My Major League Soccer break is officially over. Admittedly I have been away longer than intended and I must apologise that my absence might have irked some of my readers. I have not abandoned the league and my mission remains the same: to understand and appreciate Major League Soccer. Perhaps I should have discussed the finale of the competition but in truth the game left me feeling rather disillusioned and I decided it was a good time to take a break. The Beckham biased build up left me feeling like I had been watching a Hollywood blockbuster rather than a season deciding game. Somewhere in there the football was lost in the storyline that seemed more important to one or two. However Garber and Galaxy got what they wanted and the “iconic image” will I’m sure help the league. That said I would strongly suggest Major League Soccer’s best team deservedly won the MLS Cup, something that I’m sure is not always such a formality. Sadly I’m afraid my first MLS preseason has also left me rather frustrated and uninspired….
Football is so popular all around the world because it is incredibly easy to follow. Trying to keep up should never be a chore and the minute the sport gets too complicated we have a problem. Major League Soccer is right on the brink of having a major league problem. I’m going to be honest, the only draft I have been following closely is the one that’s squeezing through my bedroom window and leaving me with frostbitten toes. I can get to grips with the play-offs, I can handle no relegation, at a push I could even accept John Harkes but the Drafts are beyond me. Perhaps living in America they are easier to follow but for an MLS fan living in Europe it is near impossible. Some of the bigger transfers have certainly caught my eye, and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the Le Toux saga. I’m sure Vancouver fans will be looking forward to him playing for the club even if Le Toux himself seemingly isn’t.
It goes without saying there have been some transfers involving MLS players that have been very easy for me to follow during my break. Many have suggested that the loan moves of Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are embarrassing for Major League Soccer. My opinion is quite the opposite. It is extremely easy and perhaps even fashionable to mock and disparage MLS and of course we all know that it is not the Premier League. The loan moves show that Major League Soccer plays hosts to footballers who are more than capable of playing at the very top while also managing to be a competitive league in its own right. That is an achievement. Perhaps an even better example of the leagues progress is centre back Tim Ream’s £2.5m move to the Premier League. Ream has been bought as a replacement for the highly thought of Gary Cahill and sources I have spoken to suggest Bolton were not the only club interested in acquiring the centre back. Although understandably fans will be disappointed to see players leaving MLS it is important we see the bigger picture. English football is starting to take Major League Soccer seriously perhaps for the first time. The migrations of Ream, John and Rogers are all indications that Major League Soccer is perhaps stronger than ever before.
I have of course kept a special eye on Toronto FC’s ins and outs ahead of their ridiculously scheduled Champions League quarter final. We have discussed it before but the nonsensical gap between Toronto FC’s last knock out game and the next is bizarre. However the good news is Toronto have maintained the momentum of their decent league finish and kept most of their squad together. The last thing the club needed was a return to the revolving door policy that has been so unsuccessful in the past. I think most fans would agree the club does need another attacking player who will take the goal scoring responsibility away from 33 year old Danny Koevermans. It certainly seems Winter is taking the club in the right direction.
One player who I will be watching very closely this season is Portland Timbers new striker Kris Boyd. Boyd’s career has come to a bit of a standstill but this is a striker who could end up with the MLS golden boot. After scoring hundreds of goals in Scotland he has suffered from a lack of confidence during difficult spells in England and Turkey. However at 28 he should be in his prime. If Boyd settles, knuckles down and starts well there is every chance he will take MLS by storm. He will certainly need service and an arm around his shoulder now and again but Boyd looks like one of the shrewdest bits of business in this window so far.