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Author Archive for Graham Ruthven

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stunning MLS debut is starting to look like an exception

The Swede’s LA Galaxy career is still in its infancy but his red card this week came as his new team continues to struggleIt was a moment completely and utterly befitting of the theatre that follows Zlatan Ibrahimovic wherever he struts. Video of the S…

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Is the Seattle Sounders’ era as an MLS superclub coming to an end?

The Sounders showed soccer can draw big crowds in the US. But as they’re outshone by the likes of Atlanta United, some fans fear a lack of ambitionFor years, it was the most authentic experience Major League Soccer had to offer. In many ways, they were…

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Patrick Vieira has been tipped to succeed Wenger – just how good is he?

New York City manager lacks the experience of rival contenders for the Arsenal job but he has built a solid reputation in MLS Almost as soon as he’d sat down in front of the waiting press upon his appointment as New York City FC head coach in January 2…

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TAM, GAM and trades: why MLS is the world’s most overcomplicated league

For many fans, football’s beauty lies in its simplicity. So do MLS’s sometimes arcane rules and regulations put people off?For the past four years, ESPN has conducted an anonymous survey of MLS players. There are always angles and headlines: this time …

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Why Zlatan’s move to LA Galaxy is bad for Major League Soccer

Ageing striker’s long-awaited move to US is done, but the entire enterprise feels like an unwelcome throwback for MLSIt had become the worst kept secret in soccer. This was a transfer that followed the usual course of conjecture: there was a public cou…

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Does MLS really promote flashier clubs over less glamorous ones?

Much of the league’s media coverage is generated in-house. So how much of a responsibility does it have to give equal attention to each team?There are few better in world soccer at marketing its own product than Major League Soccer. North America’s top…

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Christian Pulisic has succeeded in spite of American soccer, not because of it

The rise of maybe the best American soccer player ever, who’s been linked to Liverpool and Manchester United, doesn’t square with US Soccer’s problemsChristian Pulisic is already at one of the biggest soccer clubs in Europe. Borussia Dortmund are peren…

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Toronto FC, once the favourite punchline of MLS, aiming to have last laugh

The Canadian side go into Saturday’s MLS Cup final against the Seattle Sounders confident of becoming the team they always had the potential to beToronto FC were not so long ago Major League Soccer’s favourite punchline. Both on and off the field, they…

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David Villa to Diego Valeri: the men who will decide the MLS playoffs

The teams are decided for the post-season. But who will have the biggest say on the destination of this season’s MLS Cup?Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) Nothing in Major League Soccer is as thrilling as an Atlanta United game at their new Mercedes Benz…

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Football world watches as MLS rolls out video replays leaguewide

The system’s success in North America this season will go a long way to deciding VAR’s place in the game

FC Dallas thought they had clawed a goal back. Maxi Urruti reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box, and found the back of the net to give the Texans a lifeline against the Philadelphia Union. On any other weekend previously this season, the goal probably would have stood. FC Dallas may well have mounted a late comeback on the back of it. This weekend, however, Major League Soccer debuted its new VAR system. Urruti’s goal was its first case study.

Indeed, replays showed that Cristian Colman made contact with Philadelphia goalkeeper John McCarthy before Urruti took his shot. The decision, which took just under two minutes to be made, was ultimately the correct one. Incidents like this will become commonplace, but this one marked the start of a new era. The era in which referees finally have some help.

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Bruce Arena shows that many of USA’s best prospects are MLS based

The USMNT coach has always respected players from the domestic league, and this summer is likely to be a showcase of the talent available in MLSAmerican heroes tend to have a familiar look. Indeed, the US national team took to the field on Saturday in …

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MLS: where the standing fan is fast becoming king

Los Angeles FC are the latest team to announce standing areas for their fans, and it is a trend supporters on the other side of the Atlantic will note

Fan culture in Major League Soccer isn’t always considered to be the most authentic. That comes with the nature of the competition, in its franchised form, but that’s not to say fan culture doesn’t exist in North American soccer. This season, safe standing has become a part of that culture, with Orlando City leading the way (sometimes in very … expressive ways). Others, such as Atlanta and Minnesota United, are following their lead.

In what has quickly become typical fashion for Los Angeles FC, a much teased announcement on Saturday confirmed that MLS’s glitziest club without a team will also have a standing section of their own at their new stadium to help create “an electric and unified stadium atmosphere on match-days.” It was not an original part of the plan (although standing areas had been mooted), but LAFC presumably saw how a standing section has energised Orlando City and crowbarred it into their own blueprint.

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MLS: where the standing fan is fast becoming king

Los Angeles FC are the latest team to announce standing areas for their fans, and it is a trend supporters on the other side of the Atlantic will note

Fan culture in Major League Soccer isn’t always considered to be the most authentic. That comes with the nature of the competition, in its franchised form, but that’s not to say fan culture doesn’t exist in North American soccer. This season, safe standing has become a part of that culture, with Orlando City leading the way (sometimes in very … expressive ways). Others, such as Atlanta and Minnesota United, are following their lead.

In what has quickly become typical fashion for Los Angeles FC, a much teased announcement on Saturday confirmed that MLS’s glitziest club without a team will also have a standing section of their own at their new stadium to help create “an electric and unified stadium atmosphere on match-days.” It was not an original part of the plan (although standing areas had been mooted), but LAFC presumably saw how a standing section has energised Orlando City and crowbarred it into their own blueprint.

Continue reading…

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MLS: where the standing fan is fast becoming king

Los Angeles FC are the latest team to announce standing areas for their fans, and it is a trend supporters on the other side of the Atlantic will note

Fan culture in Major League Soccer isn’t always considered to be the most authentic. That comes with the nature of the competition, in its franchised form, but that’s not to say fan culture doesn’t exist in North American soccer. This season, safe standing has become a part of that culture, with Orlando City leading the way (sometimes in very … expressive ways). Others, such as Atlanta and Minnesota United, are following their lead.

In what has quickly become typical fashion for Los Angeles FC, a much teased announcement on Saturday confirmed that MLS’s glitziest club without a team will also have a standing section of their own at their new stadium to help create “an electric and unified stadium atmosphere on match-days.” It was not an original part of the plan (although standing areas had been mooted), but LAFC presumably saw how a standing section has energised Orlando City and crowbarred it into their own blueprint.

Continue reading…

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Bob Bradley: I think about how Swansea experience can make me better

The former USA coach lasted less than three months in Wales but he refuses to be bitter about his short spell in the Premier League

Like flopping in a Hollywood blockbuster, failure in the Premier League can be difficult to erase, given the number of people who have watched you flounder. But for every Hayden Christensen there is a Natalie Portman, and Bob Bradley is hoping that he will, over time, fall into the latter category.

Make no mistake, Bradley flopped at Swansea City. He lasted just 86 days as manager of the Welsh side, joining them when they were teetering just above the bottom three and leaving them joint-bottom. Whether or not he was a victim of circumstance, the American’s name has gone down in infamy alongside the likes of Rene Meulensteen, Les Reed and Sammy Lee, with his reign among the shortest in Premier League history.

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Bob Bradley: I think about how Swansea experience can make me better

The former USA coach lasted less than three months in Wales but he refuses to be bitter about his short spell in the Premier League

Like flopping in a Hollywood blockbuster, failure in the Premier League can be difficult to erase, given the number of people who have watched you flounder. But for every Hayden Christensen there is a Natalie Portman, and Bob Bradley is hoping that he will, over time, fall into the latter category.

Make no mistake, Bradley flopped at Swansea City. He lasted just 86 days as manager of the Welsh side, joining them when they were teetering just above the bottom three and leaving them joint-bottom. Whether or not he was a victim of circumstance, the American’s name has gone down in infamy alongside the likes of Rene Meulensteen, Les Reed and Sammy Lee, with his reign among the shortest in Premier League history.

Continue reading…

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Why it’s time for Darlington Nagbe to quit Portland and MLS

His move to Celtic might have fallen through, but the Timbers midfielder has nothing left to prove in America, and a fresh challenge would do him good

Brendan Rodgers was left confused by the first question posed over Celtic’s interest in Darlington Nagbe. Asked about a player called “Darling”, the Northern Irishman didn’t immediately process who or what he was being pressed on. It’s fair to say Nagbe’s name isn’t exactly renowned in Scottish soccer circles.

Related: Seattle’s triumph, and good riddance to Gerrard: the 2016 MLS season in review

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MLS Cup: the moments that decided the Seattle Sounders’ victory

Stefan Frei pulled off some crucial saves but the most important part of the champions’ season happened back in the summer

Roman Torres gives the Seattle Sounders a historic win
This was a defenders’ MLS Cup final and so it was fitting that a defender should strike the decisive blow. Roman Torres was already something of a cult figure for the Sounders support before he strode up to hit the most important penalty in the franchise’s history. Now the image of his celebrations will be immortalised in Seattle.

Of course, the narrative that will be drawn from this match seems a little bizarre considering that an entire season came down to a few inches, with Justin Morrow smashing his penalty off the underside of the crossbar just moments before Torres converted to give Seattle their first ever championship win.

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Jordan Morris is not the savior of US soccer – but he can decide the MLS Cup

His maiden MLS season has seen him finish as Seattle’s top scorer with 14 goals, and on Saturday he will play his in his first MLS Cup. Not bad for a rookie

It’s tough to find a job after college – but most graduates aren’t Jordan Morris. The young soccer star was already a full US international by the time he graduated from Stanford University last year, and found himself in the rare position of having countless job offers upon graduation. He chose, in the end, to sign with his hometown Seattle Sounders over Werder Bremen – one more thing that helped him become one of the most hyped young players in the history of the American game.

Less than 12 months later, and Morris has handled such a burden better than anyone could have reasonably predicted. His maiden MLS season has seen him finish as Seattle’s top scorer with 14 goals, and on Saturday he will play his in his first MLS Cup. He, more than anyone else, deserves credit for leading the Sounders there.

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MLS conference finals: Canadian sides tangle and Sounders target maiden title

Montreal and Toronto will face off in an all-Canadian tie for the right to face either Seattle or Colorado in the MLS Cup final

Seattle can be very Seattle. Renowned for being one of America’s most progressive cities, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2012, where the minimum wage is higher than anywhere else in the US and where smoking marijuana is permitted, there is a certain spirit to the place that distinguishes it from anywhere else. That extends to sport.

Its NFL team – the Seahawks – practice yoga and eat free-range chicken organically raised specifically for the players. Its soccer team, partially co-owned by a film director and a comedian, commands a bigger following than any other in the United States. “It’s different here, have you noticed?” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll once said, but it’s the Sounders who best reflect their surroundings.

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