Lionel Messi is the greatest soccer player I've ever seen, and it's absolutely incredible to me that he's retiring from international play at age 29.
I know that has nothing to do with MLS, and this column is all about MLS, but let's be real: Everybody's just going to talk about Messi for the next... year? Two years? I honestly won't believe he's done until Argentina line up at Russia 2018 without him (and Javier Mascherano, and whoever else called it quits after what must have been a Red Wedding-esque scene in the locker room after La Albicelete's PK loss to Chile in the Copa America final).
Let's hope, for the sake of Argentina's sanity and our own viewing pleasure, that LeBron gives him a call sometime later in the summer and they have a talk about perseverance and triumph and everything else that goes into eventually winning.
This is all very shocking. And now onto Week 16 of the MLS regular season...
Please Do Not Go
Kaká is one of the few who's ever played in MLS that has been to the particular mountaintop that Messi has apparently given up trying to scale. He won a World Cup in 2002 and, as the takes on social media and elsewhere have shown, once you win a major title with club and country you're canonized.
Kaká obviously deserves all the praise he gets and more, and has been a model DP and a model leader in his 18 months with Orlando City thus far. Saturday night was no different, as he returned from injury and helped lead OCSC to what could very well be a season-defining (and not uncontroversial) 3-2 win over Toronto FC.
He did it in the old-fashioned way: He set up shop in central midfield just underneath the front line, got on the ball, and unleashed hell:
Back to the drawing board for Montreal. They need to figure out if there's a way to have Drogba on the field but still reliably defend from the front. If they don't crack that particular code soon, a season that started with such promise will come to an early end.
A few more things to ponder...
6. The Philadelphia Union have made a habit of playing nothing but entertaining games this year, and they doubled down on that this past week. Wednesday presented us all a 4-3 win over Chicago to enjoy, while Saturday's offering was a 3-2 home loss to Vancouver.
Roland Alberg had four goals across the two games, and the attacking chemistry between him and Tranquillo Barnetta has been undeniable. The problem is that they have a habit of both pushing waaaaay up high and leaving Brian Carroll to defend 1-v-3 in central midfield far too frequently. Vincent Nogueira's departure has unbalanced that part of the pitch.
In both games RBNY went to a five-man backline to try to ride out the attacking onslaught down the stretch, and in both games it didn't quite work out.
4. Two points from two games for the Galaxy this week, with a scoreless home draw against Colorado on Wednesday followed by a 1-1 draw at Stanford Stadium in Saturday night's California Clasico.
The defense has started to round into shape, though with Robbie Rogers' injury and Ashley Cole's red-card suspension, Bruce Arena will now have to figure some things out at left back when Vancouver pay Carson a visit on July 4.
3. Seattle lost 2-0 at home to NYCFC on Saturday, and things seem to be going sour at CenturyLink. Former Sounder Steve Zakuani posted this on his Facebook page:
He's right that the non-handball call on Frank Lampard's goal (which proved to be the game-winner) was a missed call, and he's also right that missed calls aren't why the Sounders lost. Their pieces in midfield and on the wings are mismatched, and each week it's more and more clear that this team doesn't just need midseason reinforcements: They need a midseason centerpiece. Whoever the braintrust brings in has to be able to run the whole show.
2. In the video at the top of the page I talked a bunch about the tactical battle that unfolded in Portland's 3-2 win over Houston (another game with controversial calls & non-calls). This battle happened mostly through the deployment of Diego Valeri, but it's also worth mentioning just how effective Lucas Melano was in the second half of that game. He had a goal and drew a PK, and over the past 180 minutes has looked engaged in a way that had eluded him earlier in the season.
1. And finally, our Pass of the Week goes to Mauro Diaz, who is magic:
That is a pass nobody else in the league even thinks about hitting. Nobody else even knows it's there.
Dallas beat RSL 2-0 on Saturday to keep their grip on second place in the West and are still, I think, the odds-on favorites to take the Supporters' Shield as long as Diaz stays healthy.
How do you even defend against that?