|State of the States | December, 2011|
|Written by Michael Hund|
|Saturday, 10 December 2011 08:52|
The Major League Soccer season's crescendo was a flat one, but there was barely a pause to reflect upon it before the "draft season" got under way and speculation on Beckham’s future overshadowed his club’s glorious present. All that, plus the US’s first multi-goal performance under Klinsmann in this month’s State of the States...
MLS Cup Final
As so often happens, the final was a let down. The Galaxy were the only team that ever looked like winning, and Houston, bereft of their key man, Brad Davis, only delayed the inevitable by playing a cagey, defensive game. In the end, LA’s three Designated Players combined to claim the cup, Beckham heading on for Keane to feed Donovan for the winner, the first time a team with a Designated Player (much less three) on the roster has won the whole shebang.
With the domestic double completing a record-breaking season of success for the Galaxy, it seemed a shame that both the build-up to the final and the aftermath were overshadowed by stories about Beckham’s future, with most signs pointing to a return to Europe, most likely with PSG in France. But while Beckham jetted off with the Galaxy to Asia for what might be his swan song tour, MLS took hardly a breath before plunging into preparations for 2012...
Though they did make some astute picks and engaged in a little wheeling and dealing to bolster their roster, Montreal made waves when they picked Brian Ching. It’s a bold (or perhaps vindictive) move that will either pay big dividends or blow up in their faces. Before the draft, Ching said he wanted to finish his career in Houston and would retire if selected. Montreal pulled the trigger anyway, and now we wait to see who blinks first. Does Houston pony up to get him back? Does Ching call it a career? Does he pack his bags for the Great White North?
But the Expansion Draft was only the first act of MLS draft season, quickly giving way to the Re-Entry Draft. With Stage 1 already in the books, the second iteration of the RED looks little different from the first, with only three players being selected. That said, there did seem to be more last minute negotiating of salaries and trade action as the draft-day deadline approached this time around. Will Stage 2 see more fireworks? Fireworks like the US finally managed to post in Slovenia...
Goals! Goals! Goals!
It took a while, but the Klinsmann Attacking Revolution™ finally sprung to life. After a solid defensive effort in France was spoiled by a moment of slack defending, the US put on their first multi-goal performance under Klinsmann in beating Slovenia. Unfortunately, the effect was somewhat spoiled by (1) the fog obscuring the action and (2) a disjointed defensive performance.
While the outings under Klinsmann haven’t seen many goals from the US, they haven’t seen many from the opposition either, but Slovenia repeatedly cut through the US back line, drawing fresh worries about Klinsmann’s frustrating player selection, the depth of the player pool in defense, and the US’s ability to be either solid at the back or free-scoring, but not both at the same time.
And that brings us to what should be the “end” of the US soccer season for 2012. Next month will be all about player moves within MLS, the performances of Euro-based players, and preparations for the opening of the transfer window in the new year.
Well, that about wraps things up for the State of the States this month and possibly this year. Here’s hoping December brings us enough to talk about come the dawning of 2012.