News Update 2/28 - U20s, Live Chats, and...Balotelli?

Claudio Villa

The season is almost here!!!

Howdy folks! Welcome back to another BDS News Update! I'm trying out a new format for this post so let me know what you think.

FC Dallas

The season is only a a few days away! If you haven't gotten your tickets yet you better hurry! Head over to FCDallas.com and get your tickets reserved today.

FC Dallas Media Day was held earlier this week and several of the players participated in an online Q&A for the fans. Players talked about their expectations for this season, new team members.........and giant ducks.

Q: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?

Andrew Jacobson: Probably a horse-sized duck because it wouldn’t be able to sneak up on me and I want to see what it looks like

Chris Seitz: i think i would match up better 1 on 1 with the oversized duck...

We did finally get the answer that should end all Twitter debate.

Is it pronounced "mi-KEL" or "mi-SHELL"?

It's Michel, like a girl

I guess I'm going to have to admit to some of my Beer Guardian brethren that I was wrong. Seriously though there were some very good questions asked.

Thoughts on the youth of the team and how it stacks up versus the more veteran squad of last year?

George John: It's really exciting to have so many young guys on the field and in the locker room. There's a lot of energy and the kids can really play.

Much different atmosphere in the locker room this year and everyone is really enjoying each other on and off the field.

I love the way that MLS teams make themselves accessible to their fan bases. It's something that is somewhat unique to our sport and is great for its growth.

Big D Soccer's own Drew Epperley wrote a great article for FCDallas.com breaking down the story lines to keep an eye on this year.

To kick off this season, this team is mostly healthy for a change. Dallas will open the season on March 2 against the Colorado Rapids with possibly the healthiest group that Hyndman has ever had in his days as manager of the team.

A healthy team would be a nice change of pace! Let's hope.

The team announced a huge TV deal with Time Warner Cable for the foreseeable future.

The new partnership will not only provide a higher broadcast production quality with all games in HD, it will also allow FC Dallas to travel its broadcast team to all 17 road games and provide fans with additional in-depth programming about FC Dallas. Among the extended FC Dallas programming available this season and in the future will be pre- and post-game shows, dedicated programming about FC Dallas, and FC Dallas programming within other Time Warner Cable SportsChannel shows.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows my feelings on Time Warner Cable and the "service" they provide. All that aside it is nice that FCD coverage will be expanded, including our own announcers at away games and pre/post game analysis. The thing that worries me is that if you don't have TWC (like myself) then too bad for you. While it does expand content coverage, it doesn't necessarily expand audience access. Your thoughts?

Around MLS

Head over to Goal.com and give Kyle McCarthy's great breakdown of the MLS Western Conference, and what it will take LA to 3-peat, a read.

More questions crop up outside of that core group [of top tier teams]. FC Dallas and Vancouver look best situated to tussle for the fifth and final playoff spot, but Colorado and Portland will hope their aesthetically pleasing approaches can lay the foundation for a viable playoff push a bit ahead of schedule. Even Chivas USA could spring a surprise or two if its drastic overhaul vastly exceeds the minimal expectations set forth prior to the season.

A very honest look at what Kyle expects out the Western half of the league (his piece on the Eastern Conference can be found here). I know these "here's what I expect" articles are nothing but guessing at best, but it's always interesting to see what the experts think of the upcoming season and the moves that teams have made in the off season.

The San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday announced that they made American, and last years Golden Boot winner, Chris Wondolowski only their 2nd Designated Player in team history. Geoff Lepper over at MLSSoccer.com writes about what Wondo's DP status means for future Americans and their ability to sign DP contract in MLS.

Could Wondolowski’s deal represent the start of a trend: MLS-groomed, American-born players moving into DP roles around the league?

"I definitely hope so ... because I feel that those are the players that are making it and that are proving themselves," Wondolowski told reporters via a conference call.

Congratulations to Wondo. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks he doesn't deserve to be a DP.

MLS announced a new partnership with the French Football Federation on Monday that will see one youth development coach from each team in MLS and U.S. Soccer head to France to go through a 16 month long youth development course. Goal.com's Alex Labidou's breakdown of the partnership, along with nominees to take part, can be found here.

"Through our partnership with MLS, The French Football Federation is proud and excited to be engaged in such a marvelous project. The expectations of MLS are very high and the FFF technical department is greatly honored to be selected in this area. Our commitment with MLS will be the foundation for concrete and great development between U.S. and French football, as it mirrors the long term friendship between France and the United States," said FFF Technical Director François Blaquart.

What a great opportunity for youth development coaches from around the country. As I say all the time on here when it comes to the youth game, this can only be a good thing not only for the league but American soccer in general.

Young 'uns and the US National Team

Buzz Carrick at 3rddegree.net has the story that the prestigious Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup has released the schedule for all the games that will be played at the Cotton Bowl at the end of March.

Dr Pepper Dallas Cup has announced that it will kick off the Gordon Jago Super Group at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium on Sunday, March 24th with a quadruple-header featuring eight internationally recognized teams. The marquee game of the day will feature one of the world’s most iconic brands Manchester United battling Mexican powerhouse Club America at 6:30pm.

If you get a chance to get out to Dallas, or even Frisco, to catch some Dallas Cup games, go! It's one the most highly regarded youth tournaments in the nation (world?) and always provides a ton of entertainment.

Zac Lee Rigg for Goal.com has the write up on USMNT U20 coach Tab Ramos' comments on who he would like to face in the final of the CONCACAF U20 WC Qualifying Tournament. The team? It's not that surprising.

Even with qualification assured and a depleted squad, Ramos has circled a potential final against Mexico, which first must overcome Jamaica in the quarters, on March 3 as his objective.

The team has already qualified for the U20 WC in Turkey this summer and will play Cuba in the semi final. Good luck gentleman.

USMNT players Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both scored in Xolos 4-0 spanking of Bolivia's San Jose in Copa Libertadores action on Tuesday. Ives Galarcep has all of the highlights at SoccerbyIves.net.

Edgar Castillo opened the scoring for the Xolos, while Corona added the team’s third goal just three minutes into the second half to help Club Tijuana secure first place in their Copa Libertadores group after two matches.

It's going to interesting to see if Corona ends up getting any attention from Jurgen Klinsmann this year. I doubt it but with some questions in the midfield for the US JK could surprise us all.

WTF?

Mario Balotelli has never been afraid of the limelight and doing things that are.....off the wall. ESPN has the story of his latest hijinks.

Mario Balotelli has added to his reputation for the extreme by commissioning a life-sized statue of himself to be made for his home in Brescia.

This is probably my favorite story of the last week. I wonder if you can buy miniatures?

As always thanks so much for reading. As I mentioned earlier please let me know what you think of the new format in the comments below.

I hope to see you all out at Pizza Hut Park.....FC Dallas Stadium on Saturday. If you haven't heard make sure you get out Friday night for the Dallas Beer Guardians 24 Hour Tailgate starting at 7pm Friday night on the East side of the stadium!

@FCJayBird

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