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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekly Preview

Sorry there was no preview last week everyone, but my charity obligations have kept me a bit busy.
But I'm back this week with lots to talk about as the season rolls along, so let's get started.

OAA

Red - As usual, this is anyone's division still. But the Clarkston vs. Troy Athens match on Tuesday is a huge one. Athens needs a win after losing to Stoney Creek last week. Meanwhile, the Cougars have to deal with their rivals, the Rochester Falcons and Adams hosts Berkely. Then Saturday, Stoney has to host Troy in another division game. This week could provide a clear favorite in the division race - or just muddy it up even more. It'll be fun to find out.

White - Lake Orion, Bloomfield Hills, and Seaholm are fighting for first with Bloomfield Hills unbeaten and the Dragons and Maples trying to keep pace. That makes Tuesday's game a big one when Lake Orion visits the Maples. Meanwhile, Bloomfield stays home to host Royal Oak then travels to Avondale on Thursday.

Blue - The top game in Blue Division this week is Tuesday when Lathrup travels to North Farmington as the chase pack tries to stay up with unbeaten Oxford who face a road test against Pontiac.

KLAA

North - It's a 3 team race right now with Walled Lake Northern (4-0) holding a one game lead over both Walled Lake Central (3-1) and Lakeland (3-1). Action centers on the Eagles this week who host Northern on Tuesday then travel to Central on Thursday.

South - Plymouth and Canton are both 4-0 and meet up on Tuesday to battle for first place.

Central - This one is a bit of a mess with Novi, Northville, and Livonia Stevenson all 3-1 after splitting with each other. Novi has the toughest road of the three this week traveling to Salem on Tuesday and then Stevenson on Thursday.

West - Grand Blanc and Brighton are both 3-0-1 to lead and each hosts 3rd place Howell this week with Brighton entertaining the Highlanders on Tuesday and Grand Blanc hosting them Thursday.

MAC

Red - Red Division is still in its early stages with teams having only played 1-2 games, but Monday's match up between Fraser and Eisenhower should be a classic and important to the final standings.

White - Game of the week for this division is probably Romeo vs. first place Grosse Pointe Northon Monday.

Blue -A lot of key games  to watch this week: Port Huron Northern and L'Anse Creuse hook up on Wendesday as L'Anse Creuse tries to remain the last unbeaten team in the division, ahead of three one loss teams, including Northern. On Monday, another of those one loss teams, Warren Mott, hosts rival Cousino. Then later in the week, Mott and Northern play on Thursday while Sterling Heights (the other one loss team) travels to L'Anse Creuse on Friday.

Gold - Top teams Lamphere and Marysville duke it out on Monday with first place on the line.

Silver - Another battle for first as 2-0 New Haven travels to 2-0 Marine City on Monday.

Flint Metro League

The league season finally kicks off with a great rivalry game on Monday when defending champ Linden travels to Holly. Also Monday, perennial favorite Fenton has a road trip to tricky Swartz Creek and their bizarre field.

Then Wednesday, Linden hosts Creek and Fenton returns home to face an always defensively solid Brandon squad that finished 3rd last year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Standings Update

Standings have been updated to include all games this week, except for Pontiac vs. Hazel Park. If anyone knows the result of that game, can you please pass it along.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekly Preview

With Labor Day in the books and school officially starting for the public schools, the soccer season gets into full swing with league play starting for pretty much everyone.

KLAA

The KLAA starts league play on Tuesday with Livonia Stevenson traveling to Novi on Tuesday before hosting Northville on Thursday in the Central.

Defending North Division champ Walled Lake Northern opens with a home date against Waterford Kettering while the other two Walled Lake schools - Central and Western - hook up at Western on Thursday.

In the West,  Grand Blanc opens with a road trip to Howell while a strong Pinckney squad starts with road games against Mildford and Howell.

Finally, in the South, Plymouth and Franklin open up against each other on Tuesday in a battle between last year's second and third place teams. Defending champ Canton hosts John Glenn on Tuesday and Franklin on Thursday.

OAA

In OAA Red this week, Clarkston and Stoney Creek hook up on Tuesday in a battle between two teams expected to push Athens for the title. On Thursday, Athens hosts Rochester in a rare Thursday league game. Thursday also sees Adams host Troy in an intriguing match up.

White Division has a big early season showdown between Avondale and quick starting Lake Orion on Tuesday.

The game of the week in Blue Division is Oxford hosting Harrison on Thursday.

MAC

Most of the MAC starts league play this week, though the Red will wait til next week to get going. In the mean time, there are a lot of interesting games to watch.

White - Grosse Pointe South and GP North hook up in the crosstown rivalry battle on Wednesday.

In Blue, Clawson makes their debut with a Thursday  home game against L'Anse Creuse.

Gold co-favorites St. Clair and Marysville also do battle on Thursday.

In Silver, defending champs New Haven open up with a home game against new member Madison Heights Madison.

FML

The Flint Metro doesn't start league play for a couple more weeks, but Tuesday's non-league match up between Holly and former FML member Oxford is the best match up on the card this week and holds some promise.

CHSL

Catholic League has a couple of interesting league games this week including Cranbrook hosting rival Lutheran North on Thursday and DeLaSalle vs. Crestwood on Wednesday.NDP travels to AA Gabriel Richard on Thursday.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Concussion Lawsuit

ESPN and the New York Times reported yesterday that a group of parents had filed a class action lawsuit in California seeking to change soccer's concussion protocols. Named in the lawsuit was seemingly everyone from FIFA down to AYSO. The suit is not seeking damages but attempting to force soccer in general to change its rules as a matter of safety. Legal experts think the biggest problem the lawsuit will have is technical (jurisdiction in particular) because they question whether or not FIFA can be sued in a California court over the matter since FIFA is based in Switzerland.

My gut reaction had less to do with the jurisdiction issues (if for no other reason than some of the organizations sued are American youth soccer groups who will almost certainly have to deal with the lawsuit eventually) and more to do with the question of whether or not changing the rules of the sport is the right way to go.

The stories reported two rule changes that the plaintiffs wanted to see. There may or may not be additional changes included in the lawsuit; neither article was clear on that point.

One of the two changes was targeted only at the professional level, which was to allow a temporary substitution while a player suspected of having a concussion is examined. That one I could see happening. It takes a a fair bit of time to do a proper examination and no one wants to play down a man for that long if they don't have to. That has to put pressure on the doctor and the player to be quick, and that could lead to mistakes. Sure, the player will still want to get back out there if he/she has been subbed out. But at least with a replacement on the field, there would be less of a rush. I think this one is plausible.

The second  proposal would directly affect youth soccer, which is to limit the number of times players under 17 could head the ball in a game. I think this one is just too impractical. For one thing, you often have players over 17 and under 17 on the same field, which would essentially have the players playing under two different sets of rules at the same time. For another, how do you keep track? It's not always clear which player in a crowd got a head on the ball. And you would almost certainly need an extra official just to keep those records as the game went on. It also wasn't clear what the penalty would be if a player headed the ball too many times. I just can't see this one working very well, or at all, unless you can get headbands for the players to wear that can both count impacts and signal the referee(and possibly the players) when a player has reached their limit. Perhaps the band could change colors somehow.

Now, in the mean time, there are a number of doctors who have suggested simply not letting younger kids head the ball at all, though I can't think of anyone who has set the age limit any later than some point in junior high. Banning heading completely for kids 12 or 13 and under makes some sense to me because, quite frankly, their skulls still aren't very well knit together and their brains are still developing rapidly. There is much more risk for kid of that age. And quite honestly, at that age, there won't be many kids who could gain advantage by being good at heading, so you really wouldn't affect the game much.

Soccer has been somewhat slow to react to the concussion issue in some ways. The NFL, NHL, and MLB have all addressed the issue in one way or another. But at the same time, soccer hasn't been ignoring the issue.The discussion is already ongoing as to what to do, and states all over the country are adding concussion protocols. And my experience has been that the youth organizations are generally much better at enforcing their own guidelines than FIFA did at the last World Cup, though as with any system where human beings are running it, mistakes are made. But on the whole, I think an honest effort is already being made to protect the kids, and we need to focus more energy on that and on figuring out what is best for the kids and for the game.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekly Preview

The season kicked off this past weekend with various tournaments and non-league match ups. Only the OAA starts league play this week, but there are plenty of good games out there.

OAA Red - Every game in OAA Red is important because they only play each team once. Defending champion Troy Athens opens up league play on Tuesday with a road game against Berkley while Clarkston hosts Rochester.

OAA White - Bloomfield Hills hosts Avondale in an early season showdown between a couple of powerful teams. Lake Orion hosts Royal Oak on Thursday in what should be another quality match up. Seaholm and Groves renew their rivalry on Thursday.

OAA Blue - Oxford hosts Farmington in what should be a good game.

Non-League

Monday - Rochester hosts Dakota in an interesting match up. Meanwhile, Adams travels up to Grand Blanc. The Bobcats are always good and should provide a good test for the Highlanders early.

Tuesday - Harrison hosts North Farmington as the teams compete for the city championship.

Wednesday - Adams has an even tougher road game when they travel to Novi.  Fraser hosts Troy in a high quality game. Eisenhower travels up to Clarkston for a good match up.

Thursday - Oxford hosts the newly merged Lapeer schools. L'Anse Creuse North and L'Anse Creuse face off in yet another rivalry match up. Clawson plays Lamphere in a game that could be interesting.