Friday, September 4, 2009

In Case You Hadn't Noticed...

i have (temporarily?) stopped posting on my blog and have been posting regular updates on my Twitter account - @RedStarsCEO. i have also begun writing a weekly column on the global soccer blog "Pitch Invasion". The column is on the business of soccer in the United States. i hope you've enjoyed the posts here (i'll keep the posts here for archive purposes) and will continue to follow me on Twitter and Pitch Invasion.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guest Blog By Red Stars Supporter Pott Rodriguez

One of the more vocal Red Stars fans is Pott Rodriguez (to the left with Megan Rapinoe). Pott can pack a punch and she took issue with this week's SBI Power Rankings and decided to write her own. SBI's Christi Mann ranked the undefeated Red Stars 5th in the 7 team WPS, while Pott has the undefeated Red Stars 3rd.

Official and legal disclaimer: Pott's opinions and commentary do not necessarily reflect those of the Chicago Red Stars, WPS or me! Again, i don't agree with some of Pott's opinions, but i do support her passion (i had to add some "expletive deleteds" below) and her love of the Red Stars.

Pott's guest blog post follows:


I think Carli Lloyd is A BIT overrated for how she's been's like her and Cristiane r uncomfortable playing on this team and don't want to be a part of it. Their body chemistry isn't all there. Rapinoe and Dalmy should get more credit yes. Dieke and Carney should get more props too......Masar just needs to relax and play her game. I'm not sayin' this cuz i'm a Chicago fan but i bet the (expletive deleted) that wrote this article hasn't seen any of the games. I been to 2 Stars games. I've seen it myself. Here r my rankings:

1.SOL-They have Marta and u just can't (expletive deleted) with her and Boxxy.

2.BREAKERS-Kelly Smith mad skillz, dope team. A Rod needs to start taking on players 1v1....stop being scared. Lill, why don't u have a Jedi/Padawon talk with her how u do.

3.CHICAGO-Ring leaders on this team are getting the credit and they haven't done (expletive deleted)..Blah blah Cristiane is hurt (stop crying!) Lloyd you're spose to be the bomb, not the grenade. Captain Tarp holdin' it down like she should scoring the only 2 goals they've had but still seems a lil timid. Never been the one to be loud out there but you're wearing the C now. ACT LIKE IT. Rapinoe shining like a true star but needs someone up top to share that spot light. Dieke and Dalmy da double Ds holdin' that (expletive deleted) down. CJ (Carre Jonsson) yah, can't (expletive deleted) wit her eeeitherr.....Masar, relax young one, you'll get yours. Carney (so underrated) still tryin to find tempo, you'll get yours too. (there I go again jackin bout my Red Stars and they have yet to show me a true victory) I STAND BY THEM 199%. props to Igwe and Frida too. and the rest of the crew.

4.FCGP-Two words, Tiffany Weimer. Two more words, Old timers. Ok ok two more, international players. This team is stacked from Japan to Brazil from 1968 to 1988. And when I say Brazil it's not just the players from there but the players who played there (TW). I had trouble whether I thought FCGP could be ranked 3 or 4 in my book but with all that talent I haven't really heard much since their 1st game. I do give them mad props for holdin' it down to just 1 goal vs Sol. We'll see more of them to come I'm sure.

5.Freedom-They're some of the original Gangstas. The team and players. Wambeezy....needed some games under her belt. She'll b back with a vengence. Scurry, will someone please send her to the retirement home already, damn i thought i saw her walker next to the goal the other day. If you're tryin' to hang with the youngins then stop (expletive deleted) around and play like it. Sawa, I like her, I just don't think she's found the rhythm yet. It's only week 4 right?

6.FCSB-I don't even know where to start. I saw them play in person and I'm not gonna lie....under those wet conditions, I was impressed. i don't really have anything bad to say about them cept that luck just hasn't been on their side. TK, HAO and Walsh r some work horsies and their goalies have been pretty steady. I'd be a lil salty tho if I lost to a college team. Oh well, it was a scrimmage right? bah!

7.Athletica-Hope, why you jinx your team jackin' about how you guys are going to take this league. Oh, I'm sorry did you forget LA has money to bring in players like Marta from the outter realm and demolish the rest of us?

but it's only week 4.....why am I upset?

And there you go....Pott's first WPS Power Rankings. Let me know if you think Pott is right on, somewhat off base or totally whacked out.

Next Red Stars game is this Saturday at Toyota Park at 7:30 pm vs. Boston.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lindsay Tarpley and the Red Stars

In honor of Tarps' game winning goal versus Saint Louis Athletica Saturday night in front of 5,008 fans at St. Louis(many of whom cheered for the Red Stars), we bring you new and old videos of the Red Stars star.

This one's a slide show with some pics of a very young Lindsay.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Peter Wilt Week On Big Soccer

i've been asked to blog this week on i'm soliciting questions for a Q&A on Friday and hope to cover most of these topics during the week:

1) MLS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
2) Stand and Deliver: A reminder of supporters culture from Brandon Kitchens
3) WPS: A message to WPS 2014 and 2019 from WPS 2009
4) WPS Predictions: team and individual
5) Red Stars: Three years in the making
6) WUSA: Lessons learned.
7) Chicago Fire 1998: Blueprint for Philly, VAN & PDX
8) If I was Commissioner for a Day (MLS or WPS): Things I’d change and/or improve upon.
9) MLS/WPS: Things soccer does better than other sports leagues. And things we do worse.
10) People I respect in soccer: Untold stories of the true good guys in soccer (i.e., your experiences with Chris Armas (player), Bob Bradley (coach), Doug Hamilton (executive), etc.).

Topic #4 was just posted. All the posts can be seen here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fire Season Kickoff Luncheon

It was great to attend the Chicago Fire Foundation's Season Kickoff Luncheon yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel. It is one of my favorite events of the year, because it brings together every corner of the Chicago soccer community and all of the Fire's stake holders.

The Chicago Red Stars were well represented by former Fire staffers Pat McNamara and Greg Zaskowski as well as Alyse LaHue, Amber Simons (who is also serving as the Red Stars Foundation's Executive Director), Marcia McDermott and me. There were plenty of Fire staff alumni on hand as well including Toyota Park's Dan Garnett and Kevin Spudic and Mike Squire, Trent Sheridan, Donald Ortale, Kim Beauvais, Vince Formanek and Andy Stengren.

Marcia and i were guests of the Fan Addicts and enjoyed sitting in the front row of tables with hosts John and Kris Keller and Mike and Diane Colwell and the new Chicago Fire Foundation President Frank Klopas.

The highlight was the showing of the Dean Magdalin produced Chicago Fire spots featuring Jim Belushi . Belushi performs a soccer version of the award-winning Reinke, Clement and Associates produced commercials for the Milwaukee Admirals in the mid-90s. In the Admirals hockey spots Bob Uecker takes on the over confident, star in waiting buffoon role. The Belushi spots had the crowd roaring with laughter as the Chicago native worked out with Fire players to earn a spot on the team's roster.

i also enjoyed speaking with Head Coach Denis Hamlett, his assistants Mike Jeffries and Daryl Shore and Goalkeeper Jon Busch. Also spoke briefly with Fire leadership including Andrew Hauptman, Javier Leon, Dave Greeley, Mike Humes and Becky Carroll. Becky is the Fire's new Fire VP of Communications and she was joined by Fire Manager of Communications Lauren Brophy at the Section 8 post-luncheon soiree at PJ Clarke's. Becky was a delight and even bought a round for the appreciative supporters.

The day served to whet our appetite for the pro soccer season which has already started in warmer climates and is eagerly anticipated here in Chicago.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Running of the (Not Fernando) Llamas

i was talking to my niece Ingrid yesterday and she told me she was going to go live on a farm. This came as a bit of a surprise as she currently goes to grade school and lives in very urban Minneapolis.

Turns out she's going to "Farm Camp" for five weeks and plans to return afterwards. Ingrid loves animals, so her parents may be thinking she wants her "plan" to be extended.

She said the farm has llamas and i asked her if llamas raced. Ingrid said she didn't think so, but i remained curious, so i told her i would research the question.

And thanks to our good friends at YouTube we find the answer is "yes". In fact, not only are there llama races, there is also an annual event in Hammond, Wisconsin memorialized in a documentary film called "The Running of the Llamas", which in some cases would be more accurately named "The Dragging of the Llamas". Here we see a boy training his llama for racing - i think he has a future champion if the crowds don't scare him...or the llama. And finally, here we get to know some of the great llama racers of all time and their successes and failures.

While this post has nothing to do with soccer, it did give me the gratuitous opportunity to share racing llama videos (as well as The Llama Song), which i think we can all (except perhaps PETA) appreciate.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Soccer News Overload

Just a ridiculous amount of American soccer news flooding my inbox this week and most of it is good.

MLS Expansion - Vancouver, which was announced today, and Portland later this week.

DC Stadium - The soap opera continues

WPS Expansion - Philly is going to be a great franchise.

Seattle's sold out inaugural game - The whole Sounders success is the best story in MLS history.

MLS opening weekend - This seems really early, but can't wait to see if Toronto has really improved that much and if the entire Western Conference is really worse than the entire Eastern Conference.

WPS teams trimming rosters - With only seven teams, there are going to be some very good players in the W-League this year.

Michael Bradley finds his scoring boots - And he's helping save Mönchengladbach's season.

Soccer and Twitter, a match made in heaven - Only 15 years ago, it was nearly impossible to find out ANY information about soccer anywhere, now in the new age of instant information, Twitter is pushing out incredible amounts of soccer information constantly.

Red Stars first pre-season game vs. another WPS team. Follow my Twitter updates at RedStarsCEO for lineups and game updates.

Have a great rest of the week and i hope to see everyone at the IYSA Expo this Saturday in Schaumburg.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Creating Team Chemistry...the Birth of the Red Stars

Quietly. and far from even the limited spotlight that pro women's soccer receives, there are seven month-long chemistry experiments under way at soccer outposts across the country. These experiments, conducted by Professors Hayes, DiCicco, Sawyers, Gabarra, Barcellos, Montoya and Rogers, are all now just about half finished.

The ingredients for the experiments were limited the first two weeks mainly to young domestic players who will be fighting for spots in the starting lineup or even spots on the roster. The completion of the Cyprus Cup and Algarve Cup and delays in visa and international transfer certificates delayed the addition of the key ingredients - U.S. and international national team players.

The first two weeks of preseason established processes, training regimens and relationships. The next two weeks will integrate the 8+ national team players each team has rostered. WPS has succeeded beyond expectations in securing the talents of 50+ of the most talented female footballers worldwide. The fabulous 50 including this magician, are evenly spread among the seven franchises, so that each team's supporters can eyeball their rosters on paper and honestly contend that theirs is truly a Super Club.

When seven Super Clubs play in the same league, however, one still must finish first (and last). The determining factors will be injuries, luck and most importantly - team chemistry. That team chemistry will certainly evolve over the course of the season, but the main ingredients that determine the nature of the chemistry are being activated now on soccer fields, in hotels and in meeting, training and weight rooms across the country.

The Chicago Red Stars laboratory has moved from McCook,Illinois to Sunrise, Florida. The experiment returns to Chicagoland this Saturday, March 21st at 2 pm with a public viewing of Professor Hayes in action at the IYSA Expo in Schaumburg. Emma will be taking her entire class through a full 90 minute training session indoors at the Schaumburg Sports Center at 1141 W. Irving Park.

The IYSA Expo is a great annual event as it hosts the entirety of the Chicagoland soccer community. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes Chicago FireFest, various seminars and meetings including a Red Stars Town Hall at noon and dozens of soccer business vendor booths.

i hope to see you there as the Red Stars chemistry experiment makes a rare public appearance. It'll be a great opportunity to meet the professor and her students.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Old Media, New Media

Maybe it's because i was a journalism major in college. Maybe it's because i was a wire service sports writer for three years. Maybe it's because i have a big ego and like seeing my name in print, but i've always enjoyed talking to reporters.

This morning i had scheduled interviews with New York Times soccer writer Jack Bell and the Associated Press' Rachel Cohen. Both the NYT and AP are as old media as you get these days. Both interviews were handled telephonically, lasted about thirty minutes and generally covered the improvements of WPS' business model over the WUSA's eight years earlier. Both interviews were for articles being written in advance of WPS' launch March 29th.

In the afternoon, my BlackBerry started buzzing with emails, text messages . FaceBook notifications and of course Tweets from various people forwarding Tom Dunmore's return to blogging with a Pitch Invasion article focusing on the Red Stars use of new media to promote the team and connect with our audiences.

Tom's article and reaction from readers were very positive and made us feel good about the direction we're going in promoting the Red Stars.

The good vibes came crashing down late in the afternoon though when Marquette's valiant comeback from a 16 point halftime deficit against Villanova in the Big East quarterfinal crashed and burned at the buzzer. As is the nature of sports however, my disposition soon turned up again as reports out of Florida told of Ella Masar's two goals which highlighted the Red Stars first 90-minute victory over the University of Miami by a 2-0 shutout (click on Ella's's kinda humorous).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

This was my Twitter message yesterday morning on the way to Toyota Park:

"Today: Advisory Board mtng, Pick Your Seat Day, CRS Fndation board candidate intervw, talk to ISSA, 1st CRS exhibitns @ Lk Barrngtn. Whew!"

Consolidating yesterday's whirlwind of Red Stars activity into 140 characters really didn't do the day justice. It was a 12-hour non-stop Saturday that only slowed down for about 20 minutes prior to the Illinois State Soccer Association's meeting.

At the end of the day Red Stars GM Marcia McDermott and i talked about avoiding overlaying so many activities on the same day in the future to help improve quality control....we agreed that we really didn't have much of a choice this time and it's unlikely we'll run into many more days like that in the future.

The two public events came off generally well:

"Pick Your Seat Day" featured several hundred Red Stars season ticket holders relaxing in the Toyota Park Stadium Club away from the persistent rain, touring the seating area before selecting their seats and meeting Red Stars players including Swedish National Team star Frida Ă–stberg and Danesha Adams.

Hundreds of fans squeezed into the remarkable Lake Barrington Fieldhouse for the first glimpse at the Chicago Red Stars ever in a round robin tournament. The pre-season team (pictured above) is still missing four of its internationals who are awaiting visa clearance and three players who are in Portugal with the US National Team. Donations from the spectators raised more than $1,000 for the Chicago Red Stars Charitable Foundation. Through two mini-games (45 minutes each), the Red Stars remain undefeated. Tina Estrada forever etched herself into Red Stars lore by scoring the first two goals in Red Stars history to top Northwestern 2-0. Afterwards, a fresh-legged Purdue team drew the Red Stars 0-0 in the second match. Australian National Team Goalkeeper Lydia Williams earned the shutout for the Red Stars against the Boilermakers.

The three private events i participated in also went well:

The Red Stars quarterly Advisory Board meeting was attended by about twenty stake holders and everyone contributed to discussion ranging from the Red Stars mascot (still undecided) to suburban viewing party locations to recommendations for urban promotional venues (Reggie's on Ladies Arm Wrestling Night - thank you Tom!).

Red Stars Charitable Foundation Executive Director Amber Simons and i met with Denise Barreto to discuss the possibility of Denise joining the Red Stars Board of Directors. Denise has tremendous corporate and foundation experience. She is currently a marketing executive for Sears and formerly served as the founding Executive Director of the Chicago Fire's FireWorks For Kids Foundation.

At the ISSA Meeting, Red Stars Account Executive Carrie Sear and i updated the group on the Red Stars progress and described the IWSL partnership benefits including the complimentary ticket vouchers for all players, which were distributed after the meeting.

After the long day was over i had a long drive back home through the rural towns of Johnsburg, Richmond, Lake Geneva and East Troy before finally getting to Milwaukee. The drive did seem to go faster than usual as i had a series of team related phone calls during most of the trip.

'Tis the season though, as the days, minutes and seconds continue to count down until the launch of Women's Professional Soccer!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Optimism from the WPS Owners Meetings

During these days of economic crisis when every television, newspaper and Twitter report is of certain doom and gloom*, it was refreshing to participate in two days of WPS owners meetings this week that included a number of positive indicators for the League's launch and future.

Individual teams and the League both had good reports on ticket sales, sponsor direction and expansion. While some teams are further ahead than others on ticket sales, the League overall is averaging around 1,000 season tickets per team with more than a month to launch and the teams that started the slowest are making the greatest gains recently.

i'm encouraged by the willingness and ability of teams that started slowly to react quickly and address their business needs. i think that's an indicator of the level of engagement the ownership in WPS has, which is greater than the WUSA's ownership.

While sponsorship sales are down throughout the sports industry, WPS is making good progress with a dozen or so companies whose customers fit our targeted audience. Several teams are also in serious discussions for jersey front presenting sponsorships. While some of these talks will close and some will not, it is apparent that the League's message and audience is resonating with corporate America even during these difficult times.

And finally, the positive talk on the expansion front continues to strengthen our belief as owners that we are on the right business path. The League has taken a focused approach to expansion that is resulting in identification of quality leadership that will grow WPS and assure the League's long term sustainability.

*That doom and gloom article was written in 2005 as a spoof...kinda eerie how accurate the "spoof" turned out to be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to the Future

Actually, if you'd like to buy a jersey, don't click on the picture, click here instead.

Find more photos like this on Women's Professional Soccer

WPS unveiled all its uniforms last night at a fashion event in New York City. The Chicago Red Stars jersey design was inspired by Puma's 2005 Chicago Fire third strip which was a solid light blue jersey with four red stars across the chest. The main improvement we wanted to make to that jersey was the inclusion of a horizontal white band, which is finally included now in the Red Stars home jersey. While i was with the Fire, one of my final acts as team president was to try to convince adidas to keep the light blue "Chicago flag" jersey as either the team's away jersey or third jersey. i failed then, but am very pleased we were able to resurrect it here.

Both our home and away uniforms were misassembled for last night's New York City unveiling event and are erroneously shown as solids from top to bottom instead of the actual alternating blue and white to emulate the City of Chicago flag. In photo number 8 of the slide show above, Carli Lloyd should be wearing blue shorts and Nikki Krzysik should be wearing white shorts.

Fortunately, this is a one-time error that will be fixed when we start playing games!

i do believe the home blue/white/blue look that Lindsay Tarpley is modeling here has the chance to become an iconic look for the Chicago Red Stars.

The best news, though, is that the event received tremendous national coverage including this morning's appearance by Kristine Lilly and Hope Solo on The Today Show and the Red Stars jersey received praise in both its actual and erroneous combinations.

Here are some of the comments i received via email, text, Twitter, WPS Fan Zone and Facebook in the first couple hour after it was released:

Scott Viar: "Nice pic of Lindsay in the team gear."

David Herman: "Looks strangely similar to the third kit Puma put out three years ago - which was fabulous and classic - so, is it inspired or ...?!"

Diana Salisbury: "Nice jerseys!!!"

Nick Hawkins: "Awesome. :)"

Jim Kogutkiewicz: "Really like the white one. They look great, and they also put me in the mind of watching about three dozen Chicago Red Stars team cars chasing a couple of "blues brothers" through the streets of Chicago and crashing awesomely into support beams for El tracks."

Alex White: "strong, very strong."

Kenn Tomasch: "Love it. I didn't get the email, so I haven't seen the white one! But the blue one is aces."

Bryan Darger: "I dig the jerseys. My friend has the Chicago flag tattooed on his forearm-- it's a timeless image, and now everyone is just going to think he's a Red Stars fan. :-)"

Stuart Reid: "Outstanding!"

Deb Autry: "Oooh! Love em!"

Keith Lewis: "Really glad you did this. I was afraid you'd feel they shouldn't be done like this but I'm very pleased. They look fantastic."

Patrick Evans: "I think Lindsay will enjoy wearing Carolina blue again."

Lindsay Coffey: "sweet uniform!!! cant wait till game day!!!!!!! actually my whole team is coming...but i hope to have better seats than them since i'm a season ticket holder. haha"

Melissa Meyer: "The kits are great and all but where are Siriano's "interpretations?" So far, Chicago appears to be skort-free and for that I thank you."

Nick Buchel: "classy"

Kathryn Knapp: "Love the uniform Peter!!!"

Carmela Lopriore: "I <3 the jerseys!! Chicago has the best uniforms!!! Cristiane would look dazzling in one... Any word?"

Jeff McCrum: "Looks like you've been using the same design firm that cam up with my favorite blue Fire jersey... :)"

Josh Graning: "Easily the best kits in the league. Very nice."

Milan: "I love the Red Stars uniform! Just perfect. Well done Peter!"

Jack C: "Peter- the uni's rock- but I am pretty sure that's not you in the picture."

Brett: "Best uniform in the League. Good stuff."

Troy Garris: "Those jerseys are slick... Almost West Ham colors! I'll rock one!"

Robyn Vinje: "love them! can't wait to buy a replica!"

Karsten Roy: "Peter, I like the look! Looking forward to the season and taking our club players."

Colin Deval: "Great new kits for the team."

mikegonzalez: "The uniforms are absolutely perfect. Really, fantastic. I love them."

flatlander: "Very nice! It's also consistent with what you've done with the Red Stars brand so far, which is ..."

Lbaus: "That's hot!"

jcoria: "beautiful! simple, but not too simple. these will look great on the field."

joanofdark: "Why not sell the jersey she's modeling? Seriously, the long sleeves look top notch, but the site is selling SS. Nice! Really good. I guess I could live without a cloak. ;)"

thatkindagirl "Looks great! My daughter is ready to order one"

kornkid15: "those look amazing!"

MinnesotaSoccer: "Like it!"

Monika7: "SWEET!"

What do you think? Would you buy one? If you'd like to, you can order one at the Red Stars website.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Preaching the Red Stars on a Sunday Morning in a Catholic High School

After watching Fulham top West Brom at the Highbury Pub early this morning, i joined Red Stars Account Executive Carrie Sear at Milwaukee's Pius XI High School to speak to the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association. By the way, there are funnier school nicknames out there, but i've always found it humorous that the women's athletic teams at Pius are nicknamed the "Lady Popes".

It was great to see old friends, several of whom helped with our unsuccessful efforts in 2006 and 2007 to bring an MLS team to Milwaukee including Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association's (WYSA) Terry Donini.

WSCA President Chris Martinelli and longtime WSCA leader Marti Coan invited us to speak to the group about the Red Stars. Among other things, i told the group about the Red Stars upcoming season, the similarities and differences between WUSA and WPS, the inspiration the WYSA played in the Red Stars partnership with the IWSL and three important reasons to attend Red Stars games:

1) Entertainment
2) Education
3) Aspiration

i specifically told the coaches that they shouldn't bring their teams and clubs out "because it's women's soccer and supporting women's sports is the right thing to do." i hear this occasionally and it bothers me, because that mentality positions WPS as a charity or a cause, which it is not.

i told them, instead, that they should attend and encourage others to attend first and foremost, because the games are going to be entertaining, high level and fun.

Secondly, i told the coaches to use the professional game as an educational tool to help their players get better by watching the professional game in person and the nationally televised games on Fox Soccer Channel. This will allow players and coaches to learn from WPS and improve the sport at all levels.

Finally, i told them my belief that professional women soccer players aren't necessarily role models - role models should be the youth players' parents - but they are aspirational heroes. WPS players are among the few professional women athletes in team sports that young girls can see, emulate and work hard to try to achieve similar accomplishments. i believe that is important.

Afterwards i had the chance to speak with Wisconsin soccer coaching legend Jim Launder (BTW, the link to "Jim Launder" includes a video, which is included below, of perhaps the greatest goal ever scored in MLS history - a full volley OT game winner by John Wolyniec at Giants Stadium) and Wisconsin soccer journalists Eric Anderson and Nate Leaf among others, before returning to the Highbury for more EPL action.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Red Stars Tryouts

Find more videos like this on Women's Professional Soccer

The Chicago Red Stars held their open tryouts last week at the impressive McCook Athletic & Exposition (MAX) center. We had a great turnout both in terms of numbers and quality. Players came from across the area, the country and the world.

The video above provides a glimpse into the quality of the two day tryouts. Kudos to the Red Stars coaching and operational staff as well as the trialists themselves who all made it a positive and professional experience for the young women pursuing their dreams.

The pool of seventy players who participated the first day was narrowed to thirty for the second day. Six players were selected from the tryouts to join the Red Stars for the first official preseason training sessions starting March 1st. The chosen half dozen are Tina Estrada, Shannon Schneeman, Erin Walter, Molly Uyenishi, Bonnie Young and Michelle Wenino.

Best of luck to all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cristiane Speaks

i'm not sure what the Red Stars top international draft pick is saying in this video, but she sure has a nice smile and there are some gorgeous goals by her and Marta on the video below...i sure hope we sign her!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Brett Favre retired...again. i'm sure this is the final time and that's a good thing. Though it didn't end well, i'm glad he came back for one more year. i thoroughly enjoyed the weekly drama and competition and i'm sure he enjoyed the weekly competition.

Marquette was blown out by 18 points at Villanova last night. After being ripped by Coach Buzz Williams for an innocuous post-game interview question a week ago, Jim McIlvaine tosses a softball to coach when a brush back was more warranted.

Red Stars are hoping to be the first WPS team to sign all five of it's international draft picks. Four down, Cristiane to go.

Really enjoyed spending time with Red Stars allocation and US Soccer Female Player of the Year Carli Lloyd and Fire star Brian Mcbride Monday night at the Comcast Sports Awards.

Got to see some of my heroes in person this week: Blackhawks great Bobby Hull gave a slightly inebriated comedy monologue for his acceptance of the Comcast Sports Lifetime Achievement Award. Hawks President and former Sting Marketing Director John McDonough and Disco Demolition's Steve Dahl hosted segments of the Awards show. Then yesterday McDonough and great Tribune sports columnist Bob Verdi sat at the table next to mine at Harry Caray's.

Hull was my first boyhood sports idol and inspired my love of hockey. i later had the pleasure of escorting Bobby and Stan Mikita while honoring legendary Blackhawks announcer Lloyd Pettit prior to a Milwaukee Admirals game in 1985. McDonough and Dahl have always inspired me with their marketing acumen and Verdi's writings inspired my pursuit of sports journalism.

Mexico at Columbus tonight may be Sven's swan song and there will be no cold air to blame. 2-0 USA (Landon and Hajduk).

Go U-S-A!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Section 8 AGM

After spending the morning at The Globe yesterday with Red Stars coaches Emma Hayes and Denise Reddy and staff members Alyse Lahue and Billy Barmes watching EPL action, we all went over to Section 8 Chicago's Annual General Meeting at Schuba's.

The meeting and uncommonly sunny and warm day made the soccer season seem close at hand after a long and frigid winter.

American soccer supporters organizations and "Annual General Meetings" don't always go together, but S8C is not your typical American supporters organization. It is a formal non-profit with elected officers, significant budgets and regular board meetings. S8C's leadership, including its first and current chairmen, Ben Burton and Marcin Tlustochowicz, are behind the professional nature of this independent supporters association.

That doesn't mean their meetings are staid formal affairs. Yesterday's 90 minute (appropriately) affair involved much imbibing of alcoholic beverages and plenty of good hearted vulgar put downs of fellow supporters in Schuba's staged music room, which is part of one of the north side's historic Schlitz tavern.

Meeting highlights included:

* Birthday boy Chairman Ben accepting whiskey shots from the crowd during his "State of Section 8" address. Updates were provided on the replacement of the megabandera (will happen sometime this year) and the development of a fan charter/bill of rights patterned after similar club/supporters agreements prevalent in Europe.

* The $7k+ check presentation by new Chicago Fire VP of Sales and Marketing Mike Humes. i had a chance to speak with Mike afterwards and came away impressed with his experience and understanding of his task at hand. It is great to see the team and supporters back on the same page as the new season approaches).

* Election of officers including Vice-Chairman Tom Dunmore, Treasurer Mario Ortega, Director of Merchandise Jim Schifeling, Director of Operations Mike Giacometti and i think i'm co-assistant, w/Miri Ceballos, to new S8C Marketing Director Melissa Hamming.

* And an update from me on the Red Stars...including our super secret, not yet official news of three more international signings and a schedule change that will allow Fire fans to attend the first Red Stars game in St. Louis without missing the Fire's April 5th home opener. All this news should be made public and official later this week.

* Post meeting social. Among others, i enjoyed drinking a couple of Schlabst™ (my soon to be trademarked hybrid recipe combining the great tastes of native Milwaukee beers Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon!) and speaking again with Jackie Rodgers from Best Buy, Karl Schuster from Whiskey Bros '05 and Ian McNally from Mike Ditka Street Crew.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

i'm Baaaaack!

Sorry for the hiatus. My recent reliance on Twitter (@RedStarsCEO) has kept me away from this blog for more than a month. i will try to get back in a routine with it.

i'd like to return to my soccer roots for this return post. My start in the business of soccer more than 20 years ago was with what is currently the nation's oldest soccer club. Was it DC United? Seattle Sounders? Richmond Kickers? Nope, it was with the Milwaukee Wave of the American Indoor Soccer Association, which was a mere babe in just its third season when i was hired to do marketing and publicity for the team on March 9, 1987.

Last weekend the Wave celebrated its Silver Anniversary. For the anniversary adjective challenged, that would be 25 years in business. That's more than pretty good. In fact, it's amazing. The Wave has split its time between the 3,600 seat MECCA Auditorium, the 18,000 seat Bradley Center and now the 9,000 seat Milwaukee Arena. The alphabet soup of leagues they have competed in include the AISA, NPSL, second incarnation of the MISL and now the XSL. They have had four ownership groups and five head coaches.

The only player to play for all five Wave coaches is Tony Pierce (who's #31 should be retired by the Wave), the first player signed was Kris Klassen and the last remaining original employee still with the team is trainer Larry Sayles, who previously taped ankles for Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal and their globetrotting teammates.

To most of the American soccer community the Wave and indoor soccer in general is an irrelevant redheaded stepchild to the "real" sport. Its best days are certainly in the rear view mirror, but both the Wave and indoor soccer remain relevant. To most people in Milwaukee, "professional soccer" doesn't mean the EPL, MLS or even USL Division 1, 2 or 89. It's not the W-League, J-League, A-League or XYZ-League. Professional soccer in this corner of the Dairy State is the Milwaukee Wave. The first and only professional soccer games almost all Wisconsinites have seen in person are Wave games. Indoor soccer is no longer played by the best players the U.S. produces, but it is still worthy of attention and still holds meaning as entertainment and competition for those who watch and those who play.

The strategy and competition of indoor is still compelling. Wave coach Keith Tozer is among the sharpest and hardest working coaches this country has ever seen. He was a finalist for the Fire job after Bob Bradley left and i truly believe he would have been a successful MLS coach.

I cherish my 7+ years in indoor soccer and especially my 3+ years with the Wave. i learned a lot about the sport, the audience, the challenge of marketing soccer and i made some lifelong friends.

Some of them came together last weekend in Milwaukee for the Wave's reunion. Those i saw included the Cudahy Connector Pete Knezic, US U-17 Assistant Coach Keith Fulk, XSL Commissioner Brian Loftin, Chicago Storm Head Coach Steve Morris, Storm Owner Viktor Jakovljevic, longtime Wave assistant and local youth coach Art Kramer, Brookfield Academy Coach Lee Rogers, the Alioto twins, Tim and Tom, and two of my oldest friends, Chicago Fire Juniors Director of Coaching Larry Sunderland and Green Bay Lightning Director of Coaching Tony Pierce. We spent a night sharing stories of the old days and it reminded me how special this team was and still is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

America's Team

WPS announced each team's home openers this week and if i'm reading it right, your Chicago Red Stars could be featured on national television via Fox Soccer Channel for each of its first three games.

Game 1: Chicago at St. Louis Athletica, Sunday, April 5 at Ralph Korte Stadium on the lovely campus of Southern Illinois - Edwardsville. It's a small stadium and it would be pretty cool for Local 134 and other Red Stars supporters to make the 272 mile trip down there to help the Red Stars win in our first game ever.

Game 2: Chicago at Washington Freedom, Saturday, April 4 at RFK Stadium*. 2009 will be a good year for Chicagoans in Washington. And maybe, just maybe, the first family will be on hand to cheer their hometown Red Stars on to victory. Malia is a player! And the President-elect is a soccer dad.

* i'm just guessing that the Freedom will play their home opener in the big house.

Game 3: Sky Blue FC at Chicago, April 19 at Toyota Park. The late home opener is a good thing for us. It provides extra time to sell tickets, its more likely to be a little warmer in Chicago, we get to build excitement via two televised away games and we get to come into our home opener with an unblemished 2-0 mark!

It is exciting to know the date of the opening game and i hope you've all purchased your season tickets already. We hope to make a pretty cool announcement about our season tickets before Christmas. If you haven't gotten them yet, please do so by going here. Thank you!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Great Day For Women's Soccer

Really enjoyed yesterday's four hour block of great women's soccer on the Deuce.

First up was North Carolina in the rare underdog position upsetting Notre Dame (who i hate in all sports due to my Marquette heritage) 2-1 for the 2008 NCAA Women's College Cup Championship. Kerri Hanks got the Fighting Irish off to the best possible start with a nice finish on a clear break only 16 seconds into the game.

Milwaukee area native Casey Nogueira put her Superman cape back on and tallied two brilliant goals to lead the Tar Heels to their 20th national championship and 19th NCAA title (they also won something called the AIAW. She also scored the game winner for North Carolina in both of the 2006 NCAA College Cup games.

Nogueira is a trick ball artist and daughter of the greatest indoor soccer goalkeeper ever, Victor Nogueira. i had the chance to draft Victor for the indoor Chicago Power in the MISL dispersal draft (1991?), but a secret (until now) agreement regrettably gave his rights to the Milwaukee Wave in exchange for the Power receiving the rights to some player(s) i no longer recall....sigh.

Anyways, North Carolina's comeback made for good drama. i imagine the Red Stars will eventually have several Notre Dame grads (including Kate Markgraf), so i'll need to learn to temper my anti-ND instincts a bit - love the player/not the school i suppose.

After a short break (where i watched the Packers blow another lead behind Aaron Rodgers' poor leadership converting only one of ten third downs) i watched the US Women's National Team beat North Korea by the same 2-1 score for the u-20 Women's World Cup.

Sydney LeRoux scored her tournament high fifth goal in the 23rd minute then Alex Morgan blasted a golazo game winner in the 42nd minute to ensure the victory. It was even more beautiful in Italian!

Two of the u-20 players should be getting two rings each for yesterday's accomplishments. Meghan Klingenberg and Nikki Washington played for both the u-20s and UNC this season and helped both their teams to championships. That's pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Unsung Executive Finally Gets to Sing

MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis was named CEO of Arsenal yesterday. An original MLS staffer, Ivan has been the quiet, guiding force of all MLS competition issues since Sunil Gulati's departure almost ten years ago. We exchanged emails this morning and Ivan expressed true pain in leaving the League which "has been (his) heart and soul for so long." Getting into the spirit of his new club he even expressed regret over his boyhood club Manchester City's recent thrashing of his new side.

While the Gunner's gain will surely be MLS' loss, Ivan has already given the League everything he has to offer and MLS is much better positioned to absorb his loss now than it would have been at any other time over the last decade.

While Ivan's office has been responsible for signing more players (international and domestic) than any other team in the world, it has been his consistent intelligent design, which has maneuvered MLS into the mainstream of world soccer leagues. His vision and direction have improved the quality and credibility of the League tremendously through normalization of rules, an emphasis on player and referee development and easing the acquisition of international talent.

Farewell Ivan.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Expansion Draft

As one of six MLS GMs who have participated in expansion drafts, i can tell you that getting the list of unprotected players is a bit like Christmas morning where you don't get all the presents you were hoping for. MLS teams announced their protected and exposed lists today for Seattle's expansion draft.

As usual, the exposed lists were full of veterans underperforming their expensive contracts and young players that have not fulfilled their potential. Some of the deeper teams were forced to expose one or two players that they really do not want to lose.

Terms of engagement include a maximum of one lost player per team and only ten of the 14 teams will lose a player.

Following is a list of the players I would consider choosing from each team along with their 2008 compensation and a note about each:

Toronto - Johann Smith ($47,666.67), young athletic forward whose pace would benefit from the Qwest Stadium artificial surface.

San Jose - Ned Grabavoy ($90,000.00), former New Lenox prodigy still trying to find a good professional fit. An expansion team with a quick surface could be a good situation for the skillful midfielder.

RSL - Dema Kovalenko ($207,618.75), tough, competitive, passionate and expensive veteran...most of those are good qualities.

New York - Chris Leitch ($60,000.00), versatile player who can provide defensive stability and depth.

New England - Khano Smith ($46,305.00), dangerous budget friendly forward with speed and strength who can fly on Seattle's in-fill surface.

Los Angeles - Mike Randolph ($33,000.00), probably wouldn't select anyone from the once proud Galaxy, but if I did, I would add back line speed with Randolph.

KC - Abe Thompson ($33,000.00), again, I probably wouldn't add anyone from the Wizards, but Thompson always seems to add a spark off the bench, so he may be worth a flyer.

Houston - Nate Jaqua ($174,125.00), this deal was done months ago and will be a great situation for the Portland native to return home to the Pacific Northwest.

DC - Quavas Kirk ($136,500.00), probably wouldn't take anyone from DC, though Kirk would be tempting if not for his six figure salary.

Dallas - no one, really, there's not a single exposed player I would want on my expansion team from FC Dallas.

Columbus - Eddie Gaven ($165,000.00), no surprise that the best team in MLS was forced to expose a player they'd prefer not to lose.

Colorado - Preston Burpo ($55,116.18), Kasey Keller will need a veteran backup who won't sulk about his backup status and Burpo would handle the return to Seattle well, where he starred with the USL Sounders.

Chicago Fire - Marco Pappa ($33,000.00), I'm guessing that Pappa's loan deal includes some sort of poison pill that would give the Fire confidence that Seattle won't select him, because Pappa is a young, dynamic and talented future star that the team doesn't want to lose.

Chivas USA - Ante Razov ($258,750.00), his age, high salary, injury risk and aversion to artificial grass are all good reasons not to pick Ante, but he's still a very good MLS forward, competitive and worth the risk.

The 2008 salaries of the ten players I would choose add up to $1,137,582. Some of their 2009 salaries would be higher and some would be lower.

Check out the exposed lists here and tell me who you would pick.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chicago Red Star in Hollywood

Rumor has it Los Angeles was 75 degrees and sunny yesterday, but i really wouldn't know as i spent sun up to sun down in WPS meetings several stories beneath the surface of the earth in a bunker politely called the Westwood Room on the California Level of the Hyatt Century Plaza on the Avenue of the Stars. i did manage to meet up with a few soccer luminaries in the WPS meeting, in the hallway during breaks and at the Commissioner's Party in Hollywood last night. Here's a roll call:

Pam Perkins - US Soccer General Manager US Men's National team for the last decade plus.
Ridge Mahoney - Soccer America, the best soccer writer in the United States
Nick Sakiewicz - Philadelphia MLS CEO & Operating Partner
Tom Veit - Consultant for Philadelphia MLS and former XFL GM
Paul Mott - MLS Head of Team Services and former President New Orleans Hornets
Paul Caccamo - President America SCORES, a great literacy program that uses soccer as an incentive to develop at risk kids in urban areas throughout the United States
Ashley Doneker America SCORES, National Director of Marketing and Sponsorships
Curt Johnson - US Club Soccer Sr. VP of Marketing and Former GM of Kansas City Wizards. Curt and i had several prominent disagreements while in MLS, but we've always had a mutual respect. We enjoyed catching up during a shared a cab ride back from the Commissioner's Party in Hollywood.
Bakary Soumare - We had a nice talk about his decision to accept Mali's National Team invitation and his plan to stay in form leading up to his February debut and anticipated 2010 African Nations Cup participation.
Dwayne DeRosario - Houston Dynamo and arguably the best player in MLS over the last five years.
Jon Busch - Really enjoyed talking to Jon and his wife Nikki. One of MLS' true good guys and good to see him rewarded this year with MLS GK of the Year.
Jeff Duback - GM of Primo Sports and former US National Team and Olympic GK in the late 1980s.
Donnie Sandusky - President Primo Sports
Tommy Isirov - Member of my first championship team, the 1990-91 Chicago Power
Gloria King - LA Galaxy Manager, Community Development/Director,
Los Angeles Galaxy Foundation
Martha Romero - LA Galaxy Director of Administration
Mary Pat Durkin - Sales at E&J Gallo and former LA Galaxy Marketer
Dondi Kingsbury - O'Brien Media Advertising Sports Marketing, Executive Vice President
Yuki Zeigler - MLS Consultant and former LA Galaxy Executive
Carie Goldberg - President, Gold Standard Sports
Andy Swift
- Consultant and Former President and GM Dallas Burn. It's always great to see Andy. He's one of my most respected and best friends in soccer. MLS is better off for his years of service.
Maria Vega - Los Angeles Galaxy Manager, Ticket Operations
Kevin Frank - Senior Marketing Manager, Panasonic
Pat Donnelly - Long time LA Galaxy Director, Communications
Luis Arroyave - Chicago Tribune Soccer Writer
Bill Sage - Executive Director US Club Soccer
Craig Sharon - Director of Business Development and Legal Affairs
Don Garber - MLS Commissioner and Party Host
Denis Hamlett - Chicago Fire Head Coach
Ives Galarcep - Soccer Blogger
Ryan Robbins - Chicago Fire Director of Ticket Sales
Tom Payne - LA Galaxy President of Business Operations
Tom Mulroy Founder, Copa Latina
Carrie Skillman - Chicago Fire Coordinator, Corporate Partnerships
Lisa Bregman - Chicago Fire, Marketing Coordinator
Eric Smith - Chicago Fire - VP, Corporate Partnerships
Ted Howard - CONCACAF Deputy General Secretary
David Sternberg - EVP COO Fox Soccer Channel
Howard Goldberg - Player Representative, CDS Soccer Inc. Sports Management
Kathy Carter - Executive VP, Soccer United Marketing
Mike Gandler - Business development, SUM
Steven Goff - Washington Post Soccer Reporter
Craig Merz - contributor for Columbus
Andy Mead - Yellow Card Journalism Photo Service
Charlie Cuttone - Sports Vue Interactive
Wade Jackson - Yellow Card Journalism, LLC Partner
Diego and Ginna Gutierrez - Chicago Fire Legend and his wife who will be honored tonight for work with Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign.
Mark Noonan - President, Focal Sport, LLC and former MLS Marketing Executive
Tim Leiweke - President and CEO AEG
Dan Beckerman - AEG CFO and Executive VP
Mike Whitehead - WPS Consulting CFO
Joe Quinn - Washington Freedom President/General Manager
Sheri Kamakani - Director of Business Operations, AEG Sports, Los Angeles Sol
Brian and Nancy NeSmith - FC Gold Pride Owners
Ilisa Kessler - FC Gold Pride GM
Scott Hanley - VP AEG Sports
Jeff Cooper - St. Louis Soccer United Owner
Caryn Chasteen - St. Louis Soccer United President
Joe Cummings - Boston Breakers President/GM
Jeff Mallett - WPS Investor
Ian Sawyers - Sky Blue SC GM and Head Coach
Mary Harvey - WPS COO
Rob Penner - WPS Director of Communications

More meetings today and the USC vs. UCLA women's NCAA tournament derby tonight!

Friday, November 21, 2008

U.S. Soccer Central

The Hyatt Century Plaza in Los Angeles will be the center of the United States professional soccer world the next couple days as both Major League Soccer and Women's Professional Soccer are hosting important League meetings in conjunction with Sunday's MLS Cup.

i arrived yesterday evening and had the opportunity to speak with the following people from the soccer world:

John Guppy - First person i saw when i walked into the hotel. We sat at the bar and had great conversation for more than an hour. i'm sure there are many people that would have wagered against us being friendly, but i never held a grudge against John and have always been friendly with him.
Dave Mosca - Consultant for Soccer United Marketing and Philadelphia's MLS Expansion Team
Jack Cummins - Chicago Red Stars Legal Counsel and investor
Karyn Lush - WPS Managing Editor and Internet Producer
Jason Cohen - WPS Director of Business Development/Associate Legal Counsel
Curt Onalfo - Kansas City Wizards Head Coach
Tonya Antonucci - WPS Commissioner
Aileen Nasypany - WPS Office Manager, Assistant to the Commissioner
Patrick McCabe - Well known and successful player representative with First Artist
Barry McLean - Canadian based FIFA licensed agent
Aaron Burch - WPS League Development/Relationships Manager
Charlie Stillitano - Legendary new Jersey based soccer executive
Dr. Joe Machnik - Legendary goalkeeper, camp owner, soccer executive and referee leader, but i'll always remember Doc as the American Indoor Soccer Asociation's Commissioner when i started with the Milwaukee Wave.
Rachel Epstein - WPS Director of Marketing

And that was just the first few hours i was here. More updates later.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can't We All Get Along

The Chicago Fire and its supporters, Section8Chicago, have gotten entangled in a disagreement over payment of ticket commissions for the 2008 season and the Megabandera (above) that the Fire apparently misplaced (How DOES one misplace a 10,000 square foot banner?). There is certainly more than one side to this story, but it seems that the team should be able to work directly with its own supporters to resolve this issue.

Its good that it's in the offseason, which will allow plenty of time for resolution before it impacts team support at games.

Can't we all get along.

John Guppy Launches Soccer Consultancy

Former Chicago Fire President John Guppy announced the formation today of Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing, LLC, a boutique soccer consultancy focused on helping both soccer and corporate brands connect with the US soccer consumer.

John has more than 20 years of experience that will be valuable to his clients. It is great that John has decided to remain in Chicagoland and i wish him all the best.

i think it's also worth noting that the Fire's success this season is a credit to John's work. He hired a very good team staff and helped assemble a very deep team that nearly made it to MLS Cup where it would've been favored.

I doubt many people will acknowledge it, but he should be proud of this year's Fire team.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Right Here, Right Now

Had a restful weekend that began Saturday morning at the Highbury Pub watching Fulham top Tottenham and Michael Bradley draw Bayern Munich with Kenn Tomasch and Chris Doran.

Fulham's 2-1 victory means the Cottagers are now 9th in the table and Red Stars Head Coach will don a Clint Dempsey Fulham jersey this Tuesday to pay off a friendly wager on the match.

Caught the second half of the Western Conference Final last night....ugh. Methinks the MLS Cup champ was decided Thursday night in Columbus. Congratulations to Sigi Schmid and the Crew.

Today i watched Chris and Kenn call the Big 10 soccer semifinal on tape delay and then i watched them call today's 1-0 Michigan State victory in the conference championship over the Indiana Hoosiers. Kenn and Chris make a nice broadcast team. Both have a good understanding of the game, communicate it well and inject the right amount of color and humor. It was also good to see Dean Linke on the sideline. While serving as the Colorado Rapids' publicity man in 1997, Dean coordinated the news conference for my introduction as Chicago MLS' general manager. i still get chills when i hear Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now", which was used as the news conference's intro music. Dean went on to serve in a similar capacity for the WUSA Carolina Courage where he worked alongside current Red Stars GM Marcia McDermott.

Despite the mismatch in Carson and the wildfires surrounding LA, i'll be heading to SoCal this week for WPS meetings and the first presentation of the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy. i'll be checking in then.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

$1 Brats and Priceless Memories

Hundreds of Chicago Fire fans will make their way to Ohio's state capital tomorrow to cheer their beloved Men in Red on to a victory which would earn the team its fourth MLS Cup final spot in team history. Some will fly, some will drive, but most will be on several buses making the trip eastward.

The host Columbus Crew is promoting Buck a Brat Night, but the real lure will be the battle between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Fire fans relish the idea of turning Crew Stadium into "Firehouse East". The rejuvenated Crew Supporters are eager to show Section 8 Chicago, that they have earned their stripes this year and will no longer need the assistance of a Crew-retained marching band to drown out Section 8 on tour. The battle of support will be as intense as the battle on the field. i look forward to being in attendance, having a dollar or two worth of brats and cheering the Fire to victory - i already have my tickets in LA for November 23rd.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ten Years Ago Chicago Became Champions

It was ten years ago today that MLS' first expansion team defied historic odds and captured the MLS Cup championship in its inaugural season. The Chicago Fire defeated the only other champion MLS ever knew to that point, DC United, 2-0 in front of more than 50,000 fans in the Rose Bowl. Ten years later, the key members of the organization continue to make their mark in soccer, sports and entertainment in the United States.

Where are they now?

Bob Bradley, Head Coach. Head Coach, US Men's National Team

Mike Jeffries, Asst. Coach. Asst. Coach, Chicago Fire

Denis Hamlett, Asst. Coach. Head Coach, Chicago Fire

Ron Stern, Team Administrator. Director of Team Operations, Chicago Fire

Rich Monis, Head Trainer Athletic Trainer Liaison, Chicago Fire

Peter Nowak, Midfielder, Captain. Asst. Coach, US Men's National Team

Frank Klopas, Forward. Technical Director, Chicago Fire

Chris Armas, Midfielder. Asst. Coach, Chicago Fire

CJ Brown, Defender. Defender, Captain, Chicago Fire

Diego Gutierrez, Defender. Midfielder, Chicago Fire

Jesse Marsch, Midfielder. Midfielder, Chivas USA

Zach Thornton, Goalkeeper. Goalkeeper, Chivas, USA

Jorge Campos, Goalkeeper. Asst. Coach Mexico Men's National Team

Lubos Kubik. Defender. Asst. Coach, US Olympic Team

Roman Kosecki, Forward. Deputy for Civic Platform, Sejm (Polish Parliament)

Francis Okaroh, Defender. Director, Francis Okaroh's Ultimate Soccer Academy

Tommy Soehn, Defender. Head Coach, DC United

Josh Wolff, Forward. Forward, Kansas City Wizards

Manny Lagos, Midfielder. President, Minnesota Thunder

Josh Keller, Midfielder. Director, Formation Sports & Media Marketing

Zak Ibsen, Defender. US National Beach Soccer

Brian Bates, Defender. Youth Coach, Albion SC

Dusty Hudock, Goalkeeper. Goalkeeper, Charleston Battery

Steve Pastorino, Dir. of Marketing. General Manager, US Team Handball Federation

Kevin Spudic, Dir. of Ticket Sales. Director of Business Development, Toyota Park

Dan Garnett, Ticket Manager. General Manager, Toyota Park

Denise Wilmer, Dir. of Community Relations. Manager, Marketing and Planning, Sears

Diana Lopez, PR Manager. VP Communications,CMN Events

Jessica Yavitz, Intern. Dir. of Community Relations, Chicago Fire
Executive Dir., FireWorks For Kids Foundation

There were many others both on and off the field who contributed greatly to this day ten years ago. It was a special year with a very special group of people. We have all moved on to new challenges and we're all fortunate to have taken special memories of that sunny fall afternoon in Pasadena a decade ago. A month from now, i'll be in the LA area again for MLS Cup. It would be great to have Frank, Denis, Mike, Chris, CJ, Diego, Ron and Rich there as well fighting for the Fire's second MLS Cup title.

i remember where i was October 25, Pasadena, California doused in champagne. Do you remember where you were?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Time for More Posts 3

And below we learn about four important players acquired in the recent WPS General Draft including former UCLA star Danesha Adams (above left) and Illinois product Ella Masar (above right).

Find more videos like this on Women's Professional Soccer

Time for More Posts 2

In the video below, Emma discusses the attributes of our international players including Australia's Heather Garriock (above left and video here celebrating her World Cup goal with a kangaroo hop) and Brazil's Cristiane, pictured above right and scoring a beautiful goal here in the 2007 World Cup.

Find more videos like this on Women's Professional Soccer

Time for More Posts 1

Sorry i've been M.I.A. lately. Combination of computer "challenges" and hectic schedule. i'll let Red Stars Head Coach Emma Hayes help me with the next three posts.

In a series of interviews this week with Chicago Red Stars' Jim Houghton, Emma discusses the first 13 players that the Red Stars have acquired rights to.

First she talks about our gold medal winning trio (video below) that served as the Red Stars US Women's National Team allocated players.

Find more videos like this on Women's Professional Soccer

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Chicago Fire!

Wednesday is the 11th anniversary of the news conference at Navy Pier where we announced the name, logo and colors of Chicago's Major League Soccer team. This month is also the tenth anniversary of the Fire's inaugural season double championship. The Fire had planned and promoted a special gala anniversary celebration at Toyota Park this Friday. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled a couple weeks ago. i was told the cancellation was due to the unavailability of key players and staff from the 1998 team.

There will, however, be more than 15 members of the original Fire organization at Sunday's Fire game vs. Columbus at Toyota Park. i learned today that Lubos Kubik, Josh Keller and Manny Lagos from that special team will be at Sunday's game. Other members of the 1998 Fire organization expected to be in attendance through their current responsibilities are current Fire coaches Denis Hamlett, Mike Jeffries and Chris Armas, Technical Director Frank Klopas, Director of Team Operations Ron Stern, Director of Community Relations Jessica Yavitz, Athletic Trainer Liaison Rich Monis, Toyota Park's Dan Garnett, Mary Mazza and Kevin Spudic and Fire players Diego Gutierrez and C.J. Brown. i will also attend the game as i am sure will many other original Fire staff members who continue to support the Fire. i believe there will be an announcement of the Fire's all-decade team, the decade's best games and other all decade announcements on Sunday. i haven't heard of any formal celebration, but if you're at the game raise a toast to the 1998 Chicago Fire and i shall do the same.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Quiet Draft

There are five basic mechanisms to fill out WPS rosters: The USWNT allocation (3 players), the international draft and discoveries (5 players), tomorrow's general draft (4 players), the January post-combine draft (tbd) and tryouts (tbd).

The allocation of US players rightly generated considerable publicity and the international draft was followed closely by those who are trying to get an early read on WPS teams. Tomorrow's general draft however, will likely fly beneath the radar screen of many and that is a shame, because i believe the 28 players from this draft could very well be the difference makers in the League's first year.

i'm not saying that these will be the stars of the League, although a few will be. Since most teams have used the allocation and international draft to fill their attacking positions, in general, the players from this draft will be those that provide important strength and stability on the defensive side of the field and depth in the attacking half. There are certainly exceptions to that and Dan Lauletta provides a very good breakdown of team needs on the WPS social networking site.

A year from now, it will be interesting to look at team rosters and see how they were built. It is my bet that tomorrow will turn out to be a critical day in determining the success (or failure) of WPS teams.

Tomorrow, you can follow the draft live via Twitter at 1:00 pm CT and the analysis on Fox Soccer Channel at 7 pm CT.