Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EPL Handicapping: Wayne Rooney is Out, So Chelsea Will Win

Wayne Rooney's injury Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League has not yet moved the odds on Man U to win the EPL or this Saturday's Battle Royale at home with Chelsea, and this presents an opportunity for savvy punters.

At 2.70, Chelsea to win away at Manchester Saturday is a solid bet. Here's why the Luchametric says do it:

1.) Without Rooney, Man U Feeble. With 26 goals, Rooney has scored more than any player in the EPL, and he is Man U's main offensive threat. It's difficult to see how they have much juice without him.
2) Travel.  Man U flew 1,000 miles midweek for their disappointing 2-1 loss v Bayern Munchen Tuesday, whilst Chelsea have been training comfortably at home all week and have just a short jaunt down the road for Saturday's lunchtime match.
3) Momentum. While Man U lost on a heartbreaking last minute goal in that UEFA Champions League match in Munich, Chelsea are coming off their impressive 7-1 bitch slap of the previously respectable Aston Villa on Saturday.
4) Luchametric. There is little that separates these two on the Luchametric, but Chelsea have the edge. The Blues have a total Luchametric score of 8.2 versus Man U's 7.7. What's more, Chelsea have more offensive potential statistically than Ferguson's boys with 7.4 shots on goal per game versus Man U's 6.8, and Chelsea have a 20 to 18 advantage on total shots per game. Chelsea only allows 2.88 SOG Against per Game while Man allows 3.97.  What's more, last November at Stamford Bridge, Man U managed only 2 SOG the entire game, although they did put much pressure on the Blues, amassing 20 Shots and 7 corners.  Look for Chelsea again to bend but not break, especially with Rooney out.
5) God. He hates Manchester United for their conceit.

El Luchador's pick: Bet on Chelsea to win. Do it.

Luchametric Dot Com: Soccer Statistics

What Bill James did for Baseball, the Luchametric aims to do for soccer.

The Luchametric is a weighted statistical score that represents the net number of Goals plus Chances Created (events that could have led to goals) each team produces per game, minus Goals plus Chances Created Against. The Z-Score gives the relative differences among the teams in Standard Deviations. The metric considers and weights the following variables: Home Goals, Away Goals, Home Wins, Away Wins, Draws, Losses, Shots, Shots on Goals, Quality Shots on Goal, Corners For, Corners Against, Goals Against, Shots on Goal Against, and Recent Form.

The weights for each category were derived by looking at a range of variables (statistical categories) and subjecting them to simple regression analysis to identify those stats which are the strongest measure of a team's strength relative to other teams.  We are currently doing a multiple regression analysis of the entire metric for both EPL and MLS in order to develop both a predictive model for individual teams across an entire season and for predicting individual matches.  

Currently, across most professional leagues, the home team wins 50% of the time, the away team 25%, and the remaining 25% of games are draws.  When there is a substantial difference in relative team strength, the home team win % approaches 65% or more.  The Luchametric Power Rankings are designed to measure team strength in order to give fans and punters an edge on these basic percentages.  For serious punters, a gain in predictability of just 5% is  substantial.   Currently, a team with an advantage of 1 full Standard Deviation in the LM indicates a sizable advantage over the other team.  We are tracking games week by week  in our effort to test the predictability of the metric on a game-by-game basis.  We do this for fun and madness only and have absolutely no connection to any commercial venture whatsoever.

To download Excel files containing the comprehensive team stats, click on the appropriate link below. To be put on our mailing list and receive the Luchametric Power Rankings as soon as they are up, including an Excel file with that week's data, click  here.

The Nordecke Luchador and his associates are indemnified from liability from the misuse of these powerful tools. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Liverpool Just Might Make It Back to the Champions League

By El Chupa
Rafa Benitez is claiming that Liverpool Football Club still have their eyes on the fourth spot in the EPL and an automatic bid to the UEFA Champions League.  After Aston Villa's utter annihilation at Stamford Bridge this weekend, it would appear that Man City and Tottenham are the only teams standing in Liverpool's way. Here's why Tottenham will not foil Benitez's plan. 

Currently, Spurs are in the fourth spot with 58 points and Liverpool are two places behind with 54 (Man City are fifth at 56).  Spurs have a game in hand with seven left to play.  The Reds have only six games to play.  At first glance, it might look like Rafa is again blowing smoke, trying to keep the Kop's drunken fans at bay, keep his job, and keep his players from phoning it in the rest of the season.

A quick look at the numbers suggests that Rafa is, in fact, ALL smoke and no fire, but looks can be deceiving. Spurs have averaged 1.87 PTS/Game while the Reds have averaged 1.69.  This projects out to Spurs earning 13 PTS by the end of the season, and LFC earning 10.  This would get Spurs to 71 PTS and Liverpool to 64.  On the face of it, the game-in-hand Spurs have over Liverpool looms rather large, as the mere 4 PTS that separate the two clubs now are really a distortion, and Rafa's impression that he won't be on the job market in a few weeks illusory.

However, before Scouser-haters rejoice, take a look at each team's remaining schedule.  Spurs face 7 teams who together represent 355 PTS earned this year in the EPL.  Liverpool face six teams representing a mere 232 PTS.  Spurs will face, on average, a team "worth" about 51 PTS.  Currently, Aston Villa are at 51 PTS in the league table.  Liverpool, on the other hand, will face, on average, a team "worth" about 38 PTS, such as Fulham or Stoke.  To make matters worse for Spurs, Tottenham will play Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, AND Man City (who are right behind them in the standings).  Liverpool have only Chelsea left to play from the top of the table.  In short, would you rather play Villa seven times in a row, or Fulham six times?

As much as the experts at the Luchametric Institute hate to admit it, Reds fans still have hope of some small shred of redemption at the end of the season.  Spurs fans, on the other hand, have much to hope for, and even more to worry about.

Friday, March 26, 2010

EPL Handicapping: The Beauty of Relegation

By El Chupa

There will be some great football this weekend in the EPL.  Here are some matches to watch and why:

Villa at Chelsea
(10:45 A.M. EDT ESPN Classic) - Chelsea absolutely need three points to stay in the running with Arsenal and Man U for the league title. They also will want revenge for the loss at Villa Park early in the season. Villa are looking to secure a spot next season in Europe in either the Champions or Europa leagues and need three points if they hope to steal the fourth spot in the league from Spurs. Villa have given up fewer goals on the road than at home this season, and they are tied with Man U for the fewest GA in the league (25). If anyone in the league can keep Chelsea and Drogba at bay for 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge, its the Villains.  Punters should avoid this one, however, or throw the dice for the draw or maybe the under.  The odds on Chelsea aren't worth it.

Fulham at Hull City (6 P.M. Fox Soccer Channel; delayed )- Given how superior a team they are to the Tigers, Fulham is being given odds that look generous at first glance (+220) .  But Fulham is out of contention for the top seven in the league and are playing on the road against a team fighting to avoid relegation.  If Fulham shows up, this should be a fierce contest.  But if you think the Tigers are going to fight like hell against a team already thinking about the beaches of Spain, Hull at +140 is not a bad punt.

Everton at Wolves (5:00 P.M. EDT Fox Soccer Plus; delayed) - Everton have an outside chance at the fourth spot in the league, and certainly are looking to make it to the Europa league at worst.  But they need points every time out from now until the end of the season to do so.  Wolves, on the other hand, are in danger of relegation, and they need points just to survive--especially at home.  Everton are the superior side by far.  But they will be without Donovan, and it will be interesting to see if the Toffees continue to surge without the American star whose arrival coincided with the revival of the team's fortunes.  We like Everton at +105, but it's not a sure thing against a Wolves team whose last three games have gone quite well and who have their backs to the wall.

Luchametric EPL Power Rankings: Blues, Red Devils, Gunners

By El Chupa
No real movement this week in our EPL Power Rankings. Chelsea remains on top, but there's really very little difference among the top three.  Arsenal has won six matches in the EPL in a row and are scorching hot.  Plus, they have Fabregas back.  If anyone can beat Barca right now over in the Champions League it's the Gunners in absolute peak form.  It should be an exciting last couple of months in the EPL, with three teams competing for the title and four teams (five if you include Everton) competing for the fourth automatic spot in next year's UEFA Champions League: Spurs, Villa, Liverpool and Man City are neck-and-neck for the fourth spot.

Of the four teams competing for number four, Villa is our dark horse, and the team closest to our hearts.  They have given up the fewest GA of all four teams (25) and have the second-best GD at 17 (Man City is first at 16).  Villa are four points behind Spurs with tough away games at Chelsea and Man City left to play; so it certainly won't be easy. Their last two outings have been disappointing home draws to down table Wolves and Sunderland. On this basis, some are counting them out, which would be premature.

At the bottom end, Hull City is by far the poorest performer statistically, with a Luchametric score well over a one full standard deviation off the average and behind Fulham.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MLS Owners Gambling with League's Future: The Luchametric Mission Statement

The Nordecke Luchador and his associates do not condone illegal activity, but we believe that Major League Soccer will never enjoy the respect and attention of other world football leagues until there is more widespread betting interest in MLS. This will never happen until the monopolistic robber barons who control MLS abandon their childlike obsession with the anti-competitive, indeed, anti-American, single-entity system.

Ironically, it is the anti-competitive single-entity model that results in a hyper-competitive MLS. And it is this very hyper-competitiveness that is in fact holding the league and American soccer back.

More than $70 billion per year is wagered in online sports betting alone (not including street bets and legal sports books in places like Las Vegas). The number is projected to reach $100 billion by 2015. By far the most popular sport for gamblers worldwide is soccer, representing by some estimates one-third of the total wagers placed online.

You can place a bet today on who will win the Spanish La Liga title (which will not be decided until May), who will win the World Cup (which doesn't even start until June 11), first-half results for any first division match anywhere this weekend, or even whether Rafa Benitez will be fired from Liverpool (if the Scousers drop out of the top four, he will).  

By contrast, there are no lines available today on who will win the 2010 MLS Supporters Shield or the marketing gimmick that is the MLS Cup. Most bookies won't even take bets on the over/under for this week's opening games.

"Well that's just because the MLS sucks," you say.  OK, yeah, it's not the EPL. But like most things in life, the answer is not so simple.  It is also because the league is too competitive. "Too competitive" you say?  How can a league be too competitive? Competitive is good, right?" Not if you are a sports gambler. 

As Leandro Faria writes in Simple Soccer, "the smaller the number of big teams within a league, the more predictable it is."

In other words, the more competitive a league is, the more parity; the more parity, the harder it is to make predictions about the outcome of matches. Obviously, betting is nothing other than predicting the outcome of matches. Ergo, betters are interested in leagues that are more predictable, which is the same thing as less competitive -- but not necessarily less interesting or with inferior quality play, as we shall see below. Faria developed a "predictability index" based on actual team parity within leagues as measured by diversity of championships. The top four most predictable (least competitive) first division leagues in the world are in: 1) Scotland, 2) Netherlands, 3) Portugal and 4) Turkey.

The least predictable(most competitive) first division soccer leagues in the world, according to Faria? Brazil and U.S. Major League Soccer.  

The numbers clearly back this up. Last year the Columbus Crew won the Supporters Shield with 49 points. Of the other 14 teams in MLS, 12 were within 9 points of the Crew. Contrast that with the rest of the world. In EPL right now 56 points separates Manchester United from last place Portsmouth (nine of those are a result of the penalty Pompey suffered as a result of going bankrupt, but still). In the Italian Serie A,there are 39 points between No. 1 Inter and last place Livorno. In Der Bundesliga it's 38. In La Liga it's 52.

Now, predictable is a relative thing. Any team in any first division soccer league anywhere in the world can beat any other team in that league, as they say, on "any given Sunday" (or Saturday). So it's not as though less-competitive leagues are boring.The leagues that are actually more fun to watch are those that (perhaps counter-intuitively) are a little less competitive and thus have less parity.

(Two other factors also are at play here and are tragically missing from MLS: relegation and a single table, but  we will deal with these in a subsequent article).

The MLS league bosses are applying a simplistic, American (in the pejorative sense) paradigm and business model to the league. Their thinking is that by maintaining strict parity, there is more likely to be more widespread interest in more teams, deeper into the season, and that this will maximize revenue (which is all they care about). In fact, if they would allow for clubs to develop true competitive advantages with perhaps only a few teams each season vying for the top, there would be less parity, more excitement, more betting interest (not just in the U.S. but worldwide) and ultimately more revenue.

Whether you happen to be among those who love or hate (it's one or the other) the Yankees, Manchester United, Dallas Cowboys (of the '70s and '80s) or the Chicago Bulls, dynasties are a critical part of generating excitement in any sports league. Fans love narratives about underdogs and champions and the inevitable falls from grace that occur each season.  There will be no dynasties and no such story lines in the MLS until there is less parity--less vanilla and more funk, anger, despair and agony.

The Players Union's success in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement is a major step forward in breaking down the owners' monopolistic scheme. Most fundamentally, it is a victory for the working man and for economic justice. But it also moves the MLS toward less parity, which in the long run does more than anything to support the long-term viability of the league by making it more interesting and more viable for the $70 billion sports betting market.

So, this brings us the mission statement part of this post. As El Luchador and El Chupa travel the world, from Cuba to Caracas, from LA to C-Bus, we are often asked, "Why do you do it? Why do you work so tirelessly, risking the wrath of Don Garber and his minions on the Dark Side of the Force?" Here's the answer: has two purposes. 1) Speaking truth to power, fighting the populist soccer revolution in the United States by taking it to the streets. 2) Supporting American soccer by supporting worldwide interest in placing wagers on U.S. soccer.

Do it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Luchametric MLS Pre-Season Power Rankings: Houston and Crew to Vie for Supporters Shield

By El Chupa
These past few weeks, while El Luchador has been in the streets waging guerrilla war on the establishment, and the Major League Soccer season has hung in the balance, El Chupacabra has been scouting the league, reviewing his notes from last season, and analyzing the off-season moves by each MLS club. Now that El Luchador and his brothers-in-arms in the Players Union have emerged victorious, and the 2010 MLS season is set to kick-off this week, we present the patented Luchametric MLS Pre-Season Power Rankings.

If you happen to live in a jurisdiction where sports wagering is legal, these rankings are offered as a tool for handicapping the early MLS season, a period during which we will have little fresh data available to inform our predictions--and punts ("wagers" for our fellow American gaming enthusiasts). Pre-season rankings aren’t predictions--they’re observations. There are always “ifs” on each club, the season is long, and much can happen. We aren’t predicting the season will end in the following order, but this is how we think the league stacks up out of the gate. The Luchametric Institute for Advanced Sports Prediction Science is indemnified from liability for misuse of these powerful tools.  

Luchametric MLS Pre-Season Power Rankings
1. Houston
2. Columbus
3. LA
4. Seattle
6. Chicago
7. Colorado
8. D.C.
9. Real Salt Lake
10. Philly
11. Dallas
12. K.C.
13. New England
14. NYC
15. Toronto
16. San Jose

1. Houston – Houston finished second in the Luchametric Power Rankings last season, tying LA in the West with 48 points. Houston and LA were tied for second in the league overall behind the Crew. Houston are stingy on defense, giving up only .97 GA/GM (tied with Seattle for first in the league). Their 4.03 SOGA/GM puts them well below the league average of 4.8. Offseason they lost Holden and Clark but completed a trade for Kevin Harmse with LA. Harmse will add depth and toughness to the midfield. They also have just signed Jamaican International midfielder Lovel Palme. Even with the loss of two key players, we think with their defense and Ching and Landin leading the attack on a team with a Goal Differential last season of 10 (tied with the Crew for best in the league) and a unique home field advantage due to the scorching, humid Texas heat, Houston will make a run for both the MLS cup and the Supporters Shield.

2. Columbus – We’ve put the Crew second and feel strongly that last season’s slow start and weak finish were flukes. Their strong showing in their two CONCACAF Champions League games against Mexican side Tolouca was impressive. If Schelotto is healthy and can play all season; and if Lenhart and Rogers continue to mature, and if Sergio Herrera settles in and helps create up front, the Crew will again find themselves competing for both the MLS Cup and the Supporters Shield. We should know by the end of the first six games or so whether the real Crew is the team we saw in June and July—or September.

3. LA- The Galaxy finished third in the LM and tied for second in the league table with 48 points. Offseason they acquired Clint Mathis from MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake and three players on loan from Brazilian club Sao Paolo FC. Donovan is back from a stellar performance for Everton in the EPL and although Beckham is out indefinitely, LA’s overall production last season was excellent in spite of a dearth of goals. As such, should the acquisitions improve the team’s goal production, LA will be very tough.  They will have to hang tough while Donovan is in South Africa for the World Cup, however.

4. Seattle – The Sounders finished last season at the top of the Luchametric Power Rankings and fourth in the league table with 47 points. They were very tough on defense, giving up the fewest SOGA per game in the league and the fewest GA/GM in the league (tied with Houston at .97 GA/GM). As such, they were very tough to beat, amassing 11 draws. Off-season they needed to improve their attack, and they did, signing Swiss International Blaise Nkufo. He has been with Dutch First Division Club FC Twente since 2003 and has been their leading scorer each year since he joined. He is 34 (another aging European/South American player comes to the MLS) but he has nine goals in the Eredivisie this season and has scored in all six of Switzerland’s World Cup Qualifiers suggesting he is in fine form. He will finish the Dutch season before heading to South Africa and then joining the Sounders. If the Sounders can hang tough until mid-July, he should make an immediate impact.  If they had Nkufo from the first game, they'd be our number one.

 5. Chivas – The City of Angel’s “other” team (let's face it, LA's Mexican team), Chivas was a bit of a puzzle last season. The club was tied with Dallas and New York for the fewest number of draws at 6, but the club still managed to produce 45 points. The club either won or lost virtually every time it went out, testing the theory that a team needs to settle for draws if it hopes to succeed over the long haul. The club scored only 34 Goals, below the league average of 38, but gave up only 31, much better than the league average of 38. Their ability to shut down opposing teams was their greatest strength last season and perhaps explains how they scratched out as many points as they did in spite of a less-than-impressive offense. Their two major offseason signings, Osael Romero (Vista Hermosa - El Salvador) and Michael Umana (Liberia Mia - Costa Rica) don’t suggest there will be more goals for Chivas this season.

6. Chicago – The Fire finished fourth in the LM Rankings and tied with Chivas for fifth in the league table with 45 points. They certainly will be a different team without Mexican legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco, however.  Chicago had a hard time scoring at home last season, totaling only 16 GF compared to 23 GF on the road. They’re attacking style resulted in above average SOG and CKs, but they had a hard time finding the net overall. Offseason they signed Krzysztof Król on loan from the Polish first division to fill the left back position; Collins John, a Liberian-born Dutch striker with experience in both the EPL and the Eredivisie, but a player who has failed to stick anywhere he has played and who has a reputation as a bit of a head-case; and Julio Martinez, a Salvadorian International winger on loan from Mexican club Leon. If Martinez and John can add to the Fire’s attack and the team finds a suitable replacement for Blanco, Chicago may be in a position to improve on last season’s showing.

7. Colorado – The Rapids had a respectable season, earning 40 PTS and basically establishing the median line in the MLS table. They scored 1.4 G/GM and gave up 1.27. They had a lot of draws (10) but only 2 wins on the road and 10 losses. Both Colorado and Real Salt Lake enjoy substantial home field advantages due to their respective altitudes. But the Rapids’ offseason moves are unimpressive and a bit of a puzzle.  Conor Casey and Omar Cummings can score, and Ballouchy has potential.  So look for Colorado still to be tough at home and playoff bound, but not a serious threat to unseat the top teams in the table.

8. D.C. – El Chupa has had it in for DC since he heckled John Harkes at the very first Crew game back in the ‘Shoe. DC’s success has only made a bad relationship worse, which is one way of saying that DC still evokes fear in El Chupa. However, DC stunk last season. And when you watched them, you saw a team that couldn’t play as a unit and which was constantly bickering on the field. The offseason moves don’t indicate they’ve solved the puzzle. They essentially jettisoned most of last year’s team and other than Cristian Castillo, the offseason signings are uninspiring.

9. RSL – RSL played very well in the postseason. They earned 40 PTS in the regular season which was average. Kudos to the team for making a very good run when it mattered most. But we think that was a fluke and the loss of Mathis will hurt them.  The team made few moves in the offseason and looks like they are building for the future. We expect them to be average once again.  If they don't start winning on the road and away from the high elevation of Rio Tinto, they won't get the chance this year to peak at just the right moment.  And they won't take anybody by surprise and every team will be gunning for them.  Finally, white guys with dreads are like mimes: you see the damnedest things when you ain't got your shotgun. . . .

10. Philly – That’s right. Expansion Philly at No. 10. Why? They did well in the expansion draft. They have a brand new stadium. They will have big crowds all season, and they have a good chance to score goals with Le Toux, Moreno and prospective phenom Mwanga looking to put it in the back of the net.  Given the mediocrity of the teams in the bottom half of the league, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Philly make a run into the post-season. (Look what Seattle did in their first year). Caution has us putting them below the top eight, however.

11. Dallas – Dallas earned 39 PTS last season, one PT below the league average of 40. There are no indications that FCD has made the changes they needed to in order to improve on last year’s mediocrity.  They made few offseason acquisitions and are banking on the core team coming together and improving on last season.  Again, 39 PTS is not that far off the top of the league, and Dallas' strategy could pay off.
12. K.C. – KC signed some journeyman European players in the off-season but nothing to shout about. They amassed only 33 points last year, and we don’t see them doing much better this season.  Their temporary stadium is such an absolute abomination we refuse to watch any games broadcast from it.  Yeah, there's not much they can do about it.  But it's probably best just to avert thine eyes until things improve in KCK.

13. New England – The Revolution earned 42 PTS last season but were 11th in the LM rankings. Their off-season moves were principally spent signing young players in the Superdraft and we don’t see them doing much better this season than last.  42 PTS is, again, only 7 off the top of the league.  But still. . .

14. NYC – The Red Bulls are going to be better this season for two reasons: First: they can’t really be worse than they were last season; second: their new stadium will give them a bit of a bump at home. Juan Pablo Angel can score, but they need help in the midfield and at the back to stay in matches and produce chances.  There are a lot of ifs on this team.  They have a new and experienced coach in Hans Backe. Regardless, we see them remaining in the bottom half of the league table.

15. Toronto – 39 PTS last season and only 33 GF (league average: 38) and no significant offseason moves adds up to another postseason watching hockey.  Gerba and deRosario can score, but there are too many holes in the rest of the team.  They gave up 1.53 GA/GM last year and amassed 10 wins but suffered 11 losses.  Consistency will be the key, but we don't see them improving much.  Plus, their fans are drunken, loutish, mouth-breathers.

16. San Jose – Only one team was worse than San Jose last season (Red Bulls) and there are no signs that San Jose will be any better.  Sanchez brings experience and speed to the midfield and Alvarez could certainly mature.  Ryan Johnson is a great striker but the team as a whole needs to come together to give Ryan good service and to get any better than last season.  Unfortunately, they have a lot of tough teams ahead of them in the standings and on the schedule.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quotes from Garber, Foose, Etc. on Tragedy Narrowly Averted

Interpreting the body language and rhetoric here, it is clear that the owners are vanquished and the players are victorious. Just listen to Don Garber's stilted, prepared corporate remarks compared to Union President Bob Foose, and the others from the union who have to hide their glee.

March 20, 2010 will go down as a great day in the history of the MLS, U.S. soccer, and the struggle for workers' rights.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Breakthrough in MLS Impasse: Deal Announced Saturday Afternoon

By El Chupacabra
The New York Times is reporting:: "Major League Soccer and the union that represents its players announced a new five-year collective bargaining agreement after marathon negotiating sessions under the auspices of a federal mediator in Washington. The announcement came early Saturday afternoon on a conference call." 

The Washington Post reports that the owners agreed to a "re-entry draft" for players out of contract at the conclusion of the season.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some Signs of Movement as MLS Strike Deadline Looms

It may not seem like it, but there were positive signs today that the MLS labor dispute may be headed toward a resolution that would avert the strike deadline looming just 4 days away.

An anonymous player representative told ESPN's Jeff Carlisle that the union are now seeking "flexibility in player movement" instead of outright free agency. "We know we can't have true free agency within single entity," the player said.

It was the first public conciliatory note from the players in weeks, and it comes after a string of public statements by the owners in the last few days that were clearly part of a concerted strategy of bravado and intimidation. (More on that here.)

This movement toward a compromise by the union on the key issue of free agency is positive not only because it shows that the union continues to bargain in good faith but also because free agency is a major sticking point for the league bosses who view it as a direct assault on their monopolistic "single entity" system, which they have fought so hard to prop up.

The fact that union reps are willing to move on this key issue bodes well for a compromise, and there is still plenty of room for a final deal that improves player rights and freedom of movement without gutting the owners' precious single entity model.

Then there was this positive statement from Seattle Sounders defender Taylor Graham, although it "definitely" falls in the "duh" category: "Our goal is not to strike ... It's definitely not in the players' interests for the league not to survive; and it's definitely not in the league's interest for that to happen."

One source told El Luchador by email: "We don't want to strike, but we will if we have to. We're hopeful that in the coming days, we can find some room for agreement."

There was positive movement on the League's' part as well, as owners demonstrated a modicum of decency by agreeing to pay for almost 2 dozen players to fly to Washington to participate in this last round of talks.

Union stalwart Pat Onstad told Jeff Carlisle: "I think [the league] wants a representative from each club to be there, and frankly, so do we. I think everybody needs to be there. It's an important decision for both sides."

But don't get too excited.  Lest you prematurely conclude that owners have any respect at all for fans or players, check out what the league's most powerful owner and lead douche bag, LA Galaxy owner Tim Leiweke, had to say: "Even if it means that we go a year without soccer, so be it ... We will wait as long as it takes. We will never, ever agree to change the system." That last sentence is not the kind of thing mediators like to hear around the  bargaining table. "Never, ever change" is more like the type of thing you typically hear from teenagers and tea baggers.

Meanwhile, MLS Commissioner Don Garber continued to ignore an invitation from fan group MLS Solidarity to appear in an open debate over the labor impasse on World Football Daily.

Finally, the players made clear that while they are willing to move on free agency, they will not be had. Chicago Fire defender and union rep. C.J. Brown told Fox Soccer Channel: "If they don't want to budge on anything, then it's a done deal, we're striking."

COME my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,  
We must march my darlings, We must bear the brunt of danger,  
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rhetoric in MLS Labor Strife Heats Up: Owners Piss Themselves

The war of rhetoric continued to heat up today just 5 days short of the strike deadline, with MLS owners rattling their sabers, putting lifts in their shoes, and fluffing up the comb-overs on their puny, greedy heads.

"I just hope the players understand the implication of the threats they're making to strike because if they do in fact go on strike, then that forces the owners to do something very aggressive and very different," Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts told the Desert News.

Having been exposed in the national soccer community as frauds, the owners clearly have calculated that fear-mongering  is the only tool available to them in their quest to force the players into submitting to another collective bargaining agreement that holds the latter as indentured servants.

"I've always said that 'MLS' stands for Major League Slavery," said World Football Daily's Steven Cohen.

Just picture Checketts stuttering, sweating and blinking rapidly as he says the following: "I just came from a meeting with several owners and the commissioner down here in Los Angeles, and we know exactly what we'll do. These are all owners who've been in the NBA, they've been in the NHL, some of them own Major League Baseball teams even today. We know what we'll do. We have a plan if the players strike."

If that "plan" involves bringing in scabs to play "games" owners think "fans" will pay money to watch, then they are higher than a Blues Traveler fan at Bonarroo.

Lest you conclude that Checketts is a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, witness Seattle Sounders Kingpin Joe Roth's hysterical statement to the Seattle Times: “From an entertainment standpoint, we haven’t made enough of an imprint on the national psyche," he said as he pissed himself. "I don’t think there will be a national outcry like with the NFL if somehow we wouldn’t be out there for a year – which would be terrible. Everyone would lose their jobs. We would all lose our franchises. And that would be that."

But as LA Galaxy, Everton and USMNT star Landon Donovan pointed out this week to ESPN, the players are not trying to destroy the economics of the league.  Said Donovan: "I think we've made it clear from the beginning that we're not into the idea of bankrupting the league and asking for tons of monetary increases. We just want basic rights other players around the world get."

"There are realities to the business that we're in and unfortunately for too long the business has been one-sided," Donovan continued. "We need basic rights if we're going to continue playing. We want rights that are afforded to other players in other countries around the world that we don't have here."

From the earliest days of the labor movement, the first tactic owners consistently have employed is fear. Early 20th-century coal operators smeared strikers with accusations that foreign communists were behind their efforts to achieve fair wages and working conditions, using words like "insurrection" and "Bolshevik revolution" to describe strike threats. Oftentimes, physical violence accompanied the heated rhetoric. Today, MLS owners have only words as empty as their stadiums will be if they try to stage scab matches.

As Jimmy Reed said: "Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call? Big boss man, you ain't so big, you just talk, and that's all."

MLS Owners Called Out: El Luchador Speaks on World Football Daily

By El Chupa
Nordecke Luchador, appeared on World Football Daily yesterday in a truly righteous meeting of the minds.  Click below to view a rare video appearance by the leading fan-spokesperson for the rights of the players in the ongoing labor struggle with the men who control the means of production in Major League Soccer. El Luchador, Kenny Hassan and Steven Cohen speak truth to power in these two segments also available on YouTube.

In a late breaking development today, the group MLS Solidarity issued a challenge to Don Garber to appear on WFD and debate El Luchador.

"The 175 members of MLS Solidarity do hereby challenge MLS Commissioner Don Garber to appear with the Nordecke Luchador on World Football Daily to debate the MLS labor showdown. Refusal to appear for this debate or even respond to this challenge will be understood as a tacit admission that the MLS owners' position is morally bankrupt and completely indefensible."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sigi Schmidt on the MLS CBA

Former Crew Skipper and soccer Zen Master Sigi Schmid this week had some perhaps unintentionally prophetic words on the current MLS labor showdown. Speaking on World Football Daily, the current Seattle Sounders coach drew on his background in business and accounting to size up the negotiations underway in D.C. between league management and the MLS Players Union.

"It's a negotiation, and when there's a negotiation there's going to be compromise, and compromise means that both parties give up something and both parties gain something," Schmid told WFD's Stephen Cohen and Kenney Hassan. "So, nobody gets their absolute world. Nobody ends up with the world according to the way they want it, and the other group doesn't end up with the world the way they wanted it. It ends up being somewhere in the middle."

"The give and take's got to come from both sides."

Whether he knew it or not, Schmid hit on the fundamental root of the current stand off. This is it: After 15 years of absolute control over the terms of labor in MLS, the men who control the capital, the owners find it inconceivable that they should give anything up. They have been incapable of compromise.

So, the negotiations have failed, the Collective Bargaining Agreement has expired, and we now sit just 7 days from a strike. And make no mistake, if the owners do not compromise, there will be a strike.

Speaking on Fox Football Fone In on Monday night, Kansas City Wizards union representative Josh Wolff reinforced all the signals that has been coming in to MLS Solidarity, the fan support group for the union.

"We obviously have a long week ahead of us ... We don't want to disappoint the fans," he said. "But unless there's something there that's fair for the players -- and that's all we're really asking for -- unless that's there, then we don't expect to be starting the season."

For his part, Schmid was characteristically balanced and hopeful.

"I can understand some of the points the players are raising. I can understand some of the points the owners are raising as well," he said.

A working class German immigrant, Schmid said the only experience he has had with work a stoppage was his brewery-worker father walking out with the Teamsters, which he said made for tough times.
"I've got my fingers crossed that it doesn't happen," he said.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Mysteries of the MLS Labor Showdown

By Nordecke Luchador

Tune in this Tuesday to World Football Daily with Stephen Cohen and Kenny Hassan, when the head of MLS Solidarity will expose Don Garber, Mark Abbott and the other suits in the MLS front office for the soulless, shortsighted, corporate thugs that they are. The specific time will be announced Monday. As the Nordecke Luchador prepares to face the U.S. Soccer Nation, he offers this blog post to put the current labor struggle into perspective.

The Three Mysteries of the MLS Labor Showdown:

Mystery No. 1: What does the league want? Commissioner Garber has spoken  in Orwellian Doublespeak from the beginning, saying such nonsense as: "We remain hopeful" and "We will not agree to any deal that compromises the long-term viability of the league." But the league bosses have never once explained exactly why they believe the league cannot give the majority of players guaranteed rather than "semi-guaranteed" contracts and keep the league economically viable.  "Semi-guaranteed" means nothing. The current structure is so slanted in favor of the owners that it is an international embarrassment. 
Mystery No. 2: Where is the Union leadership? At a time when they clearly should be making their case forcefully and vocally, the Players Union has been silent. Sure, both the league and the players have agreed to a gag order imposed by Federal Mediator George H. Cohen, but there are ways around such an order that a savvy union could use to make their case to the public.  The home page for the MLS Players Union lists this top "news" item: Chicago Fire sign Dutch Player Collins John. There is nothing on the site about the most important moment in the history of the league, the union and perhaps American soccer history. The Union doesn't even acknowledge that there is a dispute and explain why they can't talk. The most recent "news release"  is an Aug. 14,2008, statement about the SuperLiga.

So kudos to Toronto FC defender Nick Garcia who broke the silence last week when he said he expects the players to strike if a new collective bargaining agreement is not negotiated before the start of the regular season. Article Here. 

But it remains a mystery why Bob Foose and the other union leaders don't find ways to garner more public understanding and support for their cause. If the public understood just how poorly the players are treated by the current CBA relative to every other major sports league, they might understand that this isn't a battle between million dollar athletes and million dollar owners.  This is about  a league that wants to maintain the status quo and continue to treat the product on the field (the labor) as second class citizens.  

Union President Bob Foose and the players are working to alter the structure of MLS player contracts. The current agreement offers few guaranteed contracts and "semi-guaranteed" contracts are anything but a legal, binding set of obligations by the league as they
allow the team bosses to cut players before July 1 without having to fullfill their obligation under the terms of the original agreement  

Equally important there is no free agency, so a player who gets cut by the single-entity league has virtually no chance to seek employment on another team.  After players are released their teams retain their rights which forces other teams to trade for those rights if they want to sign that player.  This makes it very difficult for the players to negotiate in order to find a new home.  As such, they don't even own their own labor, which in this case is the talent they bring to the field as one of the best soccer workers in the entire US.  Remember, they aren't cut by their team per se, they are cut by the entire league.  This is tantamount to a worker at GM being fired and then prevented from taking his skills over to Ford.  In the rest of the working world it's called collusion, and it's unconstitutional and about as American as Vietnam, Halliburton and the River Rouge Massacre.  The end result is that players are entangled in options that maximize the power of the league over individual players to an extent that no American worker would tolerate.

The whole system is highly exploitive of lower-level players who are left with sweatshop wages and no measure of control over their careers. (Keep in mind, for example, that the Crew's Steven Lenhart’s base salary in 2009 was less than $34,000. This was a huge increase over his 2008 salary of $12,900 when he was on the developmental squad, but hardly the wage of someone whose skills place him in the top 1% of all American soccer workers).  For more on MLS salaries, read 
this article from the Luchametric archive.

All the union wants is a collective bargaining agreement that is consistent with US sport economics and US labor values and that abides by the same rules as the rest of the soccer planet under FIFA. 

For a detailed analysis of the many injustices built into the present system by the MLS, read this article by the Houston Chronicle's Jose De Jesus Ortiz.     

Mystery No. 3: Who are the scabs? Reports have been inconsistent on the exact number of players who voted to strike last week. Steven Goff reported in his Soccer Insider "Blog" that the vote was 350-2. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle and other sources have reported the vote was 383-2. But no one has denied the story that the players voted overwhelmingly to strike if a deal is not reached by 12:01 March 23. And all reports are that there were only two dissenters. MLS Solidarity is working its networks to uncover the names, and when discovered they will be reported at
There are two sides to every struggle: What side, you on?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crew Preview No. I: Black and Gold Stand Pat but with Two Choice Exceptions

By El Chupa

The staff at Nordecke Luchador are hard at work preparing our pre-season rankings in spite of the impending, righteous and highly justified strike by MLS players.  We back the players 150% and blame the unimaginative, unenlightened, unethical and dishonest hacks in the league office at the International House of Soccer for the impasse.

But let's pretend the season IS really about to begin.  Here's a cursory overview of what we've noticed thus far.

A quick look here (free registration may be required and scroll down to the latest post) and you'll notice that no team made fewer off-season moves than did the Crew.  The two pickups they did make are impressive.

Sergio Herrera is a journeyman International Columbian who has bounced around but--and no propaganda, wishful thinking, or bullshit here--should bring experience and solid striking skills up front. We think he is more than capable of replacing Moreno. Moreno produced only 12 SOG in 22 games with four goals in 2009.  These numbers are respectable but Herrera is more-than-capable of the same contribution if not more.

Super Draft pick Dilly Duka (coolest name ever? Or goofiest name ever? Discuss...) is a young talent who is a US U-20 international and just the type of young player teams should be scouting and acquiring to build for the future.  The Crew showed last year that should Big Willy (um, "Guillermo" is Latinate for "William") go down or be limited in appearances due to age, the team needs a midfield creator.  Replacing Willy is too much to expect from Duka, who has yet to play a minute in a regular season MLS game. But it's nice to know the team is looking to the future in acquiring Duka, who could have gone much higher than 8th in the first round of the Super Draft.

We also have to admit that El Chupa, for one, was rather pessimistic about the Crew's chances against Tolouca, a tough Mexican club in mid-season form.  Their strong showing (admittedly at home against a team hailing from a country whose natives apparently are incapable of playing well in "arctic" central Ohio in freaking March) suggests strongly that the suits upstairs may have made the right decision to essentially stand pat this off season, giving the team's established players, starters and reserves alike, a chance to gel further.  If Lenhart and Rogers continue to mature and develop as we think they should, the Crew should again be extremely competitive.  Last year's late-season meltdown will hopefully not repeat itself this year.  And Crew loyalists can and should expect nothing less than a shot at both the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup.  We'll break down the team's numbers in a separate post.

In the meantime, remember the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." 


MLS Solidarity Sets Clock, Issues Edict

The fan group MLS Solidarity today added a countdown timer to its Web site to remind the U.S. soccer community and the capitalist money-grubbers in MLS management that time is running out to make a deal and save the season.

"Don Garber, Mark Abbott and the other bosses at MLS need to wake up and realize that we are dangerously close to the brink here," said MLS Solidarity Presidente Nordecke Luchador. "The clock is ticking for them to come to the table honestly."

The group has a Facebook page and an underground network of players and operatives within MLS. In addition to the countdown clock, MLS Solidarity issued the following edict:

We the fans of Major League Soccer call on the management of the league to finally abandon their dishonest, selfish position and come to the negotiating table in good faith. We stand in solidarity with the players, and we stand ready to support them by any means necessary. 

Multiple sources report that the players on Friday voted 383-2 to go on strike if a deal is not reached by 12:01 Eastern Time on March 23.
The union's collective bargaining agreement has expired, and league management have indicated they would be willing to start the season March 23 under the terms of the expired agreement. By voting to strike, the players have called the managers' bluff.
"They have not been negotiating in good faith, and we needed to show that we are united and serious," one player told MLS Solidarity. "We will not blink. If there's no agreement, we strike. Period."
Negotiators met twice this week with a federal mediator in Washington but the players moved no nearer their goals of more guaranteed contracts and greater free agency opportunities.
"The meetings this week were productive and we scheduled a number of additional meetings," MLS president Abbott lied to the Associated Press.
Remaining business for the group includes outing the 2 scabs who voted not to strike.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

CBA Must Change if MLS is Ever Going to be Truly Major League

By El Chupa

As El Chupa has returned the focus of his massive intellect to the MLS and EPL, he's run across more than a few references to MLS fans who actually think that teams in the MLS can compete in the EPL or the other European Leagues.  Such would-be rocket scientists often cite the dominance of the few teams at the top of the various tables, believing MLS clubs could take on, say, Portsmouth and win.  There are also apparently MLS "haters" who take every opportunity to bash the MLS given its obvious inferiority.  Allow El Chupa to set the record straight.  Number one: the MLS is not even close to the real major leagues; number two: who cares? Number three: only renegotiating the current draconian CBA will make the league better.

First off, what do we and the players want? The following: free agency; guaranteed contracts; quality of life concessions; a higher minimum salary.  Note that El Chupa also thinks the players should trade all four of the above for a salary cap or some measure that could keep salaries in line with the economics of the league so the league doesn't implode. However, we also think that the league has to open its books and move toward some sort of revenue sharing or luxury tax on the salaries of big stars so that teams in larger markets don't dominate the league and (most importantly) so that salaries aren't held down artificially by the league in order to maximize profits for the league at the expense of the players who are, in fact, the product.  But then again, we support health care reform, so we're probably socialist radicals.

But what about the overall quality of the league?  Prior to the Crew’s surprising draw on Tuesday, Brian Strauss over at Soccer Fanhouse painted a rather bleak picture of the Crew's and the entire MLS' prospects in the CONCACAF Champions League:

"Since 2001, not a single MLS team has reached the Champions Cup/League finals. The performance since the competition was expanded two years ago has been awful. In the 2008-09 Champions League, MLS compiled a shocking 2-10-6 record. This year it is a less humiliating 7-9-8, but just one of its five entrants (Toronto FC claimed Canada's spot) advanced to the quarterfinals. The fact that the league gets so many spots in the competition is, frankly, indefensible."

Strauss' larger point was about the relative competitiveness of the MLS compared to other leagues.  "Could an MLS team compete in England or Spain? People ask these questions as if they matter. It's a fantasy. Clubs in those leagues are barely playing the same sport."

That the MLS is inferior to the major European leagues is obvious.  Yes, the European tables are dominated by a few clubs with huge bank accounts, and there is no revenue sharing or salary cap in the European leagues as there is in the NBA, NFL and NHL.  This leads to only a few teams having a legitimate shot at a league title.  The various national cups (FA cup, King’s Cup in Spain) and the UEFA leagues offer much compensation for these deficiencies, however. 

Regardless, MLS fans have to remember that not only are there first divisions in Europe, there are dozens of lower divisions brimming with talent.  The MLS’ competitive deficiencies are a result of the fact that it lacks a firmly established, highly sophisticated, highly efficient and productive soccer structure as in Europe which could train and produce talent from grade-school on up.  Arsenal’s Samir Nasri, whose stunning goal in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League match against Porto is worth watching over and over, was signed by Pennes Mirabeau at the age of six.  There are millions of young men playing soccer in the streets of Europe; and there are sophisticated and established systems for funneling those players into developmental leagues and beyond.  The US system is absolutely Paleolithic by comparison.  This is one reason why Nordecke Luchador would love to see the MLS and the USL combined allowing for relegation and promotion.  But I digress. 

US soccer has gotten to the point where our starting XI are legitimate contenders on the international stage—not to win the World Cup but to qualify and compete. We own the CONCACAF and that should not change, much to the chagrin of our South American compadres (do they play soccer in Canada?)  But we are not deep. Our B teams have performed miserably since the Confederations Cup, and Bradley hopefully now knows what serious fans of the Yanks have sadly come to realize in the last year: one injury (Davies, Onyewu) and we don’t have the developmental structure to replace them.

Pay attention the next time you watch La Liga, Serie A, the EPL or the Bundesliga.  Notice how often a starting player you would kill to have play for your MLS team or the USMNT is mentioned as not making his home country’s squad in South Africa this summer.  My reaction is often: you’ve got to be kidding me? How many freaking world class strikers does France freaking need?!  The US simply doesn’t have the same "problem."  If Torres goes down for Liverpool in the next few weeks with a torn ACL, Spain can replace him.  Without Davies, the US is in serious trouble.  There are starters on the USMNT who play in Europe in the lower divisions rather than the MLS.  Meanwhile, there are MLS "stars" who when they play as part of the USMNT "B" team reveal just how shallow is our talent pool.  Conor Casey is one example.  He scores boo-coo goals in the MLS but doesn't look even fast enough let alone satisfactorily skilled to play at the international level.

So the MLS has a ways to go.  But El Chupa’s other point is this: who cares?

Look, if you watch the MLS because you want to delude yourself that it is a legitimate, world-class professional soccer league, you’re either under the age of twelve or you’re a moron.  You should watch the MLS because it’s all we've got, because you desperately want the league to get better and it needs your support to get there, and because you want your grandkids to live in a world where the MLS has developed to the point where a country of 300 million (the US) can produce not just 25, but 50 or 75 or 100 players who can compete with the players in countries like Spain (45 million); Holland (17 million); or the Czech Republic (10 million). 

The key, really, is whether the MLS business model is moving us toward that day or if the league is a mere fast-sport franchise (the International House of Soccer)--one that is slightly profitable as a business but will never garner the market-share necessary to further US soccer development as a whole.  We think the latter.  And we think changing the CBA is a vital step towards insuring that within a generation or two we will have produced not one Nasir but dozens and that they will be playing in cities across the country in a truly major soccer league.

One more thing: Alexi Lalas is a douche.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Group Formed to Support MLS Players Union

In  less than 24 hours nearly 100 people have signed on to a Facebook group formed to support the MLS Players Union in their struggle to achieve economic justice against the exploitive labor practices of the International House of Soccer (AKA Major League Soccer).

The Nordecke Luchador formed the group MLS Solidarity to show which side the fans are on.

"League bosses Don Garber and Mark Abbott (pictured at left) need to see that the fans will not tolerate the continued exploitation of the players," El Luchador said in a written statement. "We in Crew Soccer Nation call on our brothers and sisters in other Fandoms to step up, join our group and demonstrate where they stand. The old union cry is as true today as it was 50 years ago: 'Which Side Are You On?'"

For a detailed analysis of the many insustices built into the present system by the MLS , read this article by the Houston Chronicle's Jose De Jesus Ortiz.     

Sunday, March 7, 2010

EPL Power Rankings Updated: Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal, Spurs

By El Chupa
El Chupa is back after a long hiatus with the updated EPL Power Rankings.  There are no real surprises.  Chelsea is on top followed by Man U and then Arsenal.  Given Chelsea's game in hand over Man U, our readers should not be surprised at the difference between our rankings and the actual point standings. Plus, the difference between the two teams is negligible.

The differences among the top three are also minor.  Chelsea is about .25 of a StandDev above Arsenal, which is not much.  Spurs are a solid fourth but our rankings reveal a small but significant gap between the top three and Spurs.  This is largely due, we think, to the difference between the top three and Spurs in goals scored.  The top three all are at or above 2.3 Goals per Game while Spurs has managed only 1.79.  The bottom line for Spurs fans, however, is that the teams lurking below them are all extremely close in the rankings suggesting strongly that they all have a legitimate shot at the fourth spot and a European tour next year--especially if they have any home games against Spurs left in the schedule (we don't have time to check that out at the moment).

Finally, TOFFEES!  Everton is really too far behind in PTS to crack the top four, but our rankings show what anyone watching Everton at least since Donovan has joined them if not earlier know: the Toffees are tough and virtually a different team than they were when we went on hiatus.  At that time, their LM ranking was in the negative and they were well down in the standings.  Now they are a rock solid fifth and ranked ahead of teams ahead of them in the actual PTS standings including Liverpool.  We stand by our rankings.  Everton beat Chelsea and Man U in February before their no-doubt-disappointing loss to Spurs at White Hart Lane later in the month.  Teams going to Everton the rest of the season will face a tough opponent in excellent form. We dig it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Don Garber's Own Words Deceive Him

What the MLS Commissioner never explains here is this: Why does the continued growth of the league depend on not honoring players' contracts? Why can't we honor players' contracts and still have economic success for the MLS?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fellow Leftist in the Struggle Will Mediate MLS Labor Dispute

Things are looking up for the MLS Players Union, as the man assigned to arbitrate the ongoing labor dispute over the expired and oppressive Collective Bargaining Agreement is a long-time pro-labor activist appointed by Barack Obama to the federal agency responsible for resolving conflicts between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

Union President Bob Foose continues to refuse to comment on the situation, but the Associated Press reports that the capitalists who control the means of production at the International House of Soccer and the MLS Players Union “have accepted an offer from George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, to serve as mediator.”

According to this article from the Peggy Browning Fund, Cohen has a 40-year career supporting workers in their struggle against capitalists like Crew General Manager Mark McCullers and their multiple schemes for enriching themselves at the expense of the people who actually produce value in our economy.

According to the article, Cohen is known for his support of the “progressive, union and worker-friendly agenda.”

El Luchador stands side-by-side with all working people in the Crew Soccer Nation as we support our Brothers in Black and Gold in their struggle against the dark side of the Force.

And we salute George H. Cohen for agreeing to help us in our fight to bring economic justice to the MLS.

Columbus and Union Until I Die!

Which side are you on?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Luchador's Return

Christmas vacation is finally over for the Nordecke Luchador as he returns from his extended annual sabbatical in Cuba, the motherland.

For those who requested cigars, send a note on Facebook.

Much has transpired this winter while the Masked One was away.
  • The capitalist overlords who run the International House of Soccer have stubbornly pushed MLS to the brink of ruin in their blind and brutal beat down of the workers. Talks continue to get a new collective bargaining agreement. El Luchador predicts the season will start as scheduled, but the dispute will drag on well into the year with a real potential for work stoppage before the play-offs.
  • Schelotto stood his ground against party boss Mark McCullers and will stay another season.
  • The Crew signed strength up front to replace Alejandra Moreno with the signing of Columbian Sergio Herrera. 
  • And Jed Zayner launched, then apparently killed a blog that was at times entertaining, vulgar, informative and even occasionally grammatically correct.  
Now we stand with just days until the season starts with what my comrade Eric Paxton calls "Crewsgiving," the CONCACAF Champions League match versus Toluca March 9.

This is an extra bonus game that is a vestige of the 2008 Miracle on Grass season.

Dear faithful readers, El Luchador is back. Does my Massiveness offend you?