MLS Roundtable: Inaugural Edition

Joe GSenior Writer IAugust 22, 2008

Greetings and welcome to the inaugural edition of the MLS Roundtable! Offering their views for the first edition are World Football community leaders Andrew McNair and Salaar Shamsi, EPL top writer Jeff Harbert, La Liga fanatic and editor extraordinaire Dakota Rubin, and MLS community leaders Thomas Leemon and myself, Joe Guarr. In one column, you have some of the most enthusiastic football writers on Bleacher Report.

If you'd like to suggest a topic for future Roundtables or even participate, leave a note on my profile. Now, onto the questions!


1. The LA Galaxy have brought in former US National Team coach Bruce Arena. Is he the right man for the job?


Bruce Arena is a very experienced manager and did a great job with the U.S. National Team over the years. He may well be the man to gel the stars at Galaxy. They need a stabilising factor, as they are underachieving with the resources they have.

I'm sure Bruce is happy to be back in the limelight.


Well, I'm not too sure about that. The L.A. Galaxy have just parted ways with the likes of Ruud Gullit, who, despite being a decent manager, had a terrible run there.

Bruce Arena is someone that knows American soccer inside out, so he surely has the experience to take up the post, but the quality is lacking, as far I'm concerned.


The L.A. Galaxy have really struggled this season, and it's about time we saw some change in the Galaxy organization. If there's anybody that can finally help the Galaxy turn things around it's Bruce Arena. The former U.S. National Team coach already has the experience of coaching in MLS after his stints with DC United and the New York Red Bulls.

Despite losing to the Chicago Fire in his first game in charge, Bruce Arena will finally give Galaxy fans something more to smile about than their famed winger—David Beckham.


Well, as we saw against the Fire, it is going to take a while for the team to adjust to Arena, but I think eventually it will be a good move.

This season is lost for the Galaxy, and I personally believe they would have been better off keeping Cobi Jones at the helm for the rest of the season. He knows the system and the players, and with less than half the season remaining, it is important that the team have some consistency if they hope to make the playoffs.

I think, in the long run, it will be the right move, as Arena is a great boss, but it should have waiting until the end of the season.


For the Galaxy's situation, Arena is a good choice. He's had a great run at places he's been. He already knows a few players at the Galaxy, so the team is somewhat familiar with his methods. I don't think that the Galaxy would've been able to get a European coach anyways.


Departed coach Ruud Gullit walked around the locker room with an, "I'm Ruud Gullit, who the hell are you?" attitude, and as a result, the team didn't listen to him. He didn't understand the American game, and Bruce Arena does. He has won MLS Cups before, and he'll do it again in Los Angeles. Not this year though, as he's got some serious rebuilding to do. Great signing for L.A.


2. Will Landon Donovan be in an LA Galaxy uniform after this season?


I don't think he'll be back in Europe. As for another MLS club, I'm not really qualified to speculate. He's had his chances in Europe but has never really cut it, and that sticks in the memories of potential buyers.

If I was staying in the MLS, I doubt I'd want to play anywhere but L.A.


It's very important for the L.A. Galaxy to keep Donovan because he has a lot of quality, and with the likes of David Beckham and Eddie Lewis by his side, he can make a difference.

However, he has had a stint in Germany before and another move to Europe is surely on the cards, with a number of Premier League sides hopeful of securing a deal. Having said that, I feel it's best for Donovan's career to stay put and I think he will.


Landon Donovan clearly loves playing in MLS, and I don't expect to see him making the move to Europe any time soon. His past experience in Europe with Bayer Leverkusen isn't anything special to look back on, and the United States' forward isn't keen on encountering the same circumstances again.

Donovan saw a lack of playing time in Germany and found it extremely difficult to settle in a different country. Landon's reunion with former National Team coach Bruce Arena will provide him with further incentive to stay at the Home Depot Center for another season.


I hope not. It is really time for Landon to move on. He has done everything he is capable in MLS and needs a new challenge. Whether that is in the EPL or somewhere else in Europe, I don't know, but come January, Donovan will be moving.

I think it will be a real hit for MLS, as he is one of the true stars, but for U.S. soccer and the national team, it is a dream come true, as their best player will finally compete against the best players in the world and hopefully will be able to raise his game to the next level.


I say Donovan will be in Galaxy uniform. Maybe a few weeks ago I would've said he won't, but since Lalas was fired, I think Donovan will stay. He had a bad run last time he was in Europe. Now that the Galaxy look like they're trying to turn their season around, Donovan will want to be a part of it.


L.A. certainly hopes he'll stay, as any title hopes they have for the immediate future will be dashed without him. MLS also hopes he'll stay because he has been the face of the league for years. And Landon has not been that interested in moving abroad of late. He seems very comfortable in MLS. He'll stay, and the league will rejoice.

While him staying isn't the best thing for the U.S. soccer program, it is the best thing for MLS. The interests of both parties don't always align.


3. Which American will have the biggest influence in Europe this season: Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Brad Guzan, or Maurice Edu?


It has to be Maurice Edu at Glasgow Rangers. He'll be the one I'll be following closely, and even in person, at Rangers games. I hear he has real potential, and I can't wait to see what he can offer Rangers and the Scottish Premier League.

Edu has less pressure on his shoulders than the likes of Freddy Adu, and that could well be the deciding factor.


I was personally very disappointed with Freddy Adu's performance at Benfica last season; he didn't live up to all the hype. However, I think, at Monaco, the expectations will be less, and I'm backing him to show his true potential.


Freddy Adu will begin a yearlong loan with AS Monaco as soon as he returns from the Olympics. It will provide the 19-year old with good experience, but I doubt he'll be grabbing the headlines anytime soon.

Jozy Altidore, on the other hand, is more than equipped to finally make a name for himself in Europe. His big-money move to Villareal will provide the perfect platform for the young American forward to flourish in one of the most competitive leagues in all of Europe. Don't be surprised if Altidore makes an impact in the Champions League as well.

Brad Guzan will feature on the rare occasion for Aston Villa, but his main job will be to learn from one of the best in the business: Brad Friedel. Maurice Edu was a rock for the U.S. in the USA's back four in the Olympics, and I expect him to make a big impact in Scotland for Rangers. If there's any USA player that will thrive in the spotlight, this year, however, it's definitely 18-year old Jozy Altidore.


I think we can throw Brad out of this equation immediately, as he is behind fellow American Brad Friedel, and it looks like Villa plan on keeping it that way for at least this season. I think it will be the right environment for Guzan to learn and grow into a great keeper.

Altidore will face a similar learning experience, as he is joining a team with plans of winning La Liga and the Champions League. He will get playing time during cup games, but otherwise I see his first season as a learning experience—a fantastic learning experience.

That leaves us with Edu and Adu.

I think both will see significant playing time for their new clubs, and I can see both making a major effect. Adu will be expected to play with Monaco and be their creative catalyst in the midfield, and if he sees enough of the field, we could start to see the signs of the revelation that was predicted when he was just 13-years-old. 

That being said, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Edu will have the biggest influence this season. Rangers is searching for playmakers and the infusion of fresh blood with fresh attitudes. That is exactly what Edu is, and I see him doing very well in his first season in Europe.


I think Jozy Altidore will make the most splash. He's at a great club that has a chance to do well in La Liga. If he performs in Spain like he did with the Red Bulls, he'll do just fine.

Most Europeans already know that Americans can do well as goalkeepers. Freddy Adu should've just stayed with DCU. He's had a bad run, but I hope that improves with Monaco. Maurice Edu is good and he's with a great club. But I don't know if he'll get much time at the Rangers to show his stuff.


I'm going to go out on a limb and say Freddy Adu, and here's why.

Up until the U.S./Netherlands game in the Olympics, I probably would have said Maurice Edu or Jozy Altidore, but Adu absolutely dominated that game. He was given the freedom to roam in midfield and create for his teammates.

America's first goal was created by Adu. The Dutch knew that the U.S. game would be run through Adu, and yet they couldn't do anything to stop him. When that Dutch team, the team with so many international accolades, can't shut down Adu, you know he's poised for a breakout year.

Hopefully he'll be utilized in that same attacking-midfielder role at Monaco, so he's allowed to have this kind of impact on a game.