Welcome to another edition of "Discuss," in which MLSsoccer.com editors debate the topics of the moment in MLS.
Soccer may not be a sport in which there are a plethora of "unwritten" rules, like baseball, but one of those customs is that players should not celebrate when they score on their former teams. It's not a hard and fast rule (maybe why it's ultimately unwritten) but one that is frequently cited when a player puts his or her head down and slumps back to the center circle after what is usually a joyous occasion rather than race around the field screaming with glee.
We got four MLSsoccer.com editors to weigh in on whether celebrating a goal against a former team is fair or foul – Editor-in-Chief Simon Borg, Senior Editor Matthew Doyle, New Media Editor Nick Rosano and Contributing Editor Charles Boehm. So... Should players celebrate scoring against their former teams? Discuss!
BORG: It's wrong to not celebrate
This business of not celebrating a goal against a former club is one of those unwritten rules that has somehow permeated soccer culture to the point where Patrick Nyarko would have been vilified had he dared show any elation in front of Section 8 on Saturday. But I think it’s actually an insult to think supporters are so thin-skinned so as to immediately think Nyarko was trying to show them up by doing his job. Don’t cheat a player and his current fans out of celebrating special moments like goals.
And by the way: Will Johnson was somewhat contained with his celebration in Portland and what did that buy him? The locals still were handing it to him. So let’s admit it’s all a charade and move on: All we want is for our teams to win their game on the weekend, no matter who is playing for our team or the opposition’s.
DOYLE: Are you not entertained?
One of the most iconic moments in recent soccer to me was Emmanuel Adebayor's celebration after scoring against Arsenal back in 2009. This video cracks me up every time.
So was it the right thing to do? Sure! Soccer's about entertainment, and tipping a few sacred cows is entertaining every now and then. Especially if you do it in style.
BOEHM: Every case is different
Unfortunately there are no simple rules here, as each player's situation is unique. After devoting himself to both club and community over eight years in Chicago, Patrick Nyarko stayed true to form with his refusal to celebrate against the Fire on Saturday. But for players who feel hard done by their former club, or even those who score a particularly crucial goal in a particularly big moment, it should be quite understandable if they show a bit of emotion.
ROSANO: Sometimes, players just aren't feeling the celebration
Let’s throw out the unwritten rulebook here — celebrations are a matter of the heart. I took some flak last year on Twitter for supporting Alvaro Morata’s decision not to celebrate against boyhood club Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals (given the occasion), but if it pains him that much to condemn his favorite club to defeat, why should he? The same goes for Johnson, Nyarko and anyone else that scores against a former club. If you want to rub it in after an unhappy part of your career, go right ahead. If you want to show respect to a club with which you have deep ties, that’s fine too.