Category: MLS

50 years ago-First two Texas Derby matches

Friday night MLS Soccer action will feature round two of the 2017 Texas Derby in Houston, when MLS sides Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas compete for the 2018 rights to hold El Capitán, a replica 18th century cannon.

50 years ago on June 3rd and June 10, 1967, the first professional iterations of the Texas Derby were played in Dallas and Houston between the United Soccer Association’s (USA) Houston Stars and Dallas Tornado.

The background on the short-lived league (tournament) start-up and the Houston Stars can be found in the first post in this series:

https://txsoccerjournal.com/2017/06/13/50-years-ago-professional-soccer-is-introduced-to-texas/

The Dallas Tornado:

1967 Dallas Tornado (Dundee United):  Photo from http://www.nasljerseys.com/Rosters/Tornado_Rosters.htm and http://www.dundeeunitedfc.co.uk

Because the United Soccer Association started up with little preparation, the league brought in complete foreign teams to represent the franchises established in 12 North American cities.  The Lamar Hunt owned Tornado were actually in reality Dundee United FC, one of three Scottish First Division clubs brought to America for the tournament that summer.

The Tornado had opened the USA tournament on the previous weekend with a 1-0 road victory against the Mustangs (Cagliari/Italy) in cold and rainy Chicago on May 28, 1967. The Chicago Tribune writer covering the match, James Fitzgerald, somewhat sardonically expressed his amusement about the game and the foreign nature of the league with this lede the next day (1):

A Dane scored the winning goal for a Scottish team representing Dallas which defeated an Italian team wearing Chicago’s colors last night in the United Professional Soccer league opener in front of 9,872 in Comiskey park.”

The Dane who scored the winning goal was 23-year old Finn Dossing off an assist from Tommy Millar from 5 yards out.  The Mustangs were lacking many of their best players, as they had not even arrived in the U.S. yet, and were outshot by the Tornado 28-2. Dallas goalkeeper Sandy Davie did not have to make a save that day.

Finn Dossing (scored 3 goals in 1967 tournament and 76 goals for Dundee United)
Photo from http://www.nasljerseys.com/Players/D/Dossing.Finn.htm and http://www.dundeeunitedfc.co.uk

Dundee United had originally arrived in Dallas on May 23 to find a gathering of 200 media, fans and pipers from the Highland Park High School band. The team was initially quartered at a SMU fraternity, which was a source of much griping by the players, and practiced at a school field across the street. Dallas mayor Erik Jonsson issued a proclamation declaring the week of May 28-June 4 “Soccer Week in Dallas”. (2)

The first Texas Derby match:  June 3-Cotton Bowl, Dallas

A crowd of 16,431 showed up to see the opening Derby match between the Tornado and Houston Stars (Bangu/Brazil).  The mystery for spectators about this first Texas Derby was expressed in this game report from the Grand Prairie Daily News on June 6th.

Grand Prairie Daily News-June 6, 1967

According to accounts in the excellent book Summer of ’67 by Ian Thomson, the game struggled to gain any traction early as the players adjusted to the heat and the narrow Cotton Bowl field, which only allowed 60 yards of space vs. the 75 yards available today at FC Dallas’s Toyota Stadium in Frisco.  The game report by Charles Clines in the Denton Record-Chronicle reported that the Tornado controlled the game early, but midway thorough the half the Stars came to life and forced Tornado goalkeeper Sandy Davie to make three saves, including two back-to-back saves on shots by Stars high-scoring forward Paulo Borges. (3)

The halftime break was originally scheduled to last 45 minutes, but was shortened to 10 after player complaints.  According to game accounts, the Tornado controlled play in the second half and scored a goal that was disallowed by a dubious offside call.  The Stars missed two golden opportunities to pick up the full three points near the end when Cabralzinho missed a shot at an open goal and hit the crossbar on a follow up after a poor clearance.  The fans apparently got into the spirit of the game, chanting “Score, Dallas Score!” near the end of the scoreless match.  How about that for a modern supporters group chant!  It must have been an entertaining match as the Tornado outshot the Stars 24-18

One humorous event happened during game play in the second half according to Thomson in Summer of ’67.  The Tornado had planned to have a parachutist deliver the ball to center circle for the start of the second half. Apparently nobody told the pilot that game had restarted, so midway through second half, according to the Tornado’s Donald Mackay,  “All of the sudden a gentleman in a parachute landed in the center of the park with the ball to kick off the second half.” (4)

Imagine how often this mix-up would have aired on SportsCenter or shared via social media if it had happened today.

The match box score from the Denton Record-Chronicle game report:

Denton Record-Chronicle

The Rematch-June 10, 1967-The Astrodome, Houston 

The Houston Stars won their first game of the ASA tournament in the Texas Derby rematch before 20,375 in the Astrodome.  Goals were scored by Borges and Peixinho in the first half to secure the victory.  The game story from AP has the details below, but in Summer of ’67, author Ian Thomson focused most of his match description on the challenges Dundee United faced playing indoors and on artificial turf for the first time.

The Astrodome “soccer” field configuration presented complications for both teams, but especially the visitors.  The field surface, set up for baseball a few days later, was a combination of dirt and grass, complete with holes where the bases had been removed. Also in Summer of ’67, Tornado player Mogens Berg attributed part of the issues to not having the appropriate shoes, stating that the Tornado players had not been informed about what type of field was used in the Astrodome before the match:  “We didn’t have the right shoes for playing on that.”  Because it was there, of course, once the Tornados entered the field they had to organize a competition to see if anybody could hit the roof with a soccer ball, which they quickly determined was impossible.

To add insult to injury, Dallas had played a midweek game in Vancouver three days previously and then traveled by bus to Houston.  Before the players expressed their dissatisfaction, the Tornado management had planned to bus down the day of the game and return to the dorms at SMU immediately after the game ended.  The team ended up coming in a day early, but still rode the bus back to Dallas Saturday night, arriving at 4:15 a.m. the next morning. (5)

8:00 p.m. on Friday evening in Houston the inter-state fun continues.

I will publish a story on Texas Soccer Journal in July to discuss the final results of the Tornado and Stars in this tournament played 50 years ago this summer.  I also highly recommend Summer of ’67-Flower Power, Race Riots, Vietnam and the Greatest Soccer Final Played on American Soccer by Ian Thomson if you would like to learn more about the single season of the defunct United Soccer Association.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18158248-summer-of-67

Credits:

(1) http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1967/05/29/page/43/article/2-mustangs-spark-teams-to-victories

(2)  Summer of ’67-Ian Thomson-pages 71-75

(3)  Denton Record-Chronicle, June 4, 1967 –Tornado Fails to Sweep Across Houston Goal

(4)  Summer of ’67-page 76

(5)  Summer of ’67-pages 118-119

MLS Week 16 and USL Week 13 Preview

Major League Soccer (MLS):

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas (FCD)

BC Place-Vancouver, B.C., Canada-9:00 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 17, 2017

Record and Standings:

Vancouver Whitecaps:  6-6-1-19 points (Tied for fifth place in the Western Conference)

FC Dallas:  6-3-5-23 points (Tied for third place in the Western Conference) 

An extra time own goal allowed FCD to beat Tulsa 2-1 and advance to the 5th round of the U.S. Open Cup, where they will host Colorado Rapids on June 28.

A Key Question:

Can FCD return to the dominating early season performance after experiencing a slump where it has only won once in the last six league matches?

https://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2017-06-17-vancouver-whitecaps-fc-vs-fc-dallas/preview

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo

Stub Hub Center, Los Angeles, CA-10:00 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 17, 2017

Record and Standings:

LA Galaxy:  5-5-3-18 points (Eighth place in the Western Conference)  

Houston Dynamo:  7-6-2-23 points (Tied for third place in the Western Conference) 

Memo Rodriquez scored in the 109th minute to lead the Dynamo to a 3-2 U.S. Open Cup win in added extra time against North Carolina FC in Cary, NC.  The Dynamo played exclusively with a squad consisting of reserves and short-term contract players from Rio Grande Valley.  Houston will now host Sporting KC at BBVA Compass Stadium in the next round June 28.

A Key Question:

Can the Dynamo build on its first road victory and also secure its first MLS road win, against an in-form but short-handed Galaxy, in the same week?

https://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2017-06-17-la-galaxy-vs-houston-dynamo/preview

United Soccer League (USL):

San Antonio FC (SAFC) vs. Tulsa Roughnecks

Toyota Field-San Antonio-7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2017

Record and Standings:

San Antonio FC:  9-0-4-31 points (Second place in the Western Conference)

Tulsa Roughnecks:  5-6-0-15 points (Eighth place in the Western Conference)

A Key Question:

Is Cyprian Hedrick ready to step back in for the full 90 to replace suspended Steven McCarthy at center back?

http://www.uslsoccer.com/news_article/show/804606?referrer_id=2430124

Los Angeles Galaxy II (Los Dos) vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC)

H-E-B Park, Edinburg-7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 17, 2017

Record and Standings:

Rio Grande Valley FC:  5-4-2-17 points (Tied for fifth place in the Western Conference) 

LA Galaxy II:  2-8-2-8 points (Fourteenth place in the Western Conference)

A Key Question:

How many Toros players returning from their stint with the Dynamo in NC will be in the lineup tomorrow?

http://www.uslsoccer.com/news_article/show/804608?referrer_id=2430124

Texas teams in U.S. Open Cup-Round 4

Both Texas MLS teams, who enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in round 4 tomorrow, are the only remaining teams from the state still in the 2017 tournament.

North Carolina FC vs. Houston Dynamo

WakeMed Soccer Park-Cary, NC-6:30 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 14

History is working against the Dynamo.  The club’s record in away U.S. Open Cup games is 1-7, including two losses in the Carolina’s to Charleston Battery.  The only Dynamo road victory came in 2009 when they beat the early version of the USL Austin Aztex (the team that moved to Orlando and eventually became MLS side Orlando City FC).

Because Rio Grande Valley FC doesn’t compete in the U.S. Open Cup and the players who were away on international duty will be missing, the Dynamo has taken the opportunity to call in seven players from its USL affiliate for this match.

Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera discussed how important this game was for the new players:

https://www.houstondynamo.com/post/2017/06/12/us-open-cup-most-important-game-players-looking-first-team-opportunities?autoplay=true

Toros iron-man midfielder Charlie Ward also discussed how important this game is for him and his fellow Toros:

https://www.houstondynamo.com/post/2017/06/12/charlie-ward-looks-forward-open-cup-opportunity-dynamo?autoplay=true

Dallas FC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks 

Westcott Field (SMU)-Dallas-7:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 14

FC Dallas, the defending Open Cup champions, will likely field a reserve-heavy side for this game against Tulsa.  Below is a preview of the game:

https://www.fcdallas.com/post/2017/06/12/setting-stage-fc-dallas-2017-us-open-cup-match-against-tulsa-roughnecks-fc

 

 

MLS Week 15 Recap

Portland Timbers-2   FC Dallas (FCD)-0 

PORT:  Adi-32 (Blanco), 72 (Asprilla, Valeri)    FCD:  NONE

Two Observations

A tough road

FC Dallas was short-handed due to international call-ups and injuries. Beating the Timbers in Portland is hard enough when a full roster is present, extremely hard if you don’t and next to impossible if you fall behind.  The game winner scored by Fernando Adi was unfortunate because it all began off a ricochet pass from Carlos Gruezo that allowed Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco to get behind the midfield and initiate the break that was ultimately finished by Adi.  There was no luck involved in the second goal. The build up and execution left the FCD defense in shambles and allowed a wide open Adi to play with Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez before he tapped the ball in.

It could have been a lot worse

Shortly before Adi’s second goal put the game away, Diego Valeri scored a stunning goal that, if not disallowed because of a mythical hand ball, would have been in the running for MLS Goal of the Year.  Unlike the Dynamo, who were run off the field in Portland during the second half in week 3, FCD overcame the obstacles to a great extent and accounted itself well in this game  The best thing FCD can do is put this game in the rear view mirror and prepare for the midweek US Open Cup match against Tulsa in Dallas. Dallas is going through a tough patch now and the old adage about “long season” certainly does apply.

Match highlights are below.  Valeri’s disallowed goal starts at 2:05:

https://www.mlssoccer.com/iframe-video?ooyala_id=J0NWJqYjE6UU0_md2aZiJcoV2ZilZVmH&partner_code=I1djcxOsLrwl8b-9xe2r_DCXV4cV&player_id=4bfc225f82bf46c48dfb065eda97f74f

Weekly Soccer Notes-June 10, 2017

Other news of interest in Texas Soccer this week:

Major League Soccer (MLS):

Bleacher Report’s Noah Davis wrote an excellent long-form piece on former Dynamo defender/midfielder and sometimes forward Geoff Cameron.  He used the word “unheralded” to describe Cameron’s arrival in Houston and that is true.  He joined the team as a third round MLS Super Draft choice in 2008 and in this article Dynamo head coach at the time, Dominic Kinnear, admitted about Cameron’s pick “It was a gamble” .  It didn’t take Dynamo supporters long to consider him heralded.  He scored on his home debut against FC Dallas and was in the starting lineup for the second-leg of a CONCACAF Champions Cup match (predecessor to the current CCL) in Costa Rica early in his rookie season. Now he is one of the top American exports to the English Premier League.

The link to the story is below: (bleacherreport.com)

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2714430-geoff-camerons-rise-from-unheralded-youngster-to-usmnt-star

CONCACAF Gold Cup:

  • The biennial CONCACAF Gold Cup will be held in the United States from July 7-26. The U.S. submitted a provisional 40 man roster to the Confederation last week…this roster needs to be reduced to 23 by June 27th. Players from Texas teams, or those that are Texas-natives, named to the preliminary roster include:

Defenders:  Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico),  Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)

Midfielders:  Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas)

Goalkeeper:  Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas)

U.S. born Gonzalez had previously announced his intention to play for Mexico, since he is a dual-national and has represented Mexico in youth tournaments. According to an article on mlssoccer.com, Fox Sports analyst and former Houston Dynamo Stuart Holden reported that he had recently spoken to Gonzalez’s agent, who said Gonzalez would accept the call if he is selected for the US 23-man roster for the Gold Cup. (mlssoccer.com)

  • Other CONCACAF counties also released their provisional rosters.  Players with current Texas connections include: (mlssoccer.com)

Canada:  Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)

Honduras:  Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas), Alberth Elis, Boniek Garcia and Rommel Quioto (Houston Dynamo)

Mexico:  Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo)

Panama:  Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo)

  • The CONCACAF website featured an interview with former Dynamo legend Dwayne DeRosario who played for Canada in five Gold Cups before his retirement in 2015. Here is a link to the interview: (concacaf.com)

http://www.concacaf.com/article/concacaf-qa-dwayne-de-rosario-retired-canada

National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL):

The Houston Dash were held scoreless for the second consecutive week, losing 2-0 to the Washington Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex last Saturday. Though held scoreless, the Dash forced eight saves from the Spirit goalkeeper.  With the loss, the Dash fell into last place in the league (2-6-0 and 6 points from 8 games).  The Dash now have a week off before their next match against Orlando on June 17th.  It is likely that a new permanent coach will be named at some point during the break, to replace Randy Waldrum who was fired two weeks ago. (houstondynamo.com)

United States Youth National Teams:

36 players have been called into the U.S. Under-15 Girls’ National Team training camp in Portland, Oregon, from June 11-18.  Four Texas players will participate in this camp, three from the North Texas Solar Chelsea club…midfielder Olivia Pena (Irving) and forwards Trinity Byars (Richardson) and Alexis Missimo (Southlake).  Goalkeeper Azul Alvarez (Lonestar SC; Round Rock) rounds out the Texas group.

Youth Soccer Development:

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs will take place June 22-26 in Westfield, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis). The Academy conducted its 2016-17 Playoff draw on Wednesday, with the qualified U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams drawn into eight groups of four teams each.

  • FC Dallas, the defending champions at both age levels, was one of 23 club programs to qualify teams for the 2017 playoffs at both age levels.  At the lower age level, FCD has been grouped with Crew SC Academy Wolves, New York City FC and Baltimore Armour.  The older group will face New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders FC and Beachside Soccer Club in the group Stage.  The game against Red Bulls will be one of the marquee match-ups of the group stage.
  • The Houston Dynamo qualified a team at the U 15/16 level and face an all MLS group stage bracket, the first time this has happened in the Academy playoffs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, LA Galaxy, Philadelphia Union join the Dynamo in what will certainly be a challenging group.

Further details can be found in the link below:  (ussoccer.com)

http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2017/06/08/21/32/20170608-news-group-pairings-announced-for-2017-us-soccer-development-academy-playoffs

MLS Preview-Week 15

There are only three matches being played in MLS this week because of the international break.  FC Dallas will play one of those three on the road against Portland Timbers Saturday night.  In addition to Matt Hedges and Kellyn Acosta who are away with the United States National team, FCD starters Maynor Figueroa and Tesho Akindele have also been called into national team camps and will miss Saturday’s match.  Another reason MLS has no business playing during international windows.

Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas (FCD)

Providence Park-Portland, OR-9:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 10, 2017

Record and Standings:

Portland Timbers:  6-5-3-21 points (Fourth place in the Western Conference)  

FC Dallas:  6-2-5-23 points (Tied for second place in the Western Conference)

  • Dallas has only won once in Portland, though the Timbers enter Saturday’s match on a five-game winless streak against FC Dallas (0-4-1)
  • FCD midfielder Roland Lamah was named the Alcatel MLS Player of the Week due to his first-half hat trick against Real Salt Lake.  In addition to Lamah, forward Maxi Urruti was also named to the MLS Team of the Week.
  • This is the first of two back-to-back trips to the Pacific Northwest for FCD.  After returning home for the midweek U.S. Open Cup match against Tulsa, FCD will play Vancouver Whitecaps away next weekend.
  • With international call-ups and the injury to Walker Zimmerman, Oscar Pareja will need to cobble together a make-shift back line on Saturday night. Not something you prefer to do when facing two Portland attacking talents like Diego Valeri (8 goals) and Fernando Adi (6 goals).  Portland started off the season like gangbusters, cooled off and, most recently, won their first game in six last weekend against San Jose in Portland

The game preview on mlssoccer.com is below:

https://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2017-06-10-portland-timbers-vs-fc-dallas/preview

MLS Week 14 Recap

FC Dallas (FCD)-6    Real Salt Lake (RSL)-2  

FCD:  Lamah-8 (Barrios, Gruezo), 22 (Urruti, Harris), 31 (Gruezo), Urruti-39 (Ulloa), Akindele-43 (Barrios), Ferreira-89 (Barrios, Diaz)    RSL:  Holness-70 (Plata), Beckerman-72 (Rusnak)

Four Observations

Real Salt Lake apparently doesn’t much like playing in Texas

On the heels of the 5-1 drubbing in Houston, I imagine RSL figured that it couldn’t get any worse.  Apparently, it could.  FCD dropped a six-spot on RSL, becoming the first team in MLS history to score 5 goals in the first half of a game in the process.  After last weeks complete embarrassment of a trip, Real is now 3-25-3 in Texas since entering the league in 2005.

Roland Lamah breaks out?

There is frequently an adjustment period when new players come into MLS from outside the country.  “Adjustment period” is one of nicer terms to describe Lamah’s performance to date this year.  A hat trick in 31 minutes may be the prescription for the breakout that will allow Lamah to become the kind of player FCD imagined when they used a significant amount of Targeted Acquisition Money to add him during the offseason.

Jesus Ferreira’s dream debut

FC Dallas Academy product Ferreira was signed to a first-team contract in the offseason when he was 15 years old.  Saturday night, with his 89th minute goal, he became the second youngest player to score in MLS history (on his debut no less).  Only Freddy Adu was younger when he scored his first MLS goal.

The good news from the Academy keeps on rolling in

MLS.com’s Matthew Doyle was full of praise for Academy product Victor Ulloa’s (Mauro Diaz like) pass that led to Maxi Urutti’s first half goal.  The video from mlssoccer.com below is self-explanatory

FC Dallas’s trip to play Portland Timbers next Saturday night is one of only three MLS matches during the International break next weekend.

Houston Dynamo-5    Real Salt Lake-1

HOU:  Schmidt (OG)-3, Alex-15 (Manotas), Manotas-45 (Torres, Elis), Torres-52 (Elis, Alex), Leonardo-68 (Garcia, Clark)    RSL:  Plata-63

Seattle Sounders-1    Houston Dynamo-0

SEA:  Bruin-69  (Roldan, Alonso)   HOU:  NONE

Three Observations

Win at Home…Lose on the Road

The pattern of the 2017 season so far.  What a marvelous performance Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake in BBVA Compass Stadium.  Then last night the Dynamo play a much more organized and mistake-free defense than they have done so far this season, but it wasn’t enough. Wilmer Cabrera has been upfront about the “work in progress” that is the Dynamo, especially on the road.  If this is true, Dynamo fans must take some consolation from the performances in Dallas last weekend and Seattle last night.  On the defensive side of the ball you clearly can see the work that is happening on the practice field.  After the game, Cabrera talked about the need to be more clinical in the finishing. Teams are not going to get a lot of good chances on the road.  Seattle, especially with the central defense pairing of Roman Torres and Chad Marshall, was not going to make many mistakes last night. Unfortunately, Alberth Elis was unable to convert on the one big defensive mistake made by Seattle late in the game.  Road points depend on taking advantage of these kinds of opportunities when they come along.  I suspect this miss was exhibit #1 of what Cabrera is talking about.

Will Bruin was going to beat the Dynamo sometime…

Former Dynamo Will Bruin was not supposed to play last night because of an elbow injury.  Since Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris were away on international duty, Bruin despite not having full range of motion in his arm, was in the starting lineup last night anyway.  Once I saw the starting lineup, I had a sinking feeling that Bruin was going to beat the Dynamo and that is what happened after he finished from inside the six-yard box off a superb Christian Roldan cross.  After the game he was quoted on mlssoccer.com about his reactions to the game-winner against his old team:

“I’ve just got to smile real big,” Bruin said. “It was good. I think the three points is great. [Against the Dynamo], it makes it a little sweeter.”

This celebrating is a little difficult for Dynamo fans to stomach.  It is hard to have any animosity towards Bruin because he did score 50 goals for the Dynamo.  That aside, he now has 4 goals so far this year…as many as he scored all last year in Houston.  Right after he signed a lucrative extension.  To be fair, much of Bruin’s nonperformance in Houston was not his fault. He was left on an island as a sole-striker much of his last two years with the Dynamo, not the formation to best utilize his skills.  There were, however, too many poor finishes during his time in Texas for him to play the victim here.  It was time for a change of scenery after last season since he had worn out his welcome.  He would not have fit in Wilmer Cabrera’s system anyway. I suspect this will not be the last goal Bruin scores against the Dynamo.  In an interview on Jason Davis’s radio show on SiriusXM FC (@SiriusXMFC) this morning, MLS Soccer’s Matt Doyle mentioned that Seattle only needed to part with $25,000 of allocation money to get Bruin.  If that is true, the Dynamo must have either been in a fire sale mode or wanted that desperately to get out from under his contract.

If it is any consolation after the loss in Seattle… 

In last week’s MLS games, home teams were 12-0-3.  According to stats put together by Paul Carr from ESPN (@PCarrESPN) home advantage has been bigger so far this year than any previous year in league history (0.688% winning percentage and 1.96 points per game).  So the Dynamo are not alone.  In his Soccer Matters radio program last week, Glenn Davis (@GlennDavisSoc) asked former New England manager Steve Nicol (@SteveNicol61) about the difficulty of away games in MLS.  My summary of what he said is that there is other league in the world that faces the road challenges posed by the travel, geographic, climatic, etc. conditions that exist in Major League Soccer.  He then cited traveling across the country from Boston to play in Los Angeles in March as a specific example of these difficulties.  When you combine all of this with the natural advantage for the home team, he then said that it is very hard to understand how difficult MLS road games are unless you have actually done it.