Tuesday, November 22, 2016

C&C Daily: On the MLS Conference Finals, Jurgen and Bruce

To think, it was there all along and we never saw it.
Interested parties can find a programming note down below, but I’ll just jump in…with regrets for

The Conference Finals
First, the Major League Soccer Conference Finals kick off in just over an hour (good time to post, dumbass), and it’s about damn time. I have only the briefest of notes on either match up.

Regarding Montreal Impact v. Toronto FC: I don’t think Montreal will be able to do to Toronto what they did to the Philadelphia Union and, in particular, the New York Red Bulls. The climax of the regular season laid bare both teams’ capacity for defensive lapses, which only left it to Montreal to expose them, with Ignacio Piatti tugging at the drawstrings. Toronto will/should be better balanced, and they’ve got Jozy Altidore (who has been good and is always large and strong) and Sebastian Giovinco pressing matters on the other end, but that’s why they play the games, right? To see how things pan out?

As for Seattle Sounders v. Colorado Rapids, I’m expecting the Rapids to bunker, especially over Leg 1. If Seattle can’t break ‘em down – and this could be without Jordan Morris available – the Sounders will just become another patsy for the trick that the Rapids have pulled all season long…

…and, like all good Portland Timbers fans, I’m hoping they do it, even as it will mean me struggling to stay interested in/awake over the fourth straight hour of soccer I watch tonight. It would have been that little bit cooler if Shkelzen Gashi wasn’t Shkelzen Gimpy, but the thing that happened to his ankle happened to his ankle, so…it’s all down to Sebastian Le Toux?

In other news…
A Savior Falls Off His Cross
As everyone heard yesterday, the U.S. Soccer Federation finally put a merciful (for fans) end to Jurgen Klinsmann’s total domination of all things U.S. Soccer. Having raged against Klinsmann since, oh, 2014, I expected a torrent of words to pour forth at the news of his firing. I have only a trickle to offer, though, even in terms of schadenfreude.

To start at the end there, it’s not that I take personal pleasure in Klinsmann losing his job (though, clearly, he’ll be fine, and just on his USSF contract), so much as (to lean a little heavily into this) I like seeing a fraud exposed. “Fraud” is a big word, and I use it with little confidence and less spite. Along with a lot of people, though, I found Klinsmann’s condescension unbearable; he never shouldered his share of the blame and that’s just something I can’t stand in people. As such, nothing gave me satisfaction quite like reading that the great ego that followed him like the train on a wedding dress drove everyone else fucking crazy, too.

Had his results actually stood up, never mind if he had actually transformed the U.S. Soccer program and player development at all levels, his whole schtick wouldn’t have been nearly so fucking grating. When you punch even with most of your predecessors, on the other hand, it’s on you to find the mirror and go look into the damn thing.

As for next steps, as you’ve all no doubt heard, the USSF hired Bruce Arena to guide the U.S. Men’s Team to and (ideally) through Russia (HA!). There, I have only two thoughts:

1) It will be nice to get some sense of how much Klinsmann’s tactics/personality impacted the U.S. Men’s team – or, perhaps, hobbled it. And this is as close to real-world test as we’re gonna get.

2) Here’s the real question: Is there a coach out there in the world who really could do what Dear Jurgen was hired to do – i.e., take U.S. soccer to the next level? His hiring took it for granted that such a thing was possible. Seems like people who spent the Klinsmann era railing against the player pool can’t really buy that particular given.

At any rate, it’ll be interesting. Looking forward to January camp like I haven’t in 5 years or so…

OK, time for programming notes and a little mop up. I’ve got a big Portland Timbers 2016 in the works, something that will also serve as sort of personal review of where I went wrong this season. I expect that’ll come out on Friday or Saturday.

What I intend to do going forward is to get back to getting stuff on this site. Unless I’m just too busy, or unless there’s just nothing going on, I’ll post daily. It’ll be short, though, and bullet-pointy. In all honesty, it’s about making myself stay current with the league…

…which is something that I didn’t do so good with this year. At any rate, look for it, probably around 5 p.m. All for tonight.

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