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Friday kickaround

*In front of another sparse crowd at Pizza Hut Park, Jeff Cunningham converted a controversial penalty kick in stoppage time -- his second PK of the evening -- to help offset Fredy Montero's 40-yard free kick and lift FC Dallas (0-1-3) to a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders (2-1-2). Seattle keeper Kasey Keller left the match with dizziness. The announced attendance was 8,512. Why, in MLS' most problematic market, this particular match was played on a Thursday on national TV remains a mystery. The league has enjoyed an attendance increase this season, but you'd never have known it by turning on ESPN2 and seeing thousands of empty prime seats. Watch the eventful highlight package.

*Americans abroad:
MF Clint Dempsey 38 minutes in Fulham's 0-0 draw at Hamburg
(Fulham will host second leg of Europa League semifinal next week)

*D.C. United is off this weekend, but the other area clubs are in action: The Washington Freedom (1-1) will visit the Philadelphia Independence in a WPS match on Sunday evening, second-division Crystal Palace Baltimore (0-1) will host the Puerto Rico Islanders on Saturday at 8 p.m., and third-division Real Maryland (0-0-1) is at the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday night.

*NCAA champion Virginia will face rival Maryland in a friendly Friday night at 6:30 at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County. Topdrawersoccer.com will provide live video. Tickets are $10 and $5 at the gate. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the National Brain Tumor Society.

*Pali Blues, the two-time W League champions who are based in Santa Monica, Calif., have organized a May 22 charity event that will attempt to set the world record for juggling soccer balls simultaneously. The balls will be donated to local and international charities. For more information, click here.

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By Steve Goff  |  April 23, 2010; 12:30 AM ET
Categories:  Americans Abroad , College Soccer , Freedom , MLS , USA 2nd division , USL , Women  | Tags: Clint Dempsey, Crystal Palace Baltimore, D.C. United, Europa League, FC Dallas, Fulham, Hamburg, Harrisburg City Islanders, Kasey Keller, Maryland SoccerPlex, Pali Blues, Pizza Hut Park, Puerto Rico Islanders, UEFA Europa League, Washington Freedom  
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Next: Tight races in European leagues

Comments

I should be sleeping.

Posted by: PEddy | April 23, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

i could have sworn the return leg for the fulham match is more than a week away.

Posted by: crocken | April 23, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

"D.C. United is off this weekend"

I don't think they deserve a weekend off.

Posted by: redskinsux | April 23, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

I watched Robocop instead of the Dallas/Seattle game...

Posted by: StewartDC8 | April 23, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

On the Dallas game, I remember reading that Dallas and the League as part of the Stadium naming has some contractual obligation to shown Pizza Hut Park on National Television at least once or twice a year.

But even if that is really the case, why on earth have a Thursday night game. It seems the Dallas FO is truly inept.

The game itself was also poor. The passing was terrible and neither team looked as if it would put pressure on the other teams goal. In past years MLS games have improved from year to year but so far this year they seem to regressed. The league may be growning too fast and really needs to take a pause at either 18 or 20 for quite a while.

I watched part of the game and eventually put it on record to watch Flash Forward instead.

When I went back an looked at how the game ended, I thought the penalty awarded to Dallas 3 minutes into stoppage time was totally wrong and Seattle was robbed of 2 points.

Posted by: dcufan531 | April 23, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Have to love the article in The Times about the Fulham game...

"It was only a few years ago that English football’s debating societies would regularly ponder whether Van Nistelrooy or Thierry Henry was the finest striker in the land. Henry’s status at Barcelona has dipped to such an extent that the poor man has even been linked with a move to Major League Soccer, but Van Nistelrooy is resurgent since leaving Real Madrid for Hamburg in January. "

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/fulham/article7105709.ece

Apparently he watched the Dallas game.


Posted by: Southeasterner | April 23, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

DCU certainly has its problems - the team isn't performing, the stadium effort has been mismanaged, and the fans are seriously questioning the competence of the FO.

But least we can still put a crowd together on game day. (For now, at least.)

As long as Dallas is in this league, I feel like the threats of "St. Louis United" are a little overblown.

Posted by: dcbird | April 23, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Initially, I thought the penalty was dubious and a bad call. However, on one of the replays shot from behind and above the goal, you very clearly see a Seattle player (Hurtado I believe) stick his left leg out and make contact with the Dallas player who is trying to split the two defenders. Clearly a trip, a foul and the penalty was merited. Did the Dallas player make a meal of the contact? Sure, but what do you expect a player to do in that situation? If either Seattle defender had moved his feet instead of just sticking out a leg, no foul and game over.

Posted by: griffin1108 | April 23, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone think that the players really don't give 100% when there is really no one there to watch? Some just don't seemed as amped up as when there is a solid 20,000 or 35,000 really bringing it.

Posted by: nairbsod | April 23, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I've seen much worse MLS games (if you live in a 50 year old glass tenement squat, don't throw stones). Sounders didn't show up, but Dallas kinda surprised me actually.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | April 23, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Depending on what the terms of Pizza Hut Park are, I'm afraid FC Dallas will be in Dallas for the foreseeable future. However, the league should really push the Hunt family to find an investment partner with Mexican/Central American roots.

You've got the infrastructure, but location and team building are not connecting with the citizens of Dallas. FC Dallas should be fixable with a greater Latin flavor and someone else to handle the team's marketing and construction.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | April 23, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Re: FCD-SFC: The coverage wasn't great, which didn't help things. One perverse moment made the whole game worth watching, for me: Harkes ragging ragging ragging on a player who, at 23, is twice the player Harkes EVER was, while said player, almost bored, crushes the 35-yard probably-should-have-been winner.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | April 23, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe that the city of Dallas is a fundamentally bad place for soccer. I have to believe that years of putting a crappy product on the field has turned off the local audience. There is nothing wrong with Dallas that a consistently strong program can't fix.

So...is the Dallas present the DC future?

Posted by: troy6 | April 23, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

OT, but I notice that St. Elizabeth's mental hospital -- in the district and next to a metro -- just commissioned a $161 million upgrade to their facilities. Now, given that soccer fans are all a little crazy, perhaps we could have a partnership with St. Elizabeth's for a stadium? Big, open spaces...lots of parking...and professional counseling to help us deal with the losing streak!

Posted by: troy6 | April 23, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

OT, but I notice that St. Elizabeth's mental hospital -- in the district and next to a metro -- just commissioned a $161 million upgrade to their facilities. Now, given that soccer fans are all a little crazy, perhaps we could have a partnership with St. Elizabeth's for a stadium? Big, open spaces...lots of parking...and professional counseling to help us deal with the losing streak!

Posted by: troy6 | April 23, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Read this in an AP article on MLS expansion. Interesting.


"Garber thinks the league will grow larger than comparable first divisions in Europe. While eventually he would like to see relegation and promotion, it's not on the horizon because there isn't a financially viable second division that would be acceptable to MLS owners if their teams went down."

Posted by: combedge | April 23, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Well, in my opinion, a large part of F.C. Dallas' attendance problem is that Pizza Hut Park is located in the far outer suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. It's a clear red flag that D.C. United should not seriously consider building a stadium in, say, Loudon County.

Posted by: Stevenho | April 23, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Goff already let y'all know:

Puerto Rico Islanders vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore

8PM UMBC Stadium

Y'all can kill two birds with one stone: You can check out your local 2nd division side and you can see the Islanders.

@Chest Rock The Bells: Now is your chance to tell Colin Clarke about what you think of the managing tactics that he uses (though he has recently used a 4-3-3 an offensive minded 4-4-2 in the CFU qualifiers and 2nd division match with Minnesota in the last week).

Chest, if you show up at the match- Your first beer is on me (meaning that I will purchase it, not let you toss it at me for being just another foot soldier for General Colin Clarke).

Posted by: yankiboy | April 23, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"D.C. United should not seriously consider building a stadium in, say, Loudon County."

Well, that's good because there is no such county! ;-) (just protecting my home turf here.)

FCD's problems go WELL beyond the location of their stadium.

Posted by: nairbsod | April 23, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe that the city of Dallas is a fundamentally bad place for soccer. I have to believe that years of putting a crappy product on the field has turned off the local audience. There is nothing wrong with Dallas that a consistently strong program can't fix.

So...is the Dallas present the DC future?

Posted by: troy6 | April 23, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree. Everyone is blaming the location but the team has been ordinary for so long. The product on the field definitely matters when talkng about the attendance. I seriously doubt that they would have such attendance issues if their history was one of excellence on the field. Build it and excel in it and they will come.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 23, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Re-enactment of last night phone calls from Yanki-Yank to Terry Boss' voice mail:

9:43PM "Hey, T-Bone: Why aren't you answering your phone. That's right--coz you're kinda busy playing on national tv. Anyways, now that you managed to actually play in an MLS match, don't stop taking my calls. I'm proud of you kid!"

9:59PM "Hey Terry. I'am about to go to 411.com and try and get a phone number for the Frisco PD--coz yoan and your boys just got robbed by vaughn and that officiating crew. Sorry about that one, Playah. That was a really rough break. What are ya gonna do? Nothin you can do about that..."

My how things changed so quickly in such a short amount of time.

Posted by: yankiboy | April 23, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes we have all made mistakes as young persons. The thing is, all of us have faced the consequences. With the exception of a lot of athletes. I like Charlie Davies and I wanted him on the team. He was awesome. However, I am allowed to say that I don't want him to go to the World Cup unless he is fit and unless he takes responsibility for breaking curfew.

Posted by: GeneWells | April 23, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

As long as we are back on the Charlie Davies issue, let me say that it makes all the sense in the world to recognize that Herc and Buddle are tearing it up and in great form. I would rather go with the players getting it done NOW than roll the dice on Charlie being even close to what he was before the accident. There's alway 2014.

Posted by: b18bolo | April 23, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

If the Frisco location wasn't a problem, people wouldn't complain about it so much. It clearly isn't the ONLY problem, but it is a major one.

Posted by: CPTSabre | April 23, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Fulham hope the get the pass to the final. Hamburg has the interest in this tournament as the final being played in their own stadium. In yesterday's match in Hamburg, the fans were geared to your computer. But the Fulham and knocked out Juventus, Wolfsburg (both came from the Champions League) and also eliminated the defending champions, it has much merit.

Posted by: noonan_17 | April 23, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Bad traduction... computer* = team

Posted by: noonan_17 | April 23, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

@CPTSabre: who complains about it most - Dallas fans or those who don't live there? Seems to me it's the latter who use it as an example of why X team shouldn't build in X location.

Posted by: nairbsod | April 23, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

nairbsod, CPTSabre, et al

I am not sure Dallas have fans that would complain... isnt it obvious from last night?

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | April 23, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

bonghits: very true!

Posted by: nairbsod | April 23, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

As I said yesterday show me the difference between the empty seats at Pizza Hut Park and the empty seats at Nationals Park. Frisco may not be the greatest location but nobody can convince me that the attendance at Pizza Hut Park wouldn't rise dramatically if they started winning regularly. Same is true for the Nats at Nationals Park.
Look what winning has done for the Caps. They sold out every game this season, their TV ratings are up 300% since 2006 (this postseason they have been the #1 TV show every night for men 18-55 in this town), and they are now indisputably the second most popular team in town next to the obvious. Five years ago a ticket could be had for ten dollars the night of the game and the phone booth was half empty every night.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | April 23, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me or does anyone else wonder, after the demise of the LA Sol...how about the Pali Blues making the move up to WPS? The powers that be ought to try and make it happen. Blues have a nice roster, including Iris Mora and Kara Lang, that would be instantly competitive.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | April 23, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Joe Doc's chat with, and with others (Wambach, Dorrance) about, the wonder that is Tobin Heath.

http://www.potomacsoccerwire.com/news/460/10907

Posted by: OWNTF | April 23, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

On the Davies issue...at this point he should sit out WC 2010. If he's not club-fit now, he won't be World Cup-fit in only 2 months.

Buddle and Gomez clearly deserve a look. My guess is of the the two BB goes with Buddle who has been previously capped. BB definitely has a "pay your dues" mindset when it comes to player selection; that makes it hard for guys on the outside looking in to break through. Still I think he ought to at least consider making an exception for Hercules.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | April 23, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

@cmjhawk86--Pali Blues don't have the cash to move up. After the Sol went supernova, ain't nobody trying to drop any more ca$h into that market.

What I don't understand is how Mora wasn't playing in WPS, last year. She is a really good player. I saw her play in the W-League Championship match last year.

i read that Lang is gonna play for the Whitecaps this season.

Posted by: yankiboy | April 23, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I think one thing that needs to be considered, aside from this whole Frisco location talk, is the fact that the local media coverage of FC Dallas is non-existent.

Go to the Dallas Morning News website and I challenge you to find a section about the squad. It'll take you awhile...

This is in the hands of the franchise and its marketing team to push the local press to cover them. You can't tell me everyone in the Metroplex stayed home last night to watch the NFL draft...

Posted by: cho_kettie | April 23, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

It's the location of FC Dallas...very easy drive. Nothing reallys sits in downtown Dallas anyway. Outside of the Mavericks...all teams are outside of the limits. The Cowboys were in Irving if you remember...
The FO is lost...competing interests with numerous business ventures intertwine with the Hunt Sports Group and the management of FC Dallas.
Look at the Kansas City Chiefs...also owned by the Hunts...not a very good product on the field either. Definite similarities.

Posted by: LCR-54 | April 23, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Dallas is actually a really great city for soccer... too bad Pizza Hut park is nowhere near Dallas.

For that matter, Colorado's stadium isn't in Denver either (they're the other team with very disappointing attendance numbers).

DC United brass, take notice.

Posted by: jrnail23 | April 23, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

At one point, I thought Vaughn would be a good official. Forget it!

Vaughn is the most dangerous type of official who believes the CR should be involved in every match. He fails to understand the distinction between "taking control" and "being in control."

I cannot recall the last time I saw an attacker attempt to split two defenders, push the ball ahead of himself, receive minimal contact, and get a call.

If that is the new standard, we should expect to see 4-5 PK's every game (except of course, DCU because we don't shoot).

I'm done now. Thanks for listening.

Posted by: carnack | April 23, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Second Dallas PK was bogus. Can't help wonder if the MLS brass and refs will do anything to try to help that club and Pizza Hut. Agree that DCU Management should take notice on NOT building at far distant site! A bad DCU field product--fire Payne & Kasper--coupled with a distant venue and its kiss the franchise good bye for sure. There was talk of a College Park site near metro; what happened to that?

Posted by: lovinliberty | April 23, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

nice feature, Joe. IMO, Heath and Meghan Rapinoe are the two most exciting young players out there. USA is blessed with a ton of technically skilled and responsible players, but those two bring a flair and creativity that's hard to match anywhere. And since Abby wouldn't say it outright, I will: they play like Messi.

Posted by: troy6 | April 23, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

FC Dallas will improve once they figure out that proper hoops go all the way around the shirt.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 23, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Another pathetic showing by Dallas fans. I applaud those who showed up.

I give the finger to the Burn front office and the soccer fans of Dallas. You can pick up PHP and put right next to Dallas Alley and that team still wouldn't draw.

Dallas is a soccer hotbed for youth traveling/club soccer, but it's definitely proven it's not a top flight soccer town.

Tired of hearing the excuses from Dallas apologists for the last 15 years. No money, no ownership, bad ownership, bad locations, etc. All excuses, all bad, all tired of hearing them.

Posted by: Stabaek_Kofie | April 23, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"I watched Robocop instead of the Dallas/Seattle game..."

Vampire Diaries here...

Posted by: peridigm | April 23, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Call me crazy, but I like troy6's idea - although posts at 8:56 and 8:57 make me think he's bipolar.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 23, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I think there's already a partnership with St. E's. Don't they run the food & drink concessions at RFK?

Posted by: OWNTF | April 23, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think there's already a partnership with St. E's. Don't they run the food & drink concessions at RFK?

Posted by: OWNTF | April 23, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

With FatFace, Ben's Chili, and Ledo Pizza the concessions are the one thing that are going in the right direction at RFK.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 23, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Dallas's attendance on national TV isnt the only problem. The same is also true of early saturday afternoon games on Telefutura. They seem to have a preference for Western teams, perhaps because to appeal to presumed teams with a Mex/Amer. following. If thats all Telefutura could offer because of the Mexican league, then either put mostly east coast games since its 4pm there and thats closer to an evening game (the best attended timeslot) or ask for a 9pm west coast saturday night slot since Mexican games are over by then.

Posted by: alespar415 | April 23, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

not to beat a dead horse -- and on an expired thread, to boot -- but if we put the stadium at St. E's the Screaming Eagles could rename their section...wait for it... "the Cuckoo's Nest"!

Posted by: troy6 | April 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of location re the FCD-Seattle game last night:

The mid-field camera was positioned higher in the stadium than it used to be at PHP. The frame, when shot from this higher angle, produces a view that excludes the seating area.

This is a common trick employed by Mike Cohen, MLS's broadcasting director, as a means of trying to minimize camera shots that show empty seats. The other common technique is the close-up. MLS's best practices mandates this approach.

Posted by: mightymax | April 23, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that Garber mentioned Florida in connection with expansion. I just returned from central Florida, where the Orlando Sentinel prints MLS standings every day, even though there is no franchise within 800 miles.

Posted by: universityandpark | April 23, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I wonder about this business of MLS playing less than a full weekend schedule. Doesn't every weekend that a team like DCU is not in action mean an additional midweek game somewhere down the line? Wouldn't this be doubly true with the World Cup break?

Posted by: universityandpark | April 23, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Is Barry Gorman from Boalsburg, too?

Posted by: universityandpark | April 23, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The MLS just doesn't get Dallas. What are the teams in Dallas? Football: Cowboys. Baseball: Rangers. Basketball: Mavericks. Hockey: Stars (granted, derived from North Stars but it is the Lone Star stat's now in the lone star state). The ONE thing "FC Dallas" has done right is put a star on their latest logo (the old one didn't have it). I mean, seriously, except for the Stars, these are rugged names. They need a rugged western-themed name... Rustlers? Gamblers? something like that. This is the Beef state, guys, "Hoops", "Red Stripes", the old "Burn" makes them sound like a bunch of rodeo clowns (which is how they play). Oh, and lose the "FC" because football in Dallas means one thing, and it ain't soccer. Make a statement, be a rebel and call them "SC Dallas", yee-haw!

Posted by: prokaryote | April 23, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Watched the FC Dallas v Sounders game on TV and was amused by the toatlity of unforced turnovers by both sides...this contest looked more like a high school game; no fluidity, no patience, no nothing...football at its nadir, sloppy and not worth the price of admission. Both coaches had no influence on their respective players; DISGRACEFUL.

Posted by: juke2 | April 23, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

U&P: what world cup break? Mls isn't taking one, as far as I know. And frankly, why would they? How many MLS players are going to South Africa? Five? Six? Bfd.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | April 24, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

re: "Watched the FC Dallas v Sounders game on TV and was amused by the toatlity of unforced turnovers by both sides...this contest looked more like a high school game; no fluidity, no patience, no nothing...football at its nadir, sloppy and not worth the price of admission. Both coaches had no influence on their respective players; DISGRACEFUL.

Posted by: juke2 |"

Agree completely. Aside from the miniscule crowd, the soccer was abysmally bad. One would have expected better at least from Seattle, who ostensibly have some talent. But it was an ugly, boring game of bootball that any half decent high school team would or at least should be ashamed of.

Games like this are BAD for the progress of the game in this country. The soccer was a bit better in some of the other matches I tuned in to; including the Columbus and Revs matches. But neither match was compelling enough for me to overrule my wife's pleas to turn the channel "to something other than soccer".

The production, especially camera-work, of all three MLS matches I watched at least parts of was TERRIBLE.

Posted by: Ron16 | April 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

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