Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

photo by Muffetvia PhotoRee

farlieonfootie reporting from a recent visit to frigid Toronto, Canada, where he attended the fifteenth edition of the MLS Cup, as the championship of Major League Soccer was decided before an underwhelming international audience:

BMO Field / Toronto, Canada / November 21
  • It's FC Dallas vs. the Colorado Rapids in the MLS Cup Final from Toronto. Toronto, you ask?  Why in the world is the MLS Cup being played in Canada in November? Good questions, as it looks pretty darn cold and windy up in the Great White North tonight. This location was cooked up by the same geniuses who thought the Super Bowl should be played in New York rather than Miami. Steve McManaman looked frozen, as well as VERY orange, as his makeup man used WAY too much orange blush. McManaman looked like an Oompa Loompa.
  • You know you're in trouble when the announcers speak about the two teams in the game being "not the sexiest" sides in the League, and hope that the winner can become "relevant in their home market" if they win.
  • I will say I am suitably impressed by ESPN's production values, with the network employing both Ian Darke and McManaman in live roles, shuttling them over the pond from their typical English locales. It's yet another sign of ESPN's total commitment to the sport, in an effort to capitalize on the momentum generated in the US by the World Cup. My only request?  Please ditch Alexi Lalas; he's about as good an announcer as he was a player, and that's not saying much.

  • Rapids' goalie Matt Pickens looks like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski with his beard. The only thing missing is the package wrapped in brown paper and the log cabin in the woods of Montana. I will say, however, that he looks at home in the cold weather. Of course he'd also look at home in a flannel shirt chopping a cord of wood.
  • There are as many giveaways in the game's first 15 minutes as I usually see in an entire EPL game, as neither team keeps the ball for more than a pass or two before gifting it back to the other side.  Either both teams are supremely nervous -- which is possible -- or the quality of football is not as high as I'm used to seeing. Or both.
  • Looks like a bunch of empty seats at the game, especially in the expensive midfield sections. Either that, or lots of fans chose to dress for the game as red chairs. A sign that MLS charged too much for the tickets, perhaps?
  • The major talking point in the first half?  The supposed penalty on FC Dallas for tripping Connor Casey in the box. Although Colorado's players go ballistic, it's a total dive by the Colorado front man in my opinion, and Connor should be yellow carded, at the very least, for his theatrics.
  • It's quite a first goal by Dallas' David Ferreira, MLS' Most Valuable Player this season. The goal would have been well celebrated even in a higher quality league, and it's worth another view below,  as Benitez brilliantly switches the side of play with a 30 yard diagonal pass to Chavez, who then offers a swerving cross that is remarkably volleyed in by the Colombian Ferreira.

  • The second goal, which tied the game at 1, was a little scrappier. It featured great work from Jamie Smith to get free on the wing, and the cross he offered was of high quality, as well. Ian Darke was generous, though probably accurate, as he called Connor Casey's finish "a goalscorer's goal." I'd call it an ugly goal, as Casey was sitting down on the ground with a Dallas defender and the goalie, and was just a bit quicker to react as he poked it home. Not quite how you'd draw it up on the chalkboard, but I'm sure Colorado will take it.
  • It's an overtime winner, with a freak own goal deciding the match in favor of Colorado in the 108th minute.  Unfortunately, the winner is only witnessed by about half the crowd that was there at the start, as it's either the late hour or cold weather that's done  many of the fans in. It's an appropriately strange winner for a game that has been searching for a conclusion for some time, and for me it sums up MLS: awkward, ugly, and not quite fully formed.
  • It's a dramatic ending, and ultimately a competitive and watchable game, but there's too many giveaways, poor touches and passes behind or to no one for my taste. There's quality there, for sure, but there's also a bunch of journeymen taking up space. I'd rate the end product the equivalent of a mix between England's League One and The Championship. Watchable? Yes. Every day?  No.

Game Day Beer ReviewSam Adams 2010 Winter Lager (5.60% ABV).  An appropriate Winter Warmer for the cold weather game locale, Sam pours a medium copper color with only a small head. The smell is underwhelming, mostly malt, and upon tasting the malt character is highly pronounced but the overall effect is a little thin for my liking, with only the subletest hints of other spices, including cinnamon and orange.  This is not as good in my opinion as the prior year's version: B

This is farlieonfootie for November 28.

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