Nine Men Out

I realize I contradict Shaka Hislop at my peril, but I still think there are more similarities between Ruud Gullit and John Carver than there are differences. (Apart from the two bank accounts, where I imagine Coach Carver wishes there were tens of millions of fewer differences.)

The major similarity?

April: "Well, this is a weird league, but hell, I've forgotten more about football than these picklemilkers could learn in twelve lifetimes, so I'll be fine."
May: "Yeah, see? How hard can it be."
August: "glerp"

Gullit had Take This Job and Shove It money, and Carver doesn't*, and Carver takes a good deal more pride in his coaching, but Gullit drove his team straight into a cliff, and Carver has TFC's playoff hopes flatlining.

It's actually very tempting to sympathize with Carver missing a bunch of players for callups, except (a) the game's been on the schedule for more than a couple of minutes, (b) his players by and large aren't rookies on their national teams, (c) having those guys last week didn't help, and (d) Carver hasn't exactly earned a reputation as a stiff-upper-lip can-do go-getter who suffers in silence.

Oh, and (e) it wasn't until Toronto joined the league that it was even possible to miss this many players at once, what with the revisions in international player rules that TFC and CUSA were instrumental in bringing about. The price of having players good enough to play for their country is that they end up playing for their country.

This isn't even an international calendar issue, it is (as Bill said yesterday) a depth issue. Guys who are good enough to step in when MLS starters are away are in the USL, not on MLS benches.

What's the prognosis? Not good. Tron FC is going to sell out the place, or nearly, with a team that Hankook Belize would laugh off the field. The Galaxy are going to sell 20,000 tickets or more to see a team without Landon Donovan or David Beckham. The New England Revolution have, for want of a less disgusting metaphor, voided their bowels on two straight tournaments, and it will have no effect on their attendance. There is no downside to stuffing the bottom half of the roster with guys out of the rescue mission, and there is no upside to paying for guys who do not bring in fans. Until winning affects attendance, enjoy the status quo.

*You know, it occurs to me I'm making a number of assumptions about John Carver's finances which might well be completely unwarranted. If it turns out Carver makes Sam Walton look like Snuffy Smith, consider this a retraction in advance.