Mailbag time again! Just in time for this weekend's exciting block of fixtures. Will Cyle Larin suit for Orlando tonight? UNKNOWN. Is Dilly Duka alive? YES! Can Columbus get a win? MAYBE! Can DC United? NO! Today's panelists include Steven, Mark, Tyler, Ian, Rob, and Dustyn. Those are just some of the questions that we've already managed to answer. Here are a few more from you lovely people:
If you would have presented this question to me six weeks ago, I probably would have ignored it and moved on with opening up Football Manager. Some folks were predicting the Quakes to make the playoffs in the preseason (all of those people happen to have a 408 or 669 area code) but I never saw it. Not in the very tough Western Conference. San Jose does have one key thing in their corner that the other teams out West don’t have, their head coach is a wizard.
Dom Kinnear has “been there, done that” so many teams that he not only has the t-shirt, but he has the frequent user card. This Quakes team has talent. The big question is, can they sustain it over the long run? Two wins from four games isn’t a world beating start but it is Astart. If Wondo can start banging in goals, ala his Golden Boot season, they’ll compete long in to the fall. If you listened to this week’s Total MLS Show you’ll know I am near the front of the bandwagon, driving it at times.
As of right now, in early April, I’m going to say they sneak in as the number six seed. A lot can change over a long season but enjoy the run. Enjoy Quincy’s wonder goals. Enjoy the emergence of some good young players. Enjoy the wizardry. If San Jose is in contention late, the league will be on notice.
There isn’t just one surprise so far this season, but two: Pedro Morales and Will Bruin. Both coming off of disappointing seasons in their own respective measures, these players have begun 2016 with a surge of production.
Morales scored six goals in all of 2015. Currently, he is on pace to match that in the next two matches he plays...once he gets back onto the pitch. The asterisk next to this accomplishment would have to be that all four goals have been penalties, but the Whitecaps are not in a position to be picky about where the goals come from while Rivero continues to struggle up front. Pedro has been quite the asset, and his absence could make for a rough rest of the month.
Will Bruin began showing signs of life last year, netting eleven on the season (one shy of his personal best). While personal numbers are great, overall production for the team was lacking, and the Dynamo missed out on a playoff position. In four games played this year, he has scored three and assisted two. The most impressive stat, however, is that Bruin has only taken seven shots, four on goal. If he continues with this efficiency, his personal best could rival the team's best.
The biggest disappointment is the New York Red Bulls. Slated by many to contend for a third Supporters Shield, the Red Bulls have both failed to produce offensively and maintain consistency in the back. Four games played, and no goals scored in three of them. The lone win came from a four goal extravaganza that was diluted by the fact that Houston was able to put away three of their own. Of the twelve possible substitutions thus far, four have been made to replace someone on the back line. With a defense that requires help from the bench, the front will continue to suffer with heavy legs.
At first glance I looked at your question and I laughed hysterically because this seemed like the most petty, most needless, most manipulative, most salty, and just all around worst idea I have ever heard. But then, you know what Jordan? I looked again and I thought about it some more. I realized, this is an absolutely fantastic idea. Here’s what I didn’t fully consider during my first read through of your inquiry: The MLS Live halftime programming is atrocious. It’s usually news from about 5 months ago, or the weird fluffy jokey stuff that lands pretty flat the first time and makes you want to rip your hair out by about the 46th time you’ve seen it. Let’s get rid of all of that and use that for MLS Live Court. You’ve got Arielle Castillo speaking for the defense and Andrew Wiebe prosecuting. Matt Doyle judges. Simon Borg is not allowed on this show. Let’s lose the entire disciplinary committee and just make decisions about these things using a faux judicial system just like The People’s Court.
Andrew Wiebe, Esq, Prosecutor: “Judge Doyle, I must insist, and I must insist strongly that the defendant Brek Shea did endanger the safety of my client when he made that lunging tackle. Allowing such a terrible crime to go unpunished would not only be dangerous it would be morally wrong, and I for one will not stand idly by while the defense tries to excuse this crime as incidental. The Timbers have been wronged your honor. And if Brek Shea insists on pushing a morally bankrupt agenda I insist we make the organization he represents bankrupt as well. I ask that Orlando City be ordered to pay the Portland Timbers on hundred thousand allocation dollars.”
CUT TO: Break Shea’s public apology. RIGHT THERE ON MLS LIVE! Amazing idea.
But seriously? Come on. No. That’s ridiculous Jordan. Ridiculous. Currently player fines go to charity, and since the red card fine is usually only between $250 and $1000.00, I think that a charity could do a lot more with that money than Merritt Paulson could.
Great question, ECS-Jerry. If you hadn’t mentioned that we could compare ourselves to an “extinct” soda, this would’ve been an easy one. But it’s the fact you mentioned “extinct” that forced me to look deeper. As I looked deeper, I started getting nostalgic. As a kid growing up through the 90’s and early 2000’s, pop was a staple. It was a rite of passage to grab some change from your mom’s coin purse and ride your bike to the corner store. Pepsi Blue, Surge, Clearly Canadian, Vanilla Coke; so much variety at just a Loonie a can. But I’d have to say we’re Coca-Cola Classic. Because like a cold glass of Coke with ice in it on a hot summer’s day, we’re a website that covers the league we love with a refreshing combination of insightfulness with a bit of bite and hint of sass when necessary.
This is most certainly the question of the hour, isn’t it? To read a more in depth look at the D.C. United situation, I recommend reading Steven Clark’s piece. One of Major League Soccer’s strongest attributes is the fan culture surrounding the individual teams. There’s nothing like it in the American sports landscape, and MLS will be the first to tell you that, explicitly or implicitly. We’ve all seen the ads of a supporters group with smoke bombs and flares. But the question is, if MLS is advertising these things, why are they also banning the individuals responsible for the pyrotechnics? MLS is at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to these things, and they need to decide which road they want to go down. If they want to keep banning these fans, then they have to stop the advertisements. If they want to keep the ads up, they need to stop the banning. Something great is at risk here, and that’s the fan culture surrounding the league. Now, your average attendee (read: masses) that goes to an MLS game almost certainly does not care about this issue. But, just because a minority of the fan bases is being affected doesn’t mean the league should ignore this issue. If the league continues these bans, then the supporters groups are going to stop supporting in these ways, ESPECIALLY if the league keeps using them in ads. Let’s not mince words here: the supporters groups are the lifeblood of the unique (in American contexts!) culture MLS has. The league has to decide if this is something valuable to them. Do they want to keep this culture alive? If so, work with the teams to release clear and consistent rules as to what is allowed. If they don’t see the value in this culture – which would be inconsistent with their advertisement strategy – then they should stop the ads and continue the bans. You don't get to have your cake and eat it too.
This is a hard hitting question right here. I’ll be totally honest with you though. I don’t know anything about Rocket From the Crypt, but hey, any opportunity to learn right? So I’ve been listening to Scream Dracula Scream for the last hour, and I can say that Rocket from the Crypt is a pretty dang good band. Kind of a 90s style punk band with some decent rock and pop chops. Catchy songs. Some brass backing. Good stuff. So why then didn’t they catch on? Well it looks like they kind of did. Obviously they aren’t really a household name the world over and they didn’t retire as rich as the Beatles or anything, but they had a pretty good decade in the 90s. They got to do a couple of World Tours, a record deal, a lot of airplay on MTV, a huge cult following and critical adoration. That’s significantly more than 99% of bands in the world get. FOR RFTC (I can use the abbreviation since I’m a fan now), they had something going that lot of punk bands did at that time, in that the members were involved in several side projects and with those other things pulling your attention maybe RFTC didn’t get 100% of the attention and drive it otherwise could have? It’s hard to say. You’re probably aware of this, but the lead singer/guitarist has a recurring role as the Swami on the children’s television program, Yo Gabba Gabba and the band reunited briefly to perform a song on the show a couple of years ago. Anyhow, it seems like all of the guys are doing pretty well and the band has a really nice legacy to look back on and at least one more fan in this humble writer. If you want to reach out and see if they’ll play the MLS All Star Game, you can count on this website’s support. Thanks for asking!
Colorado: I like this Colorado team, but to think this is a playoff team this year seems crazy. Yes, they have won two of the four games they have played, but they haven’t looked particularly good doing it with very clunky play and inconsistency all over the field. A lot of the inconsistency has been with the lineups, some due to injury and suspension, but mostly, it has been the way this team is playing. They appear to lack cohesion; a group of guys who just started playing together – they kind of are. I don’t think this lack of cohesion goes away by adding two new huge personalities into the mix. As much as I love the Rapids, I just don’t think they do enough to make the playoffs.
San Jose: I know the San Jose Earthquakes are not doing too poorly this season so far. They beat the Rapids early in the season opener and looked pretty good against Portland as well. Both of these wins came at home and they weren’t overly convincing in their play. Like the Rapids, I think San Jose will continue to struggle on the road. They did go up 2-0 on Portland, but it took a wonder goal by Amarikwa to get them there. An issue with MLS – maybe a good issue –is that you never really know how one result is going to play out. Given that I have watched all of San Jose games, I just don’t see enough from them to beat a team like Dallas in the playoffs or even beat playoff-caliber teams during the season; especially, away from home. The next few games are going to be telling for San Jose. They head to Dallas this weekend and follow that up with RBNY at home and then Portland again – this time at Providence Park. I am finding it difficult to see San Jose getting their form over the next 5-10 games and going on a run that will allow them to make the playoffs.
Vancouver: Despite having the most losses of any team on this list at two, Vancouver seems to be a good team. However, the way that the Western Conference is set up means that a good team or two are going to miss the postseason. I think they get the 7th spot and just barely miss out on the playoffs. Vancouver has had a difficult schedule to begin the year. While not being a good excuse for their losses, they haven’t played all that well. They were dismantled by Piatti on opening day, and didn’t exactly drape themselves in glory against SKC, but at the end of the SKC match, they began to show fight and take a positive turn. They looked better against a struggling Seattle Sounders FC, albeit with some generous assistance from the officials. At four games in, we must look at improvement to see a potential trajectory, and I feel Vancouver has improved every match. However, they have not done it convincingly, nor have they made me feel like their improvements have been enough to get into the playoffs in the West.
Real Salt Lake: I know this one seems a bit odd, given RSL’s place in the table. However, they have been a very undisciplined team this year with 3 red cards in 4 games. Obviously, I do think this will change, but with their defense the way it is, I am not confident they will sustain their strong start, results-wise. They got a draw away against Orlando City, but that should have been three points. Good on OCSC for being able to claw their way back. They did beat a good Sounders team in their home opener, and looked good doing so. They also were up 2-0 against Portland and then gave away two points on the road. They have not lost a game yet, but things can turn sour very quickly in this league and I think RSL will dip just beneath the cut off line for the playoffs in the eighth spot. They could just as easily go on a tear, stop being so undisciplined, and beat out Portland or Houston for a playoffs spot, but I don’t see it.