Brian Dunseth caused a little bit of a stir with his observations about the Portland Timbers. The attitudinal adjustment he recommended to them, does not seem to have taken hold there yet however.
Today he turns his attention to the MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy.
He started with their 2006 history and of how they managed to go from a regular cup winning team, downward, and then back again. Then he talks about the Beckham effect and the trouble MLS will have in replacing it. He has some shrewd observations about his fellow Angelinos.
Frank Yallop came in and he took over the LA Galaxy which at the time was a complete shit show in terms of trying to figure out, top to bottom, from an ownership to a General Manager to a coaching staff, to a players’ group itself; how to deal with this.
All of them failed to recognized what they were in for in terms of David Beckham. Now that you have David, how do you bring in something better?
It’s a case of more and more, and I don’t think it was until Bruce Arena came in that they finally stabilized. Everything was going out and nothing was coming in.
I think their troubles began with GM Doug Hamilton dying on the flight back from Costa Rica in March that year. You go from a team that wins MLS and wins the Open Cup and then within a span of probably 24 months you see essentially every American or MLS veteran player that has had an incredible amount of success in that league being traded away for essentially nothing.
The amount of turnover in that team, if you look at that group from 2006 to probably 2009 when Bruce came in, an absurd amount of players came in and out. A lot of that has to do with just trying to figure it out, trying to get it right.
I think Frank Yallop was a sacrifice from that. Alexi Lalas was probably a sacrifice from that. Once Bruce Arena and Dave Sarachan were brought in, two head coaches with an incredible amount of understanding of the league and how to make it work, things improved.
That first year under Bruce, things happened; the Gregg Berhalters, the Johan Kirovskis, bringing in a Mike Magee for nothing, there were all these educated risks where nothing was going out and everything was coming in.
You add Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez to that mix, three acquisitions off the top, then throw in Donovan, Juninho. Landon’s and David’s relationship becomes a little bit more healthy in terms of the product on the field. There were some great additions: Edson Buddle too. He was dropping 17 goals.
Landon went from having five goals and 19 assists one year to having 17 goals and four assists the next year, showing his adjustment for how he plays depending on who else is around him.
LA went into the 2012 season not sure if they were going to get Juninho back, not sure if they were going to get David back, and with Omar Gonzalez going down early in January. Then somehow you come across Edson Buddle and you feel like even with the loss of Omar that everything is going to be OK.
But no one recognized how big of a loss Omar was, but I think even more importantly–and I think this is vastly underplayed–how big the loss of Frankie Hejduk, Johan Kirovsky, and in particular Gregg Berhalter was to the team.
The team lost a lot of leadership in that locker room by those three going away, and not having someone like Berhalter who could come in and play maybe five, six, seven games and be somewhat sturdy, as opposed to going through six or seven center backs playing alongside Omar, A.J.
With Leonardo being out injured, they never had Berhalter coming in, playing nine, ten games in a row, or six or seven games in a row and then giving five, six, seven games later in the year. They have not had that this year.
From a leadership perspective–I’ll tell you firsthand, Gregg Berhalter will mother**k anybody if things aren’t right. You need that in the locker room. You need that guy who will stand up to anybody.
From a player’s perspective, it is a big loss to take when you are missing a guy like Omar who is so incredibly gifted for an MLS player. He may never get the shot at the U.S. national team that maybe he deserves, but in terms of MLS, just like Salt Lake’s Jamison Olave, he is one of those guys that you want in the lineup in front of your goalkeeper.
Regarding David Beckham, I think they continue to milk the cow because it is a once in a lifetime cow.
I don’t think you’re ever going to find, with the exception of a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo, the dynamic that David Beckham brings. He transcends sport, he transcends pop culture, music , cultural relevance from a hip hop perspective, from a brand perspective, from a modeling perspective, from a sexual appetite perspective, he goes across the board.
Even the straightest guy can say David is a good-looking guy, and he is the type of guy that you want to have a beer with. That’s not available any more.
He is never going to be a 27-year-old again, but his recognition, his ability with the ball, the way he plays, he sees things that not a lot of people see.
The difficult part is, how do you utilize his skills? Do you have a Sean Franklin?
Can Sean Franklin deal with as much defending as he would face if David is in front of him, or do you play David centrally where you know as he is getting up there, he is not necessarily going to have that same amount of legs, but he is going to now have a 360 turret to just wallop players with his passing left and right. He’s also going to be able to spray balls wherever he wants, and play simple, and bring it.
There are very few players who see the game the way David does. David’s legs are not going to afford him the ability to play at a certain level that much longer, but that being said I think it was absolutely crazy for Stuart Pearce not to choose him for selection because–no disrespect to Ryan Giggs,David is going to give you more than Ryan Giggs on the field in terms of set piece quality, service, and from a whole national relevance perspective.
If it comes down to those two, I do not understand, and I wonder if Stuart Pearce maybe felt like Ryan Giggs is a guy he can leave out of his 11 and it will not be that big of an issue, whereas if he leaves David Beckham out of his starting 11, that becomes more press fodder. As we know, in Great Britain, David’s going to sell papers, Ryan not so.
I don’t understand, looking at that group, I absolutely understand Micah Richards. You have to have a young athletic player, but for me looking at that team you can find a young British wide player.
“I think Galaxy will have trouble filling their stadium when David is no longer playing, as will MLS in general. I don’t think it is an LA Galaxy problem, I think it is a MLS problem.”
You cannot find a David Beckham-esque type player where you know from the penalty spot, from a free kick, from a set piece, dead ball from a corner kick perspective, the quality he brings to the team. I do not get it. It is not his form. It is not his fitness.
There is something deeper there.
Playing the conspiracy theorist, there is something there that should not be there.
He has to light the torch, and he’s been there since 2005, the origination of London getting the Olympics, so I think it is a terrible decision and to say it is for footballing reasons alone, I personally do not buy it.
I doubt a lot of people do.
I think Galaxy will have trouble filling their stadium when David is no longer playing, as will MLS in general. I don’t think it is an LA Galaxy problem, I think it is a MLS problem.
With the exception of teams that are selling out on a consistent basis, or near full capacity, you are going to see a dip in attendance, and I say that because it is a very unique situation to lose David Beckham.
I’ll round the horses with, Chicago Fire had lightning in a bottle with Cuauhtemoc Blanco, and once they lost him they thought maybe they could carry that with Nery Castillo.
I call it the Rafa Marquez/ New York Red Bull effect.
Rafa in Mexico is the face of the Red Bulls, so if you take Rafa off the New York Red Bulls, does that suspend their campaign?
It is the same idea with David. David is in one of the most notoriously difficult markets to fill. I’m from LA. We are the most fairweather fans you could possibly have, but come playoffs you are going to see flags flying off the windows, and we are going to be there, and we are going to be tried, true, and tested fans. But we are not.
We have the beach, we have Disneyland, we have Magic Mountain, we have San Diego, we have San Francisco, we have Palm Springs. We can be anywhere we want to be within eight hours’ drive. It becomes a little bit different dynamic.
David is going to get that casual observer; he’s going to get that random housewife who might push a little bit harder to get her kids to go out with her husband. There is just not another David Beckham. You cannot match what he has done.
Cristiano Ronaldo could, if he marries an incredible supermodel who has a stand alone career on her own or someone that is culturally relevant in the big scheme of things, maybe. Somebody like Lady Gaga who transcends music as well, fashion and culture.
It is going to be very, very difficult. I get it from a dartboard fodder perspective, David is the target, and I completely understand why, but he has done more for MLS than anyone ever thought was possible.
I do not think we are going to realize how much of an effect he had on this league’s growth until he is gone, but I think MLS is definitely taking the rights steps to absorb the blow by the quality of the product, taking massive steps each year.
My only concern, like everybody else’s concern, is: are we watering down the product by expanding at the rate at which we’re expanding?
Next up Brian Dunseth looks at his home town club, Real Salt Lake, and later and has some explosive remarks to make on locker room harmony.