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Career Pooches' American Road Trip - The Six State Challenge

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Pooches' American Road Trip - The Six State Challenge


Good afternoon Vibe, following completion of the one season strikerless challenge I posted last week I was keen to jump straight back into a career, this time a longer term one, for you all to read at your peril. Now browsing through the challenge index on the site there were many interesting looking challenges and a few that particularly caught my eye, however I wanted to get into one that is new both for me and for the forum. With the MLS making an appearance on the game this year and the fact I have yet to play in this league on any version of FM or FMM so therefore don't know much about it, (plus my love for American TV and desire to travel around the whole country in the future), it seemed the obvious destination for my new career. There were a couple of other US based challenges but it was The Six-State Challenge (brought to you by @mcandrew003) that drew me in due to the mixture of different challenges and the opportunity to play as several different teams in the USA and Canada. You can find the outline and rules of the challenge below, but I'll give you a quick briefing here as well. 

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The Challenge

  • 6 stages - each to be played with a team from the corresponding state/country
  • In order: New York, Florida, Texas, California, Oregon, Canada
  • Each state has a different state-specific challenge you must complete before moving in
  • Must also win an MLS league title and US Cup double in each stage
  • Complete the whole challenge in as few seasons as possible


State One - New York

"Widely considered the 'Concrete Jungle', New York is the most populated state in America with 8,537,673 Million people living under it's fancy buildings, bright lights and really, really tall statues. We start off in familiar surroundings, and with that a fairly simple task that should take no longer than two seasons."

So as per challenge rules my journey begins on the east coast in the state where Lady Liberty stands tall, Trump Tower infects the skyline, and countless American sitcoms are situated - New York. As I touchdown at JFK International I have a choice of two MLS franchises to complete the first challenge with; New York City FC and New York Red Bulls. After spending some time at both training grounds assessing the squads I decided to pledge my allegiance to......

New York Red Bulls


The New York Red Bulls! Technically they are based in New Jersey but we'll let that one slide since the challenge rules allow. Founded in 1994 they play their home games at the 25,000 capacity Red Bull Arena and have a good history in the MLS to speak of, topping the East Conference in the regular season on a number of occasions, however never quite managing to find success in either the MLS playoffs or US Cup. They have been represented by some big names of world football including most famously Thierry Henry, as well as Lothar Matthaus, Rafael Marquez, Juninho, Tim Howard and the Wright-Phillips brothers, with Bradley still leading the line as the club's all-time record goalscorer on 104 goals. 


With the contract signed and keys to my flashy new apartment on the NY skyline in my pocket, it was time to assess the aims for stage one of my American road trip:

"Take a player, either already in the team or brought in by yourself, and score 85 goals with them at a club based in New York"

So effectively this is a one-man goalscoring challenge, whilst also making sure I bring home the MLS and US Cup trophies before I can move on. As for the player to complete this with, I did consider using the aforementioned Bradley Wright-Phillips whom is already at the club and at the age of 31 actually in pretty good shape in terms of attributes and could certainly build on them with some training, but in the end decided I wanted a player a tad younger in their prime and with some values higher in certain attributes than BWP can boast. 


So I scoured the transfer market and found a few options that fitted what I wanted in my striker whilst being affordable for the club with a transfer budget of around just £8million. In the end I was deciding between two players, and eventually went for the American because, well because this is an American road trip so why not start with a native! Thus without further ado I present to you.....

Andrew Wooten


Bought for a sum of £4.5million from German second tier side Sandhausen, he boasts excellent attributes in shooting, dribbling and movement as well as some good physicals that can further improve with training. As you may have noticed on the screenshot I have played the first few matches of the season and Wooten has hit the ground running. Hopefully he can explode into life and with some canny transfer business I hope I can build him a squad to provide him with 85 goals ASAP! 

I plan to update this on a seasonal basis, perhaps depending on when each stage of the challenge becomes completed and I get the chance to move onto the next state. If there is anything in particular you Vibers want to see in my updates then feel free to holla, otherwise thanks for reading and I hope I can drag as many of you along with me on my US road trip as possible! Pooches out.

Edited by GingerbreadPooches
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Incredible opening post, reall you enjoyable read! Best of luck with your American road trip, hopefully there are no flat tyres or too many toilet breaks on the way :)

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Pooches' American Road Trip - The Six State Challenge

Season 1 - New York Red Bulls

So with Andy Wooten on the books as head bull, I spent January and February during preseason scouting players and offloading dead wood in the squad to mould the Red Bulls into the finest footballing outfit in the states.

Transfers In



I started the season playing a 4-3-3 formation so brought in players to suit the needs of that formation, however about halfway through the year I changed to a 4-4-1-1 and so in the summer transfer window got rid of a couple of players and brought in players better suited for that tactic. Most expensive signing was our man Wooten, followed by four Brazilian and Argentinian midfielders Mancuello, Arao, Canteros and Romulo who were absolute bargains, brought in for measly fees that did not do justice for their attributes pages, plus the fact they were all 24-27 and so dead in their prime; they really bolstered my midfield options allowing us to dominate teams.

Defensive options were also a bit lacking so young Ecuadorian left back Chala brought in along with loanees Fosu-Mensah, Williams, Maffeo and N'Doram. Russo was brought in on loan at the start but suffered too many injuries so I cancelled it and brought in Sancho and Mensah in the summer. 

Transfers Out



Not a lot to say here, just a few players sold off for small fees who weren't deemed good enough to fight for the MLS crown, and some players that showed promise sent out on season-long loans.

Overall I was very happy with my business in the market, with only a small net loss and my options all over the pitch markedly improved ready for the season ahead.

MLS Rules

So in the MLS regular season the 22 teams are split up into the Eastern and Western Conferences with 11 teams each. Everyone plays a total of 34 matches in the regular season although I'm not really sure how who you play is determined as some teams we played against three times, some twice and some just once. My understanding is that you play every team in your conference twice, home and away, plus every team in the other conference once, which brings us to 31 games, and then perhaps the 3 teams geographically closest to you, you play once more (since we played city rivals NYCFC three times)? The total league points of all 22 teams in the MLS determines who wins the Supporters Shield, thus winners of the regular season but not yet ultimate MLS campion. The top 2 teams in each conference automatically qualify for the playoff semi finals, whilst the next four teams (3-6) qualify for the wildcard round where they play two legs and the two winners of these matches also qualify for the playoff semi finals. Two legs again played in the semi finals, and then the winners contest the two-legged conference playoff final. The winner of the playoff final from each conference then contest the ultimate final to decide the overall MLS champion. 

Regular Season


So things didn't go quite to plan as Atlanta United (spurred on by renowned FMM wonderkid Ezequiel Barco) had a cracking season and just never seemed to drop points so we never managed to quite get ahead of them until we played them in the 32nd match and won, only to draw our final game of the regular season allowing them to leapfrog us and claim the Supporters Shield. Besides this we were a really strong side, but just couldn't quite find the consistency until later on in the season when I did the aforementioned formation change, drawing and losing too many games that we dominated and really should have won. At least we gained automatic qualification to the Eastern Conference playoff semi finals, where we drew NY derby rivals New York City FC....



A disappointing draw in the second leg which was the only game in the season that we got dominated, however didn't matter after our convincing 5-0 away triumph in the first leg, which sent us through to the Eastern Conference playoff final....


Where we came up against nemesis Atlanta United and a busy second leg was enough to seal the aggregate win after a 3-0 victory at home. This led us to the MLS final against Western Conference playoff winners Portland....

MLS Final


And no problems here as we thoroughly deserved a 3-0 victory, showing that our boys had the beating of any US team on our day.

US Cup


A very annoying defeat against FC Dallas in the US Cup quarter finals saw us eliminated. This match proving that possession and pot shots really don't mean anything if you can't carve out the clear cut opportunities to put away. A big disappointment but we will learn from our errors and come back stronger in this competition next season.






So as you can see a very inconsistent first half of the season which brought about a formational change and couple of minor changes in personnel. This was to good effect as the second half was a lot more solid and the few results that didn't go our way were mostly unlucky.

Andrew Wooten


Over the course of the season Wooten's attributes developed nicely and didn't suffer any major injury setbacks, I think just a one week absence was all he had this season. However, how did he got in in terms of hitting our 85 goal target for the challenge?


48 goals in 42 games is a good tally, and since I have to play at least another season with the Red Bulls anyway to try and win the US cup, there is plenty of time for him to reach the magic number. If he gets there quickly then perhaps we will aim to beat Bradley Wright-Phillips' club record as well. In terms of using him on the game he was an absolute delight, with great fitness managing to play 90 minutes of pretty much every game of the season, and showed tremendous consistency in his goalscoring, rarely going a match without finding the back of the net.


These exploits were enough to earn him the USA player of the year award. In very esteemed company isn't that right Sunderland fans! ;)

Challenge Future

So in terms of the challenge goals we managed to win the MLS on first attempt which is great, and my striker is well on his way to hitting the 85 goals target in order for us to move on to stage two, however the US cup loss was a blow and will be our priority heading into season 2. Therefore, should we manage to nab it next season and Wooten gets to 85 quickly, we could end up trying for our new club before the season is out. Only problem here is that stage two is set in Florida, where the only franchise is Orlando..... so progress to the next stage depends on them having an awful season so I can try and snap up the job ASAP! Part of me feels we may be stuck in New York for a while but all we can do is play our best and hope the opportunity crops up quickly. At least we will also have the North American Champions League to entertain us next season!

Notable Players



27 year old Austrian winger Daniel Royer was at the club at the start of the save and his coach report mentioned that he was an "inconsistent player". However after a dodgy start he really settled in to the way we played and for a while was the absolute definition of consistency in terms of average ratings. Scored some important goals helping us to the MLS trophy.



Argentinian youngster Alejandro Romero Gamarra was another player already in the Red Bulls' squad and was the player I was most excited about using during my initial squad assessment. He endured a difficult start to the season where I played him out wide on the left which was clearly not his preferred role, and the change to a 4-4-1-1 that saw him deployed in the role "in the hole" really got the best out of him and he was a delight to use. Wouldn't be surprised to see him on the fringes of the national squad in the future and a move to a big European side in the offing.



We end with another Argentinian central midfielder, one of the ones I brought in at the start of the season for a great price; Federico Mancuello. I initially used him as a central midfielder as advanced playmaker and he was really excellent there, but the shape change saw him moved primarily out to the left of the midfield 4 where he was also natural in playing, and also excelled there, still providing assists for main man Andy Wooten but also adding a few crucial goals to his game, and as you saw netted the opener in the MLS final.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first season playing in the MLS and really look forward to the future challenges in store for me on this save as I make my way around America. Thank you very much to those of you that have commented already and I hope I can keep you all entertained whilst I complete the Six-State challenge. Pooches out.

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Incredible year mate, loved a lot of The Transfer business you managed, completely reshaping the squad is a good idea for the future. Wooten was world class, too! Making me want to give it a go :P

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Pooches' American Road Trip - The Six State Challenge

Season 2 - New York Red Bulls

After spending the off-season doing some sight seeing in nearby cities including Boston and Washington DC it was time to head back to the big apple and get prepared for season 2 with the New York Red Bulls so that we could defend our MLS title as well as bring home domestic and continental cup trophies in the form of the US Cup and the North American Champions League.

Transfers In



Heading into the second season I was fairly happy with the squad I had already managed to build so most of the business was some loans to boost numbers for the busier fixture list this time around. I believe I managed to pull off quite a coup with the signing of young German-American winger wonderkid Timothy Tillman from Bayern Munich on a free transfer due to his expiring contract, which however meant he did not arrive until the summer. But the best incoming players were the four academy graduates; goalkeeper Jewsbury, left back Faubert, central midfielder Little, and winger Depres. Three of them had 5 star potential and the other had 4 star and looking at their attributes pages they all had definite possibility of becoming world class. With this in mind I gave them some game time in preseason friendlies and early season fixtures and decided to loan out Jewsbury, Little and Depres as they were not quite ready for regular first team action, however was very impressed with Guillaume Faubert and kept him on as first choice left back. Below you can find screenshots of how Depres and Faubert developed by the end of the season.



Transfers Out



Some more offloading of players I won't use as well as some season-long loans for younger players with potential.

North American Champions League

Woopsie I forgot to screenshot this competition but in our debut season in the NACL we sailed through the knockout rounds and then overturned Mexican side Tigres in the final 7-4 on aggregate! The Red Bulls are North American champions! You can see how I did in each round on the fixture list later in the post.

Regular Season


Absolutely smashed the league this time around with no one ever really threatening to displace us at the top of the pile, meaning we can add the Supporters Shield to our trophy cabinet and secure automatic qualification for the Eastern Conference playoffs.



It seems a pattern is emerging.... we win the first leg comfortably only to draw the second leg due to sloppy defending. Not ideal but we'll take it as long as we keep coming out on top over the two legs, as we did in the Playoff semi final against Columbus.


A brace for Andy Wooten as we swipe aside the club we want to be managing next up 4-1 in the Playoff finals.


No issues in the MLS final against Western Conference winners Seattle Sounders and we claim our second successive MLS title!

US Cup


After last season's shameful unwinding in the US Cup quarter finals we made this competition our priority this time round and as you can see absolutely thrashed Colorado 7-0 in the final in our best win of the season. Following his arrival from Munich in the summer Tillman didn't walk straight into the side due to injury and form of other players in his position, but was brought into the side behind the striker for the US cup final and I was a little nervous playing a youngster in such a tie, but this was immediately forgotten as he netted in the first minute and went on to score a debut hattrick!

Club World Championship


Our early season triumph in the NACL earned us a spot in the Club World Championship where we won the first round against South African opposition before getting dumped out by surprise European Champions AS Roma. To be honest over the 90 minutes we had the better of them, it was just the quality of finishing that was the difference between the two sides with Balde Keita managing a first half hattrick whilst we kept missing until scoring a consolation goal in the 82nd minute. Better luck next time.







A lot more consistent this season barring the mandatory handful of draws/losses each season, with a particularly great run of results in the summer months.

Andrew Wooten




Here I give you the screenshot of Andrew Wooten at the time he hit the magic 85 goals required for this challenge, getting there in 67 matches. Then also his season-end stats as he finishes the second season on a total of 109 goals in 92 games for the Red Bulls, placing him as the club's top goalscorer of all time! Quite an achievement in two seasons.

Challenge Future

With the claiming of the US Cup this season to go with our two MLS titles, and Andy Wooten surpassing the 85 goal target, I was eligible to move on to stage two of the Six-State Challenge after the US Cup final. Unfortunately it appears this is going to be the toughest part of this challenge. Orlando made it to the playoffs as you saw so the manager didn't get the sack all season, despite being 'insecure' in his job status the entire time. I have played a few months into season three and Orlando are rocking so it appears unlikely that job will become available next season either. Therefore since it is apparently going to be a while before I can move on to stage two I toyed with the idea of resigning as New York Red Bulls manager so that the time passes quicker and I can hopefully get the next job quicker, whenever it pops up. However I didn't want to do this in case I lose my reputation and when the time eventually comes I don't get given the job. I also considered taking up a national managerial position in the intermediary to hopefully keep my rep up but was unsure if this is allowed in the challenge rules or if it would even make a difference. Since I've never been in this kinda situation before I'm not really sure how losing and gaining your reputation points works so could do with some advice from Vibe if possible.

Therefore, I would like to ask you guys for your opinions please. Should I....

A) Continue as New York Red Bulls manager indefinitely for as long as it takes until the Orlando job becomes available.

B) Quit and remain unemployed in the hope that it speeds up the time I have to wait and then can hopefully snap up the Orlando position.

C) Quit and apply for national team managerial positions if I can, to keep my rep up until Orlando comes up.

Thank you very much for reading and please let me know what you think I should do! Pooches out.

Edited by GingerbreadPooches
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Good job! Wooten looks like a pretty good steal now!

As a fellow journeyman, having almost finished Season 3, I would advise you get an international job. There's no saying how long you will have to wait for the job to be available. In my save, Orlando are pretty bad but their manager somehow just wasn't sacked even though they had something like a 7 to 8 game winless streak! Of course, its really up to how you wanna play it, I think I will stay with the club in mine and try and understand the mechanics of the MLS better (I still can't figure out why we didn't play in the NACL even after we won everything in Season 1) and I might just post once I get the job, putting all the in between seasons as one post since its not related to the challenge!

Be warned though that some international jobs esp the lower end ones tend to drop your reputation if you have nothing supporting it...

Edited by chewkaiwen
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