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United Soccer Leagues Week in Review 5/10/09

2009 May 11
by Brian Quarstad

usl *

League News



USL First Division Team of the Week:
Marlon James was the USL First Division Player of the Week. Making his first-ever start for the Whitecaps, striker Marlon James scored a hat-trick against MN on May 2.

Pos Name Team Highlights
G Chris Seitz Portland 15 saves in two shutouts
D Kenney Bertz Rochester Led team in 3-0 win at Cleveland
D John Gilkerson Carolina Led team in 0-0 draw at Portland
D Matt Bobo Charleston Led team in 1-0 win at Miami
M Brian Farber Portland Goal in 2-0 win against Carolina
M Ryan Pore Portland Goal, assist in 2-0 win versus Carolina
M Ricardo Sanchez Minnesota Two goals in 3-2 loss to Vancouver
M Sandy Gbandi Puerto Rico Goal, assist in 3-2 win over Montreal
F Kendall Jagdeosingh Puerto Rico Goal in 3-2 win over Montreal
F Marlon James Vancouver Three goals in 3-2 win over Minnesota
F Tai Atieno Rochester Goal in 3-0 win at Cleveland

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Marlon James of the Whitecaps had the USL-1 Goal of the week-4. He holds off a defender and fires into the far corner versus the Minnesota Thunder on Saturday, May 2. The goal, his second of three on the night, propelled Vancouver to a 2-1 lead in the 61st minute as they went on to win 3-2 on the road. I witnessed the goal and even though it may not be quite as flashy as some “goals of the week”, there is no less athletic ability and skill than James’ goal as he used speed and size along with technical skill to keep the ball close and fire on the money to the far post.

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USL Review Video — Week 4

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USL Scoreboard with box scores
Another reminder this week that USL now has a scoreboard with box scores. I’ve been in contact with USL last week and suggested putting the box scores in with the game reports. They liked the idea and are considering how to make it work. For now,  I’m just happy that I can get box scores! I’ve also been following my PDL team, the Rochester Thunder, on the scoreboard as well. Check it out.

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Kenn.com blog is going to be keeping track of attendance in USL and MLS. Who’s in the lead?  Well, it’s sort of early to tell, but no surprise, Portland leads the race for USL with an average of 7,646.  In reality, Montreal should now be on top with their big opening day attendance on Saturday evening but we will keep track of this as the teams play a few more games at home.

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Speaking of attendance, the Austin Aztex drew 5,216 fans at Nelson Field for their first national television debut on Fox Soccer Channel’s Friday night USL game.  The Aztexan with the story.  However, the Montreal Impact drew a whopping 12,246 at Saputo Stadium for their home opener on Saturday evening.

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Normally I only use this forum for USL-1 news, but I have to let you know that when my Minnesota Thunder’s PDL team, the Rochester Thunder, traveled to Des Moines this weekend to play the Menace in their season opener, they drew 3,444!  Not bad for a PDL team. Congratulations to the Menace.

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Back to the Kenn.com blog and Kenn Tomasch’s podcast Four At The Back.  I meant to post this last week and I totally forgot so my apologies for the delay, but Tim Holt, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of USL, is  part of the broadcast on this episode. There are some really interesting quotes here and Tim Holt shoots as straight from the hip as I’ve ever heard him and his honesty is very refreshing. Here are some quotes:

“The owners of USL 1 teams who are pursuing Major League Soccer is not a desirable situation for us. It doesn’t help us in stability as a league.”

“We can either sit around and say, well, we can let this happen over time or we can continue to try to evolve the business model in USL-1 that it’s such a viable alternative to MLS that certain ownership groups would prefer to stay in USL-1 and be able to run their professional soccer franchise rather than be part of MLS. Our models are very different.”

“I’m not saying USL-1 should compete with MLS either as a Division 1 professional soccer league in this country or otherwise. There’s a significant gap between the leagues at this point and time.”

“A market like Austin, Texas is a perfect market for USL-1… somewhere between 20 through 50. That’s not a market that MLS is likely to expand into any time in the near future.”

“Most organizations go through their phases. You go through your infancy phase, your growth phase and your maturity phase. I think USL is going through their maturity phase of the business.”
TIM HOLT

Note to Dan Loney: Can you get any more negative about USL, particularly after he was nice enough to be on your show?

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Kartik Krishnaiyer at Major League Soccer Talk does his weekly review on MLS and USL.

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USL Live
USL Live just seems to be getting better each week. The MN Thunder had their first broadcast on May 2, that was shot and produced by North Metro Cable. The crew did an excellent job as did the broadcast team of veteran USL play-by-pay broadcaster Chris Lidholm and color by Buzz Lagos. (Who doesn’t know Buzz?) The production team had immediate instant replays, sometimes from different angles and did a great job of cutting in for tight shots of goal kicks and throw-ins but then always seemed to be back out to the wide shot for the action. They also had some very slick graphics. Lastly, they mic’d the crowd so you could always here the Dark Cloud supporters and the crowd cheering which made for a much more entertaining viewing experience. Hats off to that crew. I’ll be posting a story about that broadcast team at IMS tomorrow.

Chris at the Aztexan also said that Portland’s home opener against the Carolina Railhawks showed how good production of soccer on USL Live could be. According to Chris, it was produced by FSN, a Fox Sports affiliate, and the professional quality was fantastic.

I watched the second half of the Islanders vs Vancouver game last night at Vancouver and again, the quality was very good. I’m enjoying USL Live a lot this year. However, I’m still having some big time technical issues watching it on my Mac.

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More USL Live information
Seth Withowicz, Marketing & Communications Manager for the USL informed me that the number of registered users for USL Live is now around 4,000 and is growing as the word gets out. Vancouver-Portland, Minnesota-Vancouver, Montreal-Puerto Rico, Charleston-Vancouver, have drawn the biggest numbers. However, there is very little drop between these games and all other games. The top programs attract roughly 2,000 at some point during the event, which is a high percentage related to registered users. In Seth’s observation, USL definitely has a very loyal following.

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RESULTS THIS PAST WEEK:

Fri, May 8, 2009

(Fox Soccer Channel)
8:00 pm Puerto Rico Islanders 1-1 Austin Aztex -  Attendance: 5216 @ Nelson Field - Game ReportBox Scores
Scoring Summary: PR: Cristian Arrieta 39  AUS: Yordany Alvarez (Eddie Johnson) 67

Sat, May 9, 2009

3:45 pm Rochester Rhinos 2-1 Montreal Impact – Attendance: 12246 @ Saputo Stadium - Game Report - Box Scores
Scoring Summary: MON: Rocco Placentino (Cedric Joqueviel) 6 ROC: Chris Nurse (John Ball) 24  – Tiger Fitzpatrick (Mike Ambersley) 45

7:00 pm Portland Timbers 0-0 Cleveland City Stars
Attendance: 1107 @ Middlefield Cheese Stadium (Bedford) - Game ReportBox Scores
Scoring Summary: None

7:00 pm Charleston Battery 2-1 Carolina RailHawks – Attendance: 4531 @ WakeMed Soccer Park - Game ReportBox Scores
Scoring Summary: CHA: Daniel Antoniuk 3 -Frankie Sanfilippo (Daniel Antoniuk) 54  CAR: Gavin Glinton 73

Sunday, May 10, 2009

10:00 pm Puerto Rico Islanders 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps – Attendance: 5023 @ Swangard Stadium - Game ReportBox Scores
Scoring Summary: VAN: Charles Gbeke (Wes Knight) 82

Average attendance this week: 5,624 (Things were looking great but that 1000 at Cleveland sunk the numbers. 6754 w/o Cleveland)
Average number of goals scored per game: 1.8

IIMS~IMS~IMS~IMS~IMS

GAMES THIS COMING WEEK:

Games times are listed EST. Games all available on USL Live except Friday night game available on Fox Soccer Channel.

Thu, May 14, 2009

11:00 pm     Rochester Rhinos   at   Portland Timbers @ PGE Park

Fri, May 15, 2009

(Fox Soccer Channel)
7:45 pm     Charleston Battery  at  Montreal Impact @ Saputo Stadium

Sat, May 16, 2009

8:00 pm     Carolina RailHawks   at  Miami FC Blues @ Lockhart Stadium

8:05 pm     Cleveland City Stars  at  Minnesota Thunder @ National Sports Center

10:00 pm     Rochester Rhinos at  Vancouver Whitecaps @ Swangard Stadium

Sunday, May 17, 2009

3:45 pm     Austin Aztex   at   Montreal Impact @ Saputo Stadium


USL-1 Standings

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standings_05_11_09

Looking at the standings one month into the season

Vancouver (3-1-2) is atop the league after a bit of a slow start. The team is looking very good and is a bit of a surprise after some of the very consistent starters the Whitecaps released in the offseason. The acquisition of Marlon James is looking to be a big move for the club.

The Railhawks (3-2-1) dropped to 2nd but still sit in a good position even though they’ve not had a win in their last three games. Going into the season everyone seemed to think the overhaul in Carry would change the fortunes of the team and that has so far proven to be true.

The Rochester Rhinos (3-1-1) sit third and from an outsider’s view this is a bit of a surprise. The Rhinos did not make a lot of changes to the team from last year which was a good team but not a great team in USL standards. The Rhinos will continue to need big performances from their go-to players like Menyonger and Ambersly. The team has scored 7 goals already this season, tied for the most in the league along with the Whitecaps. However, unlike the 5 goals the Caps have allowed, the Rhinos have only allowed 3 and those are very good numbers.

The Charleston Battery (2-0-3)
have yet to lose this season, yet are in 4th position. I will expect to see the Battery anywhere from 1-4 throughout the season with very consistent performances, but to move up the standings, they will need to start winning some of those close games, particularly at home.

Puerto Rico (2-1-2) may be the surprise team so far sitting in 5th place. After this past year’s publicity from the CONCACAF Champions League success, many thought they would just walk into league play and start winning games.  It doesn’t get easier for the Islanders as the team now heads into fixture congestion with Caribbean qualifiers starting. The teams 5th place position again shows the parity of USL-1.

Austin Aztex (1-0-3) are a decent team for a franchise entry. As I predicted they surprised some teams early on and have some decent players on their side with solid coaching and a good front office. The question will be if the team can stay consistent through a grueling USL-1 schedule. They are not the deepest team in the league and have many former PDL players on the roster. 24-year-old Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo has been a  pleasant surprise for the Aztex and has looked to be in great form this season.

Miami FC (2-2-0) surprised some folks early on with good performances at home. However, the team now has 2 losses and we will see if veterans like Facundo Erpen can hold this team together through the hot Miami summer.

The Portland Timbers (1-1-2) have only played 4 games so far but look to be a lively team and improving. We all knew it was a rebuilding year for Portland so the expectations are low and the jury is still out. Consistency could be a problem for this team as is often the case with young teams. Portland beat the RailHawks 2-0 and then drew Cleveland City Stars.

The Minnesota Thunder ( 0-3-2) may be the one of the biggest disappointments at this point in the season. The team went out and strengthened their midfield and forward line but didn’t add any veterans to the back line where they needed the most help. Their midfield just hasn’t seemed to gel yet being unable to dominate the center third of the field.

The Montreal Impact (0-3-1) have their fans asking what happened to their team of last year that pushed through to the semis of the CONCACAF Champions League. The team even bolstered their already strong roster and yet is having a hard time making an Impact. It should help that the next two games are at home.

The Cleveland City Stars (0-3-1) didn’t announce they were moving up to USL-1 until November and didn’t name a coach until February. It looks like the team is still trying to get on track for the season with a late start to everything. The City Stars did manage a draw with Portland at rain-soaked Middlefield Cheese stadium but even in that game they were dominated start to finish.


Team News

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aztexlogAustin Aztex
Chris Grayson at the Atexan continues his good work. Check his blog out!

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railhawksCarolina RailHawks
Some interesting quotes from the RailHawks after their defeat in Portland.

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charleston Charleston Battery
Defenders Yeniel Bermudez, Nigel Marples and forward Tom Heinemann were all added to the Battery roster this past week.

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clevelandcitystars
Cleveland City Stars
Forward Leo Gibson and midfielder John Michael Hayden have joined the team.

6 languages are spoken on the City Stars team.

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miami_fcMiami FC
Facundo Erpen may be looking to Europe according to the Miami Herald.
The team will be making appearances throughout Miami this weekend. Check it out.***
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Minnesota ThunderMinnesota Thunder
The Thunder finally have a kit sponsor, for now. It’s Russell Herder, an ad agency who has helped the Thunder and is continuing to help them with ideas.

The team played an exhibition against an amateur Chicago Sockers team and lost 2-1.

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montreal_impactMontreal Impact
No news.
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timberslogoPortland Timbers
No news
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islandersPuerto Rico Islanders
Striker Nick Addlery has five tallies, including two against his former team. From the Vancouver Sun.

Check out Pasion Naranja! for everything about the Puerto Rico Islanders FC.

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rhinosRochester Rhinos
Rochester is going English with loosened USL restrictions on foreign players.
http://www.rnews.com/Sports/Story_2004.cfm?ID=72083&rnews_story_type=24***

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whitecapsVancouver Whitecaps
No news.

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5 Responses
  1. May 12, 2009

    Minor typo there – it’s http://www.kenn.com – the same spelling as his first name. Other than that, great post!

  2. May 12, 2009

    Fixed, thanks!

  3. smatthew permalink
    May 12, 2009

    Gotta say, I disagree with you about your take on Mr. Loney. I don’t think Mr. Loney said anything too negative about USL. Rather, he stated exactly what Mr. Holt did in a more frank manor. The USL is the minor league of soccer in America. It may be tough to admit for the heavy backers of the USL (all the fans who have said the level of competition isn’t that big and those who have said the league would grow to compete with MLS), but with Seattle, Vancouver, & Portland jumping to MLS, and Montreal talking about how they have to do the same, it’s time to step back and say, “This is who we are, minor league soccer (2nd division for those who prefer that title).” That is what I took from Mr. Holt to mean, that the league has entered its maturity phase. Gone are the lofty dreams of extreme heights of success. Now we settle into our niche in the American soccer landscape and work to prosper and survive in that spot.

  4. Chris permalink
    May 13, 2009

    Des Moines has historically had great attendance. There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t strengthen if the Menace moved up a few divisions. As recently as a few years ago there was a huge push to get the team in its own stadium.

  5. May 13, 2009

    smatthew, here is a synopsis of what he said:
    He sounds worried. I think focusing on places like Austin is just minor league. There’s no nice way around it. The audience for minor league soccer…it’s not just the markets, it’s the players, it’s the salaries, it’s the quality of play. It’s a lot of the same problems that MLS has with fans used to watching premiership and stuff on television, that’s an even tougher sell for USL. I don’t even them in there task.

    Chis, I have heard that about the Menace and I do wonder if there will be a point when they want to move up. I would love for the Thunder to have a rival. Then again, perhaps USL-2 would be a better fit. That is IF there were enough team in USL-2 that could create a midwest league.

Comments are closed.

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