Four great chapters in MLS history ended this week.
The first, of course, was the Curt Onalfo Era at DC United. The temptation to lay into the guy is nigh-irresistible, but by all accounts he's a wonderful person and this is a case of bad things happening to good people. Me, I tend to think this is Instant Karma (well, Eight Month Karma) for dismissing Kansas City as an entry-level job. In any case, as the saying goes - you can't argue with his success.
And thus begins the Ben Olsen As Coach Era, which might be extremely short. Maybe this is my prejudice, but my idea of a coach is a tactician, a student and teacher of the game, and a inspiring motivator. In other words, I don't necessarily equate screaming with leadership.
But then, we've got Preki, Piotr Nowak, John Doyle and Jason Kreis in positions of power right now. John Harkes was an assistant coach for years. Ben Olsen probably fits in perfectly. And he's got an easy act to follow.
Eight years ago, there was a reasonably ugly incident where Olsen was accused of spitting on a BigSoccer poster. To be fair, it was eight years ago, and it was a very unpopular BigSoccer poster (although how could Olsen have known? We don't go around wearing nametags). He's changed since then, I'm sure, although if it had been me who was spit on, I doubt I would ever forget.
Of course, if a player did spit on me, I'm sure he'd end up coaching the Nats.
Contrary to Aaron, you probably WILL see Kovalenko coach someday...hopefully not anywhere important, or for very long, but someone will give him a shot.
Olsen as a coach, even an interim coach, makes me feel quite old. So does the retirement of Clint Mathis.
As someone without talent, I hate and despise players who don't take advantage of the talent they were blessed with. I don't know whether to put Clint Mathis in that category, though. Was it his practice habits, or that hideous injury in 2001, that turned the biggest soccer star in America into a journeyman? I sort of think it was the injury...but his Hannover train wreck was several years after that, and that had nothing to do with injury and everything to do with attitude. Mathis scored the goal against Korea in the World Cup - but didn't even play against Portugal or Mexico, and came off the bench against Germany.
Maybe I just believed the hope and the hype, which began long before the mohawk and the Sports Illustrated cover, but the gap between what he achieved and what he could have achieved is depressing. He may still make the Soccer Hall of Fame, assuming there will be one - but it won't be on my vote.
The fourth watershed moment was the end of Alan Gordon's reign as the longest-tenured Galaxy player. He was sent to Chivas USA, a completely inappropriate destination for "Mr. Galaxy," but a sign that Chivas USA will do whatever it takes to compete with Nery Castillo and Rafa Marquez, up to and including "nothing."