Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Wishes

We're about to ring in 2010 and the start of a new decade. With a new year about to start it's time to look at my wishes for another year.

1. The stadium starts to take shape - Forget this whole breaking ground stuff, I want to see the stadium actually start to take shape this year. I want to see the bowl start to come around, I want to see the stadium actually start to take shape. Because if it hasn't in the upcoming year I have a feeling we're going to be seeing the move KC crowd get VERY loud.

2. Qualify for the playoffs early - I'm tired of waiting until the last week or two of the season to see if we qualify for the playoffs. Let's qualify with a few more weeks to go please.

3. Some Silverware - Yes, again, I want silverware, every year I'll be asking for this.

4. SI's that contribute more - The contribution by this past year's new SI, Santiago Hirsig left something to be desired. He did decently enough, but his contribution was less than I think many people expected. Hopefully the two new signings Robb Heineman mentioned as well as the offensive players he alludes to will conntribute more to the cause this year.

5. Re-sign Kei Kamara - This one should be known pretty quickly. Kamara brings something to the Wizards that they've probably not ever had in a forward. A combination of size, speed, and strength Kamara will be an asset to the Wizards this season.

6. Round of 16 appearance for the US in the World Cup - I'm leaning on the side of caution on this one. I want to put a wish further in the World Cup, but getting out of the group is the first and biggest goal. While most US fans (including myself) want the US to advance further, a date potentially for revenge against Germany from the 02 World Cup or against Ghana for the 06 World Cup would be big for the US.

7. A home record with at most 1 loss - Going from a very conservative wish to a much more difficult one. The Wizards had a horrible home record last season, the worst in the league. The season before CAB was more of a fortress. The road record was adequate for a playoff team in MLS, but for the Wizards to be successful in 2010 the team needs to be much better at home than their 4-6-5 last season.

8. At least 40 goals this season - That's a 12 goal increase from last season. That's definitely a big increase, but having been tied for second worst in the league last year, the team needs drastic improvement. The team can't expect Josh Wolff to score 11 goals again next season. Kamara, Claudio Lopez, Davy Arnaud, Herculez Gomez, and any offensive signings need to contribute more to the team.

End of the Year Wishes Review

The year 2009 ends tonight so it's time to take a look back at my wishes for the year of 2009. For reference here are my original wishes and my mid-year review of them.

1. Ground breaking on the stadium - Well, Robb Heineman said it would happen by the end of the year, but with the late snow and everything, that looks extremely unlikely. But the Wizards seem to have a permanent location (although I thought the same about the Bannister site) and hopefully the paper work for the Legends site will be signed off early in 2010 and official ground breaking will be soon behind.

2. 10-15 goal scorer for the Wizards - This wish was actually fulfilled as Josh Wolff hit a career high with 11 goals. Unfortunately the other 23 players that appeared in league games for the Wizards this season only scored 20 (with 2 own goals). The Wizards finished the season tied for 13th in scoring. I was thinking at the time that with a 10-15 goal scorer it would mean KC would have over 40 goals.

3. US qualifies for World Cup 2010 - This one happened with one game to go thanks to a 3-2 win in Honduras. The draw for the World Cup was fairly kind to the US when looking at other groups. The US will be playing England, Algeria, and Slovenia in Group C. Definitely a group the US can qualify out of.

4. US does well at the Confederations Cup - (Reposting my comment from the mid-year review) If you'd have told me at the beginning of the year that the US would finish second at the tournament, I would have been ecstatic. And while I am very happy with the performance in the second half of the tournament, seeing how the US finished second is disappointing. Sure it was Brazil in the final, but up 2-0 you would hope the US could hold on. Still, though, a big win over Spain in the semifinals, and a nice win over Egypt are two good things to take from the competition.

5. Some Silverware - LOL, yeah that didn't happen, not even close.

6. Lopez has a 2009 season like the end of the 2008 season - Not a bad season for Lopez overall, he contributed on almost half of the Wizards 33 goals this past season (7 goals, 8 assists). Any other player and most fans would be very happy with that type of performance out of a player.

7. A blowout home win - Another one that wasn't even close to happening especially with KC's poor home form this past season. KC had a league worst, 4-6-5 at Community America Ballpark this past season. Probably the biggest thing that needs to improve heading into next season.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Former Wizards Update

Here is this week's former Wizards update as we head towards the new year. I'm working on all former Wizards and kind of what they're doing now. Also here's an interesting article on Wizards draftee, Eric Frimpong who was convicted of rap in 2008.

Sean Bowers - San Diego - Won their US Open Arena Cup game 10-6 Monday. Defeated Revolucion Tijuana 13-6.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Had an assist in Baltimore's 10-8 win over the Rockford Rampage.
Vicente Figueroa - California - Off until January 2.
Paul Wright - San Diego - Won their US Open Arena Cup game 10-6 Monday. Had 4 assists in 13-6 win over Revolucion Tijuana.

Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Played in Harbour View's 1-0 win over Tivoli Gardens FC.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - Are on winter break until the end of February.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Did not dress for Fulham in either of their games this past week, 0-0 draw with Spurs and 2-1 loss to Chelsea. There are rumors that Johnson is on his way to Greece on loan.
Akeem Priestly - FK Mughan - Azerbaijan - Did not play in Mughan's 2-1 loss to Khazar Lankaran.
Scott Sealy - Bnei Sakhnin FC - Israel - Started and played 83 minutes in Bnei Sakhnin's 1-1 draw with Maccabi Ahi Nazareth
Matt Taylor - FSV Frankfurt - Germany - Frankfurt is off on winter break until mid January.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Have not played this week, play tomorrow againnst Central Coast.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Opening Day Just Got Interesting

Today DC United announced their new head coach, and it's someone familiar to Wizards fans. Former head coach, Curt Onalfo has been named the head coach of DC United. Onalfo is only about 5 months removed from being fired as the Wizards head coach. With the Wizards beginning the 2010 season at home against Onalfo and United this will definitely make things more interesting. You know that Onalfo has this date already circled on his calender for many reasons. Opening day is definitely going to be more interesting now.

Friday, December 25, 2009

New Defender From Chile?

Yesterday we heard from Robb Heineman how the Wizards had signed two new international players, one a center back, the other a defensive midfielder. My assumption at the time I saw the tweet was that the center back was one of the 3 Colombians that MLS had recently signed. Then this morning, this forum post was pointed out to me. While it is on a forum, it looks more like a press release that was posted there. The post discusses the preparations of CD Universidad Católica in Chile for their upcoming season. Down at the bottom of the post, it mentions current players that are likely not to return, one of those players is Facundo Imboden. According to the post, Imboden has been contacted by the Wizards and is considering an offer from them.

Imboden is a 29 year old center defender who has played for Boca Juniors, but has found his one the field success at Universidad. It also appears that Imboden is coming off a ligament tear as well. I still think the signing is one of the Colombians, but at least there are rumors of players coming to KC, something to try and make the team better. My guess is that this is more just agent posturing than it is really happening, but we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Players On the Way

According to Wizards president, Robb Heineman, the Wizards have made their first two signings of the offseason. Heineman on Twitter said that the team has signed two new international players, a defensive midfielder and a center back.

The defensive midfielder signing starts an interesting discussion into what is going to happen to KC's currently central midfield team of Jack Jewsbury and Santiago Hirsig. But with the rumors of Hirsig's move to Colo Colo still around this new midfielder that KC has signed could be his replacement should the move go through.

As for the center back, I haven't found anything for sure, but I have a feeling that this center back the team has sign is likely one of the three Colombians that MLS has recently signed. The fact that these two bits of news came out around the same time makes it seem too much of a coincidence for it to not be one of those 3 players.

Heineman also says that the attacking players are on the way as well. If this continues, this could be the start of the roster overhaul that we were told would happen when Peter Vermes was announced as the head coach. These moves are likely not goingn to be announced until after the transfer window opens in January, but it's nice to see some moves start to happen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Former Wizards Update

Not a lot of former Wizards are playing right now, but there has been some news in regards to former Wizards. First, former Wizards Will John and Carlos Marinelli have been found. John is playing for Croatian second division side NK Vinogradar. Marinelli is back in Argentina now, set to play with CA Aldosivi in the Argentine second division. A few other former Wizards have moved on to new teams. First, Chris Konopka will be back in the Irish second division next season with Waterford United. Second, Igor Simutenkov has moved to a new position. He was the Russian U-17 team coach, but he's now moved on to be an assistant coach at Zenit St. Petersburg. Here is the rest of the former Wizards updates.

Sean Bowers - San Diego - San Diego's next game is the 28th.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - The Blast beat the Philadelphia Kixx 9-8.
Vicente Figueroa - California - Scored 2 goals in California's 7-3 win over the Tacoma Stars.
Paul Wright - San Diego - San Diego's next game is the 28th.

Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Hue played in Harbour View's 1-0 win over Rivoli United.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - Are on winter break until the end of February.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Did not dress in Fulham's 3-2 win over Basel or their 3-0 win over Manchester United.
Akeem Priestly - FK Mughan - Azerbaijan - Did not play in Mughan's 1-1 draw with Karvan.
Scott Sealy - Bnei Sakhnin FC - Israel - Started and played 90 minutes in Bnei Sakhnin's 0-0 draw with FC Ashdod.
Matt Taylor - FSV Frankfurt - Germany - Dressed but did not play in Frankfurt's 1-0 win over TUS Koblenz.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Dressed but did not play in Wellington's 1-1 draw with Adelaide United.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Conrad and Hartman Called Up to National Team

US Soccer has released Bob Bradley's 30 man roster for the team's January training camp that will end with a game against Honduras at the Home Depot Center. Two Wizards were named to the roster for the camp. Wizards captain, Jimmy Conrad is back in camp again looking to add to his 27 caps that he already has. Also named to the roster was Wizards goalkeeper, Kevin Hartman. Hartman has only 5 caps, earning the last of his caps back in 2006. Hartman has to be considered one of the surprises of the camp roster considering he hasn't been called up in a while. One of the reasons for this has to be because Hartman is from Southern California and is likely already nearby, making him an easy invite. Along with Hartman there are some other big surprises on the team, including Brandon McDonald and Justin Braun. Congratulations to Conrad and Hartman on the call up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Players to MLS

Ives Galarcep reported today that MLS has signed 3 new players to contracts. The three players are from Colombia, all are central defenders, and all are 22 or younger. According to Galarcep, all 3 players have already had discovery claims put in on them, including by the expansion Philadelphia Union. The 3 players are Edward Zea, Pablo Escobar, and Hanyer Mosquera.

The question is whether the Wizards have filed discovery claims and whether they'll get any of those 3 players. Currently the Wizards are the only team in MLS to not have some kind of roster move already this offseason. This in an offseason where we would told when Peter Vermes had the interim tag removed that we'd see a roster overhaul. I'm not saying to make a move just for the sake of making one, but if we're having a real roster overhaul I would have expected at least a move or two to have already taken place. If these three players can be more like Fredy Montero and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and less like Ivan Trujillo, than hopefully the Wizards got a discovery claim in and can bring one of these players in.

Things are in Place

For those that missed it earlier today, the equipment is now out at the Wizards stadium site out at the Legends location. Both Hillcrest Road and The Back Post have pictures of the equipment at the site. None of the work has started on the site yet, but that will hopefully start later this week.

While the equipment is out there, I'm still not breathing a sigh of relief yet. I haven't forgotten the fact that around a year ago there was equipment at the Bannister site. While I'm happy to see work getting ready to start at the Legends' site, I'll be really celebrating once they start pouring the concrete or start setting steel in place. I've gotten my hopes up before and I'm not doing it this time until the stadium is actually going up.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CBA Talk

We're about 6 weeks from the expiration of MLS' current collective bargaining agreement, and it's become the main topic of discussion by most MLS writers/bloggers. There have been a few quotes lately coming from Seattle Sounders FC players about the negotiations and most have not looked positive when it comes to a deal being reached. Previously we've heard that MLS players have been told to plan for a strike/lock out, and the talk from the Sounders players does nothing to really discourage that. Kasey Keller even puts a date on when the potential lock out could occur, February 1st.

The players union's main points in these negotiations has been more about players' rights than getting the salary cap raised. This is a smart move probably by the players union as in the current economic climate, it'd be hard to pressure the league to make a big raise in the cap. Instead the main things the players are wanting, is club autonomy (clubs negotiating contracts, not just the league), guaranteed contracts, free agency within MLS when contracts expire, and have the league open up it's books to determine a fair raise in the salary cap every year.

Right now, players do not have guaranteed contracts, teams can release players from their contracts and those contracts are gone. The players want to have the security of the guaranteed contracts. Also, when a players' contract expires, their rights are still owned by the MLS team that they played for, as long as the MLS team offered him a new contract. Meaning a team would have to trade the rights to a player for them to sign with another MLS team.

Players also say that MLS does not abide by FIFA rules in regards to player transfers, because they make players sign a waiver giving away some of those FIFA rules. FIFA, though, has stayed out of the fight, even when FIFPro has asked FIFA to get involved.

I can't really argue with the players' wants, they all make sense and seem to be fairly easy to give. Still, the discussion goes on, as the two sides appear to still be a ways apart on these issues. Hopefully both sides can come to a compromise on this and we'll have a 2010 season, because I'm part of the group that thinks that a strike would cripple and potentially kill the league.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stadium Update From Heineman

Tonight over at Hillcrest Road, Robb Heineman posted an update on the Wizards stadium situation. It's good news for fans that have been waiting for news on the stadium. Heineman mentions his previous comments about issues with selling the STAR Bonds, saying that it appears they have that issue worked out.

The big news is that Heineman states that the team will be permanently staying out at the Village West area. This hopefully ends all the speculation of where the Wizards stadium site would go, whether in Missouri or in Kansas. He also states that we're likely going to start seeing dirt moved out at the site starting next week.

Between now and March 1st, Heineman says the Wizards will be working on; finalizing stadium design, get renderings out sooner than later, signing the formal agreements (including those signed by the Unified Government, the state, and Cerner), and start getting the stadium up. The big thing, he says, is the selling of the STAR Bonds that needs to occur between now and March 1st.

He also talks about the final step with the stadium, the marketing the team and the brand of the Wizards. Heineman calls it a "first chance to make a second impression to all of you". Something that many fans will find appealing. Some fans I've talked to have felt that OnGoal has dropped the ball in some areas of marketing the team. Hopefully this will be a new beginning in the look of the Wizards.

A formal announcement should be coming in January Heineman says.

He finishes by thanking the city of KCMO, and the state of Missouri for their work with them for the Bannister site and states again their intentions to have some type of development out there as well.

I'm personally relieved that this process looks to be nearing a close and that a stadium will finally start to go up. I'm not the biggest fan of the location due to wear I live in the KC metro area, but having it out at the Legends is much better than having it in some other city hundreds of miles away. Most Wizards fans will tell you that once the stadium starts going up, it'll feel like a huge burden and weight is off our backs because we'll know that the team is staying in KC.

Check out the entire announcement below, or head over to Hillcrest to see how you can potentially get a copy of the stadium shirt Heineman is wearing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Former Wizards Update

Here's your weekly former Wizards update.

Sean Bowers - San Diego - San Diego defeated Revolucion Tijuana 5-4.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Baltimore defeated Monterrey La Raza 14-13.
Vicente Figueroa - California - Scored 2 goals in California's 17-0 winn over Wenatchee Fire.
Paul Wright - San Diego - Had 1 assist in San Diego's 5-4 winn over Revolucion Tijuana.

Eloy Colombano - Ferro Carril Sud (Olavarría) - Argentina - FerroCarril's season ended last week.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Started for Harbour View, recording an assist in their 1-0 win over Portmore United.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Did not dress in either of Fulham's two games this week.
Akeem Priestly - FK Mughan - Azerbaijan - Did not play in Mughan's 2-2 draw with Neftchi.
Scott Sealy - Bnei Sakhnin FC - Israel - Started and played 64 minutes in Bnei Sakhnin's 3-0 loss to Maccabi Netanya.
Matt Taylor - FSV Frankfurt - Germany - Dressed but did not play in Frankfurt's 0-0 draw with Ahlen.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Dressed but did not play in Wellington's 1-0 loss to Sydney FC.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Espinoza Called into Honduran Camp

Wizards' midfielder, Roger Espinoza, is going to continue to have a busy offseason. After spending time in South Africa with the MLS Generation Adidas team, it's now been announced that Espinoza has been called into the Honduran national team camp starting January 4th and will finish with Honduras' friendly against the United States in LA on the 23rd of January. Espinoza is the "surprise" on the list of 19 players on Reinaldo Rueda's roster according to the article. The surprise in his selection is probably due to the lack of playing time late in the season for the Wizards. I still wonder why Espinoza wasn't getting more playing time late in the season. In my mind it's one of two things, either he doesn't fit in with Peter Vermes' plans (which I doubt) or he wasn't being played in hopes of keeping him from graduating from the Generation Adidas program. Either way, with the camp not being held during a FIFA date, the camp will be made up mainly of players from MLS, the Honduran league, and Scandinavian leagues.

KC's Second Game Moved

It didn't take very long for the Wizards to have a schedule change for the 2010 season. Today the Wizards announced that they wouldn't be playing the Houston Dynamo the second game of the season, on Saturday, April 3rd.

The Dynamo sent out the below email that gives an explanation as to why the game was moved. The game was moved as the Dynamo will now be taking on Real Salt Lake Thursday, April 1st:

Dynamo’s 2010 home opener to be held Thursday, April 1

Match against Real Salt Lake moved to fill national television slot

HOUSTON, TX (Tuesday, December 15, 2009) -- The Houston Dynamo will open their 2010 regular season home schedule with a nationally-televised, Thursday-night game against defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake on April 1, 2010, it was announced today.

The game, originally scheduled to be played on Saturday, April 3 against the Kansas City Wizards, will be shown live on ESPN2 and will kick off at 8 p.m. CT at the University of Houston’s Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo will be looking to improve upon the best home record in MLS regular season play (.713 winning percentage) since moving to Houston beginning with the 2006 season.

The 2010 regular season will kick off the previous week, with the Dynamo traveling to face in-state rival FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, March 27. Houston is 3-0-1 in season series against FC Dallas.

The Houston Dynamo are a Major League Soccer franchise that has won two MLS Cup championships in its first four seasons and represented the United States in four consecutive regional championships. Houston Dynamo season tickets are on sale now for the 2010 season, including tickets for the Dynamo’s entire home schedule and the MLS All-Star Game at Reliant Stadium. For more information, log on to or call (713) 276-7500.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stadium Start Date

There are 17 days left in the year for Robb Heineman's comment about breaking ground before the end of the year to come true. Unfortunately according to the KC Business Journal, that is still not resolved. The article, though, doesn't really contain much new information, most of it is a rehashing of information that Wizards fans have already seen in previous articles, and comments made by Heineman on Bigsoccer. The only real new information is from Tim Weaver of Lane4, talking about the fact that they still have to work out financing and other options as well. Besides that it's more playing off the Village West area with KCMO continuing to say the Bannister project is still alive. We see information about the new release date of the funds and the other monitary news we've already seen.

The best part of the article was the author's use of Bigsoccer as a news source for his story.

Vermes Interview

Thad over at The Back Post interviewed Wizards coach and technical director, Peter Vermes last Friday. Vermes talked about a multitude of topics and gave some good information. We also got beating around the bush that you get in these types of interviews from time to time.

Vermes talked about some player news, he said that the rumors of Santiago Hirsig going to Colo Colo were just that, rumors. He talked about offerring a new contract to Claudio Lopez, saying he wants to re-sign him if the deal is good for both sides. Vermes also stated that the Wizards have offerred forward, Kei Kamara a new contract and are waiting for his reply while he has trials in Europe. Thad also asked about the signing of Ocatvio Zambrano with Vermes saying that he brings tons of experience both inside and outside of MLS. Vermes stated he was a top candidate for the head coaching position before Vermes took it and that he wanted Zambrano on his staff in some form.

Thad asked Vermes about some of the expansion draft picks, including Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. Vermes said that Zusi's creative ability as an American player, and his salary were two of the seasons why they protected Zusi. He continued to explain how the team thought they had good idea on who Peter Nowak would take in the draft and they felt comfortable leaving Besler available. Thad brought up the other "deals" Philadelphia had made with Real Salt Lake and Houston, asking if KC had made a similar deal. Vermes said no, but that the Wizards were still working with the Union to potentially make a deal. As for other expansion draft protection, in the Kevin Souter vs Santiago Hirsig protection, it came down to salary as the main reason Souter was protected over Hirsig.

Vermes then talks about the Superdraft, being vague in his break down of who the Wizards are looking at for their pick. He says how the team is looking for players that will not just contribute now but in the future as well. Vermes talks about how they plan on breaking down their selection depending on positional needs and the best player available.

The rest of the interview is spent on other subjects including the CBA, USL/NASL debate, the World Cup draw and multiple other things. Check it out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hirsig Already Gone?

If this article I found from yesterday is true, it appears that Santiago Hirsig has already left the Wizards. The article, once translated, talks about Hirsig still being a target of Chilean club Colo Colo, but also says that Hirsig has already left the Wizards. There's been no word from the team about him leaving, but he could have been 1 of the 4 players that were out of contract with the Wizards this year (including Kei Kamara and Claudio Lopez). That would make more sense that this deal is in the works.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gansler to Hall of Fame

Former Wizards coach, Bob Gansler has been elected to another Hall of Fame. While Gansler is up for elect to the US Soccer Hall of Fame via the veterans committee, he has been elected to the NSCAA Hall of Fame. Gansler will be inducted during the NSCAA convention this year in Philadelphia on January 15th. Congratulations to Gansler on this achievement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

5 Years Ago

Five years ago yesterday for Wizards fans will bring many mixed feelings. Yesterday was the five year anniversary of Lamar Hunt announcing that he was putting the Wizards up for sale. I say that this brings mixed feelings because at the time it brought rage, fear, and frustration to most if not all Wizards fans. But years later, after the purchasing of the team by OnGoal, that day is seen as a day when a big change occurred with the team and things started to turn around.

The day before the announcement was when the speculation started. Hunt had called a press conference for 2:30 pm the next day. This was shortly after the failing of Bi-State II which would have helped to renovate Arrowhead for Hunt's other KC team, the Chiefs. Immediately the thoughts of relocation and selling the team came up, but with the announcement being in KC relocation seemed extremely unlikely. The more hopeful people were hoping for either the announcement of a stadium deal, new investors, or potentially a World Cup qualifier returning to KC. Even those with contacts inside the front office didn't even know what the announcement was going to be about.

I remember exactly where I was that day. I was a senior in college and unfortunately had my European Reformation class right at the same time as the announcement. I dazed through class that day and took part of my final in that class before bolting back to my room and getting back on Bigsoccer to find out what had happened with the announcement. I get on my computer and the first thread I see is this. My heart like most Wizards fans immediately sank. The sadness quickly turned to rage at Hunt for doing this, for wanting to sell "my" team. I became so pissed at Hunt that I quit watching the Chiefs and vowed never to spend another dime on that team (this turned out to be false because as a Jackson County resident I'm helping to fund their stadium renovations). I still 5 years later have not watched more than a few plays a season of the Chiefs.

Here was Hunt's reasoning at the time for selling the team: "Similarly not feasible for the Wizards to not succeed without a SSS. I must concede I did not fully recognize this when the league first started. The recent failure of the Bi-State committee makes us realize that we need to focus on having an appropriate facility for the Chiefs in mid-America. It is because of this we are announcing that we are putting the Wizards up for sale."

That was a punch in the gut, he threw the Wizards under the bus to work to get things taken care of for the Chiefs. From a profitability standpoint I understand, but still years later that hurts a little to read that quote.

After the initial sadness/frustration, things started to be worked out, the Heart of America Soccer Foundation was formed with one of their primary goals being to find local ownership for the Wizards. Wizards fans owe people like Sam Pierron, Greg Cotton, Mark Naster, and others in the HASF that started this work. It took over a year and a half, but HASF and others had worked to bring together OnGoal LLC which on August 31, 2006 purchased the Wizards from Hunt. And while the work after that point has had it's ups and downs, that moment is still probably the best day in Wizards history in my mind.

As time has gone by, I have forgiven Hunt to a point. He kept his word and worked to find local ownership first. He just as easily could have let KC be a lame duck for the 2005 season and sold them off to Rochester, San Antonio, or wherever half way through the season. But he kept his commitment to finding local owners and it worked out for the best for the Wizards as OnGoal has helped to breath some new life into the team. And now with a new stadium looking like it could very well be in the final planning stages I now look back at the announcement of the sale of the team as a turning point (for the better) of the team.

2010 Open Tryouts

For the third year in a row, the Wizards will be holding open tryouts out at their Swope Park training complex. This year the tryouts will be March 13th and 14th. The fee for those wanting to tryout this coming year will be $200 plus a $5 processing fee.

Unlike last year I have no grand plans to attempt to tryout, while I'd always told myself I would try if given the chance, my knee just isn't going to hold up for it I think. So like the last two years, I'll be on the sidelines watching the players tryout to see who if anyone impresses me.

2010 Draft Approaching

The 2010 MLS draft inn Philadelphia is little more than a month away and the list of potential players is starting to come out. Today MLS released the list of seniors that were invited to the MLS combine in Fort Lauderdale this coming January. Also today, thanks to Buzz Carrick over at the great 3rd Degree blog, we have the preliminary potential Generation Adidas list. The list is full of a lot of US youth internationals as well as plenty of other talented players that could be contributing fairly early on. Here is a look at only a few of those players that are interesting in one form or another to me.

Ike Opara - Wake - D - He was seen as a top 3 pick last year and probably a top 3 pick again this year.
Michael Thomas - ND - M - Another Notre Dame player from Kansas City like Wizards defender Matt Besler.
Michael Stephens - UCLA - M - Before the GA list was announced last year he seemed to be a favorite to be on the list and the Wizards were one of the favorites to take him.
Julien Edwards - Drake - D - None of the KC players playing for Drake are on the list (Garrett Webb being the most surprising), but Edwards' had a good season and his Canadian citizenship likely puts him on Toronto's radar.
Brian Perk - UCLA - GK - Starter for the US U20 team in the recent World Cup.
Andre Akpan - Harvard - F - Another player that has been wanted by MLS for a few years.
Jack McInerney - US U17 - F - Won't be ready to contribute right away, but I was impressed during the U17 World Cup and the team's friendly here in KC.
Luis Gil - US U17 - M - Another player from the US U17 World Cup team, Gil has brought interest from some of the top clubs in Europe including Arsenal and Real Madrid.
Corben Bone - Wake - M - Has a lot of talent and can be a good playmaker.
Teal Bunbury - Akron - F - Son of former Wizard Alex Bunbury, he's had a breakout season for currently undefeated Akron.

With the 4th pick in the draft, the Wizards will be able to get one of these players if they so choose, or a different player as well. KC has 5 picks in the draft, along with the 4th they have the 20th, 36th, 41st, and 52nd.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hirsig on the Move?

Yesterday we learned about the upcoming trail for Wizards out-of-contract forward Kei Kamara in France. Today it turns out that the Wizards could be losing Santiago Hirsig as well. There appear to have been some rumors the past few days about Colo-Colo, the historic Chilean powerhouse, signing the Argentine to a contract. In fact in the past two days it seems to have gone from interest to something more likely to happen.

The rough translation of the second article (from today) says "the virtual arrival of midfielder Santiago Hirsig," which would seem to suggest that it's only a matter of time before Hirsig is playing in Chile. I'm not too sure how to feel about this potential move right now. Hirsig showed well at times throughout the season, he showed confidence on the ball and an ability to hold the ball up. But later in the season those abilities weren't as prevalent, he started to lose the ball more easily and the passing that looked so good early on wasn't there. There's also the fact that Hirsig didn't play much late in the season and even returned to Argentina while the season was still going on (although that appears to have been for his settlement with his old club, San Lorenzo). It would help to explain a little bit about why he was left exposed in the expansion draft if he was already planning to leave.

More Stadium News

Yesterday we heard new news on the Wizards potential stadium site out at the Legends. Today thanks to a poster on Bigsoccer, we have a little more news that makes it seem like the Legends complex is very close to happening. The link is to a Contract and Bid Opportunities blog talking about the fact that Wizards are accepting bids for the stadium project out in Kansas City, Kansas. According to the post, they are accepting bids for drilled piers and concrete foundation. The bidding is open until the 18th. And while this bidding does not mean the project is finalized, it certainly seems a lot closer now with this news. It means that the Wizards feel confident enough in this site to start working towards getting the construction lined up.

Former Wizards Update

Another week for your former Wizards update. Another former Wizard has joined the list, as Sean Bowers is playing with the San Diego Sockers of the PASL-Pro division. Also some news about a former Wizard that came out today. Fulham's Eddie Johnson would appear to be on the outs at Fulham.

Sean Bowers - San Diego - Played in his first game for San Diego in their 15-5 win over the Denver Dynamite.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - The Blast's next game is on the 13th.
Vicente Figueroa - California - California defeated the Denver Dynamite 9-8 Sunday.
Paul Wright - San Diego - Scored for San Diego in their 15-5 win over the Denver Dynamite.

Eloy Colombano - Ferro Carril Sud (Olavarría) - Argentina - Tied Independiente Tandil 0-0.
Gary Glasgow - United Petrotrin - Trinidad - Started and played 90 minutes in United Petrotrin's 1-0 loss to W Connection in the semifinals of the 2009 FA Trophy Cup.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Harbour View drew 1-1 with August Town.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Did not dress in Fulham's 1-0 win over CSKA Sofia or 1-0 win over Sunderland.
Anthony Noriega - United Petrotrin - Trinidad - Did not play in Petrotin's 1-0 loss to W Connection in the 2009 FA Trophy Cup.
Akeem Priestly - FK Mughan - Azerbaijan - Started and played 90 minutes inn Mughan's 0-0 draw with Simurq.
Scott Sealy - Bnei Sakhnin FC - Israel - Started and played 82 minutes in Bnei Sakhnin's 1-0 win over Maccabi Haifa FC.
Matt Taylor - FSV Frankfurt - Germany - Came off the bench and played 5 minutes in Frankfurt's 2-0 loss to Augsburg.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Dressed but did not play in Wellington's 1-1 draw with the Melbourne Victory.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Kansas Sweetening Pot for Wizards

In another effort to try and finalize the deal to bring the Wizards stadium out to the Legends area, the Kansas Commerce Department has sweetened the deal for the Wizards and Cerner. The Commerce Department has agreed to pay Cerner the $48.5 million worth of IMPACT (Investments in Major Projects and Comprehensive Training) incentives up front. So instead of that money being distributed throughout the duration of the project, the entire money will come up front. The deal offers the team and Cerner no new money, but with the offer being offered up front, it may be the deciding factor for the team to finalize the deal and break ground before the end of the year like the team has said. Getting the money up front could help offset the lack of bonds being sold right now and help the team get the project going sooner. We'll see soon hopefully what effect if any this has on the team and Cerner's decision on putting the stadium out at the Legends.

Kamara France Trial

Wizards forward, Kei Kamara will be training with French ligue 2 side, Le Havre AC coming up soon. Thanks to ASN's twitter for this information. According to a French Football site, Kamara will be on an 8 day trial with the club that will involve playing in a friendly with the team. Kamara is out of contract with the Wizards/MLS so he would be available on a free transfer to the French side.

Good luck to Kamara on the trial, but I selfishly don't want it to work out. I'd rather have him in KC next season for a full season.

Juniors Weekend in Phoenix

The Wizards Juniors finished out their weekend in Phoenix for the US Developmental Academy Winter Showcase with a decent record. The Juniors two teams went a combined 2-1-3. The 16's recorded both of the Juniors wins, beating Seaside United 1-0 and the Richmond Kickers 2-0 before falling to Real So Cal 1-0 in their final game. The 18's got 3 draws on the weekend, getting a 0-0 draw with Seaside United, a 3-3 draw with Richmond, and a 1-1 draw with Crossfire Premier.

Juniors U16 goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who at one time was with the US U-17 team was named to one of the "Academy Select Teams". Those 8 teams will be made up of 130 players from different teams from the developmental academy, selected by youth national team coaches and U.S. Soccer’s youth national team scouting network. Kempin was the only Wizards Junior player to be named to the teams and was one of 28 players from MLS teams selected to the 8 teams.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Class of 2009

With the changes this past offseason to MLS teams rosters, the draft this past year was a little bit different. Due to the smaller rosters, there were only 4 rounds in the draft. In those 4 rounds, the Wizards had 5 picks. So let's take a look at those 5 picks from this past year.

1(8) - Matt Besler - The local KC product, Besler had himself a solid first season in MLS. After spending the first few games on the bench, he came in for an injured Michael Harrington and kept Harrington out of the left back position. He then moved into the center of defense and while the defense as a whole wasn't the best, Besler was one the most consistent players for KC all season. Besler played in 28 of the 30 games, starting 26 of those games. He ended the season 4th on the team in minutes with 2,236.

2(22) - Doug DeMartin - DeMartin camp into camp with the Wizards originally, but left early as he picked up an injury. During the summer DeMartin was back with the Wizards trying to make his way onto the roster, but left without gaining a roster spot.

2(23) - Graham Zusi - I was extremely happy with this pick when the Wizards made it, and early on, it appeared that Zusi was going to be a steal. He had a fantastic preseason for KC, scoring goal and overall contributing. He even earned a starting spot for the beginning of the season. Unfortunately he didn't start the regular season well. He came on again at the end of the season and started earning more playing time late on. Zusi ended the season appearing in 13 games playing 524 games, recording 1 assist during the regular season.

3(42) - Neal Kitson - Another pick I was originally happy with, Kitson looked like he'd be a great potential goalkeeper for the future. Unfortunately, Kitson came into camp with the Wizards with an injury and after a few days with the team was released. He's still trying to make it as a pro oncne he's completely back from his injury.

4(50) - Akeem Priestley - Priestley never came into camp with KC. He originally tried to try his luck abroad instead of coming to play with the Wizards. Priestley ended up back in his home country of Jamaica playing with Harbour View FC before moving abroad to Azerbijan side, FK Mughan.

The Wizards made some good picks in the draft, I still like the Zusi pick and think he'll be a positive contributor to the Wizards over the next few years. Besler as well looks like he's going to contribute a lot to the team. With a reserve team I have a feeling DeMartin probably would have gotten an extended look. As for Kitson and Priestley, Kitson's injury took him out immediately, while I doubt Priestley ever had grand ideas of playing in MLS since he immediately went abroad.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Espinoza Scores in GA Win

The MLS Generation Adidas team closed out their trip to South Africa today when they took on the reserves of Cape Town Ajax. The GA team came away with their second win of the trip, defeating Cape Town 2-0. Once again, Chicago Fire forward, Patrick Nyarko got a goal, his 3rd goal of the trip, to open the scoring for the MLSers. Espinoza came on as a second half sub, and only 2 minutes after coming on scored, putting away a rebound after FC Dallas forward, Peri Marosevic, had hit the post. Judging by the report, the GA team dominated their South African counterparts, with Stefan Frei being a spectator mostly in the first half, while Josh Lambo was a little busier in the second half.

So the GA team finish out their trip with a 2-1 record, scoring 5 goals while conceding 2. Patrick Nyarko had 3 of those goals with Chris Pontius and Espinoza getting the other 2. Chance Myers once again started and played 90 minutes for the GA team. Myers played all 270 minutes of the trip. Espinoza ended the trip having played 115 minutes while down in South Africa.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Top 15 Wizards

Kyle, who normally does the posting on Hillcrest Road has been away the past few days as he's getting married (congrats Kyle). In his place, Rob Thomson has taken over the duties of posting, and has given some great posts the past few days. He's given us some inside stories from the team's earlier years as well as a quiz to win an old Peter Byaruhanga from 2001. I've been wracking my brain trying to answer those questions, and as I've posted on the Wizards blog I think I have two of those questions answered, need one more and I may be getting that jersey.

Yesterday Rob posted another post with some more great stories about the team. At the bottom he makes mention of next year being the Wizards 15th season and wanted to get peoples' advice on who were the top 15 players in Wizards history. I've come up with my list of the top 15 players. Here is my list of the top 15 players in Wizards history, in no real particular order.

Preki - Easily the best player in team history.
Tony Meola - Great goalkeeper, his performance in the 2000 season was lights out.
Davy Arnaud - From West Texas A&M to Wizards legend.
Jimmy Conrad - Became a national teamer and one of the leagues best defenders during his time here.
Uche Okafor - The former Nigerian international was solid for the Wizards in the back during their early seasons.
Mo Johnston - Johnston was solid throughout his career in KC and will always be remembered for his sacrifice that lead to the Wizards mini-game win in the 2000 playoffs.
Nick Garcia - A rock in the defense for KC.
Peter Vermes - Current manager was a solid veteran presence in defense for KC.
Chris Klein - Worked wonders down the wings for the Wizards and twice came back from ACL tears.
Kerry Zavagnin - Didn't have the offensive stats, but was a consistent presence in the Wizards midfield.
Diego Gutierrez - Another player that wasn't flashy offensively, but was a strong contributor to the Wizards.
Josh Wolff - Wolff is a polarizing player for Wizards fans, but you can't argue with the fact that he's one of the top goal scorers in team history.
Mark Chung - Chung brought a great compliment to Preki in the midfield during the early years of the Wizards.
Kevin Hartman - He's been the most consistent and probably the Wizards best player the past 3 years.
Miklos Molnar - I tried to keep my list to players that had spent more than 1 season in KC, but you can't discount Molnar's 1 season, especially since he missed time at the Euro. He was just too important to the 2000 team to leave him off this list.

Players that just missed the list, Matt McKeon, Digital Takawira, Chris Henderson, and Sean Bowers.

Who are your top 15?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Zambrano New Wizards Assistant

First brought to you today by Thad at The Back Post, the Wizards named former Metrostars and Galaxy coach, Octavio Zambrano, their new assistant coach. There had been rumors since the Wizards were looking for a new coach that Zambrano could be on his way to Kansas City in some form. His time in Hungary and the Wizards trailing one of his former players were just two hints that there was some relationship forming. Zambrano has the second-best winning percentage in MLS history.

I personally like this move, Zambrano was know for his attacking style, and that's certainly something the Wizards have lacked not only last year, but for the last few years. The team has never been know for their attacking ability since Ron Newman left. So bringing in a guy that has been more attacking minded throughout his career definitely can't hurt in Peter Vermes attempts to improve the Wizards poor scoring record last season. Here is the Wizards release on the signing.

World Cup Draw Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the World Cup draw when we'll all find out who the USA and the other 31 teams in the World Cup will be playing next summer in South Africa. The pageantry of the whole thing is a bit over done in the end, but still enjoyable. Still for those that aren't doing a whole lot tomorrow, the Wizards are hosting a watch party at the 810 Zone on the Plaza with plenty of big prizes for those that attend. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend.

For those interested, you can do a mock draw here. My draw saw the USA grouped with the hosts, South Africa, Chile, and France. Here's the rest of my draw. The closest to a group of death is probably group C with the Netherlands, Mexico, Paraguay, and Slovenia.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Former Wizards Update [UPDATED]

Not a whole lot of news on the former Wizards front this week. Only 9 former Wizards (that I have found) are currently still playing. I am still looking for information on a few former Wizards, including Doug DeMartin, Will John, Neal Kitson, Carlos Marinelli, Scott Sealy, and Alex Zotinca, so if you happen to know where, if anywhere these players are playing, let me know.

Pat Healey - Baltimore - Baltimore's next game is on the 13th of this month.
Vicente Figueroa - California - Cougars' next game is December 6th.
Paul Wright - San Diego - The Sockers' next game is December 5th.

Eloy Colombano - Ferro Carril Sud (Olavarría) - Argentina - Ferrocarril lost 3-1 to Racing Olavarria.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Hue played and recorded an assist in Harbour View's 2-0 win over St. George's SC last week. Harbour View lost 2-0 to Waterhouse on the weekend.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Dressed but did not play in Fulham's 1-1 draw with Bolton.
Akeem Priestly - FK Mughan - Azerbaijan - Started and played 90 minutes in Mughan's 1-0 loss to Standard.
Matt Taylor - FSV Frankfurt - Germany - Did not dress in Frankfurt's 1-0 loss ot Hansa Rostock.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Did not play in the Phoenix's 4-1 loss to the Brisbane Roar.

Thanks to an email I now have information on where Scott Sealy has landed. He's back in Israel playing with Bnei Sakhnin FC, he's made 3 sub appearances since signing in early November. Also I took Gary Glasgow and Anthony Noriega off too soon, as United Petrotrin was in the quarterfinals of the Trinidad and Tobago Cup. Glasgow scored the game winner in Petrotrin's 3-1 win over Siparia Spurs. They'll play W. Connection in the semifinals.

Generation Adidas Team Loses in South Africa

The MLS Generation Adidas team in South Africa played their second game of their trip today against Santos Football Club. Unfortunately this result didn't go the way of the first one against the Pirates. The GA team lost 2-1 to Santos. Chicago Fire forward, Patrick Nyarko once again scored for the GA team in the loss. As for the Wizards two GA players, both Chance Myers and Roger Espinoza started for the GA team. Myers started and played the full 90 minutes in defense for the MLS team. Espinoza started and played the first 58 minutes before making way for Eric Avila of FC Dallas.

The team will continue to train in South Africa and will even be attending this Friday's World Cup draw in Cape Town before playing Ajax Cape Town's reserves on Sunday in their final game.

Kings Schedule is Out

The Kansas City Kings schedule for the 2009-2010 season is now out. It's a shorter schedule than in previous seasons, with the Kings only playing 9 games. The Midwest division has less teams than in previous seasons, as Fuerza Latina and the Springfield (IL) Spirits are not back, leaving the division with only the Kings, Piasa FC, and the Springfield Demize. To help fill games, the Kings are playing the Texas Outlaws of the PASL-Pro division, and will play the St. Louis Illusion again, this time at the Dome. General admission tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children, $2 for children in soccer jerseys. The Outlaws will be at the Dome on December 12th for the Kings home opener.

Leading the Star

Earlier this week I made mention of the good run that the University of Drake is enjoying in the NCAA men's soccer tournament and how they're doing it with the help of players from the Kansas City area. Today the KC Star jumped onto the band wagon as well posting their own article about the team and the KC player's success in the NCAA's. The team will be heading out tomorrow to make their way down to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels.

One thing that both myself and the Star forgot to mention in our articles, though, is the fact that not only are the KC players good on the field (Garrett Webb was MVC player of the year, while Luke Gorczyca and Kevin Shrout also made the MVC first team, with Matt Kuhn and Calvin Clark making the second team), they are also good in the class room, with 3 of the KC players being named as Academic All Americans. Brian Wurst was named to the first team, with Kuhn on the second team and Clark on the third team.

Monday, November 30, 2009

KC World Cup Bid Press Conference Tomorrow

photo courtesy of Thad Bell

Tomorrow at Arrowhead Stadium, the KC World Cup bid committee and Kansas City mayor, Mark Funkhouser will be hosting a press conference. Funkhouser is set to make "a major statement" about the city's bid to host the World Cup in Kansas City. Since the announcement of the press conference was made earlier today, I've been trying to figure out what the "major statement" by the mayor will be. Since the mayor is there, it definitely has to be something involving the city itself. This means it's unlikely to be anything about the World Cup itself or the cities that will be named in the USA's bid, although the USSF is going to be narrowing the bids down to their final 18 in December(slide 6).

I've been doing some research into what it could be, and I found this in my search. What this is, is the Host City Agreement that cities need to sign to be part of the bid process. It breaks down the hosting responsibilities of the city for the World Cup, everything from the selection of the cities, to posters advertising the event, to public transit, to even the base camps for the team (the link above from Hillcrest Road provides a ton of information about KC's bid). It needs to be signed by the city for the city to be considered in the final hosting for the country biding for the World Cup.

I've been able to confirm from a source that this is indeed what the announcement is supposed to be tomorrow, the fact that the city of Kansas City has signed the Host City Agreement. This is a big step for the city and the bid committee in their work to get the city of Kansas City to be one of the final 12 cities that will hopefully host either the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup.

Generation Adidas Team Defeat Pirates

The MLS Generation Adidas team played their first game of their South African tour today against the reserve team of the Orlando Pirates. The MLSers pulled out a 2-0 win over the Pirates thanks to goals by DC United's Chris Pontius and the Chicago Fire's Patrick Nyarko. Wizards defender/midfielder, Chance Myers played the full 90 minutes at right back for the GA team, putting in an outstanding performance. Roger Espinoza came on as a second half sub and played the final 32 minutes for the GA team. The GA team will play their second game will be Thursday, December 3rd, although their opponent hasn't been named yet.

Local KC Players in the NCAA

The NCAA men's tournament is down to their final 8 teams, and one of those teams has gotten a big hand from plenty of local KC area players. The Drake Bulldogs came from behind to beat Boston College 6-4 yesterday in Boston to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight against UNC. Five of Drake's 6 goals were scored by 4 Kansas City players. The four KC players, Kevin Shrout, Garrett Webb, Luke Gorczyca, and Matt Kuhn are just 4 of 7 KC players on Drake's roster. This is a great showing for Kansas City itself that a team this far into the NCAA tournament is so reliant on players from the Kansas City area. Congratulations to the team and good luck to the team against the Tar Heels. And for those interested in seeing Drake's come from behind victory, check out the highlights here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jimmy Conrad's Latest

I've read basically all of Jimmy Conrad's ESPN/CNNSI articles over the years and have thoroughly enjoyed the humor that Conrad has brought. It's one of the things that's made him a favorite not just among Wizards fans, but fans around the league, they see him as a potential play-by-play guy after his playing career is over. But his latest entry is a little different as it doesn't appear to have the usual humor that Conrad brings, unless it is very subtle. Conrad comes up with 3 ideas for changing MLS so that the "teenage league" can break away from it's "American sports brethren".

His first point reads like it could be from any one of the numerous new posters on Bigsoccer who post these types of ideas daily it seems. He speaks of breaking away and telling our "parents that we hate them and 'what do they know about anything,'" yet his first point is to go ahead and move in with our "best friend's parents" because they have the "cool entertainment center" known as promotion and relegation. Conrad comes up with the idea of splitting a 20 team MLS into two 10 team leagues with no inter mixing games between those two teams (except for the Open Cup). Basically the same set up as our "soccer brethren" around the world. Remember as a kid how you always wanted to live at your best friend's house cause you thought it was cooler there? This is the same premise basically, dump your American sports style parents for your European sports parents. So instead of running with our own identity as Conrad said, we'd just be conforming our identity to that of our "best friend's parents".

While his point on MLS 2 create a bitter feeling is correct, he glosses over the bigger point of owners investing in an American franchise system suddenly not having the ability to market their team as "major league". He down plays the issue of the lower league and getting "engaged owners". While having engaged owners is nice, you bring yourself to the problem of those "engaged owners" over spending their ability to get the glory of winning the league, and maybe it happens, but then the owners will depend on that happening yearly to offset the losses they take. See Leeds' failing to get into the Champion's League being the start of their downfall, or teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, etc relying on making the Champion's League group stage and those money makers to help them break even.

His possible positive side affect is also off. He talks about it making the US Open Cup into a hotter ticket and hotly contested. I fail to see how making an MLS 2 would make the Open Cup more hotly contested, it'd be a similar situation as we currently have with USL-1. Those match ups between MLS and USL-1 aren't exactly hot tickets, especially in MLS markets.

And while promotion relegation adds drama at both ends of the table, that's not any different than how MLS was this year, where 14 of the 15 teams in the league were still fighting for a playoff spot with 2-3 weeks left in the season, I mean the MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake got into the playoffs thanks to other results going their way after they started the day outside the playoff picture.

His second idea is to make MLS a monopoly by buying up the USL and the MISL and use them both as places for players who don't get minutes for the first team to get some competitive games. Let's ignore the obvious anti-trust issues that could occur if MLS were to do this and focus on the rest. While I am a big proponent of the reserve league and really want it to return, I'm not sure I'm a big fan of having a minor league like baseball. Unlike baseball, many rookies that come to MLS out of college are ready to contribute right away (he discusses the draft in his third point, but we'll focus on a world where the draft still exists here). Guys like Michael Harrington, Jonathan Leathers, and Matt Besler or just some of the Wizards players over the last 3 years who have contributed in their first season. I've always considered MLS more like football or basketball where players contribute right away.

If this was even a half way potential idea, it would have to be a situation similar to the loan system in the rest of the world, which many MLS teams already utilize with the way the USL already is. This also brings in potential problem with his first point on the Open Cup, as making the system like minor league baseball would hurt the idea of the Open Cup with teams having most of their minor league team being made up of players from the parent club.

Overall I don't find much fault with this idea other than the aformentioned anti-trust issue, but other uses of the minor league and indoor system would not be a bad idea at all. More use of loans and use of an indoor league in the winter could certainly help younger players like a Matt Marquess, a Boris Pardo, or a Rauwshan McKenzie get more playing time. In fact plenty of USL-1 and lower players have pulled double duty playing indoor in the winter as well (although that's more of a job/money issue).

His third point is to do away with the MLS college draft, which I know plenty of soccer purists in this country would love. I do like his idea for players that go to college for less than 4 years, giving the team that brought them up having first right of refusal for the player. It allows teams to keep the players they helped to develop. Although MLS already this type of deal in place in some form. For instance, Matt Kassel at the University of Maryland came through New York's youth system, should he decide to turn pro, New York has first right to him before he goes into the draft. It's the same for any player in any teams current system.

As for the 4 year graduates, that can go either way, I think the draft is a "fair" way to divide up the talent that has come through college to avoid the "fly over country" getting the lesser talents after the more glamorous teams have made their selections. I do understand letting the players choose where they end up going as well.

The one point that Conrad does not touch on really are those players that weren't part of a teams' youth academy before they went off to college, do they follow the same path as 4 year graduates, are they able to choose where they go? If not, how to do they get onto a team when they decide to leave? That'd be point in Conrad's idea that needs to be addressed.

In the end Conrad, in places, brings up some interesting points that could be good jumping off points for discussion, but some seem very out there in their ideas and extremely unlikely to happen. Still, it looks like he's accomplished his Linux idea if I'm spending time adding to/changing his ideas

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Swope Park Rangers Stats

I meant to post this sooner than the end of the season, but it slipped my mind. Anyway, this season without a reserve league, the Swope Park Rangers played games against local colleges (UMKC, Creighton, and Missouri State), regional PDL teams (Brass, Meance, Demize), and other teams (Thunder, US U-17 team) throughout the season to get games. The Rangers played 12 games (one against Minnesota being only a half) this season, putting together a 10-0-2 record, the only draws coming in their first two games against the Minnesota Thunder and Crieghton. The Rangers scored a total of 54 goals (an average of 4.7 per game) while allowing only 7 goals for a GAA of .61.

Five players appeared in all 12 games for the Rangers; Michael Kraus, Kurt Morsink, Matt Marquess, Boris Pardo, and Rauwshan McKenzie, while Abe Thompson appeared in 11. The leading scorers for the Rangers were Thompson with 12, Kraus with 9, and Morsink and Graham Zusi with 5.

The Rangers closest games were their 2-2 draw with Creighton and 1-1 draw with Minnesota, while their largest win was an 11-0 blow out of the Springfield Demize. They played the Brass 4 times during the season, and Creighton twice, the other 6 teams they only played once. Hopefully in the near future we'll see a return of some kind of reserve league so that the Rangers can get more games against better competition than college kids.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Former Wizards Update

The MLS season is over so there are fewer players now, and it also means that some players start to move to new teams. Two former Wizards made moves today. First, Shavar Thomas was selected by Philadelphia in today's expansion draft and will be heading east to play for the Union. The other former Wizard to move today, was Abe Thompson, who was waived by Houston, but in turn was picked up by Real Salt Lake in the waiver draft. Meanwhile, two former Wizards picked up winners medals this past week. Yura Movsisyan in his last game inn MLS won MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake, while Chris Konopka was on the bench for Sporting Fingal in the FAI Ford Cup.

Chris Klein - LA Galaxy - Came off the bench and played 41 minutes in LA's 1-1 (5-4) loss on penalty kicks in the MLS Cup final, Klein made his penalty kick in the shoot out.
Yura Movsisyan - Real Salt Lake - Started and played 75 minutes in RSL's 1-1 (5-4) penalty kick win over LA in the MLS Cup Final.

Pat Healey - Baltimore - Played in Baltimore's 19-8 win over Philadelphia.
Vicente Figueroa - California - Played in both of California's games last week, they're 5-4 loss to San Diego, and the team's 6-4 win over Revolucion Tijuana, where he scored a goal.
Paul Wright - San Diego - Played in both of San Diego's games this past week, had 3 assists in their 5-4 win over California and played in their 15-2 win over Las Vegas.

Eloy Colombano - Ferro Carril Sud (Olavarría) - Argentina - Ferrocarril lost 5-0 to Grupo Universitario on the 21st. Ferrocarril drew with Liniers 0-0 today.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Harbour View defeated Boys Town FC 1-0 on the 22nd. They played St. Georges SC tonight.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Dressed but did not play in Fulham's 1-0 loss to Birmingham. Did not dress in Fulham's 3-0 win over Blackburn.
Chris Konopka - Sporting Fingal FC - Did not play in Fingal's 2-1 win over Sligo Rovers in the FAI Ford Cup Final.
Akeem Priestly - FK Mughan - Azerbaijan - Started and played 90 minutes in Mughan's 1-0 loss to Baku.
Matt Taylor - FSV Frankfurt - Germany - Dressed but did not play in Frankfurt's 3-1 win over RW Oberhausen.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Started and played 90 minutes in Wellington's 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets.

Philly Leaves KC Alone

The Philadelphia Union have finished up with their expansion draft, and all the worry from Wizards fans turns out to be for not. The Union did not take Kevin Hartman, Matt Besler, Herculez Gomez, or any other player on the team. The Wizards were one of five teams, along with RSL, Houston, Dallas, and TFC to not have a player selected in the expansion draft.

Here is Philadelphia's 10 picks in the draft: Brad Knighton (New England), David Myrie (Chicago), Shavar Thomas (Chivas USA), Jordan Harvey (Colorado), Shea Salinas (San Jose), Stefani Miglioranzi (LA), Andrew Jacobson (DC), Nick Zimmerman (NY), Alejandro Moreno (Columbus), Sebastian LeToux (Seattle).

There is also a rumor from Steven Goff that the Union has traded allocation money to RSL for goalkeeper Chris Seitz, which could explain why RSL lost no players in the expansion draft to the Union.

Draft Day Thoughts

So in less than half an hour, Philadelphia is going to be putting in their list of players that they are selecting in this year's expansion draft. With all the talk the last two days about it, and reading everything that people are saying, it's been interesting. A lot of Philadelphia fans are thinking that Kevin Hartman would be a great pick up for them, an immediate starter, which is most definitely true. Hartman would come in and possibly immediately be handed the captains arm band depending on who else is picked up by the Union. He's been the most consistent Wizards player over the past two years and has been my MVP pick the last two years. Losing him would be a massive blow for the Wizards.

My original thought for Philly's pick, Herculez Gomez hasn't gotten a lot of mentions, Gomez would be an immediate starter in Philly's team, but the lack of mention certainly has shaken my thought in who would be taken. Another name being mentioned a lot by bloggers and pundits, is the Wizards first round pick in the 08 draft, Matt Besler. He'd give Philadelphia a versitile defender who can play both centrally and on the left.

My thought, and worry, now is that the Union will go and grab Besler with their pick. He offers youth with some starting experience in the league that would give them something to work with. His ability to play as a wide defender and centrally gives Peter Nowak the potential to play him as a left back in a 3 man system that he liked to use when he coached DC. We'll find out what happens soon, but I also wouldn't be surprised if the Wizards have already worked out some under the table deal with the Union on who to take, if anyone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Conrad and National Team Caps

A note about Jimmy Conrad's appearance against Denmark last week that I forgot to mention. The cap was Conrad's 27th appearance for the US team as a member of the Wizards. This put Conrad all alone in second place on the list of capped players while with the Wizards. Conrad passed Preki and his 26 caps. The team leader is Josh Wolff with 38. I will say though that I am missing a lot of caps for Wizards players that played for countries other than the United States, including national teamers like Uche Okafor, Digital Takawira, Gary Glasgow, Scott Sealy and others.

MLS/Players Union Update

After tomorrow's expansion draft, the main focus for MLS will turn to the league's collective bargaining agreement which is set to expire in January. A little bit of news on the issue has come out in the past day. Today FIFPro asked FIFA to step into the potential labor dispute because MLS doesn't follow FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. FIFPro has a long list of complaints against the league; there are players without a guaranteed contract, player contracts are routinely terminated by the league, MLS acts as a cartel, there is no freedom of movement for any MLS player, and virtually any player can be transferred to another club in the league without his consent.

The players' union and FIFPro were dealt a blow later in the day, though, as Grant Wahl with Sports Illustrated received word from FIFA that it will not interfere in the collective bargaining negotiations. FIFA's statement in part said, "FIFA understands that this domestic issue is being resolved in accordance with U.S. labor laws and does not involve the U.S. Soccer Federation. FIFA will not interfere in the process. We have been assured that FIFA's regulations have been and will be respected."

This is definitely an important issue to watch as the next few weeks go by.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Expansion Draft Protected List.

The Wizards have released their list of protected players for this week's expansion draft for the Philadelphia Union. Most of the players on the list are not that surprising, but there are a few minor ones, and a big one in my opinion. Here is the list:

Arnaud, Davy
Conrad, Jimmy
Harrington, Michael
Hercegfalvi, Zoltan
Jewsbury, Jack
Kamara, Kei
Leathers, Jonathan
Lopez, Claudio
Souter, Kevin
Wolff, Josh
Zusi, Graham

There are a few deviations from my list earlier in the week, namely, Kevin Souter being protected over Santiago Hirsig, and Jonathan Leathers and Josh Wolff being protected over Matt Besler and Kevin Hartman. The biggest surprise in my opinion, is Wizards rookie, Matt Besler being left unprotected. Besler played in 28 of the Wizards 30 games this past year. The minor surprise is Souter being protected over Hirsig, but I have a feeling there is more to this than has been published. Also, despite was Ives says on his blog, Roger Espinoza and Chance Myers have NOT graduated from the Generation Adidas program according to the Wizards so they will be protected automatically.

As for who is available to be drafted, aside from the previously mentioned Besler, Hartman, and Hirsig, the Wizards have also made available Adam Cristman, Herculez Gomez, Aaron Hohlbein, Michael Kraus, Eric Kronberg, Matt Marquess, Rauwshan McKenzie, Kurt Morsink, Boris Pardo, and Lance Watson.

My opinion on who I think Philadelphia will take hasn't change though. While Besler being exposed is definitely an appealing option and I wouldn't be surprised if Philadelphia did take him, I still think Gomez is the leader to be taken. His salary, leadership, and work ethic make him extremely appealing even though his output hasn't been the best with Kansas City.

You think I'm right? Is Gomez still the favorite? Or you think Besler is now? Who are you surprised was protected/exposed?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Juniors News

The KC Wizards Juniors opened their play in the US Soccer Developmental Academy today outside Houston, as the 16's and 18's both took on Texas Rush AJ Auxerre. Both the 16's and the 18's came away with 1 goal wins over their Texas counterparts. The 16's took took their game against the Rush 1-0. Meanwhile, the 18's twice came from a goal down to win their game 3-2 over the Rush side. Both teams play again tomorrow against Texas SC DTH. They open their home season on the 29th against St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro.

Also coming up, the Juniors will make a trip down to Phoenix with the rest of the Developmental Academy teams from around the country for the Winter Showcase December 4th through the 8th. The 18's will play Seacoast United out of New Hampshire on the 4th, the Richmond Kickers out of Virginia on the 6th, and Crossfire Premier out of Washington on the 7th. The 16's will also take on Seacoast United and the Richmond Kickers, but will play Real So Cal out of California on the 7th.

Kings Begin Season tonight

While the Kansas City Kings tryouts for the upcoming PASL season have yet to occur, the team's first game of the season is tonight in St. Louis. Tonight, the Kings will take on the St. Louis Illusion of the PASL-Pro division. While the Illusion are in the Pro division, the Kings are in the PASL Premier division, the larger of the two, but a lower division. Good luck to the Kings tonight and this season, they keep moving one step forward every season, if so, this year they'll hopefully bring home the title.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Verbal Agreement on Assistant Coach

Twitter has brought us plenty of breaking news since it's become one of the quickest ways to spread news, and the Wizards have done their fair share of it. Wizards President Robb Heineman has given fans some news today as he announced "verbal agreement on assistant coach. hopefully announe soon, after contract signed". During the announcement of Peter Vermes as the new head caoch, the team had said that they were interested in bringing in another assistant coach. It looks like they're close to naming that new assistant. We'll see who ends up in the new position very soon. The hiring of a 4th assistant coach (with Zoran Savic, Kerry Zavagnin, and John Pascarella) will make the coaching staff the largest in team history.

KC's World Cup Bid

Last night the Wizards hosted a presentation on their World Cup bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup for members of the "new media" aka blogs. Due to other commitments, I was unable to attend the event, but Thad over at The Back Post did attend and has TONS of great information about the bid over on his blog. I'm not going to repost all the stats and facts, but check out his blog for tons of information about the Wizards bid.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who to Protect?

Yesterday we learned the rules for this year's expansion draft, where the Philadelphia Union will select 10 players from the 15 current MLS teams to help to begin their process for building their roster. The Wizards are allowed to protect 11 players and 3 of the team's 4 international players will have to be protected. So let's start breaking down the roster and try to figure out who will be protected.

First, the team's two Generation Adidas players, Roger Espinoza and Chance Myers will be protected automatically. Barring a shocking graduation for either Espinoza or Myers both will not need to be among the 11 protected players.

So let's start looking at the rest of the roster. Starting with the internationals, the Wizards have to protect 3 of Zoltan Hercegfalvi, Santiago Hirsig, Claudio Lopez, and Kevin Souter. To me the choice of which 3 is fairly easy, Hercegfalvi, Hirsig, and Lopez are the 3. Souter's lack of playing time this year makes him the easy one to leave out.

So 8 of the remaining 20 players will be protected. Jimmy Conrad seems certain to be protected, as does his central defense partner, Matt Besler. Besler appears to have jumped ahead of Aaron Hohlbein for the starting spot in the center of defense with Conrad. Michael Harrington, Davy Arnaud, and Jack Jewsbury also seem certain to be protected. That puts us up to 8 protected players.

Unlike last year, when Seattle had already signed Kasey Keller, Philadephia has no players at all. Without that keeper, Kevin Hartman has to be considered a favorite to be protected. While he's on the back side of his career, he's been too important to the Wizards to be left off the protected list. I think the Wizards other rookie, Graham Zusi played himself onto the protected list late in the season. His youth and salary would make him a prime candidate for selectionn, so I would protect Zusi.

That leaves 1 spot left, and there are two candidates for that spot, forwards Josh Wolff and Kei Kamara. While Wolff is coming off a career year, he is starting to get a little older, he'll be 33 by the time the 2010 season starts, not to mention that he's the teams third highest player. Kamara is younger, but is out of contract and is likely to want a salary around Wolff's I would guess. For me I'd protect Kamara over Wolff, his age and salary makes Wolff less appealing to Philadelphia.

So here are my 11 protected players, the remaining exposed players, and those exempt from being draft.
Protected Exposed
Davy Arnaud Adam Cristman
Roger Espinoza
Matt Besler Herculez Gomez
Chance Myers
Jimmy Conrad Aaron Hohlbein

Michael Harrington Michael Kraus

Kevin Hartman Eric Kronberg

Zoltan Hercegfalvi Jonathan Leathers

Santiago Hirsig Matt Marquess

Jack Jewsbury Rauwshan McKenzie

Kei Kamara Kurt Morsink

Claudio Lopez Boris Pardo

Graham Zusi Kevin Souter

Lance Watson

Josh Wolff

So who's likely to be selected? I think the most likely from this list is Herculez Gomez. Gomez's salary is fairly low for his experience ($54,408) and seemed to be on the outs with Peter Vermes after he took over as coach. If Gomez is exposed I think he's definitely a favorite to be selected, if anyone is taken from KC.