August 8, 2006
Greg Howes and Scott Vallow named to the USL 1st Division Team of the Week
Howes makes it for his game winning goal late in the Atlanta game and Scott Vallow makes it for allowing that goal to be a game winner in the first place.
Thankfully Scott followed up his monster performance in the Open Cup versus New England with another amazing effort versus the Silverbacks. It would have been a travesty had any other USL 1st Division goalkeeper been named to the Team of the Week for Week 16.
After those two games, who think Scott Vallow isn't good enough to be a #1 keeper in MLS?
This was a topic of debate for a little bit a few weeks ago on Kick This!. Personally, I think that Scott Vallow is better than at least a few goalkeepers that are currently the number one guys on their team.
Here is a breakdown of the top keepers in MLS:
Chivas USA - Preston Burpo - I thought it was a joke that Burpo was named to the USL 1st Division 2nd team ahead of Vallow last season. And there is no way you could convince me that Vallow isn't a better keeper.
Colorado Rapids - Joe Cannon - Cannon was better than Vallow when Scott was with the Rapids and he's still better than Vallow right now.
FC Dallas - Dario Sala/Shaka Hislop - Dario Sala has been the first team keeper for FC Dallas for the entire season. But, FC Dallas has acquired T&T World Cup star Shaka Hislop who has yet to play a game for the Hoops. I'm biased, but I think Vallow could give Sala a run for his money. And if Sala weren't married to an American and he counted as a Senior International, I think it would be a no brainer.
Houston Dynamo - Pat Onstad - Now that would be an interesting battle for playing time. Pat's getting up there in age, but you have to give the edge to the two time MLS goalkeeper of the year.
LA Galaxy - Kevin Hartman - I'd give the edge to Hartman who has been an MLS stalwart for years.
Real Salt Lake - Scott Garlick - If Vallow isn't better than Garlick and his porn star mustache, then he should retire right now.
Chicago Fire - Zach Thornton - Thornton isn't the goalkeeper that he used to be. He'd be hard to knock out of the box given his deep roots with the Fire. But, I think Vallow has the talent to play ahead of Thornton at this point in time.
Columbus Crew - Noah Palmer - After season ending injuries to Jon Busch and Jonny Walker, the Crew had to scramble and finally picked up Palmer from Real Salt Lake. If Vallow is better than Garlick, then he has to be better than the guy that was backing Garlick up to start the year, right? Knocking Busch off the first team would be a challenge, but a young guy like Palmer should be a cinch.
DC United - Troy Perkins - Perkins has supplanted Nick Rimando as the top keeper in DC. Injuries have played a part in the move, but DC is the stingiest defense in MLS, so I doubt that they would make any changes.
Kansas City Wizards - Bo Oshoniyi - Oshoniyi has been the Wizards top keeper for the past two seasons after five years as the back up. Personally, I think Vallow is just as good, or better, than Oshoniyi is right now.
New England Revolution - Matt Reis - Reis was in the player pool for the US Men's National Team. Enough said.
New York Red Bulls - Tony Meola/Jon Conway - Meola's leg infection and Conway getting three straight clean sheets during Meola's absence has created a goalkeeping controversy with the Red Bulls. Personally, I think Vallow is better right now than either guy.
So, in the end, it's 3 teams were Vallow is almost certain to be an improvement (Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake, and Columbus) and a few teams where he's arguably as good or better (pre-Hislop FC Dallas, Chicago, KC, and NY). That's half the league where Vallow likely could have gotten a good amount of playing time in MLS this year if given the shot.
Dema practices with Red Bulls
Dema Kovalenko wasn't the biggest name at practice yesterday. Bruce Arena and Yourri Djorkaeff would come ahead of Kovalenko in that area. But, it was interesting to see that the rumor of the former Chicago Fire and DC United midfielder signing with the Red Bulls is close to coming true.
It's too bad he missed this much of the 2006 MLS season. Although, I'm not looking forward to seeing what he does versus DC the rest of the season.
Some MLS halfway thoughts out of Kansas City
After just two years, Real Salt Lake may move because it can't get a stadium deal done. In Kansas City, it's 20 months and counting on the Wizards' sale, and the time is winding down to get a stadium deal done. Last year, the San Jose fiasco led to a move to Houston. Franchise movement can't be good for the league's image.
A lot is made about the Wizards' attendance woes, but take a look at the Colorado Rapids, who failed to reach 8,000 fans for five of its games this year and twice drew fewer than 5,000. Those are indoor soccer numbers.
You can sense the bitterness from here. And they haven't even lost their team yet!
Klinsmann as the US Men's National Team Technical Director
Grahame Jones of the LA Times throws out a very interesting option if former German National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann sticks to his guns about not being interested in replacing Bruce Arena as the US Men's National Team coach - make Klinsmann the US Men's National Team Technical Director and name Peter Nowak as the coach.
Nowak was on my list of potential replacements for Arena, so I would have no problem with that arrangement.
Also, given Sunil Gulati's strong ties to Steve Nicol through their mutual employment with the New England Revolution, I wonder if Nicol is a guy that is getting underestimated by all of the pundits.........
Speaking of Sunil Gulati
If you have Time Warner On Demand and missed the August 5th episode of The Soccer Sam TV Show, you might want to check it out for the interview of Sunil Gulati and MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis.
Gulati currently wears two hats as both the head of US Soccer and the President of Kraft Soccer (the owners of the New England Revolution). When the D&C's Jeff DiVeronica asked Gulati about the chances of Rochester moving to MLS, you could see him formulating the song and dance he was about to give before he started with his answer. Gulati basically said that Rochester is too small of a media market for MLS and that he really saw the future of MLS in much larger markets.
Gazidis then jumped in to say that if a team were having issues getting a stadium built, then Rochester would be a logical landing spot for that club.
That was the best evidence yet for those that like to talk about MLS jerking Rochester around with regards to potentially getting an MLS team one day.
Rhinos Attendance Numbers
There was some debate between Jeff DiVeronica and Rhinos CEO Steve Donner about the attendance at PAETEC Park this season and whether attendance is up or down.
Here are the numbers I've come up with:
Through 9 games at PTP this season the team is averaging 10,213 fans per game.
However, they have only averaged 9,769 fans per game since the opener.
If the team averages their post-opener average for the remaining 5 home matches, the season average will end up at 10,054 fans per game.
That would be only the 8th best attendance average over the history of the team and only better than two of the seasons where the entire league schedule was held at Frontier Field (2002 & 2005).
And the Rhinos average attendance over the first ten years fo the franchise was 10,610 fans per game.
So, if you are just looking at 2005 and the average league attendance of 9,570 fans per game, then yes, attendance is up this season. But, that was the worst season ever at the box office for the Rhinos.
I think the 10 year average is the better number to look at and the Rhinos are on pace to be below that number no matter how you slice the numbers.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.