RSL Cup blog taking a long much needed break

I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996.

However, over the past couple of years, and especially the last several months, I've began to see the ugly underbelly of this sport. Most likely it has always been there and I was just too naïve to see it, but I cannot not see it anymore.

I'm taking a much needed break from the sport of soccer. I may or may not be back. I may or may not update this blog, I don't know. It would be a shame since I've had it up and running for almost 10 years, but the fun I once had just isn't there any more.

Hopefully you fare better.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jozy Altidore

I'm not a big fan anymore of national team soccer, I concentrate pretty much solely on club soccer. But you gotta love what Jozy Altidore has been doing lately, plus I love the US National Team kit, so fresh and so clean clean.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Supporters' Shield Commissioned

(by Brian Lewis 2-28-13)

In soccer leagues around the world, their regular-season title is the biggest trophy and highest goal teams hope to achieve. And while most top-flight teams stateside will probably always aim for MLS Cup, the Supporters' Shield Foundation and Independent Supporters Council (ISC) are working together to ensure the former trophy isn’t just remembered, but revered.

Supporter groups across the league have banded together through ISC to fund, design and deliver a new Supporters’ Shield. The award started in 1999, and is given to the MLS club with the most points at the end of the regular-season; this new trophy will replace the previous one at the start of this 2013 campaign.

“(It’s) an award created by the fans to recognize the single table winner. It is unique in the landscape of American sports,’’ said Sean Dane, who is President of Supporters' Shield Foundation, a leader in the Kansas City Cauldron, and a major impetus in getting the new Supporters' Shield produced. “I think it highlights what makes the supporters culture in the league great.

“It also highlights the ability of Major League Soccer to work in partnership with its supporters in a way unseen in other sports. The effort of the ISC and its members is commendable and it helps to further the growth of supporters culture in the country. That’s a win for all involved and I am proud to be associated with all them.”

The thought of a fan-created trophy may seem as foreign to many U.S. sports fans, as does the idea of putting significant value on the regular-season record. But that’s a typically-American mindset the supports are laboring to change, bit by bit.

“The Supporters’ Shield takes a greater commitment to high-level play to earn, and represents the best team over 34 games,’’ said Brett Bird, Vice President of the Vancouver Southsiders. “Too many times an MLS Cup winner plays well for two weeks and takes home a trophy.”

Greg Mockos, Co-president of the Emerald City Supporters, echoed that sentiment.

“The Supporters' Shield is important as its crowns the champion over the course of the regular season,’’ said Mockos. “It represents the efforts of the team through a very long and arduous season on a path that is traveled in unison with the supporters - every match day home, and away.

“To win the Supporters' Shield the team and supporters all need to have the same, unwavering commitment to the club and its crest.’’

The new Supporters’ Shield – which is made of sterling silver and stainless steel, weighing just over 35 lbs. – will start in San Jose (the reigning holders) and travel with supporters the entire season, reaching all 19 teams and their supporters.

The ISC has organized the trip so each supporter group that helped fund it can see what their work has wrought, and it’ll end up with this season’s winners.

Monday, June 10, 2013

RSL beats LA 3-1, June 8th, 2013.

Cool picture, except for the wedgie.

Why the Spanish League is in Crisis and why it won’t go Away

(by Martin del Palacio 5-6-13)

A year ago, Real Madrid and Barcelona arrived to their Champions League semifinals as heavy favorites. When they were eliminated, the feeling remained that the outcome of their ties might have been unfair. The Catalans ran riot over a fragile Chelsea side but missed the unmissable in front of an inspired Petr Cech and the Merengues were a Sergio Ramos’ penalty away from qualifying to the continental final.

Three hundred and sixty five days later, history repeated itself, but only in the statistics. In practice, the two big Spanish sides were defeated in all fairness by their German rivals, and the results showed what had been impossible to detect in the previous edition: Spanish football in general is in crisis, and there are very clear reasons behind it.

In its May issue, the prestigious English magazine World Soccer made a ranking of the best leagues in the world. Unlike the pathetic and incomprehensible rankings produced from time to time by the IFFHS (i.e. a German bureaucrat in his basement), the parameters were very precise: stadium attendance, financial status of the league, number of goals, variety of champions, quality of the coaches, better stadiums, star players and continental success.

You’d think, with Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top, Spain would finish first, didn’t you? Well, it was far from being the case. The leader was, by an important margin, Germany. The Bundesliga is not only the more spectacular league, but the more stable and better off financially. The so named by Marca, “Liga de las Estrellas”, finished in third place, behind the Premier League.

Essentially, the problem is that, outside of the big two, the Iberian league is in shambles. Almost no team pays its players on time and those who do usually have very modest budgets, such as Levante or Getafe. Of the teams that are fighting for the Champions League, only one, Real Sociedad, is not drowning in debt, and that’s because they went bankrupt a few years ago and had to institute a policy of absolute austerity.

Very distant in the past are the times when Deportivo, Valencia or Sevilla could sign the likes of Bebeto, Maradona , or Romàrio. In fact, it was those absurd expenses that have condemned medium and small teams in Spain. Like many entrepreneurs in the country, the club owners used their sides to make shady deals, and borrowed money until their finances collapsed. In that sense, football is a reflection of an entire society in total crisis without any apparent exit.

Meanwhile, Real and Barça are bathing in wealth and have used that to establish an impressive dominance locally. But that had only helped them in the trophy room. In practice, the two great Spanish sides play scrimmages every weekend and important games only four or five times a year, when they face each other or with bigger rivals in the Champions League. No wonder, then, that the Catalans have been humbled this season every time they faced a match against a top team and, in the last two years, the only top team Los Blancos managed to defeat en route to their Champions League semifinal ties was Manchester United, and the Red Devils couldn’t be blamed to think the outcome had been quite unfair.

The problem is that the situation will not improve, mainly because the smaller clubs have no income. The average attendance in the league, taking away from the big two, barely exceeds the 23,000 fans, and most of their shirts have no sponsor. And the worst part comes with television revenue. Real and Barça get 70% of the profits, leaving the crumbs to the rest, and are not willing to change the terms. Strangely, they have not realized that their local greed is what is leading to their continental downfall.

Thus the phrase “Spain is in crisis” now applies to all areas of the country, including football. It will not change soon and it doesn’t seem unlikely that, in the near future we will see the likes of Valencia, Atlético or Sevilla crash in the first round of the Champions League while Real Madrid and Barcelona fail at the last hurdle and wonder why others can make it to the final when they spend less money and have worse players than the mighty two.