Friday, April 13, 2007

Random Thoughts On The First MLS Thursday Night Game On ESPN2

Well, last night's LA - Dallas game pretty much shot the hell out of my last post's thesis. In an entertaining game by MLS standards, with the LA supporters providing a good backdrop, the announcing triad of Dave O'Brien, Eric Wynalda, and Alan Hopkins tried way too hard to impress the audience. Here's some random thoughts:

* When did LA become this superior MLS side? They didn't make the playoffs last year, upgraded from a top 6 MLS keeper to a top 3 MLS keeper, lost some of their depth at forward and defense, and picked up a target forward who hasn't racked up a lot of goals in his MLS career. The announcers kept heralding them as this unstoppable team. I just don't see why.

* Frank Yallop rates his fellow countymen way too highly. He just signed one and had him on the field a few hours later. There's a reason Canada's national team sucks, Frankie.

* I did like that rookie, Findley. He's quick and headed in LA's first goal of the season last night. However, he may appear to have a crap touch.

* When did the 2006 FC Dallas team turn into the 2005 Philadelphia Eagles? The announcers droned on and on about how they were a team in turmoil last year. Didn't they have the second best record and just have a bad series against Colorado?

* I loved the parts where they cut away from the game when Hopkins did an interview. If I could see through heads, I could have followed what was going on during one of them. Seriously, if they can show 2003 MLS Cup highlihts in a small screen, they can do it for the sideline interviews.

* Speaking of those 2003 MLS highlights, put it in a corner! It was covering up the damn ball!

* One time, they didn't cut away but asked for Alan's input. He talked for 45 seconds straight. During that time, each team had a chance on net.

* Someone needed to hand O'Brien a note that told him FC Dallas won a game in that building in 2005 against Chivas USA. It's one thing to keep repeating the same thing in a valiant attempt to prevent three seconds of dead air time. It's another thing to keep repeating an incorrect statement.

* The crowd sounded good. Granted, the announcers filled every once of dead airtime they could, so the audience couldn't appreciate them.

* In regards to MLS fibbing on attendance numbers, LA went into the Twilight Zone last night. There were zero fans in the upper deck, the endlines were abour 2/3 full, the TV side was about 1/2 full and the non-TV side was at best 3/4 full. Announced attendance: 23,596. You can tell me that you sold every ticket and half of them just didn't show up. I can't prove you wrong (just like a lot doubt there are actually 27k seats at the HDC), but you can't tell me you sold any seats in the upper deck. I'm totally befuddled by that.

* Eric Wynalda seems like a guy who generally "gets it", but man is he ever a jingoist when it comes to foreign soccer players. He never praised Carlos Ruiz for the way he uses his body to trap defenders into fouling him or giving up space. Just wait for Blanco, Waldo will be in classic form then.

* Dave O'Brien's "you just don't see that in too many soccer matches" when Ruiz started standing 10 yards in front of Landon for corner kicks goes to show how little soccer Dave O'Brien has watched. By the way, he didn't "read" the corner kick that hit him in the head. Why couldn't someone take the time to briefly explain the tactical reason for him standing there?

All in all, I felt like I was watching one big science experiment last night. The ESPN team was busy trying out new angles and features to see if they work. I just hope they ask people who know the game for their feedback.