Expected Narratives

Expected Narratives Week 33: End of Year Awards 2018 by Ian L.

It was a pretty light weekend in Major League Soccer featuring a match seeking to answer that age old question “what happens when the opposite of an immovable object meets the opposite of an unstoppable force?” The answer? Colorado wins 2-0, I guess. That match will probably be remembered more for the altercation following the final whistle which featured two players being showed red cards FIFTEEN minutes into stoppage time so I guess Colorado and MInnesota aren't’ best friends now, which could be problematic as previously they seem to be the only destinations that would actually want some of the other’s lackluster players. I sure hope they work it out. I’ve got $5 on a Franz Pangop for Yannick Boli trade.

But also, Oh my god DC United are just so irresistible right now. It’s like watching Michael Jordan in that flu game but instead of Michael Jordan it’s more like BJ Armstrong and instead of the flu it had something vaguely to do with raccoons. I predicted a few weeks ago that this team would find its way to the postseason and I’m feeling more and more confident about this every week. Watching people eat their crow flavored Pot Noodle about Wayne Rooney has become appointment viewing during office hours. To say Rooney has been a revelation is only true if you’re one of these people who have apparently never once watched Wayne Rooney play soccer. You aren’t seeing some surprising late career renaissance version of a softer more reflective Rooney, you’re getting the same bullish kid in a dad’s body with an innate ability to grab a game by the scruff of its neck and drag it wherever he wants.

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Expected Narratives: Chara's MVP Chances and Dempsey's Place In History by Ian L.

Ok fine. Nothing Josef Martinez has or will do is within the jurisdiction of analysis. He is perfect in every way. He has created 28 goals from nothing. Where once there were scoreless games Josef declared “let there be goals” and he saw the goals and he saw that they were good. I cannot see how Atlanta fans will take issue with this, so I can’t wait to see the ways in which they will. I’m going to say something nice about Philadelphia now, because I’m jealous that other soccer writing people get their pull quotes immortalized in the awesome brushtip font on Twitter. So here we go:

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Expected Narratives: Wazza Saves DC and Josef Martinez is not an Elite Finisher by Ian L.

Ah, Rivalry Week sponsored by Heineken. Who doesn’t want to ride for this twice annual celebration of American soccer’s most storied rivalries and also some ones that MLS just went and made up? Frankly speaking, rivalry week can kiss m-(Editor’s note: I redacted like a whole paragraph here, you’re welcome. Also, Heineken is gross.) - because Atlanta and Orlando are not a real rivalry just because some marketing executive bought a billboar-(Editor’s note: yeah some more here as well) ight- and even if these ARE the most exciting rivalries in the league why not spread those out so you can have a compelling match every couple of weeks? I don’t know folks. I hate rivalry week. It makes the fans extra ultzy, it sort of cheapens the real rivalries, and all these kids will simply not get off of my lawn. Is it mainly because I never spell Heineken right? Mainly. Yes. Whatever.

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Expected Narratives: DRAAAAAAMA by Ian L.

For many in Sports media around the world, Deadline Day is one that is circled three times on the calendar. The reason? DRAAAAAAMA. So much drama. Helicopters being deployed all over Europe, fax machine malfunctions, Harry Redknapp, players just up and showing up at rival teams training facility hoping to force a move, and of course, the heartbreak for fans and players of dream deals falling just short.

MLS does not have this. The league is too centralized. Europe has an entire industry devoted to transfer speculation and rumor mongering that gets fans into an agitated fugue state. That industry is not as well established here in Major League Soccer. Teams tend to be pretty leaky and so there are very few transactions that come as a real surprise. There is a lot of irony on Twitter about various odd situations that demonstrate how “soccer has finally made it here”, but until we get our own Harry Redknapp getting blockaded in his car by reporters on the way home from practice, we’re still just playing dress up.

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Expected Narratives - BWP: The Best and Barco: Bust or Busta? by Ian L.

MLS went full MLS this past week. Unsurprisingly, Josef Martinez broke the hat trick record after escaping disciplinary action despite rather clear and damning footage of him headbutting Chad Marshall in the face. LAFC played too many internationals in their US Open Cup match and were nearly forced to forfeit despite beating Portland 3-2. If there is a hilarious irony to any of this, it’s that Portland would have gone through despite having far more internationals involved. Portland graciously withdrew their protest after learning that LAFC checked with US Soccer first and they said it was cool to play those players. The US Open Cup is an interesting tournament, and the American soccer landscape would be far poorer without it, but if the federation doesn’t actually know how all of the rules work there’s a reasonable argument that maybe teams that don’t take it that seriously are justified in their apathy.

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Expected Narratives: The Loony All-StaHres Edition by Ian L.

They say time flies by when you’re arguing over video review, and would you look at that? We’ve crossed the halfway threshold in the 2018 edition of Major League Soccer. The first half of the season has been a lot of fun if you like to read and talk about Atlanta. Last year’s MLS Cup finalists are more or less dead in the water, two of the league’s best coaches just peaced out to Europe, and with the transfer window opening shortly we’re bound to see some table shuffling over the next few months. We’ve been gone on World Cup duty for the last couple of weeks, so there is a lot to talk about now that I’m back from break. We’re gonna hit a few narratives hard and fast so buckle in.

Narrative: The All Star game is stupid.
Narrative Accuracy: Yes.

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Expected Narratives: Is Josef Martinez the Best Goal Scorer in MLS History? by Ian L.

xN is our weekly look at what you can expect to read, write, and discuss about Major League Soccer this week. We take a look at each prospective narrative and rate it based on its strength and whether or not it has any actual merit.

Remember when we talked about how we should probably chill before awarding Orlando an A tier designation despite their six wins in a row? Well, they’ve had some injuries and finally hit that “good teams” stretch of the schedule and have dropped four on the trot. I’m not saying I was right or I told you so, but if that’s what you wanted to infer from this paragraph’s existence I wouldn’t be able to blame you. I’m patting myself for getting one right because I’m pretty sure my record is going to be more Giovinco taking a penalty than Giovinco taking a free kick by the end of the season. 

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Expected Narratives: Seeing Reds by Ian L.

xN is our weekly look at what you can expect to read, write, and discuss about Major League Soccer this week. We take a look at each prospective narrative and rate it based on its strength and whether or not it has any actual merit.

Last week, I asserted that if Toronto failed to secure three points this week that the talk of the league would be whether or not last year’s all conquering heroes would even manage to make the playoffs this season. Unsurprisingly, they failed to acquire those three points, surprisingly nobody is really talking about it all that much. Well, since I’m CNO (Chief Narrative Officer) of this league now (self appointed, the term is lifelong meaning it remains until such a time as I die or get bored. Smart money on the latter.), I’m going to go ahead and make it a narrative because a) it’s important and b) I can’t really think of another thing to write about this week. I mean I guess we could cover VAR again, but NAH.

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Expected Narratives: Atlanta Doth PRO-test Too Much by Ian L.

xN is our weekly look at what you can expect to read, write, and discuss about Major League Soccer this week. We take a look at each prospective narrative and rate it based on its strength and whether or not it has any actual merit.

Officiating controversy? Naturally. Following Atlanta’s 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, Atlanta players and coaches had nothing but pointed criticisms at Mark Geiger’s officiating. Geiger, who oversaw their 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, was the video review official for Atlanta’s latest “bad feelings” match on Sunday. Were there incidents? Oh indeed there were incidents. To wit: Josef Martinez had a goal disallowed against Sporting Kansas City due to being waived offside (he was offside according to the letter of the law, which is a confusing law, but that’s a different subject entirely) and then had a goal disallowed after video review again on Sunday after he was judged to have fouled Tim Parker in the buildup (it sure looked like he did, but again there’s no way to be sure unless we let the official do something crazy like look at a video of the incident). I digress, but here we are again and although I don’t want this column to turn in to me becoming Simon Borg (THAT’S AN EASY RED CARD FOR ME FOLKS!) I’ve seen more than a few dozen (WHY ARE THE REFS AGAINST ATLANTA?) takes so let’s address the dumbest narrative we’ve done yet.

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Expected Narratives: Sleepless in Seattle by Ian L.

xN is our weekly look at what you can expect to read, write, and discuss about Major League Soccer this week. We take a look at each prospective narrative and rate it based on its strength and whether or not it has any actual merit.

Last week we talked a good bit about Gregg Berhalter’s ability to “whisper” to forwards, and the second publish was hit, I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “Gyasi Zardes is going to score a hat trick this week and it will make my less than enthusiastic endorsement of that narrative look stupid very quickly.” Well, he only scored two goals, but nonetheless it vaulted him to the top of the Golden Boot standings and gosh darn if I didn’t feel a little foolish. Such is the risk in writing things like this and it’s always important to remember that each match brings new information with it and at this point in the season, one match is enough to  swerve a narrative.

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