Written by Will Parchman

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The parity MLS provides is undoubtedly one of its greatest attributes. If we compare TFC to a Cardiff or a Hertha Berlin, the scope of optimism MLS allows is wider than perhaps any league in the world. Fans in Toronto can expect futility now, but they can just as easily expect it to vanish in short order with a couple signings and some good bounces. Conceivably, TFC could be in the playoff hunt next year and it wouldn’t be all that surprising.

But the parity also acts as a tactical leveling agent. The chasm between the most and least efficient teams in the league is as shallow as it is anywhere in the world, which means MLS’ broader tactical sense tends to root out tactical differences and eliminate them like antibodies. The San Jose 4-4-2 is always dangling just within reach for adventurous coaches whose schemes haven’t found their mark.

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Written by Travis Clark

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Every year, over the past few years, Major League Soccer puts on its annual Generation adidas Cup, a youth tournament that matches up its academies against once another.

In the past, the tourney is held nationally, with all participating teams congregating in one location. This year, it’s been split regionally into East, Central and West groups, with a national final scheduled around Easter 2014.

On Friday down in Leesburg, Virginia, six teams kicked off the East group, with the Montreal Impact, D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union U16s doing battle.

Check out photos and scores from Friday after the jump.

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Written by Will Parchman

Guys, MLS needs you, apparently. After Juan Agudelo’s infamous snub last week (really?), we need to flood this thing with proper votes.

Gladly, this week’s is a closer call. For me it comes down to Rowe and Donovan, and my nod goes to Lando. The degree of difficulty was higher, and catching it on the run with bodies around him made it doubly impressive. When’s the last time Donovan hit a ball like that? Rowe had an English breakfast before he hit his.

That’s mine. Who are you taking?

 

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Written by Will Parchman

About four minutes into ESPN’s Seattle-Portland broadcast on Sunday night, Adrian Healey started glowing rave green.

He likened CenturyLink Field’s booming soundscape to a growling 747, deafening those in its backwash. Which, aside from the obvious Boeing reference, meant that Healey would’ve had to scream through his tinnitus for the rest of the evening. Thankfully we were spared.

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Written by Will Parchman

Carlo Cudicini is kind of a running joke in LA. When your MLS career is best summed up with a “what the hell is happening here” photo, I don’t know. Chelsea heaped on some unintentional scorn when its official Twitter handle referred to Crudicini (yeah, sorry) as a “legend” during the MLS All-Star Game festivities. Eek. Does that seem like a decade ago to you? Because it was.

So that’s why Jaime Penedo is receiving such joyous vuvuzela blasts as he rides to spell Cudicini… forever. The Panamanian produced this brilliant bit of cat-like scrambling skill in just his second ever MLS game to preserve a shutout in a 1-0 win over the Caps over the weekend.

Already better than Cudicini. And yet he’s still not the best keeper in LA. Mr. Kennedy is, somehow, still standing.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

Toyota Park

Six months ago, Dan Lobring joined the Chicago Fire as its senior director of communications. It only took that space of time for him to alienate a significant portion of his home fan base. Impressive.

Lobring spent the previous six years doing PR for a Chicago-based company called rEvolution, which did sports marketing for ESPN and EA Sports, among others. Before that, he’d done marketing for two years at a different company.

So Lobring clearly has a grasp of public relations. He’s done it for nearly a decade. What he does not understand, apparently, is soccer culture.

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Written by Will Parchman

Say what you will about Juan Agudelo’s precipitous decline in favor after his smashing debut in South Africa. He’s wandered from New York to Los Angeles to Boston, and now he’s en route to Stoke City, where ankles are summarily crushed in a factory assembly line run by Ryan Shawcross. And all the while, Agudelo has been quietly going through the motions, unable to replicate the fervor that accompanied his post-debut form.

Anyway, this goal is a glimpse into Agudelo’s occasional genius. He shows this side of himself too infrequently, but when he does, it’s never a dull occasion. Watch and marvel at the goal that stole some of the Prem’s opening-weekend thunder.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

Chelis

Late in the first season of Game of Thrones, as a pregnant Daenerys Targaryen is taken deeper into Khal Drogo’s sanctum of confidence, she does a daring thing. In a public forum, she challenges Drogo by taking under her wing a group of recently conquered women who were dangerously close to becoming fodder for Drogo’s army. Initially taken aback, Drogo eventually relents with an understanding that his son’s magnetic ousia has granted her a lust for power beyond her means.

And then a weird thing happens. Drogo is challenged by Mago, one of his lieutenants, on Khaleesi’s newfound power. Mago’s response to Drogo taking benevolent orders from an outsider? “A Khal who takes orders from a foreign whore is no Khal.” See where this is going? Drogo’s guards quickly step forward to cut off the threat, but he calls them off. He “fights” Mago, weaving in and out of his meaty hacks before ripping out his trachea. Thanksgiving with these dudes must be a ball.

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Written by Will Parchman

Clint-Irwin

We here in the States like to get a bit esoteric with our soccer support. And that’s OK. As the game expands like a balloon in a manic effort to catch up with its more established cousins abroad, it’s an inevitable thing. We watch, we take 10 steps back and we analyze. In the US and MLS in particular, we’ve bred the Cult of the Discerner. Psychoanalysis is part and parcel of the game here. Say what you will about the game’s on-field development, but it’s a small, unique supporter’s culture here. There can be some pride in that.

Spend some time with buddies huddled around beers at a soccer bar and the conversation will eventually lead to a broad picture. Promotion/relegation. The cult of big-name European personality and its value to MLS. The league’s continual improvement, and whether it’s going fast enough. Or, conversely, whether it’s expanding too fast. And on it goes.

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Written by Will Parchman

If you had to take your vapors and sip on your buttermilk before retiring for bed at 7 p.m last night, and thus weren’t able to stay up for Late Night, we here at the 91st Minute are there for you, bro.

Jimmy Fallon did an MLS yearbook thing where he pegged a couple All-Stars with Most Likely To’s. Video up there. And here they are.

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