From a change atop the Western Conference to the end of one team's lengthy unbeaten streak in the East, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action:
GDANSK, Poland -- If there's an equivalent to Tom Brady or Derek Jeter at Euro 2012, it has to be Spain's Xabi Alonso. Think about it. The guy wins trophies, whether he's with Spain or Real Madrid. He exudes class without appearing to try too hard, and he seems ready-made for a GQ cover shoot. More than any other player here, Alonso would look perfectly comfortable spraying passes from the central midfield in an Armani tuxedo.
With most of the attention of U.S. soccer fans firmly on the national team, a wild Week 12 in MLS may have flown under the radar. Here's some of what you might have missed:
The first returns on Thursday's blockbuster trades, a title favorite continuing to underachieve and more from Week 11 in MLS:
With Chelsea's victory over Bayern Munich still fresh, here are five UEFA Champions League-inspired thoughts and observations from another MLS Saturday:
After a season in which Liverpool narrowly missed out on the English Premier League title, it seems astonishing that the Reds, following their 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Sunday, are all but finished in the race for the final Champions League spot.
At some companies, the night before a multibillion-dollar stock offering might come with lavish parties and champagne.
CNN's Dan Simon talks to Wolf Blitzer about Facebok employees prepping for an all-night "hackathon" coding session.
Five thoughts and observations from a special Saturday in MLS ...
From stunning results in Los Angeles and Kansas City to what's becoming the norm in Toronto, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action:
From Thierry Henry's injury to Toronto FC's latest heartbreak, here are five thoughts from some of Saturday's MLS action ...
Sporting Kansas City makes a statement, Rafa Marquez grabs headlines for the wrong reasons again and more snap judgments from Saturday's MLS action:
From Sporting Kansas City's fifth win to Montreal's first, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action:
Soccer superstar David Beckham tells CNN's Paul Vercammen about his desire for more MLS success with LA Galaxy.
David Beckham turns 37 later this year and wants to cap his stellar career by helping Los Angeles Galaxy become the dominant force in Major League Soccer.
The MLS season is back in full force. Here are five thoughts and Power Rankings after MLS' 2012 First Kick.
What is the value of having a soccer analyst on the pitch? It's a question MLS viewers will soon be able to weigh in on as NBC's MLS coverage begins Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.
From the Montreal Impact's MLS debut to Columbus' forgetful night, here are five thoughts from the opening few games of the 2012 MLS season:
With the 2012 MLS season nearly upon us, it's time to look into our crystal ball and project the next nine months of action. What do we see? Despite plenty of non-playoff teams making vast roster improvements that should lead to as entertaining a season as the league has seen, expect more of the same in terms of final outcome in 2012:
Just as it was last season, the MLS West appears to be the healthier of the two conferences, containing the past three MLS Cup champions:
Despite the presence of Designated Players Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, the Red Bulls were one of MLS' biggest underachivevers last season. Will a season of retooling have the desired effect?:
Here's a mock projection of how Thursday's MLS Superdraft first round will pan out:
David Beckham claims his first MLS Cup to end his landmark five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Soccer superstar David Beckham has re-signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy, extending his stay with the team for another two years, the Major League Soccer team announced Wednesday.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After a whirlwind day in which Montreal made Duke standout Andrew Wenger the No. 1 overall pick and a veteran MLS forward changed addresses, here are five thoughts from Thursday's MLS SuperDraft:
The 2012 MLS SuperDraft takes place this year on Thursday, Jan. 12 in Kansas City, Missouri. Join Steve Davis at 11:45 a.m. ET for live running commentary and a pick-by-pick analysis of the events.
There are two traits prevalent among the top prospects available in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft: finishing and creating.
Even though more and more Major League Soccer teams are going the route of finding young, affordable foreign talent or looking within their own academy systems to address needs and fill out their rosters, the MLS SuperDraft (Jan. 12, Noon ET) is still a tremendous resource for clubs to use to their advantage.
On Oct. 14, a few weeks before the Los Angeles Galaxy marched to the MLS Cup title, I sat down for a chat with Tim Leiweke, the president of AEG, which owns the Galaxy. Leiweke is the man who brought David Beckham to L.A., and the topic soon turned to whether Beckham would extend his expiring Galaxy contract or move on to a team in Europe. Leiweke is known for being a big talker on occasion -- this is a guy who predicted MLS would be a top-four "and hopefully top-two or -three" U.S. league by 2015 -- but even I was surprised by how confident he sounded that day.
The 2012 MLS season won't start for another three months, but there's plenty to talk about in the big picture as the league takes the next steps toward being a truly major sport in North America. That's why I decided to come up with my annual MLS Ambition Rankings: a measure of the aspirations of all 19 MLS teams.
We're still early in the MLS offseason. The re-entry draft process for players out of contract or with options declined is only now at the halfway point; Stage 2 takes place Monday, but negotiations for any players selected from a less-than-inspiring list will be ongoing. Meanwhile, the college draft and transfer market await.
With the 2011 Major League Soccer season completed and months of inactivity, regeneration and rest on the horizon, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's message that MLS-based players need to be maintaining their match and training fitness almost year-round to stay in the mix for national-team consideration has certainly been heard.
Former England captain David Beckham insists he has yet to decide on his future after winning the Major League Soccer title for the first time on Sunday in what is expected to be his last game for Los Angeles Galaxy.
L.A. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham talks about the upcoming MLS Cup final and his future in the game.
The Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in the Major League Soccer final Sunday, in what could be David Beckham's last significant game on U.S. soil.
CARSON, Calif. -- The symmetry of it all was simply outstanding, almost too storybook to believe it could occur by happenstance.
LOS ANGELES -- Three thoughts on the Los Angeles Galaxy's 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup final:
Will this weekend's MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. end in glory for David Beckham as his L.A. Galaxy take on massive underdogs, the Houston Dynamo.
Five years after arriving in Los Angeles, superstar David Beckham is proud of the part he has played in developing American soccer.
LOS ANGELES -- It's a question worth posing: If the Los Angeles Galaxy win Sunday's MLS Cup final (9 p.m. ET, ESPN, Galavisión), should L.A. be considered the best team in MLS' 16-year history?
CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham's potential MLS curtain call could also become the Los Angeles Galaxy's shining moment.
Los Angeles Galaxy reached Major League Soccer's (MLS) championship match on Sunday after a 3-1 defeat of Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference final.
English footballer David Beckham talks about giving back and the run up to the London Olympics.
Five thoughts on the MLS Cup playoffs as we head into Sunday's league semis: Kansas City vs. Houston (5:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer) and Los Angeles-Salt Lake (9 p.m. ET, ESPN):
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from four weekend playoff matches:
Something has clearly gone wrong here on Planet Fútbol. After whiffing on a multitude of predictions over the years, I've somehow turned into Nostradamus so far during the 2011 MLS season, causing me to wonder if I should have visited Vegas and placed a few wagers. (Then again, does anyone know any Vegas sports books that take bets on MLS?)
It was only a year ago that MLS HQ execs rubbed their hands in glee that Los Angeles and New York were the top seeds in the MLS Cup playoffs and on a collision course to meet in a star-studded, TV-ratings-boosted MLS Cup final. Both teams spit the bit, though, failing to make the title game.
Playoffs begin quickly for teams in Major League Soccer's new wild-card round; the postseason opener is Wednesday. The favorites (Los Angeles foremost, followed closely by Seattle) join this weekend. Every side has Nov. 20 circled on the calendar, date of the MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center outside Los Angeles. Here, then, is a team-by-team look at the 10 playoff qualifiers. (Listed in order of total points.)
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Round 31:
HARRISON, N.J. -- There was a cool moment at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday night. In the second half of New York's 2-0 win against Los Angeles, David Beckham readied for a free kick near midfield by tossing the ball forward a couple yards. His old pal Thierry Henry noticed and pushed the ball back a few feet toward Beckham. Then Beckham got one of those sour, competitive looks on his face, the same look he probably flashed when he was eight years old.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Round 29:
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 28:
At first it sounded like a joke. After being booed by the home fans whenever he touched the ball Wednesday night, after making hand gestures back at those jeering fans, after seeing his New York Red Bulls sink to new depths in a 3-1 loss to Salt Lake, New York defender Rafael Márquez could have raised his hand and accepted some responsibility for the biggest train wreck in Major League Soccer.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 27:
With two months to go in an eight-month season, it's fair to say that by most standards MLS has enjoyed a good season. The level of play slowly keeps improving. League-wide attendance is about to set a new record. Due to smart expansion, a stadium boom and soccer's huge popularity in the Pacific Northwest, MLS has more and more games that look and sound and feel major league.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 26:
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 24:
In the summer of 1999, the editors of Sports Illustrated gave me one of those awkward, but secretly fun assignments: Spend some time with the fans and leaders of "the worst pro team in America," the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, and produce a story about it. Writing about a laughably bad sports franchise is like reading a well-done review of an awful movie. There's a guilty pleasure involved, and the MetroStars fans I spoke to didn't disappoint, showing the gallows humor of the long-suffering supporter who knew that someday all the pain would be worth it.
From Robbie Keane's debut to the evolving playoff picture, here are five thoughts from this weekend's MLS action:
The 'Bag (soccer version) is back, and we'll start this week with a question from @WillEhrenfeld: "Will Robbie Keane be an effective scorer for L.A.? And does his addition make the Galaxy clear favorites going forward?"
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 22:
If you are a fan of Major League Soccer, today is a very good day for you.
From insanity at RFK Stadium to a few of the league's youngest players stealing the spotlight, here are five thoughts from Saturday's early MLS games:
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- On a glorious summer day not long ago, Sporting Kansas City president Robb Heineman stopped the tour he was giving me of his jaw-dropping new soccer stadium, Livestrong Sporting Park, and picked up his handheld radio.
From Landon Donovan's standout performance to Teal Bunbury's slump-busting goal, here are five thoughts from Saturday's early MLS games:
MLS All-Stars player ratings (scale of 1-10):
It is usually best to be tentative in one's assessment of the preseason [unless of course the subject is Mario Balotelli, in which case a casual backheel is definitely the end of his Manchester City career, if not the end of soccer as we know it]. Remember Tottenham Hotspur's abysmal start to the 2008-09 season? In the summer weeks before they lost to Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Hull and virtually everyone else on their way to the bottom of the table, Juande Ramos' side had gone unbeaten and racked up a plus-28 goal difference.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 19:
From Thierry Henry's latest golazo to Manchester United's latest win over an MLS team, here are five thoughts from Saturday's early MLS action...
A rather relaxed approach to this unique All-Star format had worked fine for Major League Soccer -- until mighty Manchester United put a 5-2 beatdown on the backpedaling MLS squad a year ago. Now the league seems to be throwing a little more determination into its All-Star act. Hans Backe, the New York Red Bulls coach overseeing this year's team, seems to have something up his Swedish sleeve. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. First, here is a 10-point primer for the July 27 All-Star contest at Red Bull Arena, where Manchester United once again provides the opposition.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 18:
From an unfortunate postponement in Vancouver to stout goalkeeping around the league, here are five thoughts from Saturday's early MLS games ...
Five things we learned from Week 17:
Round 17 in Major League Soccer is under way, which means the league rounds the halfway point this weekend. That's a fine time to start tracking league awards. Clearly, lots can change between now and November, but here's how races are shaping up for now.
From Dwayne De Rosario's D.C. United debut to the suddenly more-intriguing Eastern Conference, here are three thoughts from Saturday's early MLS action:
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 15:
HOUSTON -- Five things on my mind as we get ready for the Gold Cup semifinals on Wednesday between the U.S. and Panama (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer, Univisión) and Mexico and Honduras (10 p.m. ET, same channels):
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things you should know about Week 13:
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things you should know about Week 12:
From FC Dallas' unbeaten run to the end of Sporting Kansas City's extended road trip, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action ...
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things you should know about Week 11:
From the Gold Cup's effect on MLS rosters to Philadelphia's six-spot at BMO Field, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action ...
It happens like clockwork. Every year, Landon Donovan's name is linked with some European soccer team.
From the highly anticipated SuperClasico to a case of déjà vu in Seattle, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action ...
Five things you should know about Week 9 in MLS:
Two expansion clubs plus newly expanded rosters throughout the league created a rare double whammy in MLS personnel for 2011. The result is a particularly intriguing crop of newcomers scattered throughout the league. It's quite a talented crop, but a lot to digest, even for the hardcore MLS follower. So here's a cheat sheet for you, the top 10 MLS new faces to know about (listed in alphabetical order):
Five things you should know about Week 8 in MLS:
Some random thoughts coming off the weekend action around the world:
From a national perspective the next two Saturdays are big for MLS and ESPN television, which are pinning high expectations on a pair of marquee rivalry games: this Saturday's Los Angeles-New York showdown (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) and the following Saturday's first MLS edition of the Seattle-Portland Flannel Hatefest (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things you should know about Week 7:
MLS commissioner Don Garber provided fair warning in preseason: league leaders were serious about policing games better, determined to protect the players with the ball. If doubt still lingered about his or his league's commitment to this necessary course correction, toward taming matches and reducing the brute force factor, MLS removed it Thursday by closing the matter of an ugly incident with a historically severe suspension.
Now Real Salt Lake fans know what it feels like: that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when your beloved team has moved mountains to reach the brink of history, only to falter at the last step, with glory so tantalizingly close. Salt Lake was there on Wednesday, one final, manageable summit push from reaching the pinnacle of club soccer on the continent: the CONCACAF Champions League title.
Three thoughts after Real Salt Lake's 1-0 loss to Monterrey on Wednesday gave the Mexican team a 3-2 aggregate triumph in the CONCACAF Champions League final:
Thierry Henry tells CNN's Isha Sesay that he's enjoying playing for the Red Bulls and wants to stay in football after retiring.
Three thoughts after Real Salt Lake's 2-2 tie against Mexican champion Monterrey in Wednesday's first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final:
In the summer of 2007, a desperate rookie coach dropped everything in the middle of the MLS season and flew to Argentina in search of a future. Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis was just 34, his team was in last place and he needed a major talent upgrade. But could he risk everything by signing a midfielder he'd never seen play in person before?
From Thierry Henry scoring his first goal of the season to Charlie Davies scoring his league-leading fifth, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action ...
When MLS insiders discuss various clubs' operational ways, they tend to categorize teams in one of two ways: those still running the sluggish, old MLS 1.0 (figuratively speaking, of course) and those having graduated to the higher-capacity 2.0.
There's something that just seems right about the match between Portland, Ore., and soccer. You can see for yourself tonight when the Portland Timbers host their historic first MLS home game (ESPN2, 11 p.m. ET) against the Chicago Fire in what figures to be a festive cauldron in their refurbished downtown stadium.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things you should know about Week 4: