Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jello vs creme brulee

He wants something else.
What does he want?
JELLO! Why would he want Jello?
Because he's comfortable with Jello! Jello makes him comfortable.
I could be Jello.
No, you can't. Creme Brulee can never be Jello, YOU could never be Jello.
I HAVE to be Jello.
You're never gonna be Jello!

Martin Rogers had two friends from England visiting him during the Champion's League Finals. Both were full-on Fullham fans, but they were neutral about Bocanegra getting let go, more or less agreed with it, really. They figured Eddie Johnson should be given a little more time. Dempsey? Dempsey, they agreed, could be useful at certain points. Keller was considered a good stop-gap. But Brian McBride they simply worshiped. "He's brilliant!" they enthused.
Apparently, a lot of other Fulham supporters thought so, too.
Which got me to thinking - McBride never really lit up MLS, though he did quite well. Other players scored more, however. The argument could be made, though, that McBride's gifts were of the sort that translated well to a career abroad, while others were more successful on the MLS level because they were a better fit there.
Could it then work the other way? Are there players who are simply "too good" for MLS? Are there creme brulee players swimming in a sea of Jello, their incisive passes unanticipated, their runs never read, their defensive weaknesses exposed?
Logan Pause was quoted recently as saying that he tries to make sure Blanco, the star of the Fire, doesn't have to do "dirty running", which I presume means the defensive grunt work to break up attacks. If Pause wasn't so willing to be the "domestique" of the team leader, would the Fire be doing so well?
Is Christian Gomez really a better player than Marcello Gallardo, or is he simply a better MLS player? Is Gomez more Jello-like, or is he just more comfortable working with Jello?
To that end, do MLS technical directors and scouts need to modify their search for players accordingly? Instead of getting the best player they can find, do they need to look instead for players with styles and temperaments that fit a scrappy, physical league with a wide variety of skill among players? Do they need to say to these players, "Look, you've had creme brulee in the past, but we're Jello. Are you comfortable with that?"
Am I stretching this metaphor too far? Well, probably. Still, it's something to think about, and it's also making me hungry. I'm having cheesecake.


Dan Haug said...

I think McBride tends to play simple, smart, and strong.

That means that he relies on team play, hard work, quick thinking and fearlessness to score lots of goals. In the clip that you linked to most of his goals are scored because he anticipated what he needed to do to get his body in position to put the ball on frame as quickly as possible. He was good enough to do this and be a consistent scorer in EPL.

As you imply, these skills make him a consistent scorer in MLS as well, but not a spectacular one. More flashy guys who like to dribble and juke can make a bigger impression in MLS where the defending is not as good. However, when those guys face better defenders, they tend to get shut down most of the time.

As you also imply, the down side for the McBride-type players in MLS is that they need to rely on their teamates to create (more) scoring opportunities.

I think Donovan has suffered from this in MLS to some degree, and I think this is one of the reasons he's had trouble recently with the Nats against quality opponents.

I've probably read too much into this, but when I see guys like McBride, who anticipate the game so well, it makes me wish we had more of that in the MLS :|

EdTheRed said...

I've made the point several times already this season, so it's nice to see you bring it up here: Gallardo is a better futbol player than Gomez, but Gomez is quite possibly a better MLS player...and it's not really Gallardo who needs to adjust - his teammates have to start making better runs, knowing that, more often than not, the ball will be there for them.

I'm a DC supporter, so I'm hoping the team continues to adjust to Gallardo (but I'm not holding my breath), much like it took Columbus time to adjust to Schelotto...or, rather, much like it took Brian Carroll to allow Schelotto to really flourish...hmmm...Brian Carroll also did great work with Gomez...maybe that makes him the caramelized crust on top of the creme brulee.

Dan Haug said...

Or the marshmallows in the Jello

Diane said...

Yes, to your questions about talent going unused or unrecognized. But this goes on all over. How often do you see players leaving one team in a league and doing well at the next, or the other way round.
It's all chemistry, and if chemistry means allowing Blanco to do what he does then I'm all for it. Chicago doesn't just protect Blanco because he can score or because he isn't fast anymore, or even because -- with all of his drama -- he does get kicked to shit. When you see Chicago in person, it's clear how much he runs the game and also how much he means to his teammates beyond that kind of leadership. Coalescing, organizing and inspiring a team like that is worth everything they pay him -- and any energy they are putting into being his "domestiques" as long as the players agree, which they seem to.
This is also something that happens a lot with valuable players, poachers, cunning oldies, etc.

bdure said...

Absolutely a valid question. And something to consider when pondering the relative merits of Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Steve Cherundolo, Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston, etc.

Sometimes the fit just isn't quite right, sometimes it is. Ask Mr. Shevchenko.

Anonymous said...

my best friend's wedding.