All-American XI :: Week 15 You maniacs! You fired Greg Andrulis. Damn you! God damn you all to hell! When you fired Sigi Schmid we held our tongue. Sure, we all knew the “Sigi doesn’t know jogo bonito from a giant burrito” line was a load of bull (we’re quite certain Sigi knows giant burritos very well). But we accepted the explanation without complaint, particularly after you hired Steve Sampson whose tactical brilliance (not to mention his uncanny ability to inspire his team on the road) is beyond dispute. Nor did we complain when you fired Thomas Rongen when CD Chivas USA said adios to both futbol and soccer, and hola to last place. Nope, we accepted it without fuss because we understood the necessity of the Goats scapegoating someone. But now you have gone too far. By firing Greg Andrulis, the man who single-handedly brought sweater vests back in fashion, you have shown yourself for what you truly are: reckless and impatient. Did you even once stop to consider whether Greg had been given adequate time to truly make the team his own? Of course you didn’t. Any reasonable person can plainly see he hadn’t been given a true chance to mold the team according to his vision. Taking over the head coaching position on an “interim” basis a few weeks into the 2001 season meant he didn’t have the benefit of pre-season training to shape the team as he saw fit. It hardly matters that he was the assistant coach before the promotion because everyone knows assistant coaches are inconsequential. The only thing even less consequential than an assistant coach is an interim coach. So that season obviously doesn’t count. In 2002 Andrulis was finally able to remove the interim from his title and the Columbus Crew won their first major championship, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The winning of that title testifies to one simple fact: the team wasn’t listening to The Drooler. Can a coach be held responsible for the actions of a team that refuses to heed his authority? Certainly not. So that season doesn’t count either. What about 2003? The sum of all the digits in 2003 is five. Everyone knows years whose digits sum to five don’t count. In 2004 the Crew was grappling with the loss of their greatest player ever. No, it wasn’t Mike Clark. Nor was it Brian McBride. It was Alex Pineda Chacon. After the loss of such a luminary little could be expected from the Crew in 2004, and whatever successes and failures they had owe solely to fortune. In short, we can’t rightly count that year either. That brings us to 2005. Finally Greg had a chance to make the team his own. After the long wait his moment had finally arrived. But you had to do it, didn’t you? You just had to do it. Before Greg Andrulis’s head coaching career even had a chance to begin you went and fired the man. Was that just? Was that deserved? No it was not. All you did was shatter the hopes and dreams all Crew fans everywhere. There is only thing that can possibly restore the hope and well-being of those heartbroken Crew fans: a bold and innovative choice for Columbus’s next head coach. You must find someone who breaks the mold. You must show the fans you’re serious about bringing quality soccer to Columbus Crew Stadium. There is just one candidate for the job. But, unfortunately, Fernando Clavijo is already under contract to the Rapids. … This Week’s All-American XI :: Dig the 3-4-3, baby! Matt Reis :: New England Revolution (1) Would you quit your whining? He finally made the cut. The game could have been 3-0 if not for some good plays from the Rev’s defense and some great saves by Reis. His commanding presence in the net is impressive, and it’s always a special night when a goalkeeper saves a penalty kick. Despite the loss he never looked like he was going to give up a goal. Michael Parkhurst :: New England Revolution (4) After his stumbles recently it was nice to see Parkhurst return to form. He reads the play like a seasoned veteran and he puts out fires before they get out of control. Watching him play last weekend you could have sworn he'd been in the league for years. He did a fantastic job of shutting down Rolfe, and was always there when the Revs needed him. Nick Garcia :: Kansas City Wizards (1) He was the best Kansas City defender in a rare Wizard’s away win at RFK. Garcia buzzed around the back covering for his teammates and winning tackles efficiently. He more than handled the best that DC United could muster. Jose Burciaga, Jr. :: Kansas City Wizards (2) For the second week in a row Burciaga makes the AAXI list. Last week he notched a goal on his way to the nod, but this week he made the case with solid defensive play against DC United. His marking was superb, but it was the game saving clearance near the end of the match that we’ll remember the most. Marshall Leonard :: New England Revolution (1) This midfielder who has quietly become a fixture in the Revolution’s starting lineup just squeaked by to make the list this week. He doesn’t display the breathtaking game of some of his teammates, but he’s been a steady and consistent performer all season long. On Saturday he had a solid outing and saved a goal late in the match to keep hope alive for the Revs. Ricardo Clark :: San Jose Earthquakes (2) What a game he had last weekend! He covers so much ground with his long legs, and he always seems to have speed to burn. When his passing is on, it's on (too bad when it's off, it's way off). He also had one hell of a nice assist for San Jose's game-winning goal. Justin Mapp :: Chicago Fire (4) When you watch most MLS games you spend a lot of time saying to yourself, "now why couldn't he make that pass? It was just inches off." Justin Mapp has a knack for making those passes. And with the ball at his feet he's beyond the capabilities of MLS fullbacks. He doesn’t just run at the defense, he often runs right past it. If he and his teammates ever figured out how to capitalize on all the opportunities he creates, he'd be an MVP candidate. And yet, there is undeniably something frustrating about his game. He’s exhilarating one second and infuriating the next. If the kid put more consistent heart into his performances he'd have European teams clamoring for him (if they aren’t already). His sometimes streaky performance notwithstanding, he had a solid and at times even spectacular game against the Revs. He was a terror down the flank, and his intelligent runs opened up a lot of attacking room for the Fire. You could almost see the Revolution defense cringe when he got the ball. We’ll give him bonus points for drawing the penalty (that Reiter missed), but for the ridiculous dive that drew the penalty – for that we’ve gotta deduct a few points. Sasha Victorine :: Kansas City Wizards (1) His play was solid throughout the game, and with his great runs and his continuous effort he made DC United work just a bit harder. His goal was a solid individual effort and, no doubt about it, he won the game for Kansas City. Although, truth be told, he should give a little credit to DC United’s Brian Carroll for so graciously assisting on his goal. Chris Henderson :: Columbus Crew (2) The consummate professional. He’s quickly winning over the fans in Columbus with his hard work and versatility. How versatile is he? Normally a midfielder, last weekend he played as a third forward in a supposed 3-4-3. (Behold the genius of Greg Andrulis!) His effort didn’t pay off on the scoreboard, but he never gave up and led his team’s attack right up to the whistle. Freddy Adu :: DC United (2) Another player who just squeaked into this week’s AAXI. He got an unexpected start at an unexpected position when Jaime Moreno was unable to play because of an ankle injury. Adu put in an exceptionally strong first half and displayed the vision, control, and pace that make him such a special player. The second half? Well, that’s why he just squeaked in. Matt Taylor :: CD Chivas USA (1) ALERT! ALERT! The aliens have abducted Matt Taylor (no doubt for some insidious mullet experiment) and replaced him with a super-talented rat-tailed clone. It’s the only explanation. This guy was all over the field and caused the Stormin’ Mormons one headache after another. He played simply, but most times the simple play was all that was required. If his teammates would have played as simply as he did, the token gringo could have had several more than the two assists he earned on the way to securing Chivas USA’s 5-1 victory. And did we mention he notched a goal too? Oh, and to you guys at Real Salt Lake: it’s one thing to get beat by Chivas USA. It’s another thing to get beat almost single-handedly by Matt Taylor. And to you aliens who abducted the real Matt Taylor: could you please give the boy a proper haircut while you’ve got him? Plus One Lamar Hunt You did the right thing, Lamar. You really did. (But why’d it take you so long?) … PS Sorry about the delay. It was a rough week for the AAXI crew. Chivas USA’s blowout win prompted no small amount of soul searching. Oh, ok, it wasn’t really soul searching. It was drinking. But the possibility that we were all very, very wrong about Chivas USA’s potential was something many of us found deeply troubling. Then there came the news that Greg Andrulis had been fired. It launched some of us into ecstasy (free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!), and the rest of us into despondency (does this mean we can’t rely on an easy three points every time we play the Crew?). Then we all got a little over-excited when we heard about the plans to build a new soccer specific stadium on the site of the Pabst Brewery. The excitement was dashed, however, when we realized it was only the former site of the Pabst Brewery. Bummer. Anyway, it’s late. Sorry. It’s not our fault. It’s, uh, Greg’s fault. And the typos? Greg’s fault too. And the choices you disagree with? It’s all Greg’s fault. Yeah, that's it ... __________________ The AAXI Week 15 Contributors are andrewt14, Chicago1871, fidlerre, Knave, Nutmeg, voros, and zcgf02. Header by Knave. List compiled and edited by Knave (with input from all the AAXI contributors).