Monday, November 28, 2016

The Late Tackle, 11 28 2016

Decent likeness of Seattle, there...
[Welcome to what I want to make into a regular feature. It looks like me posting stuff – because it is - but it also more or less me taking notes as I go, so’s I can stay current on all this shit. It’s just a round-up of the day’s MLS/U.S. Men’s news, curated for “worth” by me, and it’ll go up any day I get to it. And, yes, the title is a play on’s, The Kick Off. I’ll go for most of the content and, feels fair to point out, you can get to it there first…but without my notes. Your choice, no judgment.]

Satan Nears His Throne
I already lamented the Seattle Sounders punching their ticket to MLS Cup 2016, but thought I’d also pass on The Armchair Analyst’s more…careful review (and his doesn’t end with an argument for/celebration of the Supporters’ Shield, as mine does). Two items of interest in there: First, heading into the game I kept wondering when Colorado would press for the one goal they needed and, as Matt Doyle (said Armchair Analyst) noted, Colorado opted to press from the get-go; decide the wisdom of that however you wanna. Second, he breaks down Seattle’s lone goal in a way that I’d call both thorough and overly deterministic – i.e., the Rapids faced the pressure, but the sequence of bad breaks/decisions could have been broken at any time even as it unfolded. Even at the death, the whole thing could have been averted had Jared Watts played a smarter clearance (and what the inevitable have become evitable?).

He also flags Sam Cronin’s absence through red card accumulation and, like me, asks what might have been?

A Wily Veteran Moves On (But What Open Pastures Remain?)
My guess is that players of a certain stature can find a place to play up based on name recognition/the “gander-factor” (e.g. “Come see the freak, two bits a gander!”), at least up the point where a medical professional got involved. I don’t think Jermaine Jones has that, even within the States, but, with him talking about moving on from the Rapids, it’s worth wondering who takes him. Jones showed that he has at least 45 rock-star minutes left in his legs – he was a dominant force in the first half yesterday – and that was after recovering from injury and a U.S. call-up under a fitness psychopath like Jurgen Klinsmann. Still, to clarify the question a little: how would all y’all feel if the Portland Timbers picked him up?

Auditioning for St. George
(Man, does having Seattle in MLS Cup make the metaphors come easy.) Toronto FC faces off against the Montreal Impact for the honor of putting Seattle to the sword in MLS Cup. I will probably have to miss that one (4 p.m. Pacific, guys? 4 p.m.?), but anyone who tuned into the first leg (or just most of it; me) saw Toronto struggle mightily in the first half of that one. Small wonder, then, the Toronto coach Greg Vanney is contemplating sticking with all or some of his second half line-up (e.g. Will Johnson and Touissant Ricketts).

On Call-Ups and Ports of Call
When MLS was established back in the mid-1990s, an argument was born with it – the idea that staying in MLS limits a player’s development and that any player who wants to be worth a damn should leave as close to immediately as an offer from a European (or Mexican) club would allow. Klinsmann bought all of this theory, so the debate hardly quieted down during his tenure. With an old broom (think of replacement U.S. Men’s coach Bruce Arena the same way thought of Robert DeNiro in The Intern…wait, are we all Anne Hathaway now?) doing some new sweeping, the pendulum should switch back to a more, let’s call it “open-minded,” less desperate (as in, “No, have you really looked into Europe?”) approach to call-ups, some MLS players might have call-ups in their futures. It’s logic that holds together the “go-to-Europe-young-man” ideal – e.g. playing in a more competitive environment and being around more advanced thinking on the game will produce a better player – and, as I see it, that’s just about it. It’s a chicken-egg argument, one that takes both the value of the experience and the quality of the relevant player as something like a given. I think a player will lend support to the theory one day – it might be happening even now with Christian Pulisic – just as Landon Donovan did something like it’s opposite (look, the guy played a solid World Cup in 2002 and had a serious star moment in 2010; besides, there’s no evidence for the counter-factual argument). Wherever one comes down on that larger question, I’m relieved that the U.S. Men’s program is again coached by someone less dogmatic about the whole thing.

Finally, This Is a Big Part of Why I’m Doing This

What’s a Bjorn Maars Johnsen? A Norwegian what now? Didn’t know he was till just today, and wouldn’t have had I not read The Kickoff today. It’s like a UFO popping up on my radar, only now it’s identified (and big; tall kid, this one). Or rather introduced. If briefly. 

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