Todd Berner | Hobbies & Interests

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Tag: MLS

3 Questions for the USMNT Roster

The USMNT roster is facing some serious questions in the wake of some very significant losses to their lineup. Clint Dempsey is out after being benched to undergo medical evaluations for an irregular heartbeat. This leaves the team to suck it up in the meantime—hopefull Dempsey will be back in action in no time; and at least for the next two weeks, the absence should be negligible. We are, after all, playing Trinidad & Tobago and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Nonetheless, what is to become of USMNT and the rest of its players?

Can Jozy and Bobby be effective together?

Altidore, for one, is in the prime of his career. He’s an all-around threat embodying athleticism, field awareness, and deft skill who strikes fear into the heart of his opponents. Wood is already raising the bar (check out his goal here). Over the last year, Bobby and Dempsey worked together very well, playing off of each other to make the most of situations.

The same goes for Jozy and Wood. Yet, Wood and Jozy may not produce the same results. Considering both are center forwards and have no secondary position, their play may be hindered significantly. Each of them plays in center channels, engages in hold-up play, and when they drop back to pick the ball up, it’s with their back to the goal so they can turn to let other players pass.

As can be implied, if they’re playing the way they have in the past, they’re bound to step on each other’s toes, maybe even literally. Dempsey, though, was not confined to a single manner of play and that’s partly why he was so successful. He has been a box-to-box midfielder, an inverted winger, a second forward, and even a lone center forward. That’s not to say he was a superstar in every position, but he definitely always got the job done; and he wasn’t doing that, he was surpassing expectations. What Dempsey was particularly wonderful at (that Jozy and Wood may not be so fantastic at) was dropping into midfield to take off some of the pressure and initiate long passing sequences.

Is this the official roster?

It seems Bill Jamid, David Bingham, and Vincent Yarbrough have been intentionally left off of the goalkeeper depth chart. There is no real rush to replace Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, anyway. Kellyn Acosta has been selected to play left back which should prove interesting.

Paul Arriola and Caleb Stanko have been selected for mid-field. Arriola is a wing player from Tijuana and has only played just over a hundred minutes over five games (he hasn’t scored just yet). Caleb is on loan from SC Feiburg of the Bundesliga to FC Vaduz of the Swiss Super League at the moment. As for forwards, Rubio Rubin will be worth keeping an eye out for. He has so far played three games with FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie and hasn’t scored yet either.

Whether or not this roster will do us well remains to be seen. There are obvious questions, like why is Stanko ahead of Perry Kitchen when he just lost his starter position and was subbed out with an injury when Kitchen actually started and already scored for the Hearts. Regardless, there’s not much we can do but trust in Jurgen and hope for the best.

The MLS in Minneapolis

The MLS is a growing professional league with bright prospects. A single team is on average worth $103 million. In just twenty years, the league has expanded from ten teams to what will be twenty-three by 2017, and this is just the beginning. Now even Minneapolis is getting in on the action.

With only five professional teams since 1970, there must be a serious push for Major League Soccer to even be considered in the Twin Cities, and that is exactly what’s happening. William W. McGuire, the former chief executive of UnitedHealth Group and the owner of the Minesota United of the North American Soccer League, is spearheading the effort and attempting to launch the expansion franchise by claiming he will build an open-air soccer stadium with private money.

He has committed $250 million (100 for the M.L.S. expansion fee and 150 for the stadium itself) and intends to focus solely on soccer. This is fantastic news for soccer because the Wilf family, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, opposes the M.L.S. expansion. An immensely powerful family, they potentially have (or rather had) the ability to shut down the project entirely.

Before McGuire pledged the $250 million, they were bidding to make the team play in the Vikings stadium. Had this transpired, soccer would be relegated to a position of lesser significance. It would come after the Vikings. It would, in short, be second.

Mcguire explains, “The sport I love would be a second priority. The N.F.L. is a gold mine, and everything else has to be second. There was always a chance the league would look at that situation and say ‘This is what we want to do.’…the best thing for soccer is to have soccer-specific stadiums, if it could be pulled off, rather than putting the sport into a stadium that’s fundamentally built for something else.”

M.L.S. officials agreed with McGuire and allowed him to build the purposeful stadium he envisioned. Funny enough, McGuire was not born into a soccer-filled childhood. Hailing from Troy, New York, his 6’6” lent itself to basketball and he played at Clear Creek High School in Texas. He spent his spare time fishing instead of kicking a ball around—until 2011, that is. That’s when the N.A.S.L. took control of the at-the-time failing Minnesota franchise, the Stars.

The N.A.S.L. got in touch with Bill’s daughter who, in turn, got in touch with Bill. Still, he was not interested. It was only after going to a couple games and meeting fans in 2012 that he changed his tune. Taken with their passion for the sport and the palpable energy immersing the sport, Bill decided he’d give it a shot. In fact, Bill took on the initiative with an eye to philanthropy than profit. “It was not analyzed extensively on a financial basis,” he claimed.

A sport that has never received much publicity is being kept alive based off of its presence in the community. McGuire elaborated “It was something we should not let disappear from the community after 35, 36 years.” If soccer is already being kept alive on goodwill even without the following it’s known for across the world, it bodes very well for the future of the sport.

Major League Soccer is making a splash in professional sports, and I expect it will only continue.