No news, little noise out of CBA talks

Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney moves the CBA story along about a fraction of an inch by reporting that the league and players union are engaged in “marathon talks.” He then goes on to re-state all the conventional reasons why a strike would be a black eye for the sport.

But other than the fact that the two sides are talking, we really know next to nothing about what is happening. All I can say at this point is that it remains a positive sign that the sides are talking and that no one is throwing the dreaded word “impasse” around.

Other than that, there’s nothing to see here.

What makes a “good” official club website?

EPL Talk bemoans the cookie-cutter layouts and overall ineffectiveness of Premiership club web sites. In general, I agree with the sentiments.

But, more broadly, what do fans want from their official club websites in terms of design, content, and interactivity? What are example, inside and outside soccer, of good websites? What can soccer learn from websites of US teams perceived as very “web-forward” such as the Capitals and Mavericks?

I guess my main thought on this is that a website should be easy to navigate and easy to find whatever it is that you’re looking for. But this is way out of my area of expertise so I am curious to hear what people, especially those in the fields of web design and IT in general, think about this subject.

German study on officiating bias against tall players comes as no surprise to fans of USA, England

German research seems to support the believe that taller players like Oguchi Onyewu get called for more fouls

The New York Times reports on a German study that claims that tall players get called for more fouls than shorter players. An author of the study uses Philip Lahm as an example.

This doesn’t really come as a surprise to me just based on the purely subjective observation of two high-profile tall players – Oguchi Onyewu and Peter Crouch. Is there anyone out there who disagrees that Onyewu and Crouch are often called for large numbers of “soft” fouls especially in international play? With Crouch, referee (and total gasbag) Graham Poll says FIFA referees specifically targeted him before the 2006 World Cup.

I have a question for those who follow Italy and Germany more than I do. Does the same thing happen to other tall players like Luca Toni or Miroslav Klose?

Blatter’s move on World Cup bids is a good one… surprisingly

The Al-Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

The Guardian is reporting that FIFA and Sepp Blatter are set to announce that the 2018 World Cup bid process will be limited to European countries while the non-European bids will chase after the 2022 World Cup.

Believe it or not, I think this is a good move. For one, with the removal of strong English and Iberian bids, it turns the USA into a monumental favorite for 2022 over Australia, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Qatar. Also, it simplifies a process that was looking increasingly inscrutable and complicated from an outsider’s perspective.

Here’s why the US would turn into an almost prohibitive favorite. First of all there are all the usual benefits touted of the US bid like how all the stadiums are built, and all our infrastructure advantages and the numbers of hotel rooms and so on. But if the 2022 bidding is limited to non-European bids, that means the US becomes one of only two bids (along with Qatar) that could play matches in European primetime, thus maintaining or increasing the lucrative value of FIFA’s European TV contracts. Also, if the bid is pushed to 2022, it increases the chances that the bid could include the new NFL stadium being touted for Los Angeles in City of Industry.

The other bids would appear to have major weaknesses that the US doesn’t have to contend with. Australia has stadium issues (not enough rectangular ones) and opposition from many of those stadiums’ tenant rugby clubs who (unlike US stadium tenants) would find their seasons disrupted by the World Cup and its preparations.

Japan and South Korea could present strong separate bids using the 2002 stadiums as their backbones. Those two countries’ biggest problem is that they hosted a World Cup more recently than the USA did. I guarantee that Japan or Korea will host a second World Cup. I just don’t think it will be before the US hosts its second tournament.

Qatar is a very intriguing opponent and probably should serve as the US’ biggest worry. It’s in the heart of the Persian Gulf which has always served as major power base for Sepp Blatter’s reign as FIFA President. Additionally, it would bring the World Cup to the Arab world for the first time. Of course, Qatar also sits on the world’s third largest gas reserve, so money would not be an issue for its bid. Would FIFA require nothing but domed venues for a summer tournament to be held in the Middle East? Maybe, and Qatar might not even blink at that kind of expense. Finally, Qatar is in the midst of a major sports push after hosting the 2006 Asian Games. The country is already hosting the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and is also bidding on the 2020 Olympic Games. While Qatar still has some hurdles to overcome (no stadiums over 50,000 capacity), its staggering financial capacity will make it a difficult opponent for the US bid. All that being said, the US can point to its stadiums and hotel infrastructure and say that it could host a World Cup right now. Qatar cannot say the same.

Moving back to 2018, this move turns this race into a straight-ahead battle between England, Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium. My guess is that, assuming you don’t see the Premier League or some of its big clubs (Manchester United and Liverpool, this means you) fall into total financial crisis, England and Spain/Portugal would be the two favorites for 2018. At this moment, I’d tip England as the very slight favorites.

What all this means is that fans hoping for a US-hosted World Cup should support this decision by Blatter and FIFA. Sometime a fat, Swiss squirrel with a penchant for women in garters does in fact find a nut.

A note from Dave Lifton

Hey, in the wake of Dan’s article and my own piece, I decided to solicit the opinion of one of my favorite authors and good friend Dave Lifton for his thoughts. His thoughts are below.

PS: Buy Dave’s books like [ame=””%5Dthis one[/ame] and [ame=”″%5Dthis one[/ame].

Why I fear the Allsopp signing won’t go well

So, DC United has gone out and signed MLS’ first ever Australian, forward Danny Allsopp from Qatar’s Al-Rayyan club.

Earlier, I tweeted that I hated the move. Maybe that was a bit harsh. Let me restate it this way instead. I am hugely worried about this move. Here’s why.

First off, I don’t know what his salary is yet, so this is just speculation on my part. That said, I suspect he’s going to be overpaid. Why? Because that’s why a player goes to Qatar and the other Gulf states – to be overpaid. I suspect DC has either matched his Qatari salary or given him a small raise which means he is probably greatly overvalued. We’ll see just how overvalued he is.

Secondly, he hasn’t played in a league equal to or better than MLS-quality since his time at Hull City in England’s third tier back in 2005. That worries me. Since then, he’s played in Asia where, as any occasional viewer of Football Asia can tell you, talented defenders and goalkeepers are practically nonexistant. I think the caliber of defenders and goalkeepers in MLS might surprise him.

Thirdly, I think the A-League might be worse than people who see its flashy FSC highlights show might realize. Let’s take a look at its Golden Boot winners since 2006, when Allsopp won it in Melbourne.

In 07, Newcastle’s Joel Griffiths won the honor. Before returning home to Australia, he failed at Neuchatel in Switzerland (4g, 72 app) and at Leeds United (only 2 app). Now he plies his trade at Beijing Guoan. That’s the same Beijing Guoan that last year failed to get out of the Asian Champions League group phase and lost to the might of Thailand’s Krung Thai Bank club.

In 2008, Kiwi international Shane Smeltz led the A-League. He arrived at the A-League after stints at English third tier club Mansfield Town, non-league AFC Wimbledon, and non-league club Halifax Town, which ceased to exist one season after Smeltz departed.

Does that kind of company lead you believe that his goals in the A-League will lead to goals in MLS? Nope, it does exactly the opposite.

Finally, there’s the ambition question. Could we be looking at a smaller-scale Mattheus situation here? Sure, he’s only in his early 30’s, but that move to Qatar troubles me. No one with ambition goes to Qatar. Look at the Qatari league’s alumni. Not a lot foreign guys went on to anything other than TV careers after their vacations, I mean time in Qatar.

Of course, I hope, as a DC fan, that he does well. It’s just that this signing raised a lot of warning flags.

I come not to praise Kartik, but to bury him

So, I had originally planned to use Kartik Krishneyer’s jump from blogger to NASL PR hack as a chance to discuss ethics in blogging and whether Kartik was honest with his readers during the whole USL/NASL/USSF kerfuffle.

But, in the wake of reading Dan Loney’s hall-of-fame-caliber, if slightly oblique, takedown of the man, I decided to save the J-School discussion of ethics for another time and instead to simply jump up and down on his stupid little head.

He was a voice of utter banality and stupidity on nearly every subject he approached in American soccer. With Kartik, no conspiracy theory was ever left unturned, no mindless rant against Sunil Gulati ever eschewed. He was a hack of the highest order, leading his merry band of basement-dwelling, almost-definitely-unsexed readers into caves of nonsense and paranoia like the Pied Piper of piffle that he was and will always remain. If I could have back all the time I’ve spent explaining to fans here and in person why the USSF, while flawed, isn’t responsible for 95% of what people like Kartik accuse of, I’d be 12 years old. Kartik provided ammo and credibility to those who needed to concoct excuses and conspiracies to explain why a country that has only really bothered with soccer for 16 years hasn’t yet won the World Cup.

Kartik’s beefs and prejudices were evident to anyone who had the slightest bit of awareness. Let’s see, he hated MLS with the passion of 1,000 suns, primarily because they bailed on his home of South Florida and Florida in general. His views on the US Soccer Federation more resemble those on a 9-11 Truther message board than of those of a responsible writer. He’s defended outright slanderous work like that of MLS Rumors, practically endorsing its racist and nonsensical ranting over the USSF. Worse than that, I’ve been told by multiple folks that he may have wrote parts of it.

Don’t even get me started on his politics except to say, if you want to read some of the strangest, least-insightful political commentary, you can go to his former blog Kartik’s World where you can learn about his passionate hatred for Indians (hmm, this wouldn’t be why he hates Gulati so much, would it?), his views on why football is for conservatives and basketball is for liberals, and why it remains a bad idea for politicians to have affairs.

On top of all that, he regularly conducted lovefest interviews “the hack of hacks,” Jamie Trecker. For shame.

(Allow me a moment to exult in the fact that my piece on Trecker is now the third item when you search Jamie Trecker in google after his Fox site and Twitter page. Okay, exalting over, back to the article.)

As an aside, how many different websites did Kartik maintain, write for and show up on? He had like 74 different gigs, didn’t he? He was like herpes in that way. To say that Kartik was a whore is like saying Paris Hilton is dumb, Seattle fans are smug, or that I am too loud in press boxes – self evident from minute one.

Before he took the NASL job, I thought that I might have to write positive things about Kartik and his coverage of the NASL/USL showdown. Well, lucky for me, now I don’t. Instead, I am left to wonder whether someone at the NASL established a quid pro quo with Kartik for positive coverage of the league or if Kartik was such a NASL toady that he slanted his coverage on his own in order to gain favor with NASL management. Either way, he’s a joke.

Finally, a note to the NASL. If you think hiring a meathead like Kartik will help your league gain mainstream media attention in any way, you’re delusional. Sure, he’s tied into the “truthers,” but American soccer media members of any note are going to avoid working with him as if he’s got the plague. Additionally, I bet the folks at the USSF and MLS are wondering to themselves, “Jesus, they actually hired Krishnayer. These NASL guys are dumber than we thought.” Good job NASL! You may have just made Francisco Marcos look smart by comparison.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying that Kartik shouldn’t have written what he wrote. It’s America, obviously he can write what he wants to all legal extents. But, it doesn’t mean I can’t call him a moron for writing what he wrote. Censorship is wrong, but abject idiocy is nearly as bad.

To put it simply, the American soccer media, whether print, television, radio, blogging or whatever, is better now that he has left. Good riddance, adios, and goodbye.

I’ll have more about actual soccer later today.