By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Oct 25, 2012) US Soccer Players -- In Thursday’s column, Tony examines the Eastern Conference teams and their recent results, asks why Salt Lake has failed to impress against better teams this season, and wonders if the Galaxy really is likely to repeat their MLS Cup victory.
Which Eastern teams have some positive results to build on as they approach the playoffs?
Kansas City, which last lost in July, is unbeaten in 12 games after completing their regular season on Wednesday. Chicago has lost three out of its last four. DC United takes on a playoff team (Chicago) this weekend for the first time since September 1st. New York hasn’t defeated a playoff team since August 10th. Houston has gone 3-2-2 since September, highlighted by a home victory over Salt Lake, against road losses to Philadelphia and Chicago.
Yes, a team can only play the team in front of it, but Kansas City (which got Bobby Convey back last weekend) is clearly the favorite.
Chivas USA’s announcement on Tuesday of a new president and director of soccer operations means more integration with the Guadalajara parent club, which can only be a good thing, right?With the announcement of Jose David as President and of former Guadalajara coach Jose Luis Real as director of soccer operations, Chivas is apparently going back to its roots. While Real will “supervise all soccer operations for Chivas USA – including coaching staff, players, Academy and player development," he will "continue to reside primarily in Guadalajara, where he currently is the director of athletic development for Chivas,” David is quoted as saying in the press release.
Looking back at Chivas USA’ roots, specifically the 2005 season when the extension of the Chivas brand and philosophy was going to take MLS by storm, the team was 4-22-6 with a goal difference of -36. It took Bob Bradley remaking the organization to give them stability, MLS savvy, and success. Enough teams have proven over the years that in this League, experience counts.
How many times did Salt Lake’s Javier Morales touch the ball (any outcome) on Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League game?An incredible 166 times in 90+ minutes according to the OPTA chalkboard on MLSsoccer.com. To put that in perspective, Dallas’s David Ferreira ‘only’ touched the ball 112 times in Dallas’ loss to Seattle this past weekend.
For all the possession and statistical dominance Salt Lake had on Tuesday evening, it was another example this season of Salt Lake not doing enough when playing a good team. Yes, the refereeing was questionable, at best, but at crucial times this season, Real has come up second best against good teams.
As an example, while Salt Lake’s regular season record is a nice 17-11-5, 11 of those wins came against non-playoff teams, while Salt Lake was 6-7-3 against playoff teams this season (going into this weekend). That’s 21 out of 48 possible points going into this weekend’s game against Vancouver.
Why is a Galaxy repeat as MLS Cup champions unlikely?While one can easily construct a scenario where Los Angeles gets past Vancouver, keeps it close against San Jose initially, and then finds the quality of play the team has struggled for all season, it is still unlikely. LA has struggled, to be kind, against playoff teams this season, with a record of 5-9-2, including taking 1 out of a possible 9 points from San Jose.
Yes, the Galaxy will have most of its roster available, which it didn’t at times during the season, but after 33 games, a team is what it is.
Is Columbus for sale?Not according to a press release where Hunt Sports Group president Clark Hunt addressed the rumors that came from an unlikely source. “In an attempt to emphasize the importance of identifying additional investors in the Crew, Commissioner Garber’s recent comments overstated this objective. He has since clarified his statement through a league spokesperson,” Hunt said.
For the record, the Crew, with one home game left, is averaging 14,318 at home this season. In a market dominated by college football, that number compares favorably with the city’s other professional team. The National Hockey League’s Blue Jackets averaged 14,660 a game. Yes, a hockey team plays 41 home games but that was the 27th lowest average of the NHL’s 30 teams. Columbus as a professional sports market needs examining before drawing conclusions about their soccer club.
What might help the Crew in 2013 after missing out on the playoffs this season? Let’s start with a favorable schedule which means not only two home games against Chicago but Chicago on a weekend and not two months into the season, as happened this year. It wouldn’t hurt if the Galaxy came to town.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.