We should be focusing on another highly contentious and entertaining 1-1 draw between the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes. But we can’t. And a handful of fans are responsible for that.
A group of Earthquake fans showered Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe with the puto chant – widely considered a homophobic insult. The same chant that is traditionally employed by fans of Mexico. The same chant that has caused so much outrage and backlash from the organizers of the Copa America.
And despite the club’s magnificent, game tying performance, the San Jose front office was in no mood to celebrate. Instead, they issued a statement immediately after the match, condemning the actions of their fans.
“We are extremely disappointed and shocked at the behavior of a portion of our fan base during our match tonight at Stanford Stadium,” read the statement. “As an organization, we do not tolerate or condone this type of speech at our matches. It violates the Earthquakes and Major League Soccer’s Fan Code of Conduct and any fan found in violation of this code is subject to expulsion and further punishment.”
The timing of the chants couldn’t be worse, coming just 15 short days after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. To make matters worse, it was also San Francisco Pride weekend right across the Bay. In fact, it was Pride weekend in most of America’s major cities, celebrating the LGBT community. Surely more was expected from the San Jose faithful, particularly after MLS’s commendable league wide homage to the Orlando tragedy.
And what about the stage? A club-record 50,816 fans filled Stanford Stadium for the encounter, giving spectators in the arena and viewers at home all they can handle of the divisive chant. Shea Salinas should have been talking about his assist post match. After all, he is an original Goonie, and the table setter on Chad Barrett’s game-defining goal.
Instead, like the Earthquakes front office, he too had to address the chants directly.
“I don’t think there is any place for that in the game of soccer,” said Salinas. “It’s not something as players we condone or approve of. I was not very proud to see that happen at one of our home games.”
And that sentiment was certainly shared throughout the league. DM
Were we too harsh on Frank Lampard?
For a time (a rather long time) it mattered not what Frank Lampard did or said, the outcome was the same – outrage. When he was signed as New York City FC’s second Designed Player only to join Manchester City on loan, delaying his arrival in MLS by six months – rage. With every injury he picked up, sidelining him for even longer – derision. Even when he does make the field – boos. He didn’t help himself by earlier this week admitting his fandom for Phil Collins either.
Not even Rafael Marquez was hung and strung above New York as a scapegoat like Lampard has been over the past two years. Ask any NYC FC fan to surmise their club’s problems and they will likely mention the former England midfielder at some point. Media and supporters alike have taken it in turns to take aim at Lampard. But maybe we’ve all been a little harsh on him.
Maybe we should have cut him some slack. Even during his low points, we all knew Lampard was a good player. Now he might finally be showing it, scoring in back-to-back games as NYC FC have rediscovered their form. His goal against Seattle on Saturday was contentious – with Sigi Schmid openly calling out the midfielder’s handball afterwards – but Lampard is finally pulling his weight (another thing that’s been derided) as a NYC FC player.
Against the Sounders, Lampard was the right-place-at-the-right-time guy he was at Chelsea, arriving late around the edge of the box time and time again. The 38-year-old couldn’t have timed his resurgence any better. With the summer transfer window set to open in Europe the possibility of NYC FC dumping Lampard to replace him with a better-liked, less injury prone (younger) DP had been mooted. Now he has at least made a case for himself. Now he has shown those who doubted him so vociferously that he can at least offer something. Much of the derision directed his way was justifiable, in some part, at the time. Now it’s time to let Lampard be. GR
Does Copa América success justify Klinsmann’s newfound MLS faith?
The relationship between the USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann and MLS has at times been fraught. Don Garber probably doesn’t send the German a Christmas card every year, and if he does the MLS commissioner likely folds in a staunch, bullet-pointed defence of his league – like a disgruntled customer sending a letter of complaint. The rhetoric between the two has cooled of late, though.
While he once complained of MLS’s weakness, imploring his national team players to make the move to Europe whenever possible, Klinsmann now seems to have made his peace with the league. He named no fewer than 10 MLS players to his roster for this summer’s Copa América, with the US making it all the way to the semi-finals. If he once had concerns over the quality and pedigree of MLS they surely have been allayed now.
Of course, it’s not an entirely revelatory that Klinsmann might have changed his stance on MLS and its worth to the national team. The German also selected 10 MLS players to his roster for the 2014 World Cup, when the USA made it out of the so-called Group of Death into the round of 16. Doubts over the suitability of MLS players for the top level of the international game, even in the mind of Klinsmann, must have been quelled as far back as then.
As for the man himself, it’s difficult to gauge public opinion of Klinsmann right now. The opening game defeat to Colombia appeared to be the beginning of the end for the German as national team boss, with media discourse very much weighted against him. But successive wins over Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador stemmed the flow of that criticism. Nobody really knows what to make of Klinsmann’s stewardship now. The narrative has never been more fragmented.
But from a domestic perspective his newfound faith in MLS will surely stand him in better stead. Much of what is used to beat Klinsmann is of his own making, or rather of his own saying. There have been contractions aplenty over the past five years, and he has not been short of those prepared to remind him of them. Yet the USA’s success at the Copa America could see him afforded some leeway, at least by US Soccer and Sunil Gulati. Ironically, after everything that has come before, MLS might have played a role in keeping Klinsmann in his job. GR
The signs of recovery are there for Houston despite collapse to Timbers
Until Sunday evening’s game at Providence Park, the Houston Dynamo’s recovery since the departure of Owen Coyle had followed a common theme. The Texans – for so long erratic and unpredictable under the Scot – became the most predictable side in the league, drawing three straight games. However, in Wade Barrett’s first match as permanent head coach, the Houston Dynamo of old returned.
It was all going so well. 2-0 up with just 26 minutes left to play, Houston looked set for their first road win of the season. The result would have taken them off the foot of the Western Conference, underlining the progress made in the short space of time since Barrett took control, first as interim boss then permanent. The hosts, however, netted three times in quick succession to deny the Dynamo and earn a 3-2 victory.
But despite the collapse in the Pacific Northwest, there are signs of recovery for Houston. Sunday’s defeat was a hard one to take, but there was enough to be drawn from the performance to suggest that things will eventually get better, even if right now things have never seemed worse.
Under Barrett the Dynamo are better organised and harder to beat. That in itself is enough to vindicate the former USA international’s permanent appointment. Before Sunday’s capitulation Houston had conceded just twice in their last three outings, going some way to stemming the haemorrhaging of goals that had so badly crippled Houston under Coyle this season.
While their defence is where the biggest improvement could be found (until the final 26 minutes against the Timbers) with Barrett at the helm, the Dynamo’s attack is where the new man must focus his attentions if he is to make real progress. In Andrew Wenger he has the speed to get in behind a high defence, with Will Bruin revelling in chaos and Boniek Garcia among the league’s most inventive on his day. Inconsistency is an issue, but at least the raw materials are there. Barrett has something to forge a team from.
Of course, all this is difficult to see in the aftermath of a defeat like the one suffered to the Portland Timbers. “I need to look at maybe how I manage the second half and see what I could have done better,” a crestfallen Barrett confessed afterwards, taking responsibility for the loss. But if he is to shoulder the blame for what happened at Providence Park on Sunday he must also take credit for what came before it all went so badly wrong. GR
Kei Kamara’s struggles continue for DC United
DC United’s scoring drought is over, thanks to Lamar Neagle. Kei Kamara? Well, that’s another story.
After 204 minutes of scoreless soccer, DC United finally found the back of the net, beating old nemesis New England Revolution 2-0 at RFK Stadium.
In total, DC suffered 204 minutes of scoreless soccer. That includes an aimless performance against the Seattle Sounders in a 2-0 road loss and an uninspired 0-0 draw against the Dynamo.
This time, in the confines of their old, neglected home, DC came to life thanks to Neagle. A Luciano Acosta cross found Neagle on the far side of the box in the 20th minute. The Washington native lined up the feed, sending a blistering first-time shot past Brad Knighton.
“It was a great goal with great buildup,” DC boss Ben Olsen said after the match. “He had a good night on both ends of the field and it was good to see him score a great goal.”
Six minutes later, Alvaro Saborio sprung Neagle down the right side of the box, past New England’s defenses. With yards of space to maneuver, the DC playmaker spotted Sean Franklin on a 30 yard run into the box for the easy put-away. It was Franklin’s first goal of 2016 and his first since May 2015.
While Neagle’s scoring touch led the way for the home side, New England’s star acquisition of the midseason continued his struggles. Through five complete starts and with seven shots on target, Kei Kamara has followed his boisterous exit from the Columbus Crew with a quiet start to his time in New England.
What made this scoreless effort all the more painful for New England was DC’s weakness at the back. Both defensive starters – Steve Birnbaum and Bobby Boswell – were out for this match, and New England still could not find their way to goal, preserving United’s place as the second-best defense league wide.
“I think we wanted to test the back line as best we could,” Jay Heaps said. “I don’t feel like we did enough of that and we didn’t do that well, from everybody.”
While Heaps says “I don’t think it’s one guy” at fault for the scoring woes, it’s hard to ignore the ineffective Kamara. Through 90 minutes of play, he managed just two shots on goal – and both were well off target. For the thrifty Revolution, that is certainly a disappointment. And with several strikers ready to jump their way into a starting spot, Heaps’ patience will be tested – especially as the Revolution continue to flounder their way through the season.
Kamara was on automatic in Columbus. That isn’t the case now. Maybe playing with Federico Higuain wasn’t so bad after all. DM