Reviewing Editorial Decisions: Columbus and _____?

Rants about the Colorado Rapids, such as the one I just unspooled below, make me wonder if I shouldn’t adopt the Rapids as one of the clubs I follow for 2008.  In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not crazy.  Just very, very neurotic.

In the original post on this subject, I picked the Columbus Crew and the New-Model San Jose Earthquakes as the two clubs I’d follow.  But a wise person (see the comments) got me thinking about the idea of narratives – e.g. a way to give meaning to what I’m following outside a regular, game-by-game perspective – and, try as I might, I’m struggling to find so much as a tenuous narrative that unites those two teams beyond something like, “Would Ned Grabavoy be having a better year had he stayed in Columbus?”  (NOTE: The answer had better be yes.)

I know I’m sticking with Columbus, but the more I think about it, the more I like the vibe I’m getting from following Colorado.  In the most basic sense, both are original MLS clubs trying to find their way to success; both are sticking  with coaches who, so far, have uneven records on that score.  The parallels jump out: will Sigi Schmid or Fernando Clavijo make it happen?  Who will get the sack first?  Will both men get the sack?  More immediately, though, I’m dying to know what both coaches will do between now and the regular season, because the clock has to be ticking on both of them.

Anyway, I’m still working on this.  I suspect I will be till after the New Year.  Do forgive my hasty selection of San Jose (who, dollars-to-donuts, will be better than Colorado in ’08).  But I’ll have this nailed down by the end of January.  But, as it now stands, I’m leaning toward a Columbus/Colorado pairing.  (Also in favor: their tags are adjacent to one another’s.)

Daily Sweeper, 12.7: Who Is This Owen Perkins*? (+ Meat Cyborgs)

(* I want to begin by noting that I’m only having fun with Owen Perkins’ work for MLSnet.com; he’s the guy who wrote their “5 Questions” piece about the Colorado Rapids. In all honesty, I just don’t get angry enough about soccer to shit all over someone’s opinion. Make fun of it? Good Lord, yes. But shit on? Not sincerely, no. In any case, the ire in this piece are directed at the Rapids’ organization and not at Mr. Perkins.)

– Who the hell is this Owen Perkins? I’ve been staring at his name trying to find the anagram for “Fernando Clavijo” that I know is lurking in there, but no luck so far. As many of you no doubt know, MLSnet.com are getting into their season reviews (and why read theirs when you can ride mine; look at the sidebar) and the “5 Big Questions” pieces heading into 2008. Having read Perkins’ piece (of poop), I can find no explanation for such a thoroughly chirpy look ahead unless Perkins is Fernando Clavijo freelancing under a pen-name. So, by way of public service, I’m re-writing Clavi…er, Perkins 5 Questions piece, but with the proper answers to replace his gibberish:

What do the Rapids need to do to reach the MLS Cup final in ’08?

Wrong question, doofus. The Rapids missed the playoffs this year. This should read, “What the hell do the Rapids need to do to reach the playoffs in ’08…and to stop insulting their supporters, who lapped Job in the suffering stakes some time in July.

What was the team’s best moment in 2007?

They had good moments? Try the final whistle to the final game of 2007.

Who made the most improvement over the course of the season?

OK, he got this one right. Colin Clark.

What reserves are most ready to move into the team?

These are the guys who won their second consecutive reserve division title? OK, make those guys the new starting eleven. Can’t hurt, right?

What area of the team needs the most improvement?

Just the soccer part. The rest is going swell.

And then I read rumors about the team mulling a trade for Pablo Mastroeni. Yeah, why the hell not? I mean, it’s not like Kyle Beckerman’s gone or anything.

In a semi-related note, this kind of thing has inspired a major shift in editorial policy…more on that later… Continue reading

MLS 2007 Reviews: All 13 in One Post (well, links to, at least)

Having written all thirteen of these things – and having reached a point where the thought of doing just one more would have put me in a mind to completely half-ass it – I don’t know that I’ll have the effort in me when the team expands to 14 teams and beyond. Then again, there’s closure to consider and all that. My mental state aside, linking to all the reviews in one Master Post seems a fine idea.

So here they are, from top of the regular season standings to the bottom, complete with the snarky titles I gave each.

DC United: Consolation Kings
Chivas USA: Stalking Horses…with a Limp
Houston Dynamo: …the Bastards
New England Revolution: Taylor and Steve and Me
FC Dallas: Succeed…Choke…Repeat
Red Bull New York: Atypically Typical Year
Chicago Fire: Lazarus Rises, Plays Stubborn D…and…
Kansas City Wizards: Limits of Positive Thinking
Columbus Crew: Mid-Summer Mirage
Colorado Rapids: The Difference Between “Playing” and “Eating”
Los Angeles Galaxy: The Cubic Zirconia of MLS
Real Salt Lake: The Riddle of RSL
Toronto FC: [So bad, it seems, they didn’t warrant snark]

There: 2007 is officially over. Looking forward to next year, one day at a time.

World Club Cup: Sepahan (Iran) 3-1 Waitakere United (New Zealand)

A clarifying thought came to me as I saw Waitakere United’s Jason Hayne come on for Christopher Bale somewhere around the 60th minute.  When you’re part of team to whom fell the misfortune of demonstrating the gap between professionals and part-timers, well, what do you have to lose?  Go out there loose, get a high from playing against people on a higher level in front of thousands, and just…play.  This is supposed to be fun, dammit.

Hayne’s substitution came ten minutes or so after Iran’s Sepahan scored its third, and final, goal on their way to a 3-1 win.  Abudl Wahab Abu Al Hail put a sliced, outward curve on the long-range shot, which made a slow-rolling mockery of the Waitakere ‘keeper’s decision to try to catch it.  The irony of that particular moment grew from the fact that, if forced to choose between the two ‘keepers on the field – Waitakere’s Simon Eaddy and Sepahan’s Mohammad Savari – I would go with Eaddy in a heartbeat…that precise moment excepted, of course.

In goal was just about the only spot on the field where Waitakere enjoyed an advantage.  The Iranian side passed more crisply, moved smarter off the ball and found a couple ways around – or, worse, through – the New Zealanders’ (hereafter, Kiwis) back line.  Forget the final score for a second; a more relevant statistic appeared during the first half, when my TV told me that Sepahan enjoyed a 71-to-29% advantage in possession.  Even with the game ending on a more equitable 66-to-34 breakdown, that edge proved more telling than usual.  Waitakere continually gave away the ball or, where their key forward, Benjamin Totori, was concerned, dribbled into dead-ends.

Given that, the late rally the New Zealanders (hereafter, Kiwis) put together seems a little more impressive.  Doubly impressive, in fact, given that they were part-timers going against full pros; normally, one would expect the professionals to gain the advantage as the game wears on.  This goes back to my theory that the Kiwis decided to make their one-game on the global stage more about getting kicks than getting results.  Whatever happened, they got forward more and, hence, around Sepahan’s back line a couple times – most notably when Totori found some use for his soloist’s skills. Continue reading

DC United 2007 Season Review: Consolation Kings

DC United
Record (W-L-T): 16-7-7; 56 GF, 34 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

Overview
Somewhere down in the mid-summer recesses of this blog, I dubbed DC United the best team in Major League Soccer (MLS).  Just to suggest, at least, that I’m not a lazy sack, I tried to find that post…and discovered there are several.  The first time it happened came after their August 22 win over Red Bull New York, but the affirmation of that opinion grew and grew.  By the time I wrote the post behind that second “grew,” I was preoccupied with figuring out not so much who could stop them, but where; between winning Eastern Conference title and how strong they were at home, the conference semifinals seemed the place to stop them.

And, of course, that’s precisely what happened: the DC defense’s penchant for getting flustered as virgins on their first date let in Chicago’s forwards for a pair of goals that were easy as they were well-taken and lethal.  Thus it was the same story for the past two seasons: DC gets the Supporters’ Shield, an award that, at this point, everyone at least acknowledges before dubbing the MLS Cup-winning Houston Dynamo as league champions.  Picking through the comments of a post-loss post (probably on the incomparable DCenters), the refrain that the Supporters’ Shield wasn’t enough repeated pretty often.

So what’s the story for DC United’s 2007?  They played more meaningful games than any team but the Houston Dynamo.  They won a bunch of them, too, all except the three semifinals they reached (e.g. conference, CONCACAF Champions Cup, and Superliga; they lost the last one, incredibly, to the Los Angeles Galaxy).  So, again, what is that?  “Really good,  but not good enough”?  A “beautiful failure”?  Or is it just a failure? Continue reading