The MLS regular season is just about done, several World Cup qualifiers are in the books and the European leagues are underway. So naturally now is as good a time as any to distribute some awards to American footballers and teams across the globe.
We here at "Total 90" would like to add yet another aspect to the semi-weekly newsletter: a mailbag!
I'll tackle any football-related questions you might have in a concise and sometimes comical manner. American, European, international, doesn't matter. Just send the questions along and look for their inclusion in an upcoming mailbag.
Submit questions via my bulletin board or via email. Be sure to put "mailbag" somewhere in the subject line if you are submitting via email. First mailbag will be published as soon as I've got a few good questions to work with.
Alright, on to the awards!
The "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Award" for the team that was all hype and no substance
Remember the excitement surrounding the latest installment in the Indiana Jones series? My roommates and I spent the days leading up the premiere watching the original trilogy and just speculating how amazing the fourth movie could be.
Then we actually went to the theater. Big mistake.
I should have learned after the new Star Wars movies that George Lucas didn't deserve another cent of my money, but I didn't. I forgave him for Jar-Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen, but I'm not sure why. After what Lucas made Harrison Ford do in this latest flick, I told my friends that if I ever express interest in seeing another George Lucas film again, they were to run me over with their cars.
Maybe Lucas should make a film about the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Can somebody explain to me how a team featuring David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle can be so comically inept? This team scored goals to start the season but had all kinds of trouble on defense. Not many teams can win titles when they concede more goals than the rest of the league and by a wide margin at that.
The Abel Xavier signing proved to be an unmitigated disaster, one that typified the reign of Alexi Lalas. Ruud Gullit was the wrong choice at manager, and the team just generally had no idea how to function. This is a team that was leading the Western Conference before the All-Star break, and then went roughly 437 matches until their next game.
If new coach Bruce Arena can improve the defense, the Galaxy may be able to improve from "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" to "Temple of Doom."
The Ali Dia Memorial Trophy for worst signing ever
The Ali Dia incident at Southampton is probably the greatest prank of all-time. Manager Graeme Souness was tricked into signing him by a man posing as George Weah. Dia's prowess on the pitch speaks for itself.
And that brings me to Abel Xavier. He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy (there's that team again!) in May 2007 and quickly set to work becoming the worst defender in MLS. His performances in a Los Angeles uniform were not what one would expect from a former Portuguese international, but perhaps the wool had been pulled over Alexi Lalas' eyes.
After being cut by the Galaxy in June of this year, Xavier actually had the nerve to criticise his coach and the league. Not quite sure what problem he could have with MLS, unless the constant stream of players blowing past en route to goal him hurt his feelings.
The Anti-Wilt Chamberlain Award for the player who can't score
Eddie Johnson. Do I really need to explain this one?
I can't remember the last time he turned in a decent performance at any level. Johnson hasn't scored a goal in England and hasn't scored in quite awhile for the US. He's looking like he could be the most unsuccessful US export since NFL Europe.
The Matt Millen Award for repeated questionable decisions
Bob Bradley has to take this one home in a landslide, and here's why.
I love how tough Bradley has made the US National Team, but his continued insistence on using guys like Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson and Eddie Lewis ahead of Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore defies explanation. Anybody who saw Adu play in the Olympics knows that he is the US' best option as an attacking midfielder. Altidore is basically the anti-Eddie Johnson.
But where were these guys in the early World Cup Qualifiers? Bradley finally called them up for the game against Cuba but they should have been in the lineup gaining international experience well before this. These are two of the best players that the US has ever produced, they need to be playing as often as possible.
The Homeward Bound Award for best homecoming
I think I speak for all MLS fans when I say it's good to have Brian McBride back in the States. He's a great player and played a big role in taking US Soccer to the level that it's at right now. Now he's back in the States after a successful time at Fulham and American fans have the opportunity to see a great US player before he retires sometime down the road.
I plan on making it out to see him more than once next season, and I would recommend that US Soccer fans around the country do the same.
The Crunchy's Home Away From Home Award
This one will require a little explanation. Crunchy's is a bar in East Lansing where I've spent a great deal of time (and money) over the years. It's a bar without any delusions of grandeur and without the steep prices of Buffalo Wild Wings. It's comfort at its best: good beer, good food and sports on every TV. A home away from home.
For Americans playing abroad, their home away from home has moved from Craven Cottage in London to the Ibrox in Glasgow. Rangers have two very talented American midfielders on their roster in Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley. I wonder if Rangers will develop the sort of following in this country that Fulham enjoyed.
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