While declaring the MLS Goal of the Year competition over after Week One is a bit of a stretch, the bar has been set ridiculously high by Kenny Cooper, to wit:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Juxs_u63RD8"]YouTube - FC Dallas 1-3 Chilango Fire / Golazo de Cuauhtemoc Blanco[/ame]
Unfortunately that was pretty much it for Dallas, as everybody on the Fire who is expected to score pretty much did, as Mapp, McBride and Blanco did what they're paid to do, although McBride's goal was a PK off of what looked like a marginal call in the box and Blanco's came on a stoppage time DFK after he entered the game on 78 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the HDC it was "Come Dressed as an Empty Seat Day" as a comically inclined Chivas USA claimed a crowd of 16,000+ saw Pablo Nagamura score two goals,a number that equals his 2007 goal production, his 2008 goal production and his normal monthly red card total.
Seriously, who knew that if this guy stopped trying to cripple people and focued on playing soccer that he might actually see some success?
The Rapids only response came as the result of just another Zach Thornton laugher. Maybe if the hired a hypnotist to get Thornton to believe that the ball is actually a cheeseburger he'd focus a little better. Regardless, there are are many fine young American keepers right now - have you seen what Bill Gaudette has been doing in Puerto Rico? Unbelievable stuff - that there's just no reason why this old retread is still collecting money.
The ugliness reached it's peak on Sunday when Los Angeles, down 0-2 to DC, was handed a gift in the form of one of the most outrageously terrible calls I've seen in years when Jair Marrufo, who was laughably referred to as the "referee" called a mystifying handball on Rodney Wallace:
It's around the 3:20 mark, but first be sure to check out Dema Kovalenko's ridiculous takedown in the box which led to DC's first core, a PK from newly-rearrived Christian Gomez.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0VYpx9FRbs"]YouTube - 3/22/2009 D.C. United @ Los Angeles Galaxy[/ame]
Much of the weekend's ugliness came from friction between coaches and reporters; on Saturday, following the Crew-Houston draw (more later) someone with crap for brains asked new Head Coach Robert Warzycha whether he thought the late game subs he made were the same ones that Sigi Schmid would have made if he were still there.
Nobody is blaming The Polish Rifle for, basically, telling the guy that he really didn't care.
The real scene, though, comes courtesy of Luis Bueno, who reports a flareup between widely respected reporter Steven Goff and DC coach Tom Soehn.
Goff - and everyone else - was curious as to why last year's starting keeper Louis Crayton wasn't even on the bench. Soehn apparently took umbrage, made a snippy reply about talking about the game and then later, according to Bueno:
....Soehn and Goff had some more words, though it was more Soehn unloading on Goff. Soehn told him to talk about the positives and then dropped this on him:
"Focus on the f******* game," Soehn said before he stormed off into the coach's office.
A bit early to be getting that kind of irritable, Tom, but I suppose that after the hosing you took from the referee it's understandable.
Speaking of Houston-Crew, the game itself (including the late-game equalizer from Barros-Schelotto who, for some reason we'd all be interested in hearing, was left completely unmarked at the top of the box and, well, what followed was what usually follows when GBS has a 20 yard open shot at the left post) was largely overshadowed by the condition of the field, which was, to put it nicely, unplayable.
Apparently the grounds crew at Robertson Stadium felt that the best solution to not having done crap to keep the field nice lately was to dump a few dozen truckloads of sand on the thing. Players were falling down all over the place, National teamer Robbie Rogers went out with a pulled hamstring after having his feet slip out from under him and Houston GK Pat Onstad was quoted afterward by Shawn Mitchell as CALLING THE PITCH "DISGUSTING" and saying that he was "embarrassed" that MLS teams played on such a field.
Frankly, not to put too fine a point on it, but MLS has spent the last couple of years talking about how some British fellow with the Galaxy was going to bring some "credibility" to the league, and also that their main focus these days is improving the quality of the games.
But when they send out the incredibly low caliber of officials that they do week after week, and continue to send them out there even after proving how lousy they are and simply accept dangerous field conditions like those in Houston and like we've seen in at the HDC and elsewhere, who's kidding who?
"Credibility" isn't gained by having recognizable names on your rosters. "Credibility" is when you show the game some respect.
No self-respecting league on the planet would have played a match on a pitch that bad. The game would have been called or moved or something, anything, rather than send guys out there and ask people to pay to watch it.
MLS could show us all how much it actually respects the game, and how much they value "credibility" by pulling the plug on games like that. Reschedule it, play in a park, I don't care, but until they do they have a lot of gall coming around telling us how much they honor the game.
In other results, the schedule makers smiled on San Jose this year, putting them in Buck Shaw for four out of their first five. So naturally, in front of a sellout crowd (which is soon to be mocked by a professional sports journalist near you as "only able to draw 10,000 fans for their season opener"), facing a New England side which was missing Twellman, Ralston and Albright and starting two 2009 draft picks on the back line, they laid an egg, losing 0-1 on a cripple in the boix that Kheli Dube easily slotted past ancient warrior Joe Cannon.
They've got Convey. they've got Huckerby, they've got Weaver, they've got Alvarez and they've got a grumpy Houston coming in next weekend.
Good luck with that.
And in a surprisingly enjoyable match in a minor league baseball park (another game we'll be hearing about, since one man's sellout is another man's "only 10,000 fans") Davy Arnaud hit for a pair but Amado Guevara matched him and combined with the game-opener from Jim Brennan KC fell to an organized and effective Toronto FC 2-3.
DeRosario looked good most of the game although missing a PK disqualifies him from looking like a hero. Mostly, teams are going to have to fin some answers for the TFC midfield. KC never did, but there's a lot of season ahead.