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My Two Cents

My Two Cents

May 6, 2013
The most interesting XI so far

Will Smith, a long-time Red Bulls fan, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

By Will Smith
Special to

We are a third of the way through the MLS season. As always, there are plenty of interesting story lines in and around the league. Of course, it comes as no shock that some of these stories have a local flavor. Here are 11 story lines I have personally found intriguing:

1) Mike Petke abandons the 4-4-3

New Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke was all in favor of playing attractive, attacking soccer with an offensively minded 4-3-3 formation until the Red Bulls went 1-3-2 to start the season. Out with the 4-3-3 and in with the more cynical, defensive minded 4-4-2, The Red Bulls have won four of five with the new formation. The truth is that it's hard to win with a free flowing 4-3-3. The Red Bulls may be winning ugly, but at least they're winning.

2) D.C. United is really terrible

They've lost five straight. They play at dilapidated RFK Stadium. They may never get a new stadium and all they have to cling to are the memories of success from the 1990s and 2004. What a disaster and it's only more ridiculous when coach Ben Olsen complains about the referees after each match. United gives MLS comedic value.

3) What to do with Juninho

Juninho Pernambucaro is a great player. He is the foremost dead ball specialist of the last 20 years and a brilliant passer. He is also 38-years-old and either unwilling or unable to go all out for a full 90 minute anymore. In addition, he provides the Red Bulls with no defensive cover either on the left side or in the middle. When Dax McCarty gets back, someone has to sit or become a late game sub. Will it be the Brazilian veteran?

4) The mysteries of Luis Robles

How can one man look so bad on corner kicks and free kicks while looking so great on penalty kicks and one-on-ones? He makes the easy plays look hard and the hard plays look easy.

5) The agony of Lloyd Sam

Lloyd Sam has speed and an offensive approach to the game. While not a world beater, the Englishman's nearly complete absence from the pitch in favor of Eric Alexander is a mystery. Maybe he shows a poor attitude in training. Maybe Petke only starts guys with last names. Who knows?

6) The ecstasy of Lloyd Sam

Speaking of Lloyd Sam, it's always exciting when he comes into a game televised on MSG because you know that, for some reason, RBNY announcer Steve Cangialosi will excitedly exclaim "Lloyd Sam!" any time he gets within 10 feet of the ball. We'll need doctors on hand for the squealing Mr. Cangialosi if Sam ever scores.

7) Eating humble pie in Toronto

Remember when Toronto joined MLS in 2007? The team and its fans were going to show everyone how it was supposed to be done, both on the field and with regard to supporter culture. Six years later, they have never made the playoffs, have been the very model of instability and attendance is declining. Tell me, friends from the north, is that how it's supposed to be done?

8) Don Garber hates the Cosmos

Well, I don't know if he HATES them, but he sure doesn't like them. With rumors swirling that the Flushing Meadows Stadium project will soon become a reality, the Don, when asked if the Cosmos were in the mix to be MLS' 20th team, said they weren't even talking to them. He then proceeded to mock their involvement in the NASL. It's looking more and more like Flushing will become a soccer colony for English imperialists Manchester City and will take on an awful moniker like New York City FC.

9) What is the goal of the NASL?

Is the North American Soccer League looking to be a great se cond division? A trial league for franchises hoping to one day join MLS? A pseudo first division for under-served soccer markets? A rival to MLS? A potential merger partner? No one knows; not even the people running the NASL.

10) The Town of Harrison has finally figured out the meaning of outbound traffic flow

Yes, in year four of Red Bull Arena, the Town of Harrison has finally figured out how to keep traffic moving out of the Red Bull parking lot and out of town onto the highway. I have been able to get out of the lot and to Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee in mere minutes this year as opposed to past years when the journey took longer than the match.

11) Orlando buys land for an MLS stadium

I hate Florida. It's hot, humid, full of bad drivers and no one there supports their sports teams there. In the early days of MLS, TWO MLS teams floundered there. Nonetheless, Orlando has land set aside for an MLS expansion franchise if NY2 doesn't happen. MLS should resist the temptation and look for a better long term option.

It's early in the season, but it's been interesting. Let's see what story lines develop over the remainder of the season.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
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