Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan bid farewell to their home MLS crowd

时间:2019-09-15  作者:壤驷舄  来源:正规十大赌博平台大全  浏览:11次  评论:69条

Business as usual as Don Garber and Klinsmann publicly feud

Though in response to USNMT manager Jürgen Klinsmann’s criticism of the league won’t affect play this weekend, they will give commentators and fans food for thought as the year comes to a close.

After all, there’s nothing fans of Major League Soccer love more than to nitpick, judge and discuss the ever-evolving and seemingly never-settled “State of the League”. How good is American pro soccer really? If Americans finally start watching MLS on TV, will the league finally be able to compete against the money-burning casino that is the European transfer market? Despite MLS’s noted competitive parity, are the top teams as good as they look? Are the , with all their tiki-taco and dynamism in attack via Zardes, Keane and Donovan, objectively good by global standards, or merely a big fish showing off in a small pond?

On the one hand, it’s hard not to side with Garber, considering the quality of some of the teams already qualified for the 2014 playoffs – particularly Seattle and LA, who meet this weekend in a Supporters’ Shield decider. The MLS standard has clearly improved in the past five years alone, and will likely only get better. On the other hand, the bad teams like Chivas are really bad (and poorly run), and MLS’s much-touted leading scorer is Bradley Wright-Phillips, a former Brentford loanee released by Charlton Athletic in 2013. The league’s critics will continue to find ample ammunition to rag on what they believe will always be a second-tier competition.

This weekend’s matches won’t settle the question for either side, but your view of the standard on display likely depends on whether you agree with Garber or Klinsmann … or both.

Last (regular-season) home crowd goodbyes for Henry and Donovan

Thierry Henry can bid farewell to Red Bulls fans this weekend. Photograph: Tim Clayton/TIM CLAYTON/Corbis

With the heat of playoff matches likely overshadowing any teary final goodbyes for the two stars, this weekend will provide a more appropriate moment of reflection for fans of and Landon Donovan in what will be their final regular-season home games.

Though they’re very different players, Henry and Donovan comprise the two halves of 2.0: marketable foreign stars playing alongside or against homegrown American elite talents.

Donovan is inarguably MLS’s greatest player, the all-time league leader in goals and assists, an LA veteran who also put in star turns with the US national team and loans to Bayern Munich and Everton. Henry meanwhile helped preserve the New York Red Bulls’ status as LA’s equivalent in the Eastern Conference despite markedly fewer trophies, providing a follow-up act to the promise of the Beckham Rule since joining the league in 2010. In doing so, he became something of a miracle – after an impossibly long four years he transformed from former Arsenal legend Henry to forward Henry, scoring 51 goals in 121 appearances.

Both players have outsized personalities – Donovan, the brooding, sometimes passive-aggressive ego whose passion shone on the pitch, Henry the unforgiving perfectionist forever coming to grips with a league that was often anything but perfect. They are also technical geniuses (NY coach Mike Petke called Henry the ). Though Henry’s future is still in doubt, chances are this will be the last home stand for both players in very meaningful games; NY needs to beat Columbus to help avoid the wild card play-in match, while LA is chasing the Shield. An end of an era for fans of LA and NY to be sure, but also for the league.

Seattle and LA feature in Part 1 of ... The Decider

Clint Dempsey, left, is hoping to lift the Supporters’ Shield for the Seattle Sounders. Photograph: Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports

There’s something of a stock debate in MLS circles over which is the more meaningful trophy … the Supporters’ Shield, awarded for the highest points total over the league season, or the MLS Cup. It’s a meaningless argument, really. Together they provide the best of both worlds, in much the same way the FA Cup complements the Premier League season. Yet this year the Shield race, which comes down to the first of a home-and-home series between the LA Galaxy and , has an early edge. Here are two of the league’s best teams playing for all the marbles in their final two regular-season matches.

LA seems to have something of a competitive edge, however, particularly with their incredible form this season at StubHub (12-3-1) and one of the most compelling attacking sides among any team all year. Seattle meanwhile, while scoring bags of goals on the back of hard work from the Clint Dempsey/Obafemi Martins pairing, last week revealed their major achilles heel – a slapdash back four which continues to haunt coach Sigi Schmid. A 0-0 result against Vancouver would have gone a long way in securing the title. Instead, they lost 0-1, and will play against an LA Galaxy team who defeated them 0-3 back in July.

It’s everything you’d want in a season closer: Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan showing off their wares against an uneven defence, with the Dempsey/Martins duo going the other way. For the title. As it should be.

Portland Timbers face do or die against Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman will try to help his side into the playoffs. Photograph: Rick Egan/AP

Ironically, after weeks of incredible uncertainty and not a little excitement in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, the West appears to have the last word. While the Eastern playoff teams are essentially set with only the order yet to be determined, the Western Conference can, with two games left, boast the Supporters’ Shield race, the battle to avoid the wild card fourth-place seed, and the epic Cascadian tussle between Vancouver and Portland for the final playoff spot. All eyes therefore will be on LA v Seattle and Portland v RSL this weekend.

The latter is crucial for both teams. If Portland lose, their hopes to overtake Vancouver, who earned a shock 0-1 away victory against the Sounders last weekend, will be finished should the Caps beat San Jose. For , a win would help them avoid the play-in match against the fifth-place team, a coin toss the 2013 MLS Cup finalists would eagerly love to avoid.

Both sides have issues coming into this match. Portland continue to play without Will Johnson since the Canadian broke his fibula and tibia against in late September, and could also be missing key defender Pa Modou Kah, who picked up a calf injury just ahead of the Timbers’ 3-0 victory over San Jose. Meanwhile RSL are still suffering from some defensive issues despite their 2-0 win over San Jose last weekend, with defenders Rich Balchan and Tony Beltran questionable for Friday’s game.

A pre-playoff playoff match, of sorts. A must win for the Timbers, and a trial run for RSL.

Canadian clubs once again stuck spinning their wheels

Jermain Defoe was unable to help Toronto FC into the playoffs this season. Photograph: Tim Clayton/TIM CLAYTON/Corbis

Whereas Vancouver are still very much in the playoff hunt, their fellow Canadian MLS teams will be left spinning their wheels as the season dies out.

Despite a generally respectable points total, the judicious use of Control Alt C Control Alt V on an end-of-year retrospective written after any one their six previous seasons would suffice to sum up Toronto FC this year, who were essentially eliminated from contention after losing 3-1 to New York last Saturday. As for Montreal, their one-and-done playoff appearance in 2013 for some signalled good things to come. Instead, despite the late season arrival of the sprightly Argentinian Ignacio Piatti, the team are already mathematically guaranteed to finish last in the East.

Perhaps in an alternate universe somewhere, the are playing Toronto FC in a serious MLS rivalry at BMO Field for a chance at playoff glory. Over here in the real one, the two will try, perhaps in vain, to throw their aggrieved and long-suffering supporters a bone of some sort. Toronto FC are hoping the promise of stability in the off season – same team, same coach, same GM – will finally give the club hope for calm amid troubled waters. Montreal meanwhile will point to their qualification for the knockout stage of the Concacaf Champions League as a reason to keep caring.

What Canadian soccer fans may want to start talking about is … when is MLS going to see a Canadian club break into the elite? Is that even possible? If so, why not? Is there some sort of technical glitch preventing it? Does it come down to the respective owners, either the Saputos in Montreal or Maple League Sports & Entertainment in Toronto? A lack of a distinctly Canadian second division? While there may not be a clear answer, at some point Canadian fans are going to wonder when, exactly, their time will come.