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MLS Alphabet Week 6

MLS Alphabet Week 6

MLS Alphabet – A Light column from A to Z about MLS Soccer, read Weekly and Alphabetically

By Chris Reiko

Which MLS player should play with a groin protection? Chris ReikoWhy do the Soccer Gods dislike the Earthquakes? Busy Peter Nowak, and his new gig. What makes illegal home runs at Yankee Stadium? Troubles in Montreal getting louder. Still have winless teams, but who will win first?  More Americans love watching soccer, and that’s why we should pray for Don Garber.

A – Andrew Wenger – Congrats on opening the account as a Philadelphia Union striker, and looks like there is more to come. That’s what happen when a good, positive, young player joins a well-managed club. “That was pretty damn cool,” Wenger described the welcoming chants of the Sons of Ben at PPL Park.

“It’s pretty exciting. It would have been a lot better if we could have gotten three points, but it’s good to open the account early” said the happy-with-his-performance Wenger.

Andrew Wenger opens his account in Union jersey. PHOTO Philadelphia Union

Andrew Wenger opens his account in Union jersey. PHOTO Philadelphia Union

B – Bekker, Kyle – The Toronto FC rookie midfielder’s brilliant performance gave Toronto FC fans many reasons for optimism in an otherwise disappointing 0-1 loss to the Rapids at BMO Field. He’s exceptional, and even with Toronto’s new big-money signings, which obviously limit his playing time, he showed that he will use the chance to shine every time he can. Bekker’s talent is unquestionable; he spent some time with Dutch powerhouse Ajax Amsterdam, and also was pursued by English club Crystal Palace,  who failed to sign him only because of difficulties obtaining a British work permit. During the last off season, he spent some time practicing with German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen.

C – Cronin, Sam – The San Jose Earthquakes midfielder for his diplomacy when talking about the team’s current performance. Quakes fans love Cronin for his hard work, dedication, and for keeping the team’s spirits lifted. The Earthquakes team has been outplayed in midfield third time this year, but that’s not entirely Sam’s fault.  “[The] Soccer Gods haven’t been too kind to us lately, but we also have been poor in many areas. You don’t feel lucky, when you don’t do those little things properly,” Cronin said.

Sam Cronin talks about The Soccer Gods PHOTO San Jose Earthquakes John Todd ISIPhotos.com 2

Sam Cronin talks about The Soccer Gods PHOTO San Jose Earthquakes John Todd ISIPhotos.com

His partner last year in the Earthquakes’ center midfield, Rafa Baca, was traded in the off-season to Mexican club Cruz Azul, and his replacement, French-import Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, is still trying to figure out MLS’s tempo. I also heard that Pierazzi is not quite 100% yet, with his movement limited due to some foot injury. Wonder when coach Mark Watson will start playing revelation JJ Koval next to Cronin instead.

D – Dempsey, Clint – 2 and 1/2 goals in another wonderful performance by Sounders midfielder in his home state of Texas. I remember in the early days, when Clint was playing for the Revolution, even as defender he always had good games in Texas, especially with his grandma in the stands. Clint’s high form is not only making Sounders fans happy, but the entire country. Not just Texas has had a magical impact on Dempsey’s recent performance. Please take a look at letter M to learn exactly why and when Clint started playing up to his level, and which touch really changed his game. We will need Clint’s tricks and some magic touches in Brazil.

E – Earthquakes – Many fans at Sunday’s game asked why the Earthquakes traded away in the off-season both side defenders LB Justin Morrow (now with Toronto FC) and RB Steven Beitashour (Whitecaps). Both are enjoying excellent seasons with their new employers, while the Earthquakes have issues on both defensive sides. Why change something that worked well? Beitashour’s long, and accurate crosses to the opponent’s box are the most missed element in the Quakes’ game.

F – Flop – How many games will Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzales be suspended for that kind of acting? DisCo should suspend him and charge him big money for not respecting our USMNT World Cup squad hopeful Chris Wondolowski.G – Garber, Don – The MLS commissioner. Before fans heard the very first whistle in the 6th week of the season, they heard the announcement that Don Garber was diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. In these difficult moments, we all wish our leader quick recovery. I’m often asking myself where not only MLS, but U.S. Soccer would be without Don’s passion and determination. His vision and leadership are priceless to every single soccer fan, not only in the United States, but in the entire region.

The Soccer Don has been in charge of Major League Soccer as commissioner for the last 15 years. When Garber took over in 1999, he didn’t have easy task; in fact some of his New York and NFL buds had been making jokes about him for taking a so-called suicide mission. When Garber started, MLS had only 10 clubs and 3 owners, and in those days you could buy an entire franchise for around $10 million. For years, MLS had a hard time growing, because not many believed the league would succeed. The visionary Don Garber had no doubts; he went all in. 15 years later, thanks to his passion, we now have almost 22 clubs, the number of owners is close to 23, and the club franchise fees are as high as $100 million per team.


Don Garber’s record speaks for itself. His full recovery is expected, and he will still manage the league during treatment. Hope he gets well soon. We need you, Don 🙂

H – Home runs at New York Yankee Stadium are going to be illegal. Yes, they will not change the score, and won’t count towards any records. Why? By definition a homerun is called when the ball goes over the outfield fence, as it is hit in such a way that the batter has plenty of time to reach home plate safely. Turns out that balls landing over the fence at Yankee Stadium aren’t any reason for a HR celebration. In the 2015 MLS season, New York City Football Club will start playing SOCCER GAMES on Yankee Stadium, and balls over the fence will have totally different meaning. For some, this sounds fantastic, for others it’s not. Why is this happening, and who is behind it? For answers, check out letters J and O below.

I – “I don’t know” – The phrase often used by not only aerospace engineering students, but also heard loudly in the Montreal Impact locker room. One of the top MLS teams last year, they managed to finish game vs. Fire with only 2 shots on net? Yes, just two. Let’s hope they find someone who knows how to change that – see letters K and Q below.

J – Joke – And it’s not a very funny one. That’s how some New York Yankee fans reacted to the news that new MLS club NYCFC will play soccer in their baseball temple for the next 3 years.

K – Klopas Frank – The Montreal Impact coach, he’s currently on the hottest seat among all other MLS coaches, and the Montreal press is already all over him.

Frank Klopas Montreal Impact Head Coach on hot seat. PHOTO Howard C. Smith / ISIPhotos.com

Frank Klopas Montreal Impact Head Coach on hot seat. PHOTO Howard C. Smith / ISIPhotos.com

“Either the players no longer are listening to Klopas, the message isn’t being registered or the system is too complex,” writes Herb Zurkowsky in the Montreal Gazette. The impatience of Quebec fans and press is obvious, and the current Impact record is not a good song for Klopas. He had a very similar start to his last season with the Fire and missed playoffs by only one point, but at the end… he got fired.

L – Love of the game and MLS matches is increasing every week on a national scale. NBCSN TV ratings for MLS games is up 94% from a year ago. Just using NBCSN’s measurement tools, after 5 weeks of the season the number of soccer fans jumped to 223,000 per game, up from last year’s average of 114,800 viewers.  That’s huge for the sport, because we talking about future advertising revenue, which means bigger budgets, and eventually sooner or later this will translate to a better game. Glad that’s not just me addicted to the beautiful game delivered to us by our growing domestic league.

M – Mark Bloom’s testicles – His wife and family are most worried about them now and about to ask the club to increase security measures around the TFC defender. Why? Because, after Clint Dempsey touched Bloom in his crotch, he got suspended for 2 games; but after that touch he’s in amazing form. After coming back on the field from suspension, Deuce has scored 5 goals and made an assist on Stephen Keel’s own goal, which can easily be counted as his 6th goal. Aren’t you afraid there will be more attempts to touch Mark Bloom’s groin? There are at least a hundred players that would love to change their game to Clint Dempsey’s current level. They might think that Mark Bloom could be their magic touch. Mark Bloom could be the first MLS player wearing a cup, perhaps not only at game time.

N – Nowak, Peter – Do you remember him?

Which World Cup team trying to hire Peter Nowak as advisor. PHOTO CHRIS REIKO

Which World Cup team trying to hire Peter Nowak as advisor? PHOTO CHRIS REIKO

The MLS icon, former Chicago Fire star and MLS Cup winner, and later D.C. United and Union coach, seems to be busy and getting many phone calls. According to several German media outlets including Bild, he was among candidates to Sporting Director position in his former club TSV 1960 Munich, but he turned down the opportunity, mainly because of his current commitments. He manages and coaches youngsters in his academy, and also works hard to make soccer stronger in the region as advisor to Caribbean Football Union President, Gordon Derrick. And that’s not all. Talks are underway, and Peter Nowak may also go to the World Cup in Brazil, as we learned that one of the participating teams is about to hire him as a technical advisor. I will let you guess which World Cup team is about to hire Peter Nowak as their advisor. Any ideas?

O – Ombudsman – That’s the person typically appointed by the government, with a high degree of independence, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of wrongdoing by the administration or violation of rights. What does that have to do with MLS soccer? It had almost nothing, until former New York ombudsman Bill de Blasio became mayor of New York City and started questioning sympathy for the global game and plans for a new soccer-specific stadium approved by his predecessor, previous NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.

P – Portland Timbers – Pressure to get a win is higher and higher. I wonder how Timbers fans will handle that, especially after the very promising previous season. Their next opponent, RSL, likely will make the Timbers winless in 7 weeks, and things are not getting any easier. After visiting RSL, the Timbers will travel to Houston, where the Dynamo are also going to be ready for them. Timbers fans may have to wait for that first win until May, when D.C. United, Galaxy and Crew will visit Portland. It’s still early in the season, but the train to the playoffs seems to be going faster and faster, without Timbers on the board. “We’re not where we wanted to be at this point, and we have to step it up,” said disappointed coach Caleb Porter.

Q – Qu’est-ce qui se passe à Montréal – in French, this means “what’s going on in Montreal?” It’s obvious that Impact Owner President Joey Saputo won’t tolerate the club’s current status for long. You may wonder whose idea it was to fire previous coach Marco Schallibaum. Schallibaum may have mismanaged the team a bit in the final weeks of last season, but during his era the Impact was one of the top MLS teams, playing great soccer, and often resided on the top of the table. When things are not going well, rumors are in the air. Looks like the person who hired Frank Klopas, Impact Sporting Director Nick De Santis, might be included in the club’s next major announcement. The clock is ticking. The Impact have two games with current MLS Cup champs Sporting KS in the next 3 weeks. They first travel to Kansas City next Saturday, host the Union at home, and then host Sporting at home. When they will win?

R – Red Bulls team –  Are they really that bad? Many disappointed NY/NJ fans are asking what is going on with last year best regular season team. It seems the core of the team is aging, and off-season acquisitions are more make-ups than actual improvements of the team.

S – Stanford Stadium as a venue is a little unlucky for the Los Angeles Galaxy. The LA team always plays well at Stanford, but also always finds a way to lose the game in the final seconds. Well, that’s only one of the reasons why the Earthquakes just announced they will face them there on June 28. Since some of the players might be still at the World Cup in Brazil, the halftime show should get some attention as well. It’s a show called ‘Ode to the World Cup’ by Patrick Roberge Productions, which assures us that’s it’s gonna be another electric evening at Stanford. Get your tickets ASAP, because a crowd of at least 50,000 is expected.

T – Tax deadline – Make sure to file on time. This date makes the Week 6 Alphabet little late, but I had to avoid the situation described in letter U and X in my MLS Alphabet Week 2 🙂

U – Unbeaten – Real Salt Lake are the only unbeaten team after six weeks of the season, but they are not even close to being satisfied. RSL has never started the season with 6 matches without a loss, but they’ve had already two starts with 5 wins in 6 games. “We are not playing our best soccer right now, but we’re still getting results and that is up to me to get the guys going,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar. He’s also enjoying the good start, but good teams get results even when they don’t play well.

Victor Bernardez blond hair PHOTO San Jose Earthquakes

Victor Bernardez blond hair PHOTO San Jose Earthquakes

V – Victor Bernardez – In going blond, the San Jose Earthquakes center back sent out a message that Dominic Oduro does not hold exclusive rights to head decoration. I will leave you to your own opinions on it 🙂

W – Wondolowski, Chris – The San Jose Earthquakes and USMNT striker’s MLS goals are not only making fans in Silicon Valley happy, but also getting him closer and closer to the World Cup roster. This time his wonderful header saved the Earthquakes a point. Wondolowski is one of my original guests of MLS Alphabet, and with other USMNT strikers struggling (except Dempsey), Chris Wondo is earning National Treasure status.

X Factor – A record 135th goal by Landon Donovan is wanted by fans and expected by media not only in LA, but in the entire United States, as much as the ObamaCare website was. I believe Landon has better chance to deliver first in this race.

“It’ll happen when it happens. I’m happy with every one of my performances this year, I’ve played well in every game. I want to contribute, if I can hit the net, it would be nice but at this point with winning games and playing well, I’m happy.  I’m getting a lot of chances, and I had a lot against Chivas USA. I just have to keep doing the right things, hit the target and eventually it’s going to go in.” said Landon Donovan.

Y – Yannick, Djalo – The dynamic San Jose Earthquakes attacking midfielder, and our MLS version of Neymar Jr..

Yannik Djalo  made very positive impression in his 45 minutes. PHOTO Jesus Chavez

Yannick Djalo made very positive impression in his 45 minutes. PHOTO Jesus Chavez

On Sunday, Djalo showed us that his haircut and Portuguese language are not the only things he shares with Neymar Jr. In his first full 45 minutes in an Earthquakes jersey, Djalo showed his amazing technical skills; some MLS defenders will have nightmares marking him. Djalo’s sombrero trick got as much applause at Buck Shaw Stadium as Chris Wondolowski’s equalizing goal. After the game I asked him if has a few more of those tricks, and he answered: “I just want to do whatever takes to help the team win. I feel wonderful in San Jose, entire team welcomed me with open arms, and they are all fantastic to me, and like family to me,” said Djalo in Spanish, and thank you to Jed Mettee for the translation.

Yannick Djalo sombrero trick

Yannick Djalo sombrero trick

Z – ZERO wins. After 6 weeks of the season we have 5 teams that haven’t won a single game. The Fire, Red Bulls, Impact, Timbers, and my Earthquakes are still winless. Who will win first out of these unfortunate 5? The Red Bulls are playing the Union on Wednesday, but do you think they are finally going to win? I doubt it.

You can contact the author, Chris Reiko, at ChrisReiko@hotmail.com

MLS Alphabet Week 1 / 2014 MLS Alphabet Week 2 / 2014 MLS Alphabet Week 3 / 2014 MLS Alphabet Week 4 / 2014 MLS Alphabet Week 5 / 2014 MLS Alphabet Week 6 / 2014

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