Okay, I care. Maybe I care…too much.
But it’s still too soon. My grieving process will continue until the World Cup final or until Russia gets out of the first round. Because that will prove the thing has been fixed. They probably won’t have the nerve to let Putin win the whole thing – what is this, 1934? 1978? But Russia is looking like a strong candidate to field the worst host World Cup team in history, a record they will hold until November 21, 2022.
I also believe that someone should have told Dave Sarachan he’s not an actual candidate. Grant Wahl and Brian Straus piled on this aspect already in the unloadable Sports Illustrated website, but Sarachan is coaching as if he thinks he’s first in line. In fairness, the US has a long history since 1995 or so of hiring the interim guy to the full-time job. In equal fairness, the US was never happy with Bob Bradley, and ended up really really unhappy with Steve Sampson.
I’ve never thought the search for our permanent coach, or the rebuilding of the men’s national team program, should begin until after this World Cup, anyway. The churn and scrum between reputations having been made and destroyed and made again, combined with the annual European seasonal rush, should make the relatively stable US job extremely attractive. Carlos and the Federation can, and should, take their sweet and hire the right.
This means that I shouldn’t complain that Sarachan didn’t use his substitutions against Paraguay to the maximum development capacity. I don’t even think we should have played these games, except as a chance to model the Nike not-Russia design.
Unless, of course, we have absolutely no intention of hiring a coach who isn’t American. In which case, Sarachan is as much of a candidate as anyone else. But also in which case – my God, I’m using the English language simply beautifully, ain’t I just? – Sarachan still shouldn’t have made only one sub. He more than anyone else would want to see as many different faces as early as possible in as many different combinations.
Want to know who I think we should hire? Glad I’m pretending you asked!
If Mexico, Canada and the United States co-host the 2026 Fustercluck, then we have luxuries of time and patience no other country would potentially enjoy (besides Mexico and Canada, I guess). So we could look in the really long term, and intentionally hire someone for two cycles. This person would either have and maintain, or jolly well promise to have and maintain, an encyclopedic knowledge of American talent here and abroad. We’ll skew young for Qatar 2022, because who cares, we’re focused on the big party.
We as a fan base would need to be patient for years while that’s going on. I don’t see that happening.
If Morocco closes the deal, then we’d better find ourselves the Bora Milutinovic of the Roaring Twenties. This is why I want to wait until after the World Cup. What if – and I know it’s not likely to happen, but work with me – what if Germany for some reason gets really sick of Jogi Loew? Remember what the World Cup is, folks. It’s a culmination of years of effort scouting and planning – but it’s also a short, short tournament. Qualifying isn’t a marathon, either – it’s a series of sprints spaced out over years. If we’re going to be in a talent trough for the foreseeable future – in other words, if Christian Pulisic is basically our Janis Joplin and we’ve only got the Holding Company backing him up – shut up, this metaphor works – then we’ll need a guy who can steal points.
We as a fan base would need to tolerate very cynical, results-first-and-only games. I don’t see that happening.
So, to answer the question, I don’t know. Because we’re hiring a different sort of international coach. We need someone with the vision of Juergen Klinsmann, who is pretty much the opposite of Juergen Klinsmann in every other way.
We could always hire Greg Vanney for 2022, and hope Pulisic will be his Giovinco. And Jozy Altidore will still only be in his early 30’s! We could ride the Toronto FC foundation all the way to the second round! Or maybe extra time in the second round!
In other news, I see the Galaxy have signed Ronnie “Z-man” Barzell. Congratulations! To me, for finally being able to shoehorn in a “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” reference.
Oh, the MLS season started. You know who I fell asleep on? Columbus. They will make movies out of the Crew if they make the playoffs this year. I had the team (although not the franchise) written off as dead in the water, on the theory that while Anthony Precourt was poisoning the well the mineral water wasn’t going to sell.
So, MLS being MLS, the Crew get off to this fantastic start. Despite having given away Ola Kamara and Justin Meram.
Well, I hope Gyasi Zardes scores forty goals and the Crew win the first American triple. The end of the movie would need some deus ex machina to remove Precourt so he doesn’t get to reap the reward of other people’s work, of course. Like, someone makes a side bet that if the Crew win MLS Cup, the community center is saved. I realize that’s the plot of “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” but you don’t mess with a classic.
I did want to talk about the Hall of Fame voting really quick – we’ll hear more hoopla when the Frisco museum opens (get it? Hoopla? FC Dallas? Oh, it’s been about ten years since Dallas has actually worn hoops?), but this was a very quick and quiet voting period. I don’t know who besides Kenn has put up his ballot.
Here’s how I did mine. I divided into three categories – yes, no, and maybe. It shook out as follows:
Kate Sobrero Markgraf
Juan Pablo Angel*
I suppose I should explain the Nope category in more detail – there are some very famous names there. Angel and Beckham and Henry did not have the MLS longevity or consistency to justify inclusion – and because they have no US national team performance to bolster their Hall bios, that’s all they’re going to have. Stuart Holden and Ben Olsen were injured, and there’s nothing we can do about that.
Kenn has voted for Kevin Hartman twice, and I, the biggest and most biased Galaxy fan alive, have him way down the list. Couple of reasons – Pat Onstad is occupying the “Screw you, he tore it up in MLS for years” spot on the ballot, Onstad will be off the ballot first, and I plan to put Hartman in there in the years between when Onstad falls off and Rimando comes on.
But no US national team career to speak of, even though the fan in me is convinced he was WAY better than Brad Friedel, is just impossible for me to overlook. And while I’m a big, big fan of MLS stalwarts making the Hall, the ballot’s crowded enough that for the first time, I had to take a serious look at seniority.
I always vote for ten players, because I’m a Big Haller. The top seven on my list I don’t feel the need to defend outrageously. Onstad and Ralston were MLS stars who left the league as record-holders. It’s stupid, to me, not to recognize and celebrate that. MLS assists and goals won’t start counting the year Landon is eligible.
So I had one spot left. And obviously I was going to give it to Jeff Cunningham, because I hate Ante Razov.
And we’re not going to vote in ten players. We’ll be lucky to vote in three. I’ll run a more formal poll for you guys next year, maybe, but the cute little one I ran last week or so? Nobody made it. Cherundolo didn’t make it. And I assume my readers are people who agree with me a lot.
But…what if. What if mine is the one damned vote that happens, this year as some weird anomaly, to cost Ante Razov his spot.
Ridiculous, I know. I haven’t voted for him for years, and it’s made no difference. And he didn’t become a better player in the past year.
But look at all those maybes. (And even a couple of the nopes are maybes, like Hartman and Angel.) It would be easy to say “This is a Hall of Fame, and Maybe means No.” I respect the people that feel that way. And I know there are more people who vote five or less than vote seven or more.
Ante Razov was an early standard bearer, champion and perennial scoring leader. His MLS achievements deserve recognition, and this is his last chance.
You might ask why I’m agonizing over the tenth spot, when I should be much more irritated that Milbrett and Markgraf are going to be ignored again. Because Ante Razov is now the Veterans’ problem, and we’ll all have time to yell about Milbrett and Markgraf when the results are announced.
Huh. I seem to have put the President of the LA Galaxy at the very bottom of the list for some reason.
LAST MINUTE JOKE: Wait! Instead of "Los Angeles," they can call it "Los Zlatangeles!" Like, work the city name and his name together! I'm a genius