I write my soccer posts for the non-fan … at least, I assume most people reading this blog have other interests. And so I should note a few things about last night's SuperLiga championship match that didn't make my earlier post. Some of this comes from Grant Wahl's column at SI.com.
- David Beckham has done a lot in his life. Just on the soccer field, he's been involved in world-class matches while playing for Manchester United, Real Madrid, and the English national team. It is not disparaging MLS to note that the LA Galaxy aren't quite Man U or Real, and it's fair to say that whatever the quality of MLS, Becks has had a rough ride, physically at least, in his first term with the Gals. But one thing about Beckham, he cares. Maybe he was just thinking about how last night's injury affected his chances of playing World Cup qualifiers with the national team, but whatever … he was in tears as he sat on the bench after his injury.
- Wahl included some great quotes in his piece. Landon Donovan is something of a whipping boy for certain American fans … in the Bay Area, he led our team to two league championships, but we boo him now because he went to hated Los Angeles, and the general opinion of Donovan seems to be that, no matter how good he is (and he is our best player), he lacks "heart." Bullshit. Our best player isn't as good as the best players from Brazil … that's just a fact, it's not Donovan's fault. Donovan is expected to deliver everytime he touches the ball and half of the times he doesn't touch the ball … kinda like Barry Bonds, who people will yell at if he doesn't hit a homer in every at-bat. (Perhaps a better comparison would be to Eric Wynalda, one of the finest American soccer players ever and the first star of the MLS San Jose Clash … people didn't like Waldo because he didn't score six goals a match.) Thing about Donovan is, he, too, cares, but then he verbalizes his thoughts in a way that I find makes him seem more human, but which others may take as … well, as making him more human when they'd prefer a superhero. Here's what he said after missing that crucial penalty kick last night (Donovan regularly makes his penalties): "The most disappointing thing was I told myself I wasn't going to get caught up in everything. I've never taken a penalty to win a game like that in a penalty shootout. So I told myself not to get caught up. Usually I slow myself down and take a look at the goalie. But in that moment I just panicked a little bit, and that's the worst place I could have put it. Maybe if I put it low it sneaks in." He panicked a little bit … trust me, he panicked less than 99.9% of the world would have in that situation, and trust me, people will hold that comment against him in the future.
- Frank Yallop was another person I could have mentioned in the earlier post. Yallop brought championships to San Jose as the coach of the Quakes, so we have a soft spot in our hearts for him. He then coached the Canadian national team (he is from Canada) before taking on the Galaxy job. It has been a thankless job at best, despite the presence of Donovan and now Beckham … GM Alexi Lalas has saddled Yallop with a mostly-crummy roster, and MLS fiddled with the schedule, knowing that Beckham wouldn't arrive until late in the season, to maximize the number of games Becks would play here, resulting in a Galaxy schedule that has them playing far too many games now in far too short a time period. Yallop has taken a lot of the public bashing for the team's problems … word is that he was going to be fired after the SuperLiga, and the name Jürgen Klinsmann is never far from people's lips. After last night's match, Yallop had finally had enough. "I could go over why we come out flat, why we look like we're not interested, but guys are fuckin' knackered, to be honest. That's the truth. But I'll tell you what: They kept going. They're fucked ... All the crap that we've been fuckin' through, I'm telling you, it's been difficult to fuckin' deal with -- sorry to swear -- but it's been hard. But they kept going, and that makes me proud."
- Yallop may have lost his job by the time I post this, for all I know. Meanwhile, he is a leading candidate to be the head coach of the New Earthquakes to begin play next season. He will be welcomed with open arms by Quakes fans.
Re: that last point, I offer up again the following picture, of Frank Yallop after the Quakes won a playoff matchup against the Galaxy, back when Frank was our coach (and back when that match was considered the best in MLS history … might still be true, although a recent match between LA and New York may have taken over top spot):