By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Aug 9, 2012) US Soccer Players -- Tony asks why MLS waited until August to announce playoff tie-breakers and questions the League’s commitment to the Reserve League.
How fair is it to change the rules about tie-breakers in the standings more than halfway into the season?
Major League Baseball waited until just before this season started to announce a second wild card playoff slot in each league. Waiting until then conveniently buried any criticism about the move because on-the-field issues are usually more relevant in the day-to-day discussion.
Apparently, MLS is following the same script as the League announced on Wednesday that total goals would be the first tie breaker if two teams were tied for a position in the standings. Not goal differential, which is now the second tiebreaker, but total goals. Third on the list isn’t head-to-head results or records against common opponents, but “fewest disciplinary points.”
Can’t you just picture Bruce Arena pulling Juninho aside and telling him to go easy on the tackles, as the Galaxy need to maintain their “disciplinary points” standings? And certainly no team that is fighting for the last playoff spot is going to complain about a borderline yellow.
Any move that put a team’s chances of making the playoffs onto an already under-fire refereeing system is asking for problems.
Is MLS still playing a Reserve League?
Why not say yes in theory. How's that? As the standings indicates, one team has played nine games, a few have played eight, one has played three. Without piling on, beyond platitudes about playing time for nonstarters, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of institutional or individual franchise commitment to the Reserve League in 2012.
Which team got the better of the Troy Perkins-Donovan Ricketts swap?
OPTA says Montreal did. The statistic that jumps out at you is ‘error leading to goal,’ of which Ricketts has had three already this season. Perkins should see his statistics, and win-loss record, improve, as Montreal, right now has a better defense and a better team, if everyone is healthy and eligible. Not having to face Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake doesn’t hurt either.
Did Shalrie Joseph see that, despite being signed to a designated player contract, his time in Boston was coming to an end?
Despite tweeting that he “believed n trusted would retire a Rev,” Joseph requested a trade, according to Nick Green in the Los Angeles Daily News. “We had a rocky relationship for the last couple of weeks," Joseph told him. "Me and (coach) Jay Heaps started off great and then we weren't going in the same direction." Given Joseph’s salary and ability and Chivas USA's record, he's certainly not a player signed for depth. It's now up to Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser to figure out how to build around his new midfielder.
With his team contending for the Eastern Conference title, is Red Bulls Head Coach Hans Backe looking to inspire his players for the stretch run?
Not if your name is Joel Lindpere. On Monday, Backe was asked by Kristian Dyer of BigAppleSoccer why Lindpere, who often plays in a central midfield position, only played 20 minutes against Houston out wide. Backe replied to Dyer, “Because he can’t play central.”
Backe went on to define what he wants out of his central midfielders. “[Lindpere’s] not a guy who can win 50-50’s and put pressure on midfields,” Backe said.
Now, not going all Paul Gardner on you, but contesting every passing lane isn’t the only way to put pressure on the opposing team. Possession in the attacking half, for instance, puts pressure on opposing teams. Counterattacking with speed does the same. Not that the Red Bulls would know much about either of those approaches, as Backe seemingly prefers the direct route. Perhaps, that's why players like Dwayne DeRosario and Mehdi Ballouchy are playing for other teams.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.