Edson Buddle blew a terrific career-building opportunity on Thursday.
No, not the chance to celebrate Edson Buddle Hat Trick Day early this year leaving us nothing to look forward to.
(Note to the purists: yes, it's true that technically there was no EBHTD in 2009, but there were two in 2008 - kind of like a Blue Moon* - and he was probably just evening things out.)
Rather, the missed opportunity that would surely have sent sales of Herbalife shirts soaring to levels unseen since the heady days when David and Victoria were poised to conquer America, his big chance to endear himself to US Soccer fans far and wide and ensure a spot in the US Soccer Hall of Fame and U-Store it in Naperville Illinois was this:
Slapping snot out of Sasha Kljestan.
Although we no longer have the handy "Quickkicks" clips the lousy old MLS website used to provide, through the genius of the busy beavers at BigSoccer World Headquarters I can use the snazzy new embed code (explained in Huss' post to your right) and point you to minute 1:35 when Kljestan, having forgotten that Preki has taken his act to Toronto and thus Chivas no longer gives out an "Outrageous Body Slam of the Week" award, does not even bother to pretend that he's going for the ball and simply lowers his shoulder and takes Buddle out:
(Note: I removed the video; apparently some kind of bug. Follow THIS LINK to view it. Sorry for any inconvenience)
To say that Mr. Buddle is, shall we say, displeased with Mr. Kljestan would seem to be an understatement.
To say that Mr. Buddle wanted to cut a bitch might be closer to the truth.
It's too bad he didn't go ahead and cold cock Sasha into next week and maybe, just maybe, the guy would realize that while he may be enjoying his newfound role as a thug it's not doing much for his game, his national team chances or his future in this or any other league.
In the meantime, with two losses to start the 2010 season, new Chivas coach Martin Vasquez, whose clearly stated preference is for a flowing-ball-control-finesse-type style - you know, actual soccer - is apparently having some trouble getting the message through.
It's just a shame that Buddle didn't deliver the message for him.
Pity poor Jair Marrufo.
After the year he had in 2009, getting suspended for openly accepting a gratuity after arguably throwing a match and following that performance with some of the worst-officiated matches in MLS history - and there's certainly some hot competition for that title - the league shelved him for the balance of the season.
So what he undoubtedly wanted more than anything else was to start 2010 with a eries of anonymous games where nobody noticed him.
Unfortunately for him, calling two PK's in barely two minutes to give Houston a 2-1 win over defending champion Real Salt Lake and then showing a yellow card to Bobby Boswell for - apparently - the crime of allowing Fabian Espindola to grab him firmly about the face and head and wrestle him to the ground like a rodeo calf.
To be fair, Espindola was carded too, although how he got away with a yellow for something which would get you 30 days in jail on any street in the US is beyond comprehension.
Unfortunately, MLS has no wish to "highlight" said incident. Small wonder.
As for the two penalties, although it's likely that some Royals fans will disagree, it appears both of them were justifiable. And Marrufo should be given credit for having the guts to call the second one so soon after the first. The easy thing to do in that situation would have been to swallow the whistle and a lot of refs would have done just that.
Nevertheless, this was the kind of high-scrutiny match he didn't want.
Welcome back Jair. Just remember that if anyone tries to give you their shirt, run like hell.
* No, not the beer. When there are two full moons in the same month, the second one is called a Blue Moon, which is a rare occurance and hence the term "once in a Blue Moon" and it's a sad testament to the education system that I have to explain that. About the moon I mean, not the beer. You lot already know plenty about that.