MLS Week Four Review

  • Columbus performance Thursday night at RFK Stadium was outstanding all around, and showed a fighting spirit the Crew often times lacked on the road (accept strangely at Foxboro against the Revs) the past few seasons.
  • The most impressive performance of the night from the Crew was once again from Robbie Rogers. The winger showed his quality in the U-20 world cup last year and has built upon that performance to become at this early stage of the MLS season, arguably the most dangerous wide player in the league.
  • Marcello Gallardo had his most influential match since joining DC United but the Black and Red have a disastrous back line that needs to be sorted soon.
  • Guilermo Barros Schelotto seems to be one of the rare players that understands the game so well that aging and a diminishing skill level have less of an effect on his quality than even for a top class players.
  • Rohan Ricketts was yet another British signing of Toronto FC I panned, but he looked impressive making some important deep runs vs RSL.
  • Jeff Cunningham remains in the doghouse. He hardly got a run out in this match.
  • Ian Joy and Nat Borchers have stabilized the defense for RSL.
  • I always find it amazing how DC United can get more fans for midweek games than New Jersey for weekend matches. This has been a consistent trend since 1996 and I am hopeful but not overly confident that RBNY’s move to Harrison next year will change this.
  • The turf at the Meadowlands should convince everybody that while the new era of stadium carpets may not be as ugly as Astroturf, it isn’t anywhere near real grass either and fundamentally unsuitable for playing football on. (And precisely why England despite their ineptitude should be in the Euros this summer and Russia should not)
  • RBNY fans have been complaining about the free kick call, but I felt Adam Christman was clearly taken down just outside the box from behind. A slight clip, but a clear foul.
  • Steve Nicol’s New England team is so amazingly gritty considering all the injuries and then the sending off of Mauricio Castro. It is downright amazing how the Revs salvaged a point from Saturday night, and that has to be considered a negative three point swing for Red Bull.
  • John Wolyniec still playing in MLS and almost scoring winning goals in MLS tells me this league still has a long long way to go. Wolyniec was a player who was called in from the A-League (now USL-1) Long Island Rough Riders when Bora Milutinovic managed the Metrostars because the team was out of strikers. He was never seen as an MLS type player. But ten seasons later he’s still in league and has no disernable skill or quality other than simple smarts. I like players like Wolyniec but let’s face it, if you’re counting on him to win games, your league isn’t anywhere near where some of the proponents of this league think it is in terms of quality compared with other leagues in this hemisphere or even in the CONCACAF region.
  • I want to thank MSG for its “Red Bull in 60? program for allowing me to see the match despite not having HDNet.
  • San Jose came out flying in Denver and looked very impressive.
  • I thought Gavin Glinton and Kei Kamara both did well in the attack and that Ned Grabavoy has a solid effort.
  • Ronnie O’Brien and Ramiro Corrales have already developed the kind of understanding of each other you’d expect only after half a season together.
  • Colorado’s kids from their reserve side finally ran out of answers today. Still Omar Cummings had a very good game.
  • Steve Cronin finally showed on Saturday why many fancy him as a potential US National Team player pool goalkeeper going forward. Cronin had an impeccable sense of positioning and showed great instincts.
  • Someone who has poor instincts and positioning sense is Patrick Ianni. While many were quick to criticize Tony Caig a few weeks back, I felt an uncertain Caig was not being done any favors by Ianni. Now the Englishman Caig is excelling inspite of Ianni. It is simply frightening that the US may go into the Olympics this summer with Ianni potentially starting. This is where Peter Nowak needs to reach for a Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit or a now healthy Cory Gibbs as an overage player selection.
  • David Beckham’s chemistry with Landon Donovan is uncanny for two footballers who have played together so few times. But the reality is that they are the two of the three most accomplished attacking players from an international standpoint currently in MLS (Blanco being the other) and national team players are often times required to develop team chemistry with virtually no training sessions together.
  • Houston’s quality and team understanding is on display every time they take the field. Unfortunately, the finishing touch has yet to find the two time defending champions this season.
  • Anybody who realistically believes ANY American national team pool player is more talented and skilled than Landon Donovan is simply foolish at this point. I’ve heard lots of spirited conversation about Donovan’s poor finishing this week, but if you can name me one other player in the contemporary history of US Soccer (post 1950 world cup) who is capable of creating so many chances in a legitimate first division professional match, you know more than I about the history of the sport in this country. By comparison, Eric Wynalda whose goals record for US MNT, Donovan recently broke depended on outstanding service or a dead ball situation to score. Brian McBride was a little more capable of creating opportunities for himself and his team mates but was still in MLS nowhere near Donovan’s level. The reality is that besides Donovan the best attacking players in MLS history have all been non-Americans. Ante Razov and Jeff Cunningham have both scored lots of goals but they are nowhere near the best attacking players in the history of this league. (While both have had great MLS careers both scored many goals while playing off other top strikers. For Cunningham it was McBride, Brian West, Stern John and Dante Washington in Columbus, and for Razov it was Roman Kosecki, Josh Wolff, Hristo Stoichkov and Damani Ralph in Chicago)
  • Chivas USA’s backline is a mess and I have heard the word “regression” mentioned in association with Jonathan Bornstien’s defensive skills.
  • Kansas City is using Claudio Lopez always a striker for Lazio and Club America in a hybrid offensive roaming role. Thus far it is paying dividends for the Wizards.
  • Chad Barrett’s finishing is abhorrent. Again, Barrett’s inclusion on the US Olympic qualifying squad was another mystery when players the quality of Robbie Rogers and Arturo Alvarez were cut.
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  1. Mr. Fish April 22, 2008
  2. Mr. Fish April 22, 2008

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