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MLS Alphabet Week 2

MLS Alphabet Week 2

By Chris Reiko

Jermain Defoe and TFC were the dominating factors in week 2 of my MLS Alphabet, but we also had two different, former Barcelona players scoring on the same day in MLS. Clint Dempsey talks about pushing and others talk about game planning. Which former MLS player got more attention than Putin in Europe?
Why and how was Uli Hoeness sentenced for tax evasion, and what does that have to do with the MLS? What motivates a Honduran defender to score for the Earthquakes? All answers in this week edition of MLS Alphabet.

A – Awesome – it was nothing but a awesome start of the season for Toronto FC. Their first half in Seattle was a warning signal to entire league, that this team is not a joke anymore. I suggest we change the abbreviation for Toronto FC. For years the abbreviation TFC was associated mostly, with points for the opponents. I would suggest modifying the TFC abbreviation, to TLFC – Tim Leiweke Football Club, and finishing most of the games on positive note, just like that one in Seattle.

B – Bernardez Victor, the Earthquakes centerback. Last time I saw his Dad at Buck Shaw Stadium he was in his Anderlecht jersey, Victor scored a goal. On Saturday vs RSL.

Victor Bernardez and Chris Wondolowski celebrating another last second equalizer. PHOTO San Jose Earthquakes

Victor Bernardez and Chris Wondolowski celebrating another last second equalizer. PHOTO San Jose Earthquakes

The Honduran centerback netted 2 goals, including a last second equalizer. After the game, his father introduced me to his wife, and explained to me what happened. Victor scored 2 goals, because he was present with his wife at the Quakes game, so Vic scored 1 goal for each. I’m expecting some announcement by the Earthquakes President Dave Kaval, that any additional member of the Bernardez family is officially welcome at Buck Shaw Stadium, because the club loves when Vic’s scores goals. Perhaps the club should offer them some good season seats 🙂

C – Cassar, Jeff  the new RSL coach. On behalf of Quakes fans, we are little sorry for a cold shower in hot San Jose. “It feels like a loss, but it’s a tie on the road,” Cassar said. “I’m extremely pleased with four points out of two games on the road.” In their game in LA a week ago, RSL was lucky, but at Buck Shaw Stadium, they missed some of that luck. Overall, RSL in 2 tough games on the road proved, that they are still a top MLS team, regardless of changes in the regime.

D – Defoe, Jermain – for the best debut by any designated player in MLS history. We have DP, also called “Beckham rule” since the end of 2006. 2 goals by “just” a 31-yr old England striker, are very promising for success and a hungry TFC fan base. Tim Leiweke, the man who brought Defoe to Toronto, said to Grant Wahl before the season, that Defoe might score 30 goals this year in MLS.Congrats Jermain Defoe MLS Player of the Week As much as we love seeing Defoe in the MLS, I think if he scores about half of those all TFC fans will be very happy. We all enjoyed The TFC show in Seattle, and I’m glad to see a wonderful start to the MLS career of European star Jermaine Defoe.

E – Earthquakes, this team is just unbelievably effective in the final, crucial moments of a game. Due to a complete no-show by newly acquired Quakes DM Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, RSL dominated midfield in the first half, and led 3-1 at halftime. 2 goals lead vs Earthquakes does not give you much comfort. “They are extremely dangerous at the end, they just wont give up” – said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Since 2012 season The Quakes scored 17 second half stoppage-time goals, 15 of them for wins or ties.

F – Fire, are not on fire yet, and their defense seem to have issues, and little bad luck in the final minutes of the match, but after a disaster vs Chivas USA a week ago, I’m sure Frank Yallop enjoyed his first point earned as Fire coach in Portland.

G – Game plan – could be important, especially when it works. “Our game plan worked” – said Frank Yallop after finishing the match with 10 men and still managed to earn his first point as a Fire coach. Very good game plan prepared by Pablo Mastroeni, also worked just fine, and Rapids got a point at Red Bull Arena, with a “little unplanned” help from referee.

H – Hilarious – “It’s kind of hilarious how we give up these goals at the end of games and how good San Jose is towards the end of these games on set pieces” – said RSL commander of defense Nat Borchers. Not to make excuses for RSL, but many big teams have conceded goals, and lost what appears to be sure points in the final seconds, playing against the Earthquakes. Toluca, Galaxy, to name just a few, so RSL is not a exception in that department.

J – Joao Plata – RSL winger for wonderful slalom, between Earthquakes defenders. He’s just 5.3 (officially), but this Ecuadorian kids second goal, made all those tall guys from San Jose look like hypnotized spectators. Plata, was drafted by TFC, and he’s an outstanding player, fast, technically gifted, with a huge potential as winger, but in some teams he can rotate and also play as forward. Plata is the only MLS player, besides Thierry Henry, who can say that he played for Barcelona. The difference is Henry played for the “real one”, Catalonia football giant, but Plata for club called Barcelona SC in the Ecuadorian town Guayaquil. Barca is Barca, who cares? In MLS we have enough room and money, for players from all kinds of Barcelona’s.

K – Kinnear, Dominic capitalizing on his experience. When other coaches are trying different things, check what is really working as Dom is meanwhile cashing points however he can. His Dynamo, it’s the only team with 2 wins, after 2 weeks of regular season.

L – La Gata – that’s the nickname of Gaston Fernandez, goal scorer for Portland Timbers. His two equalizers in first two weeks in MLS, prevented some serious talks in Timbers offices, because they have enough talent in Portland to score a little more, than once per game. Caleb Porters team is very consistent, his team had league record 15 – the most draws in 2013 season. This year already has 2, but many Timbers fans take this as a loss of 4 points at home.

M – Mulholland, Luke – a week ago, born in England and a attacking midfielder had a good goal called off in LA, this time in San Jose the referee let him finish the celebration. Mulholland nailed his first MLS goal, right before halftime vs the Earthquakes, and at the moment looked like game winner.

N – Nelsen, Ryan TFC coach, it was nice to finally see a smile on his face, and forgotten sense of humor, I remember well from his Stanford and D.C. United days. When asked about Dempsey hitting his player Mark Bloom below the belt, he answered in his old happy style “Maybe it was friendly:) but from what I know Bloom is a happily married man”. Wonder how friendly DISCO* will take that.

O – Optical goal celebration by Thierry Henry

P – Pushing – some times pushing to hard, can push you into trouble. “I have to keep pushing, and there is more to come.” – said Clint Dempsey, who despite being far from his prime, in terms of delivering production. Has already 1 goal and assist this year, which equals to his last year stats (with over 900 minutes on the pitch). Clint’s frustration is something, that he has to control better, a player of his caliber, should be able to control his emotions, and not do stupid things. Not sure what Clint Dempsey was checking during the game in groin of Mark Bloom ? DISCO committee may have better TV replay, than all of us, and will probably react. Canadian press is full of jokes, about the incident. Good, except the shot to the crotch of Mark Bloom, he also had one go pass Julio Cesar, to the net.

Q – Que paso Chivas USA fans? Where are you? Under coach Wilmer Cabrera, looks like The Goats are heading right directions, but fans seem not to buy it. The Team has 4 points, after 2 games, but do they really have to play in a empty stadium? Instead of playing at Stubhub Center, why don’t we send Chivas USA for all home games on a tour. Where? To cities where they will be more than welcome for one game. In other states like Nevada, Arizona, Idaho they can promote MLS soccer for generations to come. Wonder if logistics will cost more, than lights, security and all other services at Stubhub Center. Only 6,684 fans watched The Goats, last Sunday draw vs Whitecaps. We think that number might be off by 4000 on the high side.

R – Red Bulls with a very slow start to the season. 1 point out of 6 in two games, and not many expected them to have such problems with the Rapids. They perhaps had no problem with the Rapids but rather officiating. The Colorado team played its first MLS game, under head coach Pablo Mastroeni, and they came in with a solid game plan. Visitors surely got a lucky penalty kick call, but later The Red Bulls were unable to respond with game winner.

S – Seattle Sounders is nothing short of a great Soccer Club. Based on my own experience, I can tell you that, every single visit to Seattle, was associated with world class hospitality.

Seattle Sounders red carpet. PHOTO Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders red carpet. PHOTO Seattle Sounders

Thank you. The Sounders on simply know how to do business. Sometimes, they are even too nice to visitors. On Saturday’s Nationally broadcast game on NBC Sports, they even put out the red carpet for the introduction of the players, to make sure it looked better on TV. They all looked good, but The Reds are from Toronto, and that’s their club color, so no wonder they felt at home. How about a emerald carpet in Emerald City?

T – Toluca, the Mexican side was also a victim of last second goal by the Earthquakes on Tuesday, but their coach Jose Cardozo, absolutely didn’t panic. “Due to a busy schedule, I have to rest some players, so we played with many young guys that want to prove them self, but they are not our regular starters. I’m confident, and absolutely do not worry, about the CCL second leg” said Toluca coach Jose Cardozo. Irene Gutierrez translated perfectly from Spanish to English, but in my translation to soccer language, Cardozo statement meant: “We played our backups, to keep starters fresh for other games, Earthquakes got a few tall players, but I have plenty of options and talent, so they have no chance in the second leg”. As a Earthquake fan, I wish I’m wrong.

U – Uli Hoeness, it’s amazing how long his name is stuck in my head. I wasn’t even 8 years old when Poland (my native country) played Germany in the semifinal of 1974 World Cup. I remember that day for the empty streets in Warsaw during the game, and more than 30 people squeezed in to our small apartment. My Dad had a black and white TV ( which was big time back then in Poland) , so they could all watch. Every time Uli Hoeness had the ball, my father and few other nervous guests lit up a new cigarette. As the youngest host-fan, I was responsible for emptying the ashtrays. I never met him in person, but for over 40 years Uli Hoeness is in my memory, and now he’s going to jail for tax evasion (see letter X for the numbers). You may ask what he has to do with the MLS? He was the President of Current Champions League Winners -currently the best club in the world Bayern Munich, which btw is our 2014 MLS All-Star opponent.

V – Victor Bernardez, he does not speak much English, but he let the “ golazo’s” talk for him. Make sure his parents have tickets to all home and road games. With family on the stadium Victor knows how to put “la pelota in la casa”.

W – Whitecaps, after watching them for 90+ minutes vs Chivas USA, last Sunday. I have one question for the Whitecaps players, and their head coach Carl Robinson: What the hell was that?

Uli Hoeness former Bayern Munich president in jail, and that's just a fuel for a jokes for their rival Borussia Dortmund fans

Uli Hoeness former Bayern Munich president in jail, and that’s just a fuel for a jokes for rival Borussia Dortmund fans

X – 39,600,000 dollars that’s the amount that is claimed that Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness cheated on his taxes. Damn, that’s the annual payroll for the entire MLS Western Conference, including coaching staff, and all club presidents. My RIP father always told me, that the Germans are masters in loosing. He used WW II as an example, but today Uli Hoeness ‘ example just confirmed it. Now 62 years old Hoeness, was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail, for not paying 39.6 million dollars in taxes. Are you kidding? That’s over 11.3 million a year, and over 850,000 per month!!! That’s more than most MLS teams are generating pre expenses on gross revenue. There are not many superstars in the Bundesliga that make that much $$$$$$. Who would hire a 62 years old for that kind of money? Is that fair? Who is the winner? Knowing Hoeness, trust me, he knew all his options.

Y – Yeah, this come back was spectacular. Michael Bradley is back in the MLS, and he makes a huge difference in the TFC midfield. Michael, thanks to his agent Ron Waxman, is making at least 200 times more then when he left the MLS in 2005 for a $250,000 transfer fee. In 2014 to get his services back, Toronto FC had to pay 10 million dollars. Just a few years ago that was almost a fee for a entire franchise i.e. KC Wizards was for sale for around that sum. Is MLS really that big and rich, or just got a little too crazy, to bring U.S. stars back to the homeland? I love to see Michael Bradley in MLS, but a bit disappointed to see him in a Canadian club, but after all, we are all family 🙂

Robert Warzycha on the cover of Przeglad Sportowy, National sports newspaper in Poland.

Robert Warzycha on the cover of Przeglad Sportowy, National sports newspaper in Poland.

Z – Zabrze, town in southern Poland mostly known, for their famous soccer team Górnik. MLS legend, former Columbus Crew star, and previous manager Robert Warzycha, started his new job, as the head coach of his old club, the 14 time national champions Górnik Zabrze.

Since he arrived in Poland last Wednesday, Warzycha got way more media coverage there than even Russian President Putin who lately is extremely popular in the region. Good luck to Robert, he is and will always be pure class. Best wishes to him on his new journey that started with a 1-1 draw in Polish Ekstraklasa. Bob Bradley and Robert Warzycha are the only ex-MLS coaches, managing teams in Europe. Click “Like” if you wish them success.

• DISCO – DISCO = MLS Disciplinary Committee

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  1. Great to See Jermaine Defoe scoring a couple of goals on his debut. I said he was too good to play in the MLS, and could still score goals in the EPL when I first heard that he would be joining Toronto FC. I hope he continues to bang the goals in, when he is on form he is so exciting to watch. I always used to hear my coaches telling the forwards to be ruthless in front of goal, and that their job was to score goals, so dont worry about passing, ‘if you have a goalscoring opportunity, take it’ they would say. Jermaine Defoe is someone who took this advice, and has made a career out of it. As soon as he sniffs the goal he shoots! If he does well, he may even be able to force himself into the England squad for the World Cup this summer.

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