MLS Day 1 and the USMNT
Gameday 1 of MLS season XI is in the books, and there's plenty of fodder for thinking about its implications for the national team. Viz.,
- Until the Fire lost the thread in the last twenty minutes or so of their 3-2 loss to FC Dallas, Chris Rolfe was the best player on the field. He set up the first Chicago goal with some nice moves, scored a great second on the volley, and nearly had the third that might have deflated FCD and put things away for the Fire. As Waldo noted in his inimitably rude commentary, Rolfe looked nervous in his last outing for the MNT, against Guatemala, causing a lot of followers to write him off. But after watching him play today, I wonder if commentators (self included) were too quick to dismiss him. Yes, he's untried, but do we have another forward who has his kind of skills and upside?
- Eddie Johnson scored in his debut for Kansas City, and it was a nice one. After last year's turf toe disaster, the goal for EJ is to get into form before the World Cup. If he can manage that, he'll definitely get minutes, especially after scoring in his first game back against Guatemala and looking strong against Germany. Based on what we saw yesterday, EJ seems to be on the right track, both physically and mentally.
- Clint Dempsey had a nice series of moves, including an impressive backheel-to-self, during the first half of New England's 1-0 win over Los Angeles. Marcelo Balboa used the opportunity to compare Clint to Ronaldinho. Hm. He then noted that Clint might use the World Cup to open up some Euro teams' wallets for a major transfer fee, and illustrated the possibility with the example of Pablo Mastroeni, whose stellar performance in WC02 resulted in . . . a return to the Colorado Rapids. Celo, you were a great defender with a strangely effective Chileno, but seriously, lay off the crack, at least when you're announcing.
- JOB trained with Chivas USA earlier this week. Are the Goats getting closer to landing the oft-hampered ex-Ajacied? Update: according to a second-hand account of an interview with Bruce Arena and Thomas Rongen, JOB is going to sign with C-USA very soon.
- Kenny Cooper came up huge with a game-winning goal as a sub for FCD. He looked huge, too, because he is, going at least 6'3" with a large frame. For the past few years there have been rumblings about Cooper's performance for the Man United youth teams, but after loan spells to Academica Coimbra in Portugal and Oldham Athletic in the English second division, Man U released him. It's a puzzling decision, since he never seemed to get a real shot with the first team, but Dallas is certainly happy to take ManU's castoffs. And based on what I saw yesterday, this kid has got to get a shot with the Nats at some point, if only because he has the kind of physical presence that none of our other forwards bring.
- Update: Brian Ching scored four for the Dynamo in their 5-2 win over Colorado, after his last outing for the Nats pretty much sealed his fate as a World Cup spectator. So good in MLS, so mediocre for the Nats. I suppose it just shows how much of a leap there is from American professional soccer to the top international level. Fun fact: Brian's total goals from today exceed by one the total he's scored in his entire career for the USMNT.