Freedman's Throw-Ins http://www.fannation.com/blogs/show/5369 Thu, 11 Dec 2008 15:11:18 GMT It's Club World Cup time -- try to stay awake http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/304456 I think I&rsquo;m through trying to feign excitement over the FIFA Club World Cup. As we&rsquo;ve said nearly every year, in principle, this is a great tournament and a fun way to match up regional powerhouses that never face each other for global bragging rights. But that&rsquo;s the trouble -- that&rsquo;s all that&rsquo;s at stake.<br /><br />There are too many clubs in action, the timing is inconvenient for players and fans alike, it&rsquo;s impossible to incentivize the European representative and it&rsquo;s just plain silly that it has to be in Japan every year (the tournament is shifting to Abu Dhabi next year and in 2010, but is scheduled to return to Japan after that).<br /><br />This year in particular, there&rsquo;s less sex appeal all around. Outside of Manchester United, no one else really inspires. Yes, LDU Quito&rsquo;s Copa Libertadores win back in July was thrilling and historic, but few outside of Ecuador are cheering hard. Pachuca has been enlightening in years past, but los Tuzos&rsquo; star has faded since their second straight CONCACAF Champions&rsquo; Cup win back in April (though they are worth watching to see talented, young U.S. national-teamer Jos&eacute; Francisco Torres). Gamba Osaka will get the hometown fans fired up, but that&rsquo;s pretty much it. And it&rsquo;s nice that an Australian club -- Adelaide United, with two MLS alums -- is in the house, but again, not exactly a barnburner.<br /><br />It&rsquo;ll take a miracle for Man. United to blow a sure march to a trophy. But even if it does, no one is going to hang their head and call it a major disappointment. Neither Liverpool nor Barcelona flew home in agony after losing in the final to S&atilde;o Paulo and Internacional, respectively, in 2005 and &rsquo;06. <br /><br />Why? The Euro clubs have nothing to gain in this tournament, whereas the South American representatives can boast they&rsquo;re better than their counterparts across the Atlantic. Take Boca Juniors, who were devastated when they lost to AC Milan in the final last year.<br /><br />But there&rsquo;s a silver lining here, because one club actually can pull a major upset, and they&rsquo;re way fun to watch: Al-Ahly of Cairo, which pulled a shock third-place finish in the Club World Cup two years ago. The Egyptians kick off Friday against Pachuca (technically Thursday night at 11:45 p.m. ET, live on Fox Soccer Channel). If they can take advantage of the weakened Mexican squad, they&rsquo;d get LDU next, which is also imminently beatable. I&rsquo;d say tune in, but with almost all of the start times before 6 a.m. ET, there&rsquo;s no reason not to TiVo. I may be feigning excitement, but I&rsquo;m not insane. Thu, 11 Dec 2008 15:11:18 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/304456 Jonah Freedman It's Club World Cup time -- try to stay awake http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/304436 &lt;!--[if gte mso 9]>&lt;xml> &lt;w:WordDocument> &lt;w:View>Normal&lt;/w:View> &lt;w:Zoom>0&lt;/w:Zoom> &lt;w:Compatibility> &lt;w:BreakWrappedTables/> &lt;w:SnapToGridInCell/> &lt;w:WrapTextWithPunct/> &lt;w:UseAsianBreakRules/> &lt;/w:Compatibility> &lt;w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4&lt;/w:BrowserLevel> &lt;/w:WordDocument> &lt;/xml>&lt;![endif]-->&lt;!--[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } &lt;![endif]--> &lt;!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> &lt;!--[if gte mso 10]> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} &lt;![endif]--> <p class="MsoNormal">I think I&rsquo;m through trying to feign excitement over the FIFA Club World Cup. As we&rsquo;ve said nearly every year, in principle, this is a great tournament and a fun way to match up regional powerhouses that never face each other for global bragging rights. But that&rsquo;s the trouble -- that&rsquo;s all that&rsquo;s at stake.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">There are too many clubs in action, the timing is inconvenient for players and fans alike, it&rsquo;s impossible to incentivize the European representative and it&rsquo;s just plain silly that it has to be in Japan every year (the tournament is shifting to Abu Dhabi next year and in 2010, but is scheduled to return to Japan after that).</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">This year in particular, there&rsquo;s less sex appeal all around. Outside of Manchester United, no one else really inspires. Yes, LDU Quito&rsquo;s Copa Libertadores win back in July was thrilling and historic, but few outside of Ecuador are cheering hard. Pachuca has been enlightening in years past, but los Tuzos&rsquo; star has faded since their second straight CONCACAF Champions&rsquo; Cup win back in April (though they are worth watching to see talented, young U.S. national-teamer Jos&eacute; Francisco Torres). Gamba Osaka will get the hometown fans fired up, but that&rsquo;s pretty much it. And it&rsquo;s nice that an Australian club -- Adelaide United, with two MLS alums -- is in the house, but again, not exactly a barnburner.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It&rsquo;ll take a miracle for Man. United to blow a sure march to a trophy. But even if it does, no one is going to hang their head and call it a major disappointment. Neither Liverpool nor Barcelona flew home in agony after losing in the final to S&atilde;o Paulo and Internacional, respectively, in 2005 and &rsquo;06. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Why? The Euro clubs have nothing to gain in this tournament, whereas the South American representatives can boast they&rsquo;re better than their counterparts across the Atlantic. Take Boca Juniors, who were devastated when they lost to AC Milan in the final last year.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But there&rsquo;s a silver lining here, because one club actually can pull a major upset, and they&rsquo;re way fun to watch: Al-Ahly of Cairo, which pulled a shock third-place finish in the Club World Cup two years ago. The Egyptians kick off Friday against Pachuca (technically Thursday night at 11:45 p.m. ET, live on Fox Soccer Channel). If they can take advantage of the weakened Mexican squad, they&rsquo;d get LDU next, which is also imminently beatable. I&rsquo;d say tune in, but with almost all of the start times before 6 a.m. ET, there&rsquo;s no reason not to TiVo. I may be feigning excitement, but I&rsquo;m not insane.</p> Thu, 11 Dec 2008 14:59:09 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/304436 Jonah Freedman This Revolution won't be televised http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/233475 <strong><img src="http://www.islandstats.com/gallery1/khanosmith8.jpg" vspace="4" height="210" hspace="4" align="right" alt="" width="250" />Khano Smith</strong> broke one of the primary directives of being a professional athlete: You don&rsquo;t engage fans who are trying to provoke you. <br /><br />After Saturday night&rsquo;s tilt between the San Jose Earthquakes and the New England Revolution, I was probably the only journalist who saw the Revs&rsquo; big Bermudan striker (pictured) angrily hurl a full bottle of Gatorade at two Quakes fans who were heckling him as he headed toward the locker rooms. <br /><br />Smith made a lot of enemies in the hostile crowd during his team&rsquo;s 4-0 loss to the Quakes, mostly for shoving San Jose winger <strong>Ronnie O&rsquo;Brien</strong> and continuously trying to bait the Irishman. Every time the 6-foot-3 Smith touched the ball, Quakes fans booed him mercilessly and kept the Bronx cheers going as the humiliated Revolution left the pitch.<br /><br />But you&rsquo;ve got to leave that stuff on the field. Smith didn&rsquo;t. Two fans kept taunting him from the other side of the partition that separates the stadium from the practice field, and Smith played right into their hands, first by inviting them to meet him in the parking lot, then by trying to go after them (a pair of his teammates actually had to restrain him). So instead, he hurled the bottle right at them from about 30 feet away.<br /><br />Granted, the fans may have been acting like idiots, but that&rsquo;s no excuse to resort to that form of retaliation. If Major League Soccer gets wind of this, the league could suspend Smith and/or fine him. This wasn&rsquo;t exactly <strong>Eric Cantona</strong> <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/27/newsid_2506000/2506237.stm" target="_blank">karate-kicking a Crystal Palace supporter</a>, but by and large, MLS players don&rsquo;t assault -- or try to assault -- fans. Stay tuned.<br /><br />&bull; Add <strong>Chris Albright</strong>&rsquo;s name to the list of people who aren&#39;t exactly sad to see <strong>Ruud Gullit</strong> out of MLS. Albright, who was traded from Los Angeles to New England in January, says he knew the second the Dutchman was hired as Galaxy coach last November that he&rsquo;d be out before the season was over.<br /><br />&ldquo;My thought was that he&rsquo;d be gone by midway through this year -- I thought that two days after meeting him,&rdquo; said the 29-year-old defender, who was part of the Galaxy squad that made preseason trips to Australia and New Zealand.<br /><br />What was the problem? &ldquo;Lack of respect for the players. No real concern about wanting to know MLS or caring to know MLS. You wouldn&rsquo;t believe some of the stuff [he did].&rdquo;<br /><br />That echoes very closely <a href="http://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/galaxy/la-spw-galaxy13-2008aug13,0,3956432.story" target="_blank">some of the comments</a> made by Galaxy star <strong>Landon Donovan</strong> last week in the wake of the L.A. shakeup. Mon, 18 Aug 2008 04:43:17 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/233475 Jonah Freedman Red Bulls miss the boat http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/217255 <p><strong><img src="http://img.fannation.com/upload/truth_rumor/photo_upload/577/36/full/ronaldinhoLLUIS_GENE.jpg" vspace="4" height="210" hspace="4" align="right" alt="" width="210" /></strong>Yet again, the New York Red Bulls couldn&#39;t have timed it worse. <strong>Claudio Reyna</strong> <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/soccer/07/15/reyna.retire/index.html">is going to retire</a> -- not surprising and long expected, considering how injury-plagued the former U.S. national-team captain&#39;s 1&frac12; seasons in MLS were.</p> <p>First, the good news: Reyna&#39;s retirement frees up the Red Bulls&#39; Designated Player slot, which had been effectively wasting away as Captain America just couldn&#39;t stay healthy (<strong>Juan Pablo &Aacute;</strong><strong>ngel </strong>occupies the team&#39;s second slot, which it traded for last season). That gives New York coach <strong>Juan Carlos Osorio</strong> an enormous toy to use as he continues to rebuild the biggest underachievers in the history of MLS (13 seasons, zero titles).</p> <p>It&#39;s no secret that the Red Bulls need their own version of <strong>David Beckham</strong> and <strong>Cuauht&eacute;moc </strong><strong>Blanco</strong> in the U.S.&#39; most important market, and they need one fast. MLS&#39; New York franchise isn&#39;t only suffering on the field, it&#39;s far from the &quot;superclub&quot; MLS has dreamed of fielding since its inaugural season. About the only time the former MetroStars come anywhere close to filling Giants Stadium is when Beckham and the L.A. Galaxy, or FC Barcelona, are in town. The sparse crowds of 5,000 need to stop, as does the losing.</p><p>The latter problem is Osorio&#39;s to bear. And I still believe he can do it. His midseason makeover of a team that was more or less built by <strong>Bruce Arena</strong> will eventually produce attractive, Latin-flavored soccer. But the other problem -- the awful Q rating -- well, that&#39;s Red Bull&#39;s problem.</p><p><strong>Jozy Altidore</strong> is officially gone -- the teen sensation left for Spanish club Villarreal last month. Now, with Reyna out of the way, it&#39;s time for Red Bull to puts its money where its mouth is and go hard at the biggest name it can get its hands on. <strong>Thierry Henry</strong> is a real possibility (though probably next summer). <strong>Andriy Shevchenko</strong> is another name that&#39;s been floated. <strong>Ronaldo</strong>&#39;s still out there, too, as is Mexican star <strong>Jared Borgetti</strong>. Dreamy possibilities, to be sure. </p><p>Now the bad news: The Bulls missed the boat. Or more specifically, they missed the Titanic. Until Tuesday, an even bigger option was out there: <strong>Ronaldinho </strong>(above right). There is perhaps no bigger name in the world that was legitimately available to MLS. The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year finally ended his drawn-out transfer saga, agreeing to a $30 million transfer from Barcelona to AC Milan. </p><p>No matter what you think of him -- overweight, over-partied or just plain <em>over </em>-- he may be the best player around to put rears in seats in this country. And, in fact, he&#39;s already done it: Giants Stadium was sold out when &#39;Dinho and his former club played the Red Bulls in a friendly two summers ago.</p><p>Where were the Red Bulls during the Ronaldinho saga? Milan and Manchester City spent the past month driving up the Brazilian&#39;s price tag. If, as it has been reported, the Bulls knew Reyna&#39;s retirement was an eventual outcome, why didn&#39;t they throw everything they had at convincing Ronaldinho to make an earth-shattering move to the U.S., perhaps bigger than even Beckham&#39;s?&nbsp;</p><p>Maybe they did and maybe they were rebuffed by another high-profile player who wasn&#39;t quite ready to take a leap of faith on Major League Soccer. The point here is, the Red Bulls need do something big, and they need to do it soon. They&#39;ve got the money, they&#39;ve got the marketing power and now, there are no more excuses. Dare to dream, as they say. (Actually, it was a former Red Bull <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jonah_freedman/10/13/djorkaeff.qa/1.html">who told us that</a> once.)</p><p>What&#39;s done is done. There are other options out there. Regardless, Reyna just gave the Red Bulls a huge gift. He rid his team of its biggest albatross: himself. Now it&#39;s up to the club to get a celebrity that will make the casual sports fan care. Because right now, no one&#39;s watching.</p> Tue, 15 Jul 2008 20:17:27 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/217255 Jonah Freedman Quakes win! Quakes win! (Sorta) http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/215998 <p>File this under the &quot;for what it&#39;s worth&quot; category. I&#39;m sitting in the press box at McAfee Coliseum, watching the Oakland A&#39;s take on the Los Angeles Angels [of Anaheim]. Between the second and third innings, the JumboTron featured a &quot;Choose Your Highlight&quot; gimmick for the fans on hand here. The choices of clips:</p><p>* The Chicago White Sox&#39; 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers, the team 2 1/2 games back of the second-place A&#39;s in the AL West.</p><p>* Kansas City&#39;s 5-4 win over AL West cellar-dweller Seattle.</p><p>* The San Jose Earthquakes&#39; 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids.</p><p>Guess which highlight the fans chose with their applause? Yep, the Quakes -- over games that impact the A&#39;s standing in their own division. I guess that&#39;s worth telling the suits at MLS?</p><p>Here&#39;s a better memo for <strong>Don Garber</strong> &amp; Co.: The A&#39;s are four games behind the Angels in a heated race for the AL West crown, and these two teams are archrivals, at least in their division. Tonight&#39;s attendance? Less than 28,000 -- quite a bit fewer than the crowd here for last month&#39;s Quakes-L.A. Galaxy game that drew 40,000 fans out to see <strong>David Beckham</strong>.</p> Sun, 13 Jul 2008 02:01:30 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/215998 Jonah Freedman McBride is coming home http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/198349 <p><strong><img src="http://www.4thegame.com/media/00/03/98/brian_mcbride.jpg" vspace="4" height="256" hspace="4" align="right" alt="" width="200" />Brian McBride</strong> is coming home to Major League Soccer. To be completely honest, this makes me happier than hearing <strong>David Beckham</strong> or <strong>Cuauhtemoc Blanco</strong> were joining the league -- even more so than when ex-U.S. captain<strong> Claudio Reyna</strong> came home.</p><p>Simply put, McBride is pure class. He&#39;s without ego, a tireless hard worker, ageless and a proven goal-scorer. In short, he is perhaps the best export MLS has ever sent out into the big leagues of Europe. Having him come home is a surefire sign that we&#39;ve come full circle and that the league has garnered enough international success that one of its children thinks it&#39;s worth his time to finish his career here.</p><p>Yes, McBride isn&#39;t a young kid -- he&#39;s 35 -- but he is by no means finished. Despite his injury problems with his knees, the Chicago-area native can still score and is the kind of aerial threat MLS is lacking (apologies to <strong>Brian Ching</strong>). He became a folk hero at Fulham for his work ethic and willingness to sacrifice his own body to help his team.</p><p>Now the big question: Where is McBride headed? Toronto FC has first dibs in the player-allocation pool, but could you really see McBride going there? He told SI.com last May that, when the time came to head home, he wouldn&#39;t mind ending up with his hometown Fire. But Chicago has virtually no cap space and would have to trade for a second designated-player spot (Blanco occupies its current one).</p><p>Columbus? Possibly. McBride enjoyed enormous success with the Crew during his eight seasons in MLS, scoring 62 goals while wearing the gold-and-black. But <strong>Sigi Schmid</strong> has finally found a winning combination in Columbus and might be loath to tinker with it. But how much would you love to see McBride in front of goal, heading in crosses from <strong>Guillermo Barros Schelotto</strong>?</p><p>So where else could McBride go? One thing I do know -- he wouldn&#39;t be coming home to MLS without some sort of understanding from a team of his choosing. And no matter where he goes, he&#39;s without question deserving of a designated-player spot. My guess is Toronto FC signs him as a DP and trades him to Chicago, perhaps for a package of players including <strong>Chris Rolfe</strong>. Stay tuned. </p> Wed, 28 May 2008 18:56:31 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/198349 Jonah Freedman No more feel-good stories http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/195715 <img src="http://sjearthquakes.mlsnet.com/images/2008/02/14/xIHxSBOO.jpg" vspace="4" height="235" hspace="4" align="right" alt="" width="275" />When the Baltimore Ravens returned to Cleveland in 1999 to face the new Browns for the first time since moving away, they were booed mercilessly and subject to <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/04/obamafinger.html" target="_blank">more one-finger salutes</a> than <strong>Hillary Clinton</strong>. <br /><br />It was one of the best subplots of the NFL season: a relocated team returning to the city and fans it left behind, but with a new name, different uniforms and representing all the evils of the greedy owner who jilted the loyal fans to begin with.<br /><br />When the Houston Dynamo visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Thursday night (ESPN2, 10:30 p.m. ET), it&rsquo;ll be a similar dynamic. Just don&rsquo;t expect the same vitriol. Many Quakes fans still pull for the team that moved to Texas in &rsquo;05. (See the last two MLS Cup title games as evidence: Hundreds of blue-jerseyed fans could be spotted in the stands, cheering on the Dynamo.)<br /><br />On the contrary, it&rsquo;ll be a nice homecoming for the Houston players, many of whom were idolized during their time in San Jose. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s nothing but good memories for me,&rdquo; says Dynamo midfielder <strong>Richard Mulrooney</strong>, who won two MLS Cups during his six seasons with the Quakes. &ldquo;A lot of us have friends or family there.&rdquo;<br /><br />But there won&rsquo;t be a ton of fraternizing this week. &ldquo;[Coach] <strong>Dom Kinnear</strong> said it best,&rdquo; Mulrooney explains. &ldquo;The Houston Dynamo bought us plane tickets to go and win a soccer game, not to reminisce about the past. This is our job.&rdquo;<br /><br />In the other locker room, it&rsquo;s much of the same. &ldquo;For most of the guys, the novelty&rsquo;s worn off,&rdquo; says San Jose&rsquo;s <strong>Ryan Cochrane</strong>, who came back to the Quakes from Houston in the expansion draft. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll probably shake a few more hands before the game than normal, but once the whistle blows, it&rsquo;ll be business as usual.&rdquo;<br /><br />Indeed, the Dynamo already did their victory tour of their old stomping grounds back in February, with two preseason games in the Bay Area against the new expansion Quakes. There was definitely more carousing and socializing with each other back then, Mulrooney says. <br /><br />Now, it&rsquo;s just a case of both teams needing points. The two-time defending MLS Cup champion Dynamo are buried in fifth place in the Western Conference, while the new Quakes are dead last, with a league-worst four goals scored in six games.<br /><br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;ll be friendly smiles before the game,&rdquo; says Mulrooney, &ldquo;but they&rsquo;re trying to beat us as hard as we&rsquo;re trying to beat them.&rdquo;<br /><br />Fans take note: In that first Ravens-Browns encounter, Baltimore blew out of town with a 41-9 win. Maybe Quakes fans are going to have to yell a little louder. Thu, 22 May 2008 01:51:59 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/195715 Jonah Freedman Auf wiedersehen, Lehmann http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/188376 <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2120/2470766000_dfd984e779_m.jpg" border="4" align="right" alt="" />LONDON -- I wouldn&rsquo;t go so far as to say it&rsquo;s been a forgettable season for Arsenal. After all, the Gunners were on fire for the first six months of the season, played some beautiful soccer along the way and knocked AC Milan out of the Champions League. But when it all fell apart, it fell apart spectacularly, and it&rsquo;s another trophyless season. <br /><br />From that perspective, there wasn&rsquo;t much to cheer about at Emirates Stadium on Sunday in Arsenal&rsquo;s home finale, a somewhat drab 1-0 win over Everton. But it surprised even me when the fans gave <strong>Jens Lehmann</strong> a <em>huge</em> ovation when the German keeper came on as a sub late in the game.<br /><br />The guy was clutch during his five seasons at Arsenal, and won three trophies during his tenure in goal. But Lehmann has been such a prickly character under <strong>Ars&egrave;ne Wenger</strong>, at times vocally egotistical and notoriously broody when he&rsquo;s benched or pulled early. (His feud with fellow German national-team keeper <strong>Oliver Kahn</strong> reached almost bad soap-opera status.) Over the past two seasons, as <strong>Manuel Almunia</strong> emerged as Wenger&rsquo;s new No. 1 of choice, we really got a shot of Lehmann&rsquo;s surliness. <br /><br />It seemed like every other week, the German was taking shots at his manager in the German press, that he was &ldquo;hurt,&rdquo; &ldquo;angry,&rdquo; &ldquo;saddened&rdquo; -- pretty everything running the gamut of unhappy smiley-face emoticons. With his contract up, Lehmann took his final bow on Sunday (the 38-year-old is headed elsewhere for sure next season), especially during the &ldquo;lap of honor&rdquo; the team took after the final whistle to express their gratitude to the fans for their support all season.<br /><br />And it was moving. With the season finishing in shambles (really, shouldn&rsquo;t Arsenal fans <em>expect</em> a Champions League berth, not as a consolation prize?), the fans really let Lehmann know what he has meant to them. The German looked like he was practically in tears during the standing ovation. Now that&rsquo;s about as rare a sight as there is. (My buddy <strong>Jeremy</strong> took that pic above.)<br /><br />Yes, it was a farewell and a goodbye,&rdquo; Wenger said after the game. &ldquo;It was to show respect for what Jens has done for us. He is not always an easy character and he would lose his temper, but he got better and better for us and has been fully committed.&rdquo;<br /><br />So say what you want about Lehmann&rsquo;s petulance, his candor that bordered on uncomfortable awkwardness and his frequent, blatant explosions of disrespect. I&rsquo;ll miss the guy in Arsenal gloves. Mon, 05 May 2008 21:48:15 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/188376 Jonah Freedman Name that team http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/159241 <p>It&#39;s official: <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/soccer_america/02/29/philly.expansion/index.html">Major League Soccer has selected Philadelphia</a> as team No. 16. The new club will begin play in 2010, and will mark MLS&#39; sixth expansion team in the past four years, joining Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC, San Jose and, in &#39;09, Seattle.</p><p>Now the fun part begins. What should the new Philly team be called? The options are materializing fast and furious. Here are some of the possibilities:</p><p><strong>Philadelphia 1776:</strong> Obviously a salute to the signing date of the Declaration of Independence in Philly, and a sly nod to German clubs with their founding dates in their names (e.g. Schalke 04, Hannover 96, etc.). This one may be my favorite ... and doesn&#39;t quite have as many pitfalls as the Dynamo&#39;s ill-fated original <a href="http://www.soccertimes.com/mls/2006/mar06.htm" target="_blank">&quot;Houston 1836&quot;</a> choice. </p><p><strong>Philadelphia Athletic: </strong>Another Euro tie-in (i.e. Spain&#39;s Atl&eacute;tico<font size="2"> </font>Madrid, England&#39;s Wigan Athletic), but also a tip of the hat to history. Not making immediate sense to you? Think about where baseball&#39;s Oakland A&#39;s were founded 107 years ago. Perhaps my second-favorite -- but would the A&#39;s try to block the use of the name?</p><p><strong>Philadelphia Freedom:</strong> Brings to mind Philly&#39;s World TeamTennis franchise ... and the annoying song <strong>Elton John</strong> was actually commissioned to write for the team by <strong>Billie Jean King</strong>. Not Reg&#39;s best moment. And a horrible choice.</p><p><strong>Philadelphia Independence FC:</strong> Classy and simple, but can you name a sports team after an inalienable right? </p><p>What do you think the new team should be called?&nbsp;</p> Fri, 29 Feb 2008 16:33:24 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/159241 Jonah Freedman Benny's asking too much http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/156099 <p><img src="http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2007/writers/grant_wahl/06/26/soccer.final0702/p1_soccer1.jpg" vspace="4" hspace="4" align="right" alt="" width="200" />Got an interesting scoop on the <strong>Benny Feilhaber</strong>-to-MLS saga this afternoon. But before we get into it, I want to excuse myself if it seems like I can&#39;t get away from this story. It&#39;s only because I genuinely like Benny as a person and a player. I think he has a lot of natural gifts, untapped potential and the soccer smarts to really make a name for himself if he got the chance.</p><p>That said, I just got off the phone with a league source who says that Feilhaber (or maybe more specifically, his German agent, <strong>Henner Janzen</strong>) is demanding designated-player like money from MLS to make his return to the U.S. after what can only be considered a failed attempt in Europe.</p><p>We all remember Feilhaber&#39;s awesome <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcGA2W4d5_E" target="_blank">game-winning goal against Mexico</a> in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final last summer, which came amid several solid appearances for the U.S. national team during 2007. But if Benny thinks an MLS team will be willing to pony up in excess of $1 million for his services, he&#39;s nuts.</p> <p>That Mexico goal was spectacular, and Feilhaber has shown flashes of his potential. But let&#39;s be honest: He failed to stick in Germany with Hamburg, now he&#39;s struggling to get into the first team at Derby County -- the last-place club in the English Premiership. Those aren&#39;t exactly qualifications that merit money similar to what guys like <strong>Landon Donovan</strong> and <strong>Juan Pablo <strong>&Aacute;ngel </strong></strong>are earning.</p><p>I&#39;ll repeat: I&#39;d love to see Feilhaber in MLS. The Orange County, Calif., native has never played club soccer in the U.S. as a pro, and finding him a team where he can play every game is a far better way to get him ready for the big-time (he&#39;s still only 23 and eligible to be on the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing this summer). </p><p>But if it&#39;s true that he wants seven figures, no team should bite (Houston, Chivas USA and San Jose all have been linked to him at some point over the past few weeks). Remember, a player that makes DP money counts as $400,000 against a team&#39;s salary cap, which is a shade more than $2 million. If you&#39;re a GM, is Feilhaber worth 20 percent of your entire budget? </p><p>Then again, this all might be a negotiating tactic. Just a month ago, Janzen was telling Yanks Abroad that Feilhaber <a href="http://yanks-abroad.com/get.php?mode=content&amp;id=3639" target="_blank">wasn&#39;t at all interested in coming home to MLS</a>, and clearly he&#39;s backed off that stance as interest in Europe undoubtedly waned. Hopefully someone will reach a compromise somewhere along the line.&nbsp;</p> Thu, 21 Feb 2008 00:59:05 GMT http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/156099 Jonah Freedman