footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘MLS’

Twas the Weekend of the 3-0 Win

What was it with this weekend and 3-0 wins? First My Everton beat Southhampton by that scoreline. Then My NY Red Bulls took care of Toronto FC 3-0 on Saturday night. And finally, Manchester City defeated Chelsea – again 3-0. This last result was by far the most delicious because it is exactly what Jose Mourinho’s punk ass deserved after his latest round of throwing some unsuspecting soul under the bus for his team’s on-pitch failings. His sourpuss during the match was a thing of beauty. Long may his scowling continue.

Appreciating the Summer of Soccer Shade

It’s been a minute (well, more than a minute) since I’ve posted. That’s partly due to being busy (new job, big vacation). But it was also due to not being inspired to write about football. The conclusion of the European season was so lackluster, I couldn’t think of anything significant to say about it (actually, I couldn’t think of a thing to say about it at all).

Summer soccer – specifically, Women’s World Cup – has me excited again. I wish I could say the same about the Gold Cup.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw International Champions Cup in the DGAF pile too.

But the thing that’s really entertaining me soccer-wise these days is the amount of shade being thrown within the soccer family.

You could say Pia Sundhage got the Summer of Shade off to a good start in this pre-WWC article in which she threw shade at several of her former charges in the USWNT.

“I said that to Abby,” she recalled. “I told her: ‘If I stayed, you would be a sub. The best sub ever. But a sub.’ There was no question about that in my mind.”

Oh damn.

Then Victor Valdes threw subtle shade in response to Louis Van Gaal’s accusation that Valdes refused to play for the Manchester United reserves last season.

In other MU Shade news, new signing Bastian Schweinsteiger had his own to throw in response Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer’s remarks that Basti wouldn’t be able to handle the Premier League and maybe should have gone to MLS instead.

“I don’t know when Beckenbauer moved to America, but I am 30,” Schweinsteiger said. “It is a challenge for me to prove I can do it here, but I am confident I can adjust to the Premier League.”

Well damn.

But the Shade Kings of this Summer of 2015 (at least so far) have to be the MLS players who took to Twitter last week with their thoughts on Commissioner Don Garber’s picks of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for the MLS All Star Game  XI (Yes, the same Gerrard and Lampard who have played exactly one MLS league game between them).


As I noted in a tweet of my own on the ASG

Lest we Forget…The MLS Playoff Push

It’s that time of year – when MLS teams start getting eliminated from playoff contention (so long, Impact de Montreal). When teams that were once dead and buried suddenly find themselves in the scrap for those precious playoff berths. When Seattle Sounders begin their annual implosion, and when the New York Red Bulls give me hope that this might be the year the can go all the way (And this year, those two things have coincided)
Last year, I wrote about how whiplash-inducing the MLS Playoff race can be, and it’s no different this year with just five games left in the regular season. I hate math, so I will not be breaking down how many points Team X needs to get into the playoffs, but kudos to the MLS website team for making The Race for the Red line a thing.

Quick Hits: The Weekend That Was

  • I hate these weekends when both Chelsea and Manchester United prosper. (Y’all know my feelings on those two teams).
  • Cannot believe that in 90+ minutes of football that my Everton couldn’t beat freakin’ Crystal Palace. I’m kind of glad I missed that game.
  • Nobody got the upper hand in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, as Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo played to a 0-0 draw. Let’s see if someone does in the Western Conference semis’ first leg between Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake. Gotta say, though, it’s hard to get excited about the MLS Cup Playoffs now that my New York Red Bulls are out (*sad face*)
  • PSG is streaking away from Monaco in the Ligue 1 standings, but I’m more intrigued by Lille’s move up to second place.
  • This week brings us another international break. And y’all know my feelings on those as well.

MLS Cup Playoffs are Upon Us

The final weeks of the MLS regular season always strike me as frantic. Teams are jockeying for playoff spots, Supporters Shield honors and seeding and the home field advantage that goes along with it. This year was no different.

Now that is all behind us, and the actual playoffs have begun. Well, the play-in games have taken place (Seattle Sounders bested Colorado Rapids last night in the Western Conference play-in, and Houston Dynamo defeated Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference version earlier tonight). With all the playoff teams decided, the real, two-legged playoffs begin (Is it any wonder I find the MLS Cup playoff structure annoying). Conference semi-final followed by conference final followed by MLS Cup final.

Unlike other club soccer competitions like Uefa’s Champions League and Europa League, the MLS Cup Playoffs actually are a complete toss-up. Any of the 10 teams that make it to the post-season can lift MLS Cup when all is said and done (Contrast that with the Champions League, where only a handful of – very wealthy – teams has a realistic shot at winning – or even making the final).

The first year I followed the MLS Cup Playoffs closely (2010), I watched New York, Los Angeles and other “fancied” teams lose early, then watched FC Dallas (the favorite heading into the final) lose to the Colorado Rapids in what turned out to be a truly awful final game. (It wasn’t awful because it featured no teams I was rooting for; the quality of the soccer was terrible).

All of which is to say, I won’t be predicting a winner at any level of this competition because it is way too hard to predict. But the table is set for some truly intriguing matchups.

  • New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City
  • Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers
  • Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls
  • Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake
Am I proud of my New York Red Bulls for winning the Supporters Shield to claim their first trophy ever? Yes!
Do I fear for them as they take on the suddenly surging Houston Dynamo? Absolutely!

Is Shonda Rhimes Writing MLS’ Playoff Race?

Because it has more twists than an episode of Scandal. And as is the case with that show, the twists in the MLS Playoff race have me confused.

Seattle Sounders slumped to their third straight loss, going down 1-0 to Portland Timbers. With the win over their archrivals, The Timbers are first in the West and challenging for the Supporters Shield.


Also, while I wasn’t paying attention, Chicago Fire decided to mount a playoff challenge. And New England Revolution still have a chance to get into the playoffs.


On a reassuring note, Toronto, DC and Chivas are still terrible. Whew!

MLS Playoffs – Did I Speak Too Soon?

Moments after posting about my frustrations with the MLS Playoffs, I checked the scores of this week’s fixtures and saw that the Seattle Sounders – the league’s in-form team just weeks ago – lost 4-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Favorites for the Supporters Shield through the end of the summer, the Sounders have given up a total of 9 goals in their last two games, while scoring only two.

This change of fortunes reminded me of something I actually do like about the MLS playoff push: its unpredictability. In contrast to the sometimes numbing predictability of the European leagues (the champions of Europe’s top 4 divisions last season were decided weeks before the season ended in May), the run-in for MLS’ playoffs is whiplash-inducing. And it’s not just a one-season phenomenon either. The by-design parity of the league means that a team can change its luck within the space of just a few games.

That can be fun for both neutrals and supporters of particular team.

Did your team start the season terribly? Fear not: they could still make a late run to the playoffs? And if your team barely made it into the playoffs, there’s no reason to lament, for they might still end up winning MLS Cup when all is said and done.

I still have issues with the structure of the playoffs, which doesn’t really reward the teams that have been consistent throughout the regular season, but it was nice to get a reminder that the MLS playoff race has its own particular charms to offer

Here Come the MLS Playoffs

I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t always understand Major League Soccer’s (MLS) byzantine rules surrounding which teams get into the playoffs. I get that 10 teams – 5 each from the Eastern and Western conferences – qualify for the knockout tournament that is the road to MLS Cup, and…that’s pretty much where my understanding ends. This isn’t entirely my fault, as MLS seems to change the playoff entrance rules fairly frequently.

As a fairly new fan of soccer and MLS, the marriage of American sports’ playoff tradition with the beautiful game took some getting used to. I spent the early months of my soccer fandom following the European game, where league titles are decided by end-of-season point totals. When I started following MLS, the idea of deciding the league champion via playoffs seemed odd – even though I’d grown up surrounded by American sports’ playoff driven culture.

And as previously mentioned, it didn’t help that MLS was in the midst of changing the rules of the playoffs.

With that said, a part of me – I guess the part raised on NBA and Major League Baseball playoffs – embraced the American-ness of playoff soccer. Here was a good way to put an American stamp on the world’s most popular game, one that was far less obnoxious than some of the other ways MLS had tried to stamp “Made in the USA” on its growing but still young game.

Yet each year, when the playoffs roll around, I find myself feeling frustrated. I think it’s mostly because oftentimes, the team with the best regular season record rarely ends up in the title deciding game (see 2012 San Jose Earthquakes). Yes, the Supporters Shield winner gets a place in CONCACAF Champions League and the bragging rights of being Shield winners. But the fact that that’s all a team can achieve upon posting the best regular-season record makes the season seem meaningless.

There’s also the fact that I genuinely don’t understand how these playoff work – even after reading the league’s own website, the MLS Playoffs Wikipedia page and multiple blog posts on the subject.

I’m not sure what the solution is – or if having playoffs for MLS is even really a problem in need so solving (For various reasons, some, like this writer, think it is).

In the past, it’s been suggested that MLS move to a European model – i.e., allowing the end-of-season point total to determine the league champion – while still keeping MLS Cup as a separate competition similar to England’s League Cup (to go along with the U.S. Open Cup, our version of England’s legendary FA Cup).

That sounds like a plausible alternative, but I am not sure how it would work logistically. Would this mean going to a single league table (as is the custom in most of the world’s domestic leagues), and would that once again open up the promotion/regulation argument?

Not sure about the answers to any of these questions.

In any event, with the season winding down, the playoffs will soon be upon us. One team – the New York Red Bulls – has already qualified. More teams to follow in the coming weeks, but between now and whenever the playoffs begin, I can’t say I’ll have a better grasp of how they all got there.

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