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Eric Wynalda’s carefully crafted “eff you” to American soccer
May 30, 2012 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Eric Wynalda, US Soccer Hall of Fame striker, and Fox Soccer Commentator, has been an outspoken opponent of many of the current practices of Major League Soccer (MLS) - all the while coveting an MLS coaching position. He has been described as one of the most polarizing figures in US soccer and and a " frickin twitter train wreck” by the owner of the Portland Timbers. Tonight the train wreck pays a visit to Portland.

Wynalda has put together a group of soccer cast-offs named Cal FC, out of Thousand Oaks, CA. Playing in a bottom tier of US Soccer, wearing hand-me-down uniforms of the Chicago Fire, working day jobs and practicing sparingly, Wynalda's team has won two games in the US Open Cup competition over higher rated teams. Tonight they face the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer with a chance to move into the 4th round of the tournament and provide their manager with a measure of redemption.
posted by incandissonance (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Upbeat training montage or it didn't happen.
posted by eugenen at 8:00 AM on May 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


This sounds like the backstory to someone's Football Manager Let's Play. Following that model, it's only a matter of time until they climb to the peak of Champion's League glory against all odds or whatever.
posted by Winnemac at 8:12 AM on May 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


D'oh. Looks like Eric's just a few days too late to be a candidate for the Liverpool job.

On the plus side, there's an opening at Swansea...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:25 AM on May 30, 2012


We are a puzzle that works. We play the game we're in.

11th dimensional shit there.

Not much of a story ... yet. So far the team has beaten the Wilmington Hammerheads. Beat the Timbers and you have a story.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:28 AM on May 30, 2012


Given half of the MLS teams lost to lower-ranked teams last night, would it be news even then?
posted by yerfatma at 8:34 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this a game that might be legally livestreamed somewhere?

If someone knows links, even to liveblogs or somesuch if the above isn't the case, I might be interested.
posted by Anything at 8:54 AM on May 30, 2012


Given half of the MLS teams lost to lower-ranked teams last night, would it be news even then?

This. The LA Galaxy lost 2-1 to the Carolina RailHawks without so much as a stir, mainly because LA played virtually none of their starters, including Beckham, Donovan and Keane who were all out for "rest" (Donovan is playing with the US National Team, Keane is playing with the Irish National Team).

The only difference between this US Open game and the rest is that Paulson seems hell bent on beating the tar out of Cal FC if possible. The rumors are that every starter available will be playing, especially because the Timbers don't play again until June 17th.

I think I might get a ticket for tonight.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:54 AM on May 30, 2012


Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
posted by chillmost at 8:55 AM on May 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the problem with the Dayton Dutch Lions is that they always try to walk it in!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:56 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not much of a story ... yet.

Beating a 4th and 3rd tier team with a 5th tier team that's existed for a month is, in fact, a story. Is it "Leeds United wins FA cup?" No, no it isn't. And they appear to be playing spectacularly well for a side that probably hasn't fully learned each other's names yet.

It is a feat -- it's a statement that Wynalda appears to actually know something about coaching. Now, will that prove out over time? This, I don't know -- but he's basically thrown together a side and is winning games.

I'm still torn on his insistence that MLS must move to match the European League's common fall-to-spring schedule. I can see a lot of good happening, but I'm also imaging January matches in Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, KC, Boston...

The West Conference plays in much more temperate areas (other than the Colorado Rapids) but winter in the Easter Conference is going to be murder, esp. with the demise of the two Florida clubs. When DC is your southernmost city and you are west of the Rockies, that's a formula for an ugly winter.

Checking Sweden, they play the top tier domestic season from April to October, Norway plays a split from March to November, with a month long break in (basically) June, and they do it for the same reason that the US has a summer season -- winter are perceived as too harsh. In Sweden and Norway's case, it's across the league, unlike the US league where about half the cities have playable, if occasionally ugly, conditions throughout winter.

Maybe careful scheduling could make it work -- play the northern stadia in the early and late parts of the season, and the southern stadia in the heart of winter.
posted by eriko at 8:57 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this a game that might be legally livestreamed somewhere?

The Portland Timbers say they will be streaming it on their website tonight.
posted by jermsplan at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does Wynalda have criticisms of MLS beyond "I should never have given up my European career for this"? The articles here focused way more on his bitterness than on any substantive critiques he has.
posted by Copronymus at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2012


Soccer (US) competing with Football (US) is lunacy. Moving to a European schedule would kill MLS. Absolutely kill it.

The espn article says that the Timbers/Cal FC game will stream on the Timbers' website.
posted by andreaazure at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2012


Thank you jerms and andrea.
posted by Anything at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2012


Soccer (US) competing with Football (US) is lunacy.

Don't play on Saturday during the college season, or Sunday/Monday Night during the pro season. You are correct in that MLS cannot compete, you are incorrect in that playing in the fall would force them to compete -- and furthermore, they already do, given that the MLS Cup Playoffs are held in October and November.

Indeed, one of the problems with ratings on the MLS Cup Final? Well, the last one was held on November 20th, 2011. That's Sunday, November 20th. Oh, at 3PM EST/6PM PST. You know, right up against the afternoon games.
posted by eriko at 9:08 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does Wynalda have criticisms of MLS beyond "I should never have given up my European career for this"? The articles here focused way more on his bitterness than on any substantive critiques he has.

Some Googling reveals two critiques that I could find:

1) MLS needs to use the European schedule and
2) MLS players generally, and Landon Donovan specifically, are lazy, a problem that he thinks can be solved by bonuses for performance.

His other criticisms mostly seem to involve claiming that criticizing professional soccer leagues is what the Founding Father fought and died for and insisting that he won't be silenced even though no one has tried to silence him.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:13 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having recently gone through a Game of Thrones marathon, I instinctively started hearing the previous episode recap music in my head as I read the story on the Score.
posted by Anything at 9:27 AM on May 30, 2012


BTW, gosh, the latest episode...
posted by Anything at 9:33 AM on May 30, 2012


Also playing tonight is the Men's National Team versus Brazil (8pm ET from DC). Should be a very entertaining game.
posted by hangingbyathread at 9:35 AM on May 30, 2012


"American Soccer"

Hmm. No matter how I say it, it just doesn't sound right. Honestly, the US ain't corrupt enough yet to support soccer.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:45 AM on May 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also playing tonight is the Men's National Team versus Brazil (8pm ET from DC). Should be a very entertaining game.

Somehow I don't think it's going to go like that game vs Scotland. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:04 AM on May 30, 2012


Did you see that ludicrous display last night?

Mind 'ow ya go.
posted by Artichoke Dance Off!! at 11:16 AM on May 30, 2012


Ex-USMNT striker Eric Wynalda has built a team of players primarily from Southern California

I read that as 'a team of strikers' and was ready to love them :(
posted by jacalata at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2012


The West Conference plays in much more temperate areas (other than the Colorado Rapids)

And RSL. Still though, for either we're probably talking 10-30degF, and probably low wind/humidity. Some of my favorite Rapids games have been in 6 inches of snow, still wearing just my jersey.

That being said, I radically oppose shifting the schedule. Going to a game in summer just feels right, somehow, plus we get the dog-and-pony-show of friendlies (well, this year we have Swansea, whom we might actually possibly conceivably maybe have a small chance at beating).

On my Season Ticket Holder survey this year, they specifically asked whether I liked the Spring-Fall schedule, and I emphatically did. Although, I also emphatically checked the "no" box on "should we have a split table" so who knows if anyone reads them.

I guess what I'm getting at is, fuck you Don Garber.
posted by 7segment at 3:40 PM on May 30, 2012


Game is on now, 0-0 so far.

Can't help but note the smaller size of many of the Cal FC players.
posted by Anything at 7:58 PM on May 30, 2012


Checking Sweden, they play the top tier domestic season from April to October, Norway plays a split from March to November

But the best Scandinavian players play in leagues that run from August till May. And that's the problem the US faces: it could run its league as a feeder operation, but it can't really do so while trying to nurture its domestic league and fanbase. I think the current setup works for the time being: it's honest about the overall quality of MLS, fits fairly well with the international schedule, gives the best players off-season loan and training opportunities elsewhere, and it means that fans can go to MLS matches and see players who wear the national jersey as well as global journeymen.

As for Wynalda's team of part-timers, they'd probably get a game and a decent wage in a lot of other countries, and he might do better to focus on making that possible in the US. I actually sympathise with his frustration: he represents the leading edge of a transition that's going to take 30 years, with periods of stagnation along the way, but I'm not sure how much of it can be forced.

(It's an awful match, by the way: it reminds me of second-round League Cup matches on damp Tuesday nights in September.)
posted by holgate at 8:24 PM on May 30, 2012


Still 0–0 at the end of regulation time.
posted by grouse at 9:32 PM on May 30, 2012


Well at least it won't be a tie! Maybe it'll even end before pks?
posted by Arbac at 9:41 PM on May 30, 2012


Cal FC is winning 1–0 now.
posted by grouse at 9:44 PM on May 30, 2012


As a Sounder's fan, this doesn't even make me happy it's just ... sad.

Props to CFC for playing as well as a team that rarely practices can hope to play.

pats Portland on the back
posted by Tevin at 10:12 PM on May 30, 2012


Oh. My. God.

Puke.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:16 PM on May 30, 2012


well thanks for the thread and the links to the game, that was fun to watch!
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:17 PM on May 30, 2012


Cal FC wins!
posted by grouse at 10:17 PM on May 30, 2012


Wow.

Can't tell if CFC keeper is really good ... or the Timbers front line is that bad?

Should I feel embarrassed for the entire MLS?

so many emotions right now
posted by Tevin at 10:19 PM on May 30, 2012


There was a really nice save of a header goal attempt by the Cal FC keeper at one point.
posted by Anything at 10:21 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


He did have some really nice saves, for sure - I meant overall.

Definitely he did as well/better than Brian Meredith against the Crew last week.
posted by Tevin at 10:23 PM on May 30, 2012


Yeah, I wasn't making an argument really, merely appreciating that save :)
posted by Anything at 10:25 PM on May 30, 2012


From Twitter: '#CalFC players asking the #Timbers players for autographs after the game, PRICELESS'
posted by Anything at 10:31 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks to incandissonance for the post, BTW. Well timed :)
posted by Anything at 10:33 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The lack of MLS interest in the Open Cup is annoying. This is our FA Cup, but the MLS teams play like it's the League Cup. Maybe if the CONCACAF Champions League were more lucrative, perhaps teams like LA would actually risk playing their stars.

That said, you have Cal FC going to Seattle to play the Sounders, the one MLS team that takes the Cup very, very seriously. We'll see what Wynalda whines about. He's playing the Billy Beane Outsider role so well.
posted by dw at 11:16 PM on May 30, 2012


A morning after write-up on the game.
posted by incandissonance at 6:34 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


and highlights...Portland can only blame themselves, several great chances including a PK.
posted by incandissonance at 6:43 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


After looking at the highlights, it really looked liked the Timber were just that bad.
posted by oddman at 9:42 AM on May 31, 2012


5 - nil Sounders!
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:22 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


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