01 July 2012

Catching up from Saturday's blackout

While visiting Maryland for the weekend, I got caught in Saturday's blackout and spent the afternoon and evening sweating bullets in a powerless, wireless house, trying to take care of a couple of rambunctious canines. When reconnected to the world this morning, it seems I missed a stirring soccer Saturday in MLS.

Folks on Twitter kindly informed me that the Galaxy-San Jose game was mandatory viewing, so I had time to watch significant parts of that game and the Houston-Philadelphia game (old hometown vs. current city) before kicking back for Euro 2012 coverage. Here are five thoughts from those two games:

  1. The atmosphere and emotion in the Galaxy-Earthquakes game was, as everybody else has already said, exceptional. It was a great night to showcase the league with a game that had intrigue well beyond the 4-3 scoreline, and it in some ways validated the MLS decision to go to an unbalanced schedule: More rivalry games means more potential for emotional encounters like this one. I now want to watch the October 21 game between these teams way more than I want to see the Galaxy or Quakes play another game against Columbus or Toronto.
  2. Geoff Cameron, who has been sloppy at best sometimes this year, turned in one of his best performances Saturday against Philadelphia. Moved into midfield in Dominic Kinnear's surprise (and effective) switch to match the Union's 4-3-3, Cameron showed off flashy dribbling moves, inventive passes, and hard tackling. He made mistakes, but certainly showed well for a potential move to Europe. I've always thought Cameron was best in midfield, where his height and size make him an outlier, and particularly at D-mid, where he excelled in the 2008 SuperLiga semifinal.
  3. Boniek Garcia appears to be a keeper. The Honduran right wing, who should simply be called 'Garcia' on second reference, both in print and on air, was thrown right into the starting lineup after two training sessions and was everything Houston wanted. He's technical on the ball, but what stood out to me was how he used his body to throw defenders off balance even when making simple passes. He played a big part in both of Houston's goals, defended honestly, and is exactly the additional offensive weapon the Dynamo needed in midfield.
  4. I hope MLS finally punishes David Beckham for his immature petulance. Hopefully you've seen it by now: Beckham, feeling aggrieved from a night of physical play and close decisions, intentionally kicked a ball at a prone opponent during a stoppage in play. Brek Shea got three games for kicking a ball at an official (an act that was far less pre-meditated than Beckham's); I think Beckham's suspension should exceed that one.
  5. An end-zone camera should be a non-negotiable component for every MLS broadcast. The LA-San Jose broadcast, by ESPN, showed us some of the potential of having cameras throughout the stadium, with great angles used to illustrate key calls. The Houston-Philly game, with an understandably smaller production, missed its chance to show the game by choosing not to use an end-zone camera. All three goals could have been better understood by fans with use of an end-zone angle, especially Keon Daniel's goal (which I believe took a wicked deflection other cameras could not detect) and Brian Ching's penalty kick. Adding a camera for every production is a significant cost, but one worth paying.
There's plenty more I still need to see, but those two games were great preparation for the Euro 2012 final.

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