Jordan Morris

by A.J. Coltrane

On Monday night the Sounders advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a tense 0-0 tie at CenturyLink. (No, really. It was *tense*.) The Sounders will play the Galaxy on the 23rd and 30th. The winner goes to the actual Finals.

Which makes this next bit interesting to me:  The U.S. squad has a couple of friendlies coming up,

The U.S. takes on No. 3-ranked Colombia on Friday at 2:45 p.m. ET in London at Craven Cottage with more than 20,000 tickets already sold. On Nov. 18, the U.S. team will play Ireland for the first time since 2002 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Dempsey was left off the squad. DeAndre Yedlin is making the trip, though it looks like he’ll have time for adequate rest before the games with the Galaxy.

The U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

One name on the list sticks out – Stanford student Jordan Morris. I figured I’d look into whatever his story is a little bit.

As it turns out he’s a 20 year-old member of the Seattle Sounders Academy. He was born in Seattle and graduated from Mercer Island High. He’s a sophomore at Stanford — bio is here.

I think it’s pretty cool that the Sounders Academy has produced two potential National Team members in a short period of time. Here’s hoping that the Northwest will continue to represent a rich pipeline of talent, and that it will funnel through the Sounders.

Jordan Morris

DeAndre Yedlin Is Fast

by A.J. Coltrane

Here’s a link to a post about Andre Yedlin and what it says about the future of US soccer. [ESPN/Grantland]

What got my attention was this paragraph:

Today, it’s easy to look at Yedlin — 5-foot-8 and thick-chested, and able to outrun the best soccer players in the world — and imagine him on an NFL roster. He could be Darren Sproles, leaving linebackers grasping at air, or he could be Tyrann Mathieu, another Mohawked terror with a knack for separating offensive players from the ball. In college, Yedlin was clocked at about 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash. And, says his college coach, Caleb Porter, “It’s about a lot more than top-end speed. It’s his burst, his ability to go from a jog to a sprint before you even realize what has just happened.” His athleticism, Porter says, “is truly world-class.”

(Emphasis mine.)

If he really ran a 4.2 it’d make him about as fast as anyone in the NFL. That’s fringe Olympic sprinter speed. The top combine times since 2009:

Time Name Height Weight Year
4.24 Rondel Melendez 5 ft 9 in (175 cm) 192 lb (87 kg) 1999
4.24 Chris Johnson 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) 192 lb (87 kg) 2008
4.25 Tavon Austin 5 ft 8 in (173 cm) 178 lb (81 kg) 2013
4.26 Jerome Mathis 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) 184 lb (83 kg) 2005
4.26 Dri Archer 5 ft 8 in (173 cm) 173 lb (78 kg) 2014
4.27 Stanford Routt 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) 193 lb (88 kg) 2005
4.27 Marquise Goodwin 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) 181 lb (82 kg) 2013
4.28 Champ Bailey 6 ft 0 in (183 cm) 192 lb (87 kg) 1999
4.28 Jacoby Ford 5 ft 9 in (175 cm) 190 lb (86 kg) 2010
4.28 DeMarcus Van Dyke 6 ft 1 in (185 cm) 187 lb (85 kg) 2011
4.29 Fabian Washington 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) 188 lb (85 kg) 2005
4.29 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) 184 lb (83 kg) 2008
4.29 Josh Robinson 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) 199 lb (90 kg) 2012
4.3 Darrent Williams 5 ft 9 in (175 cm) 176 lb (80 kg) 2005
4.3 Tye Hill 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) 185 lb (84 kg) 2006
4.3 Yamon Figurs 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) 174 lb (79 kg) 2007
4.3 Darrius Heyward-Bey[12] 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) 210 lb (95 kg) 2009

Not many of those guys are very tall, though on average they outweigh Yedlin by around 20 or 30 pounds.

The other line I thought was interesting was this one:

Some have suggested that Yedlin move full time to midfield. But his skill set, built on quickness and speed more than creativity and technique, would have a defined ceiling if he moved farther upfield. “Could he be a winger? Yeah, sure,” Porter says. “But when you look at the top wingers, he’s never going to be more technical and more clever off the dribble and in his combination and movement than those guys are. He just doesn’t have that. But at right back? With his athleticism, bombing forward, going box to box? Right now, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, he obviously already looks like the right back of the future for our national team. Beyond that, he can be a Champions League right back. He can be that good.” The difference, says Porter: At age 21, it may already be too late to master the finer points of midfield technique. But defending? “Yeah,” Porter says, “that can definitely be taught.”

Is that the next wave of US Soccer? Kids who either started too old or are just generally underskilled but who have terrific athleticism. In that context they’re still useable as marauding defenders, striking up the sidelines and running past the opposing defenders.

Works for me.


The Yedlin to Tottenham deal is finally official. (As of 6 hours ago.) The details, and a picture of Yedlin holding a Tottenham jersey are at That makes sense, he was held out of Sunday’s game and it was obvious why.

How to Take Apart a World Power

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Watching the Brasil-Germany semi-final, I figured that this was going to be a tough game for the Germans – it is a home game for Brasil, in front of an extremely loud, mostly partisan crowd, even with Brasil missing a couple of their best players and not exactly playing great soccer. I figured that Germany was going to press to try to get a lead and take the crowd out of it so when Muller scored; I figured that was exactly what they were trying to do. Then, about 22 minutes in, I figured that the game was just about over when Klose scored. The Germans were outplaying the Brasilians, and they have a great defense and the best goal keeper in the world with Neuer, so it would be tough to come back from 2-0 down. Well, then Germany went all blitzkrieg on the Brasilians and put 3 more in the net, in 6 minutes. I am writing this at halftime (and a couple of days before this will actually post) and I fully expect that Germany is going to use their 3 subs at the start of the 2nd half, just to avoid anyone getting hurt.

Germany is playing their best game since they dismantled the US in the group stage. Yes, the score was only 1-0, but at no point did you get the feeling that the US was going to mount any real threat. Heck, watching the game, it seemed like the Germans spent most of the second half trying to set up Klose so he could break the World Cup scoring record. That is what the first half of the Brasil-Germany game felt like, even before it became a blowout. It does not matter what the Brasilians do, Germany has complete control of the game.

World Cup Viewership

by A.J. Coltrane

From this ESPN link — “U.S. Soccer Ratings Top NBA Finals

NEW YORK — An estimated 21.6 million people watched Belgium knock out the United States in the World Cup on U.S. television — an impressive total for a weekday afternoon that almost certainly undercounts how many people actually saw it.

The Nielsen company said Wednesday that 16.5 million people watched the game on ESPN, with 5.1 million more seeing it on the Spanish-language Univision network. In addition, nearly 1.7 million people watched an online stream of the event, Nielsen said…

…Nielsen does not measure viewership in bars, offices or other public places. In 2010, ESPN estimated that the stated audience size for weekday World Cup games would increase by 23 percent if public viewing were taken into account.

Still, Tuesday’s knockout game exceeded the average viewership for the most recent World Series and NBA Finals, events that took place during prime-time when more people were home to watch.

The just-concluded NBA Finals where the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat averaged 15.5 million viewers, with 18 million watching the final game. Last fall’s World Series averaged 14.9 million viewers, with 19.2 million watching the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the last game…

…ESPN said that overall viewership for the World Cup is up 44 percent over 2010.

The really positive sign for soccer in the U.S. is the 44 percent overall increase in viewership. Even games that don’t involve the U.S. are way up. My workplace showed the Belgium vs U.S. game — I’d guess at least 20 or 30 people watched some part of it. Everyone was glued to the tv, even though the laptop feed would hang for multiple seconds. It sort of doubled the anguish at times.

But hey, soccer at work. Nobody complained.

World Cup Thoughts

By Blaidd Drwg

For those who actually care about the US-Germany game, basically unless the US gets blown out and the Portugal-Ghana game is also a blowout, the US should advance. Here is the table for the results and possible outcomes:




















The real purpose of this article is about the disgust that I currently am feeling toward the international team I actually follow – Italy. For the second consecutive World Cup, they have failed to advance to the knockout stage. Both of their losses were embarrassing – they had absolutely no answer to Costa Rica bringing up their back line and instead of adjusting the game plan to account for it; they just kept trying the same things over and over hoping they would start working. Basically, by forcing the Italians to make a number of long runs in the first half, the Costa Rican defense effectively tired out the Italian attackers and made them a non-factor in the second half. I might have forgiven Italian coach Cesare Prandelli for that if it weren’t for the Uruguay game.

Italy just needed a draw to advance and unfortunately the new look Azzurri seemed much like the old-look version – it was obvious they were content to play keep-away with the ball and play for a 0-0 result. That plan backfired horribly when Uruguay scored and then the Italian side was down to 10 men thanks to a stupid challenge by Claudio Marchisio which drew a (deservedly) red card. Once again, Italy should have changed its game plan before that. Uruguay was playing for the win, and had a number of good chances early in the game, but were denied thanks to Gigi Buffon and some great saves. That should have been the wakeup call to switch to a more offensive minded strategy, but Prandelli didn’t. Heck, the only reason why Italy even beat England is that England is in far worse shape right now than the Italian squad.

Fortunately, Prandelli realized his mistakes and did the right thing and resigned from the national team after the loss. They really need to get a coach in there to get this team out of their defensive mindset. There is plenty of fire-power on this roster, so why the hell would you play a defensive minded 3-5-2 set the way they did against Uruguay or the even worse 4-5-1 against Costa Rica. The Azzurri need to get out of the 20th century mindset of defense wins games and go on the offensive and bring us back to glory.

The 2014 World Cup Group of Death

By Blaidd Drwg

Much has been written about the U.S. being in the “group of death” in the upcoming World Cup, but I happened to be reading a WC preview and realized that it isn’t so much a group of death as the U.S is in a group with two good teams and two middle of the road teams and they are not one of the good ones.  Sure Germany is pretty much going through to the knockout round, but is Portugal, give their history of fading in international competitions, really a shoe it, leaving the U.S. out of the knockout stage? Is this group any more the “group of death” than Group B with Spain, Chile (who are better than you think), The Netherlands and Australia.

It got me thinking, which group is actually the group you don’t want to be playing in?

Let’s take a look at the groups. The SPI ranking is the ESPN ranking and the odds are the percentage of times a team advanced in their simulation.

Group A

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Brasil 4 1 99%
Mexico 19 25 44%
Croatia 20 30 34%
Cameroon 50 38 23%
Average Rank 23.25 23.5  


Obviously, Brasil is making it to the knockout stage and if they don’t the entire country is going to burn, so you really won’t have to worry about the rest of the tournament. The other spot is really between Mexico and Croatia, and that one could go either way. Cameroon has a chance, albeit a small one to sneak in. A tough group with 1 powerhouse and 2 middle of the road teams and 1 team happy to be there. Hardly a group of death, well, unless you are Cameroon or the team that finishes third.

Group B

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Spain 1 3 85%
Chile 13 5 71%
Netherlands 15 10 38%
Australia 59 40 7%
Average Rank 22 14.5  


Spain should have no problem going through and Australia is happy to be there. It is going to be a tough battle between Netherlands and Chile for that second spot. ESPN likes Chile, I like Netherlands here, but don’t be surprised if it comes down to the Chile-Netherlands game on 6/23 and the final is something like 4-3. This group as a whole is going to light up the scoreboard. A candidate, just not a strong one for the group of death moniker.

Group C

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Colombia 5 6 85%
Ivory Coast 21 16 48%
Greece 10 27 46%
Japan 47 36 22%
Average Rank 20.75 21.25  


Here is a group that there is really no clear favorite. Colombia is good, but is by no means a team that I think is a shoe-in for a spot. Japan is not as bad as people think and they could give the other teams in this group a run for their money. Ivory Coast is inconsistent and Greece is old, so who knows how they will hold up in the Brasilan sun. If you want to know who is going to advance in this group, you might as well pick names out of a hat.

Group D

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Uruguay 6 8 60%
England 11 9 56%
Italy 9 12 46%
Costa Rica 34 24 38%
Average Rank 15 13.25  


This is far and away the most balanced group in the tournament. Any two teams have a legitimate shot at advancing, especially given the complete inconsistency of both England and Italy on the international stage in recent years. Any one of these 4 teams could conceivably get through to the knockout round and don’t be surprised if it ends up being Uruguay and Costa Rica. I could probably make an argument that this qualifies for a group of death if this was 20 years ago, but England and Italy are playing more on reputation right now than actual skill.

Group E

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
France 17 7 77%
Ecuador 26 11 62%
Switzerland 6 22 38%
Honduras 33 33 23%
Average Rank 20.5 18.25  


Another balanced group due to the horribly overrated France who are going to be missing their 2 best players for the World Cup. Again, any of these 4 teams could make it through and the Swiss are young and aggressive and, if they beat France, will probably advance with Ecuador. Probably the toughest group to be in.

Group F

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Argentina 5 2 93%
Bosnia 21 15 48%
Nigeria 44 28 37%
Iran 43 39 22%
Average Rank 28.25 18.25  


ESPN likes the teams more than the FIFA rankings do in this group. Argentina is arguably the best team in the world, so it would take an act of God for them not to make it through. Iran is just happy to be there. Bosnia and Nigeria, in just about any group would probably be a good bet to move through to the knockout stage, but they are going to be competing against each other to survive this group. Both of those teams are better than you think and whoever makes it through has a good chance to possibly win a game or two in the knockout round. You definitely have 3 teams who would be close to locks to make it if you could have that.

Group G

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Germany 2 4 87%
Portugal 4 14 47%
USA 13 21 35%
Ghana 37 26 31%
Average Rank 14 16.25  


What you have here is Germany who just needs to show up to advance. Portugal doesn’t seem like they ever show up for these international tournaments – they are almost as talented as Germany but play so inconsistently that they aren’t a great bet to even make it out of the group stage. The other two teams, USA and Ghana are both plagued by inconsistency also, so who knows. It is a case where any one of the non-German teams can make a case to get through, but I don’t think that in most of these groups, any of those teams would be the second best team there. A tough group if you are not Germany, but not quite a group of death.

Group H

Team FIFA Rank SPI Rank SPI Odds
Belgium 11 13 73%
Russia 19 17 68%
South Korea 57 31 43%
Algeria 22 69 16%
Average Rank 27.25 32.25  


This group is probably the worst in the tournament. Belgium probably finishes at best second in any other group and I don’t think that any of the other teams would get through in any other group. This is where you probably would want to play if you were a team like the US – getting through wouldn’t be much of an issue.

For what it is worth, I think Group E is really the group of death in this tournament and I think that Brasil beats Argentina 4-2 in an insane final.

The World Cup!

by A.J. Coltrane

The best quadrennial event is here again!

TV Schedule.


Monday, June 16 at 3pm, Ghana [ESPN]

Sunday, June 22 at 3pm, Portugal [ESPN]

Thursday, June 26 at 9am, Germany [ESPN]

The DVR will be getting a workout!


For fun, Bill Barnwell’s Grantland piece about transfer values of teams and players. (Transfer values are how much one team would need to pay another to assume a player’s contract.)

A couple of snippets-

Most valuable teams:

Team Rank Value Avg Value
Spain 1 $919,564,800 $39,981,078
Germany 2 $777,638,400 $33,810,365
Brazil 3 $691,152,000 $30,050,087
Argentina 4 $578,793,600 $25,164,939
France 5 $560,683,200 $24,377,530

The Spanish players are worth nearly 1 billion dollars in aggregate. The USA is 26th at $85 millon. Total.

Most valuable players, relative to the least valuable teams:

Player/Team Value
Ivory Coast $180,438,720
Lionel Messi $177,408,000
Cameroon $173,735,520
Bosnia and Herzegovina $169,948,800
Cristiano Ronaldo $147,840,000
Japan $144,883,200
Mexico $142,716,000
Ghana $142,450,560
Nigeria $128,399,040
Greece $118,120,800
Ecuador $91,022,400
NeymarEdinson Cavani $88,704,000
USA $85,448,160

An especially relevant Barnwell quote:

Maybe Jurgen Klinsmann is right. For all the chatter about Klinsmann dropping Landon Donovan for the promise of Julian Green, this isn’t a particularly young United States team, as the U.S. side heading to Brazil is the 12th-oldest of the 32. It’s also not a side teeming with valuable properties. The team’s two most valuable players are Clint Dempsey ($10.3 million) and Michael Bradley ($9.6 million), each of whom have returned to North America over the past 12 months. The third is Jozy Altidore ($8.8 million), who was a disaster this season after Sunderland paid $13 million for him, scoring just once in the Premier League before being supplanted by Connor Wickham and sent to the youth team. Tim Howard is 35. Jermaine Jones is 32. And Transfermarkt doesn’t see younger talents like Green ($840,000) and DeAndre Yedlin ($420,000) as worth much yet. You may disagree, and a few players may emerge as more valuable properties if the U.S. makes it out of the group stage, but this just isn’t a very valuable U.S. team.

According to the piece the average age of the starting 11’s is… well, here:

Five youngest: Belgium (25.2), South Korea (25.6), Nigeria (25.7), Ghana (26.0), Germany. Five oldest: Ivory Coast (30.4), Portugal (29.3), Honduras (29.2), USA (29.1), Iran (29.1). AT LEAST WE’RE YOUNGER THAN YOU, HONDURAS!

I’d expect the USA team to get younger over the next couple of World Cups as new talent is infused into the roster. We’ll know that the USA is going to be competitive when the average age is closer to 27, rather than 29. (Which is basically what we talked about in the May, 2010 CSE post “Beer Leagues and Major Leagues“.)


More stuff:

Barnwell’s piece on the youngest players at the World Cup. It’s soccer’s future (and present) stars. I’ll be paying special attention to them, assuming that they get on the field. Neymar is #15, adjusted for the age of the rest of the Brazil squad.

The odds of winning the whole shebang:

Brazil: 7/2
Argentina: 5/1
Germany: 6/1
Spain: 8/1

Belgium: 16/1
Colombia: 22/1
France: 24/1
Italy: 29/1
Netherlands: 29/1
England: 29/1
Uruguay: 31/1
Portugal: 39/1

Chile: 59/1

Russia: 89/1

Switzerland: 129/1
Ecuador: 149/1
Mexico: 149/1
Japan: 189/1
Ivory Coast: 189/1
Bosnia: 219/1

Croatia: 279/1
Ghana: 279/1

USA: 299/1

Nigeria: 309/1
Greece: 359/1

South Korea: 519/1

Australia: 809/1

Cameroon: 999/1
Algeria: 999/1
Iran: 999/1
Costa Rica: 999/1
Honduras: 999/1

The New MLS TV Deal

by A.J. Coltrane

From Forbes:

When we reported on the Major League Soccer’s financial success in November, we noted that one of the biggest factors for the league’s continued success was its upcoming TV deal negotiations. MLS is currently in the final year of TV deals with ESPN , NBC and Univision, which pay a combined $30 million annually on average. After an especially long negotiation period, the league has finally sealed new, eight-year agreements with ESPN, Fox and Univision that will run through the 2022 season.

At today’s announcement press conference, MLS commissioner Don Garber called the set of eight-year deals the “most comprehensive media rights arrangement” in the history of American soccer. Garber also discussed the league’s need for maximizing the league’s TV revenue, an area in which MLS appears to have been incredibly successful.

In our November report we predicted that, thanks to a burgeoning fan base and the networks’ need for live programming, MLS should have little trouble more than doubling its TV rights income. It turns out even that bullish guess underestimated the final outcome – the three deals are reportedly worth a combined $90 million per year, roughly triple what MLS was receiving previously. That’s still a fair bit behind America’s other pro leagues – the NHL, for instance, gets an average $200 million per year from NBC – but is a huge step toward closing the gap.

Triple the current TV revenue!

More TV revenue  ->  better players  -> more eyeballs  -> more TV revenue…

I’d prefer to see the bulk of the revenue going to the lower and mid-tier players. I think that would improve roster “depth” and raise the overall quality of play more than would dumping the additional money into a few stars.

I won’t be surprised if the next TV contract in 2022 is triple the size of this new deal. Maybe that’s when soccer passes hockey.

The Next Generation Of Soccer Players

by A.J. Coltrane

The Colorado Rapids came to town this weekend, and the Sounders smoked them, 4-2. Free haircut when the Sounders score 3 or more goals!

Through eight games Clint Dempsey is leading the league in scoring with 8 goals. (2nd place is 6 goals, then there’s one player with 5 goals, and eight more players with 4.) The Sounders are tied for 1st place in the Western Conference. Last years’ “shaky goalkeeper issue” has been resolved… Things are looking good around here.

But here’s what inspired the post:  Marvell Wynne II plays for Colorado. For those of you with long sports memories, you’ll remember his dad playing baseball in the 80’s. Dad couldn’t hit, but he could run fast and play Centerfield, and he carved out a seven-year MLB career based upon those two skills. Marvell II is now in his 7th year of professional soccer, and he’s still only 27 years old..

Any time I see the “kid” connection it always gets me thinking about the future of soccer in America.

I think it’s obvious where the next wave of “kids” is coming from, and when.

Playing in the NFL is brutal. Many players leave the league with permanent, even debilitating injuries, or they can’t think straight anymore because of the repeated head trauma. The “football concussion” thing is a big sports story right now.

So what if even a few of today’s Linebackers, Defensive Backs, and Running Backs steer their kids away from football, and into another sport that rewards speed and size. It’s a sport that easy to pick up and play. It doesn’t require any special training to go out and have fun. You get to run around on grass without getting the crap kicked out of you.

I’m guessing 20 years from now we’ll see the “football concussion” pushback wave arrive. That’s when it’s really going to get interesting for American Soccer.


Unrelated Thought:  The name “Marvell Junior” would almost sound like an oxymoron, wouldn’t it? I think “Marvell II” was a wise idea.

2nd Unrelated Thought:  One of the ESPN guys wrote recently that the NBA should start a new advertising campaign:  (paraphrasing) “The NBA! You can watch it without guilt!”

An American Coach in London

By Bliadd Drwg

The NBC Sports network has been advertising their upcoming EPL coverage with a brilliant set of commercials titled “An American Coach in London.” As I was looking for them to post to the blog, I discovered that they are actually just segments of a much larger promo video that NBC Sports put together. It is about 4:45 long and has some pretty funny stuff in it.


For your viewing enjoyment: