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MLS Alphabet Week 1

MLS Alphabet Week 1

The MLS is back, so is MLS Alphabet, and already in the first Week we had some cracking goals, many delightful debuts, and some memorable moments. What does Pope Francis have to do with Portland Timbers you may ask? How Bobby Burling paid all those back for trading him out of San Jose. In Week 1 the last name Fernandez = goals, and that means BIG GOALS! Chris ReikoDespite having an amazing fan base and the class support they provide still led DC United to come up with a poor start. The Red Bulls were on their knees in Vancouver. Western clubs dominated kickoff weekend and earned 16 points, Eastern Conference teams got only 7. Survival kits were mailed to all the locked out PRO referees provided by..their kids. All of this in the First MLS Alphabet for week number 1 of the 2014 Season !

By Chris Reiko

MLS Alphabet – Weekly and Alphabetically tells you the ABC’s about all the MLS action over the past week, and more. This is brought to you from a European perspective by Chris Reiko posted here each Monday immediately following all the action over the weekend.

AAbsurd, that’s what comes to my mind when I read, or hear about the contract dispute between professional referees, and Major League Soccer. A lockout only proves that someone missed something somewhere. Both sides bickering over  the financials, had 3 months to figure out some consensus, but they did not, and MLS was forced to use replacement referees in the first week, due to stall in negotiations. Shockingly enough, actually in some cases, the emergency replacements did quite well. Over all MLS corporate is not at the billion dollar range yet but is growing fast enough, that good, solid officiating is essential.  With more clubs, more games, more dollars coming into the MLS from everywhere someone at MLS HQ has to realize that quality of play and officiating is fundamental to continued success.  The question is, if quality comes from paying them Central Refs more then why fight over a few cents for line and 4th officials ? Credit for the solidarity of the Center Ref’s for standing in line with their brethren. Did you really miss any of the PRO referees last weekend? Some of the PRO referees are already suffering financially from the lockout (see letter Z)

B – Burling Bobby,he wasn’t quiet sure who’s idea it was to trade him from the Earthquakes to Chivas USA. He’s still confused, was it Frank Yallop at the time the Quakes coach, or GM John Doyle? Just in case it was Frank – payback is a bitch -, by scoring the game winner against Fire. It was Burling that, ruined Frank Yallops debut as Chicago manager, but the entire Fire defensive line contributed to this loss. The Fire in 8 preseason games allowed only 2 goals. On Sunday, a dynamic Chivas USA made so much of a  mess in the Fire box  and  scored 3 easy  goals  in second half.

C – Chad Barrett, his game winner wasn’t pretty, but provided a huge relieve to the wonderful Seattle crowd, that waited for that goal until the last second in rainy conditions. It was worth it. Critics are already asking how many game winners Chad Barrett will score this season, but even if this is the only one his acquisition was well worth it. Well done Chad, thanks to a goal front scramble plus an awful looking goal, Sounders fans were able to enjoy a great start to the season. John Lok got Photo of The Week shot (up top).

Great MLS debuts by Sebastian Fernandez and his coach Carl Robinson. PHOTO by Bob Frid  Vancouver Whitecaps

Great MLS debuts by Sebastian Fernandez and his coach Carl Robinson. PHOTO by Bob Frid Vancouver Whitecaps

D – A Delightful debut across the board – writes Marc Weber in The Province, and hard not to agree with him. He wrote that about the Whitecaps and their first year coach Carl Robinson, and Sebastian Fernandez’s amazing goal (see letter F), but we  also had many delightful debuts at other MLS venues. Greg Berlalter as Crew coach,  Jeff Cassar as RSL boss, Oscar Pareja managing FC Dallas, and even Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera, all enjoyed victories in their first games at new jobs. This will only motivate veterans on the benches.

E – Edu, Maurice – very nice debut by USMNT member, his presence makes The Union a totally different team, in a positive way. I was always big fan of Edu even when he was with Rangers, and I’m a diehard, platonic Celtic fan 🙂  

Maurice Edu holded by Pa Modou Kah in Union vs Timbers match. PHOTO courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Maurice Edu holded by Pa Modou Kah in Union vs Timbers match. PHOTO courtesy of Philadelphia Union

\At 27 years old coming back from Europe to the MLS, still earning a big paycheck, but he still has some gas left, and can only make the Union better. Nice to see, a happy California boy, in the Union uniform. From big three Dempsey, Bradley, Edu coming back from Europe to the MLS, Maurice has the chance to make the biggest impact.

F – Fernandez, Sebastian
Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder for scoring MLS goal of the week. 24 years old Uruguayan spent some time on loan at Mexican club Chiapas FC, but showing in his MLS debut that he represents quality. After a brilliant match by Fernandez, the Whitecaps fans are saying: “Who cares about Camilo”.

G – Gaston Fernandez – one of the Timbers newcomers, scored a miracle equalizer in Portland, in the final seconds, which robbed the Union from 2 points. Scoring goals in crucial moments is nothing new to the 30 year old from Argentina, where they call him “La Gata”.

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter got some help from heaven. Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer Portland Timbers

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter got some help from heaven. Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer Portland Timbers

In his long career, he played and scored for big clubs such as River Plate, Estudiantes, including 10 goals for Pope Francis’ favorite club San Lorenzo. Looks like signing Gaston Fernandez, perfectionist Caleb Porter got some direct connections to the heavens included in the deal, already in the week 1, The Timbers got some help from above.

H – Houston Dynamo,
with a strong start against last year’s playoff team. Will Bruin seems to have enough experience to lead the Dynamo frontline, and become one of the MLS top scorers. Last season 6 goals, this year already 2 – very promising stats for the Orange men of Houston.

I – Impressive,
that was the most used word regarding the Philadelphia Union team, and coaching staff. Credit to GM Nick Sakiewicz, who worked hard, and traveled all over the globe to bring the missing pieces to Philadelphia. Yes, they looked impressive and much better than many expected. However, the bottom line is, that’s only week 1, and despite playing a very good game, the Union went home with just a point. The Union got much needed confidence, and they are the favorites in their Saturday home opener vs Revolution.

J – Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC coach, he’s not in MLS yet, but on this Yahoo Sports video says that MLS players “Are ready to create problems.”.
The Special One doesn’t knew at the time of that interview, that our beloved referees can make even bigger problems, including a lockout 🙂

K – Keane, Robbie he clearly had to visit some local Irish Pub in or around LA, after last night. His positioning, movement, perfect passing, and everything were exceptional, but lady luck was not there. Keane is one of the best MLS players, but he’s human, and everybody has the right to have bad night. If the Galaxy are going to play, the way they did vs RSL, they have nothing to be worry about. Wait, maybe except for finishing some of their chances:)

L – Late goals,become a trade mark of  The MLS.

M – McNamara, Thomas – remarkable, dream pro debut, he not only started his first game, but also scored his first MLS goal. Very smart move by Chivas USA head coach Wilmer Cabrera who not only started the rookie from New York in his first MLS match as coach, but also impressed the youngster with post-game recognition. Coach Wilmer Cabrera honored Thomas McNamara by giving him the game ball signed by all his teammates. What a great start of  MLS careers for both of them. “It was nice for the guys to all that for me in a day like today and definitely something that I’m going to keep forever,” said a emotionally touched , Clemson product Thomas McNamara. You better remember this name 🙂

N – Rimando, Nickhe was spectacular in very difficult game vs the attacking powerhouse LA Galaxy. His 9 saves, and stopping Robbie Keane in the last minute on a penalty – was just another step towards the USMNT roster and the World Cup in Brazil. That was Rimando shutout number 109 in the MLS, he is only 3 short to pass the great Kevin Hartman who owns the all time MLS record.

Benny Olsen face says all. PHOTO Tony Quinn

Benny Olsen face says all. PHOTO Tony Quinn

O – Olsen, BennyD.C. United coach, does he need a cardiologist? No need for any written words under his photo by America Top soccer photographer Tony Quinn. Down 3-0- in  the season opener, and now trip to  a remodeled Toronto,-You guess the rest 🙂

P – Pipa or “El Pipa” – from the Spanish language translates to a pipe, but that’s also the nickname of Federico Higuain, borrowed without any compensation by Crew fans from his father, former pro player Jorge. Federico Higuain proved that no matter who his coach is or club owner, he’s simply worth  all the money he makes, and perhaps more.  The 29-year-old Argentinian, scored 2 goals, and he was the general, who dominated, and orchestrated the midfield in the Crew’s easy 3-0 victory at RFK.

Q – Quincy Amarikwa, his goal sure put a smile on Frank Yallop’s face, but not for long. They know each other very well from their Earthquakes days, where Amarikwa didn’t really play much, but somehow was always around.

R – Rapids, Colorado team did not play last weekend, but made a huge positive impact, announcing USMNT legend Pablo Mastroeni as their head coach. Happy to see a player of that caliber, with great experience, have courage to take on  such a tough job, coaching a MLS team. Pablo Mastroeni, is one of the nicest personalities you can have at the helm, now is the time to connect that with leadership quality. The U.S. soccer world loves Pablo, all of us also wishing him well, nothing but success. Young coaches in their post MLS careers are doing a good job, and hopefully Pablo will join the group.

S – Sense of humor, missed by the Crew. The United are extremely mad at their opening day opponents. They expected the Crew to be a team that let them play a bit, and/or just chat soccer in the first half. Instead the Crew scored 2 quick goals, and the rest is history. 3-0 loss at home, in the season opener is not good, not to say a terrible start. Many so-called experts stated that United are the most improved MLS team since last season. Wonder what the final score would be if they were a little less improved 🙂 The Crew looked really solid in Washington, sending a message, that they are getting things together under new coach Greg Berhalter.

T – Timbers fans,once again delivered something special in their “Tifo” performance, and national anthem song by The Timbers Army raised the bar in MLS fan experiences.  Fantastic job, well done Timbers Nation. I was little disappointed that Timber Joe and his chainsaw, had to wait in the rain until the final seconds before his ritual, and “Portland’s original” goal celebration.

U – Union,not the referee union, but the Philadelphia Union team. The Union looked impressive in their first match of the campaign on the extremely difficult, wet turf, and rainy evening in Portland. The Union deserved 3 points, but you cannot leave any player unmarked in the middle of your box for the final kick of the game.

V – Vancouver Whitecaps,they scared everybody in week 1, by simply embarrassing The Eastern Conference favorites NY Red Bulls. Energy, focus, movement and passing by the Whitecaps in that game were incredible. Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles can call him self lucky, to just pull the ball out from the back of his net “only” four times. Could have been a lot worse. Are those Whitecaps really that good, or were The NY Red Bulls still on vacation?  

W – World Cup in Brazil – Commissioner Don Garber mentioned that 26 MLS players are expected to participate on the world’s biggest soccer tournament stage in Brazil. That’s a solid number for a young, and financially strapped league. We should have a great first 3-4 months action this season, where players want to impress their coaches. If MLS takes care of its officiating problems, the game level should go up in big strides and that’s promising.

D.C. United fans for Clyde Simms

D.C. United fans for Clyde Simms

X – Extra Special Thank You by D.C. United fans. Clyde Simms spent 6 years of his career in a United uniform, even the last 2 seasons he played in New England, D.C. fans showed him some love. That’s how Clyde responded on Twitter

My sympathy to Clyde Simms, and all these extremely loyal United fans. For various reasons, the DC United team has not been doing great in the most recent past, but last Saturday their fans proved to be world class. Respect.

Y – Yedlin, DeAndre -Seattle Sounders rightback, he had a wonderful and , impressive game and surely got noticed by Jurgen Klinsmann. At just 20 years old, motivated by a USMNT and World Cup call up , Yedlin was one of the best on the field. He worked hard for the best MLS rightback title 🙂 Yedlin kind of reminds me  of  the 2002 season version of DaMarcus Beasley. At the time USMNT head coach Bruce Arena, had confidence in than 20 year old Beasley, and took him to the World Cup in Korea / Japan where he played a crucial role in many games, including the historic 3-2 win over Portugal. Seattle native, Yedlin will do what he can to impress Klinsmann, that is positive news for Sounders and the USMNT future.

PRO referee Ricardo Salazar's daughters helping their father raising money during lockout

PRO referee Ricardo Salazar’s daughters Bella (11) and Iliana (9), raising money during lockout to help their father, and they even made sign to  support PRO Referees

Z – Zealous -for kids of our referees, and their incredible support for their father MLS Pro referee Ricardo Salazar, during the lockout. His daughters had been worried about family finances during Daddy’s lockout and no paycheck – so they took the case in their own hands. This adorable accent will do for my MLS Alphabet Week 1 / 2014 see you next week
Welcome your comments below, you can also contact author Chris Reiko at ChrisReiko@hotmail.com and

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