Sunday Morning MLS Review
April 27, 2008
Alan Gordon, Amado Guevara, Ante Razov, Brad Guzan, David Beckham, John Thorrington, Johnathan Bornstien, LA Galaxy, Landon Donovan, Leagues: Major League Soccer, Major League Soccer, Marcello Gallardo, Santino Quaranta
- Amado Guevara’s signing has turned Toronto FC from a laughing stockinto one of the top teams in the league right now. That’s what a Latin flavored #10 can do when surrounded by legitimate European talent that has survived in tougher leagues than MLS. Moreover, the success of TFC shows that despite boasts of MLS’ improvement, players who are marginal squad members in the English Championship can come to MLS and have early success. While MLS from a quality and skill standpoint is better than the English Championship, players who come from the British Isles are tougher and more understanding of a football culture than most Americans who come from the college ranks, from USL or even from within MLS. No wonder MLS has so much trouble in Continental competitions and proving itself to the more snobbish fans in its own nation.
- I don’t want to get into comparisons of leagues on different continents so do not interpret the above statement to mean that I am claiming the League Championship is better than MLS. Major League Soccer has far more accomplished internationals in it than does the English second division, however I am merely stating that the competitive aspects of the game in England that are missing in the US have allowed the British based players that have signed with TFC to compliment a superstar like Amado Guevara more quickly than would a set of American players who come from a less competitive atmosphere. But the key for TFC is Guevara, an MLS veteran, not any of the recent British based signings.
- Watching games at Toronto is becoming more and more difficult for me as the field turf at BMO field has a bigger and bigger impact on each passing match. For MLS to be taken seriously, TFC must at a minimum be forced to replace that carpet each year. The same goes for any club that owns or operates a stadium with turf in it.
- Steve Nicol continues to prove the doubters wrong with his ability to identify talent and then integrate the discovered players within his system. Shalrie Joseph playing in an advanced role Thursday night was a brilliant tactical move that put FC Dallas on its heels.
- Khano Smith has an under appreciated left foot and works hard to find space out wide. I was happy to see him score the winning goal.
- Dario Sala had another good game for the Hoops, and Ray Burse Jr. may wonder if his future lies elsewhere.
- DC United’s attack looked outstanding against RSL, and while Salt Lake looked dangerous at times, their backline continues to be worrying to say the least.
- I was impressed by the flair Santino Quaranta continues to show in his comeback. It is not unreasonable to think Quaranta may be able to work his way back into the US National Team setup after being a teenage flame out under Bruce Arena.
- Real Salt Lake has too many attacking weapons to be struggling so mightily. Every time I watch them play they look solid but simply cannot finish and have trouble at the back.
- I’m wondering if RSL has chemistry problems with so many above average players but yet no real standout types.
- Jason Kreis playing Carey Talley at holding midfielder was an interesting move. It seemed to work at first even when RSL conceded two penalty kicks. But in the end the new formation could not slow down United.
- Marcello Gallardo wearing #10 and having longish hair made me do some double takes: I believed Marco Ethcheverry was playing at times!
- Columbus has serious problems finishing. We saw it against Red Bull in a defeat and now have seen it in the last three victories. Missing so many easy opportunities gave Houston an opportunity to equalize late, and Wade Barrett was oh so unlucky that Will Hesmer read his shot perfectly.
- I did not see Chicago-Colorado, but was happy for John Thorrington, the Manchester United academy and reserve player whose US national team career was a non starter and whose club career was complicated. Thorrington scored a brace against the Rapids.
- Sacha Kljestan’s influence on the Chivas USA attack cannot be understated. His free kick goal was a thing of beauty and his ability to create counter attacking opportunities in the first half was important to keeping the Super Classico competitive for a while.
- Ante Razov almost never misses from point blank range. That’s something Steve Cronin needs to remember for the next Super Classico.
- Landon Donovan is not only the best American player in a generation, he quite possibly is the only difference between a US team today which is moving forward, and the US team of the early 1990s with some skilled players but zero opportunity to consistently play at a high level. Donovan’s performance last night was simply world class. That is an overused term, but that is what Landon Donovan on his day is.
- Alan Gordon had a great impact for the Galaxy coming off the bench.
- Brad Guzan’s regression over the first month of the MLS season culminated with a totally unforgivable mistake on the go ahead goal for the Galaxy. Guzan looks completely unsure of himself between the pipes. Perhaps it is the shambolic back line and the stalled development of Jonathan Bornstein? Perhaps it is lingering unhappiness about his work permit not being awarded for a move to Aston Villa? Perhaps it is simply a rough patch, but right now Guzan cannot be counted on as a backup to Tim Howard or Kasey Keller in any US World Cup qualifier this summer or fall.
- If people aren’t willing to give MLS a chance and feel the intensity and quality of play is inferior to European or Latin American football, they need to watch either a match from RFK Stadium or a Superclassico to understand we do have passion here and we understand the game as well. Oh yeah, and some pretty good football is being played also.