Friday Free Kicks

While the snow falls in the Northeast and the sun creeps away in Florida, I wanted to catch you all up on a few items as Friday winds down.

Here is my latest Fox Soccer column on the MLS Labor talks. To sum up, anyone who thinks a strike can't and won't happen is kidding themselves. It's a strong possibility and I'd bet on a strike happening sometime in mid-March (hopefully not, but there's little reason to think a deal gets done without a strike).

I will be attending the Disney Soccer Classic on Saturday in Orlando and will be providing live commentary coverage of the final on SBI. New York is facing Toronto FC in the final while Houston takes on FC Dallas in the consolation match. I'll definitely cover the NY-TFC match. Not as sure about Houston-FCD.

Those new US national team road jerseys will make their debut on Wednesday in the friendly vs. the Netherlands. SBI will be in Amsterdam for that match so stay tuned for our coverage of the match.

Apologies for not posting the Soccer on TV this Weekend schedule (Getting ready for the trip to Europe next week). I will post that shortly. If you're making plans, be sure to be up early tomorrow for Chelsea-Manchester City, where John Terry and Wayne Bridge will take part in of the more dramatic meetings you'll ever see.

That's all for now. Feel free to share your thoughts on these, or any other topics of the day in the comments section below.

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43 Responses to Friday Free Kicks

  1. ec says:

    If there is going to be a strike, can they just do it before Donovan has to come back so he can finish out the season with Everton?

  2. JR says:

    “SBI will be in Amsterdam for that match” Has Fox Soccer kicked in a new and improved travel budget? If so, congratulations! We look forward to SBI’s and Fox Soccer’s coverage of those events.

  3. scott47a says:

    They should have the woman in the middle of the Bridge-Terry thing just stand in the first row at the center stripe and switch shirts back and forth to try and rile up the boys.

  4. Turgid Jacobian says:

    I would much prefer a work slowdown to a strike. Show up, but for each day of the season elapsed (calendar days, not match days) add 2 minutes of “no running allowed” play, or just juggling or something.

  5. Betinho says:

    That was my thought as well. In any case have a great trip to Amsterdam.

    I’m already over the whole MLS drama. Let me know when they start playing. The state of pro soccer in the US is pretty sad. First the USL and now this. What’s wrong with US? I pin this on the soccer fans who don’t support MLS. If they could make room to follow both Manchester United and any MLS team we would be having this problem. It’s absolutely insane that Americans can pack a 70,000 plus stadium for international club friendlies but MLS games can barely pull 20,000. This is on you Eurosnob-football-fan. Sad thing is that they don’t even care – because it’s MLS. I guess they will in 2014, 2018 and 2022 when we start having trouble even qualifying for World Cups.

  6. DClee says:

    You hear this term “It’s time to take the training wheels off” all the time but the league has done that to some extent since 2007 when they implemented the DP slot which allowed clubs to pay any player they wanted to be a DP. I think that only 8 teams have used that slot and at the moment only 5 of the 16 teams are using that slot. So until all the teams are confident enough financially to do this and most if not all turning profits with Soccer Specific stadiums then i think that the fans and players need to relax about free agency and any other issue that might jeopardize what they have worked to build for the last 14 years.

    IMHO I feel that IF the league has made some nice proposals and I don’t care if the 60 mil is an inaccurate number including the expansion teams because to me if they are getting even one additional dollar a year then it is progress and not worth risking losing everything they have worked for. To me almost 50-60% of these players wouldn’t be playing professionally anywhere or making near what they are(even as low as it is) if it wasn’t for this league and I hope that there never is a situation when there is free agency or the ridiculous spending that goes on in MLB, NFL, NBA and European football leagues that have clubs bankrupting themselves just trying to keep up with fans expectations and the few rich owners that can afford to spend. I believe in Unions but am not a huge fan because when you look at what is happening in these other pro leagues and the crazy spending that teams are doing even in a recession when most Americans are happy to have a job.

    I’m all for the players getting more money and the quality to improve on the pitch but now is not the time to risk it all especially if the part about players being allowed to sign with another team in MLS after being released is true. That is one of the rules that I feel is the most ridiculous and needs changing but the rest is gravy in my opinion. My 2 cents…

  7. Betinho says:

    should have read we WOULDN’T be having this problem if Americans who only follow the Euro Leagues would support MLS – and USL/ NASL for that matter. If there was a little foresight from these people they would realize USNT’s improvement has mirrored the improvement of MLS. By the transitive property if you support the USMNT you should and must support MLS. If you,Mr. Eurosnob, support MLS there’s more money in the sport, leading to abolishment of the single entity and allowance of free agency.

    End of rant….

  8. nico says:

    Sad situation. I am pessimistic, and think a strike will happen…I was really excited about this season too…now I am just getting annoyed by both parties involved…seems like they are both just playing a game of chicken.

  9. boom shaka lacka says:

    wow betinho i think ur being crazy saying with us will have trouble qualifying for the world cup in 2014, 2018, 2022…our player pool depth is only getting better the way i see it if we can get the mls to get its act together than thats just an added bonus.

  10. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    One piece of advice for ya, Ives….Stay OUT of the hashbars and the redlight district. No good can come of it. ;)

  11. obxfly says:

    Anybody else notice these jerseys are very similar to the 1950 USMNT jersey or am I just late to the party? A reminder or a statement?

  12. juan says:

    yea, this is definitely on american soccer fans who won’t get excited about a sub-par product…

    look, i support MLS, but don’t try and tell me the quality of a mid-summer MLS game even comes close to what you get from the top European Leagues. MLS has done a great job improving over the last 10 years or so, but until the product is better, the support won’t be there.

  13. juan says:

    everyone noticed…it’s a gimmick.

    still cool though, can’t wait to get one.

  14. Supsam says:

    im sure the player’s union will surely take that into account haha

  15. OmarVizquel says:

    It’s a shirt with a sash and a crest. It is similar to every other shirt with a sash and a crest.

    The home sucks; away is great.

  16. OmarVizquel says:

    And I wouldn’t say the design is very similar. The sash is at a different angle, the collar isn’t a V, and the sleeves aren’t three-quarters. And in the white home version (the one that I guess is supposed to be reminiscent of that 1950 shirt) the sash is barely visible.

  17. DC Josh says:

    Where’s my plane tix to Amsterdam Ives?

  18. jonk says:

    Here’s the Nike press release with super high res pics of Dempsey (and a handful of other Nike countries’ players in new kits). The most interesting part is the video, which talks a bit about how recycled plastic bottles are used to make each jersey.
    link to businesswire.com

  19. jig says:

    what happened before MLS got started? oh yeah, the US didnt really ever qualify except when we hosted the damn thing.

  20. Tim K says:

    Does anybody know what channel the USA vs Netherlands game is on?

  21. JR says:

    The players are going to wait to pick their day for a strike when it will get the most coverage. Like the day before the World Cup starts, which is ESPN’s most important MLS telecast of the year.

  22. ... says:

    ESPN2 at 2:30 EST

  23. Betinho says:

    Listen, I get it, the EPL is much more exciting than MLS. However, I support it for 3 major reasons – aas should any American who enjoys soccer: a)it’s ours b)it’s growth and quality depends on fan support c)USMNT success is tied to its success. I do blame the multitude of soccer fans in the US who do not support MLS for this labor situation. If there was more revenue from TV, sponsors, ticket sales, etc, the league woudn’t be in this situation. Period.

  24. green says:

    Me thinks the league will have problems if games start without a new CBA in place. They really can’t risk allowing injuries and what not which could result in crippling lawsuits. No CBA = major liabilities for the league. So really, can’t the PU just keep going through the motions, even if the season starts, therefore putting the league in a bind?

    What a mess this could all be.

  25. Desmond says:

    Don’t try to bring any marijuana back to the states with you, Ives.

  26. Murphy says:

    Ives–can you comment on whether Donovan could stay in England if there is a strike? We need him to be playing this spring before the world cup!

  27. Stiggity says:

    Gotta say that I agree with Betinho’s rant 100%. If you support the USMNT than you MUST support MLS. There is a direct correlation between the success and growth of MLS and the success and growth of the USMNT. If you like soccer and have the opportunity to go to an MLS game – GO (while you still can)! They’re a lot of fun, even if you the quality is not as high as the EPL or La Liga.

    Side story – Just the other day I went to a bar to watch the USMNT vs El Salvador. In a bar of 100 people I was the only one watching. When I guy asked to change the channel b/c “who cares about US soccer” I yelled at him, “I do!” He reacted by saying, “Hey I like soccer, just not US soccer.” The guy was clearly American. To me this is frustrating…I just don’t understand that mentality. How can you not support your own country’s team?

  28. Stiggity says:

    Should read “When A guy at the bar asked to change the channel…”

  29. northzax says:

    um, a strike includes Donovan, you know that, right? he’s a member of the union, playing under contract to MLS. if he plays, he’s helping break the strike by crossing the picket line. bet that goes over well.

  30. northzax says:

    I can say this: if Donovan’s union calls a strike, and he chooses to keep playing professionally, being paid by MLS to do it (while Everton is picking up this paycheck, I bet it’s passed through MLS) then he’s a scab. and I lose all respect for him. and he will never play in MLS again, or wear a US jersey (you think a player who sat out on strike will play with a guy who didn’t?)

    if MLSPU calls a strike, Donovan sits. he’s one of their great leverages, based among other things on how many people want him to keep playing. MLS certainly won’t sell him in a strike situation, and his loan can’t be renegotiated until the next UEFA transfer window. he CANNOT continue playing for Everton, they don’t own the rights to him. sorry. once his currently agreed loan is over, if not before, he joins his mates on the sidelines, or he crosses the picket line and becomes a scab. it’s really that simple.

  31. Polish Wonder says:

    But he can’t “cross a picket line” because FIFA recognizes he is under contract (loan or not) or not under any legal obligation. FIFA doesn’t allow violations of contracts or players would be walking away from their’s all the time.

  32. john.q says:

    100% agreed

  33. Zach says:

    Hey d-bag, if there was a MLS club anywhere NEAR my hometown (Atlanta) or where I’m currently in school (Chapel Hill, NC) I’d support that club whole-heartedly. Not all of us have the luxury of having a team nearby. Get mad at those cities who HAVE clubs that don’t fill their stadiums.

    Thanks.

  34. Zach says:

    John-q, i meant to reply to Betinho, wasn’t calling you a d-bag. Sorry for the personal attack but it’s really frustrating to listen (read) someone complaining and putting down American soccer fans. How can you pin this on fans? The owners and structure of the league give all the power to the owners and virtually no rights to the player (except in specific circumstances…Adu, Donovan, Gil), I fail to see how this is the fans’ fault at all.

  35. Reid says:

    USL doesn’t have the plague…. Cary is right around the corner from chapel hill

  36. Zach says:

    Touche, but the dude was talking solely about MLS. I guess I’m just frustrated because the South is nowhere near getting an MLS franchise :/

    Some people on here would rather gargle sulfuric acid than entertain the notion of a franchise in the Southeast. Yet they’re all for Canadian teams in America’s domestic league…

    Go figure.

  37. DClee says:

    I agree with you 100% Stiggity. It’s ok to like a team overseas and still support your local or national team. The reason the EPL, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga all do so well is because families grow up rooting for their local team and it is passed on generation after generation like the NFL & MLB in the states. These people turn up their noses at the MLS when they should give it a chance so the interest can build, it becomes successful and more money and a better product on the pitch is produced. The quality is not on par with some of the top leagues in the world but there is definitely very good players that play in this league that are fun to watch; example A is Landon Donovan. Some people just don’t want to see it succeed because it is soccer and it is not suppose to be played in America is what they think.

  38. freelancer says:

    Ummm MLS (single entity, owners it doesn’t matter and players)= Business.

    Fans (All of us)= CUSTOMERS!

    Biggest losers = CUSTOMERS!

  39. jayrig5 says:

    A lot of the problems with the current structure of MLS will continue to impact the ability of young players to develop in the league. If the owners continue to strong-arm players, who will want to sign? The strength of young American soccer players has grown and grown, with virtually no support from MLS. If the league continues as is, or starts to fail, then good young American players will go elsewhere to develop. And none of the scenario I just mentioned has anything to do with the fact that I like watching the EPL, Champion’s League, and international matches, (especially the USMNT) without caring whether Toronto beats Real Salt Lake.

    For the league to continue growing, it needs to be more player-friendly. Player-friendly equals fan-friendly, because attracting talent means better product.

  40. I was thinking the exact same thing…. Right before the world cup would be the perfect time granted they will not be playing games but the eyes of america will solely be focused on soccer and everyone will care for the players…. when they find out how much (or little) so of the players make… america will care and seeing a good american team at the world cup will spark interest in MLS…. what they should do is strike for the whole World Cup…..

  41. Kayla says:

    Euro football snobs piss me off when they degrade the MLS for not being like the EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga, etc. It’s all we have!!! I’m happy to support a european team, in fact I support many, but I also support MLS and make a goal to support a new MLS team every year; right now it’s the galaxy and the dynamo, don’t know which team I should support this year though. I’m much more inclined in supporting a team closer to me than a team across the f***ing atlantic! The game has been getting better though; I can actually sit through an entire match, which I wasn’t even able to stomach 3 years ago! I’d be even more inclined to support MLS if they got a franchise somewhere in the south (I live in Middle Tennessee) because I’d have to set aside an entire weekend just to drive to Houston or Kansas City for a match. I support MLS, but not enough to spend 4 plus hours in the car and waste the gas if I had the option of just driving to Nashville or Atlanta, which are much closer.

    On another note, I agree with the players point of view, but it would be the stupidest decision to strike right now, a world cup year. A compromise needs to be had sooner than later and maybe when the next CBA expires the players might have more leverage, but right now is not the best time for either side involved.

  42. David says:

    Ives,
    Sorry if I have missed an good answer.
    In re: MLS Labor talks/Salaries
    I wondered what benefits the players receive. Is it just the salary? Do they have medical insurance (family included)? What about Pension? How is that pro-rated? Do they get per diem/housing subsidy? What about travel costs, how are those absorbed? In essence, what does a minimum contract actually come out in cost to the owners?
    As a follow-up to that I hope you might be able to shed some light on how those salary package pieces compare to other professional athletes in the United States.
    Thanks,

  43. MVK says:

    the pics were leaked of what it would look like before the draw