The Cheap Seats: Score me a river
actually, they almost are: LD is still only 23, Dempsey only 22. Old World soccer swamis with fake European accents might call that immature, but I call it fun to watch.
And lest we ever forget, "It's entertainment, people."
But the trend goes beyond Donovan and Dempsey. In New England, Pat Noonan is like some kind of desert fox, quietly scoring four goals, two of which were, for my money, the most skillful goals of the season: He curled two shots into the far post against Chicago, poise over power. His running mate, Taylor Twellman is buzzing like he did a few years ago and now has added the heat-seeking-missile run-at-the-defender approach to his game. (Side note: The Revs, a.k.a. Arsenal USA, have scored 14 of 16 goals in open play. "Wow" is all I have to say.)
In D.C., Freddy Adu shut up all his critics last weekend. He was faster and quicker than everyone else, scored a nice goal, and set up a couple others. For his efforts Freddy deservedly earned Player of the Week. Eddie Johnson in Dallas is terrorizing defenses with his speed, flair, and strength. San Jose's Brian Ching has picked up where he left off last season. K.C.'s Chris Klein has returned from injury with a vengeance, picking up four goals in five games. And L.A.'s Jovan Kirovski is playing well finally. Even Jeff Cunningham is showing me something with his play, unlike his former teammates in Columbus, who once again make me want bash my head in with a hardhat.
And I'm not even including the attack-first foreigners around the league, like Chicago's Andy Herron, L.A.'s Pando Ramirez, and even Chivas USA's Hector Cuadros.
I couldn't name the starting defenses for more than two or three MLS teams, but I can come up with the strike partnerships for every one of them. And when the U.S. national team convenes for the next World Cup qualifier, I imagine only one defender from MLS will be in the team -- Eddie Pope. But there will be 10 or 12 MLS attacking players with legitimate chances to be involved.
What a change from the boring, defense-first attitude of the past? Basically, MLS is becoming a breeding ground for strikers and attacking midfielders. A great development. Because, as every teenager will tell you, scoring is what all we really want out of life.
Greg Lalas played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New England Revolution in 1996 and 1997. Send e-mail to Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.