September 1, 2006
Well, it looks like you can cross off the Kansas City Wizards as a potential relocation candidate to move to PAETEC Park in the future and bring MLS to Rochester.
While the group still needs to finalize plans for a stadium, this move would appear to stabilize the long term future of the Wizards in Kansas City.
Who does that leave now?
The most obvious candidate would be the Houston Dynamo. While support has been strong in Houston, AEG has been trying to sell the team and they don't currently have a plan in place to build a soccer stadium that the Dynamo owners would control.
The New England Revolution and DC United are both working plans to build stadiums, but I could never see MLS forcing those two teams to leave the Washington and Boston markets.
There is also a chance that the Real Salt Lake stadium deal could fall apart as there are reports that the deal wasn't the most secure agreement ever reached.
But even without this news, you'd still have some major outstanding questions such as will MLS ever get to a point where the business model will work better in Rochester than staying in the USL, will MLS overlook Rochester's small media market size (that was a major issue for Sunil Gulati, the head of Kraft Soccer and the Revolution), and will the Rhinos ownership ever have the money to purchase an MLS team?
I'm not holding my breath waiting for the day that there is an announcement to say that MLS is coming to Rochester.
The MLS player to Europe plot thickens
First MLS turned down Charlton Athletic's bid for Clint Dempsey. Then they blocked Celtic's bid for Shalrie Joseph. And now comes word that MLS had signed off on Josh Wolff moving to Derby of the Coca Cola Championship League in England. But, that move fell through when Derby was unable to get Wolff a work permit.
It will be interesting to see if MLS comes out with an explanation for why they signed off on the Wolff transfer while blocking moves for Dempsey and Joseph.
And right now, I don't envy Steve Nicol's job of trying to keep guys like Dempsey and Joseph happy. Along with guys like Pat Noonan and Taylor Twellman who have issues with the way they've been handled by the league, as well.
MLS seems to be making things worse by having this double standard when it comes to whether they'll let players leave late in the season.
DeMarcus Beasley on the move to the EPL
DeMarcus Beasley will be teaming up with Claudio Reyna once again. This time it will be in the English Premier League with Manchester City picking up Beasley on loan from PSV Eindhoven.
It will be interesting to see if Beasley can hold up in the more physical EPL. It is also interesting to see an EPL team step up and take on Beasley after many expected there to not be a whole lot of interest in DeMarcus this year due to his less than stellar showing at the World Cup.
Is first place out of reach now?
With the Montreal Impact going on the road and getting a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers, they are now 10 points clear of the Rhinos, although the Rhinos do have 3 games in hand over the Impact.
It would appear that the Rhinos would have to win out to even have a shot at finishing the regular season first overall. And it's not like the Rhinos have been hot as of late going 1-1-3 in their last 5 games.
Vancouver and Charleston playing to a 1-1 draw last night in Vancouver,
it would appear that the Rhinos would have a relatively easy road to
lock up second place and a first round bye. Rochester and Vancouver
each have 40 points. But, the Rhinos have a pair of games in hand over
Charleston is at 39 points with the Rhinos enjoying one game in hand over the Battery.
But, Charleston still has two games left in their three games in four nights west coast road trip in Vancouver last night, in Seattle tonight, and in Portland on Sunday. The one hope that Charleston does have is that their last game of the season will be at home versus the Rhinos. And Rochester will be the tired squad as they will have to travel overnight after playing Minnesota at home on Saturday, September 9th to face the Battery on Sunday the 10th.
The key to the Rhinos getting a first round bye will be can they take care of business in their final two home matches tonight versus Virginia Beach and next Saturday versus Minnesota? If they can get six points out of those two matches, then a draw versus either Atlanta tomorrow night or in Charleston next Sunday will be enough to clinch the second spot and a first round playoff bye.
And then you can get into the discussion about whether the bye is a good thing or not. Last year, both Montreal and Rochester were knocked out in the Semis by Richmond and Seattle after having the bye week.
But, the 3rd place team this year could play the defending champs in Seattle or the hottest team in the league in Miami FC in that first round match up. Honestly, I wouldn't feel overly confident about either of those match ups right now. Although, I'd much rather go up against Miami FC and avoid the cross country trip to Seattle. And, I'd love to see a rematch of the two teams that gave us that 5-4 thriller at PAETEC earlier in the season.
It's going to be a wild finish to the season. That is for certain.
The season ticket holder party was a blast
Wednesday night was a good time had by all at this year's Rhinos season ticket holder party.
The players were great as usual.
The Rhino picture frames were a nice gift.
The white hots were tasty.
I just had a few questions at the end of the night?
- Where were Nate Craft, Kenney Bertz, and Josh Bolton? I'm guessing that Nate Craft was ill since he's missing tonight's match. And I thought I saw Josh Bolton's hair for a moment early on. I hope it wasn't anything serious that kept Kenney away.
- Whose was the guy that was listed as Guest Hamed Diallo that was sitting next to T-Bone at the autograph table and walking around with him afterward? A quick internet search returns notes from the 2000 African Nations Cup of a forward for the Ivory Coast named Hamed Diallo who played club soccer in France. Could the Rhinos be working on an off season signing up top already?
Here are the rest of our pictures from Wednesday evening's events .
A big thanks goes out not only to the Rhinos staff for pulling this all together, but especially Scott Vallow for giving Nate a gift so that he can be just like his big brother.
We truly do have the best keeper in the world!
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 email@example.com. James promises to read
(but not to respond) to all of them.