Written by Will Parchman

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If MLS has a current blind spot, it is in the enchanted and somewhat terrifying realm of coaching. The league has relied in large measure on retreads and safe signings for so long that when a Patrick Vieira does something moderately different, it’s cause for terminal shocks. What do you mean he played three at the back? Are we all going to die now?

Coaching communities are at risk for groupthink alongside every other collection of humanity. Which means stirring the stagnant pool and bringing pulses of fresh water from outside the reservoir.

Oh. Hello Batigol. Almost didn’t see you there.

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Written by Will Parchman

detroit

Here are two very wealthy men plotting an MLS team in full frontal Twitter view.

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Written by Will Parchman

office

There are difficult jobs, and then there is the roiling tempest that is the life of an MLS general manager.

I do not envy those men who darken doors with “MLS GM” scrawled on their pebbled glass. There may be a sports league in the world with a more convoluted, overgrown and arcane set of acquisition rules, but I have not yet found it. There have been five different types of drafts employed in the last three years alone. Frank Lampard was able to skate through an entire offseason giving off the impression NYCFC had loaned him to Manchester City when it had never even signed him. Earlier this year, San Jose traded something called Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), which has existed for less than a year, for General Allocation Money (GAM). The ol’ TAM-GAM swap. Per league policy, details were chained to a cinder block and dumped over the side of a tanker at mid-sea.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Art at work over the past weekend in MLS.

Each of the player action maps you’re about to see comes from an individual performance this past weekend in MLS. In each case they are paired with their artistic doppelgängers. Each map was swiped from FourFourTwo’s excellent StatsZone app, for which this is the key:

key

There is art – both bland and sublime – in MLS. You need merely know where to look.

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Written by Will Parchman

a.espncdn.com

Within the wider pantheon of global leagues, it is not particularly difficult to light upon a purpose that would drive MLS into its next glowing iteration. If the league is still wed to the idea of bringing in aged, beyond-their-prime stars to weigh down owner finances, then it must be a developer league.

In a recent sit-down, MLS commissioner Don Garber basically conceded as much.

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Written by Will Parchman

sarvas

For years, those baptized in the soccer of the ascendants have marked MLS’s improvement in bedpost notches above the level of its technicians. While the businessmen counted money – or however much of it there was to be had – men on the ground looked toward its creatives.

For a long time, it has been a difficult assessment. Carlos Valderrama dropped like manna and had his 26-assist season and Thierry Henry left his indelible mark and other men have branded the league’s loin in equal measure. But having a storm of attacking ingenuity striking the ground at precisely the same time has forever been the goal. Top leagues are not top leagues simply because of their most visible players. They are top leagues because Dimitri Payet and Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan El Shaarawy exist in far greater measure.

You may not, but I remember the Fortnight from Hell, when No. 10 hunting season opened in MLS. It has informed everything I’ve known about the league’s machinations since.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The GA Cup is an annual competition essentially on the map to give MLS academies a general mid-season measuring stick. It’s a U17 tournament with a qualifying round, group stages and knockout rounds ranging from the Championship Division to the mid-tier Premier Division down to the more speculative U12 group.

The Development Academy is in the final third of its 2015-16 throes, and the figurative wheat and chaff have separated. Or so you’d think.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Back in January, Japanese international Keisuke Honda made ripples in the American soccer fabric when he made his way to Southern California to begin the process of establishing a youth academy in its fertile climes.

It seemed almost random, as if it had to be coupled with something else. Speaking on the topic of MLS, Honda qualified himself as “very interested” in the league in the future. A contributing factor was no doubt his unsettled status at AC Milan, which had seemingly turned its back on him since Sinisa Mihajlovic took over last year.

Well. You might want to squash those thoughts of the first great Japanese megastar in MLS. Because it sure as heck looks as though Honda is doing just fine.

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Written by Will Parchman

MLS only just recently entered its 20s, and thanks to the glories of modernity we can look back on its first ever MLS match and marvel. Phil Schoen on the call, Eric Wynalda on the goal, the clock on the countdown (whywhywhy). All here.

It helps every once and again to remind yourself from whence the league had to come in this country, notably in terms of its aesthetic. Look at those Clash unis. Bad.

The other thing I’d forgotten? Jeff Agoos got nutmegged into the fourth century en route to giving up the first goal in MLS history. You’ll always have that glory, Jeff.

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Written by Will Parchman

maxresdefault Tim Howard is back in MLS and I wonder like fury if he understands what den he’ll find when he returns.

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