report. One ended up in the hospital.

You can read more of the report above, but here’s an interesting snippet from the article: New Mexico doesn’t have anti-hazing laws. That could be changing soon. New Mexico is slated to open the regular season on Aug. 22, and just a month ago it received the largest donation in program history.

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Written by Reshad Bahadori

See Messi, Beckham, Neymar, and many more after the jump.

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Written by Will Parchman

The rite of the Preseason Bonding Trip is a sacred honor. Typically, what goes on at these things becomes the stuff of legend, passed through the grapevine from team to team until that one trip to a Dairy Queen a town over in 2005 is a trip to Mallorca to play rooftop soccer with David Villa and the Pope.

The advent of the GoPro means we can bring you exactly what happens at these things, and the Santa Clara women’s soccer team was kind enough to do a bit of filming. The Broncos took a preseason team trip to Bear Valley, California last week to partake in a bit of team bonding, which meant rock climbing, some time spent in a cabin and some pretty gnarly beach volleysoccer. I think. Whatever that was.

Team chemistry is no joke, and coaches are continually trying to find the perfect team alchemy off the field to marry with the product on it. Santa Clara has to replace national teamer Julie Johnston from its WCC title-winning side last year, so if they win it again, start booking your preseason rock climbing ventures now, coaches.

Bonus points to this incredible photobomb just off center. You’ll know it when you see it.

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Written by Will Parchman

Serna-jersey

We’re doing something a bit different here today. The Grinder is a mountain of many names, and we’ve done some terraforming around the place. Today, we go lobbying.

Since 2010, the MLS 24 Under 24 series has thrust out a ranking of the best 24 players under the age of 24 playing in MLS at a given time. It hasn’t been without it’s controversy (we’re ranking here, something we at TDS know plenty about – controversy is inevitable) but it’s also done something of immeasurable importance for the future. The ranking and its attendant fanfare thrusts, at least for a time, the conversation back on the league’s young faces. And with my #playyourkids initiative evergreen (It. Never. Stops.), the importance of that point is paramount. Any excuse.

So today, the Grinder kicks aside game and team analysis and cuts directly to the white of our most comfortable bone. I’m going after four of MLS’ youngest hot shots, and my caveat is that they can’t have appeared on the 24U24 list before. I’ll grade each on the five-part rubric used by the selection team (Technical, Tactical, Physical attributes, Personality, Potential) and mark down some notes on each. Note that it’s a scale of 1-10.

There are players who will deserve their returning spots like Darlington Nagbe and Gyasi Zardes. You know them. But I’m here to lobby MLS’ Capitol Hill on behalf of a couple rising stars who’ve never made this list before. And they should. Here’s why. My ballot starts now.

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Written by Will Parchman

honda

Keisuke Honda was supposed to be a tidy value signing for AC Milan. He’d spent four years at CSKA Moscow becoming one of the most respected set piece men in the business, and his on-ball ability made him a coveted buy in Europe. When AC Milan snatched him up before last season on a free transfer, it was generally assumed that this was good business.

It was not good business. Or it hasn’t been so far, anyway. During a  match against Valencia over the weekend, Honda uncorked two of the most putrid corner kicks you’re ever likely to see. From anyone. Anywhere. It’s like he was doing this on purpose.

The first.

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Written by Will Parchman

If you haven’t been paying attention (and you’d have to really not be paying attention), this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge thing has been everywhere. Everyone’s doing it (QUEEN OF ENGLAND I NOMINATE YOU). The root purpose is to raise awareness, and hopefully funds, for ALS, which is a noble purpose. It also tends to clog up your social media feeds with challenge. After challenge. After challenge. So much ice. Won’t anyone think of the ice?

But this, folks, is an exception to the rule. Clint Dempsey accepted his challenge this week, and after nominating his brother, he nominates Eddie Johnson before inserting a quick message: “Stay off the Twitter and Instagram for one week.” It’s just… after EJ’s recent outburst, it’s all levels of brilliant.

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