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The Road to Russia: Vela, Gaber, Beitashour and Ureña from LAFC named to provisional rosters

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Monday was a busy day for LAFC as the club announced four players named to their national team’s provisional squads, respectively. In addition to, Los Angeles will serve as one of the host cities for the Gold Cup in 2019.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is starting to heat up as managers of all 32 countries competing in the 2018 tournament officially released the provisional squad rosters on Monday. Each country’s coach selected between 30-35 players for their provisional squads.

Teams have until June 4 to announce their official 23-man tournament roster. However, some coaches have already announced their final rosters before the deadline. Including, Costa Rica’s head coach Óscar Ramírez.

The month-long tournament will kick off on June 15 with the group stage running till the 28th before going on a two-day break for the knockout phase. The final will take place on July 15 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

LAFC is the only MLS club with the most potential participants in this year’s tournament and is expected to have multiple players called up by their respective national teams:

Steven Beitashour – Iran

For the first time since 2014, defender Steven Beitashour has been called up by the Iranian National Team and has the opportunity to make his second appearance for the squad in the 2018 World Cup.

The San Jose native first featured for the Iranian National Team in 2013 and appeared in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He notched an assist in Iran’s 3-0 win over Thailand in Asian Cup qualifications in 2013 and was on the bench for the national team’s three group matches in Brazil.

Iran is the first team from the Asian Football Confederation to stamp their ticket to Russia. Iran was drawn into group B with Morocco, Spain, and Portugal – arguably the toughest group in the tournament. If selected, Beitashour could face Ronaldo.

Despite, the controversial call-ups of Masoud Shojaei and Ehsah Haji Safi – both players who were initially banned for life last year after playing for their Greek club Panionios against an Israeli team – Beitashour remains on the 35-man provisional roster. There is a chance he will not make the trip as head coach still has less than a month to whittle down his squad to 23 players for the tournament.

Omar Gaber – Egypt

Omar Gaber was named to Egypt’s 29-man provisional squad as The Pharaohs prepares for their first World Cup appearance since 1990. The 26-year-old defender is a veteran of World Cups in youth tournaments for Egypt and now has a chance to make his first appearance for the senior competition led by head coach Hector Cuper.

Egypt was selected to play in Group A with Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and the host country, Russia. Although Egypt won’t play the host country until June 19, Gaber’s presence can be huge for the team. Gaber has played 18 times for Egypt, appearing in five games in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

Carlos Vela – Mexico

Vela has been vital to the black and gold’s current success having scored his sixth MLS career goal this past Sunday in a dramatic 2-2 draw against New York City FC. Named to the 28-man preliminary roster by the boss Juan Carlos Osorio, Vela has a chance to bring his talent back to the world stage.

A veteran of the 2010 World Cup, Vela has been a consistent starter during Mexico’s qualifying campaign and helped his team stamp their ticket to Russia. Vela skipped the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to a long-standing dispute with the national team. However, he returned to the roster later that year. The forward has recorded 67 appearances and 18 goals for El Tri and is now on the verge of his second World Cup appearance.

Mexico was drawn into Group F consisting of Germany, Sweden, Korea Republic. Mexico is set to start their run on June 17 against the current World Cup champions and will need Vela’s help to hold off the German powerhouse.

Marco Ureña – Costa Rica

The 28-year-old LAFC forward Marco Ureña is part of the squad that will represent Costa Rica this summer and has been a key player for both club and country. Costa Rica’s head coach Óscar Ramírez announced his final roster the same day before the deadline, making it Ureña’s second World Cup selection.

The forward recently underwent surgery to repair a facial fracture injury he acquired in LAFC’s home opener against Seattle on April 29. As he continues to heal, it is expected Ureña will make the trip to Russia, and likely to play, too.

Although it is an honor to be called up for national duty, this means Ureña could possibly miss five games including the friendly against Borussia Dortmund, and potentially longer depending on how far Costa Rica advances.

Featured image courtesy: @FIFAWorldCup

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MLS 101: First Team Roster Rules

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

I’ve been a Portland Timbers supporter for about fourteen years, but I’ve only been writing about them since 2017. And, like any career educator, I figure if I’m going to write about something I need to do my homework.

As I learn more about the league, I’m doing my best to get up to speed with everything from roster rules to international slots to homegrown status to TAM, GAM, and more. There are some aspects of MLS that are incredibly difficult to get a handle on. Some pieces of information are easier to find than others, and even when information is publicly available it is often not clearly spelled out and/or it is not easy to find in one place.

I am still at the beginning stages of information gathering and synthesis. I look forward to learning more and am happy to share my journey with you all in the meantime. Today, we’ll answer the question: Who gets to be on my team? What are the roster rules?

Roster basics

How many players are on a team? You’d think that would be a straightforward question, but it turns out the answer is “it depends.” If you’re an MLS club, you can have up to 30 people on your first team roster, but only under certain conditions. (And no, I’m not counting Atlanta United’s roster of 31, since that includes “Atlanta United Fans” as their 31st player.) Here’s how it works.

Senior roster: 20

Spots 1-20 on the roster are the senior roster spots. The salary for these 20 players counts against the club’s salary cap (this year that’s $4,035,000). The minimum salary for players on the senior roster is $67,500.

Supplemental Roster: up to 4

The supplemental roster can have up to 4 players. Those 4 players do not count against the club’s salary cap. Supplemental roster players can include:

  • Minimum salary players
  • Generation Adidas Players
  • Designated Players eligible for the MLS SuperDraft
  • Homegrown Players earning more than the senior minimum salary

Reserve Roster: 4-6

The reserve roster can have 4 players, or as many as 6 players if at least two of them are Homegrown Players. Reserve players have to be 24 or younger by year of birth during the league year. Their base salary is the reserve minimum salary (this year that is $54,500) unless they are Homegrown Players, in which case their salary can be more. So, if you have enough homegrown players, if you can stash at least two of them on the reserve roster, your official first team roster can have up to 30 players.

More roster rules: international spots and homegrown spots

This year, there are 184 international roster spots divided among the 23 clubs, which is 8 spots per club. International spots are tradable, and not just for the current year so some teams may have more than 8 international spots being used any given year.

If you’re a Canadian team, your domestic players are either Canadian citizens, or U.S. citizens or permanent residents (i.e. they have U.S. green cards); or they’ve been granted refugee or asylum status, or they are Homegrown Internationals (internationals who played for a qualifying academy team).

As previously noted, you can also stash homegrown players on the supplemental or reserve roster; but if you have a homegrown player on your supplemental or reserve roster and you move him up to the senior roster during the season, you can’t move him back down unless he is on a minimum salary.

#sheba

So, why doesn’t my first team have a full squad?

There are many reasons that the first team might not be using all 30 slots. It might be that they don’t have enough homegrown players to fill out the supplemental roster, or that they’d run afoul of the salary cap by adding another player, or that the player they want would require an international slot and the team doesn’t have any more at the moment.

The size of the roster can also be impacted by whether or not the first team has a USL affiliate, and where that USL affiliate is located.

USL Affiliates

In 2013, USL and MLS reached an agreement that allowed MLS teams to have second/reserve teams in USL. These USL second teams allow MLS teams to cast a wider net and sign a larger group of players than are allowed under MLS roster rules (maximum of 30 players).

As of this writing, most MLS teams have USL teams (only Columbus, New England, and Orlando City don’t have USL teams). MLS teams can use USL as a training ground for future MLS players, promoting the best of their USL players to their first teams, using the league’s USL Priority Player rule (priority rights to up to three players from USL affiliate).

Depending on how we count LAFC’s affiliate (I mean, Irvine isn’t that far from Los Angeles, but it isn’t exactly right next door either), about half of the USL affiliates are geographically close to their MLS parent teams, sometimes training and/or playing in the same facility.

Here is where I can see the tremendous advantage of having your USL affiliate geographically close to you: you don’t have to make official declarations of loans to USL teams for all of the players playing on your USL squad; it can happen on a week-to-week basis. In the case of the Timbers, for example, this has meant that first team players like Diego Chara and Vytautas Andriuškevičius can easily play for a game or two on the USL side as they recovered from injury and returned to match fitness, all while having access to first team trainers and facilities.

Conversely, players who are officially on the first team’s supplemental roster can still get regular playing time on the second squad, while being ready at a moment’s notice for a late call-up if the roster is thin on any given week (as happened to our squad last year v. the Vancouver Whitecaps).

If your USL affiliate isn’t geographically close to you, on the other hand, you pretty much have to decide when somebody is officially loaned out to USL. I assume that this is why, for example, the Colorado Rapids list only 24 active players on their MLS first team, with six players loaned out to USL sides.

The Rapids’ USL affiliate is the Charlotte Independence, which is over 1,500 miles away from the Rapids’ training facility. Charlotte Independence has 26 on its USL roster. In contrast, the Timbers have 29 active players on their MLS first team, with only 16 players listed on the Timbers 2 USL roster.

If you want to know more about who is officially on your team’s first squad, check out the roster page at the MLS website. It breaks down each team into senior, supplemental, and reserve rosters, as well as noting whether a player is a homegrown player, a designated player, or a player taking up an international roster slot, as well as players out on loan and players with season-ending injuries.

Those are the roster basics as I understand them. If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to leave them in the comments below, or hit me up on twitter at shebainpdx. Next time the Timbers have a bye, we’ll take a look at the rules for international roster spots.

Yowza.

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Soccer Training

Soccer is perhaps the most demanding of all sports.

In the modern game (at any level) soccer training and conditioning is essential.

Few sports are played on as large a playing field, lasting as long and without regular rest periods.

Players cover 8-12km during a match, consisting of 24% walking, 36% jogging, 20% coursing, 11% sprinting, 7% moving backward and 2% moving whilst in possession of the ball (1).

Soccer players possess excellent endurance with VO2max reported to range between 55 and 70 ml/kg/min in elite performers (2,3). The game is played at an average intensity close to the lactate threshold – approximately 80-90% of maximum heart rate (4,5).

How important is the correct type of endurance training in soccer?

Read the entire article here

The Short-lived KC Wiz

kirsten-sporting-or
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

If you’ve been to a Sporting KC game then you have surely heard the Cauldron sing:

“Oh when the Wiz go marching in. Oh when the Wiz go marching in. Oh how I long to be in that Cauldron when the Wiz go marching in.”

Or chant:

“Ooooh KC Wiz! KC Wiz! KC Wiz! KC Wiz! Vamos KC!”

These chants echo back to a single season from the beginnings of a humble little sporting association called Major League Soccer.

The MLS was officially founded as an LLC in 1995. The reason for founding the league was because the United States promised to start a Division 1 professional league as a stipulation of their successful bid for the 1994 World Cup. It would have been pretty silly to have the World Cup in a country without a highly competitive professional league.

Kansas City sportsman extraordinaire Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, was one of the founding investors of the MLS, and he owned two of the original ten chartered teams. Hunt wanted to bring more to the sports culture of Kansas City, so he started the Kansas City Wiz. The Wiz even played their home games at the home of the Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium. Mr. Hunt also owned the Columbus Crew and in 2003 purchased the Dallas Burn who are now FC Dallas. Mr. Hunt was such an influential figure in the US soccer community that in 1999 the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) renamed the US Open Cup to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

The Wiz were officially named a charter member of the MLS on June 6, 1995, and it took them four months to name former Crystal Palace player and Arizona Sandsharks manager Ron Newman as the first ever manager of the team. Newman was the first coach hired into MLS service, and he brought his son former San Diego Sockers (Major Indoor Soccer League) player Guy Newman with him as an assistant coach.

October of 1995 was an exciting month for the young MLS. The Wiz named Newman as a coach on the 11th, and MLS Unveiled, the first televised MLS programming, was simulcast to all ten MLS market cities on the 17th. At MLS Unveiled each team released their inaugural kits, colors, logos, and their first allocated player.

The event turned out to be pretty ridiculous. The league let the uniform manufacturers have too much say in the team names, colors, logos, and jerseys. That’s how the Tampa Bay Mutiny ended up with a mutant bat. Personally, I think The Wiz ended up as the winners of the name, color, and kit categories. There ended up being a problem with the name, but we’ll get to that later. The Wiz’s first ever allocated player was national team member and St. Louis native, midfielder Mike Sorber.

mlsunveiled

In December, January, and February, The Wiz were allocated one player per month. The player for December was former US national team forward Frank Klopas, January’s player was Zimbabwe national forward Digital Takawira, and the last allocated player was future Sporting Legend and future US national team member Preki. The rest of the players vying for a spot on a roster went to a combine and then to the draft where The Wiz drafted national team midfielder Mark Chung.

The Wiz’s first season was pretty exciting. In their April 13th home and season opener, The Wiz won their first ever game defeating the Colorado Rapids 3-0, with Digital Takiwara netting a brace. Three games later, on May 2nd, The Wiz and the Columbus Crew took part in one of the highest scoring games in MLS history. The two teams combined to score 10 goals with KC taking the win at 6-4.

Preki and Mo Johnston both scored twice with Sorber and Chung each getting a single goal. After losing their next four games, which took place over a 15 day streak, The Wiz traded wins with their opponents for the next eight games. That set of games was bookended by a game against future Sporting KC coach and player Peter Vermes and the NY/NJ Metrostars. The Wiz won the first game 2-1, but fell to the Metrostars 0-2 in the second game. The second game against the Metrostars also ended a five game scoring streak by Preki.

The Wiz had a successful inaugural regular season with 17 wins, 15 losses, and 0 draws as draws weren’t actually allowed in the first seasons of the MLS.

*Since the league was “experimental”, the founders decided to try a few rule changes from regular soccer. They thought that American fans would be bored by draws, so they implemented a shootout at the end of tied games. If a team won the game they would get 3 points, the losing team would get zero points, and the winning team in a shoot-out win would get 1 point. Another weird rule change was that the time clock counted down to zero as opposed to counting up to 90.

Their record qualified The Wiz for the playoffs. They defeated the Dallas Burn two games to one in the Western Conference Semi-finals before losing to the LA Galaxy two games to zero in the Western Conference Finals.

Wizards V Clash
21 Apr 1996: Team photo of the Kansas City Wizards before a game against the San Jose Clash at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California. The Wizards won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

At the end of their first season The Wiz were in a bit of a bind. There was a company in a different industry that already had been named The Wiz, and they sued The KC Wiz for use of the trademark. After a little digging I found that the trademark was most likely held by a small electronics chain from the northeast called Nobody Beats the Wiz. Since they weren’t allowed to continue with The Wiz, Kansas City officially changed their name to the Kansas City Wizards at the end of their first season. Thus ending the short life of the KC Wiz, but laying the foundation for the Sporting KC we know today!

#WeTogether

While doing research for this article I found this set of interviews done by Sports Illustrated. You should check it out >> https://www.si.com/longform/2015/mls/index.html

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

MLSFemale Survey Summary

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyzer/mlsfemale
Survey Analyzer

By Katie Sveinson // @KatieSveinson

Recently, MLSFemale.com created a survey to better understand the experiences of MLS fans.

We found that the Portland Timbers had the most representation in the survey, with 23.3% respondents noting the Timbers as their MLS team. Second place went to the Seattle Sounders, followed by Sporting Kansas City. All 22 teams had fan representation in the survey.

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyst/mlsfemaleOnly 40 out of 132 participants said they were not part of their teams’ supporters group. For those who were part of the supporter groups, the Timbers Army had the most members in the survey, as this group was listed most frequently. The Cauldron was the second most mentioned, and there were multiple individual responses such as Inferno, Ruckus, Resurgence, Sons of Ben, Third Rail, and Vancouver Southsiders to name a few.

Participants noted that they were most likely to attend 1-2 games per season (20.5%), with 17.6% going to 3-5 games. Interestingly, there were 12.1% who don’t normally attend games, compared to 7.5% who attend 25 games or more.

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyst/mlsfemale

Additionally, 24.4% noted that they have been a fan of watching soccer for 20 years or more! Whereas 22.7% have been fans for 6-9 years and 18.5% have been fans for 10-14 years. There are lots of dedicated fans and some who are just starting their career as MLS fans. Furthermore, we found that 96.2% of respondents watch the US national soccer teams and 83.3% watch or follow European football in addition to their MLS team.

Katie Sveinson - Survey Analyst/mlsfemale

We asked the participants how they became fans of their MLS team. The most frequent response was based on geographical location. This included cheering for the local team, and overall proximity to their current location. Other responses included the influence of another individual, including friends, parents, and the players for that particular team. An honorable mention should also go out to the ‘atmosphere’, which was discussed numerous times as being an important role in continuing being a fan. 

Thanks to all those who participated! Make sure to be on the lookout for future surveys!

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @KatieSveinson

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

A Greeting to All

Matt LiVolsi - SC
Special Contributor

By Matt LiVolsi @MJLiVolsi

Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name is Matthew LiVolsi and I am the newest Special Contributor here on MLSFemale.com. It is an honor to be amongst those who not only love the sport of soccer, but also appreciate America’s top rendition of the sport.

I am a Jersey boy that has followed soccer for nearly 7 years now, starting with the World Cup in 2010 and all the pomp and circumstance around that tournament (thank you based Landon). Since then I have fallen in love with the beautiful game here in my home state and have followed the New York Red Bulls since the beginning of the Thierry Henry years. Along with RBNY, I’ve been a fan of Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga for 4 years and of course have followed both the men’s and women’s national teams religiously.

I look to bring a unique and descriptive view on certain topics as they pertain to MLS and the American game as a whole. I will also be throwing in some coverage for the U.S. Open Cup as it unfolds. You can follow me on twitter @MJLiVolsi, if you wish to do so and be entertained by my mindless rambles on whatever irks me soccer-wise.

Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to do so.

P.S. I also speak French so…parle moi, mon Montréalaise.

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017