First of all, Happy Halloween. From what my wife tells me, I’m taking the kids trick-or-treating as a nun, so, yeah, I kinda have to get drunk. Dang it.
Oh, and I think I’ve got to get over shoving every subject under discussion into the title; that’s what tags are for, right? This frees me up to reuse the title “Daily Sweeper,” which, I believe anyway, implies a grab-bag of topics. Are we in agreement? Disagreement? Are you hungry too? I’m craving grease like a hungover pregnant lady…perhaps even a nun. Crap…where am I? Oh yeah.
– Apart from revealing himself to be a nice fella (through his reluctance to ask hunted coaches about their job security), USSoccerplayas.com Ian Plenderleith closed his column on La Vida Coacha with an interesting theory as to why a guy like, say, Sigi Schmid still has a job:
“The Crew is probably not sticking with Schmid because they’re in love with his coaching methods, but because there’s no one else around that could take his place. That’s not the best reason to retain a coach, but if you’re a club executive and the list of alternatives begins with, say, Bob Gansler at the top, you’ve probably no choice but to either keep the man you have, or submit to a prolonged bout of weeping.”
It’s an interesting thought. And it could explain why Frank Yallop feels more optimistic about continuing his mortgage payments in Southern California (wade past all the Chivas’ stuff; it’s in there), or why, in spite of multiple columns criticizing his competence and enthusiasm for his job, Bruce Arena still wears that, um…Tomcat Smirk (trying to come up with a phrase analogous to Chesire Smile, but one that actually matches The Bruce’s permanent expression).
On the other hand, I don’t see the limits to the coaching pool Plenderleith sees in the paragraph that follows the one above. A pool exists between former players and even coaches “tainted” by the college game. None of these will be sure-shots by any means, but the conceptual knowledge will be there. When it comes to managing players’ egos, training them well (enough), and fielding the right players in the right places, a fella will either have it or he won’t; a number of these guys will tank, naturally, but how’s that so different from the “name” guy already pulling the team down into the bowl with them? What the hell, right? Roll the dice. It’s a gamble, but you can’t win if you don’t play.
UPDATE: Longshoe makes this same point only better over on Who Ate All the Cupcakes. It’s worth checking out.
– The idea with which Frank Dell’Appa led his latest Boston Globe piece has made the rounds lately:
“Three goals were scored in the first round of the MLS playoffs. Three home teams won by 1-0 scores, and the New York Red Bulls were held to a 0-0 tie by the Revolution at Giants Stadium. These results indicate the league should consider modifying the playoff format.”
The more I think about this line of logic, the less I’m sure I buy it. I’m not saying he’s wrong either; I’m merely suspending judgment. Isn’t it possible, just possible, that we ate a bunch of 1-0’s this weekend because it’s not easy playing on the road, the home teams’ pressure and game plans threw off the higher seeds, and, when you get right down to it, the lower-seeded teams just aren’t all that good? I dunno, there’s something too tidy about blaming the format.
– That said, I’m with the post-season revisions Luis Bueno proposed in his latest Press-Enterprise column (e.g. fewer teams and one-off conference semifinals hosted by the top seed; fix it, Mr. Garber).
– I’ll round this out with the latest word I’ve read on the playoff contests we have (as opposed to those we’d like to have):
DC United v. Chicago Fire
Dang me, I wish I could take back/modify my call on this one. DC will have both Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio available and Moreno, in particular, sounds fired up. Even Ives Galarcep is getting cool-ish feet. How’s Chicago feeling? It depends on who you ask, C. J. Brown or Diego Gutierrez. Get on the same page, guys. There’s sickly-sweet fortified abuse riding on this one.
New England Revolution v. Red Bull New York
Claudio Reyna sees the second leg of this one as a “chess match” and implies this could favor the Red Bulls. Assuming he’s right, that calls for a player capable of breaking open the game for the Bulls – and I like Clint Mathis for that; yeah, Arena has his opinion, but everyone thinks he’s an idiot these days. So, yeah, roll the dice man. Clint pulled one out of his ass nearly one year ago today; who’s to say he can’t do it again? (Well, factually, that would be Arena, who could see that Mathis doesn’t pull it off by not playing him…or by playing him for the final few seconds.) By the way, I love making predictions of this kind – y’know, play Mathis and you’ll win – due to the low likelihood of a real-world test.
Chivas USA v. Kansas City Wizards
Given the likely absence of both Maykel Galindo and Ante Razov, things looked pretty tough for Chivas. If they play a 4-5-1 as Luis Bueno guesses they might, that tough suddenly looks all Hell’s Angels. Two forwards, guys. Two forwards! As someone only vaguely interested in this result, I’m begging you…if only rhetorically and from a full upright position. This will not produce my goal-fest.