Zidane To The Rescue

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


 

ZidaneThe football (soccer) great Zinedine Zidane has swooped in to “rescue” Real Madrid. A club that is a mere four points behind La Liga leading Athletico Madrid….in January. Four points in Real Madrid’s view is unacceptable.

Zidane is a legend in the soccer community. While most novices of the sport will only remember him for his red card in the 2006 World Cup Final where he famously head butted Marco Materazzi.

Zidane was a heck of a player at Madrid and elsewhere and has been managing Madrid’s reserve side, Real Madrid Castilla, for a couple of years. This in the eyes of the powers that be is enough to manage the biggest club in the world.

His hiring isn’t so much a surprise as is the firing of Rafa Benitez. Benitez managed Liverpool to two Champions League Finals (winning the trophy in 2004) and found success at Valencia, Napoli, Chelsea and Real Madrid. He was 17-5-3 in all competitions since taking over at Madrid but that wasn’t good enough. Apparently a 4-0 loss to arch rival Barcelona and a supposed riff with superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo is enough to be sacked nowadays.

Don’t worry about Benitez. He walks away with a cool £7million (about $10.2million US) for his trouble. And Madrid can afford to pay. Real Madrid is the richest club in the world. They are estimated a $3.26 billion according to Forbes.

A lot of questions now arise for the 43 year old Zidane. He has played but never coached at this level before and it’s a very big stage to cut your teeth at.

Only time will tell if this is the right decision. Like other sports organizations (college and professional) it is becoming clear that the days of “building” are gone and it’s a “win now or else” mentality around the globe.  And don’t just win, but win by a wide margin.

The Sunday: Goals

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Easter Sunday brings a lot of things, the main one, in the sports world at least, is goals. Goals, goals, goals. And not just any set of goals but ones that blow your mind when you seen them.

The Sunday

Rooney

Wayne Rooney is an elite player. Saying that, he still amazes us with this creativity every now and then. It was on display Saturday as he….well just watch it.

ROONEY

Adam

Charlie Adam is not a household name on this side of the ocean. He is probably best know for not working out at Liverpool. However on Saturday he pulled off something that you never see. He showed great awareness to recognize that the Chelsea keeper was off his line. Watch it here!

Martins

Obafemi Martins just made defends look stupid as he pirouetted through them on Saturday night. He scored the game winner in Seattle’s 1-0 win over Houston.

Ronaldo

Not to be outdone, the world’s best player (arguably) Cristiano Ronaldo scored not one, not two but five goals on Sunday during Real Madrid’s 9-1 beating of Granada. Who does that?

 

What to Watch Fri. 8/1 – Sun. 8/3

All times are PST.

Friday August 1st

Philadelphia Union at Sporting KC – 5:25pm (ish) NBCSN: SKC is just fun to watch and Philly is fighting for a playoff spot.

BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders – 7pm ESPNNEWS: Calgary is the best team in the CFL but their old QB Kevin Glenn leads a solid BC team into Alberta.

Saturday August 2nd

Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy – Noon NBC: Timbers are looking better but LA is coming off of a thrashing of Seattle in Seattle this past Monday.

KC Royals at Oakland A’s – 1pm MLB.TV: Jon Lester’s first start for the A’s. We think.

Manchester United vs Real Madrid – 1pm FOX: Hopefully we’ll have the ‘Gus Effect’.

Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids – 6pm MLS LIVE: Rocky Mountain Cup is on the line in Denver.

Sunday August 3rd

KC Royals at Oakland A’s – 1pm MLB.TV: Another good pitching matchup with Shields v Kazmir.

NY Giants vs Buffalo Bills – 5pm NBC: The NFL is back….for preseason at least. The Hall of Fame game sees two teams that need to answer a lot of questions this preseason. It also brings back Cris Collinsworth. Ugh.

MLS Player Movements in 12 Easy Steps

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By Dave Trausneck @trausneck

Sideline Signals recently highlighted the recent comments by FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his criticism of Major League Soccer.  Blatter said it’s been 18 years since the United States hosted the World Cup and the country still does not have a strong professional league.

But it’s not for a lack of ways a player can join the league.  A simple glance of MLS’ roster rules for 2012, and you may need more than a high word score on your SAT to understand the complexities of MLS as compared to the rest of the world.

The more notable professional leagues around the world have a simplistic way of dealing with player movement.

They are…

  1. Signing a youth player into their academy and developing him from a young age.
  2. Paying a transfer fee to another club to acquire the rights to a player. (For example, Real Madrid paying Manchester United 80 million British Pounds in 2009 for Christiano Ronaldo.)
  3. Loaning a player out to another club. (Often done by bigger clubs with massive rosters and good players who are not getting as much playing time.  They loan players to smaller clubs in lower divisions, with certain stipulations.)

Major League Soccer is different, and possibly because the league owns all the player contracts, not the club.  Here’s how players may join a MLS club

1. SuperDraft

(Most of the eligible players are the top collegiate seniors, and some top underclassmen known as Generation adidas players.)

2. Expansion Draft

(Only done when a team joins MLS, like Portland, Vancouver and Montreal in the past few seasons)

3. Allocation Ranking

(Teams are given a ranking in reverse order from the previous season’s finish. When a US Men’s National Team player leaves a foreign league to play in MLS, the teams with the worst record the year before get first crack in acquiring the player.

4. Designated Players

(Players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane command high salaries. In order to lure them to MLS, the league allows teams to only count a fraction of that salary toward the team’s salary cap.  The league has to pay the rest, which can be in the millions.)

5. Player trades between MLS clubs

6. Discovery claims

(Clubs may make a “discovery claim” on a player who does not have an MLS contract, and are not part of the league’s allocation ranking.  In short, this allows teams to call “dibs” on a player.

7. Homegrown player

(Similar to international clubs signing a youth player, this allows MLS clubs to sign the top youth players in their area and get around the draft process.

8. Re-entry draft

(Players who no longer have a MLS club to play for can re-enter the league with a different team through the re-entry draft.)

9. Claim player off MLS waiver.

10. Weighted lottery

(Generation adidas players who sign with MLS after the draft can join a team through a lottery. Teams with worse records have a better chance. The most recent example was Portland winning the lottery for Mobi Fehr. The other two teams in the lottery were San Jose and Seattle.)

11. Extreme hardships

12. Injury Replacements

(Both of these are available to clubs when their rosters are extremely depleted due to injuries.)

This complex set of rules isn’t to suggest MLS has to bend over backwards just to field a viable league.  Merely, it suggests league officials who oversee competition have to work harder to make sure the league has parity, and the same teams are not the only teams competing for a championship year after year.

Of note, former Real Salt Lake Forward Robbie Findley was released by Nottingham Forrest last week which clears his way back to MLS. Although the Portland Timbers hold his rights they apparently traded them back to Real Salt Lake. Everyone paying attention?