Written by Will Parchman

villa

The lights went out on Chivas USA in the muted hush of a board room. Less than 24 hours after Chivas USA played its last game, team staff were herded into a room and told the franchise as it had been known was halting operations permanently. Their jobs no longer existed.

This kind of quiet sword-work was a fitting end to a franchise that skimmed so close to the water’s icy depths that in nine years even most local radars failed to find its blinking pulse. A sparse crowd of 5,571 showed for the Goats’ final game, a 1-0 win over San Jose played on a pristine SoCal fall day in late October. It was a sign, a referendum for MLS’ decision-makers, even. This kind of franchising doesn’t work in MLS. Not in this way, anyway. Plastic clubs melt. Absentee ownerships fail. Top-down disconnects turn into rifts turn into canyons turn into total systemic shutdowns.

Chivas USA’s crash landing was sad, but in no way was it unexpected.

Tags:  , , | 1 Comment

The 2014 MLS All-U23 Team

Written by Will Parchman

torres

The #PlayYourKids initiative has varied support in different MLS coaching circles. Bound by expectation and a raft of big-money players, about half of Seattle’s choice XI is on the north side of 30. San Jose’s only signed one Homegrown in its history, and it took a near act of God to get him on the field. The Red Bulls keep all their academy alumni locked in a dungeon with Hans Backe.

But there are pockets of successful young players carving niches in MLS and forcing the issue with bountiful performances stretched over time. This represents formal recognition of those players.

This is the All-U23 MLS team based on performance in 2014. The only caveat is that to make this list, the player needs to be U23 eligible right now (read: Olympics if it started tomorrow), which means they’re all at least ’91s.

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

ozz

SEATTLE — Nervy days, but the job is done. And now MLS gets the matchup everyone wanted.

Dempsey vs. Donovan. Keane vs. Martins. Galaxy vs. Sounders.

The Sounders, expected by just about everyone to cut through FC Dallas and set up a dream two-legged meeting with the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference finals in two weeks, got it done. But barely. Through a grim, determined effort at the back and just enough panache going forward, the Sounders managed to pick their way to a scoreless draw Monday night at CenturyLink Field.

That advanced Seattle on away goals after Osvaldo Alonso booted one home to secure a 1-1 draw in Dallas last week. Here are a handful of takeaways from one of the wildest scoreless draws you’re likely to see any time soon.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

donovan

Landon Donovan is retiring at the end of the season. Whenever that happens to be. And it seems as though nobody really wants this to happen except Donovan himself. Thanks to LA’s impossibly dominant 5-0 demolition of RSL at the StubHub on Sunday night, he’s got at least two games left, either in LA and Seattle or LA and Dallas.

But the real story was how rampant and invested Donovan looked on Sunday night after failing to register either a goal or an assist in any of his previous four games. Retirement tours are fickle, and they can sap motivation, but at the very least Donovan is still pouring it on. We’ll see how he does in the Western finals when he faces a defense that doesn’t look like shredded cheese.

In any case, here are all three of Donovan’s goals from Sunday. Enjoy the sunset.

Tags:  , , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

arena

MLS is a unique league. With its panoply of rules, adherence to a strict salary cap and reliance on a massive and unkempt scouting pool, coaching in this league takes a unique personality set. It also creates a unique divide between those coaches who’ve had previous experience with the league before taking their first head coaching gig in its ranks, and those who have not.

So what are the differences between coaches with prior MLS experience (either as an assistant or a player) and those hired cold from outside the league’s ranks? Is MLS a different league for those initially unfamiliar with its vast switchboard of rules and requirements? Let’s have a look.

Here’s a list of every head coach in league history and the years in which they served split into two categories: those who’d had previous MLS experience and those who had not. Let’s see what we can find. Notable: this does not include coaches who operated exclusively under the interim tag.

Tags:  , | 2 Comments
Written by Will Parchman

OC

Orlando City unveiled its jerseys for its maiden MLS voyage in 2015, and they’re pretty alright. Nothing fancy, certainly. Some slight variation in the purple, with darker hoops vining themselves around lighter ones. There’s some gold. That’s pretty OK. Kaka’s up there. So that’s cool, I guess.

It’s not exactly a splash, but that’s not always what you want with kits. They’re solid. They’re purple. Players will wear them in the midst of athletic contests. So… cool.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

henry222

We start here. November, 2014, MLS Playoffs.

And now we go back to the beginning.

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

LAFC

MLS worked over Chivas USA’s carcass like a gun-wielding trainer rapidly attending to a track horse that’d just broken its leg around the second turn. Just a week after MLS commissioner Don Garber officially dropped the hammer on the Chivas USA franchise, including any accrued history, we have LA2.

Or, for now, Los Angeles Football Club. Welcome to the party, LAFC. Here’s what we know so far.

Tags:  , , | 2 Comments
Written by Will Parchman

The late aughts were an interesting time in our soccer history. They signified both a time when slapping Darude’s Sandstorm onto a highlight package wasn’t considered a sin against humanity, and when Steve Zakuani was among the most coveted young players in the States.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

hamid

The idea of a “best” performance in soccer is by nature subjective. Some will see certain aspects as more desirable than others. Pure goal-scoring output without consideration for the surrounding swirl of motion, for instance, which is why you won’t see Bradley Wright-Phillips on this list, but why you will see Thierry Henry. All things that contribute to my own personal esthetic filtered through performance.

So here we are. My 10 best individual 90-minute bursts of brilliance during the 2014 regular season. Let’s get cracking.

Tags:  | Leave a comment