Written by Will Parchman

carleton

If the U17 MNT makes the 2017 World Cup, let no man say they didn’t earn their place.

This particular U17 cycle has been particularly good, perhaps even outpacing the record-breaking 2013-15 group that nonetheless faded badly down the stretch. The U17s destroyed the field at the Nike Friendlies in early December, capturing the tourney title with a boisterous 3-0 win over Brazil to cap an untested stay in Florida.

The results confirmed suspicions that this U17 group could be special. It was also important from a preparatory standpoint. World Cup qualifying was only a few months hence, after all, with an April 21, 2017 start.

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Written by Will Parchman

wake

The long, tapered fuse lay invitingly across the table with a cache of explosives on the other end. All it needed was a light.

All weekend the field conditions at BBVA Compass Stadium had vexed the teams who’d arrived just days earlier for the men’s Division I College Cup, soccer’s answer to the Final Four. By the start of June, Houston had been ravaged by a series of floods that sunk the triangle between Dallas, Austin and Houston into a muddy morass. At one point in late May, flash flood warnings covered 183,000 square miles of Texas, roughly the size of Germany and the European lowlands combined.

The knock-on effect for professional soccer in Houston shredded the BBVA Compass Stadium field. The Dash and Dynamo were forced off their flooded practice fields, forcing them onto the main stadium field for training sessions. The Dynamo re-sodded the field in the summer to accommodate, but anyone who’s planted seed knows it takes a growing season to fill in. The result, by the end of the year, was a ravaged playing surface filled in copiously with sand.

It was onto this sand-swept plane of desert the four best teams in men’s college soccer stepped in early December to determine a champion.

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Written by Will Parchman

stefan-frei-mls-cup-trophy-seattle-sounders-121016_6m1zn2e8dv791prkilwbf0z2z

We’re all agreed (I will fight you if we’re not all agreed) Stefan Frei’s fingertip save on Jozy Altidore was the biggest save in MLS Cup history. The Sounders were cooked in the attacking third, and Altidore’s late looping header would’ve all but decided the match. And it certainly looked like it might beat Frei. It probably would’ve beaten most anyone else.

And then Frei stepped in with this meme-generator. The faces. Look at the faces.

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Written by Will Parchman

East

In reality, the great Yellow Wall is a bit of a misnomer. Its name implies a sort of barrier, a bulwark against an advancing horde that would shut them out from the fleshy business of everyday life in a population center. Walls are defensive structures, built at their core for the business of shielding.

Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall is not an imagining of defensive engineering. It is a weapon. And it is perhaps the greatest monument to fan culture in all of Europe.

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Written by Will Parchman

atll

As a concept, the Expansion Draft is a fine thing. The NFL pioneered the concept in 1960, and ever since it’s been used as a mechanism for the league to stock the rosters of newly incorporated teams. Given MLS commissioner Don Garber’s latent ties to the NFL, it is no surprise the league turned to it in its earliest days.

The trouble of course is that MLS doesn’t have the depth to make the draft anything more than a disorganized crapshoot. The NFL hasn’t had an expansion draft since the Texans joined the league in 2002, but consider this. Four of the first six picks that year were Pro Bowlers and franchise talents. Only two of the 20 MLS expansion draft picks from its last round in 2014 (Tommy McNamara and Patrick Mullins) were anything approaching keeper quality. And good as they may be, they’re hardly MLS All-Stars.

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Written by Will Parchman

121016-bradley-alonso.vadapt.980.high.76

One could excuse Michael Bradley a little stoicism.

Bradley’s MLS Cup final was a stern reminder sports treats justice somewhat like George R.R. Martin treats his characters. Bradley was imperious for TFC over 120 mentally destructive minutes against a Sounders side content to close its doors and force TFC to batter them to splinters. TFC never did, but it was not on Bradley. The generalissimo completed more passes than anyone else on the field even attempted, finishing 78-of-95 in the midst of perhaps his best defensive day in red.

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Written by Will Parchman

jermainerevs

The LA Galaxy are recovering DP addicts.

The Beckham Era changed a lot about MLS, but what it changed about the Galaxy in particular is less obvious. The Galaxy have always been the miniature Chelsea of MLS, leaning on buying habits that seem sometimes less about building championship teams (which they’ve done) and more about building a brand (which they’ve certainly done).

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Written by Will Parchman

mlsstpete

These are tremulous days in American soccer. The seeming impending crash of the NASL and the closure of the New York Cosmos (part deux) created a frantic rush for the exits for a handful of clubs suddenly left in limbo. The Carolina RailHawks, for instance, re-branded as North Carolina FC and immediately put in for MLS inclusion during its next expansion spasm.

In the meantime, a handful of NASL clubs are looking to leap off the sinking NASL for the safe harbor of the USL’s life raft. It certainly seems as though the U.S.’s top three tiers are about to become a top two.

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Written by Will Parchman

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You can’t see it, but there’s a battle being waged almost continually underneath the visible soccer rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexico’s 2-1 win over the U.S. in World Cup qualifying last month signified the rumble of the big guns, but the ground underneath is riven with struggles for the allegiances of young players.

This is the cold war between the two soccer nations, and Mexico is beginning to gain some ground.

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Written by Will Parchman

kj

Last weekend gave us a bountiful golazo harvest. From College Cup-winning goals to strikes that put teams in the College Cup, we’ve got a bit of everything to slop onto your voting plate this week. Rejoice.

Of course the Women’s College Cup and its attendant games will dominate the spectrum this week, but we’ve also got some bright efforts from the men’s Elite 8 as well. So strap on your voting hats and get cracking, folks. This week is about as tough as it gets.

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