First, a little note about nothing. There are a whole bunch of stories on the news wires about the continuing tussle between fans of the three northwestern clubs and the league over the latter’s attempt to copyright the Cascadia Cup. The League’s explanation for this has been, and continues to be, that they are seeking to protect the cup from outsiders looking to exploit it. I suppose that this could be the case, but I have a very hard time believing it. It seems much more likely to me that the League, which covets every revenue stream on which it can possibly get its institutional hands, wants to make sure that if any money is to be made off of this it will be the League that does it. This is a pretty rational approach, one that makes a lot more sense than a narrative in which the league is undertaking the establishment of these legal protections for the sake of the supporters. Telling this other, wholly implausible story only makes things worse. There is quite simply no way that the league is ever going to convince supporters of the Cascadia clubs that this is being done in their best interest.
People from the Timbers Army, along with folks from Emerald City Supporters and the Southsiders have put together an organization called the Cascadia Cup Council to agitate against the move. As it stands now, the league has applied for copyright in the United States, but not yet in Canada. It’s hard to see exactly how this is going to get resolved. People around the situations (i.e. the League and the clubs themselves) keep talking about letting cooler heads prevail, but this sounds a lot like a nicer way of saying, “Shut up and let us do this.” Ultimately, the League and the clubs have to weigh the possible money that they can make out of this against the irritation that it will cause to their fan base (and not just here). In fact, I assume that they have already made such a calculation, betting that it really won’t cause all that many people to flake off even if they end up having to ram it down our throats. This is kind of sad, but it is what it is.
A few little notes out of training camp (which many of you are probably already aware but which still may provide some points of interest). The trial of Mikael Sylvestre continues, a fact which is probably going to cause sunshine to burst into a pillar of angry flame in the very near future. No real news is available about how he’s doing, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m all for bringing in experience but, as I argued the other day, Sylvestre really looks more like a muddying of the waters than a distinct improvement on our current talent. I saw on Stumptown Footy that we’re also giving a trial to Whitecaps cast of Michael Nanchoff. Nanchoff did not exactly burn up the pitch up in Canada, so I’m not holding out great hopes for him down this way.
We picked up Ohio State grad Chris Hegngi in the latter stages of the supplemental draft. About him I know squat except that he’s been an effective attacking player at the college level. That tells one very little of import in trying to assess whether he’s going to be able to make it at this level, and in any case he’s fresh out of school which means that he’s certainly a ways away from having the proper preparation to slot in at a professional club.
This reminds me that I saw a blurb (and then some extended chat in yesterday's post) about the MLS partnering with the USL Pro league to do some kind of reserve team fixtures. This may not seem like a big deal, but it could very well be. When European teams want to work someone back to fitness after an injury, or when they want to get some competitive minutes for a young player whose skills they are trying to improve and assess, reserve team matches tend to be how they do it. The lack of these sorts of opportunities for MLS teams really hamstrings them in this regard. It’s not just a matter of opportunities see players, but also giving the younger players a chance to get closer to match fitness. The jump from the college schedule to a pro league is hard enough in terms of the increase in overall quality, but it also involves a much higher level of fitness and of physical stress. The prospect of getting some more regular action for people down the squad list should improve the overall level of play in the MLS by giving teams access to a larger day to day pool of properly prepared squad players.
This is where people like Hegngi should be honing their skills. We have only to look back to those moments last season when Freddie Braun was tossed into the shark tank at right back to see the potential importance of getting the bench players close to the right level. [Ok, I offer as a caveat that Braun may simply not have had what it took irrespective of preparation. The fact that the team ended of waiving him strengthens this impression, but the value of better preparation is still considerable.]
I’ve been reading some of the quotes from the training ground from David Horst that they put up on Stumptown Footy. They seem promising. He’s excited about continuing his partnership with Mosquera, which was really about the best thing that we had going in defense. He seems confident that Harrington and Miller are going to be able to make positive contributions and make the defense more effective over all. It still all just talk, and of course he was never going to come out and say, “These guys are no hopers who couldn’t make it in a Sunday afternoon bar league,” even if it were true. On a more concrete note, he talks about Porter’s desire that they play a more possession oriented game out of the back. I couldn’t agree more. Negative passing among the backs and wide players probably the most irritating thing about watching the team last year (well aside from Boyd continually flubbing chances). Not long now until the lads head down to Arizona and we start to find out how this is all going to play out in real life.