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MLS Sunday Review: When the League Moves Beyond Certain Individuals

DC United’s slide from continental superpower to also ran in what is certainly not the strongest CONCACAF league continues in full view of the nation. What’s most striking is that the consistency of players and philosophy that was a trade mark of the red and black has given way to something else. What DC United is today in inexplicable and I am beginning to wonder if they will in fact right the ship this season.

  • Blanco continues to be a force in this league and the supporting cast is finally finding their roles easier to understand. Chris Rolfe and John Thorrington ought to get another look from the US National Team.
  • ESPN’s Pedro Gomes had a great interview with Blanco about the team philosophy in Chicago. Gomes has been a welcome addition to ESPN’s telecasts. A mainstream sports reporter who actually understands soccer. What a novel concept! Gomes, like myself fell in love with the game while growing up in south Florida watching the old NASL Strikers.
  • Marcello Gallardo plays deeper than Christian Gomez did for DC and does not have his timing down with the United strikers.
  • Zach Wells had an outstanding game for DC and if anything prevented Chicago from completing an even more embarrassing score line for United.
  • United fans don’t handle failure well for the most part and recent uncharacteristic panicking by Kevin Payne and Co. regarding the defensive performances of Facundo Erpen, Bobby Boswell and Brian Carroll as well as the midfield generalship of Christian Gomez is now being ripped in the Red and Black fan community. Payne has been the best executive in the league’s history, thus DC fans should give this a little more time to work. However, if the team does not turn around soon, Kevin Payne can be added to the number of executives and coaches (including Bruce Arena) who saw an improved MLS pass them by.
  • I didn’t see any of the Colorado-Houston match so feel unqualified to comment on the proceedings. While I am away, some matches will be unavailable for my viewing, including all matches on FSC.
  • FC Dallas is a team that continues to under whelm. Not only do the Hoops get bogged down in the midfield, but the 3-5-2 Steve Morrow is playing presumably to get all of his skilled Latin midfielders on the pitch is forcing Dario Sala to stand on his head game in and game out. A keeper, even one of Sala’s quality can only be asked to do so much.
  • As I have said before RSL has arguably more quality than any side in MLS. The club also has a losing mentality, which winning matches like last night’s can only help to change.
  • One player whom MLS has not passed by is Andy Williams. Despite being often traded and discarded Williams has now lasted ten years in MLS which for a senior international under MLS old foreign player rules is remarkable. Williams influence on RSL is plain every time he enters a match and yesterday he helped set up Kyle Beckerman for the game winner. (Translation: while Williams would be discarded by one team another in MLS always wanted his services. It was under old MLS rules always easy to dump foreign players, but Williams despite not getting much love always seemed to find a suitor in the league)
  • Williams and Beckerman played together for my dearly departed club, the Miami Fusion. At the time Beckerman was a teenager, and Williams was coming off a World Cup for Jamaica.
  • San Jose looked oh so good for seventy minutes. Actually I had planned to discuss Frank Yallop’s counter attacking oriented tactics at length today during that game. But the philosophy blew up in the Quakes face as Robbie Rogers, who has been the best player in MLS this season burned the shell shocked Quakes twice and helped set up a third goal which gave Columbus three more points.
  • We all love David Beckham but it is amazing how the big name Latin imports of last season: Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Juan Pablo Angel and Guillermo Barros Schelotto, all seem to consistently have more influence on matches than Beckham does. Whether it is because Beckham plays for a below average team who has dropped more points at home than any other in MLS or simply because Beckham’s game is different is up for debate.
  • Further proof the league has evolved and passed some players, managers and front office personal by: Juan Carlos Osorio and his ability outfox opposing managers of all stripes.
  • Dave Van Den Bergh is very under appreciated and a key part of why the Red Bulls are surging towards the top of MLS.
  • The crowd numbers for the weekend have again been disappointing. It was pointed out on another site where my posting of last Sunday was being taken apart that MLS has more sponsors than ever. I am happy to hear that but unhappy to report the majority of initial MLS sponsors including Snickers Bars which I began partially addicted to, and Yahoo, to whom I became loyal to for internet services have both long left the league behind. I made it a personal policy the league’s early years to patron league sponsors, but today I am not sure who to patron because sponsors come and go quickly and its clear some left because MLS did not deliver the return on investment that was promised.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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