By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (July 3, 2014) US Soccer Players - We spend an inordinate amount of column inches pointing out the obvious flaws in the MLS schedule. This weekend, coming off unprecedented interest in the sport, MLS has positioned itself well to take advantage of interest in the World Cup and the long July 4th holiday. Any team that tries to grind out a draw this weekend has no excuse. If there was ever a time to put your best showcase forward in MLS, it’s the next three days.
Could you do worse on the night of July 4th than watch MLS?
It's a long day of World Cup soccer and everything else on July 4th. We get that, but Portland at the Galaxy at 11pm ET on NBCSN is probably going to be worth your time. Earlier that evening, Houston debuts their spiffy new 'we have a sponsor' shirts, as they host the Red Bulls on the same network. We've gone over Houston's problems, so let's just say a win wouldn't hurt.
There are also three other games on the Fourth, which is good scheduling on the league's part.
Why was Tuesday a big deal in MLS?
It was the last day to release players with semi-guaranteed contracts and free up space under the salary cap. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, like most teams, chose not to make any roster adjustments, while San Jose released three players. As the article in the Dispatch noted, even though Columbus, for example, has 30 players on its roster, they have loaned four players to their USL affiliate. So the team has some roster flexibility and is seeking a "goal scorer."
Montreal's new designated player will arrive when?
Give Montreal some credit for thinking long-term, and betting the good will they engender will carry over. Argentinian forward Ignacio Piatti stays with San Lorenzo until their Copa Libertadores run ends. They are in the semi-finals. Should San Lorenzo advance, the championship is on August 13th.
Worryingly, if it does go that far, Montreal will need a "special exemption" to register Piatti because the transfer window closes earlier in August. You'd like to think the Impact has that covered already. Shoud San Lorenzo not go through, it's not that big a deal.
The unstated qualification is that Piatti probably won't be much help during the rest of this year's regular season. He could be a huge help in the Champions League.
Which MLS team do you want to be in stoppage time if you are the home team and down a goal?
Sporting Kansas City, who according to an article on the website 538.com, average 6:08 in stoppage time when they are the home team and down a goal. The Fire comes pretty close, as they average 6:02. In the article, Peter Walton, head of PRO, said he wasn't previously aware of these patterns in stoppage-time allowance.
“However… I will be taking more interest in stoppage time per club. This is such a subjective topic and I feel more definitive guidelines are required to become more transparent in its use.”
Walton is right, there certainly are plenty of subjective reasons why one game or another might have more or less stoppage time. However, these researchers looked at more than 3000 games worldwide, so these numbers aren't random.
Having written that, it's not news to an American sports fan that the home team gets the calls in basketball or other sports. It's called home field advantage for a reason.
Did we say something about enjoying the amount of goals scored in the group stage of the World Cup?
Let's give the teams the benefit of the doubt, as the schedule and the weather have been brutal in the second round, but no team in the Round of 16 has scored three goals in a game and there's been a preponderance of '0-0 after full time' games. While all the group stage winners have advanced, you'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite at this point. Even critics' darling Columbia has shortcomings their opposition hasn't been able to take advantage of.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.