The history of MLS is littered with premature superlatives. Maybe it’s a consequence of the league’s relative youth or the fruit of consistent development of the players, coaches, teams, tactics, etc. – but regardless, whenever someone stakes a claim to being “the best” this or “the most” that, someone else comes along to knock the first guy off his high horse.
Case in point: The New England Revolution, oh-so-hapless and wounded this season, come out of nowhere to topple this year’s superlative-prone juggernaut, the LA Galaxy.
No, it wasn’t pretty from the Revs, though there were a few moments of beauty, mostly in the form of Shalrie Joseph’s passing. But aesthetics were not paramount for this team on this day. Three points were. And to get those against the league-leading Galaxy is just another cautionary reminder about the unpredictable beauty of this league.
It seems from the opening kick of the 2010 season, pundits and observers have clamored like Wall Street traders buying soybean futures to say the best most boldest statement about this Galaxy team. Terms like “record-breaking” and “historical run” were shouted from the rooftops.
And rightly so. Bruce Arena’s boys are indeed awesome. Landon Donovan (who was rested in the wake of the World Cup), Edson Buddle, Omar Gonzalez (who missed the NE match through suspension) and Donovan Ricketts—this is a star-studded roster if there ever was one. They have put together a fantastic, potentially record-breaking historical run to the top of the standings, and they have their sights firmly set on multiple trophies.
But the Revs taught them a lesson: Don’t get ahead of yourselves.
The Revs’ two goals came, let’s be honest, on mistakes from the LA defense—perhaps their first blatant errors of the season. Marko Perovic’s free kick somehow snaked past the wall, several defenders and Ricketts. Sainey Nyassi’s goal was a direct result of a poor save from Ricketts. Those won’t happen often and the Revs were lucky to be the beneficiaries.
The league is now entering the dog-days of the season, when the schedule becomes congested, the frequent-flier miles start to pile up, the niggling knocks become full-blown injuries and concentration is at a premium. If anyone wants to truly own a superlative, it must navigate this stretch with real aplomb.
Do LA have what it takes to make history this year? Only as long as no one says they do.
David Is Goliath
Question: Which team has the same number of losses as the vaunted Galaxy? If you said, FC Dallas, you’re either a club staffer or your last name is Hyndman.
Yes, Dallas have quietly risen in the West standings from the cellar to 3rd place. The key has been spunky Colombian playmaker David Ferreira, who now leads the team with four goals on the season. He notched the late equalizer against Seattle on Sunday night.
Are Dallas for real? Can they challenge LA and Real Salt Lake in the West? Well, they have put together a 5-1-4 record since the start of May. That loss? Against the Galaxy.
Ah, Justin Braun. Some would say I have a man-crush on the 23-year-old Chivas USA striker, who struck two daggers into the Kansas City Wizards’ hearts on Saturday. But they’d be wrong. It’s love.
Seriously, though, what’s not to love? He’s young, talented, hard-working and doesn’t take a big chunk out of the salary cap. All of which explains why one coach in the league, who has mentioned Braun as a possible trade target, told me this week that Chivas has a Do Not Touch sign on him.
What I like about him more than anything is his ability to hold the ball. I don’t know where he learned it, but it’s downright Argentine in nature, shielding the ball like Carlos Tévez or playing the body like Diego Milito. It gets him into great positions and helps the Goats—who need as much help as possible if they are going to get out of the basement—maintain possession.
Mark my words: Braun. World Cup. 2014.