Thursday, June 26, 2008

MLS is just bad soccer

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching the MLS from time-to-time. I'll usually turn the Dynamo on if they are on TV and watch, but the more I watch, the more I realize it is just bad soccer.

I think it becomes so apparent after watching the Euro 2008 for three weeks on TV. Then I turn on the Dynamo and FC Dallas and really see how bad it is. I have been out to see the Dynamo play twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. But you just have to take it for what it is.

The MLS is a second-rate league. It is probably the equivalent of AA baseball. The guys are good players and they have the potential to be good, they are just not there yet.

You just really see the difference after watching the European Championships and then the MLS. The play is very choppy and the pace never gets going. There is a bad pass or bad touch around every corner, and I am not sure anyone knows how to play defense. In the 30 minutes of the Dynamo and FC Dallas game tonight, I saw three separate shanks on attempts to clear the ball. Two of the sailed several rows into the seats.

On defense, there is a bunch of grabbing and late tackles. I guess because it happens all the time, half the stuff never gets called. There were several that could possibly draw a card on the international stage that didn't even get a whistle. Good runs never came to fruition and free kicks sailed 10 feet over the crossbar.

Now none if this will really keep me from going to see the Dynamo play. The games are still fun, especially in person. But I am going to have to stop watching on the same day as I watch a good international match.

It really goes to show how far behind the US is compared to the rest of the world. If this is what we have to offer, then some work still needs to be done. Granted more-and-more players are now going overseas to play and that is a good sign. More just need to start breaking through with some of the top level teams.

I think that is one of the reasons I detest Landon Donovan so much. He was playing at the top level in Germany and decided to come back and play in the MLS. He had a chance to prove that US players can play with the best in the world but gave it up. I think it says a lot about Donovan as well and his inability to consistently compete at a high level. You see flashes of greatness from him, and then he disappears for a stretch.

A big part of that is because he does not compete against the best in the world on a regular basis, so when he does, he chokes. The MLS does nothing to prepare Donovan or any other US player to compete on the world stage.

I used to think the MLS was coming along, and if more players would just stay here and play, it would help legitimize the league. As much as I would love for that to happen and get to the point where top players from other countries are coming to play here, it doesn't look like it will happen anytime in the next 10 years.

In the meantime, the US team is suffering because many of the players are not going against top level competition. It is kind of a catch 22 situation because the MLS needs the players here to continue to develop the league, but the US needs them overseas and playing to help develop them as world-class athletes.

BTW - I picked Spain before Euro started, so I am looking good going into the final. I really don't want Germany to win.

1 comment:

brianplacy said...

I wish MLS teams would play on a bigger field....errr pitch. There isn't enough room for offensive players to operate, and it cuts down on the chance of a long pass finding someone in open space.

I know Dempsey, the kid from Nacanowhere, was playing for New England last year and also playing for one of the teams in the EPL (can't think of which one). Need to see more guys getting deals that allow them to play on both sides of the pond for the exact reasons you stated — help build the game here and also gain experience against the world's best.

I liked the "West Coast" combination of Spain and Portgual meeting in the final pre-tournament, so I have to go with Spain this weekend. Cheering for Germany seems too much like rooting for the Yankees or Red Sox.