MLS Week 3: Black Eyes and Big Ideas

(NOTE: Because the week got off the a god-awful start – and because I further handicapped this young week by drowning it in beer – I have to forgo posting the feature I advertised this morning, “MLS Week #___: Let the Record Show.”  I’ll get this stuff down shortly…promise.  I lieu of that one, I’ll be posting a feature I attempted to start last week, but that I feel much, much better about this week.  That’s below.)

Welcome to my kinda/sorta counter-point to my colleague Breton’s 10 Bright Spots posts: Black Eyes and Big Ideas.  I’ll start with a rundown of all the personal and general disasters from the games from the previous weekend.  After those, I’ll touch on the striking trends that come to me – e.g. the Big Ideas lurking out there.

As always, feel free to add your own black eyes and big ideas in the comments.  And do bear with me: this feature, along with the others, will improve once I get used to the new rhythms of my week.

BLACK EYES
Greg Vanney…
LA’s loss to Toronto FC (TFC) raised plenty of issues, but the one man who drew plenty of notice in the loss was Greg Vanney.  Involved and, tragically, burned on all three TFC goals, I can’t imagine he’s forwarding video from this week’s loss to friends and relatives.

…and His Accomplices.
Someone raised the question (sorry; no time to look; this will improve – promise) as to who had the worst miss this weekend, the San Jose Earthquakes’ Shea Salinas or LA’s Landon Donovan.  Donovan’s “Golden Boy” status inclines me to finger his miss; he’s supposed to put those away.  He scored two, which, by the way, represents all LA’s meaningful offense, but he missed more than he made.

Nightmares in the Nets
Some credit for Donovan’s woes surely accrues to TFC’s Greg Sutton, who had a great game.  The Chicago Fire’s Jon Busch as well as the Colorado Rapids’ Bouna Coundoul also had a sensational week.  But their “beauties” had complementary “beasts” from other MLS ‘keepers.  I‘d dub Saturday a bad day for DC United’s Jose Carvallo, especially on the Fabian Espindola’s goal.  But the Crap-Shack Performance of the Week belongs to one of the least likely candidates: Chivas USA’s Brad Guzan, who by his own admission had an apology-worthy game (crap!  Can’t find that one either; again, this will improve).  Clearly at fault on Robbie Rogers’ second, I’d argue Guzan was lost on Rogers’ first goal.

Kljestan and Hyde
Steve Davis leads with this and goes a little deeper in the wrap he wrote for ESPN.com, but Sacha Kljestan really screwed the pooch when he got sent off late in Chivas’ loss to Columbus.  The man played as well as anyone this weekend, and quite a bit better than most, but a stupid individual decision that costs the team down the line is no way to make good on a bad night for your team.

BIG IDEAS
The Rapids Hype-Train
All the bigs love the Rapids and featured them up high (ESPN.com; USSoccerplayers.com; Goal.com).  I’ve seen two games from the Rapids and as many wins, but still come away less impressed by this team.  I see a lot of industry, especially from their young bucks – and that’s great – but I’m not seeing a team with a glory season in the offing.  I’m also not seeing vindication for retaining Clavijo, for signing Christian Gomez, and so on.  I’m seeing a team gutting out wins and defending very well.  That will avoid losses and get you ties.  But I’m not seeing an offense worth talking about.  Romps over LA don’t count; TF-friggin’-C knocked three past the same team, after all – and in LA.  The point is, it took the world a long time to come down off the Rapids opening day win over DC United in 2007.  I’m just wondering whether people aren’t jumping the gun.  That said, I can only applaud Goal.com’s general point about how well the youth are stepping up for the Rapids; that, I think, is real.  I just don’t know that they’re ready to carry them yet.

Unsettled as a Teenagers Stomach After Raiding the Folks’ Hooch
I think my larger point is that the league and all its teams seem very (very, very, very) unsettled at this point.  Thinking you can make sense of it seems foolhardy.  I’m not even trying at this point.  I’m thinking I’ll start…I dunno…Week 8, maybe*.  (*No, that’s not an actual deadline.  More of a funny.)

Selling MLS to the Youth
This is sort of a no-brainer and I can’t help but think someone has made this exact point elsewhere, but a really good case for starting in MLS came to me as I watched Columbus v. Chivas.  Here’s the thing: even if you’re hankering to go to Europe and that developmental contract made you do a spit-take, MLS strikes me as a great measure of any given player’s ability and aptitude for making it as a professional player.  Being in the same culture, speaking your first language, etc. – all those little advantages allow time and space to focus first and foremost on learning the pro game and judging your talent against real players.  Yeah, MLS doesn’t have a sparkling reputation in Europe, but I think the “real experience” angle would work as a good sell for players coming out of college.  It’s along the lines of, yeah, you can go to Europe, but how often will you play, how ready will you be?  Take a couple years and then go.

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4 Responses

  1. I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but Guzan blames himself pretty hard here. Poor thing. Though I am glad to see Rogers a) playing and b) scoring.

  2. Ah, Amanda. You found my blindspot. I very rarely read MLSnet.com, but, yeah, very obvious source. Thanks for flagging it. And that is the same quote; I just read it somewhere else.

    Thanks for supplying.

  3. No problem — I try not to read it that often, but sometimes the quote sheets are interesting. Not usually, but sometimes. 😉

  4. I’ve truly go through some great stuff listed here. Definitely cost book-marking to get returning to. I surprise the amount of endeavor you set to develop this kind of excellent informative website.

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