Monthly Archives: February 2019

Sapong, CCL, and More 2019 Team Previews



Hello soccer fans! We are back with a full hour of MLS and CCL news and entertainment (Nick even works in a Robert Kraft joke amidst his usual puns). With so much going on around Major League Soccer, we dive right in: CJ Sapong was traded to Chicago and no one is impressed. Real Salt Lake signs USL player Portillo to add depth to their midfield, and FC Cincinnati introduces their new mascot – Gary the Lion – who is the soccer equivalent of a scary clown.

Next, our hosts recap the 1st leg of the Concacaf Champions League. Toronto FC falls flat against Panamanian side Independiente for the second time, Atlanta gets upset by Herediano of Costa Rica, but Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo, and Red Bulls New York all come away with wins. Nick still thinks RBNY will be the first MLS team to win the tournament, but Sporting KC may have the easiest path to the finals.

Mike and Nick also continue their MLS 2019 Team Previews. In this episode, they break down the roster moves and potential for New England Revolution, New York City FC, Red Bulls New York, Philadelphia Union, and the Portland Timbers. These teams span from league cellar-dwellers to MLS Cup Contenders, but all have entertaining story lines to follow as the season gets underway.

Finally, we want to put in a plug for new friend of the show Christopher Sweeney. This author recently released Mad Dog Gravesen: The Last of the Modern Footballing Mavericks, about the footballing spectacle that was Thomas Gravesen. Order online if you’re a fan of European football or great soccer stories.

Thanks for listening, and please join the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer or on facebook @sonsofapitchsoccer. Stay tuned for our final team preview episode later this week, but in the meantime, enjoy all the soccer action!


MLS 2019 Season Previews: LAFC, LA Galaxy, MNUFC, and Montreal



Hello soccer fans! Anyone have a CCL hangover yet?
We’ll cover that (and possible remedies) in our next episode, but right now we turn our attention to the 2019 Major League Soccer season as we preview the next four teams in the league, alphabetically:

LAFC – This team has MLS Cup aspirations, and they have the talent on the roster to do it. They won’t take anyone by surprise like they did in their expansion season, but with the likes of Vela and Rossi, and new signing Zelaya, LAFC are poised to win the West and the Cup.

LA Galaxy – Coming off a season of dysfunction and failing to make the playoffs, Zlatan & Co. are primed to elevate their games. However, they still have too many Designated Players (DPs) on the roster and a new coach trying to implement a new system. With the Western Conference growing ever-stronger, where does this original MLS club fit in today’s league?

MNUFC – Minnesota United have declared they are ready to compete for trophies, not just points. They’ve got intstant defense by transferring in Ike Opara from Sporting KC and have solidified the midfield with international signing Jan Gregus. Now, can they link everything together to keep Ibarra and Quintero scoring goals?

Montreal Impact – A team that flies under the radar until Ignacio Piatti does something spectacular, Montreal is looking to get back to the playoffs after nearly missing out in 2018. Whether or not the roster has been reworked enough to get there remains to be seen. Our hosts don’t think they’re quite at that level, and the Impact will likely be watching the 2019 MLS playoffs from home.

 

Thanks for listening and be sure to join the conversation in the comments below or on twitter @SOPSoccer.


Nani, Nagbe, & Long – Jersey Fashion – CCL Preview and Picks



Welcome back soccer fans! The terrible, winter weather has held off just long enough for our hosts to get back to the studio and give you a full length episode of analysis and entertainment.

To begin, Nick and Mike break down Orlando City’s latest Designated Player (DP) signing in Nani. The Portugese international and former Manchester United star may be 32 years old, but can bring a certain quality to the Orlando roster. Look for him to work the wing, creating opportunities for Dwyer and get the rest of the Orlando squad involved in the attack. Next, Mike gives his take on Darlington Nagbe wanting a trade to reunite with Caleb Porter in Columbus. Mike calls Nagbe overrated, and Nick doesn’t disagree. Finally, Aaron Long signs a three year deal with Red Bulls New York, who now can focus on rebuilding their attack after locking down the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year

To lighten the mood, the hosts take a look at the new jerseys released by MLS teams this year. The LA Galaxy disappoint, expansion side FC Cincinnati start off solid, and Minnesota United’s away jersey has a classic look. Also, Toronto FC’s new red, home jersey looks just as terrible as they played in their CCL opener.

Speaking of the Concacaf Champions League, TFC and Independiente kicked things off with a 4-0 result in favor of the Panamania home side. Nick appreciated a home team playing aggressively while Mike could barely stand to watch his beloved Reds play like garbage. TFC had no structure, formation, or attacking threat, but at least they can now focus on the regular season. The other MLS teams should fare a better fate with Houston, Red Bulls, Sporting KC, and Atlanta all the favorites to win their first round matchup. In a bold prediction, Nick picks RBNY to win the tournament, while Mike thinks that Liga MX teams will dominate and have all four semi-final spots.

What are your thoughts on the transfer news around Major League Soccer? Who’s your pick to win the CCL? Let us know on twitter @SOPSoccer and in the comment section below. Thanks for listening, and enjoy all the soccer action this week.


2019 MLS Previews: Columbus, Dallas, DC, and Houston



Hey soccer fans! Welcome back to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. We continue our previews of Major League Soccer teams leading up to the kickoff of the 2019 season. How do your teams stack up? What are you expecting to change this year?

Nick starts off the episode previewing the Columbus Crew, and thinks they’ll continue their playoff appearance streak. He picks Artur to be the most important player, but knows that Robinho will be crucial to new head coach Caleb Porter’s game plan. Nick expects Robhinho to get a lot of touches on the wing, but Artur and Higuain will still be the focus of the Crew from a tactical perspective.

As for FC Dallas, Mike predicts another playoff appearance and further expects Matt Hedges to be the most important player. With a starting 11 still a bit in flux – Will Dom Badji break the starting lineup? – Mike expects Dallas to play well, but not really challenge for the Western Conference title.

Next up: DC United. Mike likes the projected starting lineup, and thinks that DC is on the cusp of competing for the Eastern Conference. He picks Rooney as the most important player, and believes that DC will keep winning so long as Rooney keeps scoring. Do you think that this original franchise is back to capturing their old glory?

Finally, Nick looks at the potential for the Houston Dynamo. They have the talent and experience to impress during the regular season, but everything comes down to how they balance Concacaf Champions League (CCL) with the regular MLS season. So long as Elis, Manotas, and Quioto are scoring, Houston compete with any team in the West.

How do you think these teams stack up? Have they improved from last year? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for listening!


Nagbe wants a transfer and 2019 Season Previews: ATL, CHI, CIN, COL



Hello soccer fans, and welcome back to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. The 2019 Major League Soccer season kicks off in a couple short weeks, and we at SOP want to have you prepared for all action. In this episode, we’ll talk a few notable transfers and rumors, and then dive into our first set of team previews.

Speaking of transfers, have you ever heard of a player wanting to leave a championship team? Darlington Nagbe, currently of defending champion Atlanta United, has made statements asking for a transfer to the Columbus Crew, his hometown team. While our host Nick doesn’t think as highly of Nagbe as Nagbe thinks of himself, he would be an improvement to the Crew roster. If the price is right, don’t be surprised to see Nagbe in black and yellow. Also, Vancouver signs Uruguayan youth national Joaquin Ardaiz and Philadelphia set a club record in signing Mexico international star Marco Fabian.

Next, the hosts begin their 2019 previews, taking quick looks at Atlanta United, the Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati, and the Colorado Rapids. For each team, Mike and Nick break down the rosters, potential starters, most important players, and just where the team will end up come Decision Day. Of these four, Atlanta obviously has the highest ceiling. Is this the year Colorado makes a playoff run? Can Chicago bounce back from last year’s disappointment? Will FC Cincinnati continue the hot streak of expansion teams? Tune in for all these thoughts and more from the Sons of a Pitch!

 

Thanks so much for listening and for interacting with us on twitter, via email, or in the comments below. Please share our website and keep the conversation on American soccer going!


USMNT vs. Costa Rica, and FC Dallas Preview



Welcome back, soccer fans, to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. Once again winter storms have prevented us from getting to the recording studio, but once again we’ve been able to put together about 30min of soccer talk.

First, Nick breaks down the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) victory over fellow CONCACAF member Costa Rica. The United States controlled most of the game, but really dominated the last 15min or so after the Lletget’s entrance. The 2-0 victory showcased how Berhalter has his team disorganize opponents through possession, and Arriola, Lletget, Mihailovic, and others continued to impress.

Next, the hosts address a question from a listener about FC Dallas:

Mike gives his breakdown of the FC Dallas roster, noting that they have a lot of talent but have struggled to really establish themselves as a dominant team in the Western Conference. Nick thinks they can compete for the 1 or 2 seed, but will need to go on a significant point run given the depth in the West. What are your thoughts? Can FC Dallas win the conference? Do they have the right chemistry to win a trophy? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for listening, and stay tuned later in the week for another episode.


More Transfers, International Roster Rules, and Imagine No Salary Cap



Greetings, soccer fans! We hope you all survived the polar vortex and are enjoying warmer temperatures. At Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer podcast, we keep things heated with a fiery discussion on the future of the league.

First, transfers and moves keep happening all around Major League Soccer (MLS). Vancouver and LAFC sign Hwang In-beom and Rodolfo Zelaya. NYCFC gets striker Alex Mitrita from Romania. Toronto FC sign Terrance Boyd to offset the loss of Toussaint Rickets, and Luciano Acosta’s deal with Paris St. Germain (PSG) falls through in the 11th hour. Acosta returns to DC United, but with what mentality?

Speaking of Rodolfo Zelaya, host Mike takes exception to the rule allowing Zelaya to occupy a domestic roster spot. As an El Salvadoran, he should take up an international roster spot, right? Not according to league rules allowing green card holders to be considered domestic players. Nick gives a reading of the rules, and the two debate the topic.

From there, an even lively debate was sparked. Both Mike and Nick address the future of the league, with Mike advocating for an open-market style with no salary caps or roster restrictions. Nick vehemently disagrees, advocating for the current system with steady changes. They might agree on where the league is going, but definitely not on how to get there.

Join the conversation @SOPSoccer or in the comments below. Thanks for listening, and be sure to spread the word of the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast.