MLS Week Four As Analyzed by Radiohead


Photo by rula

What, you may ask, is Robert thinking.  Instead of a straight-forward and honest discussion and analysis of this weekend’s MLS action, he resorts to a cheap blogging trick and uses a popular band to help make his article different.  What does a popular moody British rock band have to do with American soccer, and is he just doing this because he had his Radiohead Pandora station on while writing?

The thing about Radiohead’s music is that often times the subject of the song is misleading.  Take, for example, Karma Police, one of their biggest songs.  If you listen to the words and music, it sounds like an otherworldly treatise on the importance of doing good to others, lest the universe exact revenge.  In reality, the song is an inside joke between band members promising revenge if they got too uptight.  That is what this weekend’s action was like in MLS – so many of the results were misleading.  Is Dallas better than Colorado and Philadelphia now the favorite than the East?  Possibly, but not likely.  In fact, the results of their individual matches were the factor of multiple factors that would not be replicated if the matches were played two weeks from now.  So while the results this weekend were relevant, they are somewhat misleading in most cases.  Just like many Radiohead songs, the meaning is deeper than the surface glance.  That is why every match will be accompanied by an appropriate Radio song title.

So for the first time in MLS Talk history (and with credit to ESPN’s Bill Simmons for popularizing such things), I offer a summary of the weekend’s action as described by Radiohead.

“Jigsaw Falling Into Place” (FC Dallas 3, Colorado 0): Earl got it right in his article on this site; Dallas wanted this match more.  They were facing a Colorado team that had coasted through the first three weeks, were missing two of their best players, and may have been looking ahead to their battle with Real Salt Lake.  Dallas was desperate for a win, and it showed.  They dominated the match from the first whistle and after a few weeks of struggles, everything fell into place for them.  Even Brek Shea looked good as a fullback, advancing up the sides to open up the Dallas attack.  I mentioned this before, but I continue to be impressed with Fabian Castillo.  His finishing isn’t quite there yet, but his speed and ball skills are very good.  Enjoy having him on your team Dallas fans.

“2+2=5” (Seattle 2, Chicago 1): Just as 2+2 equalling 5 doesn’t make sense and symbolizes the man telling you what to think, so Sigi Schmid continues to try and convince MLS fans that O’Brian White is the answer for Seattle up front.  And on Saturday night he was right.  Schmid started three forwards and had White as the middle man, and he responded with a goal and an assist.  Realistically, this team needs a healthy Fredy Montero to be effective and a threat in the West, but maybe White is a short-term answer for this team.  Chicago trips up finally this year and maybe this is the beginning of their slide to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, as many people predicted in the preseason.  Their date with Portland next week will be a telling match.

“Fake Plastic Trees” (Philadelphia 1, New York 0): Much like Tim Ream’s mistake in this game, this song has been described by Thom Yorke as “a breakdown of sorts”.  The downside of really promising young players is that they tend to occasionally remind you that they are young players, and it can happen at the most inopportune times.  New York will be fine, but this one has to sting a little.  As for Philadelphia, a little confidence is a dangerous thing.  This team has a major scalp on its mantle and despite having some talent holes, the confidence from a quick start can easily turn into becoming the surprise team of the year.  See more from Daniel on this match.

“No Surprises” (Real Salt Lake 2, New England 0): The song’s title is a good description of this result, it was RSL again taking care of business.  What was a surprise were the players on the field.  The Claret-and-Cobalt played a number of second-string players to allow their starters a little breather, while Steve Nicol mixed up his lineup due to the suspension of A.J. Soares and Petrovic’s return from injury.  What also may not have been a surprise was that for the second New England match, one of the teams was reduced to nine players, except this time it was the home team that saw more red.  Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan were given their marching orders late in the match, as was Will Johnson with two yellow cards.

“Lucky” (DC United 1, Los Angeles 1): I’ve covered this match in my game write-up yesterday, but I couldn’t resist using this song title for the game.  It is bizarre that Charlie Davies is your current Golden Boot leader with four goals, and two of them have come from controversial penalties.  I mentioned this in my article, but you have to like how LA played if your a Galaxy fan.  Maybe they should have extended their lead earlier, but with no Donovan this team played well and created some good chances.  For DC, it may be time to be a bit worried. Despite the good result, this team keeps showing an inability to finish (except for penalties) and has some glaring defensive breakdowns every match.

“Paranoid Android” (San Jose 1, Toronto 1): Much like this Radiohead song, which is a mix-and-match of different musical stylings and homages, both of the teams are trying to establish an identity, as this game showed.  For Toronto, life after DeRo and the implementation of total football has seen some growing pains, flashes of brilliant play mixed with some less than brilliant play.  This was shown perfectly in this match as the Reds went ahead in the 27th minute on an Alan Gordon goal, but then had to play defense the rest of the match.  They gave up an equalizer ten minutes later to uber-loanee Simon Dawkins and relied on Stefan Frei to hold on to the tie.  San Jose still does not have a home win in three attempts this year.

“Let Down” (Chivas 0, Columbus 0): Two struggling teams show why they are struggling as this match saw more yellow cards (8) than shots on goal (4).  Chivas held more of the possession but still played a defensive strategy and relied on the counter for opportunities, of which there were few.  On a positive note for both teams, they earned a point and a shut out.  But neither gave much reason for their supporters to be optimistic in the near term.

“My Iron Lung” (Houston 3, Vancouver 1): Just as My Iron Lung was Radiohead’s response to their mega-hit Creep, this match was a reaction to Vancouver’s high-scoring ways.  The Whitecaps lead the league in goals scored but as often happens to a high-flying offense, sometimes that forward push leaves a weaker backline exposed.  The match could also be described as the result of the ‘Caps last match, for they were missing usual starters Gershon Kossie and Eric Hassli on red card suspensions.  This match saw three goals scored within five minutes, as Bobby Boswell assisted on the Dynamo’s first goal in the 37th minute and scored the second in the 42nd.  In between those goals Camilo put a laser shot over Tally Hall’s head to put Vancouver on the scoreboard.

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