MLS News
Galaxy and Milan Work Out Beckham Deal
MLS News
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Friday, 06 March 2009 09:46

David Beckham will stay at AC Milan until the end of the season after a "timeshare" deal was finally agreed with Los Angeles Galaxy. The 33-year-old former England captain will then rejoin LA Galaxy for several months, before returning to Milan at the end of the year.

Beckham was scheduled to return to Galaxy on March 9, but wants to make a permanent move to the San Siro. It is understood he has agreed a salary cut to ensure the move goes ahead.

It is understood the "timeshare" agreement means Beckham will miss at least 17 games of the Galaxy’s games this season. His projected return to MLS action will be July 18th at the New York Red Bulls.

Beckham’s projected MLS schedule then looks like this:

July

18 - Saturday @ New York Red Bulls

25 - Saturday @ Kansas City Wizards

August

08 - Saturday @ New England Revolution

15 - Saturday Seattle Sounders FC 

19 - Wednesday @ Chicago Fire

22 - Saturday @ D.C. United

29 - Saturday Chivas USA 

September

12 - Saturday FC Dallas 

19 - Saturday Toronto FC 

26 - Saturday @ Columbus Crew

October

02 - Friday Chicago Fire 

18 - Sunday @ Houston Dynamo

24 - Saturday San Jose Earthquakes



Source: Click Here

 
2009 MLS Season Preview: D.C. United
MLS News
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Friday, 06 March 2009 07:00

The Recent Results: Wow, last year was actually one of the worst in United’s history. They missed the playoffs by finishing sixth in the East. They tied for seventh overall in goals scored and they were deplorable on defense as they ended the year only above the Galaxy in goals against. Gallardo was a huge bust. Overall, it was pretty ugly.

The Man in Charge: Despite their insanely bad play and their absolutely atrocious record on the road, Tom Soehn is back in the saddle in DC this year. His seat has to be the hottest in the entire league though as I just can’t fathom the suits will keep him for long if DCU struggles early on. Hey, at least he has motivation to win right away though, right?

On the Offensive: With Gallardo gone, C. Gomez is back where he belongs controlling United’s fortunes as their attacking midfielder. At least I know where he is now, right? DCU also still has Jaime Moreno, Mr. Simms, and Fred, so maybe they can recapture some of their old magic. It will have to be “old” magic with this bunch due to their age.

For the Defense: Though Gomez is an upgrade over Gallardo, the defense hasn’t improved since the offseason, so I figure DCU is still in deep trouble in 2009. Not only do they lack experience in the back, but they have absolutely no depth. Whether its Wells or Crayton in goal, it won’t matter because whoever is there will be facing a firing squad.

Movie They Resemble: I really was tempted to go with Dick here because of the DC connection and the fact Gomez just emerged from a stadium with the same moniker, but instead I will go with Resurrecting the Champ, that Samuel L. Jackson movie about a washed-up boxer that came out a couple of years ago. Like Sam’s character in that movie, I think DC may be done. But, hey, at least it looks like they will get a new stadium so they won’t be homeless like him too.


Source: Click Here

 
LA Galaxy and Milan agree to David Beckham timeshare deal
MLS News
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Friday, 06 March 2009 06:09

I've been David Beckham, good night.

This is the last post I will write about the Milan/Galaxy/David Beckham threeway - probably, ahem - and anyway, I can't match the delightful insights and vitriol of my friends across the Atlantic, Messrs Loney and Archer. Compared with them, I'm a casual bystander whose main interest in Beckham is what new torture contraption his wife is wearing on her long-suffering feet. (I may have a slight foot fetish, football fans. Shhhh.)

Here's the deal, according to most news agencies on the planet, Beckham stays with Milan until mid-July, then returns to LA until the end of October. Then he goes back to Milan for the rest of the 2009/10 Serie A season. Beckham will fund the majority of the loan fee being paid to the Galaxy out of his own fat wallet - a gesture which a) confirms how desperately he wants to prolong his career at the highest level, and b) is nothing short of a huge insult to everyone involved with the Galaxy.

If I was one of Beckham's Galaxy teammates, how would I feel when he walks up at the training ground in July in whatever monstrous gas guzzler he picked out that morning? I'd feel like "Here's a guy who paid his own money so he wouldn't have to play with me."

Good for the Galaxy's morale? I don't think so. Maybe his teammates will make a pact not to pass to him. That'll learn ya, limey.

Ultimately, I guess this is the best solution for an intractable position. Everyone wins a little bit, but I can't help but feel that the Galaxy - who should have wielded the most power in this negotiation; they own Becks, after all - will bear the scars of being burned long after Beckham has retired.

Threesomes never end well.

Source: Click Here

 
Soccer Robots Getting Smarter at RoboCup
MLS News
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Thursday, 05 March 2009 22:34

Anyone who has ever bravely volunteered to coach a youth soccer team is familiar with the blank stares that ensue when trying to explain the offsides rule. The logic that combines moving players, the position of the ball and the timing of a pass is always a challenge for 10-year-old brains to grasp (let alone 40-year-old brains).

Imagine trying to teach this rule to an inanimate, soccer-playing robot, along with all of the other rules, movements and strategies of the game.

Now researchers have developed an automated method of robot training by observing and copying human behavior.

Why are scientists teaching robots to play soccer? The short-term motivation is to win the annual RoboCup competition, the "World Cup" of robotic development. International teams build real robots that go head to head with no human control during the game. This year's competition is in Graz, Austria in June.

Here's the final match from the 2008 RoboCup:



The long-term goal is to develop the underlying technologies to build more practical robots, including an offshoot called RoboCup Rescue that develops disaster search and rescue robotics.

In a study released in the March 2009 online edition of Expert Systems with Applications, titled "Programming Robosoccer agents by modeling human behavior", a team from Carlos III University of Madrid used a technique known as machine-learning to teach a software agent several low-level basic reactions to visual stimuli.

"The objective of this research is to program a player, currently a virtual one, by observing the actions of a person playing in the simulated RoboCup league," said Ricardo Aler, lead author of the study.

In addition to actual robots, RoboCup also has a simulation software league that is more like a video game. In the study, human players were presented with simple game situations and were given a limited set of actions they could take.

Their responses were recorded and used to program a "clone" agent with many if-then scenarios based on the human's behavior. By automating this learning process, the agent can build its own knowledge collection by observing many different game scenarios.

The team has seen early success at learning rudimentary actions like moving towards the ball and choosing when to shoot, but the goal is to advance to higher-level cognition, including the dreaded offsides rule.

Implanting the physical robots with this knowledge set will give them a richer set of actions to choose from when they are exposed to visual stimuli from the playing field.

Previous attempts at machine learning relied on the robot/software to learn rules and reactions entirely on their own, similar to neural networks. Aler's team hopes to jump start the process by seeding the knowledge base with human players’ choices.

While current video soccer games like FIFA 2009 already use a detailed simulation engine, transferring this to the physical world of robots is the key to future research.

RoboCup organizers are not shy about their ultimate tournament in the year 2050. According to their website, "By mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win the soccer game, comply with the official rules of the FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup."

That's right; they plan on the robots beating the current, human World Cup champions. "It's like what happened with the Deep Blue computer when it managed to beat Kasparov at chess in 1997," says Aler.

Maybe they can also build a robot linesman who can always get the offsides call correct!

Please visit my other Sports Science articles at LiveScience.com and Sports Are 80 Percent Mental.

Source: Click Here

 
Beatniks are out to make it rich
MLS News
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Thursday, 05 March 2009 18:50
FREE LANDON aw crap.

How to describe what I'm feeling.

OK. Let's say you're Mike Farrell. Mumia Abu-Jamal has been free for 45 minutes, and he's gone on a killing spree in an orphanage while screaming "MASH went totally downhill after Trapper John left!"

What can I say? I really thought Klinzi was going to be his guardian angel here. He might not start every game, but he'd be at a big club, against quality players, and away from the Galaxy train wreck.

I'm surprised by this:

Quote: "I am very excited to be returning home to my teammates and the LA Galaxy. I would like to thank Bayern Munich for the opportunity to play with one of the premier clubs in Europe, as well as all their coaches and players for welcoming me into the Club," said Donovan. "Although the results were not what we had hoped for, the time in Germany still was very positive for me. I am fit, motivated, and excited to be coming back as a better, more experienced player." doesn't that actually translate as this:

Quote: Originally Posted by Captain Kevin Darling's final diary entry in "Blackadder Goes Forth" Bugger. We might have avoided one nightmare scenario - Munich making a reasonable offer that was rejected by AEG, leading to Donovan being forced to play for the Galaxy against his will. This would have meant him phoning in club performances, while focusing on staying fit for his country. But fortunately, such a scenario will be inconceivable this year. I love the irony.

It's official: The Galaxy are the Gilligan's Island of MLS. Hey, at least people occasionally get rescued in "Lost." The original plan might have been for him to phone it in until the next transfer window, like Guzan did and like I keep hoping against hope that Kljestan will do. But now we're ITTET, and the money might not be there for an undersized, mercurial tweener with international commitments who's way too good for MLS but not good enough for the G-14.

It's tempting to console myself with possibilities of substandard La Liga or Premiership teams that could use Donovan - Newcastle! Spurs! Real Sociedad! Barcelona! - but he won't have a friend on the technical staff the way he did with Klinsmann. The best option for him is to suffer through this year, and then in 2011, when Arena has taken a job back East and Beckham has gone to Qatar, Donovan can settle back down with the armband and lead the Galaxy again.

Nowhere near am I the first to suggest that the comedy option is Club America. He speaks the language, they could clearly use the talent, and he can't stand Chivas either. It's a match made in heaven.

Source: Click Here

 
The Mysterious Case of Barca Miami
MLS News
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Thursday, 05 March 2009 12:30
A few weeks back, in this very space, I talked about to how it seemed to me that having a big foreign club like Barcelona become a member of MLS carried with it more problems than it was worth.

I was virtually alone in the sea of "...and having Barcelona in MLS will of course give the league a tremendous boost" happy talk from every soccer writer in the country.

Not one of these writers ever bothered to explain exactly what it was that having someone's farm club in our purportedly "Major" league did besides stamp "MINOR LEAGUE" across our collective forehead.

Everyone seemed to feel that these wonderful benefits were so self-evident, so glaringly obvious, that it wasn't necessary to spell them out. I pointed out that, among other things, a foreign outfit with no real vested interest in the long term success of MLS could pack up and leave any time a board of directors 5000 miles away decided they were tired of the thing.

For expressing this particular viewpoint I was roundly and furiously castigated by a goodly number of prospective Miami fans. These people explained to me sometimes using words that I'll wager they never use in front of their mothers, that such a thing was impossible.

Yet here we are on Day Two AB (after Barca Miami) and it looks a lot like Barcelona didn't even wait for the deal to go a little sour before bailing out; they bailed out before it ever even began.

What's even more interesting is that, as their recent non-partner Marcelo Claure is now explaining, Barca wasn't planning on being an equal partner or even a minority investor.

Rather, they intended all along to be a non-investor, limiting their involvement to "technical expertise, players, coaches, and professional services".

Claure was supposed to come up with the $40 million all by himself.

So Barca claiming that they didn't want to spend the money right now is a pretty hollow excuse. If all they had over here was some people, then whenever they felt the thing wasn't working out all it would have cost them to get out was a handful of plane tickets.

Surely they would have had other places to stick the two or three coaches involved, and the players would have been under contract to MLS, not them. Shoot, they could even skip out on their office space rent. Let's see some landlord try to collect on a broken lease suit in Spain.

The stadium lease?

It was being offered rent free. You don't even have to pack up a U-Haul at 3 a.m. and drive out of the lot with your lights off to beat that one. Just stop by and drop off the key.

If anyone was going to be in trouble on any of this it was going to be Claure.

Which brings me to an interview spotted by Soccerlens yesterday. It's a fascinating after-the-fact explanation offered by the guy who—incredibly, since it was going to be his money—seems to have been the last to know what was going on.

His main thesis? IT'S ALL DAVID BECKHAM'S FAULT. We should have guessed, right?

Source: Click Here

 
2009 MLS Season Preview: Columbus Crew
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Thursday, 05 March 2009 07:00

The Recent Results

Columbus is the one team in the league that will probably have to fare worse this year. After all, they really couldn’t improve on last year’s performance. They won the Supporters Shield and the Cup and they were second in goals scored and third in goals against. They were brilliant, and they deserved their accolades.

 

The Man in Charge

Of course, Sigi is gone now and Robert Warzycha will be steering the ship, so things could go a little bumpy for the Crew at first. He is a Crew legend (as a player) and he did quite well during his brief interim spell a few years ago. I think he will do a fine job, but he will have to overcome a pretty tough schedule to repeat.

 

On the Offensive

GBS, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, is the best field general in the league, and unless he decides to skimp on his training, he will continue to dominate his MLS opponents. In addition, Robbie Rogers and Eddie Gaven are both excellent young players and they should blossom into stars this year with GBS dishing them the ball.

 

For the Defense

Chad Marshall is returning to Columbus, which is great for the Crew as he is one of the steadiest defenders in the league. Danny O’Rourke can play some nasty D too, and let’s not forget about Frankie “Jesus” Hejduk, who plays ten years younger than he actually is. With Hesmer in goal, the CMB D will be dominant once again.

 

Movie They Resemble

Well, I was tempted to go with The Terminator here as I think the Crew will “be back” and continue to dismantle their opponents in 2009. But, I am going with The Prestige instead, simply because I want to remind everyone of my theory about GBS’s twin brother. Seriously, how else can the man never tire?

 

Source: Click Here

 
Rest in Peace MLS
MLS News
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Wednesday, 04 March 2009 12:54
I had to drive up from Philadelphia this morning—and it's a good thing for all concerned.

The two and a half hours I spent watching asphalt roll under my butt gave me time to cool down a little after having read THIS PIECE OF DOG EXCREMENT just before hitting the road.

(See? Right there's an example; a couple of hours ago "excrement" would have been a whole other word.)

(I would dearly love to turn this piece over to MondayMorning10Shirt for the counterpoint it so richly deserves. I'd pay good money to read that one.)

I always catch grief when I link to some imbecile with goose crap for brains like this, and there's some justification; his employer will look at the hit numbers and send him a memo congratulating him on a fine, insightful piece of writing, when in fact he ought to be fired or at least tied up in the lunchroom so that people can throw food at him.

Although maybe they already do that.

Anyway, this imbecile—a man with enough juice that he has his own column in the Toronto Star—has taken a considered look at the whole Beckham-to-Milan kerfuffle and come to the conclusion that this means that MLS is as good as dead and that the only decent thing to do, apparently, would be to pull the plug and end the suffering.

I thought he started out well, even cleverly:

"David Beckham and Major League Soccer have taken a page out of Cher's playbook in their divorce negotiations. They will split after all, but not before the farewell tour".

Not quite Loney caliber, but it's decent.

Then he makes what I thought was a very valid point; in reference to the agreement between the three parties, he comments that while it has some sizeable holes in the good sense department,

"...it does have the enviable attribute of allowing everyone involved to claim they've won. "

Indeed so. Everybody gets to save face, and maybe in the end that's all anybody really wanted. Well, except Beckham Inc., who wanted their boy free of the contract they told him he should sign two years ago.

Then, in the midst of all this common sense, he lays this one on us:

"Only Beckham gets what he wants. MLS gets gut shot. This isn't just bad news for the league. It's a delayed death sentence. It may take years of decline

Source: Click Here

 
2009 MLS Season Preview: Colorado Rapids
MLS News
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Wednesday, 04 March 2009 07:00

The Recent Results: The Rapids almost made the playoffs last year despite the fact they flat out sucked at the Dick. Notice I said “at the Dick” and not just “a dick”.

They ended up fourth in the West, and they scored the fifth most goals (shocking!) but their usually stingy let them down and they finished eleventh in the league in goals against. 

 

The Man in Charge: Gary Smith is the coach and he did pretty well down the stretch for them in his interim role last season. I think he will do a decent job playing the hand he has been dealt, but I will also tell you he’s not holding too much.

Smith seems like a good guy and a hard worker, and no matter what he has to be better than Clavijo.

 

On the Offensive: Well, the Rapids scored more goals last year (finally), but their offense still needs some tweaking. Terry Cooke is a fine gent and he still has a nice cross. Conor Casey and Omar Cummings are improving, and Colin Clark is a great grinder.

Mastroeni will never score, but they don’t pay him to. They pay him to play stifling defense.

 

For the Defense: Pablo is great, we all know that, but who will man the backline for the Rapids this year? Well, Erpen is a lock to play but the rest of the guys seem to lack significant minutes.

All in all, the Rapids defense could actually be worse this year than last. Will Gibbs reemerge? I don’t know. Who will play goalie? I have no idea. 

 

Movie They Resemble: As you can tell, despite a few rising star forwards and Pablo perpetually in defensive mid, the Rapids don’t look so good. In fact, it looks like 2009 is going to be exactly like the last 13 years when Colorado just couldn’t do enough to make a run at the Shield or the Cup.

So, what movie best exemplifies this sort of eternal exercise in inefficiency. You may have guessed it by now, but the Rapids are Groundhog Day.


Source: Click Here

 
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