Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
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
Video Pick: George Evans starts Man City's U.S. tour in style    
Manchester City's 20-year-old academy product George Evans spent all of the past two years on loan ...
Video Pick: Brilliant soccer tennis at French Open    
The French Open crowd erupted in cheers when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Dudi Sela started using their ...
U.S. U-23s down the Dutch, 3-1     
The USA bounced back from its 3-1 opening loss against France at the Festival International Espoirs ...
ICYMI | MLS: Orlando City will expand new downtown stadium    
Orlando City will increase capacity in the new stadium, initially expected to hold 19,000 fans, to ...
FIFA: Blatter survives, easily winning election to fifth term    
Embattled Sepp Blatter won election for a fifth four-year term as FIFA president, defeating his sole ...
What They're Saying: Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah    
"While I am very happy to be in Congress, it is not as quiet as we ...
NWSL Roundup: Whitehill retires, off to Canada    
Cat Whitehill, who will be a color analyst on Fox Sports' coverage of the Women's World ...
ICYMI MLS: Sapong rebounds; Galaxy-Revs, the rematch    
All-Star voting is underway and fans have myriad voting options. Forward C.J. Sapong celebrated his return ...
Twenty for Canada 2015: USA's Christen Press     
Three years ago, Christen Press thought she was giving up on her lifelong dream of playing ...
TV Report: EPL's U.S. viewership is up 9 percent    
English Premier League viewership on NBC and NBCSN averaged 479,000 viewers, up 9 percent from last ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives