As a sports blogger, particularly one blogging from a location rather removed from the main point of interest, the lack of cable is something of an impediment. This can, in part, be overcome by the use of the interweb. For instance, for a small fee, one can get access to the vast majority of MLS matches. I have whined in the past about the 48 hour waiting period that is imposed on users of MLS Live when the match in question has been shown on the national networks. This is annoying to me, but given the scope and breadth of audience available to NBC and ESPN, I can understand the logic behind the decision (even while I find it intensely irritating). What I find harder to fathom is that they extend the same privilege of exclusivity to the Spanish language network Galavision.
Until it came up in just this sort of situation earlier this season, I was completely unaware that Galavision even existed. It’s not as if I am totally oblivious to Spanish language media. I can understand rudimentary Spanish and have on a time whiled away the hours watching campy gameshows on Univision and Telemundo. Anyway, it really seems like a pretty cherry deal to be offering what is at best the third largest Spanish language broadcaster in the market. The point of this long form whinge is that, due to the above-mentioned restrictions, I was compelled to watch Sunday’s match via spy technology provided by my handlers at the Bundesnachrichtendienst. I could pretty well follow what was going on, although the broadcast kept getting broken up by intercepts from U.S. drone somewhere over (I assume) Syria. I did not, however, have the opportunity to review the match (as the broadcasting rules forbid me to view the match until tomorrow night). I usually watch the match two or three times over before I do the player ratings, and since I can’t do that for this post I’m going to push that to a bit later in the week. In any case, there is plenty to say about the match, even given that sunshine wrote about it at length yesterday.
As is the case with many people that I have met, I am wont to translate life’s rich pageant into moments from the Simpsons. About the time the third goal went in, I was thinking about the episode in which Bart gets a girlfriend. At a certain point there is a sequence in which she rips out his beating heart and says, “You won’t be needing this anymore.” That pretty much summed up the moment for me. Ahead after eight minutes, and having added a second on a really beautiful passage of play finished off nicely by Nagbe, I was ruing the fact that sunshine was going to get to write the postgame post, with all the joy that it would entail. There is some arcane adage about counting and chickens that I think might have been relevant in this situation, but I can’t seem to recall it just now. Before going on to more substantive matters, I feel the need to ask if it is just me, or does this team have some awful talent for finding new ways to gut their supporters? It’s one thing to go out and get hammered by a much superior side (and I think we have to admit that that is just what the Energy Drinks are). Going up two goals and creating a whole rash of chances before contriving to piss it all away is really like a meathook in the guts.
I would like to note, while we’re on the subject of trivialities, that the officiating was incredibly bad. For the record, I do not think that it had anything to do with us losing the match. Having said that, the mistake with the whistle around the time of New York’s second goal was intensely irritating. It’s unlikely that Ricketts would have stopped the penalty that was in the process of being called when the ref decided to award the goal instead. In any case, it would have been nice if he’d been given the opportunity to try. We can pass over for a moment the time that the ref got in the way of our attempts to build an attack by blocking a pass in the open field, and move on to his failure to give anything in the way of a call to Diego Chará after Teemu Tainio nearly took his head off. Even given that the most sympathetic interpretation possible (i.e. assuming Tainio wasn’t trying to coldcock him) it still has to be pointed out that, normally, at least some attempt to play the ball has to me made for a challenge to be legitimate. In any case, just to reiterate, the fault for this loss like 100% with us and 0% with the officiating. It still rankles. It’s like having to listen to a loudmouth at the next table while you’re eating a wretched meal.
What can we take out of this match? A few things I suppose. Once again our defensive frailties were exposed. On the other hand, we were reasonably productive on offense. During the match, I actually sent sunshine a text that went something like, “Is it just me, or are we creating an abnormally large number of chances.” In a way, you could look at that as another step forward, although it would have been much better if we had converted a couple more of them. Sad to day (given my recent defense of his value to the team), it really seemed that one of the main sources of our improvement was the lack of Boyd. The players most forward in attack, Nagbe, Songo’o, Dike, and Zizzo, looked a lot more dynamic that usual, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the this was down to not having Boyd plodding around in the middle. Even if one doesn’t accept plodding as the appropriate verb, it looked as if there were a lot more options without the need to accept that Boyd was always going to be the target man. Does this mean that we must now concede that the Boyd experiment was a failure? Not necessarily. It does, however, suggest that it might be worth rethinking how we organize ourselves up front. This doesn’t mean that Boyd should be out of the picture, only that he might have a different role to play.