The 26th minute moment of silence in honor of Kevin Pierce was lovely.
Tonight’s match was off to a beautiful start. There’s nothing quite so lovely as an early goal to get the crowd worked up and pumping. Sitting in the stadium, my phone was also tuned to the MLS Soccer app. LA went up 1-0 over Dallas. San Jose took an early lead against Minnesota, but then Minnesota leveled. For just a moment—a tiny moment—it looked like RSL’s playoff hopes might just hang on. Then LA fell apart in typical 2017 LA Galaxy fashion. SJ pulled out a last-minute win. And here we are. Two places out of the playoffs.
I’m happy, though, that the storyline isn’t Dallas’s fielding of an ineligible player. SJ’s win put them out of the playoffs, too. It was a ridiculous decision by MLS, but now we can move past it. And how about Dallas’s dive this season? That was spectacular and Pareja has his work cut out for him.
But who cares about Dallas, right? What about RSL!? I’d wager those final few minutes on the field were Yura Movsisyan’s last in an RSL jersey. I’m wondering what’s going to happen with Demar Phillips and Sunny. Are they worth holding onto? And the Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando free agency is going to be a nagging presence until those decisions are made.
We’re in the off season now. And I’d be lying if I said I’m not just a little bit relieved. The USMNT’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago hit me hard. There isn’t a lot of positive coming out of the USMNT right now. The USWNT is still wonderful (and I’d argue that their skill and prowess are bringing up women’s soccer worldwide, which is awesome!). Now we get weeks of speculation. We have drafts and trade windows and contracts and storylines to follow.
There are a few things I’ll be watching for. We need a target guy. We need a long-term heir for Kyle Beckerman. I don’t want to see this club lose Kyle or Nick—they should be here forever and ever in some capacity or another! You know, if they want to. I want to see Javi back in a training or coaching role somewhere in the organization. And what about outside backs? We’re lacking depth there. In fact, I’d say US Men’s Soccer as a whole needs to figure out how to develop strong, athletic, intelligent outside backs. Everyone wants to score goals, but a killer outside back can make or break a game.
So here we are. 2017 is done. 2018 is looking bright. Petke has a long off-season to tinker and play and train and teach. I’m feeling good. Waibel has done some beautiful things with the roster this year. What’s next?
Dallas fields an elephant in goal next season, gets a stern frowning from Don Garber, and goes on to win MLS Cup.
San Jose win MLS cup with a -48 playoff goal differential.
As a neutral, I get to cheer against all other Western Conference teams in the playoffs. Except Dallas. They didn’t make it, either.
At least we’re not LA or Colorado or Minnesota or DC or Orlando or Philadelphia. Or Columbus. Poor Columbus. Someone save the Crew, please.
So who are you going to be pulling for to win MLS Cup?