Written by Will Parchman

sheaJJJJJ

Imagine I’m a roofer.

I’ve had a good start to my career as a roofer, even if I’m a HOT RENEGADE. Sometimes I put tiles in bizarre places. Sometimes, in pricer neighborhoods, I’ll lay their delicate Ludowici clay tiles in perfect ornament on the front of the house and just say screw it to the back. Why does the guest bathroom need full coverage? Uncle Gary’s the only one that uses it. And Uncle Gary doesn’t have a job. I hate Uncle Gary. Uncle Gary doesn’t get Ludowici tile.

But my clients find this endearing about me, for some reason. Probably because I look like a roofer. I wear these sweet denim overalls I found in an alley. I have six different hammers. I use non-toxic tar as hair gel (note: it may be toxic). And so I recently got called up to the BIG SHOW: Orange County, California. So many pricey roofs. So little time.

This is where things kind of fell apart. I told this one woman I’d only roof over rooms that either had this certain shade of yellow once found in the courts of Mongolian Khans (I’m really into Marco Polo right now) or a giraffe in them. None of them had a giraffe or gunscream yellow. I walked off the site, but not before I flipped off the entire family. I think I taught their six-year-old something valuable about life that day.

Tags:  , , | 1 Comment
Written by Will Parchman

RSL

The 2011 New York Giants tilted the NFL on its axis. Ever since the institution of the salary cap in 1994, the league had always been defined by the shifting sands created by its parity. But the playoffs and a 16-game regular season had done a good job weeding out the riffraff. There might’ve been new and surprising Super Bowl champs on occasion, but the trophy ceremony always made sense. Parity with purpose, or so it seemed.

The Giants changed the paradigm in 2011. They were exceedingly mediocre throughout the regular season, and they made the playoffs despite a 6-6 record with four games left. They squeaked into the postseason mixer with a 9-7 mark and ended up winning the whole thing. It remains one of the feats of modern sports.

But it also raises a good question. Purely in terms of wins and losses, the Giants are the “worst” Super Bowl winner in history. Which means there’s never been a Super Bowl winner that finished the regular season at .500, let alone with a losing record. Even the league that flaunts its parity above all other leagues, arguably the first in the world to hammer that nail with this kind of consistency and hard cap restriction, hasn’t been that much of a blender.

What about MLS?

Tags:  , , | 2 Comments
Written by Will Parchman

ready

Kaka’s entry to MLS was met with trumpets and heraldry of the highest order in Central Florida. In fact, the club grandly rolled out The Most Famous Selfie In Club History to tell us just how grandiose this whole thing was supposed to be.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Travis Clark

TommyThompsonSo USL Pro is the developmental wave of the immediate future.

That’s the message loud and clear from the past few months, as 12 franchises – seven which are owned and/or operated by MLS clubs – are set to join the league in 2015, serving as a feeder system to the parent teams.

As MLS tries to improve the playing opportunities and development curve for players between the ages of 18-22, team-run franchises are the immediate future, as Toronto, RSL, Montreal, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver will run teams in their own backyard with the aim in providing playing opportunities for those not logging MLS minutes.

But is it the right move? The system is in its infancy, as the USL Pro-MLS club affiliation idea was only put into place at the start of 2013. And outside of the LA Galaxy, which had its reserve team in USL Pro play this past season, it only entailed players spending time on loan at affiliated clubs, oftentimes a short (or lengthy) plane ride from their home club.

Below is a team-by-team look at appearances and time played by MLSers on loan to USL Pro clubs, and a few statistical conclusions to draw from the volume.

Tags:  , , , | 4 Comments
Written by Will Parchman

expanse

Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft between NYCFC and Orlando City was another tangible step toward adding our two newest entrants to the league for 2015. In a few ways it gave us a more legitimate idea as to how these teams plan to approach their depth this season, and it left us with one overriding truth.

NYCFC won. By a lot.

Tags:  , , | 1 Comment
Written by Will Parchman

pirlo

During the course of a recent interview with SB Nation NYCFC blog Hudson River Blue, club technical director Claudio Reyna said they plan to have “all three (DPs) ready for day one.” Which means, assuming Frank Lampard isn’t some kind of high-priced lark, the club still has one more giant move to make before the MLS season kicks off in March.

Being that we’re two days away from the MLS Cup and the ceremonial start of the MLS Silly Season, what would The 91st Minute be if we didn’t launch into a frenzied round of GUESS THAT DP?

Here’s a list of smart targets NYCFC may, should or already are pursuing. If you want to scope out some possible young loan targets from the Manchester City mothership, check those out here.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

It’s awards season, which means MLS ladled out its goal and save of the year plaudits on Thursday, and both involved the Seattle Sounders. Oba Martins’ fun back-to-the-basket chip won goal of the year, while RBNY’s Luis Robles’ double save on the Sounders won him save of the year. To judge the path of the deflection to make an initial save and then parry away another at close range… nice.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the true goal of the year champion. Dillon Serna, folks. Didn’t even make the final vote. Somewhere Eric Hassli nods knowingly.

Tags:  , , | 1 Comment
Written by Will Parchman

lamps

In July, MLS announced that fledgling franchise and 2015 expansion side NYCFC had signed Frank Lampard. We didn’t know it at the time, but Lampard was soon shipped off to Manchester City on loan to keep the 36-year-old sharp for the start of the MLS season in March. Of 2015. That’s, like, nearly three months away. By the terms of the loan deal, Lampard should be in New York to prep for 2015 after the contract expires on Jan. 1.

Early this week, rumors began alighting the signal beacons from Manchester to New York. Were Lampard and Manchester City a little too happy with the loan? Is he staying on through the end of the ’14-15 EPL season?

The newest bit of intrigue dropped after Manchester City’s 3-0 defeat of Southampton over the weekend, which featured a Lampard goal off the bench. Unsurprisingly, City coach Manuel Pellegrini wanted Lampard to extend his deal. He certainly sounded like it, anyway. But his words had the lilt of a man with a bit more confidence than your ordinary “let’s make a deal” manager.

Tags:  , , , | 1 Comment
Written by Will Parchman

A few days before the USMNT was embarrassed by a team of Irish B-list stars last week, Scotland dumped Ireland 1-0 in a Euro 2016 qualifier. The man who made that happen was Shaun Maloney, who, according to the Guardian, was “one of the few players on the pitch to display class.” That goal of his up there is visual evidence.

Now, Maloney’s on an MLS radar, specifically that of the Chicago Fire. The Fire need attacking presence. Maloney would seem to fit the bill. And he’d presumably be a DP, so there’s that as well.

The Fire have a pretty horrible reputation with DPs. They’ve signed seven in club history, and Cuahtemoc Blanco is the only one that really deserved the title. In fact, aside from Blanco, the other six Fire DPs have played a cumulative 97 matches. None have played more than lone current DP Juan Anangono, who’s made 28 appearances since signing in 2013 and is currently on loan in Ecuador.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

zardes

College soccer often gets a bad rap, but it can be an unwieldy beast. For all its advantages, it’s been historically slow to adapt, resistant to holistic change and stubbornly brazen when it comes to joining the developmental fray. In the face of a swiftly changing landscape, the question of “adapt or die” takes on vital significance.

Today is for talking points. The idea that men’s college soccer has fallen behind (or, at the very least, is falling behind) is popular, but is it true? Historically, for the most part, yes. That’s created a growing groundswell of support for the eventual abolition of college soccer as a rung in the developmental ladder. Who needs it? Direct jumps from the Development Academy/elite club ranks to the pros are the ultimate ideal. Right?

It may be that years into the future college soccer will be a footnote as a legitimate talent producer. But what a waste it would’ve been. Many top Division I programs have facilities that rival – and in some cases outpace – European academies. There are dozens of entrenched coaching staffs doing marvelous work preparing and teaching players for the next level (though yes, there are, as with any world league, bad apples).

Point being that the framework is there. With the help of a paring knife – right, better make it a machete – college soccer can one day become a real part of the equation. But it’ll take a massive overhaul and the willingness to completely change what we know about college soccer. It will have its adherents and its detractors like anything. But hopefully it’ll move the needle.

An important distinction we have to make off the bat is that many of these rules would require the NCAA to either bend or snap its current structure to fit. We’re living in a world of idealism today. And many of these innovations would require pruning to fit them into niches where they’d be most comfortable. But there’s loose precedent at play with how the NCAA deals in rulebook science differently with its various sports, albeit often haphazardly and blindly. We can harbor pipe dreams that it will come to see men’s soccer in a similarly important light some day.

Here we go. Ways to change college soccer from a standalone necklace into a bonafide link on a wider American developmental chain.

Tags:  , | 16 Comments