MLS Wrap and Other Notes

This weekend’s MLS action was tainted by the continued insistence of the league not to break or at the very least reduce its schedule for international matches. Landon Donovan, Brad Guzan, Mo Edu, Frankie Hejduk and Rico Clark should not have to take a long flight after one international match only to take a similar length flight after the MLS match back to Europe. But it wasn’t simply Americans who were inconvenienced by MLS’ scheduling this weekend: if it were simply Americans I suppose it would be alright. Six Canadian players were busy battling mighty Brazil while several other MLS players were scattered throughout the world playing for their countries. Amado Guevara, Ivan Guerrero and their Honduran team mates were in my neck of the woods in Fort Lauderdale facing Venezuela. Kei Kamara and Bouna Counduil were in Africa for World Cup qualifiers, and Carl Robinson was in Wales to face Holland in the final tune up for the Dutch before the Euros begin. Several other MLS players were also absent this past weekend and will be absent for several matches in the next month.

MLS is watering down its product and cheating its fans, players and management by making no effort to resolve its scheduling issues during this period. The on the field product while acceptable isn’t what it should be during this period and that makes the whole situation laughable.

Why MLS cannot change its scheduling practices is beyond me. For the first time since the inaugural season of 1996, MLS has a great number of players who are active on their respective national teams and whose presence as full internationals enhances the reputation of the league. But all of this jeopardized if the league does not make it possible for footballers to perform for both their club and country without conflict.

Some other thoughts:

  • Jeff Cunningham had a great finish for TFC’s second goal but didn’t finish his other opportunities leaving me to believe Cunningham is most certainly in decline and may not after all catch Jaime Moreno and Ante Razov as the top two MLS scorers all time.
  • The Galaxy’s young guns didn’t get a result without Landon Donovan and David Beckham Saturday but certainly showed they could hold their own and create scoring chances. Now I am of the belief that Beckham is less valuable to the team than Donovan and thus getting Becks back next weekend will not solve all the problems the team has.
  • Chivas USA is on a roll and what more can you say about the Sueno MLS program? Jorge Flores is not only a good MLS player, he could be solution for the national team and this kid flew completely under the radar for years. That’s a failure of the USSF’s development programs.
  • Jesse Marsch is having a renaissance in 2008. Marsch is a winner: he’s never been on a bad team in his 13 year MLS career and he wasn’t about to allow this year’s Chivas team to go down the tubes.
  • Tam MacManus is quickly becoming one of my favorite MLS players and his game winning goal was a thing of beauty.
  • FC Dallas is in troubl: we already knew that, but solving the trouble may be as simple as incorporating Dominic Oduro and Abe Thompson in the attacking flow rather than dallying around in the midfield. In other words the Hoops unlike the other struggling teams in MLS may not need a talent upgrade: they need a change in philosophy.
  • Columbus looks listless and now is scoreless in close to 300 minutes.
  • Houston without Onstad and DeRo record a clean sheet against the Red Bulls. It helps that Juan Pablo Angel wasn’t playing.
  • DC Unite’s backline and goal keeping situation is not salvageable.
  • Kheli Dube is the latest amazing find of the Revolution’s scouting network, and once again Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner find the best hidden games available to an MLS club.
  • Panama looked impressive versus Guatemala on Sunday. Without Carlos Ruiz Guatemala was tentative and trying to bog match down in midfield until late when Guatemala needed an equalizer. 1-0 Panama victory sets up qualifying nicely for them.
  • Canada’s performance against Brazil Saturday night should strike fear into the hearts of Honduras and Mexico who will face Canada in the first qualifying group. I personally am the first person to write off Canada because of the mess that is their federation, but the Canadians controlled more of the match than the US has ever controlled against Brazil and seem to have the right mix of players to give a top team fits. Mexico has more to worry about right now: facing a coaching change and a transition between generations of players and a crisis of confidence. Honduras who struggled with Venezuela the other night has the type of attacking players in David Suazo, Amado Guevara, and Carlos Costly both the US and Mexico wish they had right now.

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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7 Responses to MLS Wrap and Other Notes

  1. Joe says:

    MLS’ credibility is in the gutter with all these matches being played during international breaks. What’s even worse is the four teams in superliga are playing more matches in this period than normal making matters even worse for Rico Clark and the others on those teams.

  2. Berlin says:

    I hate taking breaks during the season, but why they schedule the All Star break in between the European Championships and the Olympics is beyond me. The MLS schedule maker should be fired, tarred and feathered.

  3. Phillip says:

    Eh… Brazil’s big boys didn’t play against Canada Kartik… I’m pretty sure we would’ve done pretty well against that Brazilian side too.

  4. LH says:

    Mexico will not struggle to beat Honduras, Canada or the USA going forward. Sven was railroaded in England with a group of misfits and ego maniac players around him: In Mexico he’ll have ability to cut the dead weight and win. Everyone else is playing for 2nd in CONCACAF now.

  5. LH says:

    Philip you are wrong. If Diego, Robinho, Adriano, and Lucio are not the top Brazilians players they are still certainly very good.

    Canada played well, and yes you are correct they played far better than the US has lately. Rob Friend had a great game and DeGuzman was on until the bad giveaway that led to Brazil’s winning goal.

  6. eplnfl says:

    I for one was very impressed by the Canadian team vs. the US last year in the Gold Cup semi-final in Chicago. Many will remember the offsides call at the end of the match that allowed the US to advance to the final against Mexico. Do not take Canada lightly despite what a mess their Federation is.

    As to the MLS schedule, we have all debated in the past that the MLS has to play during the summer. There is nothing escaping that fact. Could the MLS open their schedule twice for international weekends. Yes. Will it hurt attendance if they have to trade a weekend date for a midweek match? No doubt it will. On the other hand is it vital the MLS gets it players to appear in international games many of which many have national tv coverage in the US. Necessary for growth.

    Is it therefore better for the MLS to play understrength games or play midweek games at full strength? For me a compromise is` best. Shut the league down maybe twice and at other times play on. We must face the fact that international commitments for MLS players will only increase in the future. Best we get used to it!

  7. Brian says:

    Does the MLS really need to play in the summer? Instead of following the Euro format, why not follow the the apatura/clausura format used in most of the Americas? We are part of the Americas afterall.

    Like the USMNT last Wednesday, we need to get over this awe for all things English when it comes to soccer. What our team failed to remember is that they won their confederation’s cup while England didn’t even qualify for its confederation’s cup. We don’t need to copy them, afterall, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an inflated ego that rests on victory that is over 40 years old.

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