|The best Christmas ever.|
Along with a lotta teams (e.g. Real Salt Lake, who grabbed a couple players*, and the Colorado Rapids), the Portland Timbers appear to be at what I’ll call “the plating stage” of their offseason – i.e., the team is nailing down what they can get, leaving nothing but sending it outta the kitchen.
(* I just want to note that Chad Barrett, the most MLS player in MLS, is one of these players. More on this later, if from another angle.)
Signing Chance Myers (plz. see poll a couple tweets down on my twitter feed), and re-signing Amobi Okugo and recalling back Dairon Asprilla feel less like sexy acquisitions (Sebastian Blanco/Dude-With-Similar-Talents/Profile, where are you?) than, say, getting a vacuum for Christmas: it’s important to have and all, you know you need it, but…well, it’s fucking vacuum.
With Myers being the only completely new (if familiar) player, that seems the most exciting. I figure the worst Portland gets out of that is Myers at starter, or an improved Alvas Powell. Okugo should provide respectable cover in some key positions, at least, but I’m still hope that he shows well enough to scare the people ahead of him in the rotation (even as I don’t see that happening, goes against history, etc.). With Asprilla, I guess it’s just hoping that he cleans up his game a little, figures out how to play better with others (is that a decent recap on Dairon? hmm…).
The thing I’m most geeked-up about when it comes to the Timbers was last night’s still-dawning realization that Portland’s left could be something next season – e.g., by way of the whole Vytas Andriuskevicius/Darlington Nagbe pairing. If that pairing comes good, Timbers fans simply must come up with a “Brangelina”-style nickname for the pairing. “Darling Vytas” is all I got right now…taking fresh suggestions…
The Armchair Analyst sorta sketched out how this functions by way of talking about how the Los Angeles Galaxy paired Robbie Rogers with Landon Donovan in his 3 questions write-up about the U.S. Men’s National Team’s January camp. It’s a buncha shit about formations – talking about the Y midfield stuff - but it works all right if you translate formation on mechanics.
CONCACAF is fussing with the Champions League format and, sure, yes, it matters, because it’s different, but when I get THAT bored when reading about something, I just gotta wonder. All in all, there’s something about the CCL that recalls smashing together Lego’s and tinker toys and hoping to get a functioning toy out of it. No disrespect to the smaller teams – and lord knows they’ve embarrassed the shit out of their share of MLS teams – but it also feels like there’ll never be a way they fit comfortably with Liga MX, MLS and the best Honduran and Costa Rican teams.
Camp Cupcake’s Li’l Sprinkles
To reference Matt Doyle’s piece again (link above), it seems fair to wonder what will really come out of the U.S. Men’s January camp, because how much can Bruce Arena really change in terms of formation/personnel ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama (and, no, these games have business being as scary as they are). And yet optimism springs eternal in some parts (and god bless ‘em), so maybe if you mash together, say, Doyle’s hopeful argument in favor of Matt Hedges and this list of 10 potential break-out players for the U.S. Men in 2017 by ESPN’s site, you might goose your excitement for January camp a little.
And, again, thank god Jurgen Klinsmann is gone, if only for the experiment/referendum on Klinsmann’s tenure.
What China Did to Chad Barrett
MLSSoccer.com linked to a story this morning’s The Kickoff about a tweak to the handling of foreign players in China’s Super League, one that might shake loose some persons of interest. The article provides details (of interest, but, if I’m being honest, I’ll care if/when this comes to fruition), but the prospect of flashy, under-employed players floating around feels like the kind of thing that should keep a player like Barrett – e.g. attacking players, specifically – up at night. Barrett’s upside has always been his motor and his burning desire to run through walls for others. Effort is a beautiful thing – sometimes even inspiring – but I look with at the idea of how he, and players like him, will navigate/survive in an MLS market with a mixture of trepidation and projected sympathy.
OK, all for today…wait, no: SBI Soccer went deep on the Dax McCarty trade. Sounds like they've got some juicy drama going on over there...