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.