Must see TV has turned into a bore fest courtesy of Major League Soccer. The last several weeks of the regular season were high flying as many of the teams were going for broke thanks to MLS’ playoff system which unlike European Football gives teams the opportunity to save their season even after months of subpar play.
However this excitement has turned into dull, lifeless football in the playoffs. Kansas City were the worst offenders essentially parking a bus in front of goal Saturday Night to preserve a 1-0 aggregate victory over Chivas USA. New England and New York played a series which was lifeless, boring and sadly indicative of the type of football both teams play. I’m a fan of Steve Nicol (but not of his Liverpool roots) but I find myself rooting against his New England side this year unlike past years because it just seems like the team has gone having lots of energy and excitement to being an annoying hanger on. Perhaps that’s because Clint Dempsey is not around anymore, or perhaps because we are all tired of seeing the same core of players” Ralston, Twellman, Joseph, Heaps, Noonan, etc every season. Part of my thinking is I wanted Nicol to win a title and now that he has a US Open Cup, we don’t need to see the Revolution in the MLS Cup final for the fourth time in six seasons.
Chicago has injected some life in these playoffs. ESPN seems to be riding the Fire all the way thanks to the Blanco effect and simply because Chicago seems to be entertaining. Losing DC United from these playoffs early is blow to MLS: matching up Chicago and DC United two of three teams that could realistically win the title in the first round was a terrible blow, but at least it produced two very entertaining games on national TV. But Juan Carlos Osorio’s brand I am familiar with due to his time assisting Kevin Keagan and Stuart Pearce at Manchester City. Despite the thrills the matches against DC United provided, Osorio is simply a more tactically savvy version of Pearce, promoting the same negative, cynical football his boss at Eastlands did. (Hence the number of blown leads the Fire had late in the Regular Season when Osorio in Keagan/Pearce-esqe style decided to sit on a one goal lead, which of course in almost every case evaporated) Now that could very well be good enough to win an MLS title, but the football could once again suffer.