Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 8:
And that's probably how the league-leading Galaxy will play it while Donovan, and quite possible Buddle, are away for World Cup duty.
Of course, Arena knows all this. So the Galaxy will keep doing what it does anyway: play it safe and simple. That's why L.A. can play a bit of a stinker, as it did Saturday against a Toronto team adjusting to life under
Generally, L.A. players stay within their ability. Take
Bottom line, Arena's men have built an impressive cushion at the top of the West. "It was the main thing, really, to get off to a good start going into the crunch where Landon and Edson would be away," Birchall said. Mission accomplished, their reward is leverage, the option of playing cautiously over the next six weeks, waiting as patiently as always for the other guy to screw up.
Probably not. But it is a little suspicious that only a couple bright lights bound for a World Cup training camp in New Jersey delivered any kind of night to remember.
Buddle hit the post for L.A. but was otherwise tame. Donovan smacked a couple of dangerous serves and drew some fouls. Meh.
There were four men in route to camp at Crew Stadium.
(By the way, in a small volley of validation for Bob Bradley's choices neither
Honestly, it can be shocking how many sides just can't manage a game properly and professionally. Lots of sides just don't have the collective, requisite "soccer brain." Because the game is more than talent and a tactical plan. It's also about having wits on the field, about having a sense for how to handle certain situations and how to avoid the crippling mistakes.
A talent gap is one thing. That's what we see right now at New England. The Revs are so plagued by injury, they really should consider dressing department store mannequins just to fill out the bench and look a little less sickly. And yet the Revs keep things close through effort and, generally, adept game management.
Elsewhere? Not so much. Philadelphia has given away points aplenty already through thickheaded hacking and fouling. Captain
Dallas lost a lead in Round 8. Again. FCD's problem, like other teams', is the inability to manage a lead. The visitors dropped ever deeper and couldn't keep possession to save their souls, and they finally conceded the stoppage time equalizer to Philly.
Chicago yielded a late one at Kansas City, forcing a split of the points. That's a verse we've sang before for the Fire. Chivas USA's
Honestly, though, these are just the latest examples. It happens regularly, largely a product of a league that's still young, which promotes some contagious naïveté. But it's also a matter of personnel.
In Chicago for instance,
Seattle, another club that's been victimized by late strikes, has a similar issue with
But that means having a big soccer brain. And those seem to be in short supply.
McBride has two goals and one assist in two appearances off the bench. Yes, it's a little awkward seeing one of the top U.S. strikers of all time relegated to duty off the MLS bench. It makes you feel a little old, in fact, confronted with mounting evidence that his "young man's" career may finally be in winter.
The man does turn 38 next month.
On the other hand, this looks like a handy manner to squeeze a little more juice from the All-American kid, the very first draft pick in Major League Soccer. Maybe
McBride supplied a nice assist and an insurance goal last month off the bench at D.C. United. On Saturday, he came in after the break and turned the night with a deadeye finish right away. His hold-up play was solid throughout.
So, is this the way forward for McBride and Chicago?
One problem is that