Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 4:
Of course, most of us aren't making the decisions. That job belongs to
The raw numbers scream for his inclusion. With another pair of goals for the Galaxy in a 2-1 win over RSL, Buddle has now scored seven times in four MLS matches as L.A. has gathered all 12 points. This is no Lucky Louie moment, either. These are confident strikes in a variety of spots. He's scoring with his head and feet, from in close and beyond the 18.
Here's why it makes sense for Bradley: The U.S. national team boss puts tremendous emphasis on creating a predictable environment. Almost four years of work has built toward the May training camp, and it's all been about subtracting any element of mystery in terms of practices, roles and expectations. It's also about creating familiarity in personnel, but only to a point.
Buddle hasn't played at the international level since 2003. So, yes, there is some risk to introducing a new ingredient to the soup.
On the other hand, we're not talking about introducing half a dozen new elements. The reward for creating stability and predictability is that one man can do little to disrupt the environment. (This is not to suggest that Buddle would be a locker room detriment in any way; there is zero evidence of such a thing.)
Any time you have a strong locker room, the onus is on the new guy to fit in. If he's not on board, then he is the outsider. Some guys wouldn't be worth the risk, small as it may be. But Buddle's sensational form makes it worth the stretch. His goals over the weekend against Real Salt Lake -- in a spirited rematch of last year's MLS Championship -- should be enough to cinch this deal. The Galaxy has three or perhaps four matches before Bradley calls in 26-28 players for the pre-World Cup camp.
Major League Soccer is chalk full of strapping young bucks at this spot. It goes well beyond
Red Bull revelation
This week, Red Bull owes three points to the man. He made three brilliant saves and was otherwise rock-steady, keeping Dallas at bay until
Canadian international De Guzman has proven himself to be a good player in the past while performing in Spain. So he's earned some benefit of doubt. And he deserves some time working with coach
Further, it doesn't help when Preki overthinks things, like last Thursday against Philadelphia at BMO when his team was out of sorts due to new formations and roles. So De Guzman may yet work out. Still, De Guzman is having trouble completing the simplest of passes right now. For the seven-figure salary he's collecting he should be able to move a ball along to the next man, at the very least.
Then we had his stunt Sunday in Colorado, which about says it all. De Guzman, back in a more familiar role of distributor and deep-lying playmaker, was finally finding his feet. He struggled mightily in the first half, again missing too many simple connections. However, he was managing himself a bit better after the break and even helped his tired side turn up an equalizer against the run of play. Toronto was minutes away from stealing a point at nearly-empty DSG Park when De Guzman leapt out off the free-kick wall like someone had set his shorts on fire.
I would be tempted to say that De Guzman leaping desperately out of the way and singlehandedly dismantling the wall represented the silliest thing I saw this weekend. On the other hand, I watched the exact same thing happen in the Roma-Lazio derby, so I guess it's some sort of odd global pandemic.
Anyway, on our side of the pond, De Guzman and TFC need to get it sorted out, or this will be technical director
• Most ridiculous and revealing MLS statistic after four weeks: winless D.C. United has just 15 shots on goal -- and 13 yellow cards.
• Two rookies you may not know ... yet: San Jose's
• The TV line of the week is from Seattle announcer
• Most intriguing idea of the week: Chicago Fire coach
• Three notable position changes from the weekend: