- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 8, 2008
- 8 Comments
Sitting around here in Dallas today I started jotting down a few things that have struck me so far about this young MLS season. The season is still young and like most its just plain silly at the start of the campaign; I don’t think we will fully know everything about each of these clubs for another couple weeks.
1. Just like last year, this year’s opening few weeks are as crazy as ever.
This may be the one thing that keeps sticking out in my mind. You have teams playing very well in week one and then get blown out in week two. A couple clubs get blown out in week one then to only come back in week two with a resounding victory.
This is what makes the league fun and interesting to watch at this point in the year. We really don’t know from game to game where each team is but we are starting to get a decent understanding of where they could be going. I still don’t see anyone running away with either conference at this point, though Chivas may end up making a better case in the west than KC or Chicago right now in the east.
2. Did the league really give David Beckham the player of the week award?
It must be in his contract that when he scores a goal or takes a leak he wins some sort of recognition from the league front office. Not taking anything away from GoldenBalls but you can’t be serious in saying he had a better week in week two than Jimmy Conrad, Chad Barrett, Blanco, Tomasz Frankowski, Kenny Cooper, Dave van den Burgh and so on and so forth. A goal and an assist is good, no doubt about it but I think its painful to see the league banter to a guy in that manner when a handful or more had better weeks.
Naming him player of the week doesn’t get the league on ESPN anymore than it already is.
3. FSC may need to fire most, if not all, of their soccer announcers.
Its painful to listen to most of them call a game. Watching the Chivas-RSL game and hearing Christian Miles pronounce things in England and in Spanish at the same time was dreadful. Plus, can someone please tell Max Bretos and Christian Miles that when calling a goal to stop screaming the word “yes”. Again, painful to listen to. I know soccer announcing isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world but when done right (ESPN’s two crews last week) you can see just how good it should be.
4. The league may need to step in and have a talk to their refs.
One thing I’ve noticed so far this season is the number of bad calls by the officials. A few questionable calls have lead to wins for some clubs out there. I won’t go too into this one but if last year is any indication on how the refs will be this year then we may be in for a long season of calling out the zebras.
5. Depth is already coming into question.
Steve Goff mentioned this today on his blog about the clubs that will be in SuperLiga and the CONCACAF Champions League later this summer. Again I will say this about both, I love having MLS clubs in each competition but I think now that the CONCACAF Champions Cup is now played later in the year and is a new format; we now need to refocus who gets in SuperLiga from the MLS.
I said it earlier in the year that this will be too many games even for clubs with quality depth like Houston and DC. With the normal schedules for the four clubs involved (Chivas and New England along with the other two just mentioned) clubs could be playing upwards of five SuperLiga matches, a couple Champions League matches, MLS playoff matches (upwards of 4 there), and even US Open Cup games if they are still in the running in the late summer.
After this year I think it should be clear to the league that if they are going to keep SuperLiga in their schedules then they have to retool who gets in. Clearly the league wants to stamp themselves as a quality league in the region and in the world but in order to do so they need quality play in these international competitions. With the way things are right now that may not happen. I know salary caps need to increase for these clubs but I think putting the top four teams in SuperLiga may need to change. Maybe those next four in the MLS standings or even the 3-6 teams.
The very least the league will be giving some other clubs that aren’t always at the top of the league the chance to show their stuff against some international competition here. And that can only improve the league’s quality on the international front as well.
6. Consistency is key for every club but even more so for a select few.
I think looking at KC, they must be consistent on defense. Dallas is another club that comes to mind on defense but more so for them to be successful they must have consistent play out of their midfield and the guys up top. Against Houston they did just that however it was the defense that faulted them once again. RSL needs to be consistent on the road. Same will go for New York and even KC, who will be greatly tested soon with a six game roadie next month.
7. A number of teams look no different than a year ago.
Columbus and Toronto come to mind. LA as well here, you can’t take that San Jose win with anything more than a grain of salt at this point. RSL is slowly looking like what they’ve always have but I think the will pull it together here soon.
8. We harp on attendance figures for a reason.
KC plays in a cozy park that holds only a little over 10k and last weekend they only get around their old Arrowhead figure of 8k. Not bad when you consider that to be about 80% of that stadium on a day that KU basketball was playing in the final four. Good call by the Wizards to move that game up a few hours as well. It didn’t killer their numbers all that bad.
Some people harped on Chivas with their attendance. But 17k wasn’t too shabby for the Goats last weekend. Still that’s about two-thirds full in the Home Depot Center. If they continue to win in this league and not draw you can bet they will eventually do away from the Chivas name.
Decent numbers in New York for opening weekend. You got to figure though they are happy with anything until Red Bull Park actually opens in a year or two.
Clubs need to get a little more creative to draw better numbers here. Driving around Dallas I hardly see anything of the Hoops, except for a billboard or two. A team like Dallas needs to invest better in their marketing, place some ads on some city buses or something. Not just billboards around the stadium. Believe me not every fan lives within 20 minutes of the stadium they attend games at.
9. Seeing Toronto fans travel to Columbus in week one makes me wonder…
Will we see more of that in the coming weeks from other club supporters? Probably not, Toronto fans are a bit above the rest in this league with the exception to DC fans. Though I don’t remember the last time I saw 2500 DC fans in Columbus for a game. Seriously though, the league needs more of that kind of support for the clubs on the road. It was fun to watch and from what I heard in Columbus it made for a festive atmosphere in the stands.
10. Week three should be just as good as week two.
Why? More games, better match-ups and chances for more goals. A nice mid-week appitizer tomorrow with KC and New England. Six games on Saturday (one of which I will be at in Dallas) and one on Sunday. San Jose plays their first home game in over two years against the Fire; KC hosts the two-time champs from Houston; Dallas hosts the Red Bulls and their stellar attack; DC heads out to face Salt Lake (a place that DC has never played too well at); Chivas travels east to face the Crew; and what could be one of the better games of the week is Colorado and New England.
So there…a few things turned into ten things but all well worth noting at this point. Feel free to write in your own thoughts.