Monday, July 25, 2011

MLS Grinder: The Good, The Bad, and the Surprisingly Unnoticed

Will is nearly back from vacation, but we thought we'd let Jacob cover this week's Grinder since I'm certainly not able to do it justice. Will is coming back soon and you all will see more of Jacob in the future - starting now...

The Good:

Hat tricks are always fun to take in. Not just because it means there were at least three goals in the game, but because of the way it affects the player, his teammates, and their decisions on the pitch. It’s always a little amusing to watch professionals pass up perfectly good chances for themselves to dish the ball to a teammate who’s already taken two to his name. When the feat is completed in a mere hour against Major League Soccer’s latest self-proclaimed “Super Club” it becomes downright hilarious and worthy of our weekly grinder.

Gambian Sanna Nyassi did the trick Wednesday night for the Rapids at home against the slumping New York Red Bulls as their lack of nerve outside the friendly confines of Harrison continues to be exposed. Meanwhile the defending champions seem to be rounding into form. Looking ahead, anyone managing an MLS contender certainly does not want to be drawn into a playoff tie with the Rapids. Boasting plenty of gritty MLS vets in Mastroeni, Mullan, and Larentowicz, they can also bludgeon opponents with the likes of Conor Casey while shredding ankles just as Nyassi did twice to the Red Bulls Wednesday night.

If you enjoy soccer this game was good, if you happen to be fan of the defending champs it was great. At this rate they’ll be crossover winners of the Eastern Conference this year.

The Bad:

Everybody knows that guy who tries to tell his girlfriend how pretty she is when it’s quite obvious she’s a (non)-hot mess. After his side thrashed the Seattle Sounders 7-0 on the back of quick and painful Wayne Rooney hat trick (something in the air out west?) Sir Alex Ferguson was that guy and the Sounders were that unkempt girl.

While the Sounders did indeed make wholesale changes for the second half as the Red Devils brought on some of the world’s finest, they still allowed seven unanswered goals over the course of 90 minutes. Sigi Schmid called it his “most embarrassing loss” and while that may be a bit over the top, the team that he put out did lose by more than a lot.

Sir Alex found the result to be “strange” as he did not think it was “reflective of the chances.” For all the numerous titles Ferguson has garnered in his career it seems he has forgotten that the fate of clubs is largely dependent on finishing chances rather than merely creating them. Even Michael Owen got the memo. The Sounders did not.

I do not think that Sir Alex is truly so ignorant, instead he’s patronizing. Despite the progress that MLS has made in the past several seasons, American clubs are still forced to swallow plentiful servings of – usually patronizing – condescension.

Earlier this week Sir Alex’s former player, Phil Neville, got in on the action by comparing MLS to La Liga stating that it is 'almost as popular Spanish football in our house'. For the latter part of the past half- decade, the Spaniards have been playing the world’s most attractive soccer. It was foreshadowed however, as a full two weeks ago the Manchester United manager was spewing lip service about how he sees the American game “in a different light.” While American soccer supporters may be occasionally overly-optimistic, they are not dumb and certainly not blind.

The Surprisingly Unnoticed:

Torsten Frings has settled in with Toronto FC as a part of Aron Winter’s attempt at Dutchifying the Reds and nobody seems to care. Not even the people in Toronto’s or even MLS’s marketing office. Frings is no Beckham and nobody would expect him to boost crowds or create anything resembling the media frenzy that followed Becks around, but as far as bang-for-buck name recognition Frings is a great buy.

For the more casual readers out there (1:45):

Frings was the villain and any American who seriously followed that World Cup knows him as “the guy who kept us out of the semi-finals.” Surely a number of those same people would pay good money to give him a piece of their mind, most especially the countless fans who wrecked their sleep cycles supporting that American team. Perhaps an American club might have hyped such an angle a little more. The role of “player everyone loves to hate” is a constant in the American sporting theater after all. Why TFC or at least MLS does not advertise this to its American fan base is inexplicable.

Who knows, maybe Toronto employs the same people that help Democratic candidates construct campaigns more toothless than the Reds’ attack. Regardless, if there was any doubt over the shortcomings of the Toronto front office after their season ticket debacle, this is it.

- Jacob Klinger


Jay said...

All well and good for Colorado these days, excepting that Connor Casey part. Say hi to your tendon graft for me, Connor.

Jacob Klinger said...

The sick thing is he might not be in MLS if not for his nasty injury history.