An integral part of the MLS fan experience is, as we all know, learning to tolerate the fools.
On BigSoccer, for example, one good way to separate the veteran fans from the more recent converts is by the level of outrage one can muster over the latest random piece of obtuseness or ignorance from some hack "sportswriter" who, bereft of anything approaching an original thought or creative insight and desperately needing to fill the yawning 1500 word space that his continued employment requires him to fill that day, reaches into his Bag O'Tired Cliches and pulls out his semiannual "MLS Stinks" essay.
At this point, we just yawn, consider the source and move along. We've all read so many of them that most of us could write the thing - and do a much better job of it - ourselves.
But occasionally some media outlet publishes a piece of trash so monumentally inane that it's worthy of mention, if not entirely for what is said than at least for who it is they have saying it.
Such is the case with this typically uninspired hit piece FROM THE SAN BERNARDINO SUN.
It starts out as if they were actually working hard at baiting decent, hard working American fans by dragging out a quote from well-known jackass Steven "Big Douche" Cohen, who has this to say on the topic of Major League Soccer:
"I don't know of any kid who goes to bed dreaming about the MLS Cup. They can win the MLS Cup? Who cares?
"That is the staggering problem the MLS has. They're playing for a trophy that nobody cares about. At the end of the day, they can bring on Pele, Maradona, (David) Beckham and it doesn't make any difference. They can only win the MLS Cup."
Perhaps if Mr. T Shirt were to widen his circle of kid acquaintances beyond the ones he keeps locked in his basement, he'd discover something different.
There are thousands of kids, tens of thousands, all across the fruited plain, who dream of playing in MLS one day and who - shockingly - include the winning of a championship in that dream.
As for MLS having a "staggering problem" with the identity of their Cup, Cohen's opinion is as worthless, pointless and empty as his soccer background. In fact, I understand if you look in the dictionary under "ignorant" there's a picture of Cohen.
Of course the same picture also appears under "jackass", "ignoramus" and "pedophile", but I digress.
Of course, any article that leads with a quote from Turdball Steve is already headed downhill, and the writer proves this theory nicely.
He tosses in a couple random comments from David Beckham - who BTW apparently agrees that Cohen is a loser - about how the travel distances MLS involves are much longer than those encountered in England and Rudd Gullit is quoted as commenting on the summertime heat.
Treating both of these observations as condemnations of MLS, which they really aren't, the author then moves on to the real heart of his article:
The opinions of LA Galaxy defender Abel Xavier.
Xavier, whose recent play for the Gals has been nothing short of an embarassment, has a lot to say.
He complains that there is "no format" here, no "youth teams", and that many teams "tactical awareness is a deficit"
He goes on to say that MLS teams aren't disciplined enough or tactically aware enough to "shut down opponents" on a regular basis.
Of course, the writer adds, this free-for-all of bad defending - a prime example of which is Xavier's own play - might provide entertainment for the unwashed idots who attend MLS games but it "doesn't impress" the great Abel Xavier, who once played for, like, a couple really good teams someplace.
Then there's this breathtaking statement:
"You can see in the European championships most of the teams play eight men behind the ball. That says a lot," Xavier said. "I don't see a lot of ability in the MLS to do that."
Now, some people would suggest that playing eight men behind the ball - which, contrary to Xavier's opinion is a signally simple tactic to install - is largely what is wrong with soccer today. Particularly in big tournaments and World Cups, scared-to-death coaches pack the box and play for PK's rather than open up the game and try to win.
Most of us consider this to be a problem. Xavier considers this the very height of sophisticated tactics.
It's particularly intriguing when one considers that Xavier is the star defender on a really lousy defense, and Galaxy fans have been calling for his benching practically since ths start of the season. Most of us view him as, frankly, being an overpaid, underachieving, lousy defender.
But not so: the problem isn't that the guy is out there doing a passable imitation of a traffic cone, it's that he's the only guy who has the "tactical awareness" to play the game correctly.
Which, as we noted, amounts to playing "eight men behind the ball"
I think maybe Xavier ought to stop indulging the anti-soccer bias of some two-bit hack of a sportswriter, quit denigrating a league which he's obviously not skillful enough to play in and -well - just shut up.
Maybe I'm just in a bad mood or something but THIS PIECE OF TRASH got under my skin as well.
Written by a "summer intern" college student from Duke (figures) it also is just another dreary "stadiums are bad, developers are liars and politicians are crooked" piece, the likes of which we've seen dozens, maybe hundreds of times.
Now the last time I commented on a stadium hit job from a Philadelphia resident, I ended up being deluged with outraged emails from the author, an adjunct professor of trading A's for BJ's someplace or other (and a Duke alum) who at one point enlisted the assistance of Beau Dure (another Dookie - what IS it with these guys?) in an effort to get me to apologize for the "lack of professionalism" I displayed when I pointed out what a twit he was.
(To his credit, Beau refused to play along)
But this new guy really takes the cake. Leaving aside the fact that no reputable "foundation" has their summer interns out publishing, this guy couldn't find the point of stadium development with a map and a team of dogs.
He simply cites a few carefully selected but learned-sounding studies which agree with whatever -it-is his point is and then concludes with a hearty "neener-neener-neener"
Maybe it's just me, but with this kind of garbage routinely gracing the pages of our great metropolitan dailies, is it any wonder that dead tree media is going the way of the dodo bird?