Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Man Bites Dog. English Club Defeats MLS Club.

Each Summer, English clubs embark upon preseason tours in the United States and around the world. And every summer, those English clubs... well... how can I put this... OK, they suck ass. The MLS All-Stars have won five straight against overseas clubs [Ed. Note: their opponents? Guadalajara, Fulham, Chelsea (!), Celtic, West Ham United].

Even mediocre MLS clubs, who most of us think would have a hard time gaining promotion to the First Division of any decent European League, manage to get their backs up and spank the Fulhams, Newcastles, and West Hams of the world.

I attended this past Sunday’s friendly in Colorado between the Rapids and Everton. After the jump, a report...

First off, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is a very nice facility, another in a line of MLS soccer-specific facilities that are quite fantastic places to take in a match. Autoglass, Mrs. Autoglass, Young Autoglass and our friends in Colorado sat in the front row of Section 124 – side of the penalty area. Decent crowd, affordable food, beer and those fantastic $16 jersey t-shirts they sell at all MLS stadiums for the kids (this is brilliance. Go buy your kid anything for $16 at a baseball game, much less something that amounts to a jersey.)

The action? Sure, Everton had all of the ball, and they won 2-1 on a very late winner. The first Everton goal came out of a sequence in which Arteta was given enough time and space to make some calls, finish a sandwich, and admire the hotties in the crowd before finishing low inside the post from 20 yards.

But time and again, the Rapids made runs at the Toffees. They were pacey, they fought, and you got the feeling that they were not in the slightest intimidated. It was gratifying to see them tackle the Phil Nevilles of the world with extreme prejudice.

Oh, and I made sure my section heckled Phil at every opportunity in the first half [Ed. Note: good lad... the Nevilles are a pox on the earth]. In the second he had a cynical uncalled handball in the area that should have resulted in a go-ahead Rapids PK.

I spoke to some Everton supporters (a surprising number of shirts on display in Colorado!). "What do you expect when you play a club on holiday?" they said, "We don’t have our entire squad... these Yanks are dire." You hear these excuses. You hear them try to talk themselves out of caring when they lose. Hell, I MAKE these excuses for English clubs to my friends! I was on Sunday!

Well, the season starts in a couple of weeks. And, governor, Everton needs some work. Tim Howard was making huge saves all day. Lescott was a step slow (yeah, I said it!). Connor Casey – from Ft. Collins, CO and looking like a construction worker - scored the Rapids equalizer but, more importantly, flat-out embarrassed the Everton back on more than one occasion. And Mastroeni bossed the defensive midfield for stretches.

Look, Everton were better. But they had to claw a win over a bad MLS side, and they also lost 2-nil last week in Chicago!

Something is going on, something that Bigus will not concede. I’m not saying that MLS is ready for the prime-time, but it must be said that English clubs are going to a great deal of effort every summer to come over and lose more often than they win. These are the facts.

For discussion: What’s up with that? Dismiss it at your peril. Bigus, I’m talking to you.


Bigus Dickus said...

Auto, I think its clearly down to the fact that its pre-season. The 11 that starts over here is not the 11 lining up in the Prem most times. They are trying young players out and using these games to gain fitness and not going all out against 'Colorado' risking injury 2 weeks before the season is about to start. Colarado on the other hand are in the middle of their season and fit.

MLS all star teams, like MLS teams fancy a scalp and treat it like a cup final. Not to mention that the MLS all star game is about 3 weeks after most European players roll off the beach after a month of beer and kebabs.

A valid question though and a good one! I just think the answer is there for all to see. I would like to watch Colorado play at Goodison in January.

Lingering Bursitis said...

I do love how jubilant you are about the tenacity of MLS against visiting pre-season English clubs, but yet one of the teams they stomped was your very own Chelsea.

Such conflict must be raging within you

Andrew said...

BD has a point: why not send MLS teams to play against Prem, Bundesliga, etc. in January? Would the Euro/England teams even want to play? Would their starting 11 or reserves play? So many questions . . .

Keith said...

Auto, Villa handed out hammerings to the Crew and TFC last preseason.

And yes, Bigus, both hammerings featured Luke Moore heavily, and Nigel Reo-Coker in an attacking role. Once the season started, Moore couldn't find the pitch, let alone the goal, and NRC "ran up and down the field kicking people."

Lingering Bursitis said...

Andrew: it's an intriguing proposition, to be sure. The thought of the FA or even UEFA allowing those sorts of games amid the already crowded schedule is grim, but it would definitely set the record straight if there was a way to get the MLS teams playing EPL teams (or teams from another top-flight domestic league) when they're all in midseason form and fitness.

Keith: A Reo-Coker sighting? Crikey.

Keith said...

Reo-Coker's sighted in every game. He's the guy the ref is holding the yellow card over.

Ian said...

Seeing as MLS teams in preaseason regularly get abused by Mexican sides in the CONCACAF Champions League, I doubt they would stand much of a chance against the EPL.

The NY Kid said...

I am starting Reo-Coker on my fantasy team this season.

Victory is mine!

Keith said...

NY Kid, if you agree to captain him, I'll be in your league.

Speaking of. . . is there a UF league on the EPL (blah, blah, Barclays) site?

Adam said...

I was also at the game, and I thought that even though Colorado seemingly outshot Everton what seemed like 20-2, Everton seemed in control most of the game, but seemed to be giving it 50% most of the time.

I was in Section 136 or so, the bleachers behind the north goal, great seats for $12. Auto, you from Colorado, or just visiting?

Autoglass said...

I moved to California just over a year ago, but I still consider myself a NYer. Transitions. I was visiting fantastic friends in CO.

I would never say that MLS play is Prem quality. It's just not on close on any level. But you don't see these clubs losing so frequently in Asia and Africa.

And they do lose...a lot. Maybe it's the Cup Final attitude Bigus speaks of. Chelsea, as Lingering points out, lost to the MLS All Stars and to Barnsley last year in the FA Cup. Neither Barnsley nor the Rapids were remotely intimidated. I find that incredibly cool.

It was a football match. The Colorado Fucking Rapids had Everton on their heels for large stretches. English sides, even in preseason, lose a LOT over here. Doesn't make MLS sides better, but you can't ignore it. A lot of guys in their English club shirts shuffling out of US stadiums having lost to colonial teams. It bears notice.

It does make sense, though, why Crystal Palace, QPR or Norwich don't make the trip. They'd get spanked like school girls.

Bigus Dickus said...

Hhahahaah. You have to put it down for what it is...Premiership teams having a kick around...

As for palace and Norwich? No money in it. No promotional value. Premier sides are here for a reason. Colorado in the Championship qould be relegated by christmas.