Of SJ (congrats, I think) & LA

I'm sure everyone who cares enough has posted about Major League Soccer (MLS) returning to San Jose for 2008 - and that's good for a lot of reasons, as laid out by Ian Plenderleith in his space on USSoccerplayers.com. You can also get a pretty good "wise-guy" background on how this all came together - most notably, the waiver of the soccer-stadium clause - from Jonah Freedman's latest for Sports Illustrated. (Whoops...second latest; the a-hole turned out something on John Terry that, no doubt, doesn't interest me; and "wise-guy" is a compliment.)

Count me thrilled with the league getting to 14 teams, welcome back San Jose (you're coming to Portland for the Open Cup), and all that, but one notion that kept recurring in San Jose area write-ups on the deal (like this one) appears in the discussions of where a San Jose team will play until they get their stadium built:

"Instead, the source said, the team will divide its 15 home games between two sites - McAfee Coliseum in Oakland for top-caliber foes such as the Los Angeles Galaxy with icon David Beckham, and a smaller facility for more routine opponents."

Did the parts in bold have anyone else squinting their eyes and saying, "suck what, now?" Beckham-mania will wear off at some point - a point before San Jose finishes their stadium, I'm guessing - which makes it worth examining that word "top-caliber" currently being applied to the Galaxy. Turning to last night and LA's first game in the World Series of Inanity and Profit, here are some descriptive passages:

"It's not good," [LA Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop] said. "It's not good. I think we were very nervous, to be quite honest. I think we were very — how can I say it? — scared to get on the ball and scared to make a mistake."


"Former Galaxy player Mauricio Cienfuegos, who was a midfield key in the days when the Galaxy threw fear into the opposition, said it appeared that the current team has no heart.


"The Galaxy players, with Beckham in the room, were told in no uncertain terms what Yallop thought of their performance. The offense was virtually nonexistent and the defense was stumbling blindly in the dark."


"The heart and the desire and the determination should be there every game and it just wasn't tonight," [Galaxy midfielder Kyle] Martino said. "Everyone needs to go home and kind of look in the mirror and really do some soul-searching."

If this were a unusually poor performance, well, that'd be something. But go back and read what was said by various LA players and officials after the losses to Columbus and the Richmond Kickers and you'll see familiar themes; hell, the Martino quote matches something Landon Donovan said after the Kickers' loss almost verbatim. Sucking looks like the steady state for this bunch. Doesn't the appellation "super club" take more than Alexi Lalas' blessing?

Am I bitter? No. I'm a little nervous is all. The league put a lot of eggs in the Beckham basket and the current Galaxy team is like a slop of horse manure amid all the dyed eggs and chocolate bunnies.


Matth: said...

True, LA is slop, but aren't Houston and DC just beautiful examples of how to run a team in this league. Heck, I bet most of the world's true super clubs could learn a thing or two from those two.

The Manly Ferry said...

Bless you, son. Too true: even when DC goes weird on the field, they seem to do just about everything else right. Ditto for Houston.

Braden said...

OK, I have to stick in a plug for the Revs as well. I know it's still common practice for every soccer journalist that discusses the Revs to mention just how cheap the Krafts are, but that team has built itself into a competitor for the title with a lot of smart moves on and off the pitch.

The Galaxy are going to explode under all this pressure and the resulting galactic debris will spread across the soccer universe, obscuring the true quality of a league that has grown steadily better since its inception. Lalas will become our Zaphod Beeblebrox...

(Wednesdays are made for hyperbole)