In trying to think of a league-wide topic to write about this week, I found myself unable to avoid the colour red.
I’m assuming your reaction to that choice is similar to LeBron James’ reaction in the GIF of the Week:
But have a read through my three big takeaways from the past week in Major League Soccer, and hopefully you’ll see where I’m coming from.
LAFC, Giovinco, Nguyen- MLS is Red All Over: TWC
1) LAFC draw first blood in the Battle of Los Angeles
The now 2018 MLS debutants unveiled plans and updated renderings of their quarter-of-a-billion-dollar, 100 per cent privately financed soccer-specific venue a week ago. I have yet to see a negative reaction that isn’t of the “Galaxy rule, LAFC drool” type. If you haven’t seen the drawings, you should check them out. Guess what colour features prominently?
To be clear, I like the venue a lot. But like you, I don’t have a clue why they’re putting a “soccer museum” in it. Unless this becomes U.S. Soccer’s new museum, the only big pieces of non-Galaxy, non-Chivas soccer history in L.A. (well, Pasadena actually) are Roberto Baggio’s ball from ’94 and Brandi Chastain’s shirt from ’99.
Regardless of how significantly the museum features, a downtown stadium will be a direct shot fired towards the Galaxy. The new club was never going to go into StubHub territory in suburban Carson, but if they had gone to another ‘burb there could have at least been an argument that they were keeping to their own backyard.
They’re not though. And the casual fan could be more enticed by a newer product that’s literally miles easier to get to, in the same way that New York City FC have stolen more than a few fans from the Jersey-bound Red Bulls.
Throw in an A-lister (Cristiano Ronaldo’s the main rumour right now) and LAFC could really hurt the Galaxy gate. I’m not doubting the Galaxy’s ability to eventually replace Robbie Keane, because as much as he wants to play I don’t expect he will be in 2018.
But with a second team in Los Angeles the Galaxy won’t find it as easy to attract stars. Gyasi Zardes and Bradford Jamieson IV have flashed potential, so the Galaxy better be armed with big contracts to fend off European suitors should their young guns continue progressing.
The Galaxy have to respond by 2018, or else their city is ditching the white and going black and, more importantly, red.
2) Sebastian Giovinco Delights the Sea of Red
Many of us here at Last Word SC agree that Kaka is a class above virtually everyone in Major League Soccer. It seems that with every passing week more people are arguing the same about Giovinco too.
Both men are a joy to watch, Kaka for his cool-headed, consistently exemplary play, and Giovinco for those moments of WOW.
Giovinco provided the wow again on Saturday, scoring a goal and toying with a veteran Portland Timbers backline. Don’t let the two offsides on the stat sheet fool you, any other attacking player in the league could easily have had triple that number if they were in his situation.
Back when another deadball specialist, David Beckham, took the field in North America, fans turned out to watch both his leadership and his skill. Quite unfortunately, fans had to wait until his final season in 2012 to see that skill in full bloom.
Of his 18 MLS goals, seven of Beckham’s strikes were scored in his final year in the league. Eight of his career MLS goals (nine if you count his Olimpico against Chicago on July 9, 2011) were from his trademark free kicks.
It’s a decent return, but nothing remarkable, especially for the money thrown his way.
Giovinco’s already scored two free kicks and five goals total, including an outside-the-box belter I saw live this weekend. And that’s in just 10 MLS starts, compared to Beckham’s 91 games started and 98 total appearances.
What’s more, the 28-year-old Giovinco is four years younger than Goldenballs was when he made his MLS debut.
This guy could be wearing the red TFC kit for a while yet. I would say that he’ll make every other MLS club green with envy, but that would be like scoring a thematic own goal.
Red with rage works fine too.
3) The Revolution Re(a)d the Wrong Script
Well, I guess at least for a week I was wrong about New England playing like RSL 2.0.
A 4-2 midweek thumping in Kansas City was followed up in arguably the worst way possible, two points thrown away in a 1-1 draw at home to D.C. United.
Chris Tierney’s red card for his studs-up challenge in a duel with Chris Pontius for a ball in the air was deserved. Both of Lee Nguyen’s yellow cards, and his subsequent red, were too, but fell along the lines of disappointing more than deserved.
Emotions got into Nguyen’s head, making the 2014 MLS MVP finalist look rather chump-ish. There was no way that New England could have been asked to hold on, down two players, for a half-hour.
If you haven’t seen the highlights of that match I strongly suggest you watch them. I also suggest you listen carefully to Paul Mariner (the former MLS head coach and guy with the accent), because a lot of his analysis is insightful.
You’ll see just how stretched the Revs were on their last goal. As much as I think Kelyn Rowe is destined for big things, the Revolution were eventually going to crack with him essentially marking two players simultaneously.
I love Andrew Farrell too, and he made the league’s Team of the Week for his efforts. But tell me I’m not the only one who thinks he looked rather sleepy and half-motivated when defending D.C.’s equalizer.
How else can you feel when a fit of red-faced rage gifted your opponent a point though? As long as Charlie Davies keeps scoring, Jermaine Jones doesn’t have to play at centre-back, and those new red away kits (which the Revs rocked at home this weekend) keep looking nice on TV, tempers should be kept in check.
There you have the week that was, viewed from my rose-coloured glasses.
And if that wasn’t enough RED for you, I’ll leave with some T-Swift, straight from her appropriately-titled album.