Friday, April 4, 2008

MLS Roundup: I have no idea what I'm talking about

I was all ready to write a witty post about how terrible the Galaxy are going to be this year, in the wake of their 4-nil beating at the hands of Colorado Rapids. But then Goldenballs and Landycakes spoiled my fun by scoring two nifty goals last night against the back-from-the-dead San Jose Earthquakes and ex-manager/scapegoat Frank Yallop. Meanwhile, any praise that the Revolution might have earned by dismantling the defending champion Houston Dynamo was tempered by their dour showing in Chicago last night. Join me after the jump as we draw some ill-informed conclusions based on a tiny sample size.

The La Galaxy were roundly outplayed last weekend at the Dick, with a shambolic defense featuring Abel Xavier. I should point out that the Rapids were missing a good portion of their first team, and Fernando Clavijo is a terrible, terrible manager. He was supposed to be on his way out last year, but seems to have convinced Stan Kroenke to give him a second chance. Then again, Kroenke’s other coaches (Joel Quineville, George Karl) are also quite adept at getting the least amount possible out of the talent they have to work with, so perhaps Clavijo fits right in. I don’t know what to think of the Rapids, but their big offseason strategy of accumulating DC United castoffs seems to be working so far.

The news got even worse when Carlos Ruiz, the most annoying playing in the league, tore up his knee in the dying minutes of the game. Abel Xavier also picked up suspension for a retaliatory tackle (note: may be a good thing). Shaka Hislop, FC Dallas reject who the Guardian has deemed their MLS “expert” for the season, blamed LA’s ridiculous preseason.

The Galaxy were very poor, and a large part of the reason lies with their pre-season schedule, in which they took on as much traveling in a short spell as I've ever known. I was a member of the Newcastle United squad that went to Singapore before the start of the 1996-97 season, and that took a great toll on us. Indeed, that season saw the eventual departure of Kevin Keegan. The Galaxy's big-name players - David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Abel Xavier - will have been affected by the travelling most because they're all getting on a bit. Xavier, in fact, both gave away a penalty - although I have to agree with LA's complaints about that decision - and was sent off for a second bookable offence in the last few minutes when the game took something of a physical turn.

Yep Shaka, that trip to the Far East was definitely the reason that Keegs flamed out at Toon. Not a complete inability to get along with the boardroom, or a terrible run of form. Getting back to the MLS, the other big result from Saturday, the Rev’s beating of Houston, now looks less impressive after last night’s loss. And LA suddenly looks less like a pub team after comprehensively beating San Jose.

But the MLS, with its generous allocation of playoff spots, rewards teams that peak much later in the season. Shitty results in cold April weather are forgotten by the time summer rolls around. Hell, new Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio is supposedly still looking to buy three players for this season, even though the season starts for them this weekend. MLS rosters are almost always a work in progress for the first part of the season.

So what do we really know after the first couple of games? Fuck all, that’s what. Call me in a month and we can talk.

A footnote: The comments in the above mentioned Guardian post brought out all the tired stereotypes that most people have of the league. They play on fields with lines! The Peruvian second division is higher quality than the MLS! My favorite League 1/League 2/Blue Square North side would dominate the league! Fat Americans don’t understand soccerball!

My response to these people is to actually sit down and watch a game. It won’t kill you, I promise. And you might be surprised at the product on the field. I hear there are great seats available for many Red Bulls games.

A second footnote: Some of us UFers intend to actually, um, go to an MLS game in the near future. We reserve to change our minds and relentlessly slag off on the league if we are unimpressed with the live experience.

[photo credit:]


Anonymous said...

"David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Abel Xavier - will have been affected by the travelling most because they're all getting on a bit"

The only thing Landycakes is getting on is dudes.

*rim shot*

Thank you! Remember, if you're driving, don't drink. And if you're drinking, don't drive...

The Fan's Attic said...

Stan Kroeke has another coach in his stable...Arsene Wenger.