The guy who isn't going to win Coach of the Year tells me Sirk has a book out. Surprisingly, it's not about furniture and decorative arts in the age of Louis XV. One assumes it's the Reverse Vampire version of "The Beckham Experiment," focusing on an unpretentious MLS team not finding new and exciting ways to embarrass the sport and everything around it.
Speaking of not embarrassing MLS – I'm pretty much the last guy to mention the Sunderland-Liverpool beach ball bingo incident, as the rest of the civilized world seems have embraced it as one of the great moments in world sport.
Can you, however, imagine – can you freaking imagine – if this had happened in an MLS game? "Joke league" would have been the mantra, if "mantra" is the right word for something screamed at the top of one's lungs. Thank heaven for small favors.
The three Western Conference teams who DC United allowed back into the Supporters Shield race have all responded, as of Thursday night. The response was unanimous – "no, thanks, you can keep it."
Three teams, two games, no goals scored by the contenders. Well, technically, one goal was scored – Lillingston spared Chicago a weekend of worry, however mild. Eduardo Lillingston, by the way, is being given all too little consideration for Least Valuable Player, something I say with an even heavier heart since I'm the guy who hands out that award.
Chivas USA has bigger problems, but it's still astonishing that the club hasn't taken better advantage of what one assumes is an above-average Mexican scouting network. It's one thing for Los Angeles, New England, Dallas and Houston to saddle themselves with Hernandez, Abundis, Davino and Landin* – not an admirable thing, sure, but it's not a surprise that the best players in Mexico aren't necessarily falling all over themselves to play in Gabachostan for less bucks. That's fine. But there have been a whole parade of young and not-so-young Mexican players who have graced the red half of the Home Depot Center with their presence, from Ramon Ramirez to Jesus Padilla. Here's the track record, after five seasons of operation.
1. Claudio Suarez
2. Ramon Ramirez
3. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, except if instead of bands and floats, it were giant pieces of crap rolling down Broadway
"Hey, what about Panchito Mendoza?" What ABOUT him, is my smug response, followed up by pointing out how Mendoza went to Guadalajara snarling about Preki and the coaching staff every step of the way."
Maybe that's part of the problem – Chivas USA has a better track record developing players for the USA than for Chivas – but there's only so much that can be done when the club bills itself, by design, as a second choice club. (And that's being generous – a bunch of players like Paco Palencia and Bofo Bautista chose to play for decidedly unglamorous FMF clubs before upping or re-upping for the Northern Goats.) The vicious cycle continues – CUSA gets the less promising prospects from Mexico, and they don't end up succeeding.
On the other hand, CUSA is still a result away from winning the Western Conference. It's amusing that, barring horrible choices on big-money and big-name players, either the Galaxy, the Dynamo or CUSA would have won the West by fifteen points, minimum. It's unlikely at this point that Seattle will get the results necessary to win the West outright, but it's certainly possible, and it was guys like Beckham, Landin and Lillingston who helped make it possible. Like I said, Sigi isn't going to win Coach of the Year, but if he does, he's got a lot of non-Sounders personnel to thank.
*And, once again, when one looks at the list of Mexican players and their success in MLS (hint: next to none), Cootiemac Blanco really stands out. I have nothing but horrible things to say about Blanco, but it's astonishing that he had the success he has had in Chicago, considering not only that he's Mexican but that he's a jerk. He still hasn't actually won anything in Chicago, and doesn't look likely to, but 90% of success is just showing up, which is 90% more than a lot of big-name MLS signings. (Lest you think I'm joining the MLS Blogosphere's celebration of Hate on Mexico Week, no Mexican signing has been nearly as damaging as the worst German, the worst Brazilian, the worst Korean, or the worst Englishman.)