Friday’s soccer junk drawer

Friday’s soccer junk drawer

Soccer notes compiled while waiting for tonight’s College of Charleston match against Vermont (7 p.m., Patriots Point)…

GO CRANES GO: So I was able to find a mention that said that Uganda lost to Senegal 0-1 last weekend and was eliminated from World Cup qualifying, but nowhere could I find any detailed game story or box score. And the reason why I would care is that Battery midfielder and USL PRO All-League second teamer Mike Azira got called up for that Uganda squad.

Spoke to Battery Coach Mike Anhaeuser today, and it turns out Azira made the 18, but wasn’t subbed into the match. Still, pretty awesome to have a Battery player involved in World Cup qualifying. Color me nerd.

Hey, speaking of USL PRO, Harrisburg forward Lucky Mkonsana has signed on with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of NASL and banged in a goal.

IS FLORIDA REALLY ‘SOUTHEASTERN?’ AND OTHER MLS IMPONDERABLES: So there’s a bunch of chatter out there about two MLS topics today: Don Garber‘s statement that three of the four available MLS expansion slots are already spoken for, and that Atlanta is now  in the running.

USL PRO champions Orlando City has clearly locked up one of those slots, and the speculation surrounding David Beckham‘s $25 million franchise coupon connects him to Miami these days. But Atlanta is emerging as the new hotness, and Sports Illustrated just flat names the city as the third of the future four.

I suppose that if you’re sitting in New York looking at the MLS map, you look at Orlando, Miami and Atlanta and say “Well, now we’ve added those Southeastern teams we’ve been needing.” Thing is, sitting here in the Southeast, I look at these cities and think “We’re screwed.”

Orlando deserves an MLS franchise, but I don’t see South Carolina fans picking it up as “their” MLS team. That’s because Florida is an appendage — “America’s Wang,” as Homer Simpson put it — associated more with places like New York than York County. Miami is probably the worst sports city in America, a fact that gets papered over by market demographics every time. And Atlanta has never supported anything but the Braves.

So is it really a good thing for Southeastern soccer if MLS gives us Atlanta, Orlando and Miami? It’s not like we have that many great options, but my fear is that the one longshot expansion location that might generate real fan interest — the Raleigh-Durham-Cary-RTP market, home to the Carolina Railhawks — is going to get paved over in the rush to please bigshot NFL owner Arthur Blank. Blanks Falcons epitomize mediocrity. Why would an MLS franchise in the same house be anything other than a second banana?

SC UNITED BATTERY ACADEMY STARTS HOME SCHEDULE: They made a trip down to Georgia last weekend for their season opener, but Clark Brisson’s S.C. United Battery Academy will take the field at Blackbaud Stadium on Sunday to begin their fall 2013 home schedule against the Carolina Railhawks Academy. 

The U-14s (coached by Troy Lesesne) play at 9 a.m., followed by the U-18s (Brisson) at 11:30 and the U-16s  (Brisson) at 2 p.m. I’ll be out there to cover the 9 a.m. match, but won’t be able to stick around to shoot the next two. So if you’re there and you shoot any photos you’d be willing to share, please email me: dan@danconover.com.

Our academy will be on the road to Winston-Salem to take on the North Carolina Fusion, but return to Charleston on Oct. 5 and 6 for matches at Trident Academy. We’ll be there.

CSU TAKES A BEATING: Rough night for the Buccaneers, who went down to Macon, Ga., and got devoured by the Mercer Bears, 4-0. The score might be a bit misleading, thanks to two late goals by the home side as CSU pushed for an equalizer. We’ll talk about this some more when we round up the college weekend, but that’s a tough outcome for a CSU team that’s got some talent in its ranks — including senior striker Toni Lashley, who ended a match without a goal or an assist for the first time this season.

THE LONG ROAD TO MOTHERWELL: Battery midfielder Nicki Paterson was one of the late departures from town, but just flew home to Scotland with his fiance, Cheryl McSeveny. Paterson’s the next subject of the CHSSoccer player profile series… as soon as I can put down these paying jobs and get around to writing it. Fascinating guy, and a good interview.

Speaking of Scotland, here’s news for all you members of American Outlaws Charleston: The USMNT will play a friendly in Glasgow on Nov. 15. Maybe we can convince Paterson to cover it as a stringer.

BTW, it looks like we’re right up on the time of year when MLS teams have to declare any “discovery” claims on players — typically from the lower leagues — they’ve got an interest in. The discovery process is a terrible thing if you ask me — it’s a windfall favor for the clubs that screws the players, who are, after all, just trying to move up and work in their chosen profession — but it’s what we’re stuck with for now.

Not that MLS teams have to even publicly announce those discovery claims. But if you’re one of the few Battery players in the running for an end-of-season run with an MLS side, today might be a pretty interesting day for your agent.

Meanwhile, in other vaguely Battery-related news, two of the 2013 team’s West Coast players on making their way cross-country in separate cars. Jarad van Schaik left for Portland in a rather questionable car. His whereabouts are unknown. Kevin Klasila left on the 9th, and has made stops in New Orleans, Austin, Dallas and Albuquerque, N.M., as he makes his way back to Los Angeles. 

If you’ve never driven across North America in a car, you should. At least once. Hell, I’d do it every other week if I could get paid doing it.

FULL SLATE: Big Western Conference match tonight on NBC Sports when RSL visits Seattle at 10 p.m. Sticking with NBC, tomorrow’s 7:45 a.m. match is Manchester United and Crystal Palace. At 10:30 a.m. it’s Southampton vs. West Ham United. And on Sunday at 3 it’s Liverpool and Swansea.Plus all those NBC Live Extra games we’re promised… that never seem to stream properly.

TOP IMAGE: Toni Lashley of Charleston Southern; Mike Azira of the Charleston Battery and the Uganda Cranes; Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons… and possibly an MLS expansion franchise.

1 Comment

  1. Managed to find a link and watch the Uganda vs Senegal World Cup Qualifier. It wasn’t a great feed (we’ve had a few of those in USL Pro), but at least we could watch. We knew that Mike was on the bench and wish that he had gotten to play. I personally think that they might have won the game if they had put him in, but then I’m rather fond of him. An honor for him even though he didn’t get to actually play. He returned to Charleston on the 11th and sent me a message letting me know he was back and okay.

    Good article as usual and can’t wait to read your interview with Nicki. Maybe he can cover that USA game in Glasgow for you.

    Keep up the good work, Dan.