MLS Soccer Schedule | US Soccer Players

It took exactly no time for the Major League Soccer schedule to become an issue in 2012.  "I think this game is on me, it鈥檚 my fault," Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "I think I should have used fresher bodies. We hit the wall and made mistakes attributed to fatigue. I think the travel and two games this week added up to being a pretty tired team over the last 20 minutes and it cost us the game. I take full responsibility for that."

Arena's postgame quotes after a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake have gotten the expected response from multiple corners.  Teams, especially the elite, are supposed to be able to handle multiple games a week.  Wednesday-to-Saturday isn't a unique schedule in professional soccer.  However, LA was in a unique position as the only Champions League team to play over opening weekend.  That's the larger point and one worth stressing, the schedule favored two out of three teams.  More to the point, it favored RSL in an early matchup of Conference favorites. 

You might remember last season when the two teams met on March 26th.  Once again, LA had a compressed schedule and had already played their season opener on the 15th and again on the 2nd before travelling to Utah.  Not helping matters, the RSL – LA game fell on an international match day, meaning LA was without Landon Donovan.  Salt Lake's 4-1 win said more about the schedule than it did about what would happen over the rest of the 2011 season. 

That's the problem that ended up being stressed by both coaches following Saturday's game.  RSL's Jason Kreis also talked about the Galaxy's schedule and how it was tough to play the regulars in the Champions League and the League in the same week.  He would know, and it should leave most fans wondering why MLS didn't black out all the MLS teams competing in the knockout stage of the Champions League. 

As it stands, they did the opposite, handing the advantage to Toronto who won't open their MLS season until their Champions League series with the Galaxy is decided.  Toronto might complain about having to go Wednesday-to-Saturday, but it's a different scenario than LA's and they're playing another team working a Wednesday-to-Saturday shift. 

Corner Rating: (with 1 meaning MLS does what they want with the schedule and 11 meaning they make allowances for teams in multiple competitions) 3.

Last Week's Corner: We've already seen some comments putting additional pressure on FIFA and the International Football Association Board to push ahead with goal-line technology and addressing wrong calls on goals in general.  That's a positive sign that raises our original ranking from 6 to 8. 


DC’s Stadium | US Soccer Players

By J Hutcherson – WASHINGTON, DC (Mar 13, 2012) US Soccer Players — I have no complaints about old stadiums. I’m as likely as anyone you know to walk willingly into the warm embrace of nostalgia when it comes to old  ballparks. I was reading books about stadiums that no longer existed when I was in grade school, and my enthusiasm hasn’t really waned. Then there’s RFK.

The first time I went to RFK was in 1998. It was already noticeably slumping into what I’ll politely call a state of disrepair in an era where ‘new’ and ‘sports specific’ were already taking over. But it was a big stadium where Major League Soccer normally had first dibs on dates. That made it valuable for MLS as well as the US Soccer Federation, but it didn’t make it a nice stadium. In fact, there’s an argument that the utility of the stadium helped allow it to degrade.

Why put municipal funds into a stadium that would have a regular schedule of events anyway?  Rent was being paid for an ageing facility, keeping it viable even when the city’s National Football League team moved out following the 1996 season.  Even now, with FedEx Field and Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium the likelier locations for higher profile games, RFK has dates on the calendar.  For a stadium that opened in 1961, that’s a level of usability that newer venues aren’t expected to match.  Good for the city, getting a return on an initial investment in a baseball/football stadium that for long stretches lacked a baseball team.

If anything, baseball’s return made it worse for soccer. The arrival of the Washington Nationals should have forced United to move.  Instead, it created a compromise that turned that dilapidated soccer-preferred stadium into a return to RFK’s original multi-use ideal. RFK was the first baseball/football stadium, and that model was done better by stadiums that followed.  It’s worth mentioning that most of those multiuse stadiums built after RFK no longer exist.  Instead, RFK turned into a baseball/soccer stadium, focusing on the baseball half while the city began work on Nationals Park.

Reconfiguring RFK for baseball required shifting the modular half of the lower seating bowl and removing an entire section of seats.  That seating section wasn’t put back in when baseball left for their nice new home a few miles away.  RFK looked even worse for ware. Without exaggeration, I’ve been in stadiums that were set to close and eventually be demolished that were in better surface shape than RFK.

‘Surface’ is a big part of the problem. Get rid of the gravel surrounding three sides of the field. Clean the seating areas. Paint. Instead, it looks like an old apartment building where tenants are expected to make do.  A stadium, like any building, can age with dignity or it can grow old.

For MLS, DC’s stadium problem remains a problem the League helped create.  It’s that utility issue, when RFK was an easy choice when soccer needed a stadium capable of holding more than 40,000 fans without the scheduling issues associated with NFL stadiums.  For the most part, MLS has moved on.  They have easier options in the era of soccer-specificity.  The All-Star Game is now the only neutral site event on the MLS calendar, and the League can schedule that game against a marquee European club and sell more seats than RFK can provide. 

MLS hasn’t been shy making the RFK issue a DC United issue.  Why would MLS focus its attention on a subpar stadium and a faded dynasty when it can look elsewhere? United’s stadium is a problem, but it doesn’t have to be Major League Soccer’s problem.  While MLS focuses its efforts on coming up with a stadium deal within New York City, finding a workable solution within the District of Columbia seems like a tougher problem.  As bizarre as that sounds, United’s attempts to get a stadium deal done speak to the layers of difficulty in finding a workable solution in or just outside the District.  Baseball moving to DC with a stadium deal already in place, only to end up in a nice new building that they can’t fill hasn’t helped.  Neither has the continued utility of RFK. 

What happens next is a question everyone with an interest in DC professional soccer is asking.  United waited until opening night to announce that they’d signed a new lease with the Washington Convention and Sports Authority.  There are signs that the city might have interest in a soccer-specific stadium.  With the football lines from a December college bowl game still visible, United took the field for another season at RFK.  With limited options, they make do. 

Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves.  Please, tell me all about it.

More from J Hutcherson:

The MLS Message The Sporting Chance MLS And The NFL Transfers, Villa, And Financial Fair Play

Questions: Shirts, Temps, Shots, Shuts, Stats | US Soccer Players

By Tony Edwards – San Jose, CA (Mar 13, 2012) US Soccer Players — In Tuesday's edition, Tony puts on his sponsor unaffiliated warm clothes to watch Major League Soccer's first weekend of play, asking about shirt sponsors, Chivas USA's struggles, and statistical validity.

How many teams do not have shirt sponsors?

With the Earthquakes and Amway having quietly gone in their different ways this offseason, there are four (Colorado, Dallas, Kansas City, and San Jose). Interestingly, they are all 'legacy' teams and three of them have won MLS Cup.

What was the average temperature at kickoff for MLS games this weekend?

MLS got off lightly this past weekend, as (not including Monday's games) temperatures averaged a balmy 55 degrees. It was a wonderful 44 and windy at kickoff in DC on Saturday night, which made for some quality soccer. I didn't include the Vancouver game for obvious reasons.

If MLS is insisting on a season that starts in Winter and ends in December, did anyone ask the fans in Colorado or Dallas if they were willing to sit outside in early March? At least the League was smart enough not to schedule home games for Toronto and Montreal this weekend (it was 28 degrees in both cities on Saturday afternoon).  All temperatures were taken from

How many shots on goal did the Dynamo have on Sunday against Chivas?

Eighteen and six corner kicks. Chivas goalie Dan Kennedy had eight saves. Kansas City had 17 shots against DC United, forcing Bill Hamid into seven saves.

How many times were Chivas USA shut out last season?

Twelve. And they are off to the same start this season, being shut out by Houston this past weekend. Chivas had few chances during the game, and for all of Robin Fraser's positive words afterwards, and players missing due to injury, Chivas has problems on both sides of the ball.

What statistics jumped out over the weekend?

The Impact committed 26 fouls against the Whitecaps. Salt Lake had a 鈥減assing accuracy鈥?of 82%, while DC's was 67%. Incredibly, the Red Bulls 'out passed' Dallas by more than 200 passes, according to the statistics (536 to 314).

The additional level of statistical information is welcome, but does anyone who watched the Dallas-Red Bulls game think the Red Bulls were Barcelona-like? Passing statistics need to be weighed, as passes between defenders under no pressure aren't the same as pass that leads to an attempt on goal.

More Questions:

Garber, DC, Bradley, Originals, TV Preseason, Attendance, FIFA, Dallas, Calendar Stats, Forest, Sounders, Toronto, ECA India, San Diego, Houston, Liverpool Fairness

The Good And The Bad In MLS | US Soccer Players

By J Hutcherson – WASHINGTON, DC (Mar 15, 2012) US Soccer Players — Toronto ending the Los Angeles Galaxy's Champions League campaign at the quarterfinal stage probably didn't shock as many people as it should have.  Regardless of how much League officials built up the importance of the Champions League, there's still a disconnect between MLS interest and interest in other competitions involving MLS teams. 

The North American professional sports marketplace doesn't do well with tournaments on top of the regular league schedule.  Well, that's not exactly true.  The US portion of the North American pro sports marketplace doesn't do well. 

Canada seems to have no trouble not only embracing, but treating tournaments like the Champions League as bigger than the regular league schedule.  After all, that's the point of a Confederation championship tournament.  Granted, they're the only country in CONCACAF that feels this way, at least demonstrated by attendance numbers. 

Back at MLS level, Toronto's win opens up an older discussion.  Toronto isn't a good team, this season or last.  They've been hunting for a style of play since their expansion season that has yet to show up.  Glimpses, sure.  But those glimpses are normally met with the kind of tinkering that leaves them worse off. 

The day after knocking the Galaxy out of the Champions League in the knockout stage, a lot will be temporarily forgiven.  Whether or not it should be isn't exactly a fair question in light of the biggest accomplishment in Toronto FC history.  This is a team that this time last year was having to explain a loss to the latest expansion team, a Canadian expansion team.  Engaged fan base aside, there is no roll of honor for this club.  Had they failed to get past the Galaxy, would anyone have been surprised?

Which brings us to the larger question.  What does bad really mean in Major League Soccer?  After all, good or bad is the easiest way to group teams in any league.  In the broadest scope, good means success and bad means failure, but that doesn't really work for professional sports.  There have been times in almost every pro sports league where teams that are horrid to watch have won enough to be in the good category.  Some even became champions playing with a style that was a turnoff everywhere but the home market.  That happens, and we've seen it in MLS. 

There's also the reverse, teams with bad records that have tried and failed to establish a style of play that was more entertaining than the status quo.  Some might flatter Toronto by putting them in this category, but their ever changing styles move the target to the point that it's an empty compliment.  That's part of the difficulty in figuring out what bad really means in this League. 

It's certainly not the Los Angeles Galaxy in the broad scope of things.  They're defending champions, the favorites from among the MLS teams that made the knockout round of the Champions League to advance to the final.  Yet over three games that counted to start their 2012 schedule, they haven't been very good.  See how that works?  Respect for what they've accomplished leaves them out of the bad category.  At least for now, they get the benefit of the doubt.  The same is not true for Toronto.   Right now, they're a bad team that's overachieving.  

Does that put them in a completely different category than Seattle, a club that blew a game one lead and got demolished in the second-half against Santos Laguna?  Yes, it does.  Seattle is a proven winner, capable of competing for Conference titles and winning big games on a regular basis.  Becoming the latest team to show that MLS still can't compete on a regular basis in Mexico doesn't move them out of the good category.  Toronto beating LA doesn't move them out of the bad. 

So what does?  Most would point to results on the field.  Lose enough, and nothing is going to keep a team from being thought of as bad.  Maybe, but there are those that will argue that MLS doesn't reward creative play.  The physicality of the League eventually pulls teams towards a norm that focuses on the basics rather than the flair.  There's a third category of teams that fall around the median.  They're neither good nor bad, but can still make the playoffs, pull of a shock result or two, and never have to admit that they're part of the problem.

Toronto isn't one of the clubs being dragged down by a schedule full of grind out games against median teams.  They're a team trying to get into that median category.  To be average in MLS means just that. It's avoiding the long losing streaks that seem to plague certain teams every season.  It's really being in playoff contention late, rather than being mathematically still alive along with almost every team in the League. 

Wednesday night in Carson didn't change that, and it might not even have shown us a Toronto in theory.  Those games, especially the first leg, weren't evidence of a new style that will push Toronto into contention in the Eastern Conference this season.  That is what's needed.  Evidence that Toronto has changed for the better.  Right now, it really is just one surprising win in March. 

Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves.  Please, tell me all about it.

More from J Hutcherson:

DC's Stadium The MLS Message The Sporting Chance MLS And The NFL

Questions: Names, Ratings, Moyes, Wanderers, Roster | US Soccer Players

By Tony Edwards – San Jose, CA (Mar 15, 2012) US Soccer Players — In Thursday's edition, Tony looks at nicknames in MLS, Everton's 'Cup or league' debate, and how Tim Ream's Bolton Wanderers are doing.

Can we stop with the nicknames in MLS?

Blue Collar Boys. The Black and Red. The Hoops. Rojiblancos. Cobalt and Claret.

Look, we all get tired of writing and reading 'Earthquakes' or 'Real Salt Lake' or whatever, but these nicknames feel contrived.  More to the point, they feel forced like we're all part of some marketing campaign. These aren't organic, flowing from the fan base up to club level and eventually being given recognition.  Even if one or two are, it seems awful convenient that the League's clubs have found so many examples across multiple markets.  How about we call them San Jose, United, Dallas, Chivas, and Salt Lake if you need to shorten their names. By those standards, we'll soon be hearing the  Sounders referred to as 'the electric cyan and rave green.'

How did the first MLS on NBC Sports Network broadcast do in the ratings?

Depends if you are a half-full or half-empty person. Those looking to make excuses for the League will cite college basketball's Selection Sunday as one reason, but I think we have enough evidence that MLS doesn't register deeply enough with the casual sports watcher pushing buttons on the remote.  Changing that has been a challenge since 1996.  Keep in mind that NBC Sports has already publicly put the number for games on NBC Sports Network at a 0.3 rating and on NBC itself at a 1.0.  While MLS deserves credit for taking a risk with the move to NBC, it is a risk. 

Is Tim Howard's club manager, David Moyes, prioritizing the League or the FA Cup at this stage of the season?

The Cup, according to the Guardian. With no Manchester teams remaining in the draw, and Everton already at the quarter final stage (and safe in the league), Moyes is looking to mark his 10th anniversary at the club with a couple of trips to Wembley (semifinals and finals). Everton rested a few players against Liverpool on Tuesday in preparation for their FA Cup meeting against Sunderland on Saturday.

Can Bolton find safety?

It looks more likely than it did before last weekend, when Bolton controversially defeated QPR 2-1. Tim Ream has started three league games for Bolton, playing all but 10 minutes of those games. Bolton has defeated Wigan and QPR, and lost to Chelsea and Manchester City over their last four games. They are one point above the relegation zone, but with a worse goal difference than QPR.  The rest of Bolton's schedule may lack a lot of big names, but it isn't easy.  Spurs are the last marquee opponent, focused on finishing in a Champions League spot, but Bolton have a run of games against clubs trying to prove something late in the season.  All are tough opponents for a struggling Premier League club.

With Brek Shea off to Olympic Qualifying Camp and games and David Ferreira still rehabilitating his injured ankle, has Dallas made any moves to shore up its roster?

Scott Sealy, formerly of San Jose, Luis Perea, a striker from (yes) Colombia, and supplemental draft pick Alex Lee were added to FC Dallas' roster.  Dallas takes a lot of pride in its developmental academy, is this a chance for some of their younger players to step up?

More Questions:

Questions, Shirts, Temps, Shots, Shuts, Stats Garber, DC, Bradley, Originals, TV Preseason, Attendance, FIFA, Dallas, Calendar Stats, Forest, Sounders, Toronto, ECA

Roundtable: Champions League, RFK, And Protecting Players | US Soccer Players

This week, US Soccer Players columnists Dario Camacho, Jason Davis, Justin Shaffer, and Tony Edwards discuss Major League Soccer's problems in the CONCACAF Champions League, DC United's announcement that they'll be playing in a reduced-capacity RFK, and the League's commitment to protecting attacking players. This week in the CONCACAF Champions League, Seattle was comprehensively eliminated by Santos Laguna, while Toronto upset a listless Los Angeles Galaxy. Let's start with what went wrong for the Sounders.

Dario Camacho: We witnessed one thing common with Seattle in big games: lack of a killer instinct. Sure Santos is a very good team, but so is Seattle. I don't buy that excuse anymore that MLS can't compete with Mexican teams. Seattle winning at home against Santos was proof enough that they can compete. What I see from Seattle is an ugly pattern that goes back to their expansion year: that 9 out of 10 times, Seattle doesn't show up for the big game. Last year versus RSL they came out flat and lost 3-0. Almost came back on the return leg, but couldn't put it away.

Two years ago, they were beaten pretty convincingly by LA in the first round. The only thing they seem to win is Open Cup, which is not the same thing as CCL or MLS playoffs.

Jason Davis: Seattle ran up against a much better team, end of story. We like to think the gap between MLS and Mexican clubs is closing; it might have narrowed a bit in the last few years, but the contrast in the amount of top-end talent on a good Mexican club and that of an MLS team is still stark. Maybe not 6-1 stark (Seattle's defense went on vacation and forgot to tell anyone), but stark nonetheless. The best we can say about the MLS/Mexico dynamic is that MLS teams are good enough to compete in Mexico on their best day as long as the Mexican side is not enjoying the same themselves.

Justin Shaffer: There are many bloggers and writers throwing out the standard line about how the Sounders are just starting their season while Santos is in mid-season form. The reality is that this is what a low salary cap gets you, a league built for parity within itself, not with the rest of the world.

There were some pretty clear differences in quality in this game. Santos coach Benjamin Galindo attacked Seattle where it is weakest, using width and speed to strike fast up the middle and down Seattle鈥檚 left-flank.

And for all of Seattle鈥檚 attacking qualities, they still don鈥檛 have a clinical finisher.  There are two different Fredy Monteros. Last week Maestro Montero showed up against Santos. This week, we got Lazy Montero; looking disinterested and generally out of sorts throughout the game.

Camacho: On defense, it clearly shows how badly they need a revamp at LB. Gonzalez was smoked all night and most of Santos' goals came from his side.

But what happened to the Galaxy then? Now that their 'grand plan' to win four competitions is in tatters after one week, is the bloom off the Galaxy and Bruce Arena already?

Davis: LA's defense is much worse than I imagined. Neither Boyens or Meyer are good enough to cover for the loss of Gonzalez. The Galaxy certainly lost that game more than TFC won it, both because LA had enough chances to pull it out, and because so many of Bruce Arena's guys just had  really bad days. The Galaxy haven't yet looked ready to play this year, and that's certainly troubling, and brings Arena's approach in the pre-season into question.

Camacho: Lets not forget that Toronto is an improved product and they have the pieces now to start making some noise. Can they beat Santos? No, but they will give them a hard time. I think the hard play of Frings will be a huge disruptor for the Santos attack. Plata and Johnson up top can be a nuisance, but its the mid field that probably will undo TFC. The best tactic Toronto can employ is be physical. Get into Santos' head and pinch them on the counter.

Davis: Let's also not forget that LA had every chance to find a good center back to step in for Gonzalez and chose instead to go with the cheap options. If the choices were re-sign Buddle or bring in a center back, it looks like Bruce made the wrong choice.

Edwards: Last time we did this, I anointed the Galaxy champions in waiting. I still stand by that mostly because of Arena's track record and the sheer number of chances LA created. Much of the game, it looked like LA was in a different league from Toronto, in terms of patience and ball distribution.

DC United鈥檚 seating capacity at RFK is now limited to less than 20K. What kind of message is MLS sending when, with a few exceptions, the legacy clubs aren't drawing.

Shaffer: Each situation is different. You can鈥檛 compare DC鈥檚 situation to the issues Columbus is facing. Sure, there are some lessons they can learn from one another and best practices that all of these teams could take from the better drawing clubs. A team like DC United has put together a competitive and appealing product but they have a pretty difficult stadium situation. If MLS had expanded to Seattle back in the days of the Kingdome, they would also have had trouble drawing fans. DC also has a difficult market, with a portion of the more affluent population being transplants or part-time residents.

DCU averaged 15k fans per game in 2011, so artificially reducing capacity with tarps in the upper deck is the prudent decision. Seattle tarps off the upper deck at Century Link and has used that as an opportunity to generate sponsorship revenue, so there鈥檚 one way DC United could benefit from the larger stadium.

Edwards: Here in the Bay Area, Lew Wolff's Oakland Athletics tarp off the upper deck of the Oakland Coliseum, taking capacity from well over 50K to around 33-35K. And despite now nice it is to be reminded of the A's World Series Championships and retired numbers, it looks like crap and sends a terrible message.

Davis: It doesn't matter how good United is, they're never going to fill up RFK. Better to limit supply by tarping off the upper deck (with the added bonus of a possible sponsor) than to stick a few hundred away fans up there by themselves. If closing the upper deck saves on maintenance costs, all the better. If D.C. can sell out, 19k will still have them in the top handful of clubs for attendance. Ultimately, I think it's a good move. The same goes for Chivas USA.

Edwards: I'm not sure I buy that limited supply works in cases like DC and Chivas USA. As Justin says, if DC put out a competitive team, it might be different.

With the referee calling more than 40 fouls in the Vancouver versus Montreal game, are we seeing a commitment by the referees to protect attacking players in the early season?

Shaffer: It鈥檚 too early to tell at this point. We saw a lot of poorly timed challenges and general sloppiness throughout a number of the games on the first weekend, but that鈥檚 to be expected at this early juncture.

Edwards: I hope its just that Justin, but I'm less optimistic about Montreal's approach. Maybe when Corradi is fit, he'll help.

Davis: The number of fouls in Vancouver-Montreal is encouraging, even if it's a one-off sample, because it shows referees are willing to call fouls even if it affects the flow of the game. If MLS and US Soccer are serious about making the American/Canadian game more enjoyable to watch, there will have to be a hard line drawn. It will be ugly for awhile, and clubs might not like it, but eventually players will adjust.

Let's ask that a different way then, are more teams really committed to playing attacking soccer?

Davis: Attacking soccer is a great thing, as long as it works. Because this is MLS, it will be easy for any team that claims a commitment to attacking soccer to fall back on the physical play.

Edwards: I heard all the right things from Frank Yallop this off season, but then this week he is whining about Steven Lenhart being 鈥渢argeted鈥?by the referees. Yallop is only trying to get an advantage for his team, but it doesn't exactly scream 'we're going to keep the ball on the ground.'

Shaffer: There are certainly a number of teams that look to be setup to attack. Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, LA, Toronto, and Sporting KC all appear to be teams that have far more quality in attack than on defense. Houston and Real Salt Lake look to be more balanced with stronger defenses and some good attacking quality. That should ensure those teams don鈥檛 play a lot of bunker ball. To see more consistent attacking play throughout the league, we need a commitment from the referees and MLS front office to appropriately identify and punish those players who use thuggish methods to cover for their individual lack of quality.

What Ever Happened To: Steve Trittschuh | US Soccer Players

By Clemente Lisi 鈥?NEW YORK, NY (Mar 20, 2012) US Soccer Players — There aren鈥檛 too many Americans who have competed in the UEFA Champions League, and the first player on that list might surprise you.  Former US defender Steve Trittschuh holds that distinction when in 1990 he signed with Czechoslovakian club Sparta Prague that participated in the European Cup, the precursor to the current Champions League.

鈥淚 was the first foreign player to play for Sparta Prague in 40 years,鈥?Trittschuh recalled. 鈥淲hen I arrived there I was treated very well. After I had success on the field they were even more appreciative. On top of that, I became the first American to play in the European Cup, which was fantastic. I still keep in contact with a few players from that team and hope to go back to Prague one of these days.鈥?/p>

Trittschuh drew Sparta Prague's interest during the 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Despite the lopsided score, Czechoslovakian assistant coach Vaclav Jezek, who also served as Sparta鈥檚 manager, reached out to US Soccer and said he was interested in signing the American.

鈥淎fter we returned home after the World Cup, I received a call from Sunil Gulati informing me that Sparta Prague was interested in having me come on a contract,鈥?he said.  Trittschuh said after the call, he "did a little research on the team and found out they would be playing in the European Cup and the history behind the team. I jumped at the chance hoping to improve my game because I always wanted to play in Europe,鈥?he added. "It was a great experience and I learned a great deal about being a professional.鈥?/p>

Trittschuh said it wasn鈥檛 easy for an American to play in Europe 鈥?just don鈥檛 call him a trailblazer.

鈥淎t the time I when I went to Europe there had been only a few players that had played there," he said.  鈥淎fter the 1990 World Cup, a few more players were on teams in Europe and other European teams started taking notice. I am not sure the players can be called trailblazers, but since then look how many players have had careers there. It was not easy going (to Europe) back then because a lot of players did not think American players were good enough, but how times have changed.鈥?/p>

Prague was just one stop for Trittschuh. A career that spanned 14 seasons saw him play both indoor and outdoors. Trittschuh retired in 2001 as a member of the Tampa Bay Mutiny but has been involved in the game ever since. Previous to that, Trittschuh had played in Major League Soccer for the Colorado Rapids from 1996 to 1999.

鈥淎fter I retired in 2003, I have stayed active in the game,鈥?he said. "I was assistant coach for the Colorado Rapids for four years coaching the reserve team to the MLS reserve title in 2006.鈥?/p>

Trittschuh left Prague in 1991 after then-US coach Bora Milutinovic set up a residency camp in California to train American players fulltime ahead of the 1994 World Cup. Trittschuh had also played indoor soccer 鈥?for the St. Louis Steamers, St. Louis Ambush and Tampa Bay Terror 鈥?before Major League Soccer was launched in 1996.

鈥淭here was some transition because when I joined the Steamers (in 1988) I came straight from a summer playing with the National Team,鈥?he said.  鈥淧laying indoors I just needed to play quicker and think quicker. There was a little adjustment but after concentrating on indoors for the season it became second nature. I thought it helped my outdoor career playing and thinking quicker.鈥?/p>

In 1988, Trittschuh also played for the US team that competed at the Seoul Olympics 鈥?a roster he said that served as the precursor for the squad that qualified for the World Cup two years later.

鈥淚f you tell Americans that are not soccer people that you played in the Olympics and the World Cup, most would be more impressed with the Olympics. It was a great experience for all of us and helped the National Team to grow,鈥?he said.  鈥淭here were a group of 15 players that started in 1987 under Lothar Osiander as coach that qualified for the Olympics and then qualified for the 1990 World Cup under coach Bob Gansler. That group of players did a lot for soccer in this country.鈥?/p>

Trittschuh currently serves as technical director of the Denver-based youth club Colorado Storm.

鈥淚 will probably stay involved with the game in some capacity for the rest of my life so I can give back to the game that has given me some great experiences,鈥?he said.

Clemente Lisi is a New York-based writer. Contact him at: Follow him on Twitter at:

More from Clemente Lisi:

DiBenedetto's Roma Klinsmann In Italy What Ever Happened To鈥?Teofilo Cubillas What Is With New York?