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November 2015

The Perplexing History of MLS Playoffs

The 2015 MLS playoff field captured the essence of a league often defined by its parity.  The New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas each led their respective conferences with 60 points, seven points more than their closest rivals.  A mere four points separated the remainder of the playoff field.  Now the specter of away goals appears to threaten both of the top seeds – New York and Dallas face long odds to win MLS Cup. Continue reading “The Perplexing History of MLS Playoffs”

Goal of the Week: Jovan Kirovski v. Germany, February 1999

The US encountered Germany for a friendly early in 1999, just the third game of Bruce Arena’s tenure.  The scars from the 1998 World Cup hadn’t fully healed, and a rematch with one of its group stage opponents promised a stern test for the US.

Or so we thought.  Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Jovan Kirovski v. Germany, February 1999”

Dreaming of John O’Brien

Before the days of ubiquitous online video, tracking progress of an American playing abroad meant interpreting match reports and speculating on second-hand information.  This was especially true of players in the youth team, as few actually watched these games.  In place of YouTube, transitive property: if a player was at a Euro club, and that Euro club was good, it stood to reason that the player had national team potential.
For years, John O’Brien was “that guy at Ajax“.

Continue reading “Dreaming of John O’Brien”

Goal of the Week: DaMarcus Beasley v. Mexico, September 2005

The US-Mexico game returned to Columbus featuring a rivalry of equals.

Continue reading “Goal of the Week: DaMarcus Beasley v. Mexico, September 2005”

The CONCACAF Balance of Power

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying starts this Friday for the traditional regional powers.  In prior years, all teams joined qualification quickly, though those perilous two-legged elimination rounds made way for a winnowing process this cycle.  CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying provides increasing forgiveness for poor results each round, and with just a single round to navigate before the Hex (and its 3.5 World Cup berths), the US and Mexico have another World Cup in sight.

Continue reading “The CONCACAF Balance of Power”

Goal of the Week: Tab Ramos v. Costa Rica, September 1997

The US entered its game against Costa Rica with just one win in its first five World Cup Qualifiers.  A boisterous crowd in Portland spurred on the team, but there were few dangerous opportunities for either side in the first half.  As the minutes passed, anxiety built as the most the US could muster were half-chances and blocked shots.

Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Tab Ramos v. Costa Rica, September 1997”

Tactic of the Year

Klopp has this locked down.

The Impact of Youth National Teams and College Soccer on a World Cup Roster

After looking at the progression of player classes from U17 to U20 to the senior team, it’s time to invert the analysis and track the experience of those who ultimately made a World Cup squad.

Continue reading “The Impact of Youth National Teams and College Soccer on a World Cup Roster”

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