By J Hutcherson (Jan 11, 2022) US Soccer Players - Roster building in Major League Soccer is still a somewhat loose concept, working within the constraints of MLS budget rules but open to workarounds. Without a template, it becomes difficult to figure out what should work. For instance, Premier League clubs build rosters around total transfer spend. The more a club spends, the more likely it is to . . .
By J Hutcherson (Jan 4, 2022) US Soccer Players - FIFA president Gianni Infantino's New Year message was about what we've come to expect during the current push for radical changes in world soccer. His organization's focus remains sharp. It's about already positioning the 2022 World Cup as a success while continuing to stump for it happening every other year as part of a revamped international . . .
By J Hutcherson (Dec 28, 2021) US Soccer Players - What we've learned so far about the final round of the 2022 Concacaf World Cup qualifying cycle is that its due for a shakeout. One of the top four is heading towards a playoff, and the current standings may not be telling us all that much. The Octagonal is a new riff on an old concept, something that regularly provides a different take on the . . .
By J Hutcherson (Dec 14, 2021) US Soccer Players - One thing that the pandemic disruptions have made clear in MLS is that clubs and the league itself will not wait to make changes. 2020 counted, judged by how many teams made significant roster and technical staff decisions. 2021 was more of the same, with general managers, technical directors, and coaches moving on as teams revamped before and . . .
By J Hutcherson (Dec 7, 2021) US Soccer Players - In theory, it's not that difficult to see FIFA's plan for the biennial World Cup as the obvious answer to an equally obvious set of issues. Holding the World Cup every four years uses the same logic as the Olympics with the same problem. Four years is a long time, especially in the short working lives of elite athletes. The calendar will adjust. . . .
By J Hutcherson (Nov 30, 2021) US Soccer Players - The 2nd and 4th-place teams will play for the Eastern Conference's spot in the 2021 MLS Cup final, completing a bracket that saw one upset. Sure, it was the biggest possible with the 4th-seed NYCFC knocking out the Supporters' Shield winning New England Revolution on penalties, but otherwise, the seeding told the story in the East. Philadelphia . . .
By J Hutcherson (Nov 18, 2021) US Soccer Players - Ajax started the 1971-72 season as the defending champions of Europe. They beat Panathinaikos 2-0 at Wembley to close out the 1970-71 season, lifting the European Cup for the first time. It wasn't their first trip to the final, however. In 1968-69, they lost 4-1 to AC Milan at the Bernabeu. That false start to the era of total soccer lasted all of . . .
By J Hutcherson (Nov 9, 2021) US Soccer Players - The 2021 version of Decision Day played out with 5th through 7th-place at issue in both conferences. As far down as 10th-place in the East and 9th in the West could've ridden a confluence of results to make the playoffs. As it turns out, 5th through 7th stayed the same in the East, with Real Salt Lake passing the LA Galaxy for 7th in the West. . . .
By J Hutcherson (Nov 2, 2021) US Soccer Players - On October 18, Crystal Palace let in a stoppage time equalizer at Arsenal. With the home fans streaming out of the Emirates Stadium, a game that seemed out of reach for Arsenal turned into an unlikely point. It was the third draw in a row for the visitors, a run that started by giving up an equally late goal at home to local rivals Brighton on . . .
By J Hutcherson (Oct 26, 2021) US Soccer Players - What passes for a big club in England's Premier League is not normally up for discussion. Breaking into that top tier normally requires plenty of capital to produce results. It's the route Chelsea and Manchester City took to transform their clubs into topflight contenders. Spending to win works in both directions. It rationalizes mammoth outlays . . .