@Jvlaha’s Monday Musings, Episode 1
There’s a new editor in charge of “On The Fire”, and with that, I’ve decided to step up and write a new column. Without further ado, here is the first episode of “Vlaha’s Monday Musings”. Today’s piece comes in four parts…
Part One, “The Empire Strikes Back”, #Schedulegate
First stop on today’s installment is #Schedulegate. Fire fans are justifiably upset about recent schedule changes which apparently were going to happen whether or not the Front Office was going to go along with them.
Although I can’t say that the Fire was a team firing on all cylinders during the team’s 3-2 Ping-Pong victory against Toronto, the team looked vastly improved over recent games. As a result of this win, the Fire could have strutted into our scheduled games Foxborough Massachusetts (this Wednesday) and Montreal (this weekend) with a bit of a “we can do this” swagger…
But wait, the MLS front office and Robert Kraft (let’s call them “Soccer Gods”) decided to postpone the Fire’s possible return to form by accommodating a friendly match between the USA and Mexico. Yes, say that out loud “accommodating a friendly match.” A match where Jermaine Jones and Sean Johnson will not playing!! Even Revolution fans agree:
After the “blind draw”, many Fire fans are questioning why the Fire bothered to accommodate the Revolution. Some have high hopes:
At the same time, I can understand why Montreal “asked the Fire nicely” (I’m making up this quote and scenario) to move the game to accommodate Montreal AND MLS’s Concacaf Champions League aspirations. And I can’t really blame MLS HQ if it issued a decree of “help out Montreal”, if a victory by Montreal will help raise the stature of MLS in the Americas. As Fire fans, we’d like the same courtesy, right? And we’d get the same courtesy in return, right? (Wait, don’t answer that).
For the record, I have done no such thing!
Even if the move to help Montreal was the right thing, I think Anthony Galante’s awesome tweet summarizes how many Fire fans feel about recent events:
Part Two, “Man Crush Monday”, starring Jamie Penedo.
WOW, what a game. I’m watching a replay of the LA game as I type this portion of today’s piece. Before I discuss his heroics, a few random thoughts:
- Penedo is great, but there’s no way he’s 6 feet tall;
- He’s got very soft hands; and
- He’s got another physical gift in his favor, it’s pretty easy to fly through the air when he weighs around 155 pounds (if that).
On a completely unrelated note, congrats to all of the former Fire players who have found success with other teams. I wish none of them only the best – as it proves that at some point in time they were properly scouted but they didn’t gel with the team as it was at the time of their tenure with the Fire.
For example, Baggio Hasidic has matured into a starter for LA. I sat with him a few years ago during a Fire Foundation Luncheon and he was a soft-spoken, level-headed young “kid”. Now he’s a man and livin’ the dream.
His dad sure had guts with naming him “Baggio.” I’m an aggressive crazy, fearless (that means foolhardy) Weeknight and Sunday League goalkeeper, and I never had the stones to name either of my boys after a famous goalie.
Most names don’t flow that well with my last name: Oliver Vlahakis, Gordon Vlahakis, Seaman Vlahakis . . . you get my point. That said, “Lev Vlahakis” sounds pretty good. After all, he was a fearsome looking ‘keeper:
Truth be told, Jaime Penedo has a cool first name – it was mine as a kid (just with an American/English pronunciation).
Now back to my live notes from the LA game and Jaime’s 10 save game:
- JAIME, JAIME, JAIME what a sick save in the 53rd minute.
“Go to Vegas”, nice one Alexi!
- Looks like he will earn three points for the Galaxy with not just one, but multiple saves.
- Another great save in the 55th minute.
- And again, Alexi is spot on, “thou shall not get beat near post.”
- And another gem from Alexi – “if you’re going to go near post . . . it had better be a bomb.”
- 58th minute, more JAIME TIME! A fairly strong punch from the “little guy”, making a big save in traffic coming out to the top of his 6 yard box
- Big save in the 68th minute. A scrappy move to come off his line.
- “Pappa got scared.” Again, Alexi is killing it!
- And Frei had a great save in the 69th minute, but what was so great about it is that by holding ON TO the ball and not slapping it away, he made the save look less spectacular. Kudos to him for not making a routine save into something unnecessarily spectacular. Put another way, a good positioned ‘keeper won’t always have to make a “spectacular” save.
- Jaime’s distribution was pretty decent, though he rushed a few kicks – he almost always punted to a player who was in a good position to get to the ball.
In summary, Jaime should win MLS “player of the week” for his performance. While Timmy Howard may have had more routine saves vs. Belgium, he did not secure 3 points for the USA.
Part Three, Don’t Take My Shipp Away – Unless MLS Reschedules the Game!
I’m disappointed that Harry Shipp didn’t make the call up, especially with the game against the Revolution being rescheduled. Truth be told, if the game was not rescheduled and he was called up, I’d wish he was playing for the Fire.
A fair amount of well-deserved praise has been written about Harry Shipp by other people. That being the case, I’m not going to come up with anything new other than two observations. First, Harry a classy player. He is no Latin-flavored show-off, he’s no fist pumping Robbie Keane and he’s not a cool “bro” type like Alan Gordon. Harry does not have petulant hissy fits – Deuce, I’m talking about you.
Second, Harry is an intelligent person. He was educated at an elite school, but I’m talking about his intelligence as a player. Harry doesn’t simply chase the ball or throw himself to the ground at the first sign of contact. He’s always looking up. If David Accam improves on his already fast pace and avoids getting destroyed by dirty MLS ‘keepers, if and Kennedy Igboananike does what Coach Yallop thinks he is capable of, Harry will have many outlets for his intelligent passing and quiet efficiency.
In closing, after accommodating New England, April 15th would have been a perfect time for Jurgen to pick Harry. Apparently MLS forgot to give Jurgen the correct envelope. Touché to this man on Twitter – this is golden:
Part Four, Random Thoughts on the LA game
I’m going to close this out with a few random thoughts from the LA game.
- Calling all “Rules of the Game” nerds – did you notice the good NOT off-sides call in 87th minute? Watch out people, the off-side rule has been tweaked. Misplayed balls by defenders will “reset the offside” so-to-speak, meaning that a player in an offside position will no longer be deemed offside from a deliberate, but misplayed ball. Don’t have a hissy fit if we get scored on under this tweaked rule. Because you know I’m right, somehow the Fire will get shafted by the “Soccer Gods”. Hopefully it’s not Chris Penso. Here’s a great long piece on the tweaked rule interpretation:http://thelooncall.com/2014/11/12/attempting-to-clarify-pros-offside-interpretation/
- Is it just me or does Julie Stewart-Binks look like a friendly looking Cylon (until she reveals her true nature)?
- What the heck was Keane wearing at the 75th minute? Did anyone get a screen grab? His shirt was right out of the latest “Planet of the Apes” franchise?
- And when did Keane get SOOOO ugly. Oh wait, he’s sitting next to David Beckham. And that’s the danger of sitting next to Beckham. If I stood next to him, I’d look like an Orc.
- End of game handshake. Arena and Sigi are classy guys. They actually great each other as friends at the end of the game and shake hands. Caleb Porter – take note! #Tissuegate. In a related jab, enjoy your 6 points Mr. Porter!
Until next Monday, Cheers!