DCU 1-2 Crew: Adam Moffat’s One-Minute to Redemption

(NOTE: To help people to find our new space, we’ll be cross-posting for a few days.  Below, you’ll see an excerpt to the post I wrote about the Columbus Crew’s shocking – shock…ing – win over DC United.  And I say “shocking” mainly from DC’s perspective.)

“If you’ve ever scored an own-goal – even a play that can be loosely interpreted as an own-goal – you’ve got to envy the Columbus Crew’s Adam Moffat this morning. Just one minute after deflecting DC United’s equalizer into his own net, Moffat broke through their back-line and lofted a cross over the DC ‘keeper Zach Wells; Alejandro Moreno bundled the ball over the line and the Crew held on for the win. Goat to hero inside 60 seconds: end of story, at least for last night, but it also continues the troubled beginning for DC United.”

Click here to keep reading…and do be patient with this excerpting bullshit.  It’ll end soon.

MLS: ___(#) of _____(s) for Week ___

So…in some background chatter, I decided to work a concept similar to Breton’s “10 Bright Spots” posts – check out his latest entry from today. Originally, it was going to be “5 Black Eyes from Week ____,” – e.g. five bad performances, bad decisions, or instances of bad behavior – and it was intended to give the flipside to Breton’s posts. But when the time came to name names, I couldn’t quite nail down 5 black-eye-worthy items; three didn’t feel too bad, mind, but it ain’t five. Given that I decided to add a couple secondary concepts to the mix: talking points and minor mysteries. This may change next week – hence the blank-laden title – but I will get this concept nailed down by Week 5…promise.

Without further ado, here are four black eyes plus one point of interest for Major League Soccer’s Week 2:

1) Parkhurst’s Howling Thursday: I didn’t see the Chicago Fire run straight over the New England Revolution, but I saw enough in the highlights and read enough stray comments – though Lord only knows where – to believe the typically steady Michael Parkhurst suffered a fit of the horrors late last week. Can’t see a repeat happening…but what if it does? Continue reading

Red Bull 2-0 Crew: Water the Field, Men…Skinning Cats

Tough loss for the Columbus Crew, though not so much because it wasn’t deserved. I’d only argue Red Bull New York isn’t that much better in the attack. Let’s just say they ought to keep watering that field before every home game. That’s not the same as saying they were lucky – I credit them the win, no question – but that Columbus made about one quarter of the luck they needed.

Again, I’m going to assume all of you are like Dear President Bush and would prefer your summaries/analyses short and bulleted. Here goes:

Columbus Overall: The bitch here is, these guys know what they’re doing. It’s the distance between knowing what you’re doing and being able to that scuttles the Crew. Again, I don’t think Schmid is the problem. They’re playing a good style – and I believe the results can come, given a correction* – but just lacking that little sumpin’ sumpin’.

Red Bull Overall: A solid performance, but not where generally expected: the defense impressed me most. Since I’m not going to go into Red Bull as much after the jump, may as well do it here: yeah, Oscar Echeverry had a good game, Juan Pablo Angel can make the telling pass up top like few others, etc.; the most impressive thing about Red Bull was their organization and the way they limited the chances to those of the half-or-less variety. In the big picture, Red Bull looks stronger than I expected.

Now, some details…with a Crew orientation. Continue reading

MLS’s (Just Plain Daffy) Salaries, The Joys of Central Planning

“The more I stare at the list, the more I think the majority of players can fit in either category. Can’t say I understand how Major League Soccer comes up with salary figures, but only that it doesn’t tally.”

With the number of those who have read and commented being roughly equal, I’m confident everyone now knows that the Major League Soccer (MLS) Players Union (MLSPU) has again released player salaries. I wrote the above – and don’t worry if it doesn’t make perfect sense – to wrap a post about the salaries of Colorado Rapids players that don’t add up for me for the Colorado Offside. Embarking on the same project for the Columbus Crew over here, it struck me that I don’t have anything more grand or important to say on the subject that I didn’t put into that quote. I only wish it had been more clever.

That said, there’s so many mysteries to the logic of how MLS pays their players. For instance, why does rookie defender Andy Iro pull down $53.5K guaranteed while a second-year pros like Ryan Junge and Brad Evans earn only $12.9K and $33K, respectively? And that’s without getting into something more mysterious: Adam Moffat, the star of the Crew’s victorious season opener, and a player with one more start under his belt than Iro earns only $17.7K. To spell out a familiar acronym, what the fuck? The fact that the Rapids salary structure makes even less sense only deepens the mystery.

I get the designated-player business all right and believe the salaries of veteran players hinge on free(-ish) market factors ranging from a front office’s idiocy, a player’s attentiveness to his finances, and his agent’s audacity. But things get really messy when a player just comes into the league. I have read, in the past, about why one rookie earns $12.9K; while another earns $17.7K; while still another earns $33K; and, finally, why someone like Iro makes more still: I don’t recall the particulars (help? anyone?). I tried to refresh my memory, but found more mechanics and less figures in MLSnet.com’s rules and regulations web-page. Just when I think it might be the difference between developmental and senior roster players, the Crew’s roster tells me that both Robbie Rogers ($57.5K) George Josten (sharpened stick up the ass…er, $12.9K) are listed as developmental players. Back to that drawing board…but, wait, here’s another: speaking of Rogers, how does that an up-and-comer earn a guaranteed salary a couple thousand dollars smaller than that of the distinctly less-promising Jason Garey? Continue reading

Crew v. Rapids*: Comparison After Week 1 (Plus, thoughts on the Crew’s win and word of a signing)

(* This project really needs a name – suggestions are 105% welcome.  A five-minute brainstorm yielded “Project Crewpid,” but I think something better is possible.)

I scanned this great sketch of Alejandro Moreno (well…I liked it) and was prepared to post that over a report on the Columbus Crew’s opening day win over Toronto FC.  Turns out I saved the scan as the wrong kind of file, I had too much shit to do yesterday, and there was that weird hangover that hurt my body less than my…my soul, I guess.  So, yeah, the Crew won their opener on the back of goals by Adam Moffat and Alejandro Moreno.  Moffat was most people’s man of the match, which is the point of the leading anecdote: I could draw a decent caricature of Moreno, but couldn’t swing Moffat – so, there you go, Moreno becomes my man of the match.

As for the game itself, it was a good enough win and I liked what I saw generally (though, admittedly, squinting through one eye by the end; where there’s a hangover in the morning, there was a drunk the night before – all y’all know how this works).  And that’s the weird thing – and “the weird” extends to the commentary several of this week’s games: yeah, the Crew won their opener – which seems a rare event, even if may not be (I don’t know) – but keeping the clean sheet required no mean exertion from Will Hesmer.  What I’m getting at, here, is that this was a nice win, but nothing more – so when I see something like where Goal.com placed the Crew in their power rankings, I wonder how I saw so much less than they did. Continue reading

Crew & Rapids: Anti-Parity – Thoughts on the Eve Of

Beyond mentioning I’m thrilled the parties involved went with the “outer-space-esque” Trillium Cup for the rivalry/cup between the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC, I have nothing immediately relevant to add. That said, I’d recommend checking out the previews for both Columbus’ (LINK – Julius James is out for TFC, eh?) and the Colorado Rapids’ (LINK – holy crap! that’s half of Colorado!) openers, both of which are home games, to check for any players missing through injury.

What I wanting to do here is quickly set the stage for what I’m watching for as I follow both the Crew and the Rapids through the 2008 season. To start with what I will literally watch – e.g. the games for both teams – I suspect I’m in for a healthy share of 0-0, 0-1, and 1-0 games. The two teams I’m watching are, by general consensus, two of the worst teams in Major League Soccer (MLS); according to a sample posted earlier, 9/10th and 11th. No, this does not particularly excite me.

The thing is, that’s kind of the point. The more I mull over what drew me to those two teams, the better I’m understanding why they sprang to mind. As most readers of this site know, MLS is built on parity (OK, the vast majority of you know this, but…) a system of rules backed by systemic compensations designed to help struggling teams and rein in the stronger ones. In spite of this arrangement, both Colorado and Columbus have rarely impacted the league in a meaningful way, never mind threatening to join the league’s elite. Instead, one mediocre season follows the one that came before. I’d argue this applies more to Columbus, especially where continuity is concerned, but Colorado, for all their playoff appearances, made MLS Cup exactly once – and no one thought they’d win it. In a sense, these guys’ combined records point to the limits of what parity can accomplish; they’re like anti-parity, evidence of bad judgment’s capacity to undo the intentions of central planning.

Guesses at why neither team has risen above their mid- or low-table status certainly exist: cheap front offices, less-than-glamorous markets, low local interest, a kind of paralyzed attachment to the Status Clavjio…er, status quo. But the point of this project is to see what happens this year, specifically, to either keep them down or allow the teams to thrive. For example, will a mid-season coaching change for either team demonstrate that coaching has been the problem all along?  Hopefully, I’ll get some answers to compensate for the pain I’ll endure if neither team sorts it out.

That said, I settled on these two teams in the hopes that they would figure it out – though I have to admit that applies more to the Crew than the Rapids. Will this be the year Columbus beardless youths become woolly mountain men? Will Colorado’s decision to throw so many of their hopes in Christian Gomez’ basket pay off?

Stay tuned…

MLS 2008 Eastern Conference Preview: Contenders, Dark Horses, Filler, and C.H.U.D.s

(It looks like I got a little ahead of myself down below…if only by implication. Expect the Western Conference Preview tomorrow and pre-season power rankings Friday. Which is how god intended it.)

Between the super-abundance of variables – some directly inter-related, some not – and the parade of blind-spots steadily unspooling behind me, any attempt on my part to provide a detailed and precise run-down of what will happen to each of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 14 teams between now and MLS Cup 2008 seems either silly, pompous, or slated for failure – or all the above. Given that, I’ll keep things loose. Rather than exactly predicting who will finish where in the standings, this preview, and the one to follow, stops short of ranking teams in the order they will finish, but instead places them into four broad categories. To make things still more vague, I list more than eight “playoff-capable” teams – and I’ll get to the name for that below – an obvious issue with only eight playoff slots available.

This is intentional…I meant “loose” in the first sentence literally…judge me as you will. But, before charging me with cowardice, consider instead that these are the fruits of parity.

To introduce the categories, each team will be tagged with a label: Contender, Dark Horse, Filler, or C.H.U.D. The first two are pretty obvious – e.g. “Contender” attaches to a team with a clear shot at the title, while “Dark Horse” flags a team with the talent and depth to steal the title, but only provided good form and luck through ‘08. For “Filler” teams, the playoffs are within reach, but the title…well, it ain’t gonna happen. Finally, “C.H.U.D.s” – aka, “Cannabalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers”: these are the teams that will suffer in the confines of MLS’s cellars, only coming out for rare feasts on the flesh of the living.

As for resources, what comes below relies on only a few: WVHooligan’s most current list of off-season player movement and Climbing the Ladder’s best guess at starting elevens for the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Finally, if this seems a little weenie, don’t worry: I’ll make an ass of myself tomorrow when I post pre-season power rankings. Odds are I’ll do the same here in any case. Time to get on with the game…for clarity’s sake, teams are listed from Contender to C.H.U.D. Continue reading