Well, that certainly was a fun season of soccer over in Europe, wasn’t it? A wine and chewing gum enthusiast named Alex went out on top in England, getting smacked around by Barcelona made Jose Mourinho believe working for Roman Abramovich again was a good idea, and ultimately it was a bunch of Germans who had success in conquering Europe, though thankfully this time without the use of tanks or silly marching.
Now as is the way of things, all of those teams will cross the Atlantic and fill up baseball stadiums to play meaningless friendlies and other meaningless friendlies that they will claim aren’t meaningless beause, for no known reason other than ‘they can’, they’ll hand out trophies. But did you know we’ve got a professional soccer league right here at home? It’s true, they’ve got uniforms and everything.
Since it’s been a couple of weeks since we checked in on Major League Soccer, and because maybe, just maybe, we can divert some of your eyeballs to the goings-on therein, here’s a quick primer to get you back up to speed on the major storylines in MLS.
The Most Interesting Team In The League thus far has been Chivas USA. The Los Angeles based side started making headlines earlier this year by attempting to get really, really in touch with the club’s Mexican heritage, to the tune of gutting the existing roster in favor of anyone with a tilde in their name. They also had the services of manager Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, or “Chelis”, who, aside from being the spitting image of Telly Savalas, was an undeniable quote machine, the sort of boss reporters dream of, saying things like “When my grandchildren misbehave, I will tell them I’m going to send them to Utah.”
Alas, despite some minor success early on, Chivas now sit in last place in the West, they’ve traded away star striker Juan Agudelo, and sadly Chelis is now free to star in that Kojak remake. Oh, and that “all Mexican, all the time” strategy? Yeah, turns out that’s kind of illegal. Two former coaches for Chivas, both white Americans, filed discrimination lawsuits against Chivas and its owners claiming they were fired for, well, being white Americans. According to the suit, Chivas owner Jorge Vergara told a room full of employees “If you don’t speak Spanish, you can go work for the (Los Angeles) Galaxy, unless you speak Chinese, which is not even a language,’’ which is so racist and discriminatory as to sound like a parody of a hardcore bigot.
Same city, same stadium, different team, the Galaxy are quietly going about life post-Posh Spice. A surprising move sent goal scoring machine Mike Magee to Chicago for the rights to Robbie Rogers. Rogers recently entered a game as a sub and, in doing so, became the first openly gay athlete to play in professional American sports. I’d love to tell you the story went “he played, he was first, everyone’s over it” and he can go back to being Robbie Rogers the Fringe US National Team Player instead of Robbie Rogers Gay Guy, but I think we all know better than that. He’s doing all the interviews and largely answering all the same questions. Can’t blame him, it’s good publicity for the league, and one imagines a sponsorship deal or two could be coming his way.
Over in the cellar in the East is DC United, who have just five points from thirteen games, which, as we all know, is just downright hilarious. It’s also historical as well, as a 1-10-2 record ranks them among the worst starts in league history. DC themselves have a firebrand for a coach in the whiny, pouting Ben Olsen, yet for some reason he is yet to be fired as of our deadline. I’d love to sit here and give you a detailed analysis of why DC is flailing about right now, but… well, have you ever seen something so perfect, so beautiful that you didn’t want to explain it, to bring logic and reason into it, for fear that would spoil some of the wonder? It’s like that. Just sit back and enjoy.
On the opposite end of the standings is Montreal Impact, last year’s expansion whipping boys turned this year’s high flying conference leaders. No real secret to their success, to be fair: use Montreal’s thriving Italian population to lure over-the-hill Italian players to Canada, and then use Canada’s famous system of socialized medicine to pump geriatric Serie A players full of fish steroids or something. Granted, they’ve got out to a great early start, but can their senior citizens hold up in the summer heat?
Second in the East is the hometown New York Red Bulls, trailing Montreal by just one point despite playing four more games. This happened because people in the MLS scheduling department ingest large quantities of powerful narcotics on a regular basis (allegedly). To make up for the mistakes of the possible horse tranquilizer addicts, the Metros are now on a three week break from league play, with only a US Open Cup (America’s answer to the FA Cup or similar competitions) game away to New England to hold them over. Granted there are some old legs on the roster that could use a break, but three weeks could be a complete momentum killer for a team that was, largely, in good form.
And, just to bring it back to Europe (because it’s all about YOU, isn’t it? YOU’RE important), it is summer so it is naturally time for the silly season of transfers and transfer rumors. If you’re unfamiliar, every player everywhere will be linked, somehow, to an MLS side. You will, undoubtedly, see a player say something to the effect of “I’d absolutely consider a move to Major League Soccer,” which carries the same weight of me saying “I’d absolutely consider making hot passionate love to Halle Berry.” Interesting, but not at all likely to happen. One or two semi-big names will probably sign with MLS, more than likely for either LA or New York, and we’ll all have the annual argument about Major League Soccer becoming a retirement league. It’s tradition.
So there you go, you’re all caught up on the big stories revolving around Major League Soccer. Now, go fork over a couple hundred bucks for your tickets for that massive Inter Milan/Valencia match in the prestigious International Champions Cup like a good boy.