By Kyle McCarthy
Robert Pires didn't make any friends in Philadelphia yesterday.
In a case of foot-in-mouth disease at distinct odds with his silky play in the wide areas, the former Arsenal star said he planned to reject his anticipated move to the Union because he didn't find the City of Brotherly Love aesthetically acceptable.
“It does not please me,” Pires told French reporters. “I do not want to be difficult, but left to take my family away, I'd rather do it in a beautiful city. Otherwise, I will put an end to my career.”
While Pires' comments do not reflect whether he retains the ability to influence MLS matches, they do raise questions about whether he would make a suitable addition to the peculiar MLS environment.
If Pires turns his nose up at Philadelphia and declares his distaste for a rather wonderful city, how will he react when he confronts the vagaries of toiling away in MLS? How will he cope with the turf fields? What about the US Open Cup matches at ramshackle venues? Will the agricultural challenges inspire disgust? Will he have the gumption and the humility to work through those problems?
Playing in MLS requires a certain ability to work through a unique set of circumstances in order to thrive. This exchange should bring those issues into stark relief by presenting each side with distinct choices. Pires can choose where he wants to live and determine whether he possesses the personality to adapt to those peculiarities. MLS can choose whether it wants to sign him and whether it will be worth the trouble. It remains to be seen after yesterday's faux pas whether those desires can intersect at a point that suits both parties.
Last week: 3/7 (43%)
For the season: 24/54 (44%)
New England @ Toronto FC – 1:00p.m. (CBC) – Goal.com Preview
The circumstances surrounding these two clubs have changed considerably since the Revolution trounced the Reds 4-1 at Gillette Stadium on April 10. New England hasn't won in the following six matches, while Toronto FC has grabbed points in four out of their past six contests. The main protagonist for TFC, Dwayne De Rosario, will miss this match while away on international duty, so the onus falls on Chad Barrett and O'Brian White to continue their recent form and pick up the attacking slack. Preki will also have to replace Maksim Usanov (one-match ban) and may have to sit Julian de Guzman (hamstring) after he wasn't fit enough to join De Rosario in Argentina. No matter who takes the field for the Reds, they'll have to offer some ingenuity in the final third and submit an earnest shift after the midweek slog in Vancouver in order to pick up the expected three points.
Prediction: Toronto FC win.
San Jose @ Seattle – 3:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview
This particular matchup presents problems for Sounders FC. Opposing teams often enter Qwest Field with the expressed desire to make it difficult for Seattle to break them down. San Jose should follow suit, particularly because the Earthquakes haven't conceded in their past three games. In order to break down the resolute San Jose rearguard, Seattle will have to find a way to stretch the game and use its pace to exploit the Earthquakes' comparatively slower defenders. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid may be tempted to recall Fredy Montero after his matchwinner at New York last Saturday, a move that would add some guile and some incisiveness in front of goal while reducing workrate. Snagging all three points could be difficult if Osvaldo Alonso (right quadriceps strain) misses a second straight game, but Sounders FC should use the boost from the win at New York to reverse the indifferent run of home form to start the season.
Prediction: Seattle win.
D.C. United @ Houston – 8:00p.m. (Telefutura) – Goal.com Preview
Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear will breathe a sigh of relief after Joseph Ngwenya received clearance to finally return to Houston this week. Kinnear needs some attacking choices with Brian Ching away with the United States and Cam Weaver (right knee strain) still making his way back from injury. Ngwenya will likely start on the bench and perhaps enter the fray in the second half, but the Dynamo can't afford to wait until the Zimbabwean striker enters the match to find its rhythm. United continues to struggle in front of goal (six scoreless efforts in eight matches) and in most facets of the game, so a high-tempo start may weaken D.C.'s resolve away from home. Then again, United may look at the Dynamo's binary pattern of wins and losses so far this season and realize a result just isn't in the cards this weekend.
Prediction: Houston win.
Real Salt Lake @ Chivas USA – 10:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
It's all about the ball in this clash. Both teams want it, need it and thrive when they have it. The onus will fall on Chivas USA to find a way to continue its easy-on-the-eyes possession game with attacking lynchpin Sacha Kljestan trying to impress Bob Bradley in New Jersey. Jose Macotelo or Osael Romero could slot right into Kljestan's free role behind Justin Braun if Martin Vasquez opts for a straight switch, but there are other more complex choices available if he believes his side will need more industry in central midfield to help Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski cope with a stiff test. An entertaining draw for the neutrals looks like it could be in the cards here.
Columbus @ Kansas City – 4:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview
The Crew needed to make a statement and Thursday's 3-1 win at New York certainly did that. Perhaps the only problem: the victory came without the suspended Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The Argentine playmaker will certainly press for a recall, though coach Robert Warzycha may wonder how his introduction will impact a side constructed to punish the other team's mistakes. In order to prevail at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on short rest, the Crew will have to rely Eddie Gaven's inspired form – the ex-Metrostar excelled against his former club – and rotate intelligently to add some fresh legs at the back. As for the home side, the Wizards need to start off well and cut out those errors at the back. Even with the Crew at less than full strength on the short rest, it's tough to bet against a side that always seems to find a way to emerge victorious.
Prediction: Columbus win.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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