MLS Midseason Review (Part II): One-Liners, Recanterizations & Observations

Jared DuBois: This year’s Nick Labrocca Award: Lee Nguyen – The Don Juan of Saigon is having a hell of a start to the season

In Part I, TSG reviewed the not-so-heady preseason MLS picks from our so-called panel of experts.

In Part II here, the lot of these previously-deemed experts attempts to backpedal and shade our original perspective to make it more palatable that we are not idiots.


On DC United:

Onstad sporting “The Mick”

Jared DuBois: Worst haircut to best player ratio: I’m not saying it’s bad I just wanna say, Pat Onstad is rocking a look I can only describe the Mick McCarthy.

Jay Bell, Observation, DC United-Stadium: Everything else is all fine and dandy, but if DC United can get a stadium built, it will be the story of the year for the league. Houston got their stadium and San Jose is a shining example of the great parity in MLS, which comes at a great time as they will be getting a new stadium as well. But DC United is DC United.

Great fans, great club, great history and hopefully at some point a great stadium. DC United has been a club itching to be as proactive as the so-called MLS 2.0 clubs. The team is doing well this season and things could only get better if a stadium finally gets cleared in the district.


On Eddie Johnson

Jason Price: Most Improved Player: Eddie Johnson: The fact that Eddie Johnson is playing competitive football is a pretty big improvement.

Matt Biggerstaff: ‘Best American: Biggerstaff: Eddie Johnson. Hahahaha. Brek Shea will go off again, likely leave during the summer transfer window for a top 8 club in the EPL.’

Dear everyone, my apologies for somehow unlocking Eddie Johnson’s skills and punch out mode by making this joke that has become horrifically the best American out of the list we compiled. Trust me, if I could take it back I would.

Dan Wiersema: Most Overrated Early Season Pick: Eddie Johnson was making this pick look so good until about two weeks ago and now he might actually be worth it for Seattle. They’ve just got to pick up more Ws.

Jared DuBois: Most Overrated Review: Eddie Johnson  Poor Dan… Of all the different places and all the different scenarios an Eddie Johnson joke could work, you had to walk into this one.  As an unabashed EJ player hater, I respect the hustle.  Here’s the thing, I think Dan read it as “Most Overrated Playa.”  In this case I think he hit the nail on the head.  EJ’s been in Seattle 4 months and he hasn’t been on one episode of Cheaters yet.  Step up your game Son…


On San Jose…

Jared DuBois: Most Improved:  I’m drooling over Dear Leader’s Steve Beitashour pick.  Maybe the first time ever a person has ever picked a Beitashour or Feilhaber for anything.  However I think Will Bruin could make a late run at this award.  If Fievel can keep serving in the balls, Bruin may just make some waves in the second half of the season.

Dan Wiersema Golden Boot: Chris Wondolowski: I called Chris Wondolowski and I’m happy to see that he’s bagging goals like Wilt Chamberlain in a singles bar. Couldn’t happen to a better guy and this season he’s got a solid San Jose team to back him up. I’m sticking with this pick.

Matt Biggerstaff: MVP: Wondolowski. Here’s a thought, he actually has a midfield–finally–that I am not convinced I could start in this year for the first time, San Jose (Wondo) goes crazy scoring goals, he wins the golden boot and they make the playoffs.’

I’m not gonna say I told you so but… Oh wait, yes I am. This was a better read then ‘Where The Red Fern Grows’. Seriously, some service plus legit strikers to take some of the pressure off of Wondo + the fact he is in stellar form = Wondo torching the league. That’s math friends, and you can’t argue with math.

Jay Bell: MVP & I Shoul’ve Been a DP Award: Chris Wondolowski: The guy has been doing this for how many years now? The difference is now he has a solid midfield. Results this season have shown that the trade to get Marvin Chavez was a perfect move by San Jose.

No reason to expect Wondo to slow down since he is not a major player in the USMNT setup. No other tournaments and no other distractions to slow him down, whether San Jose continues to win or not.

On the Supporters Shield…

Jared DuBois: I went with Sporting KC. This pick is still fairly solid as long as Kei Kamara and CJ Sapong don’t run out of reasons to dance.  However if the jazz hands cramp up, I’m rooting for San Jose for the sole purpose of getting the velvet rope treatment at the TSG MLS Cup party at the Spearmint Rhino.  Let’s see what the team can do with the home court advantage.

Jason Price: Seattle sit in 6th position, but I can’t see a second half surge to drive them to the top of the league; but I do see this coming from NYRB – provided they can sort out some of their injury issues,
particularly in the back.

Dan Wiersema: LA Galaxy. Of course they were the easy, sexy pick (there’s a dirty joke there somewhere… JRodius you want it?), but like Manchester City under Mark Hughes they’ve got too many stars and a manager that doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. Beckham, Keane, and Donovan look like giant pieces to three different puzzles. Add in the porous defensive (should get better, but not good enough with the return of Omar Gonzalez) and the re-hab departure of Josh Saunders and the Galaxy might not have enough to make the playoff. And that’s saying a lot in MLS.

NorCal looks more likely to hoist the MLS plate than SoCal.


Safety net…

Jared DuBois: Best Goalkeeper:  Dan Kennedy running away with this one.  Dude has protected more Nets than a NJ divorce lawyer.  His omission from the All Star XI proves one thing.  To win an election always have a friend in moon boots with sweet dance moves on stand by.

Jay Bell on Western Conference dominance: So much for the Western Conference domination. The “shift of power” has definitely flowed to the Eastern Conference with the performances of New York and DC United, as well as Chicago. The flops of Los Angeles and the current Seattle Flounders have made the shift even more evident.

One or two Eastern Conference teams could push for the Supporters Shield, but I still think the battle for the final playoff spots will be more intense out west.

Lost season?

Dan Wiersema Most Improved… Danny Mwanga. We’ll he’s not even at Philly anymore and the Timbers are a disaster so this pick is as well.

Biggerstaff on MLS’s growing stature: The quality of games, players, and overall skill level continues to astound me. I no longer have to defend watching MLS games to my friends, because now they will actually watch with me. The drastic improvement in the short 17 years the league has been around is amazing!

The league might be hitting a tipping point culturally. I was out last week in a night club and a dude with a Philadelphia Union jersey was in front of me. This is San Francisco. You don’t wear that out on accident. More and more people are becoming aware and follow the league.

The level of refereeing needs to catch up to the level of play. It is sorely lagging behind. Everyone complains about it. Time to step it up, MLS or US Soccer.

Jay Bell on overseas talent & forthcoming DPs: Hopefully MLS teams can lure one or two or more superstars to the league this summer, but it doesn’t appear likely. Lately, MLS has missed out on opportunities (however good or bad) to sign Ronaldinho, Clarence Seedorf, Diego Forlan, Didier Drogba (most disappointing miss, IMO) and Nicolas Anelka. MLS teams just never could convince Giovanni Dos Santos to consider playing stateside.

Montreal just signed Nesta and LA is clearly courting Frank Lampard. Will the league see anyone else? Ballack looked like a possibility for New York, and may still be, but who can tell with what seems like a strained relationship between the player and club. Riquelme just retired from Boca Juniors, but is he retired altogether? Anyone who watched the Euro Cup was surely mesmerized by the play of Andrea Pirlo. Could an MLS team lure him now or in the future?

16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2012/07/12 at 7:08 AM

    One of the odder trends over the past two years: first overall draft picks who barely play (their first year). Between Wenger and Salgado, I don’t think you’ve cracked a thousand minutes between them (total) in their first year. Salgado just makes sense, but Wenger was supposed to be tactically mature, pro-ready, a Swiss army knife, etc.

    And basically he’s barely played and when he does it’s not terribly notable. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the inevitable move back to midfield or central defense.


  2. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2012/07/12 at 7:25 AM

    pirlo won’t leave juve for a couple years


  3. Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/07/12 at 1:26 PM

    My first person notes on MLS…
    Saw Union-KC live last night on a free tick and still felt cheated. Awful play, awful tactics, awful reffing, awful goaltending, awful Espinosa play acting more awful reffing and…………just awful. This league has a looong way to go to raise the level of its product. Just my observation after a number of attempts to become a fan.


    • I agree with Kickinnames. MLS has improve DRASTICALLY in a short time, but still drops some stinkers. I do my best to be a faithful fan but to be honest I am an apologist still when it comes to watching MLS and am entertained by maybe 1/5 games I watch. I still think MLS sides are extremely lacking in both attack and defense.

      The refereeing might be the worst in the world.


    • Posted by mbw on 2012/07/12 at 7:14 PM

      The basic characteristic of MLS at this stage of its development is inconsistency. Most starting XIs feature a few players who would not be out of place in the EPL or the Bundesliga and a few who would have a tough time cracking third-division squads. Some games are very good; some are subpar but highly entertaining (as the recent slugfest between LA vs. San Jose); some are unwatchable. It’s odd and sometimes annoying, but if you stick with it and accept the rough patches, it’s definitely compelling.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/07/12 at 7:30 PM

      I understand what you’re saying, because I watch NYRBs myself (albeit, as a football fan rather than a NYRBs fan). And maybe I view things through a different lens, but I do have an issue when a fellow football fan starts to talk about ‘level of product’. Yes, I appreciate and comprehend the business implications, and that MLS is still in its relative infancy, but can we leave that to the front office, and let the fans concentrate on being fans? Support your local team – they need you, in the good times and bad!

      You wonder why a lot of overseas fans dismiss American fans? Here’s a classic example.


      • Posted by Jim on 2012/07/13 at 7:09 AM

        + 1, George. Good comment.


      • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/07/13 at 12:36 PM

        Level of play, then? Sorry to have brought marketing into it. Point is that I am a football fan and will go to great lengths to watch and support. I attended a number of games and contemplated season tix this season just for the reasons you mention. Taken in a number of TV games and after the first live match this yr came away just profoundly displeased with what I was offered.
        Doesn’t help that Nowak gutted what little that the Union offered during his apparent bout with insanity this year but really not an interesting “level of play” to invest my time and money into IMO.
        Not sure what “overseas fans” have to do with any of this but… Bad football isn’t worth watching IMO.


        • “Bad football isn’t worth watching IMO”

          I’d like to know which league this doesn’t rule out, because I have watched plenty of less than beautiful games from Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Juventus, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Bayern, Wolfsburg, etc… over the years.

          I mean hell, Manchester United spent most of the year living off of tough goals, come-backs and inconsistent play.

          Liverpool were absolutely DIRE at times this year and yet at the same time they played a Swansea team that played fluid, gorgeous soccer.

          Is the BPL higher in level of play than MLS? Absolutely, but they still have colossal stinkers there as well. Aston Villa, and Bolton were both teams where good soccer went to die last year.


          • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/07/13 at 1:53 PM


            You’re being a bit grandiose I think in making that leap. I would happily watch a match where two talented teams grind out a result. Seeing a mix of guys who can play with another group of guys who wouldn’t look out of place in a D1 college all star game just isn’t my idea of enjoyable.
            Comparing MLS to the occasional lower level poor EPL matches just doesn’t make the argument IMO.


            • Comparing US Open Cup Games to the occasional higher level EPL matches just doesn’t make the argument either IMO.

            • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/07/14 at 11:35 AM

              Nope. Didn’t do that. Compared a body of work and used the occasion of the top team in Eastern Conf and a team on the rebound with 4 of 5 victories to comment. Both played their A squads and I saw the same pop up ball football that I’ve been accustomed to for far too often in MLS.
              Just can’t seem to enjoy watching…which is the point of it eh?

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/07/13 at 4:11 PM

          My comment was more about being fans. Do you think Arsenal fans cared under George Graham? Or Chelsea or Man Utd fans being outplayed by FC Bayern? Their “level of product” was dour, but who cares, they won. Which what it’s all about… that’s what this overseas fan doesn’t quite get; the lack of emotional attachment and commitment.


          • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/07/14 at 11:43 AM

            George, I think that blind fan devotion is a slightly different argument. I’m a diehard Chelsea fan for 15 + yrs during some less than stellar years and have not waned in my devotion to the cause. Union are 3 yrs old or so and I have a difficult time getting attached to such an unattractive (and unproductive) form of play. Went to half the games last year and anticipated being more engaged but just can’t get excited about it. And am frankly disappointed that the level of play hasn’t grown much.


  4. Posted by dth on 2012/07/12 at 6:25 PM

    Dallas signs Kellyn Acosta as the 57th homegrown player in MLS. Acosta is a defensive midfielder/fullback (either side). Really hoping they’ve got a plan for all these homegrown players beyond: the bench, sit on it. Doesn’t seem as if they do.


  5. Posted by dth on 2012/07/13 at 5:05 PM

    NYRB make their now-annual: “It ain’t broke, but let’s try and fix it.” Richards for Le Toux this time. Don’t think this’ll work, in the NYRB grand tradition. LeToux needs to play centrally where Thierry Henry wants to be (unless Backe’s thinking of a 4-3-2-1 formation). So, uh, yeah.


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