Daily Sweeper, 11.6: Calling the Final (Wha? Already?) and Protection from the Draft

– A couple pieces out today are already guessing that we’ll get a repeat of MLS Cup 2006: Houston Dynamo v. New England Revolution. Jeff Bradley started his most recent First XI saying he “fully expects” a repeat while, less surprisingly, the Houston Chronicle sees the same thing…though they do acknowledge the potential for those “meddling kids” from Chicago and Kansas City to louse up the plan. I’ve already voiced hope that both Bradley and the Chronicle will be proved wrong in the comments of another, bigger forum and I stand by that down to the reasoning. More curiously still, it’s New England – who are my team, if only allegedly – that I don’t want to see. This may be hard to understand, but all I can say is not all fans support their team in the same way. For instance, I fall somewhere between the “Ever-Disappointed Parent” category and the “Next-Underdog Bandwagon Jumper.” In practice this means, if my team can’t be great and play beautifully, they shouldn’t bother being good; that would only mean I’ll start ignoring them to watch the plucky underdogs from the next town over (or, in very un-p.c. terms, “Why can’t you be more like your retarded brother? At least he tries. You make me sick!” Curiously, I’m not like this with my real kids – and, yes, I’m a big John Waters fan).

– Speaking of my oft-abused team – again, that’s New England, though you’d hardly know it – they seem to be getting more preview ink, probably due to the fact they play the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference final on Thursday. A couple things to update there: Red Card reports that Justin Mapp “could be available” for the game, something that have me shouting “hallelujahs” about picking Chicago to win if I didn’t have doubts about Mapp’s ability to seriously contribute after such a long lay off. Also, Frank Dell’Appa gave plausible reasons for both teams to feel confident heading into the Big Game.

– To pick up on a new story-line, people are already looking ahead to the expansion draft that will build the new San Jose Earthquakes. I’m thinking Steve Goff got the ball rolling on Monday, and he’s been followed since (consciously or not) by 3rd Degree, who talked about who they expect their beloved FC Dallas to protect and expose, and The Fullback Files, who did the same for DC United. For the record, 3rd Degree helpfully highlighted the expansion draft rules in their post. In the same spirit, I thought I’d do a half-ass job for two teams: the New England Revolution, because I spitefully support them, and the Columbus Crew because I’m not sure anyone else will. I’m only going to name the 11 players on each team that I would protect – the rest would, obviously, remain exposed. And, word to the wise, the likelihood that I’m going to screw up and protect a player who can’t be protected is somewhat high. I’m going through this exercise, I suppose, to identify the players on both teams who I rate – and I placed an asterisk next to any protected player I’d use as trade-bait opportunity permitting:

New England Revolution (the link goes to the roster)
1. Taylor Twellman
2. Pat Noonan
3. Steve “Dog Chow” Ralston (my wife’s nickname)
4. Matt Reis
5. Michael Parkhurst (even if he may leave; see below)
6. Shalrie Joseph
7. Andy Dorman*
8. Avery John*
9. Adam Cristman* (they’d have to pay)
10. Wells Thompson*
11. Jeff Larentowicz

Columbus Crew (ditto)
1. Guillermo Barros Schelotto
2. Eddie Gaven*
3. Ned Grabavoy
4. Frankie Hejduk
5. Stefani Miglioranzi
6. Danny O’Rourke*
7. Robbie Rogers
8. Tim Ward
9. Alejandro Moreno
10. Marcos Gonzalez (I had to)*
11. Jacob Thomas*

This is actually an educational process, figuring which players you’d expose. As you can see, I view a good chunk of the Revs’ line-up as expendable; moreover, I can’t believe how healthy they managed to remain this year. Good fortune of that sort makes me think they might win MLS Cup after all. As for Columbus, they have so many intriguing building blocks, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my list of un-expendable players didn’t end around #7.

– Finally, as we head into the off-season, one has to think that MLS Rumors will once again start cranking out content. They got off to a decent start today with posts on England coach (is it former yet?) Steve McClaren looking into the LA Galaxy job (or vice versa; I’m in a hurry) and one about Michael Parkhurst joining the U.S. Men’s Nationa…I mean, Fulham FC in the Premier League. On this last one, though, The Offside Rules found something debunking that one (and I join his “WTF?” on Brian Hall winning referee of the year). And, honestly, I can’t see the Galaxy hiring McClaren, never mind McClaren taking the job – which, again, hardly means I won’t happen; I can’t see a lot of things that come together.

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MLS: Coaches, GMs and Wet-Dream Thinking

With the recent rash of firings/resignations of Major League Soccer (MLS) coaches – not to mention the barely moral decision to keep around one coach well past his use-by date (though there is hope yet) – chatter about replacements, as well as the talents and qualities that will make said replacements worth the dinero, dominated the soccer-sphere for a second day. In fact, USSoccerplayas.com’s front page looks a little like a special edition given the consistency of the stories (not going to bother linking; the links will change).

A kind of mental quirks typically surfaces in these discussions and this latest round is no different; it could, in fact, be a little worse given how loosely the concept of “ambition” gets thrown around by guys like Alexi Lalas, who has announced his intention to accept nothing less than “sexy” in a new coach for the LA Galaxy (brain…hurting….). But this idea appears just about everywhere, including in a Clemente Lisi column about what he’d term Bruce Arena’s inevitable struggles with Red Bull New York (for the record, I like Lisi’s work on the general subject):

“Now comes the tough task of signing a new coach. With the club’s deep pockets, I would not be surprised if the search is centered on a European coach with plenty of experience. The coach of Red Bull Salzburg, NY’s sister team, is former Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni. Other names that could be in the mix are Jürgen Klinsmann and Jose Mourinho, if the LA Galaxy doesn’t get there first. All these men are currently out of work and all of them would make for a great addition to MLS.

Those names – albeit minus Trapattoni and plus Fabio Capello – appear in Billy Witz’ LA Daily News column Lalas’ search. As much as seeing any of those coaches in MLS would be, um, kinda neat, I’m far from convinced they would make “great additions to MLS” outside the marketing department. In a non-response response, (meaning that) Goal.com’s Pat Walsh (could very well have written his piece before or after Witz and Lisi) points to the holes in this, well, wet-dream kind of thinking: Continue reading