Written by Will Parchman

bradley

Do American players playing in Europe have an uphill climb for respect? At least a few players who’ve been there and done that think so.

In February, Michael Bradley, recently returned from an eight-year stint with five different teams in Europe, mentioned that he thought there was a stigma orbiting American players in the minds of European talent evaluators.

“There’s no doubt that as Americans we continue to have to fight for respect,” Bradley said. “We have to continue to show that we have teams and players who can play at the highest level.”

And then this.

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Written by Will Parchman

henry

The parade of talent that flowed through the MLS pre-All-Star Game presser was notable. Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola responded ably to questions in three languages, many accompanied by his wry smile and a shrug. Robert Lewandowski was flanked by young American phenom Julian Green and old French hand Franck Ribery. In a lot of ways, the dais represented the top tier of club talent on the planet.

Even with Europe’s best team in the house, Thierry Henry still stole the show. Both self-deprecating and self-assured, Henry held court during the MLS All-Stars’ session that followed Bayern’s, fielding questions on a variety of topics with his typically blunt style laced with his now famous humor. At one point, he angled his mic into Clint Dempsey’s face as the Sounders’ most famous DP cued up an answer, Henry’s chin resting on his hands in mock awe.

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Written by Will Parchman

demps

In a Q&A last December, MLS commissioner Don Garber said this about the league’s rules process.

“There’s no insidious plan, there’s no desire to hide behind any artificial system. There will be more transparency going forward, but we have to accept, (and) I ask our fans to accept, that at 18 years old, we are still evolving and we are still doing some of this stuff on the fly.”

It was an honest plea, and it’d be the heart of cynicism to not take it at face value. There is no Black Hand at work behind the scenes, actively pulling strings to the purposeful disadvantage of some and the advantage of others. If it happens – and it’s hard to ignore that at times it does – that isn’t the motive. Which I suppose counts for something.

It also hardly applies to the league’s on-field persona. Though it has hardly been beyond reproach, the league’s disciplinary committee has grown into a solid thing, and the stadium experience continues to grow thanks in part to MLS initiatives. Go to a game today and in many ways it feels as professional as it ever has. MLS is growing. Nobody will begrudge you that.

But the league’s acquisition process is still as confusing as ever. And Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter may have thrown more kerosene on the fire today.

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Written by Will Parchman

Midfielder Gershon Koffie couldn’t get off the bench for Vancouver at the start of the season. That seems to be a distant whisper of a memory now.

FCD and Vancouver fought to an entertaining 2-2 draw on Sunday, and this feed from Koffie was its pinnacle of watchability. This opened up Mattocks for the game’s opening salvo, and just look at that damn thing. It isn’t just that he placed it literally perfectly. It’s that he did it on one touch on a difficult bouncing back pass that many would struggle to place at 10 yards. Make sure you take a few blinks in between hour-long sessions of watching that gif. Your eyes might bleed otherwise.

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Written by Will Parchman

David-Beckham-Wallpaper

David Beckham’s arrival stateside was notable, but not for one of the reasons typically elucidated en masse. He was not in his playing prime, his feet robbed of their buoyancy by the weight of time. Neither was he capable of swinging the needle of soccer fandom on his own. He may have been inside the palm of the handful of the world’s best at one moment, but by the time he arrived in L.A. he was merely Among The Very Good Ones. An unbelievable set piece taker and a sulking Ent during the run of play.

We know this now.

What some shielded at the time but now wholeheartedly acknowledge was that Beckham’s true value was merely himself. His mannerisms, his thin, warbly accent, his slowly fading European memories, the knowledge that he’d been inside the Bernabeu, knew Alex Ferguson, had his vacations covered by magazines and newspapers. And yes, his damned hair and his damned face. In short, his personality. You cared about him, whether you loved him or loathed him or landed somewhere in between. You had opinions.

The package MLS bought included his ability on the field – without it, he’d have just been another underwear model – but it wouldn’t have been nearly as enticing without all his delightful humanness. It wouldn’t have birthed an entire addendum to the MLS rulebook.

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Written by Reshad Bahadori

Well this just has everything. Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee, MLS and KICK TV team up to give us a spoof of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We got cameos from Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, Thierry Henry, Omar Gonzalez and many many more. Watch, laugh and be entertained.


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Written by Will Parchman

DeAndre-Yedlin-in-Sounders-kit-with-new-hairdo

The league’s Homegrown initiative has expanded in lockstep with the growth of the Development Academy’s viability as a producer of pro-level talent. But which teams tend to use it better than others? And how is each MLS team approaching the rule as a whole? Let’s find out.

I went on a relatively exhaustive journey through all 19 MLS side’s Homegrown histories to extrapolate the nutrient rich developmental soil each side’s been tilling – or not, based on past practices. You’ll notice, for instance, that no team’s had more Homegrown players play more minutes than D.C. United. And San Jose’s number is just a shade behind. Just a shade.

A couple notes. The players marked inactive are no longer in the league, and a few players moved to different clubs within MLS after signing initial Homegrown deals (Tristan Bowen, Josue Soto, etc). I’ve counted all of those players’ minutes with their home club – provided they moved within MLS – to give their developer credit for pushing along a pro player, regardless of where those minutes were counted (though most all played the entirety of their careers with their home clubs). This also only applies to players who signed Homegrown contracts, and these minutes numbers are up to date as of July 16.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

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Written by Will Parchman

sad

In a sense, we are all still hung over from the great panic in Salvador. It smarts. There is little else to do but accept the realities of the day and all their implications, deal with them in their turn and plow ever onward. Thankfully, we have MLS fast on the approach, which for now will be a welcome ointment for the gash the Belgians so brazenly left us with, bleeding profusely as they dance into the next round. We are left with another round of fresh, barely understood wounds that will fester at least in some respect for another four years.

There are pointed questions to be answered. Jurgen Klinsmann must turn some of his fledgling talent loose to club teams, not all of which are sure-footed situations, and must pray that the best of his talent can stiff-arm stagnation.

But for now, like a gust of the purest of winds, here comes MLS. Welcome back. It feels good. Natural, even. For many of us, MLS over these next few months will be our catharsis, a single cog in this tortuous spin cycle that holds us in thrall to its stubborn orbit. The love turns to loathing turns to love again, and it’s hard to see where the seams are. Soccer is this oversize ball that just turns.

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Written by Will Parchman

On Wednesday night, the Union managed to sneak three points away from a Sporting KC team that had lost just once in its first nine. Cristian Maidana scored in the 81st, and those infamous Philly boo birds were probably quieted at least for a bit. John Hackworth probably still heard them from Kansas City, but that’s beside the point.

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Written by Will Parchman

garb

On Monday, MLS announced a landmark eight-year, $90 million per year deal with Fox, Univision and ESPN for all-important television rights to broadcast the league’s games. The deal quadruples the previous one in place and, whoa, it really happened. Monday was a big day.

What follows are a few important themes trawled up by MLS’s most recent foray into television coverage. This is an important day. Don’t let the occasional vagaries of rights packages and raw figures dull the artistry that goes into something like this.

Thanks to this deal, today’s been called one of the biggest days in MLS history by Jonathan Tannenwald, our resident MLS TV guy. I’m inclined to agree. Here’s why.

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