Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: MLS hits back after Italy manager's comments

Yesterday's Scores
None

Headlines
Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the Greek soccer season has been put on hold yet again. This time it's due to a group of supporters attempting to burn down referee Giorgos Bikas's house. Classy. The league and cup competitions will be suspended until the investigation into the suspicious arson attack to be completed. The Greek federation has the full backing of its member clubs and is willing to wait out the investigation for as long as it takes.

There has been a lot of reaction from MLS to Italy manager Giampiero Ventura's rejection of Sebastian Giovinvo because MLS "doesn't count for much." Giovinco's agent spoke up and said it was wrong for Ventura to not even look at the Toronto FC star because of the league he plays in. HE says the role of a national team manager is to look at all eligible players, regardless of where they play. Colorado Rapids forward Kevin Doyle went out and called the criticism of the league misplaced. He went into detail on the defending, in particular, isn't all that different compared to the top leagues in the world. He cited the 4-2 Liverpool win over Crystal Palace as an example. That match was sloppy, yes, but it was also a higher skilled affair.

MLS certainly cannot compare to any of the big five leagues in Europe, but the quality of play isn't something to be laughed off either. It's tough to defend this claim objectively, but all you need to do to see it for yourself is watch an MLS match then follow it up with one from Europe. The passing in Europe is crisper. The shots are harder. The defending is more disciplined. The goalkeepers are smarter and more adept at reaching those harder shots. The defending has to be better in order to cope with the world class attacking options every elite team seems to have. MLS doesn't have that world class ability up front, or anywhere, really. Not even Sebastian Giovinvo, the most feared forward in the league, can compare to the best options the European leagues offer.

This isn't meant to be a shot at MLS, either. It's a fun league to watch and the quality of play has risen greatly over the past decade. No, it's not an elite level competition with stars in the prime of their careers. It's more of a place for Americans to ply their trade in front of their own fans, a place for young stars to get their feet wet before moving onto a bigger league, and, of course, a retirement home for the greats of yesteryear. There's nothing wrong with either of those things, if you ask me. It's just the league's place in the soccer world. It's fun to watch and write about. And that's enough for me.

Today's Matches
World Cup Qualifying- CONMEBOL
Colombia v. Chile- 3:30pm
Uruguay v. Ecuador- 6pm
Paraguay v. Peru- 6:30pm
Venezuela v. Bolivia- 6:30pm
Brazil v. Argentina- 6:45pm

Finally, some competitive action. There were some international friendlies yesterday, but they just aren't the same. The last three days have felt awfully boring without soccer to distract us from the real issues of the world.

50,000 Words of Soccer
I made my calls for who the Timbers should protect in the upcoming MLS expansion draft over at Last Word on Soccer. The word count now stands at 14,788.

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