It's Your First Ever Total MLS Mailbag!

Good afternoon everybody.  This is the first of what is hopefully a weekly feature here at totalmls.net.   It's simple really.  When we can't think of anything to write about, we just ask you for questions.   We got some great ones this week that gave us a lot to talk about.  If you'd like something answered,  feel free to submit a question to us on Twitter: @totalmls. 

Nope.  As much as I’d like to say yes, I can’t. This question caused a huge discussion amongst the staff (lists were made, google documents created, etc.), and we were able to recall some pretty horrible DP signings. Frank might be frequently injured and/or disinterested, but he has notched up three goals in 10 matches, and there’s no reason to believe if he chooses to suit up, that he won’t be able to add a few more to that tally.  

If we’re encompassing all DP signings in this question, there have been some amazingly ineffective players signed.  Denilson, Jerry Bengston, Sherjil MacDonald, Juan Anangono, Shaun Maloney, (basically 80% of Chicago’s DPs really) Mustapha Jarju, Mista,  and Hernan Bernandello are just some of the many names that came up in our conversation.  Frank Lampard would have to do some pretty significant damage during the rest of his NYCFC tenure to leave with a worse reputation than these guys.   

Now, probably a more pertinent question is whether or not Lampard is the worst of this latest “big name euro” breed of Designated Players, and the answer to that question is probably yes. Frank got paid six million dollars for 10 matches last season, and even if you are financed by a large oil conglomerate, that’s just bad business.  If he manages to get paid another six million dollars and only manages a handful more of appearances, then we might be able to include him in this discussion. For now though, I think it's still too early to tell. 

-Ian L. 

This is probably staged. 

This is probably staged. 

At this point in the season, it's probably a little of both. Houston is less than 10 seconds away from having 6 points. The 5-0 demolition of FC Dallas is going to immediately open eyes around the league.

A new formation and new players has reinvigorated the team and led to 8 goals in 2 games. While the offense is clicking, the defense has been just as good. Despite allowing 3 goals in the opener, they bounced back with a shutout of Dallas and looked really good in doing so. 

It's too early for them to be "feared" but I think they hang around all season in the playoff discussion. A summer DP could even put them in contender status.

-Dustyn R.

Answering this question is difficult, due to its speculative nature. However, based on the players’ skillsets, I would project that this could be a two-part answer. I believe that the better “goal scorer” is, and will be, Cyle Larin. However, Jordan Morris does more than just score goals. In his 54 matches for Stanford, he had 16 assists. That’s not to say that he is better than Larin; they are just different players. Jordan appears to be a more direct player, using his speed and physicality to win balls and score his goals; he can play inside or out on the wings. To me, Jordan Morris is like Gareth Bale in the way he plays. This is not a comparison between the overall ability of these two, obviously; just the style. Larin is not an outside player and playing him there would waste his most valuable asset: the ability to strike the ball quickly. Larin has an extremely quick trigger. He has shown it so far this season with his Goal of the Week strike against Chicago and last season on several occasions. Whenever I see him, I think of a young Miroslav Klose. He is big, physically imposing, and deceptively quick in his movements; he just seems to get to the ball a split second faster than others. Again, this is not a comparison on their skills, just on style. Who’s the better goal scorer? Cyle Larin. Who is more versatile and who do I think will be more successful? Jordan Morris.

-Tyler W. 

You're right: David Accam is the obvious choice.

Oduro’s had staying power in MLS because of speed and a low cap hit. It shouldn’t be any coincidence that he’s on his seventh MLS club (he's working hard to make every match a Dominic Oduro derby). In 2012 he did receive a national team call up from Ghana. I'll give him that. But he also led the league in opportunities missed in that time, which has been more of the norm throughout his career.

Accam’s legacy in MLS is yet to be determined. Only a little over a year in the league and within his first six months as a Fire player he received his first Ghanaian call up. Yes, a player of Frank Yallop’s Fire received a national team call up.

He's also got a 1/1 goals per game ratio (as does Oduro) in 2016, but did not do this in 2015:

 

Dominic, we love you and your pizza addiction, but Accam’s had a few less flubs per calendar year. Put either on the trading block now in MLS and you'd see a swarm of contender’s for Accam’s signature, especially after his exploits in Orlando last week.

Mr. Accam’s two pace points less than Mr. Oduro (94-92) in FIFA16, which simply means Dominic will miss a sitter faster than anyone in MLS.

Maybe we should settle this permanently April 16 when the Impact host the Fire: 40 yard dash, followed by a crab crawl and sack race.

-Cory J. 

This question is one that often comes up on twitter and other social media forums. “It’s still early!” “It’s the second game; we don’t need to freak out yet!” are the common responses. Is this true? How much should we read into the first two weeks of the year? 

In 2015, the Portland Timbers won MLS Cup. So, how did their first few weeks start? They won one match out of their first six regular-season matches. In 2014, LA Galaxy had a draw and a loss in their first two matches – only winning two matches out of their first eight. I think we can all agree it is not that big of a deal if you lose the first two games of a thirty-four-game season. As long as your team wins more often than they lose the other thirty-two games, they have a chance to get into the playoffs. MLS cup winner – Portland Timbers - had 11 losses last year. Vancouver, who were higher in the standings, had 3 more wins than they had losses (going 16-13-5) and were second in the Western Conference. 

To be honest, I don’t think we need to worry about the standings after the first two weeks. The things to look for are consistency, improvement, and whether or not the team is creating chances.

-Tyler W. 

TWO questions huh? How very presumptuous of you.  Your first question is a good one.  We've only seen a couple of managers make the trip across the pond in the last few years, and I'm little bit surprised we haven't seen more.  I think there are two main reasons why we haven't seen a lot of coaches wanting to make the jump from Europe to MLS.  The first reason is that coaching careers last a lot longer than player careers.  If a coach is doing well in Europe, he isn't likely to see his "coaching skills" decline to such a degree that the only place he can go and get a big paycheck is in the United States.

Secondly, if you've spent your whole life playing and coaching in a European league and are then offered a job where you have to go and deal with Salary Caps, DPs, Allocation Money, Targeted Allocation Money, Superdrafts, Discovery Rights, etc. it might all seem to be too much trouble.  I would have thought that some coaches would find the comparative lack of pressure to be an attractive enough incentive to come over, but I don't think we've seen evidence of that yet.  Maybe teams just haven't made any good offers.  I think we will start to see some more recognizable names come over in the next 10 years. 

As to your second question: Relegations?  Yes.  Relegations only.  No promotions. Every year the worst team gets relegated until there is only one team left standing.  That team will be crowned MLS champion for life.  Even if this won't realistically work, I'm still going to write a screenplay about it. 

-Ian L. 

The first question we should ask is, "who is NOT going to win it?" Let's start off by ruling out the minnows. We can all agree that a country like Iceland or Northern Ireland isn't going to win it all in 2016. Sorry to all our Icelandic and Northern Irish readers!

We can probably move on to ruling out the mid-level teams as well, this includes England, Switzerland, Croatia, Portugal, etc. Yes, I said England is a mid-level team. And that's being generous.

Italy is going through a bit of a transitional period, and although they're still strong and topped their qualifying group, I’m not convinced they have what it takes to be a threat.

This leaves us with a few options.

Belgium is ranked 1st in the world and are the strongest they've ever been.

Germany, the defending World Cup champions, will feature a team that is just 2 years removed from the one that cruised through the field at Brazil 2014 and breezed through qualifying.

The host nation, France, can never be counted out, especially with home field advantage. An advantage they used to devastating effect when they hosted and won World Cup ’98.

Don’t sleep on Spain either. Although they’re going through a transitional period of their own coming off an abysmal performance in Brazil, they have more than enough talent and experience to rebound quickly.

I think a final four of France, Belgium, Germany and Spain would make for some excellent entertainment. But ultimately, the defending World Cup champs, Germany, have the edge. So if you're looking for expert advice, put your money on Die Mannschaft.

-Rob D.