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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Houston Dynamo, Colorado Rapids break new ground with first intra-MLS loan

(by Avi Creditor soccer.si.com 1-21-14)


The UConn guys are making all sorts of history this MLS offseason.

Days after former Huskies standout Andre Blake became the first goalkeeper to be selected first overall in the MLS SuperDraft, another former UConn star, midfielder Tony Cascio, will forever be the answer to this trivia question: Who was the first player loaned within MLS?

The Colorado Rapids loaned Cascio, an attacking wide player, to the Houston Dynamo Tuesday, marking the first intra-league loan in MLS history. The player-movement mechanism was introduced last season, in an effort to get young players first-team time when their current playing situations were bleak, but no team took advantage of it. Until now.

The stipulations for players to be loaned within the league, according to MLSSoccer.com, include players having to be 24 or younger (Cascio will be 24 in March) and that the loans last through the end of the season (According to the Dynamo and Rapids, it is a year-long loan, with the Houston sending an international roster spot to Colorado).

Cascio enjoyed a successful rookie season with the Rapids in 2012, accounting for three goals and three assists in 29 games (18 starts). His playing time diminished considerably in 2013, though, as he appeared in just 13 games and played just 530 first-team minutes.

With Houston potentially losing Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia during the World Cup, Cascio offers a viable option on the wing while also adding to Houston’s overall depth. According to a Rapids spokesperson, Cascio will not be eligible to play against Colorado while on loan. The Rapids and Dynamo are due to square off on June 1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“I watched him in college and his first two years with Colorado and I enjoy the way he approaches the game,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said in a team statement. “He is not afraid to take on players and he has good versatility. I think when he has the ball at his feet he is not afraid to try and be productive, whether it be an assist or a goal. With what we have coming up this year, we think he is going to be a great addition to the team.”

NASL Player Traded for Limo Rides and Hotel Rooms

(by Ian Stewart Palmer soccerly.com 1-9-14)


There have been a lot of strange soccer transfers over the years. Some players have been swapped for their weight in shrimp, tracksuits, a set of weights, 30 lbs of sausage, a set of encyclopedias, two tons of meat, 40 gallons of paint, a pair of goal nets and even a barrel of beer. We can now enter a new addition to the list as a player was swapped on January 7 for several hotel room reservations and transportation.

This one took place in the NASL when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers sent Walter Restrepo over to the San Antonio Scorpions. In return, the Strikers received arrangements for transportation to their match in San Antonio this June 7 as well as hotel accommodations for their club. The Fort Lauderdale team will be put up at the Crockett Hotel, which is a business associate of the Scorpions. Double rooms at the hotel typically cost $169 each night.

If you figure the club needs about a dozen rooms for the players, medical staff and coaches etc, then the rooms are worth about $2,028 a night, plus taxes. Restrepo had an off year in 2013 as he scored just a pair of goals. The season before he had six goals and eight assists and was named as one of the league’s best 11 players even though he missed the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in August. However, some sites have him listed as having scored seven goals and nine assists in 2012. Either way, the player from San Diego, California is pretty good.

The San Antonio club released a statement which said, “The Scorpions would also like to thank Bill Brendel of the Crockett Hotel and Mark Thronson of Shark Limo, two long-term, great partners, for their incredible assistance. It was only through their assistance that we were able to get this deal done.”

Nobody is certain how much the transportation part of the deal is worth since there are no prices listed on the Shark Limo website. The 25-year-old Restrepo hasn't said anything about the deal up to now and reports say he has signed a contract with the Scorpions for next season.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Oh dear

I struggled with myself for a long time debating if I should put this photo up or not.

I'm posting it because it is the off-season and I am clearing out photos saved on my computer.

But that is just a bad selfie. I hope it turned out better on her phone that in this photo.

DC United suppporters

DC United under 18 squad taking on the Richmond Strikers, November 2013.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

San Jose, 1996 road uni

Red, white, and blue overload

Maybe Chicago should have worn their road whites for this one.

New England's 1999 road uni's

This is one of my all-time favorite MLS uniforms. Clean, simple, classic.
New England only wore this for one year sadly.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tulsa set to get USL Pro club as third-tier expansion continues to build steam

(by Brian Straus soccer.si.com 12-18-13)

On Wednesday afternoon, the United Soccer Leagues will announce the addition of a USL Pro club in Tulsa that will kick off in 2015.

For those keeping track (and it’s likely that an increasing number are) it means the third-division circuit — which fielded just six teams in 2010 – will have at least 15 a little more than a year from now. And there are more on the way.

The catalyst for that rapid growth was last January’s landmark agreement between USL Pro and MLS, which will result in the demise of the latter’s reserve league at the end of 2014. In its place, MLS clubs will be able to either affiliate with an independent USL outfit and send players down for seasoning, or enter and run their own team in USL Pro.

The initiative will do more than provide MLS clubs with a place to develop younger talent (see Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City/Orlando City). It also has solidified the USL’s professional product after more than 20 years of unpredictability and upheaval. Whether it’s because of the potential for a path to MLS like the one taken by Orlando or the marketing and technical boost offered by affiliation, owning a USL Pro team has become significantly more attractive. One source told SI.com that the league entry fee already has doubled in the past year to $500,000.

“Our league doesn’t lack for ambition,” USL president Tim Holt said during a recent interview.

“There are certainly many markets in our league, from a size standpoint, where Major League Soccer isn’t really an option. So in a broader sense, [USL] management and owners will work to continue building the strongest possible league that we can below, and in support of, Major League Soccer … We don’t have the ambition to compete with them one day. We recognize we play a very important role on the pro soccer landscape.”

The new nature of that role has generated

a lot of activity, and even a bit of turbulence. As Tulsa prepares to come aboard and as the final season of the MLS reserve league approaches, here’s where things stand on the active expansion and affiliation fronts:


Sacramento Republic and Oklahoma City Energy are scheduled to join USL Pro next year, while VSI Tampa Bay and the Antigua Barracuda have exited. The L.A. Galaxy almost certainly will become the first MLS organization to field a standalone USL Pro team, which would lift USL Pro to 14 clubs in 2014. The Galaxy likely will unveil its plans early next month.

Sacramento is in good shape. Head coach Preki Radosavljevic has been on the job since July and the club already has sold more than 3,100 season tickets. It will construct and play in an 8,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium at the Cal Expo fairgrounds while it searches for the site for a permanent facility meeting MLS standards. The Republic has every intention of following Orlando and needs to move forward on a stadium project before attracting the investment required to make the jump.

Oklahoma City isn’t as far along, but it appears the Energy won’t be going it alone. The club is talking with recently retired Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen about becoming its first coach, which would establish strong ties with the new MLS champion.

Then, in 2015, “The floodgates will open,” a source said.

Colorado Springs, a likely affiliate of the Colorado Rapids, already has been confirmed. FC Dallas is expected to enter the league as well. Club technical director Fernando Clavijo said Tuesday that FCD was considering starting next year, but, “we decided that we are going to wait, review things, and hope for 2015 to make things happen.”

Word is that Real Salt Lake also may field a USL Pro team in 2015. The club has had significant success with its Arizona youth program, which won the U.S. Soccer Development Academy under-16 championship this year, and now is looking to branch out to Southern California. A source told SI.com that RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen is looking to launch a USL Pro outfit in San Diego County, where he keeps a home.

Premier Development League (fourth tier) club FC Tucson also is considering a jump to USL Pro in 2015.

USL’s goal is to make Pro a national league focusing on regional rivalries and scheduling.


There were four partnerships this year: Orlando-SKC, Richmond Kickers-D.C. United, Rochester Rhinos-New England Revolution and Harrisburg City Islanders-Philadelphia Union. Those will continue in 2014, when they’ll be joined by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Houston Dynamo.

Sacramento and the Portland Timbers also are hoping to announce an agreement soon, but the process has been delayed by the San Jose Earthquakes. The Republic initially sought an affiliation with the Quakes, who play some two hours to the south, but were rebuffed. The next logical choice was Portland, especially considering the fact that Republic founder and president Warren Smith was part of the group that sold the Timbers to Merritt Paulson in 2007. The two clubs forged a deal that called not only for Portland players to head south, but at least one coach as well.

Citing territorial concerns, the Earthquakes have lobbied MLS to block the Sacramento-Portland partnership. Neither a short-term Timbers marketing presence in Northern California, nor the prospect an eventual MLS club in the state capital, is appealing. A ruling is expected soon, and it’s unlikely San Jose will get its way (although some sort of co-affiliation remains an option).

In the Midwest, the Columbus Crew and Dayton Dutch Lions are expected to announce an agreement in early 2014. The Lions entered USL Pro in 2011 and suffered through two miserable seasons before making the playoffs last year.

The relationship between Sporting KC and Orlando will continue next season, although the minor league club’s priorities have changed. It doesn’t need a third USL Pro title in four seasons as much as it needs to start identifying and preparing players for its inaugural MLS campaign. With that in mind, Sporting will start transitioning to Oklahoma City, perhaps co-affiliating next year and sending players to both USL clubs before aligning permanently with the Energy in 2015.