What a week it’s been! Zlatan got a red card for showcasing his black belt fighting abilities, there was a Champions League final, and even a good article from Billy Haisley. Before all that, let’s talk about a hot taco from the gang over at TMZ Sports:
Get past the wildy inaccurate statement that Wayne Rooney will be the best player in MLS - Everton would probably finish 3rd in the league this year - and the idea that Ronaldo is in his prime. MLS has some fine players, but as far as stars of world soccer go, the names that come to the domestic league are either past their use in Europe, may possibly one day - maybe kinda do well across the Atlantic one day, or weren’t making it on the continent on their way to becoming a Galáctico.
Those of us who write about MLS and follow the league will squirm at this and say ‘Yeah, but...’ and trail off about players who can’t get called into the Italian National Team and try to keep a straight face when talking about Giovani dos Santos or provide a cogent analysis about what Miguel Almiron means for MLS. But the truth is that while those players are good, they are also in MLS for a reason. Giovinco couldn’t make it with Juventus, Bradley Wright-Phillips may end up being the best MLS player of all time and came over from a team in the Championship, GdS was good for about three months in MLS, and Miguel Almiron may break the MLS transfer record one day, but he’s in MLS not La Liga for now.
While MLS is doing exciting things and bringing in players like Almiron or Diego Rossi, it will probably never bring in a Neymar in his prime. What’s more, while rosters are getting better, not everyone in the league is keeping up and while the new young talent coming to the league is electric, they still line up against the Colorado Rapids of the world. So is MLS terrible? No. Is it great? No. but with the weird roster rules and the way clubs are allowed to spend money, maybe one day it will be the best worst league in the world.
Anyway, onto the Rekrap...
Happy Victoria Day Zlatan!
We all know that the LA Galaxy are struggling and the play of Zlatan isn’t helping it would seem. So far teams have tried a lot to stop Zlatan over his career, but manager Sigi Schmid has really found a way to neutralize him. Zlatan was also stymied by what may be an insurmountable challenge to his talents, getting Concacaf’d:
Most surprising this week is that Billy Haisley on Deadspin wrote perhaps his most well written and best edited article that he has ever produced on the subject of MLS being terrible. Suffice it to say that Haisley owes a great deal to the creator of this highlight film, and frankly we all do.
I literally groaned out loud several times making this cut up. Check out the LA Galaxy *trying* to play out of the back against the Montreal Impact today. pic.twitter.com/dwuwV4DgEl— Joseph Lowery (@joeInCleats) May 21, 2018
Probably not helping MLS make the case that the league is good actually is that LA would win this game 1-0... after going down a man in the 41st minute... and that man was Zlatan.
Taking my Freedom to South Beach...
They may not have a stadium and are currently going through their second official launch as a club, but perhaps the mystery over what the Miami MLS team will be called has been solved. Meet the Miami Freedom.
No word yet on where the team that was announced in 2014 and then announced again in 2018 will play or when they may play or if they will hold another launch party for the club in 2022 and then another in 2026 and another in 2030... As far as why Freedom may be chosen as a name for the club, well David Beckham’s new business partners Jorge and Jose Mas’ politics may have something to do with it.
Move over Picasso...
Because Cubism has a new master. As beautiful as that Haisley take was, this is only slightly better. Brandi Chastain is one of the best soccer players the US has ever produced. Her goal against China in the 1999 World Cup created the most iconic moment in US Soccer history. So when it came time to honor her, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame... well really did a terrible job of it and let something completely awful see the light of day. Over on big SBN there’s a round up of 15 people the plaque resembles. At some point the groups that commission horrible representations of people in bronze form should probably be more honest with the artists that create them and never let these statues see the pages of the internet.
West Nizhny Novgorod born and raised...
Will Smith will headline the collaboration between himself, Nicky Jam, and Diplo to perform the World Cup Russia anthem, so: party in the city where the chilly weather is on, all night on the State Russian Drama Theatre until the break of dawn, welcome to Saransk and Dobro pozhalovat’ v Saransk...
Say what you want about the US Soccer Federation...
Nothin to see here folks...
Just because Fox isn’t going to be sending their broadcasters to announce games live from stadiums in Russia for the World Cup, it doesn’t mean that it’s a story. That’s according to Fox World Cup executive producer David Neal. Awful Announcing has a look at why that is a little suspect and how it is indeed a story. For anyone interested in watching the World Cup broadcast live from Russia, Telemundo is going to be shown on the main NBC Sports app for the event.
A Champions League champion crowned
Lyon and Wolfsburg contested the UEFA Women’s Champions League final on Thursday. Lyon would win and become champions for the third time in a row for their fifth overall championship. Wolfsburg would score first in extra time, but after a red card to Alexandra Popp (you may remember her - Hope Solo melted her brain before her penalty in the 2015 World Cup) Lyon would go on to net four goals in 11 minutes to become champions.
Just a little kick around in Kiev
So the UEFA Men’s Champions League final is this weekend and there’s a lot to think about going into the game. For one thing, there’s the intriguing matchup between a left back who plays like a forward and his job of covering, or not, the best right winger in the world at the moment. Speaking of the best right winger in the world at the moment, is he the best player in the world at the moment? Does Mohamed Salah need to win the Champions League final to get that recognition from FIFA? Finally, let’s say you’re more of an international soccer fan and are looking to get an appetizer before the World Cup gets underway, that’s covered also in a look at Champions League connections to the tournament. If that’s not enough, StatsBomb put together a pretty stunning piece about how Salah and his teammate Roberto Firmino are crucial to the team’s success this year.
Lamar Hunt US Open Cup! Lamar Hunt US Open Cup! Party time! Excellent!
J. Sam Jones over on Dirty South Soccer has put together a little highlight reel of the draw for the US Open Cup, the thing that if it was only monetized would save US Soccer. Anyway, here’s a fantastic moment from the event:
Nobody let the FIFA voters see this, there’s no way we’re getting the World Cup in 2026 if they know that this is the kind of investment the country makes in promoting the sport. The complete 4th round pairings can be found here. Oh, but don’t fool yourselves, this is America so teams that don’t have the resources of MLS clubs are put at a tremendous disadvantage and even risk their very existence by being in the tournament.
You should listen to...
The Game of Our Lives podcast hosted by David Goldblatt, the writer of The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football. The show looks at the sport around the world and gives political, social, economic, and historical context to the game.
For your goals this week...
There’s just a little reminder that Alexi Lalas is ‘All In On El Tri’ for FS1 this World Cup:
Wild is right. The NC Courage and Orlando Pride needed all 90 minutes to settle who was the better side in their mid-week clash - but the winner was the most madcap of all the madcap goals in the match: