free page hit counter The Metrologist: January 2006
Not ready to make nice.

Girliest reason for a suspension in history!


Non-Metro, but it's 2 am and I'm getting a little punchy from work here.

Deco banned two games for hair-pulling.

Say hi to Abe Lenstra for us


Life has been busy, and so I haven't yet commented on the major news of the last couple days - stories emerging that not only could Amado Guevara be finding a new home in Dallas (with Eddie Johnson coming back the other way), and Eddie Gaven dosey-doing with NY homeboy Edson Buddle to Columbus, but also that Ante Razov is being linked with a move over to Chivas USA, and a reunion with his favorite coach, for a lil' bit of wampum (and who among us didn't see that coming?)

But just as well, since none of that has come to pass as of yet.

Let's start with the one deal that has gone down: last season's minutes leader and message-boards-whipping-boy, Michael Bradley is off to Heerenveen. Yes, Heerenveen - the "club with tradition", as their website oh-so-distinctively puts it (nb: I love continental clubs that provide English versions of their websites, even if they're pretty bare-bones, and the Dutch are especially good about this.) He'll be part of a club that's just outside the traditional troika of Ajax PSV and Feyenoord, is still competing in the UEFA Cup this season, and has built a reputation for nursing prospects into stars and selling them on. It's going to be a lot of fun to see just how much PT he can pull down, and how quickly. I've never seen Heerenveen play, so your guess is as good as mine there.

come on, this or Yurcak Field on a Wednesday night in August?)

Not bad for a kid who only ever got to play in NJ because Daddy was the coach. Yep, if it wasn't for Mrs. Bradley acting the part of the youth soccer mom from hell, and waving the rolling pin threateningly at Coach Bob when he walked in the door each evening, Junior Bradley (or Mini Bob, another clever nickname there) wouldn't have been playing a major role for the Metrostars - hell, he would have been hard-pressed to walk-on at Ramapo Community College. At least, that's what some of the finer (and more prolific) minds of the Metro message board worlds would have you believe. There is caustic internet rhetoric, of which we're all guilty at some point (for further examples, refer here,) and then there is outright lazy, unthinking crap, bordering on the slanderous but definitely bathed in stupidity and cynicism. Through the previous season, we saw enough of the latter, surrounding a talented kid trying to do his job and acquitting himself pretty well, to last us another ten. It pissed me off to no end then, and months later I still have a hard time letting it go. If nothing else, it drove my opinion of (some of) my fellow Metro fans miles into the earth's mantle; that's hard to square with a feeling built up through following Metro for 10 years, that we have the most intelligent, critical, savvy, funny, human supporters in the American game. Those feelings may be mostly gone - as have a lot of the folks that inspired them, unfortunately.

But, enough. I couldn't be happier for Michael Bradley. He gets out of a situation that was going to go nowhere for him - and that's not even supposed to sound pessimistic about the '06 Metros already. Where there is smoke wafting up around the wispy form of Eddie Gaven, there is probably fire, and I bet that Mike Magee is not making any dates to go out in Manhattan next weekend, either. The Bob Bradley-driven youth movement appears to be coughing up blood before gasping its last and keeling over - not that that's a terrible omen per se, just that it leaves him out in the cold.

It will be a crime, however, if the Metros don't pull down some sort of allocation in return.


On second thought, I'm a little concerned with the thought of our Metro progeny playing on that radioactive Dutch grass.

(I know, there are so many directions to go with the phrase "radioactive Dutch grass", it boggles the mind.)

Then again, he's a Jersey kid, right? Radioactive grass? Plus ca change, plus la meme chose.

Taxdodge - A true underdog story.


Well this is a new one, even for Metro.

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me.

Please direct your attention to the center ring in Secaucus, for the next act in the ongoing Amado-Alexi circus. According to the Honduran press (adding the appropriate skepticism, that should actually read "According" "to" "the" "Honduran" "press"), Amado is so fed up with Alexi that he wants a trade out - preferably to Dallas. Otherwise, he states, he'll just dog it.

Assuming the story is for real, it's hard to filter out what part of this is posturing and what part isn't. Amado's no stranger to this sort of rhetoric (though "I'll dog it", if not proven to be an enormous, terrible misquote, might be a step too far to come back from with an apology).

And surely someone, somewhere is going to respond with something like "oh, those Central Americans! Down there, it's a normal thing for star players to bitch, moan, deliver stinging ultimatums to their bosses through the press and question their own desire to play at 100%! It's all part of the dance, the drama! You just have to play along!"

Well, maybe. But the way I read it, Alexi and Mo aren't interested in this dance or playing along. There's an air of ruthlessness about the Aleximo regime right now - Mo's indelicate comment about "not missing" Tim Ward after the trade last week was a sign of that (Mo, can't you just say "he's a fine young player with lots of talent, but we needed to make this trade to better our team now"? Why kill a kid?) The speculative bit I wrote a few days ago about this coming to a head real quickly between now and draft day is looking a little more clairvoyant this morning. Amado's leverage through all these recurring episodes in the past was his undeniable talent, and the fact that he's the linchpin of the team. For him to even suggest he'd jake it negates the talent argument, and from the p.o.v. of Aleximo, doing a deal now gives you a whole season to draft, sign and build around a stable core. I'm not campaigning for it, and if I'm advocating, it's with half of a very heavy heart - trading Amado would be incredibly difficult, both practically and symbolically. If you believe the stories that he's been shopped without success for months now, then perhaps you have to rethink what he's worth on the market, given the baggage that comes with him. Yet I sense the chances for something - a trade, a sale - coming to pass are increasing.

Bob Bradley apparently is this close to getting Jesse Marsch at Chivas. WTF? Bob Bradley was trying to get Jesse Marsch, every day and every night, for the entire time he was with the Metros. I guess the statute of limitations on Chicago's don't-trade-with-Bob law ran out over the winter.

How'd you like to be a Houston Clashquake? First your team is packed up and moved out of town; you've got to sell your digs and find new ones, the front office and administrative staff you've come to know are almost all eliminated. Now you're told by Corporate that since the new Houston unis aren't ready yet (settling on a team name would be a good first step), you're going to have to play the preseason in old SJ gear. Yeah, I'd be disgusted too.

Fifa cancels opening gala


...and the world heaves a sigh of relief; anything that inflicts less Black Eyed Peas on civilization than is absolutely necessary is to be celebrated. Sepp for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Rumor: Ward to Columbus for Hendo


So sez someone on Bigsoccer.

Conceivable? Sure. Advisable? Possibly. Desireable? Errr..

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: If Metrofanatic says it, that's good enough for me.

Comment in a bit.

The combine; Amado


Combine time is here again, and that makes for one of my favorite times of the year, as far as American soccer goes. See, I'm not a college soccer head at all. In most years the only college soccer I see is the final four, and I missed that somehow, so don't expect me to start expounding on why the Metros need to be picking Garey or Sturgis or Peterson or whoever. Any information or opinions formed on a player - right now I'm all about taking Sacha Kljestan - comes thirdhand (which makes it all seem so much more valid and exciting, ironically - all these players are future SUPERSTARS!). God bless those who are clued-up - some of them are providing a valuable service right now, ahead of the draft in Philly. For the rest of us, the combine kicks off a chaotic, mysterious week during which we'll get our hopes up over guys we've hardly seen, if at all, project how the whole thing might shake out successfully for our club (truth is, we won't know what "success" is for 2 years, at the least), and then watch as none of it comes to pass AND a nice "untouchable" chunk of our team gets shipped away.

It seems to happen that way every year, especially if you support the Metros.

Unlike some other leagues (MLB and the NHL come to mind) MLS doesn't typically experience a wild flurry of activity in the days before the in-season trading deadline. It might be the cap, it might be the relatively rigid nature of MLS squads once the season is underway, but the transaction wire rarely even gets up to orange-hot at the deadline. On the other hand, Draft Day is the focal point of a ton of activity just about every year. Teams go through amazing, contorted transformations on Draft Day, and that can be quite a sight to be behold. So far, all signs point to the Metros being in that dance once again.

I'm sitting here hoping Alexi and Mo aren't planning to tear down this team, but I can't say that they won't. Read the interviews that Mo's given since taking over, and you see it over and over again - new faces, new blood, new attitude are what he wants. "Not good enough", Mo says. And he's right, but from the outside, I wouldn't say we were so bad as to have to start rebuilding again. I'll expand on this later, but I quite seriously believe that if they had just managed to kill off Revolution on that night in Foxboro, the Metros would have won the entire thing. So while improvements are in order, giving up players like Michael Bradley, Mike Magee, Jeff Parke, and (if smoke indicates fire) Eddie Gaven would be an awfully bitter pill to swallow, after we've already endured 2-3 years of their growing pains. We could do without another shake-up. Will Bradley - a dirt-cheap, solid starter and future star - be dealt to purge the most prickly reminder of his father's regime? Will Magee - by now a versatile part, if not the Twellman Mk. II I foresaw him becoming - go as well? How about Parke, who can't possibly be as bad as last year made him look? It's one thing if Mo's got a vision, but I'm especially uninterested in plans of this sort if they're done solely to further Lalas's agenda of big name stars.

Which makes what I'm going to talk about next sound a little hypocritical.

If retooling is in the cards in Secaucus, then it may require cutting the deck right at the Metros' best player, and greatest potential albatross.
I'm talking, of course, about what Metrofanatic calls the Guevara conundrum, now quickly gathering steam over the issue of Amado playing in an exhibition game in Honduras a few days ago, sans team permission.

We've heard his opinions on the refs, on his pay (both legitimate gripes).
We know he wasn't happy with not getting to trial at Blackburn (an even more legit beef - it's odious of MLS to hold him back from that chance, regardless of how good he is for the Metros, but that's league m.o.).
Now this.
At what point is enough, enough?
And if it isn't enough now, what if there's a good chance it will be halfway through the season, when there ain't much to be done about it?
If Alexi Lalas, Mo Johnston, and you, Metrofan, want the transcendent Guevara, the MVP-caliber Amado possessing incredible ball skills and the ability to dominate a game, you're simply going to have to put up with the Guevara of stupid cards, whining to the media, and unsanctioned jaunts to play for a team thousands of miles away. Embrace the Guevara that explodes with a hat trick against Colorado, wires the last kick of the game into the top corner against Chicago, or dispatches penalties (usually) in cold blood, and you'll have to suffer the Guevara that bogarts corner kicks (terribly) and free kicks (inconsistently), takes the bait from cagier opponents, slows and diverts Metro attacks with his dilly-dallying nearly as much as he electrifies them, and, as we saw in the homestretch last season, has the ever so slight inclination to canine it if he's not happy.

Some might dispute this, but I don't quite know how; Amado Guevara is the greatest Metrostar ever. This team has never had a player who has performed at such a high level, so consistently, effectively and durably, for so long. Not Donadoni, not Clint, not Gilmar (!) He is, as much as can be said of anyone on a team that now draws 15,000 on an outstanding day and hardly ever troubles the NY area sports radar, the Metros' icon, the Metros' face. In times to come, we will be talking about these years as the Guevara era. But for all the moments of brilliance, there's real reason to doubt if the Metros' Guevara era will ever include a championship.

That's the underlying premise of this blog - discovering and describing what it's going to take for the Metros to win their first MLS Cup (and their next, and the one after that, and so on). That's all I'm really concerned with, nothing else. It should also, of course, be the only thing Alexi, Mo & co. are thinking about. Amado's amazing when he's on....but is he the one to lead this team to a title?

A good question. Remember, that generally speaking, when a team trades one big talent for several smaller talents/prospects/picks, that team almost always comes out on the short end. Even more so in MLS, where a solid vet with a high salary can be had for a late round pick.

As I said...look for this to come to a head rather quickly in the next 10 days, one way or the other. That's if Alexi & Mo are playing things smart. A pacified Amado or a gone Amado. We'll have a hard time getting to the promised land with an unsettled Amado.

Worst. Metro. Memento. Ever.


On Ebay, as that cuddly anarchist collective from Leeds once sang.

I want this almost as much as descendents of the Austro-Hungarian royal family want the "Scenes of Sarajevo" set of commemorative plates.

My other jersey's collar is popped


Non-Metro related, but...

Logan's Revenge is passing around a purported shot of the WC '06 Nike unis; not to bite on his traffic but here it is.

All well and good, right? I'm not a total uniform nut, so I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of aesthetics and all that; as long as a shirt is not aggressively obnoxious or putridly ugly (and you can all think of some examples yourselves), I'm good. And the US version actually looks pretty nice, nice enough for me to splash out for sometime this spring. But....what's that on the Dutch kit? Is that...could it be...a collar? Damn you, Nike. You know all you had to do was slap that on the US shirt - all you had to do was stitch that on anything, even the denim thing from '94 - and every soccer nerd in America, myself included, would be camped outside the Nike store to get at it.
C'mon, just do it.

Not even two years on and...


that splashy televised raffle for Jerseyite and should-be Metro Danny Szetela is looking like a real success, isn't it?

First off, Brit press hyperbole aside, we can't be sure this is anything more than a workout trip; and even if an offer was forthcoming, you can count on MLS acting pissy and holding the boy back. But if the door was to open somehow, all we can say is, "go Danny, go". No one, but no one is going to blame you after the way you got screwed here.


Your 2006 Metros - A work in progress.


It's January 5th, 2006; 94 days before the start of the 2006 Metrostars season. Following the signing of Scottish D/M Peter Canero, and the parting of the ways with Colombian bust Sergio Galvan Rey, can't-pass defender Chris Leitch, and only-can-pass mid Mark Lisi, this is your current Metro squad.

16 Michael Bradley M, F

1 Jon Conway GK

23 Danilo da Silva D

10 Youri Djorkaeff F, M

24 Eddie Gaven M

26 Taylor Graham D

20 Amado Guevara M

21 Jason Hernandez D

7 Mike Magee M, F

4 Carlos Mendes D

1 Tony Meola GK

5 Jeff Parke D

99 Ante Razov F

22 Tim Regan D, M

6 Seth Stammler D

2 Tim Ward D

13 Zach Wells GK

With two weeks to go before the Superdraft, we're finally due for the first real news about the Metros and MLS since the end of the season - minor trades and waivers aside. A good place to start The Metrologist Report - as of this moment, the only blog I know of devoted to Alexi's Swamp Circus - The Metrostars. They're my team - after 10 years, the pride I utter this with could only be tinged with perversion and masochism - and this is where I'll try and dissect, (semi-regularly, semi-critically, and quasi-intelligently) what the hell's going on there. Stop by here once in a while for any (mostly) Metro-related news, rumors or thoughts that come down the pike.

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