Friday, March 4, 2016

MLS 2016 Preview: 21 Years And Going Strong

Last year the MLS season ended with my hometown Portland Timbers claiming their first MLS Cup over my initial club, Columbus Crew SC. In their MLS fourth campaign, earning their first star was quite an achievement for the Portland Timbers. Now it's time to fill the role of prognosticator as another Major League Soccer season is upon us.  This weekend, I'll be taking part in the Portland Timbers flag unfurling and then joining the Timbers Army faithful as we stand and cheer as we raise the curtain on our 'Defend The Cup' campaign. Having attended the first Columbus Crew match back in 1996 when they played in 'The Shoe,' I am very excited for this MLS Cup rematch and the strides the league has made. Below is my attempt to make sense of what the standings will look like on Sunday, October 23rd after all the regular season matches are played.

Eastern Conference
This looks to be a tight race from top to bottom. I believe that Toronto FC will put things together this season due to key off season defensive upgrades that will complement their potent offense. As Toronto begins their campaign with eight straight away I believe this will allow the team to gel and also set the tone for their success in allowing them to finish strong at home. My surprise team on the upside is the Philadelphia Union and the success of Earnie Stewart's "MLS Moneyball." On the downside I see NYC FC regretting that they did not invest another season in Jason Kreis as they continue to search for success.    
  1. Toronto
  2. Columbus
  3. Montreal
  4. NY Red Bulls
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Orlando
  7. New England
  8. NYC FC
  9. DC
  10. Chicago

Western Conference
Very much like last the Eastern Conference, any of the top four clubs below could finish at the top of the table. Even with major roster changes for Portland, I still think they clinch the top spot in a tight race. My surprise team on the upside will be San Jose. They will find a way to win close games and move up the ladder. On the down side, Seattle will miss the presence of Obafemi Martins as Jordan Morris is one year away from making a major impact on the scoreline. I also see Los Angeles having some chemistry issues that will cost them in the standings.    
  1. Portland
  2. Vancouver
  3. Dallas
  4. San Jose
  5. Seattle
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Kansas City
  8. Houston
  9. Real Salt Lake
  10. Colorado
MLS Cup Winner

For the final I see it wrapping up at Providence Park as the Timbers earn their second star against Montreal. Hope that you enjoy the season and get a chance to attend a match or two this season. Let me know how you see the season unfolding and who you think wins MLS Cup in 2016.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Swimming with Goldfish

I would imagine that many of you are already familiar with Stan Phelps of 9 INCH marketing and the good work that he shares on the importance of delivering an outstanding customer experience. Stan is also the author of the #Goldfish trilogy which are three books that, through great #storytelling, provide insight on customer and employee retention in an easy to apply way. Stan and I had the opportunity to meet a few years back on one of his trips to Portland and have since become good friends and a colleague to exchange ideas with. 
Stan's latest book is the Golden Goldfish, which focuses on the 80/20 rule and how your best 20% customers and employees typically account for 80% of profitability and 80% of referrals for your business (that is the #Gold of your business). 

I just started reading it today and it looks to be a great reference just like his other books. For me they really do a great job of communicating the #simplealwayswins philosophy of putting your customer and employees first and the clear benefit of this approach to business.

The good news is that Stan has made all three books available as free downloads on Amazon. They will all make great summer reads as you load up your Kindle or mobile.  Here are the links to all three so you can be #SwimmingwithGoldfish:
  1. Golden Goldfish
  2. Purple Goldfish
  3. Green Goldfish
I sure that you will enjoy #SwimmingwithGoldfish and please take the opportunity to share this with others. Let me know what you think of the stories that Stan shares and make sure you tell Stan also. He's quick to reply via email and twitter @9inchmarketing too.




Saturday, March 8, 2014

MLS 2014 Preview - The Bump Season

It's time to fill the role of prognosticator as another Major League Soccer season is upon us.  Later today,I'll be standing and chanting in the Timbers Army among the Portland Timbers faithful as we raise the curtain on another season. This season, Release 19.0 is a "bump season" as the league expects an increase (or bump) in attendance (and hopefully television ratings) due to World Cup 2014 in Brazil occurring and raising interest as the world focus is on soccer for a month.

Already a Bump
There already seems to be an overall positive trend for MLS these days.  MLS is gaining traction over MLB according to a recent #ESPNFC poll among the valued 12-17 year old demographic. There's also talk of the sport breaking the Big Four for US Sports (you can see and take the ESPN SportsNation poll here) as more kids are exposed to the sport.  The league's footprint will be expanding next year with New York City area getting their second franchise along with much needed franchise in the south with Orlando coming on board.

The season ahead
For now the focus ahead is the season ahead.  All the teams have unveiled their new kits as part of Jersey Week and they are ready to take the pitch.  Wins will matter the most in the standings this year.  Having said that, I think my hometown Portland Timbers will be able to convert their 15 ties from their 2013 campaign to enough wins to take the West again. In the East, I can't find a good reason to pick against returning champion Sporting Kansas City and think Real Salt Lake will drop a notch without the leadership of Jason Kreis.  Who wins the MLS Cup final is anyone's guess so I am going with my Timbers, especially if it as home.  Below is the predicted order of finish for each conference - Enjoy the matches and let me know who do you like and why?

Eastern Conference
  1. Kansas City
  2. New York
  3. Columbus
  4. Chicago
  5. Toronto
  6. Houston
  7. New England
  8. Montreal
  9. Philadelphia
  10. DC
Western Conference
  1. Portland
  2. Los Angeles
  3. San Jose
  4. Real Salt Lake
  5. Seattle
  6. Vancouver
  7. Dallas
  8. Colorado
  9. Chivas USA


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2013 MLS Cup Playoffs - Picks & Predictions

As the MLS Playoffs begin, Portland is embracing their first postseason 

With the Knockout Round Matches today and tomorrow, I wanted to revisit my preseason predictions and prognosticate the journey to the 2013 MLS Cup.

Revisiting the Predictions

I am pleased to report when revisiting A MLS Lifer Looks Forward I picked eight of the ten clubs in the playoff field:
  • In the East, I only missed on New England as I had expected Chicago to complete the final five
  • In the West, I only missed on Colorado as I had picked San Jose to make the final group
There is quite a bit of talent on the outside looking in as this was an amazing campaign for the fans leading up to the very last match of the season.

Predicting the Post Season

Before the season I had predicted that Los Angeles would win over Kansas City. As I complete my bracket I see a different final:

From the East - New England
Montreal beats Houston and loses to New York as New England surprises Kansas City as well as New York to get to the final

From the West - Portland
Seattle beats Colorado and loses to Portland as the Timbers defeat Salt Lake to take the West.

For the Final - Portland Timbers
My pick is 2-0 Portland at home on December 7th - There's something special about this year's team.  I may be biased as a proud member of the Timbers Army but it's hard to see it anyway else.

Enjoy the matches!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Listen To Lou

My appreciation for Lou Reed goes back to my freshman year at Bowling Green.  Thanks to the generosity of  Bob who lived across the hall sharing his love for "All Things Lou" by playing his music repeatedly and loudly I have a great appreciation for Lou Reed as a musician, artist and influence to so many.

In an interview with Charlie rose he talked about the importance of ignoring trends and writing things that would still sound good thirty years later - not easily done but he accomplished both things.  So today, as I listen to the music and lyrics to 'New Sensations' ("sometimes I got lost and had to check the map."), I encourage you to Listen to Lou today and Learn Something About The Man.  You'll be glad you did.  

Thank You and Rest in Peace Lou - #MusicMatters

hat tip: @CharlieRose @GuardianMusic @UniWatch and image from @PopDose 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Change is Good at #ChangeConnect13

Change is Good

Today I am off to the second Change Connect symposium at Nike World Headquarters.  Last year's event was a great networking opportunity to meet fellow change practitioners and hear first hand about industry trends.  This year's event looks to be great with a lot of interesting breakout sessions and keynote speakers Josh Allen Dykstra today and Joseph Grenny tomorrow.

There's an app for that

If you're attending today make sure to download the app created for the event for Apple, Android, & Windows Mobile and open the Attendees section and Register to share your contact information and a bio with other attendees. Hope to meet you there!

Will be tweeting from @gurnick throughout the day with the hashtag  

Change is Good!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saving Face

It appears that I have not been doing this correctly after many years according to the Wall Street Journal.

At this point I am just happy to have a face.  Easy does it going forward...

Hat Tip @WSJ