Wednesday, August 8, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 08/08/07



Well, well well. Look who isn’t so damn superior after all. Chivas, America and Morelia went crashing out of Superliga leaving Pachuca as the only remaining Mexican side to face the three surviving MLS teams (LA, Houston, and DC). Pre-season was never recognized as an excuse during CONCACAF Champions Cup and I don’t want to hear it now, either. The Mexican teams didn’t even contribute to the most entertaining game, leaving that to Dallas and LA Galaxy.

Let’s call it like it is now. The Mexican and American football are on even footing in the quality department at the league and international levels. Luckily that is due to a rise in quality here, rather than a decline south of the border.

Shame on MLS
Add Beckham’s Ankle-gate to the list of MLS contradictions, right behind wanting passionate fans, but also wanting the fans to tone it down for the soccer moms and their young-ins. On one hand you have Alexi Lalas telling everybody that when you buy a ticket to see the LA Galaxy you are paying to see a team. The other hand put together a back loaded road schedule, a gala press conference and a player-centric portion of The MLS brass is not fooling anybody! Alexi, is the Galaxy’s schedule back loaded due to the high demand of seeing the Galaxy post July? I’ll agree with brass that no refunds should be issued, because no one can guarantee that a player will not be injured or suspended, but let’s not BS about why record crowds are showing up in the first place.

Speaking of the foolishness of the league, believe it or not, they sure have a blind spot in their Beckham marketing. Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen David Beckham play in a short sleeve jersey in the past five years. I’m not seeing any hands at this time. Now raise your hand if you’ve seen any long-sleeve Beckham jerseys for sale in the Beckham Collection online. I’m still not seeing any hands. Wake up MLS!!! With Becks sidelined indefinitely, you can’t afford to drop these many balls!

Shame on the Commentators
All week, commentators have been weighing in on Freddy Adu’s transfer to Benfica. While most of the pundit chatter has been accurate (right time, good price, correct style of play), I’m shocked at the amount of people that have spoken about him NOW having to earn his playing time. Didn’t he transfer to RSL because he was having to earn his playing time? Wasn’t he put out on the wing because Christian Gomez and Mhedi Ballouchy were in his natural position? Didn’t Pitor Nowak make this kid earn a spot in the DC United line-up from day one breaking the ground for Beckham’s high priced cameos? Freddy and the pundits should be praising Nowak for teaching him the lesson about earning his place in the starting line-up. That experience alone will keep Adu from becoming Cletus II. As for the other major question about Freddy: “Why does he perform so well with the national teams, but not in MLS.” I’ve got an answer for that too! Ready…….
This isn’t rocket science people.
For the second time in a year, Adu has transferred to a side that plans to play him at his natural position. We’ll see if those promises ring as hollow as they did on this side of the pond.

Shame on the Rapids
I don’t care how MLS or the Rapids want to dress up their 5-0 trashing at the hands of A-League side Seattle Sounders, that result is an absolute disgrace for a team that was vying for their first Cup. It could be a blessing in disguise for Rapids fans who can’t wait to see Fernando Clavijo axed.

MLS Week 17 – Goal Seekers
KC v. Revs – An entertaining showdown resulted in the Revs staking their sole claim to first place and KC wondering where their second half offense went. Perhaps they should ask some of the bruised members of The Fort who were no doubt clipped by wild shot from Yura Movsisyian and Kerry Zavagnain. While he didn’t get much PT, Adam Christman showed how to stoke a counter attack with a brilliant (and I don’t throw that term around like they do in Jolly Olde) pass to Steve Ralston in the closing minutes of the match. Christman then turned around and sprinted down the field. He was rewarded with a perfect pass from Ralston (expect the best) and calmly slotted past Kevin Hartman to seal the deal at 2-0.
MOTM: Matt Reis – Kept KC off the scoreboard and was huge in the first half.

Crew v. FIRE – Blanco, Wanchope and Rolfe on the pitch at the same time. Here come the fireworks! This is exactly what a sell-out crowd on a gloomy Chicago night was expecting. However, the Trident of Death failed to skewer the Columbus defense nor change the complexion of a dull match. After the match the Crew’s Frankie Hedjuk whined about the all the fouls that Cuauhtemoc Blanco drew (6). However, he didn’t mention the amount of times that the referee waved the “get up” signal at the new Chicago star without blowing the whistle (6).
MOTM: Matt Pickens for an amazing, game saving stop in the 87th minutes.

Rapids v. Dallas – Dallas shut out the anemic Rapids offensive and Drew Moor decided to help out my weak fantasy team with a goal. Dallas did what the needed to do despite coming off a brutal Superliga campaign.
MOTM: Drew Moor scored the games only goal and contributed to the Dallas shutout.

Dynamo v. RSL – The Superliga did claim the spirit of the Dynamo who got dropped by another timely Robbie Findlay goal. Despite the Dynamo’s weariness, this is certainly one of the shock results of the year. Combined with the Dallas win, it certainly makes things more interesting out west.
MOTM: Robbie Findlay – To send the deserving RSL fans home with a smile for once.

United v. Revs – Speaking of shock results, who saw this DC demolition coming. The Revs simply did not show up to play. From Matt Reis, lax play that led to the first goal to an “attack” that failed to have any good ideas all afternoon, the Revs got outclassed when everything was in their favor. The Revs had home field advantage. Fred was suspended for DC. Jamie Moreno and Christian Gomez started on the bench and only Moreno made an appearance. Apparently the Revs defense though Luciano Emelio was on the bench too, because no one bothered to mark him. The result? A brace and a 3-0 beat down administered by the wobbly, but dangerous United.
MOTM: Luciano Emelio for two quality goals.

Galaxy v. UFC – The World Greatest Sideline show traveled to Toronto and Hugo Boss suits got some nice press from Becks, Alexi Lalas and Frankie Yallop. Beck’s decided against the stylish LA Galaxy lapel pin, but did manage to scowl the entire match. ESPN again decided to broadcast a long block of a bench player, but also had the good sense to make the Toronto crowd its second biggest star of the evening. The Galaxy reverted to the non-Superliga form and tried to make all watchers believe that the six goal outburst earlier in the week was a mirage. Toronto really pushed any attack in this match and looked the more likely to score, but was continually thwarted by Joe Cannon.
MOTM: Maurice Edu pushed the Toronto game and played with emotion all match.

Fair and Balanced Journalism
This article is a fair take on soccer’s misfires from a casual fan perspective and this is the type of article that journalists of the future will write in the country. It is good to see that after the bashers had their fun, that the soccer-open journalists are still following the Beckham story even if all the press does not reflect well on MLS. It is great to see the “Well, show me” articles rather than the typical “I don’t care” ones. Of course, there are still the Euro Snobs which Bill Simmons falls directly into the category of with his continual MLS bashing and recent jibe at the Beckham situation. Anyone still harping on the, “Why Soccer Won’t Work Here” train of though, have really missed the boat. Soccer is already working here and is well on its way to passing the NHL in the national consciousness, if it hasn’t already. And for the record, I don’t judge the national consciousness by what ESPN shows. They managed to avoid most Gold Cup highlights despite some NFL level crowds.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (1-5) (much like RSL, I’m just focusing on getting back to .500%)
SEASON (37-66)

LA vs. United – After watching that game in New England, you’d be afraid to pick against United too! I’d be shocked if Becks isn’t dressed for this one on natural turf.

UFC vs. The Flagship – The Arena Bulls crush a spirited, but clunky Canadian team.

Crew vs. Dallas – In what should be the most entertaining match of the weekend, the Crew and Dallas fight to a draw.

Dynamo vs. Rapids – I would not want to be in the Rapids shoes now. The only worse place to be would be Fernando Clavijo’s shoes. A loss and he’s gone.

LA vs. Revs – Becks sees more than 12 minutes, but LA still can’t handle a motivated Revolution.

Quote of the Week (source USA Today)
Bruce Arena on the State of the RedBulls when he arrived last season:
"You'd sit around every day and wait around for the Giants to say if you can use the field, and it's generally, 'No.' And then you got in the vans to go to a high school field or another field. I was shocked. ... There's no reason why anyone should expect this franchise to be any better than it is today. Frankly, it's overachieved."

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

1 comment:

Brian said...

I don't necessarily agree with everything you've written, especially trying to compare SuperLiga to the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but at least it's well-written, in-depth, and obviously somewhat researched.

Just to argue my first statement, CONCACAF Champions Cup is played home-and-home for each team. And no, the MLS is still a notch below La Primera.