Monday, July 30, 2007

Agree? Disagree? Why?

This is a reader email. I get stuff like this all the time and was curious as to what you guys would think of it.

This talk that the MLS teams could cut it in Europe is pure rubbish. When the EPL starts up on August 11th watch an EPL game and then watch an MLS game, then honestly tell me that an MLS team could make it in the EPL. Yes in the MLS they have great endurance and speed but the passing and ball retention in the MLS is horrible. Watch a Coca-Cola Championship (the league below the EPL) game and even their the quality is better then the MLS. The SPL has better quality then the MLS. I live in the US and I have tried to watch the MLS but after a couple minutes I just can't watch it.

Over the years the MLS has gotten better and better but it still can be painful to watch. Its no where near as fast paced as the EPL, no where near as technical as La Liga and tactically it cant even compare to Serie A. Overall a MLS club is somewhere around mid to low level Coca-Cola Championship team to an upper League 1 team. Saying they are any better then that is an insult to the European legaues. And claiming the MLS is getting better because the All-stars beat teams that are still in their preseason is also misleading. If the MLS played Fulham, Celtic and especially Chelsea when they are at top form they would get killed.

The US men's national team had the chance to hire Jurgen Kilnsmen but "couldn't" find the money, so instead they hire Bob Bradly. As good as Bob Bradly might be he is no where near as good as Jurgen Kilnsmen (Jurgen got the GERMANS to play attacking football) Sure Bob will be
able to qualify for the World Cup (and honestly any competent manager would be able to do that in CONCACAF) but when the World Cup roles around the US will again be bounced in the first round because Bob Bradly will be using an MLS system which wont work in Europe. I will
never understand Bob Bradly's logic of bring a bunch of young players to Copa America. He should have brought he first team so at least they could play against skilled opponents something they rarely get to do in CONCACAF. His selection of players for the MNT is also quite puzzling. Only recently did Jay DeMerit get a call up and before he did he MLS defenders were being picked before him. For Bob Bradly to think that a defender playing regularly in the EPL is second to a defender in the MLS is mind blowing. If the US truly wants to preform
better in the World Cup they need to get more players playing in Europe.

When the "star" of the US national team couldn't cut it in Germany and had to come back to the MLS that says all you need to know about the state of US football on an international level.


Elliott said...

"I live in the US and I have tried to watch the MLS but after a couple minutes I just can't watch it."

This passage says it all. Once again, we have someone who won't watch MLS at all (let alone, with an open mind), waxes poetically on the league's perceived deficiencies.

I'm proud to see that no one has replied, because - frankly - this argument is, at best, trite; at worst, the dissemination of ill-informed drivel.

No self-respecting MLS fan would proclaim that MLS is on the level of the Big Four.

But I certainly hope that most soccer fans would hold the opinion of Steve Nicol, Steve Morrow, Juan Pablo Garcia, Paco Palencia, Danny Dichio, Terry Cooke, et al. (who all speak candidly about the caliber of play in MLS), in higher regard than the nonsense spewed from the brain of this "expert."

Anonymous said...

Pretty predictable rant, nothing really new here. Debating over an MLS team being competitive in the EPL is not an argument that should be made. It can’t happen, so why try and debate a point when you get nowhere. The EPL’s wide open style is easy on the viewer’s eyes, but there is beauty that can be found in the MLS as well. One thing is for sure, with the exception of an Old Firm clash, I don’t think the SPL is strong top to bottom, and I wouldn’t ever watch match not involving Rangers or Celtic. MLS is somewhere just behind the Championship these days, but I enjoy watching the growth of the play, whereas other leagues simply stagnate.

As far as national team selections. Out of sight is out of mind. Demerit never got a serious look for the primary reason that he was always an outsider, and his career blossomed overseas in the lower league. The flip side is that for an American, there are barriers to playing in England that similarly talented Englishmen/Europeans don’t face. If Jimmy Conrad was from East London, he could certainly be selected to play on a mid-table EPL squad. Keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

I was in agreement with the first two paragraphs but the reader should have stopped there. He lost a lot of credibility and demonstrated his lack of knowledge with US Soccer with that third paragraph. The Klinsman deal-breaker is unknown but most agree it probably wasn't money. Bradley's (there's an E in there) roster limitations for the Copa America are well documented as are his reasons for waiting to bring DeMerit in to camp.

After reading the third paragraph, it sounds like just another Euro-snob bashing MLS.

Anonymous said...

Alright, here are some thoughts:

I agree with the idea that an MLS team couldnt cut it in Europe, right now (in the idea of "take a current MLS side and drop them in Euro League"). But my reason for saying this is due to resources. When teams like Manchester United can throw stupid money at players, of course they'll have the quality and depth to constantly compete. When two average EPL players make more than an entire MLS side, the market will probably determine the big Euro league to be better. If you made the MLS salary cap larger, you'd probably have a higher quality. Further, MLS has their cap on foreign players; how big of a drop in play would result if the EPL put in a cap like that?

Although I will argue MLS teams doign decently in the SPL. Big drop off past Celtic and Rangers.

Although, if we took the 28 best players in our league, made them a team, gave them the resources of a lower table EPL team, I think they could provide a decent accounting of themselves.

I like Jurgen, but the idea that he'd come in and sprikle some magic dust on our team and we'd automatically be better is nonsense. How much time does a player acutally spend with the national team? 10% of all his playing time? Less? If a foreign coach was going to make us better, then we should have never gotten rid of Bora.

I find it interesting that this reader automatically equates "Europe=better." I like Demerit, but if I recall, he was on the worst team in the EPL and part of the defense that gave up the second most goals in the league. But hey, getting burned in the EPL obviously is better than being a great defender in MLS.

And for US players needing to play in Europe, it sure worked out well for Mathis, Beasley, the last year of Dempsey, etc. Beasley, Dempsey, Convey, et al haven't looked too good this past year for the national team. And obviously Gooch's decline in reliability over the past year or so corresponds DIRECTLY to his move to MLS, right?

Further, let me ask this: if playing in Europe automatically equals International do we explain the constant struggles and unintentional comedy of the English National Team?
Or that the Czech Republic, featuring players from the big Euro leagues, to go past Ghana?
Or Ecuador's run to the knockout stages?
Or Mexico's?
Or that the US had similar numbers of Euro-based players in 2002?
Or the failures of the Netherlands and Spain and Portugal to win major international tournaments?

Anonymous said...

Nothing new. All I can add is sometimes its nice to see games in person. The satellite in the basement stuff gets old.

Anonymous said...

Way to bring Bigsoccer to the blog. Honestly there are always going to be people like this. Is there anyone who views this blog regularly who really hasnt watched the EPL? Once someone falls back on the Landon couldnt cut it in Germany argument they lose all credibility. Could he have? Who knows. Given his international play it sure seems likely.

As for the EPL... there is no MLS team that can hang with the likes of the big 4. But the EPL has more than just 4 teams in it. During the last year any number of MLS teams could have easily competed with West Ham, Fulham etc.

Look everyone has their biases. This person's just happen to be more obtuse than most people's. Nobody is claiming that the LA Galaxy is winning the EPL. But I'd be willing to bet that Houston could stay up.

Anonymous said...

Though I believe the reader who sent the email is mostly correct. I don't believe its fair to compare MLS to one or two aspects of the EPL, then to aspects of La Liga, and then other aspects to Serie A. In a totality there is no way MLS can realisticly comprise all the good things from the old leagues. Their is plenty of bad things it can stay clear of from those same leagues as well.

MLS, America soccer writers, and fans do have to stop putting so much stock into friendlies and then blow off tournanments (in the name they are not as important as the World Cup). Much like English fans should stop getting overhyped about tieing Aregentina in a friendly or beating the day lights out of Jamaica before a the 06 World Cup. Real Salt Lake beating Everton and tieing Boca Juniors, its ok to use these game to learn and build off of but don't use it to measure until you are in a tournanment in which something is on the line.

JuliusCesar said...

WOW!!! This column has some teeth. But I disagree that the US is far from what is being presented as a team that will get bounced in the 1st round of the W.C. Let's be real, we don't have the talent yet here of the Liga or the EPL or Italian League for that matter but that is not saying are leauge the MLS is horrible. I have seen many teams make huge strides and have bettere themselves. MLS will come on strong and one day will be on the top 3 because this league has "infrastructure" (spell check needed here fellas, sorry). I won't bore you all with the details of that but the MLS is healthy. This team has talent: Donovan, Beasley, Bocanegra,Feilhalber, Johnson, Adu, Nimo, Bornstein,Guchi,Dempsey, Bradley, Sizzo, Altidore, Szetela....I mean this is a nice talent pool. I know I left a lot of defenders out that have talent but this team is not a one and out team. What happened to us in the WC was good. Remember the Great Pat Riley, sometimes the best defeats, the most humbling defeats build champions. We have learned from it, get over the J. Klisman crap, let it go. Bradley deserves better, he has done a great job. Give him a chance. GO USA@@@@@@@@@

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of American soccer and I really want to see the sport grow, but it just wouldn't trouble me if all the "fans" with this sentiment just decided never turn on an MLS telecast or graced us with their thoughts in forums such as this. If American soccer sucks so much, do us all a favor, and go join the Euro reacharound party somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Classic Example of a closed minded, ignorant eurosnob. Of course a 12th year league like the MLS is not comparable to the top Four of Europe but you know what I'm completely fine with that. I loved my league and my team (United) since day one and I will continue to love my leauge cuz it'a a league of growth for the teams and fans. The MLS provides an identy for those in the States and offers a level of participation that Im sure this eurosnob doesnt get to experience from his couch.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for that Derby County at Old Trafford match this year in the EPL. That ought to be some quality football. Tevez,Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo against some retreads from Derby County. Can't understand why Eddie Johnson didn't want to be a part of that fun.

Wow those leagues in Europe are awesome with 2 teams having any legitimate chance of winning the title every year. Wow Madrid 1 Barcelona 2 or is it going to Barcelona 1 Madrid 2 this year in Spain. Can't wait for La Liga to get going the drama is so intriguing.

So a football club in Europe with no salary cap and a budget of a few hundred million dollars a year they will be better than a team in the MLS with a 2 million dollar cap and one potential player with an internationally competitive salary. Wow that is very astute of the experts out there.

FYI on the Bradley haters out there. He won our regional competition. We are playing in the Confederations Cup in 09' which is the second most important senior international tournament event FIFA has. Nobody will give a crap in 09' that Mexico got their butts handed to them in the knockout stage of a South American tournament in the summer of 07'. Wow you mean we could have beat Colombia and got to the second round if we brought our A team to Venezuala. Yah, that was all we needed to turn the corner and be in a position to win the World Cup in South Africa.

Anonymous said...

I won't rehash everybody's commentary but I will say that I agree with 90% of the comments.

One aspect of MLS that is unexcusable to me is the lack of emphasis on a more beautiful, entertaining, attacking game that demands and promotes creativity. We could do a much better job there.

The emphasis seems to be on rigid 4-4-2, physical tackling, air-tight defense and getting results. The end product can be boring to fans and viewers (first time viewers on t.v.) This is not so much a talent issue as it is a philosophy issue.

Coaches and organizations put emphasis on results, which in and of itself is bizarre because almost all the teams make the playoffs anyway.

I have said it in the past but this permeates even at our lower levels of the game, USL, NCAA, youth squads, lending itself to be an American style. What is ironic is Americans love attacking soccer, and more so, that novice soccer watchers disdain for the soccer is low scores and 0-0 lines but we all know an Arsenal vs. ManUtd or Real vs. Barca 0-0 is not the same as a Crew vs. Fire 0-0.


Matthew Zimmerman said...


Yeah . . . dude should spell people's names correctly if he wants to rant about something. Though to be fair "Klinsmen" might be a neat name for a team that Juergen Klinsmann coaches.

Anonymous said...

Who are the big 4? I can think of 3, Spain, Italy, and of course England, but who else?

Anonymous said...

Big 4? England, Spain, Italy, who is # 4?

A.C. said...

I would assume Germany.

Anonymous said...

The writer ignores something in his complaint. It is the effect of summer heat and humidity on MLS play. Anyone who has played summer soccer here knows quite well how drastically the two change the game. An athlete can thrive physically and mentally when their exertion is compensated by cooler temperatures, thereby enhancing performance. But when temperatures in the high 80s-90s mix with humidity levels anywhere from 40% to 75%, it plays havoc with the body's ability to cope. Fatigue sets in so much earlier. Players know that it changes the sharpness of their gameplay and decision-making. I would also point out that many of the wayward passes in the EPL get misidentified as exciting play because the player stealing the bad pass has the physical ability to tear up the field time and time again. The viewer never has time to grouse much because quickly the ball bounds through an attacking third of the field, the viewer is on the edge of their seat, and then the opposing team is tearing back down the field after that last errant pass! That kind of game cannot exist in our climate. I'll admit that watching Kelly Grey's complete dogs in Houston's last SuperLiga game can be hard to watch, but if heat and fatigue aren't factors of play in our soccer, how does the writer explain Peston getting its A** handed to it by a couple of USL-1 teams?

Anonymous said...

Oops!!!! I meant Kelly Grey in the Galaxy game!!! To much TV soccer for me!! Sorry!

Anonymous said...

National team is different than leagues. The MLS fielded a small number of Americans in the All Star game. I guess that means that the MLS's best players are not American.

I wonder what the EPL all star team would look like. How many Englishmen would make the team? How does the English National Team compare to the US National Team in recent results, especially in recent World Cups? Maybe the English need Klinsman.

If an American team were placed in the EPL, they would immediately get huge amounts of money with which to buy players. If an EPL team placed in the MLS, they would have to waive all their players and start over. So we are left with friendlies and hypothetical scenarios.

American players have done well in the EPL and English players have done fairly well in the MLS. Now that we have dabbled in a little realistic comparisons, lets enjoy the football. I enjoy watching MLS games because I can see them live, and one team beats another by scoring goals, the same way it's done everywhere else. Personally, I like results driven soccer, and I like honest, hardworking teams that play for the results, take their losses with integrity and celebrate their victories with grace and honor.

Beax Speax said...

Is that email from Steve Cohen at World Soccer Daily?

Eric PZ said...

Let's see how Chelsea, Arsenal, Man U, Real etc. would do playing in MLS with the salary cap restrictions, the long flights, poor refs and summer weather. Heck, I've long heard the excuse that one of the reasons England does can't win a WC is because they can't hack the heat.

Next time, compare apples to apples.

ryan said...

Besides what others have already said before me, I just want to add that anyone who thinks Klinsman would have been good for us is smoking some serious euro-snob goods.

I mean seriously, he coached the home team at the world cup, and a very good team (multiple previous world cup wins including a final appearance in the previous cup) at that. Hiddink got the Koreans to the semis with a team that had never before won a game, France of course won it all, and the US advanced to the 2nd rd despite themselves - this could go on thru England 1966 to Uruguay 1930. Klinsmann *might* be good, but the evidence before the world cup (e.g., slaughtering at home at the feet of the Italians, among others) says otherwise.

On the other hand, if we had gotten Hiddink from the 1st place in their Euro qualifying group Russians...

Anonymous said...

"Saying they are any better then that is an insult to the European legaues."

Well, in my best Monty Python, "I fart in the Euros general direction"

Jonathan Geissler said...

Just because Jurgen Klinsmann is a high profile foreign coach who coached a very talented a well-organized German team to the WC semifinals doesn't mean he's better than Bradley!!!!!!!!!

jason said...

I watch mostly EPL but find these points annoying because they are under-analytical and uncreative. Fulham stayed in the Premiership in part because of bargains acquired from the MLS. Everton is in the UEFA Cup in part b/c of an MLS-trained GK.

If Steve Cohen were right, Everton (6th EPL) should have been able to beat Real Salt Lake (Last MLS and with a stupid name) despite preseason if you added a stomach flu. Celtic should have won their two matches by accident. Etc. MLS teams consist of a mash of players who would fit in the top three leagues in England. (As do a few EPL teams.)

But I should stop b/c the question of the stronger league is completely irrelevant. The idea that one should only watch the strongest would forbid following anyone from Tottenham through Birmingham through Nottingham through Dibleyham which is ridiculous.

You follow a club b/c you like that club. Supporting doesn't have the same rationale as betting. The same applies to national teams. I've read interviews with US players and English and American players tend to be much more interesting. And the US soccer media is much more in love with the game than the English, which winges and stereotypes more often than it analyzes.

A.C. said...

Just to clarify - the email was not from Steve Cohen, though I would be surprised if he shares some of the sentiments.

Anonymous said...

We all know Soccer in this country has a long way to go. And I can't get too excited about arguing how far we have come.

I share most of his sentiments, if not his vitriol. I watch every MLS match I can, but to be honest, it is partly because I feel obligated to. I mean did you see the give away that lead to Chivas' second goal on Saturday. It is hard to watch MLS teams sometimes.

But I'm happy to give the league time and as much support I can.

I don't care about the Copa America or about Klinsmann (but it was pathetic how that whole thing went down). But I do worry about Bradley. It's not playing in Europe vs. playing in MLS. It's having the talent or not that matters. And too often players that simply don't have what it takes to play at the highest international level are regularly picked to play in the national team.

Sure Twellman might be our best option right now, but he will never be good enough to make a difference against the best international teams. So why pick him? Winning our regional championship and winning in the World Cup are two very different things. I don't know if that has sunk in with Bradley, or with the fans.