By Chris Reiko
Big deals, big goals, big announcements, and we have a big MLS Alphabet after an amazing 10th week of the season. Marvin Chavez pays back the Rapids, 9 goals at Red Bull Arena, and Interpol in action. What’s next for John Hackworth and Frank Klopas? – ALL in MLS Alphabet Week 10
A – Amazing weekend for MLS fans. We just had one of the most entertaining weekends I can remember in 18 years of watching MLS. 35 goals in 9 games made fans scream “yeah!” An average of 3.88 goals per game says it all. Well, for some defenders, goalkeepers and coaches, perhaps it was not as much fun, but a dramatic finish to the highlight game in Portland added some juice to it.
B – BWP – The most popular abbreviation in MLS of late stays that way for another week. Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips once again proved he’s a leading candidate for MLS newcomer of the year title. The Englishman in New York is our MLS top scorer with 9 goals in 10 games. Clint Dempsey and Erick Torres have scored 8 each, and added some assists. Bradley Wright-Phillips was already my guest in MLS Alphabet Week 8, but I don’t mind having him every week he scores 3 goals :)
C – Chavez, Marvin – The Chivas USA winger is one of the shortest players in MLS, but his huge heart and incredible technical skills showed the Rapids that trading him out to Chivas USA was a mistake. Well, the Earthquakes got rid of him in the off season, and not necessary in the most elegant way, and they still have to face The Goats this year with Marvin Chavez ready to test Jon Busch.
D – DeMerit, Jay – If the Vancouver Whitecaps keep winning, the defender will eventually have to change his apartment and move to different location, because his neighbors keep complaining about post-game celebrations at his place. Well, it doesn’t look like the party will stop anytime soon, and there’s actually more bad news coming for his neighbors: the World Cup coming :) Once soccer was the reason why my neighbors also complained about my extremely noisy behavior in my house. Two fully-armed police cars showed up at my driveway about 5 minutes after Landon Donovan scored game winner against Algeria during the 2010 World Cup. When I was explaining to the policeman the reason for all the noise and celebration, to my favor at the same time ESPN showed the replay of the last minute game-winning goal, and the police crew also made noise :) “GO USA!” they said, and left my property saying a loud “Hi” to the neighbor.
E – Earthquakes, congrats on a much needed victory; it was a very good defensive performance with a huge dose of luck. The Quakes, in all the honesty, couldn’t have complained much if they had lost this game 3-2 or 4-2; instead they won 2-1, with one of the weirdest own goals in MLS history, scored with a FC Dallas player’s butt.
F – Fortunate bounces, that’s what the Earthquakes had in their 2-1 victory over FC Dallas. Despite playing the second half with 10 men, they had enough luck to keep all 3 points in Silicon Valley
G – Goodson, Clarence – his leadership as Earthquakes center defender, in combination of outstanding goalkeeping by Jon Busch and these fortunate bounces, gave the Quakes a much needed win. Clarence also got a call from Jurgen Klinsmann, confirming he’s on the 30-man roster for the World Cup in Brazil.
H – Harrison Shipp – The Chicago Fire forward, who quieted Red Bull Arena on Saturday evening. At just 22 years old, the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish player showed us that playing against such starters as Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Tim Cahill, or Luis Robles is pretty much the same as playing with some boys in the neighborhood. Impressive, that’s the only word that comes to my mind when thinking about this brave rookie scoring 3 goals against the Red Bulls – no wonder he was immediately selected MLS Player of The Week. Yes, America’s got talent.
I – Interpol – CONCACAF signed an agreement with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) aimed at intensifying the ongoing work to combat match-fixing in soccer. They will use the same data analytics system that UEFA uses to identify suspicious activity in world betting markets, which also includes MLS games.
J – Javier Morales, his first spectacular goal just 15 second into the game against the Dynamo was just an appetizer to what we witnessed later. Morales is a perfect example of a foreign player that came to MLS and didn’t perform up to expectations in the beginning. Patience from coach Jason Kreis paid off big time, and his 3 goals on Sunday were a nice reminder that Javier Morales is still one of the top MLS players.
K – Klopas, Frank – The Montreal Impact head coach keeps making comments and announcements like nothing happened, but after the 0-3 loss to Sporting Kansas City, passionate team owner Joey Saputo tweeted that changes are coming. I don’t think he was talking about changing logo or stadium :)
L – Los Angeles Galaxy, what is going on with this team on the road? The Galaxy once again played a very good game, created enough chances to score 2-3 goals, but in the end they were not the winners. When Robbie Keane finally scored in 92′, it looked like the game winner. Instead, they let 2 points get away when the Galaxy defense made a highway for Diego Valeri to drive in his equalizer :)
M – MLS Sunday – A weekly doubleheader will air on ESPN and FOX starting next year, and Univision Deportes will broadcast an MLS match every Friday starting with the 2015 season. Yes, this is a huge deal for MLS, and NBC’s professional broadcasts during the last two seasons seriously contributed to the success of soccer in America.
N – New England Revolution has been inviting other MLS teams to Gillette Stadium at Foxborough to experience New England DEMOLITION. The Revs shocked the world by beating MLS’s best team, the star-laden Seattle Sounders, 5-0.
O – Oops – Colorado Rapids traded Marvin Chavez to Chivas USA on Thursday, and on Sunday he scored 2 goals against them. I asked Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni, after his team’s scoreless draw Wednesday in San Jose, about Marvin Chavez, and his answer was: “he is healthy and ready to go.” Oh yeah, Pablo was right, he indeed is healthy and ready, but why did he trade him to Chivas USA before the game with them? As an Earthquakes fan, I’m little afraid of Marvin Chavez’s payback against the San Jose team.
P – Petke, Mike – The New York Red Bulls coach needs some extra strong sleeping pills. His generous defensive formation in Saturday’s game allowed 5 goals to the before then winless Chicago Fire team. Just to be clear, the Fire have about 4 times smaller a payroll than the mighty Red Bulls, and the New York team let them score 5 goals. What a nightmare game for veteran Jamison Olave and former Barcelona B-side centerback Armando Lozano Sanchez, who started this game.
Q – Quality finishes were the trademark of last weekend, and many goals are deserving of applause, including one via a free kick from Michel. Take a look at some of them
R – Ricketts, Donovan – Even if you can blame him a bit for Robbie Keane’s stoppage time goal, it will still be safe to call him goalkeeper of the week. Ricketts was outstanding in the Timbers’ net, and, mainly thanks to his performance, the Galaxy left Oregon with just a point.
S – Sherrod, Mark – Houston Dynamo striker,. Every time we have a rookie scoring two goals in one game, it’s a huge positive, and let’s hope it’s just the beginning of the scoring festivities by the 23 year-old prospect from Knoxville, Tennessee.
T – TV DEAL – MLS announced the biggest television broadcast deal in 19 years of league history; what does this mean to the players? Increase in salary cap? Commissioner Don Garber is getting ready for negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the MLS Players Association, but just in case, he mentioned that despite all this positive news, MLS is still running a deficit.
U – Union lost to D.C. United 0-1, and many Sons of Ben members said enough is enough. Union head coach John Hackworth is already subject of multiple rumors about him being fired soon. I personally like John; he’s a great guy and I have nothing but positives to say about him. Unbelievable eyes for talent and his polite personality makes it hard not to like John Hackworth. However, he’s the Union coach; they have investors, fans, and this is result oriented business, and as bad as it sounds I expect an announcement soon. The question remains if operating partner and General Manager Nick Sakiewicz really fires Hack, or (likely) perhaps give him another role in the club, who will take over Union team?
V – Valeri, Diego – The Portland Timbers playmaker is the essence of this team, and it was his focus that helped the Timbers escape from a loss. Valeri’s goal in 5th minute of stoppage time made the Providence Park crowd celebrate and gave Timber Joey a reason to use his chainsaw.
W – World Cup in Brazil is 30 days away, and 15 MLS players have been called by Jurgen Klinsmann to the 30-man roster, which will be cut to 23 on June 1st. How many out of these 15 MLS guys will go to Brazil?
X-Factor – Wonder what the welcome speech will be in the Seattle front offices after the Sounders come back from Boston, where they got devastated by the Revolution 5-0. Not to make excuses, but the Revs had an easier task than usual, as three Sounders players had World Cup hopes, and on the turf they simply didn’t want to risk any injuries. Credit to the Revs, though, as they took full advantage of it, and, knowing Sigi Schmid, I bet no team will score 5 goals against the Sounders for the rest of this season, and perhaps next.
Y – Yallop, Frank – Congrats on winning his first MLS game as coach of the Chicago Fire. It took a while; 9 games to finally win one, but 5 goals at Red Bull Arena was barely enough to get 3 points. The Chicago Fire team was so afraid of screwing things up in the final minutes, that just in case they scored 5 goals. When it was 4-2 Fire I still had doubts, but the 5th goal sealed the deal.
Z – Zanetti, Javier – You may ask what he has to do with MLS; not much really, other than once he was on the same team as NYCFC Director of Football operations Claudio Reyna. After 19 years and 614 games for Inter Milan, and 145 caps for Argentina, he finished his career as a true legend and one of the most respected players in world football history. On the way to the stadium for his last match, he had to pull over his car when he noticed the billboard described below, because his tears wouldn’t let him drive.
I wish all of you MLS players and coaches become such legends that one day, driving to the stadium, you will see a billboard saying THANK YOU with your name on it, and you will notice tears in your eyes. Drive carefully, see you next week. Previous and future MLS Alphabets
You can contact the author, Chris Reiko, at ChrisReiko@hotmail.com