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54 posts from August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Zinho: Don't know if team will be back in '10


Miami FC is finally back home after a disastrous road trip, in which the Blues went 0-4-0, including a record-breaking 9-0 loss in Carolina.

The team wrapped up the swing with a 1-0 loss in Austin Saturday that kept Miami FC well off the playoff pace. With five matches left in the season, the Blues are seven points behind seventh-place Vancouver (not to mention eight behind Montreal and 10 back of Rochester).

As remote as it seems, they still do have a chance to make the playoffs, and that’s the straw coach Zinho is grasping with both hands as he tries to finish out the club’s fourth – and possibly final – season strong.

I had a chance to chat with Zinho about this, his future and the future of pro soccer in Miami earlier today. Check the part about the whether Miami FC will exist next year. He’s just in the dark as the rest of us.

Here’s a transcript of the conversation:

Q. If there’s soccer in Miami next year, what would you change?

ZINHO: “First of all, being able to have the team selected way before the season begins. Secondly, at the very least, with that group, have 30 days of preseason training before the first game with everyone training. And, to bring in players of higher quality. And to better the infrastructure here. Have access to physical therapists, access to a good gym, access to better infrastructure, so we don't have to suffer through all the things we suffered through this year.”

What has the last week been like?

You can't have any excuses for 9-0. Forget the 9-0. Put the 9-0 aside. The bad moment we're having, the last seven, eight games without winning, is a consequence of the beginning of the season. We started preseason 17 days before we played the first game of the season, without having the proper number of players and the players the quality of players we needed.

Have you had any assurances from Traffic Sports about you being back next year? How about the team?

“I have not had the chance to have those conversations with Traffic. I don't know if there will be a team next year or if there should be. I have a contract until October of next year. Before they can talk about me saying, I would like to know what the conditions will be like next year, before I'd even consider it. We cannot handle another year like the one we had this year. We had a lot of injuries, a lot of players who were not prepared. A lot of guys couldn't play. We couldn't switch the players out like we were supposed to. It was difficult.”

Is this your toughest year ever?

“Yes. I know of the risk I was taking by accepting the responsibility of coaching the team with the circumstances that we had. We all agreed it was going to be a very difficult year. But the most important thing we have to focus on right now is, even with everything that's happened, we're still alive. We still have a chance to go to the playoffs. All of the things we've been talking about are things that need to be discussed after the season is over. Right now, it doesn't make any sense to discuss it. The only thing we have to worry about is the fact that we still have a numeric chance, but it is a very, very tough challenge. It depends on all of us to believe and to push, to start with a good result on Saturday. Numerically, it's possible. We still have a chance. Our responsibility as coaches right now, the only thing we need to do is keep motivating the players, to show them that it is possible, to give them the best training for the moment. And do the best job for the games so we can execute and get results.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Exclusive: Zinho's job is safe

Miami FC President Aaron Davidson told the team in a heated, closed-door meeting Thursday that although the 9-0 loss to Carolina was unacceptable, Zinho will remain as coach, Total Futbol has learned.

Davidson told TF that he places a high priority on continuity, and wants Zinho in charge for at least the last six games of the season.

A promising Blues season has been derailed by the current seven-game losing streak, although Davidson did lot place all of the blame for the swoon at Zinho's feet. Davidson acknowledges that Zinho was dealt a bad hand with the way the season began. The Blues didn't even know if they would field a team this season until just weeks before the opener, leaving team brass little time to assemble a team.

There is also a sense within the organization that the club may have played a little over its head at times, including the two-game winning streak it had to start the season.

TF also hears that there was a players-only meeting Thursday to address the team's performance over the last month.

Likely attending that meeting: Gale Agbossoumonde, who has just another two weeks with the club before leaving for Egypt for the U-20 World Cup.

U.S. Soccer announced its 21-man roster for the event Friday, and it included the defender Agbossoumonde, who is just 17 years old.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Headlines from a busy, busy day in soccer

Bradley names 24-man roster for upcoming WC qualifiers

USL sale puts Miami FC future in doubt

English clubs receive favorable CL draws

Traffic's bid to buy USL fails

Bad 24 hours for Traffic Sports.

First, a 9-0 loss to Carolina -- worst in Miami FC history -- and now word that the company's effort to buy, in conjunction with other owners, USL has been thwarted.

New owners: NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC, an Atlanta-based business headed by real estate mogul Rob Hoskins.

Much, much more to come, including local reaction.

But for now, real the USL release:

ATLANTA, GA -- NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC (“NuRock Soccer Holdings”) today announced that it has acquired United Soccer Leagues (“USL”) from NIKE.

NuRock Soccer Holdings, based in Atlanta, is led by Rob Hoskins and Alec Papadakis. NuRock Soccer Holdings is currently a USL franchisee with a Premier Development League operation in Atlanta and rights to acquire two USL First Division teams in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama marketplaces, respectively.

Rob Hoskins, the Chairman of NuRock Soccer Holdings, is one of the country’s most respected and largest real estate developers in residential housing, and brings his valuable management and branding experience to the soccer industry. Alec Papadakis, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of NuRock Soccer Holdings, is a franchise attorney with domestic and international expansion experience. As a player in the North American Soccer League for the Atlanta Chiefs and the Boston Minutemen, Papadakis has had a long, storied soccer career in the United States at the collegiate and professional level, with numerous accolades.

“We are delighted to close this transaction with NIKE and begin a partnership with Nike’s leading football brands which will sponsor and support USL, and all of its leagues, for many years to come. Together with USL Management, we are excited about the opportunity to grow the size and visibility of USL, and to help develop and train the future generations of soccer athletes in the United States”, said Alec Papadakis, CEO of NuRock Soccer Holdings.

Rob Hoskins, Chairman of NuRock Soccer Holdings, commented, “Our vision for USL is to become the most competitive and profitable pyramid of soccer leagues in North America, while providing affordable family entertainment, and serving as the inspirational destination for professional and amateur youth soccer players in the U.S.”

Nike and Umbro will continue to support USL through a long-term sponsorship agreement naming Umbro as the official sponsor and exclusive supplier of match balls for USL’s professional and amateur leagues, including USL First Division, USL Second Division, Premier Development League and W-League. Nike Soccer will also serve as an exclusive sponsor for USL.

“This is really the best of both worlds for USL,” said Francisco Marcos, Founder and President of United Soccer Leagues. “We have new ownership that will focus solely on developing and growing the leagues, and Umbro and Nike Soccer join us as sponsors to support our franchise owners, teams and athletes.”

NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC

NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC is part of the umbrella family of companies known as The NuRock Companies. The Principals of NuRock have a dedicated and deep understanding of the soccer industry. As part of its family of companies, NuRock is an existing USL franchisee, with a USL Premier Development League operation in Atlanta. Robert Hoskins is the Chairman of NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC and is the Founder and Managing Principal of The NuRock Companies. Alec Papadakis is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of NuRock Soccer Holdings.

United Soccer Leagues

United Soccer Leagues (“USL”), with headquarters in Tampa, FL, is the largest organization of elite-level soccer leagues in North America. USL is comprised of six leagues, USL First and Second Divisions (men’s professional soccer), Premier Development League (men’s under-23), W-League (women’s), USL Super-20 League (under-20, men’s and women’s amateur), and Super Y-League (boy’s and girl’s elite youth amateur). Dedicated to growing the sport of soccer at the grassroots level, USL has provided a platform for thousands of players to reach their dreams over the last three decades.

USL news coming

We're hearing that USL is about to announce some major news, presumably about the sale of the league.

Traffic Sports, which owns Miami FC, was one of multiple groups that put in a bid. Looks like we'll know the winner in the coming hours.

Audio: Miami competes to host the World Cup

South Florida has hosted some of the biggest events in sports, and someday Miami could host the largest one of all. Monday, officials announced that Miami is in the running to host soccer's biggest game - the World Cup. The event could bring an economic boost like South Florida has never seen. But, there are questions about how much benefit there could be, and how to get locals to more interested in soccer. WLRN-Miami Herald reporter Joshua Johnson has the story.


Worst loss in USL-1 history? Nope

Much has already been said about last night's debacle, and if the Blues fire Zinho in the coming days, the 9-0 drubbing at the hands of Carolina will come to symbolize this failed season.

But fear not, Blues fans, there is one silver lining: a USL-1/A-League team once got its backside handed to it even worse than Miami FC did Wednesday night.

It was 1998, and the California Jaguars won a league match by a 10-0 margin.

The victim? The Seattle Sounders -- who went on to great success and now are one of the most popular and competitive teams in MLS.

Thanks to Jeff Crandal at USL for this tidbit.

CORRECTION: Jeff just let me know he had the teams correct, but the winner wrong. It was Seattle beating California 10-0 back in 1998.

UEFA Champions League headlines

UEFA threatens clubs in debt of Champs League ban

UEFA prepares new rules to curb club spending

Arsenal eases into Champions League with 3-1 win

Lyon, Atletico into Champions League group phase

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blues suffer worst loss in team history; Zinho's job in jeopardy

The Blues hit rock bottom Wednesday night, as the Carolina Railhawks routed Miami FC 9-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., handing the club its worst loss in the team's four-year history.

First-half goals by Daniel Paladini, John Cunliffe, Andriy Budnyy, Gregory Richardson and Joseph Kabwe buried the Blues and ensured their winless streak would reach seven matches.

Then things really fell apart. Kabwe added a two more goals in the second half and Sallieu Bundu tallied the final two goals late in regulation.

"A 9-0 loss is totally unacceptable,'' said Miami FC president Aaron Davidson. "It's embarrassing for Miami FC and it should be personally embarrassing for every single player on our team, and the coach.''

As for that coach, former World Cup champion Zinho, Davidson declined to say whether his job was safe, stating only, "We'll review what transpired and make decisions appropriately.''

Full story to come.

Blues in action Wednesday night

WHO: Miami FC (7-12-4) at Carolina Railhawks (13-5-6)

WHEN: 7 p.m., at WakeMed Soccer Park

INTERNET BROADCAST: www.USLLive.com/usl/console.jsp

OF NOTE: The Blues' playoff chances may have taken a mortal blow last weekend with road losses at Portland and Vancouver. They sit six points -- the equivalent of two full games -- behind the Whitecaps for the seventh and final playoff spot with seven to play. The task gets no easier Wednesday. The Railhawks have beaten the Blues both times the teams have met this year, by a combined margin of 6-0.