SBI’s Friday Free Kicks: Things are looking up in Philly, some MLS Awards thoughts and more

PhillyPic1

Standing on a rooftop overlooking the site of the Philadelphia Union's future stadium, I couldn't help but see the pieces being put into place for a club that should help revitalize soccer on the East Coast.

As cranes lowered ten-ton cement blocks into place to piece together the Union's stadium, you could stand inside the unfinished building and see the vision. The seats in place, the Sons of Ben filling the East section of the stadium, the capacity crowd's roars echoing from the banks of the Delaware River.

There is reason for optimism not just because of a stadium, but because of what sounds by all accounts to be a clear vision of the future. From fan relations, to youth player academy programs, to the presence of an MLS Cup-winning coach in Peter Nowak, the Union could very well be poised to hit the ground running much the same way the Seattle Sounders.

Of course, the Union still don't have a single player yet, and but when you pay a visit to Chester, and see the stadium being built, and you look at the excitement in Peter Nowak's face when he talks about the team's future, it is easy to believe.

It isn't just Philadelphia that stands to gain. D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls are getting ready to add the kind of rival that can only serve to motivate them. With D.C. United struggling to secure a stadium as well as struggling to reach the playoffs, and with the Red Bulls struggling to get anything right aside from the building of its beautiful Red Bull Arena, Philadelphia just might offer the type of motivation to help D.C. and the Red Bulls reach new heights.

It might seem early to talk about Philadelphia, but the countdown is on. The Union's debut in Seattle is just four months away and the vision club officials have for the team is an exciting one, and if Philadelphia comes close to realizing that vision, MLS will be a better league for it.

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Now, onto some Friday Free Kicks:

The quest to fill vacant head coaching positions is underway for several MLS teams and don't be surprised if D.C. United is the first of the clubs to fill its position. Who is leading the race for that job? There have been plenty of names mentioned, but it is tough to imagine D.C. hiring anybody but Richie Williams or Curt Onalfo.

Is there really a chance that Williams could make the jump from New York to take the D.C. job? Absolutely, especially if New York drags its feet much longer in hiring a general manager (a hire the club wants to make before choosing a head coach). Teams such as D.C., Toronto FC and Kansas City will be looking to fill their coaching vacancies sooner rather than later with the MLS Expansion Draft looming, and preparation for the upcoming MLS Draft a priority. If the Red Bulls don't act fast on hiring their front office, they could find that several top coaching candidates are off the market.

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Chad Marshall won his second straight MLS Defender of the Year award earlier this week and while he was a no-brainer selection in 2008, his selection this year was a bit puzzling. Yes, he's one of the most dominating defenders in the league, but this year he simply missed too much playing time. He played in just 18 games this season, and wasn't in the lineup late in the season as he recovered from an injury. There were other defenders whose bodies of works this season were simply better. Geoff Cameron and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado each played in at least eight more matches than Marshall and were just as vital to their teams' defenses as Marshall was to the Crew's. Voters dropped the ball on this one.

SBI will name its MLS coach of the year, MVP and Best XI next week but one award we will give our pick for is MLS Comeback Player of the Year. Our vote goes to D.C. United captain Ben Olsen, who made a courageous comeback from career-threatening ankle injuries. Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton did a good job to go from back-up to MLS goalkeeper of the year, but coming back from mediocrity isn't quite the same as coming back when there was a chance your career was over, which is what Olsen did.

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Red Bull Arena moved a step closer to completion, with its roof being completed today as the last of 94 roof panels was installed.

The 25,000-seat stadium is expected to be completed in mid-December. The Red Bulls will make their debut at the stadium on March 27th against the Chicago Fire.

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Some bad news for SBI Readers: The long-anticipated Edgar Castillo edition of The SBI Questions has been put off indefinitely. There's still a possibility it will be done before the end of the year, but we weren't able to get it done now. SBI is working hard to line up some new interview subjects and we plan to have the series back very soon.

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That's all for now. What do you think of the Philadelphia Union's impending arrival? Think the Union will be a hit right from the start? Looking forward to the rivalries that will be born? Agree that Chad Marshall shouldn't have won MLS defender of the year, or did he get your vote? Counting the days until Red Bull Arena opens?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Philadelphia Union, SBI Friday Free Kicks. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to SBI’s Friday Free Kicks: Things are looking up in Philly, some MLS Awards thoughts and more

  1. Colin says:

    Looking forward to Philly in the league, and the Red Bulls getting a ridiculously attractive arena.

    Seeing the mostly empty Crew Stadium, however, makes me hope that these gorgeous stadiums going up can actually FILL up for at least a few games per year (playoffs included!). MLS went to the SSS to prevent cavernous stadium appearances on TV, but it doesn’t help when the Crew can’t even fill up the TV-side of their stadium for a FRIGGIN PLAYOFF GAME!

  2. brian torres says:

    First!

    YEEEESSSSS! (Max Bretos style)

    Anywho that picture just made my day. Even though im a Galaxy fan, i also am an MLS fan, so to see that the “countdown is on” for a new team to join the MLS really excites me. Also, that stadium is gonna look great with the backdrop of the Delaware River. All in all, NICE.

  3. brian torres says:

    Lol dammit Colin, you beat me to it.

  4. Colin says:

    FIRST FAIL.

  5. Set Rogers Free says:

    Hey Ives, any thoughts on Robbie Rogers’ future with the Crew after being left out of the starting 11 last night?

  6. Didier says:

    It is exciting to what can happen when things are done right from the start, such as Seattle and Toronto and seemingly now Philadelphia as well.

    It’s a shame that New York, Colorado, Dallas, and some others already have traditions of tiredness. A brand new team in those cities, with the right stadium and marketing, could have been a lot different.

  7. Texar says:

    I’m curios too, specially after his last 3 messages in twitter:

    17 hours ago:
    Dont understand some things in life

    8 hours ago:
    Leaving, gone, adios…

    1 hour ago:
    Packing my apt. Too much work..

    wuuut?

  8. Supsam says:

    well his season is over so that explains the last two updates where Rogers would most likely go back to his family and friends in California

  9. Ghost of Clint Dempsey says:

    link to youtube.com

    New Mexico Junior defender Elizabeth Lambert vs BYU

    Girl has to be a beast in the bedroom

  10. Jeff says:

    When will the expansion draft be held? I remember last year it happened shortly after the MLS Cup final.

  11. Tim From Texas says:

    correct. after the cup final

  12. attenborough says:

    I vote for getting rid of four or five teams (Kansas City, Colorado, Dallas, San Jose…) to buff up our talent pool. It’s already like a wading pool, and now they want to add teams? Especially considering how many times I hear about some of our best young talents (Rolfe, Movsisyan) going to play overseas?

    The level of play is going to be comparatively atrocious in two years when we add still yet two more teams.

  13. Mad Max says:

    Celebrating before the ball is in the net???

    YEEEAAAASSSSSSS!!!

  14. Roehl says:

    Red Bull may intentionally be waiting for Richie Williams to get tired of waiting around and make the jump to another club (maybe DC). If they announce a coach before Williams declares his interest elsewhere, they’ll really hear it from the supporters. But if they wait for Williams to get lured away, they can shrug and claim they got outbid for his services.

  15. madmax says:

    Will Nowak try to get his pal Freddy Adu to play? Has he hinted at a DP to you?

  16. Tony in Quakeland says:

    No. They just need to pay more.

  17. Supsam says:

    Im sorry but this is a horrible idea. Getting rid of teams is not the answer. San Jose and and Kansas City are still “in process” as they both should have their own soccer stadiums within 2-3 years. So dont jump to conclusions on them. While Colorado has potential…they need a much better front office or even an owner that actually cares about them. For heaven’s sake, many people in Colorado do not even know that they do have a professional soccer team! As for Dallas, they already have a SSS so no way in hell is Garber going to get rid of them AND they are one of the few teams THAT ACTUALLY MAKE A PROFIT. Do some research before jumping to conclusions.

    Yea i agree that adding more teams will dilute the talent even further but once the salary cap is substantially increased, more teams will have the resources to look for international talent instead of relying on the garbage expansion draftees and MLS draftees. Its a slow process but what else do you expect from such a young league. Give it time my friend. At the rate the league is growing and with the way the CBA will drastically change for the better, I predict that we will soon have a quality league in no less than 5 years. Yes i said 5 years.

  18. Hubcap says:

    Saw that on sportsillustrated.com, what a bitch, those BYU girls stayed classy though.

  19. Beckster says:

    Ives, couldn’t agree with you more on Benny. He played through incredible pain all year from injuries that would have ended just about anyone else’s career and he still gave his heart and soul each and every game. He may not have been the best player on the pitch but no one worked harder to be there.

  20. PetedeLA says:

    It’s a good point, but I think a big factor is also the fan base. None of those teams you mention have a great fan base. One of those teams plays on a field so small (Kansas City) I feel like I’m watching a cage fight.

    So a lot of it is marketing. Find a soccer market; give the people a product worth watching.

    To reduce financial risk, teams are playing in the ‘burbs, and that’s just not the way to garner interest in a fledgling project.

    I blame the 35-40 million dollar licensing fee.

  21. ETJ says:

    my roommate saw that and that BYU’s #7 was so hot and he sent a facebook message and their friends now lol

  22. kfly says:

    Red Bull Park is 25,000 seats? Why? Only 3,000 are going to be filled with any sort of regularity…

    (kidding, guys!)

    Should be a spectacular venue for Nats games, though. It might be a good place to think about scheduling Central American teams like Honduras- it’s smaller, and the US always gets great support in Joisey anyway, so I would bet that it would be a pro-American crowd in a game like that.

  23. gerald says:

    unfortunately there is some logic in that

  24. Freddy says:

    Isn’t Moreno DC’s Captain?

  25. Freddy says:

    lol Ghost of Clint Dempsey!

  26. sciroccer says:

    As a RSL supporter I’m very happy to see Philly come into it. As a fan of the MLS I’m happy for the Son’s of Ben ( and proud of them) Thanks for the picture of the stadium. I always look forward to pictures of the houses of worship going up. As a season ticket holder in Rio Tinto- I know how nice these things are to have, and Red Bull Arena is beautiful. I can’t wait until everyone has one! Get on it DC, KC, S.J., N.E. and Houston??? Seattle should have to build a seperate building also.

  27. Calvin says:

    I can’t believe this (having a team in Philly) hasn’t happened sooner. Those NE cities – Boston, NYC, Philly, DC – are major rivals in most other sports; it only makes sense. The league would be serving itself well to market those rivalries, whether they truly exist (yet) within MLS or not, to the fullest.

  28. Sean M says:

    haha the hottest was the girl who got her ponytail grabbed…#21 i think,I added both lol

  29. man says:

    So he’s not planning on playing in the CONCACAF Champions League?

  30. Supsam says:

    but isnt that not till a long time

  31. Rastafari --SBI Herbsman says:

    They should build the new SS Seattle complex way out in the burbs.. it worked for Dallas

  32. PetedeLA says:

    Ives, if you see this… any thoughts on that women’s BYU vs UNM game? How was that girl still playing at the end of the match?

  33. RLW2020 says:

    i didnt know they were buddies, i remember hearing Adu say he was “over coached” in DC.. don’t see that happening. Hope they get a dp tho.

  34. RLW2020 says:

    im cool with qwest field, for now and for the future. grass would be nice but a A+ facility in the heart of the city that draws 30,000 + everyday. not going to beat that. as long as the Seattle ownership works well with the hawks.

  35. JoeW says:

    When will people stop with this “adding more teams will dilute the talent more”–what complete and utter nonsense. It’s true with NFL football or NBA basketball or MLBaseball or Hockey. These are sports that the world does not play.

    Each year, the talent base in the US (and now Canada) gets better. It used to be you couldn’t get attackers who could go straight from college ball to a starting role in MLS and have an impact. The ROY candidates 10 years ago were basically all defenders. Or the top rookie attacker (Chris Carrieri) would be out of MLS in 2 years after his draft. Can anyone realistically believe that Chris Pontius (who wasn’t even the top pick) or Steve Zakuani is going to be out of MLS in 2 years (unless they’ve gone to Europe)? Ben Olsen was probably the first rookie American to have a substantial impact as an attacker as a rookie in MLS. Now it happens so often, we don’t bat an eye at it. The talent coming out of HS and Bradenton and the talent coming out of colleges is much wider. No Maradona’s or Cruyff’s yet. But a lot of guys like Jeremy Hall who are going to be very good players for a very long time.

    You know what–you could add 10 expansion teams next year. But if the cap per MLS team was converted to $5 million per team, the talent would be substantially INCREASED in the league. The talent is not a function of the number of teams. It’s a function of the cap.

  36. Josh.2 says:

    I think adding more teams would be even better for the league. Increasing the cap would also help. Imagine if there were enough teams to have two leagues, like most leagues in Europe. If some of these teams were scared of being relegated, they might put in a little more effort to get the right type of players. And the league also needs to loosen up on foreign players. American players need more competition. I’m not saying have 11 players out there from abroad, but loosen up. And think about it, If the Red Bulls had another team in New York fighting for the fans’ loyalty, I mean what a derby game that would be. It would be like US vs. Mexico.

  37. JFC says:

    To all the Haters,

    I’ll be a Bull today and I’ll be a Bull tomorrow

    regardess how many teams are in the area.

  38. gerald says:

    Last 2 US games at Giants stadium the US fans were outnumbered

  39. K1p says:

    My mother in law is a big-shot with PECO Energy. I believe they will have a corporate box. I can’t wait to go up to Philadelphia and see the Dynamo there!

  40. Jacob A. says:

    Olsen is when Moreno isn’t in. A Vice-Captain, if you will

  41. midwest says:

    since its been touched on on this thread already… where were the fans at crew stadium? defending champs,, need a win, nobody’s there but the nordecke.

    didn’t make any sense to me.

  42. Sam says:

    Seattle doesn’t need to–they own the revenue streams due to Paul Allen’s participation in the ownership group and the stadium was actually built as a soccer facility in the first place.

    And who knows, maybe Seattle will eventually fill it to the brim.

  43. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Kindly repeat your post every time some one brings up the “talent pool” argument.

  44. dave says:

    What’s the date of the expansion draft?

  45. Rastafari says:

    i make joke

  46. chupacabra says:

    Not exactly. Qwest Field was designed as a football stadium for the Seattle Seahawks in the first place, but it was also designed to accommodate soccer matches. It has field turf, for fugg’s sake.

  47. Lee S. says:

    Most people in Columbus didn’t even know the game was Thursday night.

  48. Supsam says:

    ameeeeeeeeeeen!

  49. Supsam says:

    Columbus is just a bad sports market. Their NHL hockey team (Blue Jackets) is leaking money and the ownership is desperatley trying to save it. Last time i hearf they were losing $12million a year.

  50. brad minter says:

    Its interesting how it seems that philadelphia has done everything right and NY everything wrong, but isnt it the same person that is running philadelphia that ran NY for the early part of this decade?

  51. inkedAG says:

    I fully expect Richie Williams to jump to DC. RB hasn’t done anything right in the past three years, I don’t expect them to do anything right now.

  52. jj says:

    With all these teams coming into the league, it is imperative that Garber lifts the salary cap significantly. Otherwise the quality of play will suffer and the league will move in the wrong direction. 2 DPs to lure international talent is also necessary.