Thursday, July 12, 2007

Get used to it, Galaxy

The Galaxy have a big, quasar-starshaped target on their back, and a lot of people are looking to stick pins into the ego of the LA boys and their new goldenhaired poster boy. I mean, to read J. Hutcherson's take on things, you'd think Chivas USA had never lost to a completely amateur team (Dallas Roma FC) in the Open Cup last year.

Hutcherson wrote about the Galaxy's loss to the Richmond Kickers like it was the upset of the century.

he MLS as we knew it ended on a Tuesday night in Richmond, with the League's first and potentially only super club losing 1-0 in the US Open Cup. A mostly first choice eleven couldn't string together enough offensive moves to really give themselves much of a chance.

With the Kickers busy with the post-game autograph session, the Galaxy had a bigger league and a bigger name waiting for them in Carson. The media session conducted next to the bus with the motor running.

It's odd watching a team in obvious transition. The Galaxy don't play as a unit. Half the team operates as if they have no clue what to expect, and this didn't suddenly happen - the result of too many trades and an off night in Virginia.

An absurd way to play professional soccer. A team that couldn't even pull it together for the fifteen minutes they needed to put away a second division USL club.

I laughed - the hyperbole of "MLS as we knew it ended" was too ridiculous to restrain. The Kickers have beaten other MLS teams before and look what happened the day after the Galaxy lost - DC United lost as well to a team at the exact same level - except the defeat was at the hands of an organization that had never before defeated an MLS squad.

So does that mean that MLS ended, twice over? Eeek, eeek.

Basically, everything that the Galaxy do is going to be scrutinized and picked over twice as much as anything any other team does. The MLS champions, the Houston Dynamo, also lost in Open Cup play, but the sky is falling because the Galaxy couldn't win.

It's going to be par for the course for LA and its players, because soccer is very open to interpretation. I can watch a match and believe a team did everything but win, while someone else can believe a team was shockingly shameful in its finishing and deserved nothing. It's perspective. There are many different ones.

Such as this screed against Galaxy player Kyle Martino for - in an apparently unbiased opinion - bringing great dishonor to the game by exagerrating contact to draw a
penalty kick. On the other hand, there's only a slight mention of the similar tactic by Luciano Emilio put into practice a few weeks earlier than Martino's actions. You'll have to look for it - it comes after a few paragraphs about DC's tough schedule, then there's a couple of sentences on the penalty embellishment by the DC United forward.

My take on fouls is simple. I'm not deluded enough to aspire to some noblesse oblige about how players should never, ever feign worse impact than actually took place. That's like saying a player should never commit a foul. Idealistic, but not realistic. It's up to the ref to call a foul and the fact is, if there's contact in the box, calling attention to that is an age-old trick of forwards around the world. It's a trick as valid as taking the ball into the corner to hold a lead.
It's simply hypocritical to ream one player out for a dive and yet tread lightly around that situation in another instance. I figure it's a big round wheel of blown calls. The one that goes against a team in one game will go for them in the next. It's part of the maddening, intoxicating allure of soccer. Sometimes a team gets luckier than it should.

By the way, for any team to complain about crazy scheduling - has anyone looked at the Galaxy's late season schedule? Simply brutal.

The bottom line though, is that these are just a couple of examples out of many. More is going to be expected of the Galaxy, and everything is going to be blown out of proportion with regards to every stumble. Newspapers in Indonesia will be analyzing Frank Yallop's choices to start matches. This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg that sank the Titanic.


D said...

AC -- Martino got flak for his embellishment, and deserved it. Here's the thing. So did Emilio in the Toronto game from DC United fans. We hold them to equal standards. Embellishing a foul is not as serious a sin as faking a foul from nothing, but it's also, in the long run, not helpful to either your team and the game. I firmly believe that information like that gets filed away, and legitimate penalties may not be awarded because of it.

You're right on the whole "Wheel of fortune" thing, except I think that it may not balance. A faked penalty may cost you two legitimate ones later on. Of course, that's a gut feeling, but worth tracking.

A.C. said...

D, I'm not saying that Emilio or Martino didn't deserve flak. I'm not giving it to either, because frankly, I think the players take their chances on it working and until the game rules change or the refs clamp down, it's going to happen.

My point here was the obvious, in my opinion, discrepency in the reaction from this particular writer. One drawn penalty was practically glossed over as being from a generous ref, while the other was an attack on Martino's character. I'm not saying either treatment was deserved, just that the standard was applied inequally.

You don't think the reaction to Martino following in Emilio's footsteps, so to speak, was over the top - as much an overreaction as the Galaxy's Open Cup loss? My theory is that it was, and that it happened specifically because both events were Galaxy-associated.

Chris said...

let's hope the galaxy players can handle the high-pressure environment.

D said...

I can't speak for Ian here, and wouldn't even try to since he's far more eloquent than I could hope to be. However, in regards to your point, sure, the LA Galaxy get some reaction because they're the LA Galaxy. That being said, DC United gets some snark from certain writers simply because they are DC United. The situation is not unique. Ian's reaction, I suspect, may be far less about the Galaxy as they are today than about historical antipathy to LA. That's nothing new.

Now, as to the larger point, I am more than willing to concede. Yes, the Galaxy are going are going to get a lot more scrutiny and criticism because of Mr. Beckham. And I certainly don't argue with the concept of "game as text for interpretation" Hell, I heartily endorse it.

Yet the criticism and scrutiny the Galaxy receive are not less valid because of the attention they receive. Indeed, perhaps far too little scrutiny has been paid to the Galaxy to date. You use the iceberg metaphor, which is appropriate since I think things have been freezing for a long time in LA. Maybe more people will pay attention to an iceberg that "sank the Titanic", but that doesn't make the iceberg any less real, or less troubling from an LA point of view.

A.C. said...

You're saying that the scrutiny may be biased - which is basically my whole point, but then you're saying that's a good thing, because the Galaxy haven't gotten enough scrutiny?

In any case, that's fine - we're basically in agreement here. I'm not going to analyze whether the magnifying glass of opinion on the Galaxy is justified or not. My take was simply that it was there.

On the other hand, considering that some still expect a certain amount of objectivity from the media, such a bias may not be a great idea.

Josh said...

Ha, THE MLS has ended as we know it? Really? The Galaxy is a superclub? I guess when certain media pick up stories, they only go by what they know, instead of actually doing any type of research or insight. The whole beauty of Cups like the Open Cup, is it gives those small teams a shot to beat the big boys, if for just one night. It's their chance to shine. No one says it's the end of college basketball when a 2 or 3 seed loses to a higher seed in the tournament. Instead it's celebrated as the great upset it is, which is what these USL 2 teams winning should be hailed as. As for PK's, if it's called, the only person to blame really is the ref and his assistant, for not being able to discern dives from actual contact.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Andrea. I hope the writers at read this. I've noticed the writing from 2 of their writers is particularly caustic and not in the least objective towards certain players and certain teams -and on occasion very rough towards MLS in general. At times I wonder if they even like the sport at all.

Anonymous said...

The guys at USSPA are so incredibly full of themselves it's not funny. Hutcherson is a bitter gofer who thinks that he has some relevance in the sport's culture because he projects some complaints players have against MLS management.

Penderleith is obviously pining for the top-notch writing gig he thinks he deserves and tries to cover his animosity toward everyone who dares have an opinion on the sport with typical British hyperbole criticism.

I'm glad people like you guys and Goff and Ives and Luis A. Are really cranking out good stuff because that hopefully will keep these little trolls hidden in the background where no one will read them.