By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Oct 29, 2012) US Soccer Players -- In Tuesday’s column, Tony looks at one way Columbus’s season was a success, questions if things really are different in Toronto, and suggests Seattle might be the best pick of any MLS team to win the Champions League.
This season, Columbus finished with 52 points and a goal difference of 0. Is this the most points ever for a team with a 0 goal difference?
Nine times in League history (according to the official MLSsoccer.com statistics), teams have given up as many goals as they scored over a season. Columbus’ 52 points this season is not only the second-most in team history (to 57 in 2008), but easily the highest number of points for a team with a goal difference of 0 (Dallas had 46 in 2000). The most successful team with a goal difference of 0 was the 2002 Revolution, winners of the Eastern Conference with 38 points.
Did Toronto really lose the opportunity to sign Swedish international defender Olof Mellberg because of MLS league office interference?
Yes, according to Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly, who delves into MLS’ signing process for designated players. Kelly’s column gives some detail, from anonymous sources, about the process Toronto went through to attempt to sign the 35-year old defender to a two-year contract. According to those sources, the League’s Executive Board stopped the signing. Kelly explains this through the League holding a grudge against Toronto and favoring New York and Los Angeles. Perhaps, but how about I offer an alternative theory.
Toronto had a top-five budget this season and finished with 23 points. The team has never made the playoffs. Their coaching and management decisions (Kelly’s column does a nice job on Aron Winter’s style as a coach) have been suspect.
Yes, Paul Mariner is now in charge, whatever that means, but maybe, just maybe, the MLS Board (if it happened the way Kelly describes it), took a look at the total picture in Toronto and said that a 35-year-old defender wasn’t Toronto’s biggest need. That by their previous personnel choices, and by virtue of playing in a big market, Toronto perhaps doesn’t have the latitude other teams might enjoy. Is that really so hard to believe?
What did Portland’s David Horst mean when he told MLSsoccer.com that his team “had an inkling coming into the game” against San Jose that Portland might concede “some type of phantom PK call?”
Horst, who had a strong game on Saturday, indicated later in the interview he was referring to a season-long situation of “bad calls going against us.” However, referee Mark Geiger did a good job early in the game of calling fouls, not letting Horst and San Jose’s Stephen Lenhart get out of hand. The call against Donovan Ricketts that led to San Jose’s goal was a clear penalty kick.
Getting to Horst’s point, incoming coach Caleb Porter and general manager Gavin Wilkinson have a lot of work to do in Portland before next season. As shown in San Jose this season, last year’s record can mean little in MLS, but Portland was a team that seemed to have few ideas as to how to go forward in 2012.
Fortunately, no tie-breakers were needed this season, but had it come to it, which team would have held the ‘fewest disciplinary points’ tie-breaker?
Houston and the Revolution ‘ran away’ with the fewest disciplinary points title this season with 455 and 456 points, going into this past weekend’s games. Chicago was the only other club under 500 points, with 477 before Saturday’s game. The Whitecaps were pleased to avoid this tie-breaker in particular, as they had accumulated 659 points easily topping San Jose’s 608 points and Seattle’s 604 points.
Does Seattle have the best draw in the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League knock-out rounds?
Seattle is the third seed, and on the other side of the bracket from Monterrey, the top seed and presumed favorite. Los Angeles, however, is on the same side as Monterrey. If the Galaxy gets past Herediano, who topped Salt Lake’s group, presumably they will face Monterrey in the semi-finals. Houston joins Seattle on the other side of the bracket, with Seattle facing Tigres and the Dynamo facing Herculez Gomez’ Santos Laguna. Seattle and the Galaxy have the second-leg at home in the quarterfinals, scheduled for March.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.