Three major titles in a span of five years.
Everyone is focused on what Spain has accomplished. But on the day after La Roja outclassed Italy in Kiev in the Euro 2012 final, there is also a distinct feeling that Spain could have done more.
No, 4-0 was plenty when it comes to the scoreline. But at 2-0 up, with the match well in hand, Spain really had a chance to transcend.
Italy had raised the white flag with 30 minutes to go. When midfielder Thiago Motta hobbled off the pitch, so too did any real Italian hopes of vanquishing the world champs. He was Italy's last sub and he was done. Italy were down to 10 men the rest of the way.
At that point the mighty Spaniards could have made the ultimate fair play gesture and voluntarily removed a player to even the field at 10-vs.-10.
Whether it was the recently introduced Pedro or even Cesc Fabregas, it wouldn't have mattered with a smattering of minutes left. They would still have won the game and they would have transcended like no team has since the 1970s Brazil side for a simple act of fair play.
They didn't. Instead they chose to keep pouring it on, bringing on two fresh subs who rounded out the score. It was akin to kicking at the cast of a person with a broken leg who just lost a crutch.
But there was one player in red who did opt for Fair Play this weekend.
In the first half of Toronto FC's 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls, Reggie Lambe could have easily hit the deck after he was tugged by New York defender Wilman Conde — it would have meant a red card ejection for Conde. Instead, the Bermudan international chose to stay on his feet. And people took notice. (Watch it here).
“[Lambe] is a young player and a very honest player,” TFC manager Paul Mariner said afterward. “Some players in the world would go down. If you want to be candid then we would have been playing 10 men then. In our position that would have been nice, but my hat goes off to him.”
Too bad we couldn't say the same for Spain.
You've nominated them, now it's time to vote...
Who should win $10,000 for charity and a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game?
One Community MVP has been chosen to represent each MLS club. Only one winner will have the chance to win the Grand Prize, a $10,000 donation to their charity of choice and a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park. MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP Grand Prize voting is now open! Vote now!
There's like a 99 percent chance that, if you're reading this blog post, you also watched the 2012 European Championship final between Spain and Italy.
It was awesome. Even if you had no rooting interest (full disclosure: I'm a quarter Italian, but was pulling for Spain), it's hard not to get caught up when the stakes are that high and the quality of soccer on display matches it.
And it just kills me that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL can't figure out a way to get a "Copa Américas" up and running every four years, starting immediately after the Euros. What an incredible opportunity the two confederations are missing.
Hopefully someday, they'll figure it out.
Anyway, only one real observation this week...
Scoring keeps going up and up and up
OK, now that you've read it, you know that teams are passing more, passing more accurately, passing more aggressively, and as a result (we assume), scoring more. Before this week scoring was already up 12 percent over last season's pace. That will have gone up some more, since in Week 17's 10-game slate there were 34 total goals.
And it's not just a blip. Since the end of the international break, MLS clubs have produced 100 goals in 33 games (thanks to Greg Lalas for that little tidbit).
It's the reversal of a 10-year trend. Back in 2001 MLS averaged 3.28 goals per game; by 2010, that was down to 2.46. Here's the whole table:
2011 -- 2.58
2010 -- 2.46
2009 -- 2.54
2008 -- 2.81
2007 -- 2.66
2006 -- 2.62
2005 -- 2.87
2004 -- 2.61
2003 -- 2.89
2002 -- 3.01
2001 -- 3.28
2000 -- 3.19
1999 -- 2.86
1998 -- 3.57*
1997 -- 3.26
1996 -- 3.37
The key thing here isn't just that MLS have imported guys like Thierry Henry (one of the league's elite finishers) and David Beckham (one of the league's elite chance creators). The league's also kept guys like Dwayne De Rosario and Brad Davis, who've both had overseas interest; they've developed highly rated talents like Chris Pontius and Will Bruin, who've both been given plenty of time to figure out where the net is; and, of course, used the Reserve League to help build Chris Wondolowski, who's turning into one of MLS' all-time greats.
It's a multi-faceted approach to finding and cultivating talent, and the numbers say it's working.
* For those of you who don't remember 1998 for one reason or another ... yes, that season was as crazy as the numbers indicate. Go find some YouTube clips of that year's Galaxy squad — it'll be worth your time.
Dave Wangerin, author of Soccer in a Football World and Distant Corners: American Soccer’s History of Missed Opportunities and Lost Causes, died on Friday, June 29, 2012.
I never knew David Wangerin, but I feel like I did.
His life story is eerily familiar: born in the Midwest, in love with writing, fascinated by soccer’s rich and woefully overlooked history in America.
His articles for When Saturday Comes and his 2006 book, Soccer in a Football World were — and remain — required reading for anyone in the US soccer scene. His regular appearances on various podcasts were always enjoyable.
Wangerin chronicled soccer here from its immigrant beginnings through the 1970s disco heyday of the NASL to the launch and slow rise of MLS. It was all part of his story.
Sadly, we will only be able to imagine the stories he might have told about the future of the game he loved.
What some of my colleagues have said:
RIP David Wangerin, US soccer history expert, who wrote the excellent book "Soccer In A Football World"
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 30, 2012
Enormously sad to hear about the passing of David Wangerin, author of the wonderful "Soccer In A Football World". Far, far too soon.
— Tom Dunmore (@pitchinvasion) June 30, 2012
We picked out a few of our favorites, below. Like them? Hate them? Think you could do better? Get over to Facebook and prove it.
Tune in to the San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy game tonight, June 30, at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN2 and find out which fans got it right.
Take a look at what the clubs have been doing in the community this week in the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Weekly Club Highlights:
For more community news around the League, visit the MLS W.O.R.K.S. news section.
KICK TV seems to be everywhere these days, so it's no surprise that they managed to get Chelsea star Salomon Kalou in front of the camera talking about Steve Nash's recent Showdown in Chinatown and his future in game.
Check out the video to hear what he has to say about MLS.
Ah, le calendrier est bien fait ! Le duel San José - LA Galaxy, toujours très attendu en Californie, tombe à un moment où les deux équipes sont en forme. De quoi prévoir un grand match samedi soir (direct RDS2, ESPN et ESPN Deportes). Le leader craint Landon Donovan comme la peste alors que le champion en titre vise un quatrième succès consécutif.
Cette journée de compétition commence dès ce soir, avec Kansas City - Chicago sur les ondes de NBC Sports Network. Les visiteurs sont dans leur meilleure période de la saison, le Sporting doit une revanche à ses supporters après la claque à Philadelphie.
New York, où Thierry Henry prend la défense de Rafa Marquez sous le feu des critiques, doit obtenir un bon résultat à Toronto dont les attaquants ont enfin trouvé le chemin du but. Ce sera à suivre sur Galavision.
Après un mois sans jouer à domicile, DC United retrouve ses supporters pour la venue de Montréal, dernière équipe à lui avoir pris des points des points sur le terrain. L’équipe de la capitale américaine se méfie particulièrement du trio Warner - Bernier - Felipe.
Notons enfin que des têtes pourraient tomber à Seattle en cas de nouveau mauvais résultat à New England.
LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Vendredi 29 juin
20h00 : Kansas City - Chicago
Samedi 30 juin
19h00 : Toronto - New York
19h30 : New England - Seattle
19h30 : DC United - Montréal
20h00 : Columbus - Salt Lake
20h30 : Houston - Philadelphie
21h00 : Colorado - Portland
22h00 : San José - LA Galaxy
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv
Thanks to KickTV, this blog post is your one-stop shop for the salient highlights from the annual American soccer tradition that is the Steve Nash "Showdown in Chinatown."
When you're done watching all four videos, tell us which highlight you enjoyed most.
1. Steve Nash gets abused by ex-Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers:
2. Elton Brand with a stomach-turning whiff:
3. Jimmy Conrad shows them how it's done:
4. Mike Dunleavy, Jr. takes it like a man - in the face: