The pleasures of hatred. And they are pleasures. We can admit that. There’s nothing quite like getting a wee bit wasted and screaming obscenities at that no good son of a bitch – any one of them. It is something of a miracle that Major League Soccer’s antiseptic, overly-corporate, often saccharine commercial machine hasn’t killed off hatred entirely. Oh, no, it’s all smiles and heroes, and everyone is a winner for Major League Soccer. “Come see Freddy, or Cobi, or Landon, or whatever other away team “sensation” MLS thinks it can sell to the soccer moms and their pre-pubescent spawn. “It worked for the women’s national team,” the marketing gurus say emphatically. But, for heaven’s sake, let’s hope it doesn’t work for Major League Soccer. Why would you want to go to a game to rah, rah root for the home team when you could instead go to the game to loudly cast aspersions upon players on the opposing team – or, better yet, to cast aspersions upon everyone on the other team. “Oh, no,” they say, “you might offend the offendable.” Yes, indeed, we might. And that’s exactly what makes it so pleasurable. Now some teams are truly blessed when it comes to being hateable. Consider the Los Angeles Galaxy. That is a team only its supporters could love, and even then probably only after a few beers. Perhaps no other MLS team can match the generalized antipathy associated with the Galaxy. Sure, there are team rivalries between Chicago and Dallas, and DC United and the MetroStars, and Colorado and Salt Lake (well, that last one doesn’t really qualify yet) but no other team in MLS matches the Galaxy in inspiring hatred from all quarters. DC United comes very close, but, alas, several years of sucking wore some of the luster off that hatred. A couple teams really should come close but don’t. If Major League Soccer ever wants to succeed in New York City then the Metros will have to become a team that everyone loves to hate. As it is, however, they’ve become the league’s ne’er do well nephew – no doubt an object of contempt, but not generally of hatred. (Although, bringing Tony Meola back is a good first step.) There were high hopes that Chivas USA would be a team worthy of hatred, but it’s hard to hate a team that’s 1-12-3. Having Ryan Suarez on the squad helped the cause, but now the great headbanded one has been cut. Clownish, lovable losers? Perhaps. Objects of hatred? Hardly. So no other team inspires hatred like the Galaxy. Kevin Hartman, Cobi Jones, Jovan Kirovski, Chris Albright, Steve Sampson and now the one and only Landon Donovan – it is quite a collection. (Not even Justin Mapp could redeem that bunch.) When a team like the Colorado Rapids humiliate themselves few people notice and even fewer people care. But when the Galaxy humiliate themselves that’ll set the league abuzz. And we’re all still buzzing after that 3-0 loss they suffered on Saturday night. The two own-goals the Galaxy scored would have been, in themselves, treat enough, but that wasn’t what made the night so memorable. No, it was the abuse heaped upon Landon Donovan that made it special. Now there are certainly some (sycophants) who will say the San Jose fans didn’t treat Landon Donovan with the respect he deserves. “After all,” they say, “Donovan is one of the best players in the United States and he did a lot for San Jose in his time there. Even though he scorned the Quakes upon his return to Major League Soccer, he should be entitled to a certain degree of respect, and the San Jose fans didn’t afford him that respect. Booing and insulting him might even have hurt his feelings. That’s not nice. Your mother wouldn’t approve.” No it wasn’t nice. And since when did Mom approve of anything truly fun? If only Landon had cried … … This Week’s AAXI : a 3-5-2 DJ Countess, Real Salt Lake (1) Best performance we've seen from a goalkeeper who gave up three goals. It would be no exaggeration to say that the Fire could have scored 8 or 9 with better finishing and worse goalkeeping. Stoned Jaqua twice, Herron once and Mapp once...all at point blank range. Not to blame for any of the goals. Made the Herron save on the last kick of the game and got up screaming at the top of his lungs at his defenders which seemed to go well with his Travis Bickle haircut. Line of the night from Ray Hudson on Countess' mohawk: "That's a man's haircut." Bobby Rhine, FC Dallas (2) Banged up and bandaged, he still managed to hustle up and down the right side all night, taking advantage of the space the Rapids midfield left him there to score the winning goal. Eddie Robinson, San Jose Earthquakes(1) Anchored a very stingy San Jose defense. Except for one flurry of shots where Onstad saved San Jose's (Canadian?) bacon, the Galaxy didn't threaten the Quakes' goal for most of the night. In fact, Onstad had made zero saves by the end of the first half. Tony Sanneh, Chicago Fire (1) Best game we've seen from Tony in a while. Got up and down the right flank and shut down his side of the field. The guy has size, speed, strength, and a goatee. Maybe one day he'll be our next Marvell Wynne. Brad Davis, San Jose Earthquakes (3) Whether he was playing on the left, the right, or in the center of the park, his passes were something to behold. He floated in beautiful crosses from both sides of the park, and threaded some exquisite balls on the ground behind the LA defense (one of these lead to the Quakes' first goal). And, as usual, his free kicks were very difficult for LA to deal with. Give credit to LA though - they found a way to stop him....knee him in the head. Steve Ralston, New England Revolution (1) On Wednesday, his pass right to Noonan's head set up the first goal, and he remained extremely active for the full 90. Won a very entertaining battle with Herdsman, and showed that he continues to be on the same page with Noonan on basically every play. Some good late steals and plugging the holes that were being created by Hejduk in the last fifteen minutes also went a long way in preserving the win. On Saturday, while the MetroStars Chris Leitch was busy yelling at Dempsey for diving, Ralston nonchalantly took the ball from Parke and put it where it belonged. The closest thing you'll see to a pants-ing while a game is in progress. Jeff Parke has had a couple of good games this year, but letting Ralston take the ball back off his foot - after a pretty good defensive play by Parke, in a cruel irony - and slot it home far post was a "wake up in a cold sweat" moment. The Revs just are a little better than everyone else, and Ralston keeps coming up with moments that lead to Ws. Justin Mapp, Chicago Fire (3) An absolute holy terror down the left flank, reasonably could have a goal and four assists (three point blank misses by Jaqua, one by Segares) instead got none. Also just barely missed on a 35 yard screamer free kick. Ran absolutely wild on poor Nelson Akwari who had no answers at all until Sarachan mercifully subbed him out in the 86th minute. When he's confident, MLS defenders simply don't have what it takes to stop him. Ricardo Clark, San Jose Earthquakes (1) Big game from Rico who has regained some form and is playing well. Could have scored a laser if not for a big Hartman save. Absolutely destroyed everything the Galaxy tried to do in the midfield. Only 22, he has a bright future. Clint Dempsey, New England Revolution (3) On Wednesday, he was the difference between a good team and a good team playing with urgency and intensity. It may be time to rename the diving header "The Dempsey" in American soccer, because he pulled off his patented move again. Combine that with a thread-the-needle poised assist to Noonan at the back post, and a somewhat luckier hustle play to touch a second assist to Noonan at the back post, and you've got his first MVP performance in a few weeks. Also embarrassed Wingert a couple of times, drawing a yellow and dancing over a slide tackle that could have earned another yellow. Best player on the pitch, but that's becoming a habit. Chris Rolfe, Chicago Fire (3) His goal was nothing short of beautiful. Berkampesque. You’ve gotta love this kid. His tenacity is virtually unmatched in this league. Pat Noonan, New England Revolution (5) Tapped in his two goals on Wednesday, but he did well to find himself space at the back post on each, and played a big part in creating the first one, with a brilliant header under pressure that hit a sprinting Dempsey in full stride to get behind the defense. Noonan also scored a classy goal Saturday, chipping Wells from distance. Plus One San Jose Fans They changed the game and made Landon Donovan's night a living hell. The venom and the booing were obvious even on TV, and we’re led to believe that TV simply didn't do the atmosphere justice. What's more, it was about a lot more than just Landon Donovan (Anti Earthquakes Group, indeed), and that really did come through. As we saw it that was one of the better MLS fan moments this year - up there with Section 8 walking out in protest of Wilt's firing. __________________ The AAXI Week 13 Contributors are andrewt14, Casper, Chicago1871, fidlerre, Knave, Nutmeg, ur_land, voros, and zcgf02 Header by Knave List compiled and edited by andrewt14 (with input from all the AAXI contributors).