Monday, January 28, 2008

The CONCACAF Champions' League

Ok, so this has gotten me really excited and waiting for this August. If you'll remember from my first post, I made a call for the CONCACAF Champions' Cup to be turned into a true Champions' League (mostly as a call to increase the profile of the US Open Cup). It looks like my dream has come true- mostly. CONCACAF today announced that a CONCACAF Champions League will begin in August, 2008- replacing the Champions' Cup. (The winner of the last Champions' Cup will go to the 2008 Club World Cup and the Champions' League will start sending its winner to the 2009 edition.)

Right now, I don't know exactly how they will choose the 24 teams that will participate. I do know that the US and Mexico will each receive four slots each. To my mind that is enough for the top three out of MLS and the US Open Cup champion. (Mexico can choose its teams however it wants, I'm just concerned with American soccer.) After all, isn't this new creation supposed to be a CHAMPIONS' League?

Here's how I see the final American breakdown for its four slots:
First Slot: US Open Cup Champion
Second Slot: MLSCup Champion
Third Slot: MLS Supporters' Shield winner
Fourth Slot: MLS regular season runner-up
(With the MLS teams, it should be the closest American team if Toronto FC actually takes any of the slots.)

I don't know how US Soccer will make the final determination, but I would hope they take outside opinion into consideration. In final regards to the Open Cup, it is US Soccer's tournament to promote- or hide. But that tournament could mean so much to American soccer fans if it is tied into the new Champions' League.

I hesitate to point out- but will anyway- that today, the day the Champions' League was announced, had the new uniforms as the top headline and as of this article going to "press" the Champions' League was still not announced there. and both covered, but not one of the two biggest participating federations. Hmmm, on top of things, are we? Let's hope that the reason for that is because they are going to announce how US teams will get in.

So, keeping my fingeres crossed, I will wait anxiously to find out how American teams will get in- and will keep a countdown going for August. Man, I'm excited!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Slight Correction

So it seems that the history of lower division US soccer is a bit more twisted than I initially believed. GS-1 from has sent me the following:

"FC Seattle drew bigger or similar crowds to those the USL Sounders have, in general, over the years. The only bump the 'Sounders' got was when they came back in 1994, after Seattle had been without pro soccer for over 4 years. The Sounders of 1996-2002 drew fewer fans than FC Seattle for the most part.

Also, they never played 'in the USL.' FC Seattle Storm played in a couple of leagues, and won the Western Soccer Alliance in 1988. The USL later 'adopted' that league's history, but they are different animals."

Shows that maybe I shouldn't play slave to attendance data also (heh-heh). With that being said, I do still stand by my article "A Team by Any Other Name..." and the general tone of the piece.

GO SOUNDERS!!! And don't forget to visit both and for more on the Seattle soccer scene!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Team by Any Other Name....

Yes!!! Seattle is finally getting a MLS franchise- only about, what, eleven years late? It would have been awesome if we had been in at the beginning, but we're here now and that's all that matters. At least it's coming. Now, one of the things that fans around here most want to know is "what will the new team be called?" There seem to be- no, there are two different camps on fans on this particular issue. The first group is of fans who don't care what the name will be and will show up regardless. The second group- of which I am a part- wants Seattle's soccer history to be recognized by naming the team "Sounders." (Also, the second group will show up to matches regardless of name- you can take my word on that!)

So, why name the team "Sounders?" Isn't that a minor league soccer team? Not originally. In 1974, the North American Soccer League saw the first action for the new Seattle team- the Sounders. Note: This is the same league Pele played in when he came to America (NY Cosmos)! Back then, the NASL was the First Division of American soccer (ok, and Canada, too). Plus, that original incarnation of the Sounders won conference championships twice- in 1977 and 1982, only to lose the Soccer Bowl each time to those NY Cosmos! I really believe that particular fact dispels any "minor league" status that might be attached to the name. (When had a link to send in suggestions for team names, it is rumored that 60-70% of the suggestions had something to do with "Sounders." People still remember thirty plus years later.)

But, why does it have any "minor-ness" to it at all? Because there is a Seattle team by that name playing in the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1), the Second Division of American soccer (yes! and Canada, too!) (I know, the Second Division is called the First Division, but that's something I won't be getting into here.)

I can understand the owner's concern. But, Mr. Adrian Hanauer, I would like to point out a little fact that many are not aware of: the Seattle USL-1 franchise was not always called the "Sounders." It was once called "FC Seattle" or something bland like that. Furthermore, they drew maybe 1,000 people on average. When the name was changed to "Sounders," attendance tripled. Tripled. People love and remember the NASL Sounders, a team that had a tradition of winning at the highest level.

Yeah, the USL-1 Sounders don't draw nearly as many people as the NASL Sounders did, but that's where the "minor-league" status affects things. Yeah, it is Mr. Hanauer's team to name, but it is our money to spend. Yeah, people will show up to Seattle MLS games regardless of the team name, but a vocal faction won't be too happy. But why ignore the history and tradition the "Sounders" name has already established? Why try to write new history when you can add on to the one already there? Different teams have been named "Seattle Sounders," but always the same name.

A team by any other not quite as sweet. (Remember the San Jose Clash?) History. Tradition. Sounders.