Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Heath hired as first Minnesota United MLS coach

Yesterday's Scores
EFL Cup- Quarterfinals
Hull City 1-1 Newcastle (3-1 on penalties)
(Snodgrass 99')-(Diame 98')

Liverpool 2-0 Leeds United
(Origi 76', Woodburn 81')

At the ripe young age of 17, Ben Woodburn became the youngest scorer in Liverpool history with his 81st second insurance goal. Liverpool are through to the semi-finals because of it. Hull City are also there thanks to their penalty shootout win over resilient Newcastle.

Copa Del Rey- Round of 32 First Leg
Leganés 1-3 Valencia
(Machis 59')-(El Haddadi 3', Medran 25', Bakkali 90+1')

Sporting Gijón 1-2 Eibar
(Viguera 62')-(Bebé 2', Pena 89')

AS Alcorcón 1-1 Espanyol
(Gimenez 51')-(Reyes 84')

Real Betis 1-0 Deportivo La Coruna
(Sanabria 19')

Ligue 1
Lille 4-2 Caen
(Eder 12', Sliti 24', de Preville 64', Lopes 65')-(Feret 31', Ronny 84')

Lorient 2-1 Stade Rennes
(Ciani 28', Waris 46')-(Sio 32')

Dijon 1-1 AS Monaco
(Sammaritano 87')-(Carrillo 17')

European League Tables

Coppa Italia- Fourth Round
Empoli 1-2 Cesena
(Gilardino 79')-(Panico 67', Rodriguez 102')

Chievo Verona 3-0 Novara
(Inglese 27', 30', Cesar 49')

Torino 4-0 Pisa
(Ljajic 92', Lopez 111', Boye 113', Belotti 117')

Adrian Heath has been officially hired as Minnesota United's first MLS head coach. Heath was in charge for Orando City's first season and a half in MLS after leading the team through the USL and its predecessors since 2008. He will now tackle another MLS expansion project, this time one coming from a middling season in the NASL.

MLS commissioner Don Garber was in Cincinnati for a town hall meeting related to the city's potential for an expansion team. He met with the owners of the USL's FC Cincinnati, toured Nippert Stadium, and even met with supporters at a local pub. All this was before a town hall meeting at Woodward Theater, where the soccer don answered questions about the league and the chances that FC Cincinnati eventually gets admitted to MLS. Such town halls are usually good signs for future expansion. The most recent one was in Sacramento, and they are dangerously close to being given a spot in the top tier of American soccer.

More rumors swirled around about the increasingly likely death of the New York Cosmos, and possibly the NASL as a whole. There were reports that they had informed the league that they would be ceasing operations and that players were notified of their release. There were other reports saying that the team had not, in fact, folded and were in meetings with the league in Atlanta all day yesterday. Signs still point to the end of the franchise and, probably, the league as well, but nothing official has come out quite yet. 

There is only one entity to blame (okay maybe two) if the New York Cosmos cease operations. That would be the New York Cosmos(and maybe the NASL as a whole). This isn’t the fault of U.S. Soccer standing idly by while a competitor to MLS fails. This isn’t a result of an MLS conspiracy theory aimed at dethroning a competing league. It definitely isn’t the fault of an American system that does not have promotion/relegation.

Sunil Gulati and the United States Soccer Federation don’t have any control over how the Cosmos and the North American Soccer League run their businesses. The federation couldn’t care less how they go about making their money. If the Cosmos and NASL want to create hurdles for themselves by spending more than they have on things like players, travel, stadiums, and anything else, what is the USSF to do?

For everyone in the pro/rel and anti-MLS armies complaining about the USSF and their lack of action, I never once saw one of them come up with a viable thing for them to do. Their arguments started and ended with promotion/relegation, which the American soccer landscape isn’t hardly ready for yet.

If the federation stepped in to curb their spending in an effort to save the league, the same people who complain about the federation’s lack of action would instead complain about them overstepping their bounds in an attempt to keep the NASL below MLS.

As I said yesterday, I truly believe that MLS never truly considered the NASL a threat to their existence. They never looked down on the league, or the Cosmos and said “These guys could take us down.” MLS had better things to worry about than a small bunch of noisy neighbors trying to upset the apple cart. They had a league to run. They had expansion of their own to work on. They probably saw the NASL and their best average attendances at less than half of the worst in their league and shrugged them off as nothing. There was no reason for MLS to concoct some half baked scheme and shady alliance with U.S. Soccer to make sure the NASL failed. Despite Bill Peterson’s and his partners’ words, the NASL was never going to compete with MLS on a financial level.

Finally, the demise of the Cosmos, and the NASL, isn’t the result of a closed league system. In fact, I feel like promotion and relegation would only have accelerated the death of the team. The Cosmos couldn’t cut it financially in a second tier league. There is no way they could have absorbed the increased costs of promotion to the more expensive MLS.
The failure of Cosmos (and the NASL) is not the cause of some outside entity conspiring against them. No, this is the fault of a team and league that spent too much time, effort, and money trying to punch above their weight and compete with a league that had far more resources available to them. It was the result of a team and league consistently outspending their wallets while not attracting the fans to refill the coffers.

Finally, the soccer world was rocked in the wee hours of yesterday morning when a plane carrying Brazilian club Chapecoense crashed in Colombia. The club was travelling to the Copa Sudamericana Final, which is the equivalent of UEFA's Europa League final. The club had been through a remarkable journey, having been in the Brazilian fourth tier as recently as 2009. They made it to the first division by 2014. Only three players who travelled with the team survived the crash. 

Colombia's Atletico Nacional, who were to be Chapecoense's opponents in the final, have already ceded the title to them. Brazilian clubs have petitioned to allow the club to be immune to relegation at the end of the season. Players and clubs across the world have expressed their sympathies for a club that is going through the worst tragedy possible. My deepest condolences to Chapecoense, their surviving players, their fans, and the entire Brazilian Serie A for their loss.

Today's Matches
EFL Cup- Quarterfinals
Arsenal v. Southampton- 2:45pm
Manchester United v. West Ham- 3pm- beIN

Copa del Rey- Round of 32 First Leg
Real Madrid v. Cultural Leonesa- 1pm
SD Formentera v. Sevilla- 1pm
Toledo v. Villarreal- 1pm
Guijuelo v. Atletico Madrid- 2pm
Granada v. Osasuna- 3pm
Cordoba v. Malaga- 3pm
UCAM Murcia v. Celta Vigo- 3pm
Hercules v. Barcelona- 4pm

Ligue 1
AS Nancy Lorraine v. Metz- 1pm
Bastia v. Bordeaux- 1pm
Guingamp v. Nice- 1pm
Nantes v. Olympique Lyonnais- 1pm
St. Etienne v. Olympique Marseille- 1pm
Toulouse v. Montpellier- 1pm
Paris-Saint Germain v. Angers- 3pm

Coppa Italia- Fourth Round
Palermo v. Spezia- 9am
Atalanta v. US Pescara- 12pm
Sampdoria v. Cagliari- 3pm

MLS Cup Playoffs- Conference Final Second Leg
Toronto FC v. Montreal Impact- 7pm- FS1

Liga MX Playoff- Semi-Finals First Leg
Leon v. UANL- 9:36pm- Univision Deportes

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
As we head into the final day of the campaign, articles about the Cosmos and Adrian Heath's hiring along with this Wake Up have brought me to within 1,000 words of the 50,000 word goal. We stand at 49,049. Expect the winning articles to go live this afternoon and a victory recap post here tomorrow.

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