Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Collins John's Killer Free Kick Earns Fire Draw

Monday, August 30, 2010

On The Bob Bradley Extension

The Reign of Bob Continues...

US Soccer fans finally got the news they'd been waiting for with news breaking that Bob Bradley will stay on as manager of the United States Men's National Team. The decision actually caused "Bradley" to start trending in the United States, which in itself, is a great sign that people in this country actually care about who coaches their national team. From sampling some recent tweets, it would be safe to say that the majority of fans are none to pleased with Bradley's extension. 

Part of the reason I think people have such a strong reaction to Bradley is that he's just not all that interesting. Imagine Bradley as television analyst. His long, calculated, incredibly thought out responses interrupted by monotone uhhhhs definitely wouldn't transfer well over to the T.V. booth. However, that doesn't mean the guy can't get give a hell of a locker room speech. I would have love to have been a fly on the wall during Bradley's   speech at half-time after the US went down 2-0 to Slovenia in the second game of the World Cup in South Africa. Still, I for one would like to see Bob loosen up with the media a bit. The sport in this country would certainly benefit from a men's national team with some personality. 

I've heard players like Carlos Bocanegra and assistant coach Jesse Marsch talk about how Bradley loosens up off camera. From the interviews Bob has given in the past, we've occasionally gotten small glimpses of  Bradley out of his Clint Eastwood-esque poker face. I for one would be incredibly interested in seeing an interview with Bob Bradley completely devoid of anything soccer. Some of his closest friends say Bob is a funny guy and his laugh has been described as a "very, loud chortle". Chortles aside, in the next few years I hope we get a deeper look into what makes Bob tick. 

Bob doesn't need to open up to please the masses of people who don't know or care about soccer in this country, but I believe the national team's loyal fans do deserve some more accessibility to their coach. Soccer is fighting its way day-after-day into a respectable place in the American sports landscape and the sport needs to be as media savvy as possible to grow. 

US Soccer fans need to take the Bradley extension for what it is. The US men's national team has one of the most experienced, well-respected American soccer coaches at the helm. You can tell by the way our national team players talk about Bob that they love playing for the guy. And it's always hard for me to hold anything against a self-proclaimed Bruce Springsteen fan. Yes, it would be great if Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson decided to coach our national team, but that's not happening anytime soon. 

The number one thing I'd like to see from Bradley as we begin to build towards the Gold Cup is seeing some new player brought into the full national team. I'd really like to see guys like Tim Ream, Mikkel Diskerud, Brek Shea, Jack McInerney, and Jermaine Jones in a USA shirt some time soon. Although history hasn't fared well for second term national team coaches in the World Cup, Bradley may have the qualities to learn from his mistakes and improve.

What are your thoughts on four more years of Bob Bradley? Comment below.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Five USMNT Prospects to Watch

The USA's run in South Africa is over. The depression has begun to wear off, so I thought I'd do what every good US soccer fan must do: look ahead to the next World Cup. I love how the very moment the World Cup ends, the build up for the next one begins. We can expect to see players like Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, and Tim Howard again in 2014, but there will be without a doubt a number of new faces heading to Brazil. Here's five young players to keep an eye on in the coming years.

1. Mikkel Diskerud

Every US Soccer fan's favorite Norwegian-American is only 19 years old and has already won himself starting position on a club in Europe. I really would've liked to seen Mikkel "Mix" Diskerud get a look at the Men's team before the World Cup. Even though he's just a teenager, there are not many Americans who can say they start for a European club. Mix is a dynamic midfielder in the Iniesta mold who is dangerous both as a passer and goal scorer. He gained valuable experience playing with his Norwegian club Stabaek in the Champions League last season against David Villa and Spanish giants Valencia. I'm hoping Mix gets a call up within the next year.

2. Omar Gonzales

The LA Galaxy defender is the best young America centerback in the MLS. The 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year has taken his game to another level in his second season as a professional. I watched the Mexican-American play recently for LA and the kid just dominated. Gonzales has the size at 6'4 to dominate in the air and the athleticism to stay with faster defenders. The former Maryland Terp is learning how to be solid pro playing next to one of the best centerbacks America has ever produced in Gregg Berhalter. US Soccer showed they saw a lot of potential in Gonzales when he was called into the USMNT camp for the Honduras friendly this past January. If the 21-year-old keeps playing the way he's been playing this season he'll be my MLS defender of the Year. In 2014, I'd expect Gonzales to be playing in Europe at age 24 and be well acclimated to playing for the national team.

3. Edgar Castillo

Edgar Castillo may have switched his allegiance over to the United States too late to get a real shot at making the US squad for 2010, but I expect the 23-year-old to be in the thick of things in the next cycle. The explosive left back is an extremely exciting player to watch with his ability to attack opponents with his speed. The New Mexico born footballer made one appearance for the United States in a friendly against Denmark, but played at left midfield instead his usual place in the defense. The Club America product will play his soccer on loan with Mexican club San Luis this season. If Castillo can improve his defending then I can see him being seriously considered at left back by 2014.

4. Mike Grella

Although Mike Grella didn't garner buckets of attention in his first season playing abroad, the former Duke Blue Devil solidified himself on a very good Leeds United team. When The Whites gave Grella a chance to play during the season the 23-year-old didn't disappoint. Grella notched five goals in limited playing time. Leeds will be playing in The Championship next year in England, and hopefully that will give the young American some more valuable experience. Now that Leeds has sold goal machine Jermaine Beckford to Everton it might give Grella an increase in playing time. Most US fans expect Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies to be starting at the forward position for the Yanks in 2014, but after those two players the position is pretty wide open.

5. Brek Shea

In his third year in MLS, Brek Shea is finally showing his potential. The FC Dallas youngster has settled into playing on the wing, nailing three impressive goals thus far this season and tallying one assist. The kid obviously has all the physical tools, but need to continue his development steadily if he wants to earn a place on the national team. I've been impressed not only by his ability to go at defenders, but by his accurate crossing. In the past their had been rumors about clubs like Manchester United and Fulham being interested in Shea. A good season or two in MLS could help him punch his ticket to Europe before the next World Cup rolls around.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicago Fire: The Season So Far

Heading into Saturday night's contest with the Houston Dynamo the Chicago Fire are sitting in fifth place in the East with 1 win, two losses, and a tie. Last week we saw the Fire notch their first win over hapless DC United thanks to goals from Marco Pappa and Brian McBride. I thought it would be a nice time to take stock of what's transpired so far this season and rate the Fire as a team and organization.


We've certainly got what we expected from new Fire manager Carlos De Los Cobos so far this year: change. The real question is if it will good change or bad change. So far we've seen mixed results. The team could of came out victorious in both its losses, but were unable to avoid making costly mistakes and not capitalizing on their opportunities.

Often when a new manager comes in it can take a little while before things start clicking with the team. However, the expectations are high when you are hired by a team that fired their last coach after he got them to the Eastern Conference Finals last year. i like the progress CDLC has made learning English and some of the players he's brought in look to be keepers.


Brian McBride came in off the bench last weekend to a scoreless game in the 75th minute. When the game ended the Fire had a key road victory and #20 had a goal and assist to his name. Bringing McBride off the bench every now and again might not be a bad idea this season. The guy is 37 and I don't know if having him playing 90 minutes every week of the season is the best way to use him.

McBride's former strike partner at Fulham, Collins John, has earned praise from MLS pundits for his efforts so far this season. The Dutch 24-year-old has show he still has a air of class about him, and has created chances in every game he's played in.

His impressive header against Colorado helped secure the Fire a point in week 2, and both the Fire's home opener against San Jose and last week in the nation's capital he showed promise.The former teenage prodigy looks like he could go on a goal scoring run in the near future, so keep an eye on him this weekend.


Watching the team in the home opener at Toyota Park I couldn't help but feel the team was just lacking a creative force in the midfield. That would make sense with Cuauhtémoc Blanco plying his trade back in Mexico, the Fire need to find another chief creator.

It would be unfair to expect Marco Pappa to replace a player you were just paying 2 million dollars right away, but the Guatemalan international has shown promise. The left footed midfielder still has a tendency to sometime float in and out of games, but is starting show understanding that he has to be "the man in the midfield" for the Fire this season. 

Not having Logan Pause and John Thorrington healthy is definitly a challenge, but Baggio Hudisic, Peter Lowry, and Justin Mapp have done an admirable job filling in. Patrick Nyarko I believe has found his best position at right wing with his blazing speed creating numerous opportunities for the Fire this season. If De Los Cobos can just figure out to get the Ghanian footballer to finish in the final third he could take a big step forward in his career this year. I'm also looking forward to seeing Corben Bone and Julio Martinez introduced into the fray.


The surprising departure of goalkeeper Jon Busch has left the backline of the Fire learning how to play with a young keeper in Andrew Dykstra. I like the Fire's personnel in defense, but it will just take a little for the cohesion to set in. Tim Ward has proven himself a admirable right back, while my preference right now is Polish newcomer Krzysztof Krol at left back. The Fire also have new addition Deris Umanzor and Mike Banner who could see time on the left.

C.J. Brown has been putting out fires in the Fire penalty box for 12 years. His experience and leadership cannot be overvalued this season, but wouldn't mind seeing Dasan Robinson and rookie Kwame Watson-Siriboe have a chance at battling for the starting spot next to stalwart William Conde. Until one of the strikers catch a hot streak, the Fire are going to have to depend on the defense to keep them in games.

Front Office

You have to give credit where credit is do and the Chicago Fire organization did a wonderful job selling out Toyota Park for opening night. Seeing Toyota Park packed with soccer fans was truly great to see and in my opinion a bigger deal than selling out a playoff game.

The team didn't come up with their end of the bargain, but at least it was an exciting game. It seems like the Fire are running promotions every day for fans to get affordable tickets to the game and President Dave Greeley really seems to know what he's doing.

It's been great to see the club's efforts to engage fans and make them feel apart of the team. Recent news of the Fire signing a first-of-its-kind in MLS charter agreement with its fans is indication of the team's movement in the right direction. Besides the regular MLS season fans can look forward to seeing the Fire take on AC Milan on May 30th and the Sister Cities Tournament both at Toyota Park.

The organization is far from perfect and still have many challenges to face both on the field and off, but I have to applaud the front office for what they've done from the end of last season to now.

-Here's hoping for a win tomorrow in Bridgeview!

-Sean Heffernan

Thursday, February 4, 2010

News From the Fire: Chicago Fire Pre Season, A Look Ahead to 2010, and More

Thursday, January 28, 2010

News From The Fire: Chris Rolfe Speaks, Fire Sign Krol, and Other News

 The team seems to be falling into place with the Chicago Fire making a number of signings and having a promising 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Camp is scheduled to open up February 1st and it appears that the players and owners are going to sign the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by then. Here is The News From the Fire...

  • Chris Rolfe checks in from Denmark with Fire Confidential's Sam Stejkal touching on how things are going on over there and his thoughts back on his days with the Fire.

  •'s Charlie Corr checks in with Technical Director Frank Kloppas on the addition of Julio Martinez and Krzysztof Krol and gets an update on the CBA situation.
  • Logan Pause continues his good doing as the reigning MLS Humanitarian of the Year presented the Chicago Fire Foundation's grant to Team Kid Care which is a Chicago-based non-profit that helps out children with serious medical conditions.