By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Mar 20, 2014) US Soccer Players - As starts to an MLS season go, 1-1-0 isn’t bad, even from two home games when the opposition is Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC. Yet, even a casual viewing of the Seattle Sounders so far this season shows a team in transition after a sizable roster turnover, a new central defense pairing, and key players adjusting to new roles in market that is actually asking questions of its MLS team. This weekend the Sounders get some reinforcements that may help, especially on the back line.
Are the Sounders getting any reinforcements this weekend?
In fact, they are, Tristan Bowen and Leo Gonzalez. While we wait and wonder whether or not the MLS Disciplinary Committee will make Clint Dempsey's rumored two-game suspension official, it's worth considering Seattle a team in transition. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid told the Tacoma News-Tribune that Gonzalez will resume his usual left full back position.
“You don’t lose the job because of injury,” Schmid said. “Leo has proven himself to be a very competent left back for us and does a great job defending for us.”
Okay, that’s coach speak for ‘we’re happy to have him back,’ but it’s not saying anything revelatory to suggest the partnership between Chad Marshall and Djimi Traore is still developing in the Sounders central defense. Having Gonzalez slotted in (when game fit) means Seattle’s defense should improve.
Remember all the early-season penalty kick misses last season? How is it going in 2014?
Penalty takers are six for seven so far, with USMNT goalkeeper Nick Rimando stopping the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane for the only PK save so far this season.
How many times did Club Tijuana's Juan Carlos Nunez touch the ball Tuesday evening?
According to the stats page on MLSsoccer.com, he touched the ball 145 times and completed 69 passes in the win over the Galaxy. Of the 13 field players the Galaxy used that evening, only four had more total touches than Nunez's completed passes. Yet numbers alone can't quantify just how disorganized and out-of-sorts the Galaxy were.
Landon Donovan called it 'disappointing', saying "because we know what we're capable of, we've shown what we're capable of, and, unfortunately for us, we were a little naïve.”
What MLS expansion city is “one of the three top cities to live in” in the United States?
That is the in-no-way-biased Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath, describing his city in the Guardian yesterday.
“We have a lot to offer here in Orlando because it’s one of the most attractive places to live of all the MLS cities, and the league gets bigger, better and stronger every year. If you are going to live in the States, I would argue we are in one of the top three cities to live in, and that’s borne out by the amount of interest we’re getting.”
First, selling Florida generally and Orlando specifically to the international crowd isn’t exactly convincing players to go to Ohio or Utah. Second, “If you are going to live in the States…?” Thanks for that coach.
More relevantly, Orlando has blueprints now from Seattle, Portland, Montreal, and the like as to how to transition to MLS. It’s how they use that knowledge that will be interesting.
How did the Missouri Comets celebrate their unexpected MISL Championship this week?
By finding out their league management doesn't want the league back next season. Okay, what they actually said was "Accordingly, the MISL is undertaking a process of comprehensively reviewing all aspects of the property including its membership, competitive product, and economic model."
There's a way to grow the game, by taking a whole season off and calling it a review of the property. As you might imagine, that didn't exactly please the owners of MISL clubs. There's a wonderful rebuttal by the Rochester Lancers CEO/Founder, 'Soccer Sam' Fantauzzo, that calls out the USL (the umbrella soccer organization that manages the MISL as well as other leagues like USL-Pro).
"They talk about stability, I don't think the existing teams are the problem with stability," Soccer Sam told SB Nation. "The problem with stability is they haven't focused. They've been focusing on USL-Pro and making their $500,000 franchise fee with USL-Pro and not focusing on the MISL."
While Fantauzzo has a point, the Lancers are his business. USL-Pro is the USL's main business. If the USL wants out of the indoor business, or wants larger franchise fees, there are other ways to go about it. Instead, it's the latest episode in the convoluted history of professional indoor soccer. Hey, at least nobody's mentioning how well the original version of the league did in now-demolished NBA arenas in the early 1980s.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.