MLS referees (or PRO Referees, depending on your parlance) are constantly on the defensive, although I suppose that’s the plight of all refs in this mad, mad world of ours. In this video, Fox aims to take you behind the hood of what a game’s like from a ref’s perspective.
It’s a more nuanced look at a maligned profession that you actually probably don’t know a ton about. Maybe think about that the next time you’re pouring your anthrax into that envelope?
An era is a thing like mist. We tend to study it not by its margins but by the defined space in the middle of things, where its weight is made most real by its density. Where the gravity makes the most sense. We are a people made uncomfortable by the indecipherable margins of mist, so we focus on those concrete things we can understand. This is where I can see. This is where I cannot.
We do this too with age. What we are in growth and death is ancillary to the real meat of our middle years. As if the bookends are not the most valuable.
Like most new Designated Players, Jermaine Jones signed a two-year contract when he entered MLS in 2014. He was 31 at the time, and a ceremony with an envelope sent him to New England. It was weird.
Jones’ tenure in New England has been studded with the kind of angry malaise that’s marked the passage of his soccer ability into old age. All the extremities of Jones’ wildest neuroses as a player have come home to roost during his time in MLS. He tracks runners when he wants, stakes out attacks when he wants, joins the forward movement when he wants and kicks out ankles when he wants (which is often).
The MLS playoffs have already seen some epic moments just four games into the random knockout frenzy that crowns a league champion.
Thursday night was no different. After Montreal Impact’s runaway 3-0 defeat of Canadian rivals Toronto FC, Sporting KC’s trip to Portland produced an instant classic.
Both sides needed late equalizers to advance to overtime and penalty kicks respectively. SKC defender Kevin Ellis netted an 87th minute goal to make it 1-1 and secure overtime. After a sensational 96th minute goal by Krisztián Németh put KC up by one in overtime, Maximilliano Urruti scored in the 118th minute to send the game to PKs.
That’s where things hit another level of crazy. The penalty kicks yielded some of the worst misses you’ll ever see (I’m looking at you Matt Besler and Jack Jewsbury), Sporting KC had two chances to win, only for Ellis to hit the post and Saad Abdul Salaam with one of the unluckiest misses you’ll see.
The Timbers finally won when goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey converted his penalty, and then he went on to save from his counterpart Jon Kempin, who entered the game in the 84th minute, replacing the injured Tim Melia.
Finally, for the first time in four tries, the Sounders knocked the Galaxy out of the postseason on Wednesday night. The game was as entertaining as it gets in MLS, and after four goals in the opening 22 minutes, Seattle’s Erik Friberg roped home the winner in the 73rd.
Historically anyway, rookies in MLS have needed a few years to land on international radars. The league’s reputation, say, 10 years ago didn’t lend breakout rookie performances to immediate buzz overseas. Heck, it took Clint Dempsey two years of burning up the league with the Revs to earn a contract with Fulham. And you saw what he did there.
Those days are probably drawing to an end. Because nobody would be surprised if perhaps the league’s two best rookies this year aren’t with the league next year.
As he is wont to do, Grant Wahl dropped an entire arsenal worth of bombshells Wednesday in his regular Insider column. The top item was the shifting structure of power within USSF as the fed comes to terms with Jurgen Klinsmann’s bizarrely nebulous role. Jay Berhalter is reportedly shouldering more of the technical director role. Which… OK?
That relegated the next news item to perhaps second fiddle, though its implications were no less stark. The Manchester City figureheads guiding NYCFC are strongly considering ousting head coach Jason Kreis after one season sans playoffs in favor of Patrick Vieira. You know. The Patrick Vieira.
And I quote.
Multiple sources connected to Manchester City and New York City FC say Jason Kreis’s job as the coach at NYCFC is in real danger. It’s not a done deal yet, but all signs are pointing to his replacement being Patrick Vieira, the 1998 World Cup winner and former Arsenal star who has been serving as Man City’s elite development squad manager.
Does this matter? I feel like this matters. But I’m not entirely certain.
MLS clubs have had a dire go of it in CCL play since the league was restructured in 2008. Either Atlante, Pachuca, Monterrey, Cruz Azul or Club America have won all seven, which, you’ll notice, are all Liga MX clubs. Cool. Liga MX > MLS. We get it.
Something seemed to snap, though, when the dire (dire!) Montreal Impact made a run to the CCL finals last year and nearly upset Club America in a hard-and-fast finale. America ended up winning 5-3, but the Impact put up one hell of a fight not long after finishing a 2014 season the club would rather toss on the burning trash heap of forgotten history.
Before this season, MLS teams had never chalked up a group stage sweep. Until now. This just happened.
Expansion MLS clubs and their academies. Uncomfortable bedfellows.
When NYCFC opted to crank up its first MLS season in 2015, it didn’t include an entry into the Development Academy. The decision instead? Affiliates. Lots of them. Eleven, in fact, based in and around the boroughs to seed the future, presumably, for a dedicated academy of its own down the line.
MLS received some minor static for welcoming the 37-year-old Didier Drogba to the Montreal Impact earlier this summer. The old retirement league tropes returned, Drogba’s age was pilloried and jokes were had. Standard stuff, really.
Drogba has eight goals in his first 601 minutes in MLS, which is stupid and incredible and all of the adjectives. But this troll job is the savvy brilliance of a 37-year-old who’s been gaming people for literally decades.
Drogba picks up the free ball (as you do), riles up Kljestan, stalks around the top of the box jawing to anyone who’ll listen and then watches Kljestan serve up a meek offer that was saved with relative ease. The Impact didn’t win the game, but they’ll probably sneak into the playoffs anyway as the six-seed nobody wants to face.
The reason for that? Drogba and his beautiful, beautiful dark arts. He is MLS’s Sith Lord, and it’s time to welcome him into the Jedi Council with open arms.