MLS 2020: A Quarter Century of Soccer

Titans Bastard

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Montreal signed a 20 year old Ugandan left back.


Kizza will remain on loan with his club KCCA FC in Uganda until 2020 due to COVID. I'm always fascinated to know how these deals come about. It's not like Impact scouts are blanketing East Africa with coverage, so who's got the connection to this guy and/or his club and/or his agent?
 

Kliq

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Montreal signed a 20 year old Ugandan left back.


Kizza will remain on loan with his club KCCA FC in Uganda until 2020 due to COVID. I'm always fascinated to know how these deals come about. It's not like Impact scouts are blanketing East Africa with coverage, so who's got the connection to this guy and/or his club and/or his agent?
It is really interesting. Wanyama has to be one of the most successful players from East Africa, so perhaps he has connections/knowledge of other good prospects, especially for someone like Kizza who has played at an international level. In theory, Montreal has obvious advantages to recruiting players from french-speaking countries (I know Uganda isn't) so if I were them, I would be scouting West African countries for talent.
 

Titans Bastard

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It is really interesting. Wanyama has to be one of the most successful players from East Africa, so perhaps he has connections/knowledge of other good prospects, especially for someone like Kizza who has played at an international level. In theory, Montreal has obvious advantages to recruiting players from french-speaking countries (I know Uganda isn't) so if I were them, I would be scouting West African countries for talent.
I doubt it's Wanyama, but you never know.

For a while some MLS teams, including Montreal, signed a bunch of players from a Cameroonian club called Rainbow FC. The club may well have been a bit shady but there was obviously a broad relationship with it. KCCA FC seems to be a normal club, though, not a third-party-ownership workaround.
 

67YAZ

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I doubt it's Wanyama, but you never know.

For a while some MLS teams, including Montreal, signed a bunch of players from a Cameroonian club called Rainbow FC. The club may well have been a bit shady but there was obviously a broad relationship with it. KCCA FC seems to be a normal club, though, not a third-party-ownership workaround.
I love East African football, so this is an interesting one. Kizza is a legit East African prospect, which isn't much to write home about. But he's left-footed, 6'1", and runs like the wind. KCCA, which is one of the great East African clubs and currently dominating the Ugandan Premier League for the past decade, sold their starting LB to plug Kizza in as the starter when he was 18. He's played well against good competition - 5 goals and 12 assists in 19 league matches last season, 1 goal & 2 assists in CAF Champions League, and 4 goals in 12 senior international matches - as a LB no less!

It's much more likely Micheal Azira tipped off the Impact about Kizza seeing as they played together for the Ugandan national team 5 times last year. But any scouting service with profiles on African players would have Kizza flagged. Hell, you can also check him out on YouTube.

Kizza is rep'd by the Binary Group. The Binary Group is headed by an Egyptian named Fahd Adamson Mansoor, who has done good business in recent years getting East and West African players on to Egyptian and Swiss clubs. From what I can tell, Mansoor seems to be on the up and up, (cautiously) a relatively good guy among the scoundrels and scumbags. He signs standout young players, doesn't take an ownership stake in them, and gets them to legit clubs abroad. He laid out his philosophy for African players as:

“When players leave when they are not ready for the big stage, they need to start in lower leagues I would describe as stepping stones, after a season or two they can be ready for the big stage. But so many expectations are heaped on the shoulders of players already burdened by a harsh childhood.”
This local article from May about Kizza's future has Mansoor listing MLS and Montreal specifically as a potential landing spot along with six other leagues. Kizza was going to be out of contract in January anyway, so interest was high and Kizza has a lot of leverage. My guess here is that Mansoor wanted to get Kizza to MLS to expand the Binary Group's portfolio and sees it as a good stepping stone for Kizza. Plus, most African football fans love Theirry Henry. They feel a connection with great Black players generally, but Henry is an idol across the continent. That probably swayed Kizza a little, too.

Edit: this local headline just says that Theirry Henry signed Kizza. There’s 2 full paragraphs about Henry before they even mention Kizza - and this is Kizza’s hometown.
 
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Titans Bastard

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Wow! I did not expect such a thorough response.

What is the origin of your affinity for East African football?
 

67YAZ

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I love East African football is such a SoSH response. It reminds me of this American Dad clip (apologize for terrible quality).

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTf32AQ-IV8
guilty as charged.

I had a few extended research trips to Tanzania from 99-04, spent almost a year total in the Arusha region. And several years back, one of my students wrote his thesis on TZ football culture.

I’ve also spent a bunch of time in West Africa, where the football culture is definitely much more developed and vibrant. But the East African scene is so local and low profile that there are no casual fans or players. It’s charming and intense.
 

mauf

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It's a lot easier to convert an EPL or Liga MX fan into an MLS fan than a non-soccer fan, so the league has some work to do on that front. Anecdotally, this board has always been fairly England-centric, but it does seem like interest in various components of the world of American soccer has grown over the years. It's a slow process, because it's obviously true that MLS does not approach the level of play in the EPL. On the bright side, the level of play here has improved slowly but steadily, and other aspects of the game like the stadium experience and TV presentation have also gotten better. 15 years ago, most MLS teams were still tenants playing in cavernous environments in NFL stadia. (Local factors apply: I suspect there'd be more MLS chatter here if this were a Seattle Mariners fan board....the Revs are trending up in certain ways but historically haven't made it easy to be a fan.)
It won’t necessarily be a watershed moment, but getting back on the field before other North American team sports will help MLS. I can’t be the only person watching for the first time in forever who has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the on-field product.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Are the parts of the broadcast where it suddenly sounds a bit underwater just a production issue from when the wind goes weird, or is that what happens when things get super sweary?
 

Titans Bastard

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Are the parts of the broadcast where it suddenly sounds a bit underwater just a production issue from when the wind goes weird, or is that what happens when things get super sweary?
I'm guessing the latter, since it always seems to happen about two seconds after a closeup on Peter Vermes.
 

Titans Bastard

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The new Major League Soccer Football team will be "Charlotte FC"

Bland, boring, Angophile, expected. It's too bad that so many new clubs are setting themselves up so that they'll never have a chance to develop an iconic nickname, like what some of the legacy NASL names have become.

I know some people argue that this will allow nicknames to occur naturally, but it simply hasn't happened in any meaningful way with existing FC clubs.


One fun thing: charlottefc.com redirects to the existing USL club Charlotte Independence.
 

Domer

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I know some people argue that this will allow nicknames to occur naturally, but it simply hasn't happened in any meaningful way with existing FC clubs.
I would argue the "Loons" is pretty commonplace for Minnesota United, but you're correct that it hasn't really worked that way for the other clubs. I don't have any issue with using anglophile or europhile club names in MLS (I really like Rapids, Union, Dynamo, and Inter) but I dislike bland names that just append FC.
 

Titans Bastard

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I would argue the "Loons" is pretty commonplace for Minnesota United, but you're correct that it hasn't really worked that way for the other clubs. I don't have any issue with using anglophile or europhile club names in MLS (I really like Rapids, Union, Dynamo, and Inter) but I dislike bland names that just append FC.
Agree on the Loons.

I think Dynamo is weird choice given the history of that term in the context of soccer clubs, but whatever.
 

shawnrbu

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FC Cincinnati up 2-0 on RBNY after 57’. A win ensures an unlikely spot in the knockout round. I did not see them going 2-1 while Atlanta United finished bottom with 0 goals scored.
 
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dirtynine

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I’ll always be torn on FC. (I don’t find it Anglophile; soccer is a football code so SC never sounded right.) They could still get an organic, community-derived nickname a la Loons - I prefer that (honestly in all sports) to having the nickname be an “official” part of the name.

It’s a little bland but hopefully more like a blank space.
 

67YAZ

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The Fire (frankly, a boring & hackneyed nickname) only need a point from tomorrow's tilt with the White Caps to advance.

Vancouver has had so many injuries, Chicago should set up to play on the front foot. We'll see how Wicky approaches it. The 3-5-2 set up played solidly defensively for a match and a half, until San Jose adjusted and exploited the gaps behind the wingbacks. But the formation hasn't created a lot of quality chances or even regular progressions of the ball up the pitch. I've been really disappointed that Gaston Gimenez has been more or less invisible; he was billed as the deep-lying playmaker who could spray passes as well as dribble past defenders. Similarly, Medran has been nondescript in a role that should allow him to get up behind the forwards and cause some problems. Both those guys need to show more if the Fire are going to take a hold of the match tomorrow.
 

67YAZ

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Let's go, you men in white!

Looks like the 3-5-2 again, but Aliseda gets the starts on the left-wing. And already he's shown nice control under pressure in the box. He's a 20yr old Argentinian - still physically slight, but speedy and technical. He and Navarro are really the first test cases to see if Heitz and Wicky can bring their Basel team-building model to Chicago.
 

67YAZ

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Frank, you have to bury that! Ugh.

the Fire look so much better pressing and surging forward than they do trying to build up. Thankfully, Beric is remorseless about shooting every time he gets a touch.This team needs that.
 

Titans Bastard

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The lightning break was not a positive for the Chicago Fire, it seems.
 

67YAZ

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Maybe they can unplug Calvo’s alarm clock and leave him in Florida? That guy just has a habit of mentally checking out.
 

67YAZ

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Not sounding good for Djordje Mihailovic.


last winter he went on trial at Nurnberg, but they passed on him. Wicky started training camp saying positive things with an implied challenge for Djordje - “he’s a very important part of this club” and “has the ability to be a leader.” But now Djordje is stuck deep in the rotation, couldn’t even get into today’s match when the Fire were desperate for attacking threats.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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Portland scored late to draw with LAFC and win the group.

That means Seattle has to face LAFC. Brutal matchup.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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It won’t necessarily be a watershed moment, but getting back on the field before other North American team sports will help MLS. I can’t be the only person watching for the first time in forever who has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the on-field product.
I've really enjoyed the games I've seen so far. The level of competition has been intense. They've really been getting after it.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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re: the team-naming thing: it has always bugged me that MLS team-naming conventions have been betwixt and between American and European. I don't mind "FC" at all, even though it's generic. I'd much rather that than Wiz, Burn, Mutiny etc. which have luckily been consigned to the dustbin of bad marketing. What still bugs me are the half-assed nods to European names with specific connotations and history: Sporting, Real, Inter, United. Smells like inferiority complex to me. "United" particularly bugs me, since it's rooted in the consolidation of 2+ local clubs, so it's stupid when applied to an expansion franchise created from scratch.

So many MLS teams are collective nouns: "Revolution," "Fire," "Galaxy." I think that's an effort to split the baby, by avoiding the American convention of plural nouns that is rarely found in English/European football with a few exceptions. I'd rather MLS teams just recognize national convention and use plural nouns. I'd much prefer the Minutemen to the Revolution, for example, if you're going to go with that theme.

To check both boxes, "Wanderers" is out there waiting to be claimed by an MLS team, and is excellent.

And I'll close with my often-repeated rant about "Cosmos." I am a RBNY fan because I can't root for anything associated with the Yankees, the stadium experience sucks, and I can't stand the little-brother association with City. The RBNY stadium is awesome and the travel is easier for me. But rooting for a team named after a product rankles, even though Red Bull does this throughout the world (of course the average American fan knows nothing of Salzburg and Leipzig so it looks bad). It's not much of an improvement on MetroStars. Yet the Cosmos brand languishes as the property of that little Napoleon who keeps trying to bootstrap another failed league. Pay that dude handsomely for the IP, rebrand RBNY as Cosmos, watch it go through the roof. There are still hipsters wandering around Brooklyn in Cosmos gear 40 years on. It would be awesome.
 

Titans Bastard

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And I'll close with my often-repeated rant about "Cosmos." I am a RBNY fan because I can't root for anything associated with the Yankees, the stadium experience sucks, and I can't stand the little-brother association with City. The RBNY stadium is awesome and the travel is easier for me. But rooting for a team named after a product rankles, even though Red Bull does this throughout the world (of course the average American fan knows nothing of Salzburg and Leipzig so it looks bad). It's not much of an improvement on MetroStars. Yet the Cosmos brand languishes as the property of that little Napoleon who keeps trying to bootstrap another failed league. Pay that dude handsomely for the IP, rebrand RBNY as Cosmos, watch it go through the roof. There are still hipsters wandering around Brooklyn in Cosmos gear 40 years on. It would be awesome.
Counterpoint: everything the Cosmos brand touches withers and dies. There's a certain level of debilitating crazy that seems to be part and parcel with it. Crazy owners and a certain subtype of Cosmos fan is the most irritating online American soccer fan there is — even worse than Atlanta United, Seattle Sounders, and (underrated in how sanctimonious and awful they are) Detroit City FC fans.

Despite all that, I agree with you. Putting the Cosmos brand in the hands of the right leadership would be pretty cool. Not all old-school NASL club names resonate, but those that do are valuable additions to MLS. It takes a long time to build tradition and mystique around club names so we might as well avail ourselves of names that already have work put into them.

Eventually, Red Bull will sell the club and it will be very interesting to see what happens to the name after that point.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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On the one hand, I think that MLS hewing closer to the American view of managers/coaches in terms of giving them rope and time to build teams is a strength of the league and most teams are better served by that than a constant churn.

On the other hand, Martinez being injured does seem to have revealed a distinct lack of clothes for that particular emperor.

On the other other hand, this whole hire plus Pity's struggles are painting ATL's recent front-office moves in a pretty rough light. They hit a lot of HRs with their initial DPs and manager, but have whiffed pretty hugely on replacements so far. They might just be an alright front-office that front-loaded its good decisions, rather than a very good one.
 

Titans Bastard

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I think MLS used to give managers way too much rope. It doesn't take as long for seats to get hot now, but it's not as extreme as some Euro leagues, which is a balance that I like. (Let's not even talk about the MADHOUSE that the Brazilian managerial carousel.)

The Dutch have a lot of specific ideas about the sport and Dutch managers sometimes trend on the side of being rigid ideologues. I don't think it's a surprise that de Boer was very successful at Ajax — a club whose culture from top to bottom in extremely Dutch — and has struggled elsewhere. He couldn't adapt to the realities of the players he had and, in the end, he lost the locker room.

Completely agree with everything @Jimy Hendrix said about the bloom coming off the rose of Atlanta's FO.

I wonder if Paul McDonough's departure is related to the lower hit rate of Atlanta's decisions. That being said, we'll see how things go at his new project (Inter Miami).
 

Titans Bastard

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After this tournament, MLS is looking at:

  • 18 game season starting August 22
  • Three Canadian clubs to play each other exclusively for their first six games, with the hope that cross-border travel will get easier later. (I'd guess that they'll probably have to go the Buffalo Blue Jays route)
  • We'll get three bonus Nashville vs. Dallas games to make up for the fact that they missed the MLS is Back group stage
  • 9 playoff teams
  • MLS Cup on December 12
 

candylandriots

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re: the team-naming thing: it has always bugged me that MLS team-naming conventions have been betwixt and between American and European. I don't mind "FC" at all, even though it's generic. I'd much rather that than Wiz, Burn, Mutiny etc. which have luckily been consigned to the dustbin of bad marketing. What still bugs me are the half-assed nods to European names with specific connotations and history: Sporting, Real, Inter, United. Smells like inferiority complex to me. "United" particularly bugs me, since it's rooted in the consolidation of 2+ local clubs, so it's stupid when applied to an expansion franchise created from scratch.

So many MLS teams are collective nouns: "Revolution," "Fire," "Galaxy." I think that's an effort to split the baby, by avoiding the American convention of plural nouns that is rarely found in English/European football with a few exceptions. I'd rather MLS teams just recognize national convention and use plural nouns. I'd much prefer the Minutemen to the Revolution, for example, if you're going to go with that theme.

To check both boxes, "Wanderers" is out there waiting to be claimed by an MLS team, and is excellent.

And I'll close with my often-repeated rant about "Cosmos." I am a RBNY fan because I can't root for anything associated with the Yankees, the stadium experience sucks, and I can't stand the little-brother association with City. The RBNY stadium is awesome and the travel is easier for me. But rooting for a team named after a product rankles, even though Red Bull does this throughout the world (of course the average American fan knows nothing of Salzburg and Leipzig so it looks bad). It's not much of an improvement on MetroStars. Yet the Cosmos brand languishes as the property of that little Napoleon who keeps trying to bootstrap another failed league. Pay that dude handsomely for the IP, rebrand RBNY as Cosmos, watch it go through the roof. There are still hipsters wandering around Brooklyn in Cosmos gear 40 years on. It would be awesome.
Hey now. The “RB” in RB Leipzig stands for Rasen Ball (lawn ball).
 

Titans Bastard

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Houston signed Ian Hoffmann, an 18 year old RB/DM who is returning to the US after spending several years in Karlsruhe's youth system. It's not surprising to see him turn up with the Dynamo, considering that Tab Ramos and his assistant Omid Namazi are familiar with Hoffmann from their days as YNT managers. I'm assuming he left Karlsruhe because he aged out of the U19 squad and won't be on a pro deal with the first team next year — Karlsruhe don't have a meaningful reserve team.

The deal is for 2021, so he's off to Rio Grande Valley FC of the USL for the rest of the season.

 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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No extra time in the knockouts? I guess I get that for the first two rounds but the semis and final should have extra time.