Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Morales injury further dims luster in West
by Ridge Mahoney, May 9th, 2011 12:55AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Attractive play, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder, but there’s not much room for argument that of the two conferences, there have been more and brighter stars out West for the past few seasons.

Chicago with Cuauhtemoc Blanco and the Crew in the days of Guillermo Barros Schelotto flew the flag for flair as best they could, and the free-spending Red Bulls have fairly recently taken on a sexier persona. The Revs, always accused of being pedestrian even with Clint Dempsey and Steve Ralston, have added Benny Feilhaber to brighten up their play. D.C. United hasn’t come close to what it had a few years ago with Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez. In its four-plus seasons Toronto FC has churned through an incredible number of players in a futile effort to be both enjoyable and successful.

Landon Donovan (San Jose and Los Angeles) has always played out West, and before he left for Belgium, Sacha Kljestan was just one of several attractive attackers fielded by Chivas USA. The Western luster had dimmed somewhat, notably in Houston, which lost Stuart Holden to Europe after trading Dwayne De Rosario to Toronto. De Ro has since moved onto New York, and now the Dynamo – with league assist leader Brad Davis – plays in the East to make room for expansion teams Portland and Vancouver.

Yet still, the Western Conference featured – in addition to Donovan and David Beckham of the so-named Galaxy -- Steve Zakuani (Seattle), 2010 MVP David Ferreira (FC Dallas), and Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake). All three are exciting, talented, daring players, the very sort MLS labors to sign because of its byzantine acquisition processes and stringent budgetary limitations.

They are the high-wire walkers who defy the opposition and thrill the crowd, but they won’t be seen for a few months at least. All three are sidelined by serious injury, and aside from sapping their teams of sorely needed creativity and experience, games in which they would have played just won’t be as good. Beyond the DP-studded Galaxy and Red Bulls, MLS and its broadcast partners haven’t done a lot of promotion around other players, which is perhaps one reason the league’s TV ratings are stagnant.

Their absences may or may not affect home crowds. Seattle has been selling out for most of its existence but if the Sounders can’t regain momentum without Zakuani, those attendances might dip a bit, as expectations from fans and management are high. FC Dallas, despite a winning and enthralling style of play, isn’t among the attendance leaders and only time will tell if its loss shows up in the crowd counts. RSL has instilled a fairly strong loyalty among its customers preaching “the team is the star”; a terrible silence descended upon Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday in the aftermath of a savage tackle that fractured Morales’ left ankle, yet it’s unlikely many fans will stay away.

As the Galaxy-Red Bulls match showed, there can be reasonably good periods of touch and movement and intelligence and savvy in an MLS match, if a few players are skilled enough to raise the level of the players around them. In the absence of Zakuani, Ferreira and Morales, their teams will still compete, but they won’t be as competitive, and certainly not as much fun to watch, which a league struggling to bolster its national identity through marketing of stars and televised games really can’t afford.



0 comments
  1. carlos ordonez
    commented on: May 9, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.
    Dear Mr. Mahoney, You are right that MLS cannot afford to miss stars playing the beautiful game. Instead, when a skillful player makes art on the field: the player is "taken down" and we can only think about fans watching, and the crowds selling out???? What about the player that is out? The future of the game? Do we like this "shock @ awe" soccer style? Are we that desensitized? Do we want our future players to gather "thug-like" skills rather than to learn to play the game? Soccer is not a gladiator sport, it is a skillful sport. Yes?

  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: May 10, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.
    Carlos, you are dead on...when I go to a game, movie, etc...I expect to see excellence, not some backstreet imatation ...bone breaking tackles can only discourage parents from allowing their children to learn the game we have grown to really appreciate as the fastest growing sport among youth in the USA....why ruin it?-


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Wright-Phillips closes in on scoring record    
[MLS: Saturday] New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips is within three goals of the MLS record for goals ...
Lopez hat trick completes story-book ending    
[USL PRO: Semifinals] Sacramento Republic FC's magical season continued as Rodrigo Lopez scored a hat trick ...
Soccer America Women's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Saturday] No. 10 North Carolina came back from two goals down to stun No. 12 ...
What They're Saying: Yaya Toure    
"I've been in Manchester for four years now and I have never demanded a birthday cake." ...
Minnesota downs Scorpions before record crowd    
[NASL: Fall Week 11] Minnesota United FC regained the lead in the NASL fall standings as ...
Soccer America Men's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Saturday] No. 2 UCLA defeated UC Santa Barbara, 1-0, on a goal by German star ...
Harrisburg pulls another upset on the road    
[USL PRO: Semifinals] The eighth-seeded Harrisburg City Islanders, who had ousted regular-season champion Orlando City in ...
Where to Watch European Soccer    
The new European club season has started up. Here are places Soccer America readers recommend where ...
This is how you score from 90 yards     
[VIDEO PICK: Golazo] SC Paderborn 07, playing its first season ever in Bundesliga 1, finds itself ...
Quick Arsenal blitz drops Guzan's Aston Villa    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] The unbeaten start of Brad Guzan's Aston Villa to the English Premier League season ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives