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 . . .
What if FIFA gets its way?
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. . . .
One and done in the Eastern Conference
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 . . .
How good was Ajax in 1971-72?
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 . . .
In and out of the playoffs, plenty of questions from this MLS season
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. . . .
The Crystal Palace situation
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 . . .
West Ham United, Brighton, and the potential for Premier League disruption
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 . . .
Another MLS Wednesday tries to sort out this season
By J Hutcherson (Oct 19, 2021) US Soccer Players - Wednesday night will be round 31 of the 2021 MLS season, leaving just three more matchdays to figure out the rest of the playoff places. As it stands, only the conference leaders are in the postseason. New England beat Seattle to that obvious certainty, sitting at the top of the Supporters' Shield table and waiting for the math to catch up and . . .
The UEFA Nations League concludes with a VAR issue and a message
By J Hutcherson (Oct 12, 2021) US Soccer Players - As big moments go, Sunday's UEFA Nations League final produced a major one. With the score tied 1-1 at the San Siro, France's Kylian Mbappe put on a display of skill to slot the ball past Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon. It was the kind of goal made for the big stage, starting with Theo Hernandez finding Mbappe with a pass that took multiple defenders . . .
Premier League ambition early in 2021-22
By J Hutcherson (Oct 5, 2021) US Soccer Players - In the bizarre future some at the highest level of the game are trying to chart, October would be a month dedicated to internationals. Instead of three breaks in the fall schedule acting as speed bumps for the opening stage of domestic league seasons in Europe, there would be a long layoff for clubs to wonder why they didn't fight harder for common . . .