• Torres effect encouraging for USA
    "He's kind of a calming influence. I think we were too hectic on the ball in the first half and he kind of settled us a little bit when he got the ball, and it helped us a lot." That is Landon Donovan, talking about Jose Francisco Torres -- and in particular the effect that Torres had on the U.S. team when he subbed in for the second half of Saturday's game against Turkey.
  • Will soccer heed doctor's orders?
    Just over a week ago I was talking of the refereeing clampdowns that invariably accompany each World Cup, wondering what would be clamped down on this time.
  • Beware of youth soccer orthodoxy
    I get a lot of enjoyment out of looking at the Cal South Magazine -- it tells me quite a lot about the youth situation in one of our most important regions, and anyway, there are plenty of photos of smiling kids, and that's always fun.
  • Not the Greatest Final, but ...
    So here we go again, another super-climactic final that failed to live up to its billing. It's not that the Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich game was a poor one -- it wasn't. But this was the high-point of the European season, the two best teams, with a ton of the world's best players ... surely such an occasion, such an assembly of talent, should produce something exceptional, something sparkling?
  • Ballack injury raises referee worries
    I guess it had to happen. Someone had to get injured at the last minute, injured so badly that he would miss the World Cup. Well, not just someone -- it would be a big star.
  • A dubious history of pre-World Cup clampdowns
    Every four years, as the World Cup rolls into sight, we get the news that the rules of the game are not quite as good as they ought to be. And so we learn that a minor change is necessary for the tournament to be played properly. Either that, or the referees are told that they need to be particularly diligent in enforcing a rule that is already in existence.
  • Seattle's win raises coaching conundrum
    This sort of thing happens far too often, I'm afraid. At least, it does so here in the States. Some visitors from Europe were in town over the weekend -- soccer people, as it happened, and they thought they'd like to take a look at an MLS game. Perfect -- the Red Bulls were in town, playing against Seattle.
  • The Unacceptable Face of FIFA
    I continue to be astonished -- and I do not astonish easily -- at the extraordinary claims that FIFA makes as to the extent of its authority.
  • World Cup squads: the predictable surprises
    Looking at the preliminary World Cup squads, there are certainly some selections and omissions that you could call "surprises."
  • What England's injuries may mean for USA
    As various American players are recovering their physical fitness in time to play in the World Cup -- think Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden, Oguchi Onyewu, even Charlie Davies -- it seems that events are taking a rather different direction for England -- the team that the USA will face in its first game.
  • In soccer terms - are we still a colony?
    I have received a breathless announcement from MLS informing me that Manchester United will be coming to the USA this summer. A press release, of course, but one is entitled to wonder which section of the press it is intended for. It also seems likely that much of the wording is designed to impress sponsors and marketing people.
  • Needed: A Special Rule Book for Goalkeepers
    Not for the first time, Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has been bitching about Sam Allardyce and the way that his Blackburn Rovers see fit to play soccer. Far too physical, in Wenger's view.
  • MLS Goal of the Week - According to Me
    Nineteen goals in eight games was the MLS harvest over the weekend. Hardly prolific scoring -- the average was 2.4 per game, which is about normal in this low-scoring era.