Some early thoughts on MLS 2011.
It is early still in Major League soccer, but may I say there are some very exciting and intriguing storylines already. I don’t know about you but I am still impressed game in and game out with Chris Wondolowski in San Jose. In 2010 Wondo, as they call him on San Jose and around the league, had his coming out party and won the Budwiser Golden Boot, was third in league MVP votes. The 18-goal season seemed to serve notice that a superstar was hatching. Not a bad trade by the Quakes in 2009 when they sent Cam Weaver to Houston for Chris. Already in 2011 Wondolowski has two goals in 270 minutes on six shots on goal. Every time San Jose works the ball through the midfield with the likes of Sam Cronin and Bobby Convey, you just get the sense that #8 is going to create a scoring chance at the very least. A hungry and deterimined player, the Danville, California native is a great expample of effort and soccer sense meeting at a pub and agreeing to meet there again every game day and go just as hard as they did the first time they saddled up to the bar. Does it get any better when it comes to selling MLS in Vancouver? A week one win over Toronto FC and this past weekend a 3-3 tie vs. Sporting KC that felt like a championship win. This was not just any tie. The Whitecaps were solid in the first half but could not get a ball past Jimmy Neilson in net for KC. Eventually Teal Bunbury scored twice and Sporting was out to a 3-0 lead. If there is ever a game and a lead that is usually a lock, I think we would agree for the most part soccer leads the way. Not in this game though. The Whitecaps crept their way within 3-2, and in extra time the home team sent fans into a frenzy with a near post header to tie the game as the clouds just over Empire Stadium’s west end still hung onto the dark shadows of the Canadian Rockies. Pretty sure soccer fans in Vancouver (who were a lock to come back anyway) will be back in full voice for the next Whitecaps home game.Toronto FC’s Dwayne De Rosaio chapter came to an end last week and a Red Bull chapter for the the Scarborough native started off well. The Canadian National Team member asissted on NY’s only goal in a 1-1 tie against another former MLS home of DeRo’s, the Houston Dynamo. De Rosaio admitts he did ask to be traded out of Toronto. Frustrated that no progress was being made on reworking his deal, DeRosario claims to this day he was promised a new deal would be hammered out if he produced. Fact is this trade came on the heels of a career best 15 goal season. Toronto added two young players in Danleigh Borman and Tony Tchani, as well as NY’s first round pick in 2012. Both Borman and Tchani started for Toronto the day after the trade in a 1-1 tie with Chivas USA in Toronto. Toronto had two glorious chances to score the go ahead goal, including a two on none that in the end new TFC captain Maicon Santos failed to negotiate.The LA Galaxy moved David Beckham to the centre of the midfield for their match vs. Philadelphia. The move paid off. Beckham was much more involved in the game. His vision and distribution skills very evident with his assist in a 1-0 Galaxy win over the second year MLS Union.
Beckham said after the game he is used to playing in the middle of the park and has done so with Manchester United, Real Madrid and England. People still confuse Beckham’s purpose in MLS. I know all about the money, I know the Galaxy will never get that worth out of Beckham as a player alone. But Beckham’s worth to LA is not just his still more than just fashionable skills on the pitch, but the awaraness he continues to bring to the league is priceless. I was on the road with Toronto FC last season and met two people from California. They were from the LA area and admitted they did not know LA had a pro soccer team until David Beckham signed. Having been at Home Depot Centre in LA since that signing, I can safely say, don’t confuse the real reason why David Beckham was brought to MLS. I says this now because if this is Beckhams last season in MLS, the legacy of his ever signing in North America will live on.
The Houston Dynamo may not say it but they were likely feeling pretty good about sliding to the Eastern conference for this season. The move made to blanace out the conference with Vancouver and Portland on board in the West. Now the Dynamo have other concerns. Their captain, Brian Ching went for x-rays this week on his ribs. Ching took a couple of knocks according to the Dynamo in their tie versus NY. Should Houston be without Ching for any lengthy period of time, the Eastern conference race for the top three could be pretty bunched up by seasons end.
A reminder all Toronto FC games can be heard at www.Fan590.com or live on Sportsnet Radio The FAN590.