We’re less than a week away from the first kickoff of the 2009 USL-1 season. Teams continued to play scrimmages in preparation for the openers and continued adding players to bolster their rosters. This week’s big USL news was the announcement of a new team in New York for the 2010 season, bringing the league to 13 teams. The Puerto Rico Islanders return to CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday evening. (We’re all pulling for you) We’re still waiting on USL Live news and Inside Minnesota Soccer brings you the 2009 USL-1 season preview, all of this and more in this week’s edition of USL Week in Review.
Inside Minnesota Soccer released today our 2009 USL-1 Preview. With the help of USL-1 team experts from around the country, IMS edited and compiled those previews. A special thanks to Allison Andrews, Steven Beauregard, Mikey Buytas, Jarrett Campbell, Chris Grayson, Kartik Krishnaiyer, James Weise and Ed Zelaski for their cooperation in sharing their team knowledge to bring you this special 2009 season preview.
Even though it was announced on April 1, it was no joke. The USL announced FC New York for the 2010 season. The addition of the club will expand the USL First Division to 13 teams for the 2010 season. The ownership group, led by New York natives Jo-Ellen Treiber and Doug Petersen, announced that FC New York has a commitment with Hofstra University to utilize James M. Shuart Stadium and the state-of-the-art training facilities. The 13,000 seat stadium will host league and international exhibition matches. Plans for 2009 include establishment of their youth academy, hiring staff, player recruitment and identifying sponsors.
With the league kicking off in less than a week, there’s still no news on USL-Live. We know it will be free, but will it be ready for next Saturday’s games? The web site still says to stay tuned.
The Montreal Impact’s record is now 9-2-2 in 13 preseason games since the beginning of training camp. With CONCACAF Champions League games meaning an early start for both Montreal and the Puerto Rico Islanders, both teams are sure to be early favorites for the first month of the season. However, there is the possibility that a long season will eventually catch up with both teams. My best guess would be no, since both teams have the deepest benches of the other nine USL teams.
This year we’ve seen top players from many other USL teams end up on the rosters of these 2 teams in this off-season. It’s an interesting situation and reminds me of European teams that play in Champions League and UEFA Cup. Good players are attracted to those teams for notoriety and more games played during their season as well as bonuses for playing the cup competitions. Does this give an unfair advantage to these CONCACAF Champions League teams that are playing in the USL? Again, no more so than those European cup teams. There is a difference, however. In Europe every team gets a chance to qualify for a cup competition by finishing well in their league. While it is true that a 2nd division team cannot qualify, they could be promoted through promotion relegation and then after moving up in the top league, finish high enough in league standings to gain a berth in these cup competitions. No small task for sure, but US based USL teams have no way of qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League tournament, because there is no relegation and promotion, and in that regard, it surely is unfair.
Francisco Marcos stated a number of weeks ago that perhaps it’s time to give the USL-1 champion an automatic spot in the tournament, but here’s another idea. In a compromise to Marcos’ ideas, rather than automatically giving the USL-1 champion an automatic berth into the tournament, allow the highest placed US based team in USL-1 a spot at playing the lowest placed MLS CL qualifying team, in a single game play-off for the last spot in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. Wouldn’t that game create some excitement and buzz? I’m sure Mr. Garber would be kicking and screaming about that idea. I think this is such a good idea, I’ll get Jack Warner working on that one right away.
The Puerto Rico Islanders will return to CONCACAF Champions League play as they face Cruz Azul in the second leg of the semifinals. The game will be played Tuesday evening and will be carried by FSC at 9 p.m. CST. Let’s all support our USL brothers into the finals of the tournament.
GAMES THIS COMING WEEK:
Games times are EST.
Sat, April 11, 2009 -7:00 pm The Minnesota Thunder @ Carolina RailHawks @ WakeMed Soccer Park
Sat, April 11, 2009 -10:00 pm Charleston Battery @ Vancouver Whitecaps @ Swangard Stadium
An Aztex supporter has created Google Calendar. I mentioned last week that the MN Thunder supporters have created a Google Calendar that is easy to import into your i-cal or Entourage calendars by placing the URL and allowing it to “feed” your computer’s calendar with information as it’s updated. A very cool feature. Here is the Aztex calendar.
In a game played Saturday, Austin played the Puerto Rico Islanders to a 0-0 draw.
Midfielder and free-kick specialist Steven Curfman has parted ways with the Railhawks. The Railhawks will only carry 4 players from last year’s roster. Quite a turnover for the revamped team.
On Wednesday, the RailHawks signed goalkeeper Caleb Patterson Sewell, midfielder Amir Lowery and defender Devon McKenney to the 2009 roster.
The team lost an exhibition to the Richmond Kickers 1-0 in front of a crowd of nearly 2,000 on Saturday.
Midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake recorded a goal and two assists as the Charleston Battery defeated the Charlotte Eagles (USL2) by a score of 3-1 Tuesday afternoon at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Battery also agreed to terms with forward Dan Antoniuk and midfielder Scott Buete. Antoniuk joins the Battery after spending 2008 with the Carolina RailHawks. A native of Philadelphia, PA, Antoniuk has scored 30 goals in 136 games played. Buete comes to the Battery after playing the last three seasons with the Atlanta Silverbacks
The team drew 1-1 with the Wilmington Hammerheads (USL2) Saturday afternoon at Blackbaud Stadium in their final pre-season exhibition match. After conceding a goal in the first half Charleston fought back and equalized with a late PK to earn the draw. The Battery opens its USL First Division season next Saturday night in Vancouver BC versus the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Cleveland City Stars
The Cleveland City Stars have signed defenders Troy Roberts and Paul Ballard. Roberts joins the City Stars from the LA Galaxy (MLS), while Ballard comes to Cleveland from South Africa’s FCAK. Roberts played the 2004 season with the Sonoma County Sol of the NPSL before being drafted as the 8th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft by the LA Galaxy. Ballard played for the Vancouver Whitecaps Reserve team before leaving overseas for FCAK in Johannesburg. FCAK (Football Club Azziz Kara) participates in the National First Division, Inland Stream, South Africa’s second-highest league.
I sent the City Stars a message this week because I really hope they fix their web site. There are no dates on their news posts and the way the site is laid out makes it virtually impossible for someone like me to figure out the order of posts. They need to get this fixed quickly. I would prefer a chronologically ordered list of news events, as we’ve come to expect at most sites.
The team lost last Sunday, 3-1 to the Montreal Impact.
Football in Miami and Beyond also has a nice article with some localized photos of game with some of the Miami FC supporters.
Miami FC found itself in a position to finalize its roster this past week, with two more scrimmages during the week and concluding with an open try-out on Saturday, April 4th.
Miami FC will open the 2009 Season at Lockhart Stadium on April 18. This will be the first time that Miami FC plays an official home game outside of Dade County. The team plans to play Games in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties this Season.
The team continued its preseason with its second friendly match, this time playing the Barry University fighting Buccaneers on Wednesday evening. The Blues registered their first victory of the pre season by a final score of 3-1.
Last Sunday, May 29th, the Thunder played two exhibition games in a row at Shattuck Academy. The team lost to Marquette University 1-0 at and then drew the Shattuck Academy U-18 team with a score of 1-1.
The Thunder announced the signing of U-20 US National team player Marcus Watson.
The team played the University of Wisconsin Green Bay on Saturday drawing 1-1. The game concluded the Thunder preseason schedule. The team will now travel to Cary, N.C. to play the Railhawks next Saturday evening to kick off the USL-1 season.
The Canadian Soccer Association announced Wednesday that Sportsnet will broadcast the second edition of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship live across Canada, featuring two Montreal Impact games: May 27 against the Whitecaps in Vancouver at Swangard Stadium (10:30 pm) and June 18 against Toronto FC, at Saputo Stadium, in Montreal (8 pm).
The Montreal Impact registered a 3-1 win against the Miami FC, a USL First Division team, Sunday at Sunrise Park. It was Montreal’s third and final preseason game in Florida. Here’s another version of the story in French for our Montreal readers.
The Portland Timbers announced the club has signed goalkeeper Brian Visser for 2009. Visser, 21, enters his first professional season with the Timbers in 2009. He recently finished his collegiate career at DePaul University, where he was a two-time All-Big East selection and was named the conference’s goalkeeper of the year in 2007.
Portland tied the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 in their last preseason exhibition game before the start of the USL-1 season. The Swedish midfielder Johan Claesson scored for the Timbers. The match was played at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex in Vancouver.
The club has signed Japanese defender Takuro Nishimura for the 2009 season. Nishimura has been on trial with the club since the start of preseason training camp.
Puerto Rico Islanders
I’ve been informed that on April 16, the Islander will launch a new web site with options for English or Spanish. This is exactly what I’ve been suggestig. I’m looking forward to the English version of this website so I can keep better track of the Islanders.
The Islanders added former DC United midfielder Domenic Mediate and former USL goalkeeper of the year, Chris McClellan for the 2009 season. Forward Fabrice Noel will return to the Islanders for 2009 as well.
Thanks to IMS friend Sage, an Islander supporter and blogger who made some of his post available to me in English this week so we can keep up with the team.
The biggest new of the week for the Islanders will be the return to CONCACAF Champions League play as they face Cruz Azul in the second leg of the semifinals. The game will be played Tuesday evening and will be carried by FSC at 9 p.m. CST.
Jeff Di Veronica reports on a conversation with Rhinos owner Rob Clark.
Johnny Menyongar and newcomer Tai Atieno each scored second-half goals as Rochester came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw at the University of Maryland on Wednesday night, tying the reigning NCAA champions in a preseason match.
The Rhinos improved to 3-0-2 on the preseason with a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace of the USL Second Division in Baltimore on Friday night.
The Whitecaps claimed their fifth preseason victory after a 4-0 win over Seattle UniversityRedhawks in Tsawwassen, BC, last Sunday.
Whitecaps sign veteran MLS defender Jeff Parke, strengthening their back line.
Vancouver completed their preseason schedule of friendly matches with a 1-1 draw versus USL First Division rivals Portland Timbers on Friday afternoon.