I know, it’s not over yet. But let’s face it, with the two week break between playoff legs a man of my advancing years is unlikely to remember all of these things. Two weeks from today I’ll have only one thing on my mind- turkey. These are my impressions of the season, without the benefit of deep thought or logical arguments to the contrary. Feel free to nod your head knowingly or shake it slowly and sadly.
Robbie Keane is the best player this league has ever seen. He’s still in the picture with the Irish national team and since joining MLS in 2o12 he has 31 goals in 48 regular season matches. Only Chris Wondolowski has more goals (38) over the same span and he’s played in 61 matches. He was also the only player in the top ten for goals and assists and is also a difference maker on the field in ways that David Beckham never was. Chris Wondolowski is soccers version of the “AAAA” baseball player. He’s dominant at the club level and an afterthought at the international level…but should he be? The acquisition of Clint Dempsey is the best thing that happened to MLS this year and the worse thing that happened to the Seattle Sounders. Deuce is a player you build a club around, not one that you shoehorn into what was already one of the best clubs in the league over the past three seasons. What should have been done was to reinvent and/or relocate Chivas USA and put Clint there with the knowledge that it is “his” club and that it will be built around him. And please don’t embarrass yourself by saying the “rules” wouldn’t let this happen- MLS makes/changes its rules as it sees fit. Jay Heaps has the New England Revolution pointed in the right direction, the question now is will the Kraft family give him the support he needs to make the most of this new beginning? I’m not going to “name and shame” anyone (though you could look at previous posts if you were curious about it…), but officiating continues to be the weakest link in the MLS chain. Nobody ever needs to be “happy” with the officiating, but they do need to be “satisfied.” Speaking of not naming and shaming, there are, in my opinion, a few clubs in MLS that are becoming known for playing whatever the opposite of o jogo bonito is. There are always going to be those clubs in any league, but it’s still disappointing. Carlo Cudicini is the latest player to show that MLS simply isn’t a league for older players to cash one more paycheck before heading off towards the horizon- you better be able to play at a high level as well. It may still be a league for “up and coming” players and for playings looking to relaunch their careers, but it’s not a country club. Kudos to Mike Magee on a great season, but if Chicago didn’t make the playoffs was the trade for Robbie Rogers really the “steal” that people portrayed it as during the course of the season? I don’t know if it’s the border in the way or the language “barrier,” but I think I should be hearing a lot more about what is going on with the Montreal Impact. There a decent side with some interesting players, and a “colorful” owner in Joey Saputo. The Columbus Crew’s choice of former USMNT defender and Hammarby IF head coach Gregg Berhalter as their new manager and sporting director is one of the best moves I’ve seen an MLS franchise make in years. In addition to being the first American to manage a European side, he has playing experience in MLS, the Bundelsiga, the Eredivisie, and the Championship. He’s been there’d, done that, and should have no problem dealing with the hodgepodge of nationalities and experience levels that make up MLS.