North West Teams Lament
Tonight the MLS season for 2011 came to an end, the LA Galaxy celebrated with a victory over the Houston Dynamo in the showcase event in major league soccer, the MLS Cup Final.
It may not be exactly the most magnetic sounding title for the penultimate match of North America’s top league, but at least it surpasses the blandly sponsored corporate hack jobs of the college football bowl season or the PGS golfing tour.
It’s doubtful whether too many footie fans are begging for the Orkin’s Pest Control MLS Cup.
However, the finest region of North America may yet have a few notes to take away from the evening’s events at the Home Depot Center in glamorous LA.
Professional sports leagues and their coaches are notorious when it comes to their attempts to emulate winning teams.
For example, after the St. Louis Rams won the Vince Lombardi trophy with their self-proclaimed ‘Greatest Show on Turf’, the NFL was subsequently inundated with copycat teams trying to load up their offences with fast, skilful receivers, so they could bomb away with the ball.
Unfortunately, they tended to lack the centre piece with a cerebral and tough quarterback similar to Kurt Warner.
Similarly, when the New Jersey Devils managed to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup a decade ago while playing their excruciatingly boring trap, it helped usher in a dead puck era where teams tried to lull their opponents (and many of the fans simultaneously) into a coma before capitalizing on turnovers to win their games.
However, unless they could procure a marvellous goaltender like future Hall-of-Famer Marty Brodeur, they were doomed to failure.
The L.A. Galaxy 2011 winners of the the MLS Cup may leave a legacy that other teams will seek to imitate.
The LA Galaxy have gone with the star route, featuring big names such as Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and the illustrious David Beckham playing a flashy passing game, in an attempt to reach the summit.
On the other hand, Houston stuck with a roster of mainly home-grown US players (with a couple of solid low-key imports) and a foundation supporting a sturdy defence led by New Englander Geoff Cameron.
The consistent Hawaiian Brian Ching led the forward line, hoping to poach a goals from loose balls.
Though Seattle had a very good season, they were denied at the playoffs first round.
The Timbers from neighbouring Oregon has a solid campaign, but finished outside the post-season.
And simply put our local beloved Whitecaps unfortunately took their lumps this year.
All three teams will say the right things about what positives they can draw out, but all three also likely harbour major regrets and frustration with how the season finished up.
While all of us here in the cool North West eagerly wait for next year, it will be interesting to see whether the victors of the MLS Cup will affect the blueprints for the future of the Sounders, Timbers and ‘Caps.