Some amateur blogger spouts off about MLS refs here. He drops a lot of names and uses a lot of ten dollar words to make you think he knows what he's talking about, but if he's so damn good, where's his podcast?
Allow me to nutshell it for you:
Actually, this was downright classic, either from Mr. Garber or a very, very snarky and clever intern who drew the ghostwriting assignment this week:
The implied challenge - "You think it's so easy, Dudley? Put on the velcro patch and BRING IT" - is beautiful, of course. I think the offer should also apply to coaches. And by "offer," I mean, after the second offense of publicly criticizing the officials, you get your ass out there and try to do it yourself, Sigi.
Two seconds of thought, sadly, makes us realize how horribly this could backfire. How many utter hacks among former and current MLS players can you name? If the league actually gave this a shot, MLS matches would be as gruesome to watch as a motorcade race between JFK and Princess Diana.
So the big concern in MLS right now is how many ties there are. I have no actual joke for this, so accept this movie reference as a substitute.
There are lots of theories as to the actual culprits, but let's go through the games based on MLS match reports, and see what happened.
3/21, Dynamo-Crew - Crew came back to tie, which wouldn't always be the case. At the time, we just thought these were evenly matched teams, rather than the larval stage of disappointment. FAULT: Houston
3/22, Galaxy-DCU - blown penalty call, and DC wasn't too fond of the other goal being scored while their defenders were down, although hopefully enough time has passed that I can make the point ever so gently that maybe defenders shouldn't actually be running into each other - okay, yeah, the ref should have stopped play. FAULT= Jair Marrufo, I'm sorry to say
3/28 - Crew-TFC - weeks of hooligan handwringing overshadowed what would be a fairly typical 2009 Crew late bungle. FAULT: Crew, or KKKrew, depending on what province you live in
3/28 - DCU-Fire - Charles Boehm match report gives a picture of a bad game played on a wet field. FAULT: Weather, crappy lineup from Hamlett, crappy DC players
3/28: Red Bulls-Revs - last minute choke job from New York. FAULT: RBNY
4/11: TFC-FCD - a Ricchetti backheel kick for the tying goal? Jeezes. FAULT: TFC choke job
4/11: Quakes-Fire - Fire equalized against 10-man San Jose. FAULT: It was 3-3. If all the ties this year were 3-3, MLS would be overjoyed.
4/11: Crew-Rapids - Conor Casey with the late equalizer. FAULT: Crew gag job
4/11: Dynamo-RBNY - what a POS this game was. FAULT: both teams
4/11: Galaxy-CUSA - previous game was watchable in comparison. FAULT: both teams
4/17: DCU-Revs - stoppage time goal from Ben Olsen. FAULT: match report implies an own goal generously given to Olsen. Tempting to blame Knighton, but probably just bad luck/NE trying to hold onto a win on the road by bunkering.
4/18: Fire-KC - wait, this game was hysterical. FAULT: each team taking a half off, but it was fun to watch.
4/18: SJ-LA - Bryan Jordan, superstar. FAULT: these teams suck
4/25: Crew-Fire - a SERIOUS Crew choke here. FAULT: hey, two goals in the last five minutes to tie it up? That's definitely fun.*
4/25: Rapids-LA - and exactly what were we expecting here? Oh, these guys played a 3-2 result earlier in April? Huh. FAULT: Donovan Ricketts turned a lot of these LA losses into ties.
5/2: TFC-Crew - for a change, the Crew let in the equalizer before minute 85. FAULT: I think this was bad weather, though.
5/2: Fire-Sounders - Chicago dropped points at home to a shorthanded expansion team. Kent McDill tells us Jon Busch did not make a single save. FAULT: And the Fire are unbeaten and in first place? What's up with this league?
5/6: Wizards-DCU - one goal per half. Stats say Hartman had zero saves, which, and I know it's not cool to extrapolate from stats, but if keepers aren't making saves, it's either because they're having howlers, or the other team isn't making good shots. And since we're talking about low-scoring draws, I think that's the deal with these last couple of games. FAULT: this reads like it was just a bad midweek night at the baseball park.
5/6: RSL-LA - despite the 2-2 scoreline, this was basically a clown show from both teams. FAULT: low player IQs
5/9: DCU-TFC - United steals the point through last-minute heroics. FAULT: Sometimes, lousy defenses can be great for the league.
5/9: Fire-NE - Chicago's fifth draw in a row. FAULT: amazingly, Chicago doesn't lead the league in draws.
5/9: Sounders-LA - Bunker Bruce saves the day. FAULT: Bruce Arena turned a lot of these LA wins into ties.
Five draws. DCU and CUSA went 2-2, primarily due to blown offside calls and bad goalkeeping. Rapids-Revs looked awful. So was Crew-LA, but the Eddie Lewis goal was beautiful to behold.* New York just knows how to shut down Houston. And of course, last place Dallas tying second place Seattle screams "parity," but Seattle's still new at this.
So is there a problem with too many ties? No - most of them have been pretty exciting. It's just that teams are usually evenly matched, and the ones that aren't are much better at closing down offenses than bad teams in previous years. There's also a weird inability to play the last five minutes of games, although that seems localized around the Columbus area.
It's also that last weekend was unusually bad, with four boring tie games out of six played. If THAT keeps happening, then MLS will have a problem. Of course, if that does keep happening, at least no one will be watching.
*Offer not available in Ohio.