Tea-hierry Henry- My MLS Journey Continues

I must start with an apology. This week’s article is slightly late due to a laptop malfunction. As Thierry Henry turned in the area and fired in his late leveller against Toronto FC I spilt a cup of tea all over my keyboard. When the repair man asked me what happened I told him:

“We went 1-0 up, thenput 11 men behind the ball and inevitably conceded”. He looked baffled but I continued: “Add to that the fact that we make defending set pieces look harder than climbing Mount Everest and how does Aron Winter think we can hold on to 1-0 wins?”.

It turned out (like most) he wasn’t interested in Toronto’s form but more with my broken computer (selfish). £200 later my laptop is fixed but I’m still frustrated.

However for me this frustration is welcome. At the start of this project I wondered if I would ever feel an emotional tie to an MLS team like I do with my local English side. I didn’t want this just to be a project, I wanted more than that. I wanted a different brand of football that would make me think, I wanted something new and exciting and believe it or not for me MLS and in particular Toronto FC are just that. The elation followed by frustration I felt during the Toronto v Red Bulls game proves to me that this emotional tie I was interested in is not only possible but after just a month of following Major League Soccer, Toronto FC mean something to me.

The game itself was the first chance I have had to witness the Henry and Rodgers partnership upfront. In truth it confused me but I reluctantly admit to some degree it does work. Studying them together was a strange experience that I can only really compare to watching a charity match or a testimonial. The sort of game where a supporter wins the chance to come on for the last 5 minutes and play alongside his hero.  Henry is a suave pioneer of the game; he is intelligent and (even now) at times brilliant. Rodgers who while in England was arrested on three separate occasions is none of the above but with nine MLS goals since arriving I suppose his contribution can’t be denied.  However he is the sort of player that I predict won’t play a big part in Major League Soccer’s future. In five years time I don’t believe many MLS teams will be looking to England’s lower leagues for “talent”.  Even the staunchest MLS fan must see how it is difficult for English fans to take a league seriously when a striker who never played above the third tier of English football is partnering Thierry Henry upfront. In musical terms it would be like John Lennon performing a duet with James Blunt it wouldn’t happen.

Now I am a month into my MLS experience I have come to realise that perhaps some of my earlier observations were incorrect. Reluctantly I must admit the play-off system works for Major League Soccer. Before the New York game even Toronto stood a tiny chance of making the play-offs proving that the system doesn’t lead to more meaningless games. The Play-offs suit the leagues ideals and I am happy to admit that changing this system would not be in the best interest of Major League Soccer.  However I stand by my point about promotion and relegation eventually needing to be introduced even if it is not for 15-20 years.

Finally yet another complaint about commentary. I felt sorry for Luke Wileman every time he had to announce we were about to hear from “pitch side” last Saturday. After Danny Koevermans limped off I would safely suggest the most useless piece of commentary ever announced followed:

I think it’s safe to say ‘Claude’ is no Doctor. Until next week, goodbye.



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8 responses to “Tea-hierry Henry- My MLS Journey Continues

  1. Yohan

    To be fair to MLS, Luke Rodgers is a bit of anomaly in terms of success in MLS. Plenty of lower league players plays or played in MLS, mostly as depth/squad players. (Though quite a few seems to be former Chelsea/Arsenal/Man U youth products)

    No mention of Marquez and how bad he was?

  2. Adam Waltering

    I think the reason why people in England and around the world look down on MLS is that they consider it a backwater league a dead-end. Fans of MLS, I believe, like it because they see a league in its infancy that can only go up. It’s exciting getting in on the ground floor of something, being one of the early adopters. I have no doubt (even considering soccer’s lowly spot on the American sports totem pole) that MLS will explode and replace hockey at 4th place and give baseball and the NBA a run for their money in terms of popularity within the next 20 years.

    So, when it comes to people looking at you squarely when you mention MLS just remember, someday you will be able to tell they “HA! I told you so”

    • Hockey

      Major League Soccer is in its 15th year.

      When will it start taking over, exactly?

      • Adam Waltering

        Well “hockey”, apparently reading isn’t one of your strong suits. I said within the next 20 years. MLS taking over NHL probably sooner, maybe 10 years-ish. Mark it on your calendar.

  3. Martin

    God that commentary is awful. In case you don’t know at 2:19 in the video the guy says “a little check swing” which is fucking baseball terminology. I’d suggest checking out TFC TV for video highlights. Look for any link that says “game in six minutes”


  4. It might help to remember the reasons that the playoff system became ingrained in US sports. I think it really had to do with the size of the United States, and the pre-jet-plane era when the various “divisions” in baseball and football were set up based on a team’s location, in order to provide competition that didn’t involve a week long train trip. Most games were played between teams in the same division, so that at the end of the season, you had a number of “division” champions. And then, the divisions themselves were separated into two separate leagues. Not too long ago, there was no “inter-league” play, so during the season, the baseball teams from the American League would never play teams from the National League. In determining a true league champion, it wouldn’t be fair to look at the total number of wins and losses, because the divisions (and leagues) were of varying strength. What resulted was a playoff between the various division champions to determine the league champion, and then a playoff between the league champions (the “World Series”) to determine the champion of the entire season.

    Similarly in the NFL there are currently 32 teams and each play only 16 games, and each team’s schedule is of varying difficulty, again based on divisions and the historical physical location and distance between teams. And again, historically, the NFC teams rarely if ever played the AFC teams during the regular season. And so a playoff system was developed as a “fair” way to determine a champion.

    The MLS is different – this year they played a true balanced schedule, with each team playing the same schedule, so the team that managed the best record over the season has a good claim to have been the best team over the season. Adding a playoff injects an element of luck that, while acceptable when there’s no better way (as in baseball and football), seems silly when applied to the MLS.

  5. M L R

    In attempt by Southern Broadcasters to give MLS *appeal* they use NFL & MLB conventions. Canadian broadcasts are modelled after NHL conventions & to my mind better suited to MLS. CBC’s MLS/TFC broadcasts were an absolute Riot & top notch to boot. Winter is the latest attempt to move MLS towards European Football & away from Canadian Foot’ockey. Good luck with that!

  6. Anyone who says that the MLS still can’t rival Europe in terms of crowd atmosphere and attendance, look no further than yesterday’s game between Seattle and San Jose, a sendoff for Seattle keeper and former US International Kasey Keller. There were 64,000 fans in attendance. Only Manchester United draws that kind of crowd in England, right?


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