Monthly Archives: January 2019

USMNT vs. Panama, Giovinco Rumors, and 3 Big Transfers



Greetings soccer fans from the soon-to-be coldest place on Earth: the Chicago suburbs. Post-apocalyptic and extreme freezing temperatures have shut down much of the Midwest, including our recording studio, but the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast is still bringing you the latest in Major League Soccer (MLS) and United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) news.

This episode starts off with Nick recapping the USMNT friendly matchup against Panama, the first game under new head coach Gregg Berhalter. The US arrived with an all-MLS based squad and employed a rarely seen 4-3-3 formation. However, the attacking depth of the roster and the tactics employed by Berhalter necessitated such a formation. With a result of 3-0, who can argue!?

Next our resident Toronto FC (and all things Canada) expert, Mike gives his take on the Giovinco trade rumors. Will he stay at TFC, and will it be a DP or TAM deal? Will the Atomic Ant end up in Asia? Be sure to listen to find out details.

Finally, Nick discussed three big transfers and their impact on the league:
1. Almiron to Newcastle United
Where does the MLS now stand in the world marketplace?
2. Opara to Minnesota United FC
Did MNUFC overpay? And if so, who cares!?
3. Ousted to Chicago Fire
An improvement over Sanchez, but what wouldn’t have been?

 

Thanks for listening! Join the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer or in the comments section below.


USMNT Roster Analysis, TFC Roster Departures, and the Viability of Austin FC and MLS Expansion



Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, soccer fans! Welcome back to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. It’s cold and icy outside, but we’ve got our supporter scarves to keep us warm. Mike is obviously sporting the TFC tribute to the Sebastian Giovinco “The Atomic Ant” while Nick is paying tribute to the Fire’s signing of Marcelo with his Sporting Portugal scarf.

In the episode, the hosts break down Gregg Berhalter’s first United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) roster for upcoming friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica. The all MLS-based roster has a few surprises with Sean Johnson as the backup goalkeeper, Jeremy Ebobisse one of three strikers, and Daniel Lovitz as a potential starting defender. Nick and Mike get into a lively discussion on how much winning these games means to Berhalter and the American fan-base, as opposed to simply gaining experience and finding players who fit his style.

Next, Mike dives in to breaking news out of Toronto. TSN Live reporter Kristian Jack reports that Toronto FC (TFC) have traded defender Nick Hagglund to FC Cincinnati and that TFC is parting ways with Gregory van der Wiel after an altercation with head coach Greg Vanney. As Mike states, van der Wiel has had issues in the past and things have gotten to the point where the two sides can no longer work together. Meanwhile, the trade of Hagglund gives TFC greater salary cap space while FCC gets a proven defender to help guide their expansion franchise. It looks like TFC has started their rebuild a year sooner than expected.

Finally, the hosts give their impressions on the league’s latest expansion franchise: Austin FC. Logo jokes aside, the hosts agree that more soccer is always welcome. However, the history of soccer in the city of Austin is spotty at best (see Austin Aztex x2). Can Major League Soccer (MLS) survive in Austin? Only time will tell.

 

Thanks for listening, and be sure to spread the word! Let us know your thoughts on all things USMNT and MLS in the comments below.


Meet Przemyslaw Frankowski – Chicago Fire’s latest signing; Nick reflects on Tim Howard’s career



Hello soccer fans! And welcome back to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. In tonight’s abridged episode, Nick cover’s the latest roster moves by the Chicago Fire and reflects on Tim Howard’s career in the wake of his announcing his retirement after the 2019 MLS season.

In Chicago, the Fire front office have announced the signing of Polish attacker Przemyslaw Frankowski to a four year contract. This pacy winger is sure to add another option to the Fire’s attacked, and should link up well with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Aleksandar Katai. Most intriguing is that he will be signed with TAM, leaving the Fire with their 3rd and final Designated Player (DP) spot unfilled. Could another big signing be in the works?
Frankowski’s signing is welcome new for an offense that loses Marco Urena, who the Fire acquired from LAFC in the Waiver Draft. Urena has opted to return to Costa Rica to play for Alajuelense, the club where he made his professional debut. It’s too bad he never became that goal-scoring sensation that San Jose, LAFC, and Chicago hoped he would be.

In other news, Tim Howard, American soccer legend and the “Secretary of Defense”, announced he will be retiring after the 2019 season with the Colorado Rapids. His professional career will span 20 years, including playing for clubs such as the MetroStars, Manchester United, Everton, the Rapids, and of course the USMNT. The only question remains is: Where does Howard fall in the all-time list of American soccer greats?

 

What are your thoughts on the Chicago Fire roster? What was your favorite Tim Howard moment? Let us know in the comments below, and continue the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer.

Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for a full episode recording later this week!


Episode 50! SuperDraft Reflections, Chicago Fire Picks, and ATL DPs



Hello soccer fans, and welcome to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. Today we mark a milestone in SOP history as we hit 50 episodes! Thanks to our hosts, listeners, followers, and everyone who helps make soccer in America the great sport it is.

In this episode, we had a lot to say about the future of the MLS SuperDraft, and whether it even has a future. Is it worth teams spending time and resources on the draft? Should it be left to USL affiliates, development projects, and academies? Some think so, but Nick believes this uniquely American device has a place in the league and the soccer landscape.

In follow up to last week’s Chicago Fire discussion, Nick breaks down #cf97’s draft picks: $150k in GAM, Amando Reyeno, Ebenezer Ackon, Grant Stoneman, and Mark Forrest. While definitely not immediate 1st-teamers, these are solid picks in their own right. Each excelled in their respective college conferences, and Stoneman’s local roots are worth cheering for. However, the Fire still have yet to make that one significant signing and are leaving fans with a lot to be desired.

In other league news, Atlanta United has a similar problem to the LA Galaxy: 4 DPs and one needs to move. With Almiron, Josef, Barco, and Pity Martinez, one of the players has to be sold or loaned to comply with Major League Soccer’s roster rules. All the speculation is that Almiron will be sold, but so far Atlanta has yet to agree on a price. It remains to be seen how the reigning MLS Cup Champions deal with their roster while preparing their title defense. Meanwhile north of the border, Toronto FC has agreed to sell Victor Vazquez to a club in Qatar for an undisclosed amount. While a vital piece to TFC’s recent success, Vazquez has become injury prone and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to possibly coach overseas at the conclusion of his playing career.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to cover the announcement in Austin and the new career path for standout referee Mark Geiger, but tune-in next week for all the additional coverage. Thanks for listening, thanks for 50 episodes, and thanks for supporting American soccer!


ATL in the CCL, the Importance of the Combine and SuperDraft, LA’s DPs, and Nick Rants Against the Fire



Welcome back to another edition of the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast! Tonight, we put listener @eric_turner7 in the driver seat, answering his questions and discussing the latest news from around the league.

With Atlanta United coming off an MLS Cup victory, undergoing a lot of roster changes, and matching up against Liga MX club Monterrey or Sporting KC in the 2nd round of the Concacaf Champions League, the odds are definitely against the Five Stripes making a deep run. Mike shares how Atlanta can learn from Toronto FC’s run in 2018 and why they might be able to overcome the challenges that await.

Next, Nick dives into the MLS Combine and SuperDraft, sharing different philosophies. FC Cincinnati, needing to fill a new MLS roster, traded to acquire draft picks, for a total of 7. They’re building through the draft. Philadelphia Union, who traded 5 picks to FCC, needs the money to build through signings, while the Red Bulls and FC Dallas are known to build through their academies. In other player news, Mike breaks down how the LA Galaxy can get out of having 4 Designated Players on their roster (rules mandate no more than 3). While Gio dos Santos is the likely move, having grossly under-performed, the Galaxy could most easily move Romain Alessandrini, who has been the brightest star for the Galaxy over the last several seasons.

Finally and after listening to an interview with GM Nelson Rodriguez, Nick goes on a rant against the Chicago Fire. Not only is Rodriguez a terrible interview, he offered no concrete plan for the future, no evidence of future signings, and supports a coach who players have been fleeing from. Mike breaks down the current Fire roster and isn’t optimistic either. With only weeks to go before training camp, Chicago only has 4 defenders and 2 goalkeepers on their roster – and neither GK should be starting in the MLS. Keep your eyes open for more underwhelming moves by the Fire.

 

Thanks again for listening, be sure to follow us on twitter @SOPSoccer, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


What Pulisic to Chelsea Means, USMNT Camp Roster, CCL Preview, and MLS Moves



Happy New Year soccer fans! Thanks for spending time with us as we flip the calendar and look forward to another year of soccer. We at Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast appreciate you listening as we break down all the latest soccer news.

And speaking of breaking news, Christian Pulisic has been sold from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea for $73.1 million (64 million pounds) – the largest transfer for an American player by far. Nick is giddy with excitement at the opportunity for Pulisic and how it will raise the profile of American soccer and the talent level of the USMNT. Mike feels confident that Pulisic can live up to the hype and not yield to the pressure. Whatever the case, this is a great move for all parties involved.

Next, Mike and Nick break down the USMNT January camp roster – new coach Gregg Berhalter’s first camp roster – and what it means to have a group made up of all MLS-based players. There’s excitement in the goalkeeping competition, but Nick thinks there’s real competition at the forward position. Mike believes the international based players have the edge, but competition will be better at every position.

Sticking with the international theme, Concacaf Champions League (CCL) kicks off in just a few short weeks. Our hosts still believe that the tournament belongs to Liga MX, but the talent gap is closing, and there should be some great match-ups. Finally, Nick and Mike break down the latest headlines from around Major League Soccer (MLS), including:

  • Kei Kamara to the Colorado Rapids
  • Speculation around FC Dallas South American signinsg
  • Chicago Fire extend coach Veljko Paunovic’s contract

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on twitter @SOPSoccer. Have a great 2019!