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MLS Weekend Review

Violence and Infighting Mar American Soccer Weekend

Yes, there were a few good performances worthy of celebration, but the past few days in American soccer will be remembered for shameful behavior by players and one major network. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 09, 2016
5:00 AM

UNLESS YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT the performances of Jermaine Jones or Jordan Morris, this past weekend was a debacle for American soccer. The past few days featured violence, infighting on and off the field, embarrassment, and supposed marquee teams spiraling out of control.

To be fair, it was actually a pretty good weekend for several U.S. national team players. Morris, Jones, and Clint Dempsey all scored while Gyasi Zardes picked up two lovely assists. Darlington Nagbe played well for Portland and registered an assist in a loss. Even non-national team Americans like Juan Agudelo and Sacha Kljestan had very nice moments.

But if anything will be remembered from this weekend, most likely it won’t be anything good.

Jermaine Jones is a beast 

If there was one player who rose above the muck, it was Jones. At 34, he is just an unbelievable competitor and right now he is singlehandedly elevating the Colorado Rapids to a new level.

Jones isn’t overly skilled. He’s not Sebastian Giovinco, Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, or even Clint Dempsey when it comes to technical ability. Jones is just a competitor who finds ways to win. He’s a straight up difference maker. Of course as the United States seeks to improve as a soccer nation it must seek to increase the talent and skill-level of its player pool. That’s crucial. But you also need players who play the game with an unbelievable will to win. Jones has crossed the line on a few occasions where his emotions get the best of him but his value, when in-form, is undeniable.

Colorado should be the worst team in the league but right now it has 20 points—best in MLS. On Saturday night, Jones scored a stunner in a 1-0 win over second place Real Salt Lake

On the flip side, the team he left last season, the New England Revolution, currently boast the league’s worst goal differential.

Jones’ value is there for all to see.

Columbus is in full meltdown

Over the past few weeks, Columbus Crew SC appeared to be a struggling and underachieving club. The same could be said for FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City which are also not living up to their potential. It’s normally not that big of a deal because slumps are not uncommon early in the season in MLS. Over the weekend, the Crew showed that it is not in a simple slump. Instead it revealed a full meltdown.

On Saturday night, Crew SC was leading Montreal 4-1 at home in the second half. Everything was going great for the hosts and it appeared as if the team had turned the page from its early season woes.

Then the wheels came off and the situation devolved into a nightmare. What became apparent in the aftermath is that despite its success last season, Columbus has zero chemistry in 2016. That has now lead to infighting, mental breakdowns, and poor play. 

This became all too clear on Saturday night when the Crew were ahead 3-1 and were awarded a penalty. There was some disagreement over who would take the penalty. After Ethan Finlay suggested Kei Kamara take it, Federico Higuain insisted that he would take it. From there it got ugly.

“[Higuain] said, ‘Let Ethan score.’ And Ethan says, ‘No, you can have it,’” Kamara said of the incident. “Then [Higuain] says, ‘No, I get to take it.’

“That’s selfishness. That’s not a teammate.

“I haven’t really had to depend on Pipa at all,” Kamara continued. “How long have I been here? How many goals have I scored? How many have come from his assists? One, maybe two. I don’t depend on him. I depend on Ethan, I depend on my outside backs to pass me balls.

“I admire [Orlando City’s] Kaká and [Cyle] Larin connecting. I admire [Montreal’s Ignacio] Piatti and [Didier] Drogba connecting. How many times have me and [Higuain] connected? It hasn’t been [there]. But I haven’t had to worry about it because I’m scoring goals. But when it comes to something like [the penalty kick], I really have to get mad about it and I’m really upset.”

Apparently Crew SC supporters are unhappy with each other too.

What a mess. These problems run deep and fixing them will take a lot of work.

Romeo Parkes disgraces the sport

This column is about Major League Soccer, not the United Soccer League, but the two leagues are affiliated and something happened over the weekend that gave soccer in America a black eye.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds forward Romeo Parkes came into Saturday night’s USL game against the New York Red Bulls II having scored in six straight games to earn a spot on Jamaica's 40-player preliminary roster for the Copa America Centenario. Then, toward the end of the contest, after Red Bulls II player Karl Ouimette had been shown a red card, Parkes did this as Ouimette was heading off the field.

It was a pathetic and inexcusable display of pure maliciousness. The USL deserves credit for treating this act promptly, suspending Parkes within hours of the match.  The following day the Riverhounds terminated Parkes' contract and issued an apology

Unimas treats MLS like garbage

For obvious reasons, MLS wants to reach out and attract a Spanish-speaking audience. But the way UniMas has been treating MLS in its Friday night telecasts is third-rate and it should, hopefully, have league officials looking for a new approach. This is not worth it.

For those who have not watched the coverage on UniMas, what happens is that starting in the second half, the network shows a Liga Mx game in the lower-left corner of a picture-in-picture. So for the last 40 minutes or so of the MLS game, you have this Liga MX game taking up a big portion of the screen.

This would still be inexcusable but at least understandable if after the MLS game, UniMas would televise the Liga MX game. But after the MLS game ends, a movie comes on.

All of this suggests that UniMas is simply televising MLS just to show the first 30 minutes of a Liga MX game in a picture-in-picture. 

The end product is terrible. The overall production is devalued and tough to watch. UniMas should either televise the MLS game or televise the Liga MX game—not both.

The question now is what does MLS do about it? Does the league let the network walk all over it or does MLS seek another avenue into the Spanish speaking audience?

The revamped BMO Field 

Toronto FC finally made its home debut after eight weeks on the road as the renovation of BMO Field was completed. One of the key features is that most of the stands are now covered by a roof. On TV at least, it sounds great.

As Toronto went on to defeat a struggling FC Dallas 1-0, the crowd was extremely vocal and created a truly inspirational environment for the home team.

Jordan Morris has arrived

Remember when Jordan Morris was struggling to make an impact with Seattle? That's ancient history. The U.S. national team forward is hitting his stride and on Saturday he scored in Seattle’s 2-0 win over San Jose—his fourth straight game with a goal. 

A few rookie jitters were to be expected, but the former Stanford University star deserves credit for making the necessary adjustments.

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