Wheels Fly Off in LA: Back Wrap of the Carnage to Come

The Galaxy is a popular topic today – and for all the wrong reasons. Fans, like The LA Galaxy Offside’s Laurie, are depressed – and with ample reason. But one of the big themes today revolves around what hotter-headed people might call the abuse of MLS’s Golden(balls) Goose, David Beckham. Pundits like FC Rocky’s George Tanner throw around phrases like “coaching incompetence” – a charge that sticks tolerably supported when Dan Loney points to the spectacle Pete Vagenas taking in Beckham ill-advised inquiry into the limits of human endurance from the bench. USSoccerplayer.com’s Ian Plenderleith picks through some of the same wreckage, but it’s Andrea Canales who puts Beckham-abuse at the center of her ESPN article (and with a tougher headline earlier in the day; I swear it read stronger earlier). She even gets all Big-Picture on readers, and not without cause:

“Ultimately, such a grave miscalculation could make MLS seem like more of a joke than the play on the field ever has.”


“Ultimately, it doesn’t seem that Beckham’s heart is in question. Instead, the brains of the league and the Galaxy administration — for not protecting their players by failing to protest such a top-heavy late-season travel schedule — are the ones who appear suspect.”

With The Product sucking so badly in front of God and everybody, talk of heads rolling shouldn’t surprise anyone. As to the timing, well…that’s something else.

MLS Rumors posted talk Frank Yallop resigning as soon as next week. Judging by the wording, this is more of a push than a jump, but Yallop seems like he’s leaning into it (or away from it…complicated metaphor; I’m just saying MLS Rumors thinks Yallop won’t mind so much if/when this happens). Posted earlier the same day is word of Jurgen Klinsmann being courted for the job….my god, I love that site…

Then again, Steve Goff’s Soccer Insider suggests Alexi Lalas’ butt is burning too. Maybe one will go, maybe the other. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a managerial bloodbath, the likes of which Major League Soccer (MLS) has never seen. Then again, the stakes have never been so high, have they?

Turning to the immediate object of the multi-faceted panic, I know I’m not the first person to say it, but one thing absolutely needs doing: if Beckham won’t sit out games, someone – Posh, all the goddam Spice Girls, if that’s what it takes – needs to lock Beckham in a room during game time to keep him off the field; have Tom Cruise secure the perimeter with a crack unit from Sea Org, send out Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan to block the route to the Home Depot Center with a paparazzi-parade. Just do something; the man is showing signs of delusion. It’s possible Beckham sees himself as needing to prove something to the global public – about how seriously he’s taking this league, etc. Salvaging the Galaxy’s season probably seems like the straightest line to take, but, noble as the effort may be, it’s also 95% doomed.

So, barring divine intervention or a highly-leveraged Faustian bargain (hell, maybe that’s what’s going on with Alexi Lalas; do we know how he got his present gig?), LA’s season is lost; they’re going to limp into Wednesday’s Superliga final at this point, so relief there doesn’t look too likely either.

So maybe it’s time to cut their losses. Between the schedule and having Beckham for only half the year and at half fitness, the Galaxy has excuses at hand. It’s time to use them.

The SuperClasico: Kicking His Majesty

 Though I was otherwise occupied last night, I did catch the highlights for this one last night. Wow, what a result! 3-0 to Chivas USA: a rough, involuntary proctological exam given by the Home Depot Center’s “junior tenants” to an increasingly desperate LA Galaxy. I do have a thought or two, but will begin – and this is with all due and sincerest apologies to LA Galaxy fans – ahem…ha, ha ha ha ha! Oh, sorry. Very sorry. But…holy ouch! That must be demoralizing.Turning from gloating to game, some nice goals came out of this one – thank you, Maykel Galindo (honorable mention to Francisco Mendoza’s) – but the thing that really stuck with me was Jesse Marsch’s ruthless kick to David Beckham’s mid-section. What the hell was that? I see Kevin Harmse and Alex Zotinca got chucked for their part in the brawl that ensued, but I’m not seeing Marsch’s wild, miles-from-ball lunge as anything less than a red card offense. And, yes, there’s that little evil part of me gleeful that Beckham finally got that cheap-shot “welcome to the league” that I always knew he’d get, but it was still a shitty foul. Furthermore, tough as Marsch is, I didn’t peg him as a natural for the welcoming committee. Interesting…

Any wagers on the size of the fine heading Mr. Marsch’s way?

UPDATE: Judging by the three, four articles I’ve so far read, mine stands as a minority view on the severity of Marsch’s foul.  The fullest explanation of the incident I’ve so far seen appeared in an Associated Press write-up run on Sports Illustrated’s site.  Here’s the key excerpt:

“Marsch came running up behind Beckham and applied a high kick to the Galaxy captain’s upper right hip during injury time at the end of the first half of the Major League Soccer game.”

“‘He kind of got a piece of me the play before that and so it was somewhat of a retaliation, somewhat of a tactical foul because he was on the break,’ Marsch said. ‘It was harder than I would have liked it to have been. I apologized to him and I told him I respect what he’s about. He was kind of dumb with me though.'”

Well, there’s one side of the story, anyway.  Even if the kick went to the “upper right hip” instead of the belly, as I saw it (stupid Lite beer…), Marsch missed the ball by a mile.  But getting kicked is part of the game, right?  So, I’m revising my thinking a bit: cynical twice-over as the foul was, I’d be at least mildly surprised if Marsch got fined.

MLS Week 20 Collective Power Rankings

The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC) lost a pundit this week: if MLS Underground posted power rankings, I missed ‘em. For the record, I blame the quick turn-around between Week 20 and 21 put in place by Major League Soccer’s (MLS) schedulers…friggin’ ass-hats.

In any case, I have what I have and I’ll run with it. We picked up a new #1 this week and Week 20’s results prompted a good number of shifts in the table as a whole. In general, this results from the perceptions of a couple teams – Toronto FC, the Columbus Crew, and the Chicago Fire – finally reacting to sustained runs, both good and bad.

As for the data, the usual stuff applies: in parentheses after the current week’s ranking and average, you’ll see the most common ranking for each team (e.g. three #1 votes, which will show below as “#1 X 3”) and the previous week’s ranking and average. And, as usual, I’ll close with a comment or six.

Here are the participants for Week 20’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
My Soccer Blog
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)
Sports Illustrated (Ryan Hunt)
And…drumroll, please….here are the collective rankings: Continue reading

Portland Timbers’ Record Night: An Anthropological Study

To stray a bit from my regular topic, I need to talk USL-1 for a second – specifically about my local team, the Portland Timbers. But, first, a little background.

Not too long ago, I was a season-ticket holder. When circumstances got in the way, my attendance record took a bit of a hit, but I still manage a few games a season (only three this time around). This isn’t about fan bona fides, though, but about context – the point is, I’ve seen a Timbers’ game or two in my time. And, using the game as an excuse to meet up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while, I figured I’d take in one more : the Timbers v. the visiting Charleston Battery.

So, what did I see? Continue reading