Keep calm

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient


ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient (®) takes the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer.

FC Dallas: Now it’s Brek Shea, too? Seriously, did they extend the boundaries recently at FC Dallas’ stadium complex and build over ancient burial grounds? Somebody needs to call a witchdoctor or shaman of bruja or something. At this point, due to injuries or suspensions, seven first-choice starters are out ahead of tonight’s visit by Seattle. Schellas Hyndman’s team has done an admirable job of hanging in there, but this is the West we’re talking about, where things aren’t as forgiving as along the right side of the MLS map. If the turf toe for Shea turns into something lengthy, they’ll be flying the flag of panic, for sure.

Panic quotient: “Hey, dad, thanks for letting me borrow the car last night. Say, tell me again how ‘insurance’ works?”

U.S. Soccer referee assigners: Ricardo Salazar hasn’t been on top of his game, lately. So the federation assigners could give him a little time to clear his head. Maybe Mark Geiger, too, who appears to have blown it on the red card to Blas Perez. Officially speaking, David Gantar did, too, as the one red card he issued to New England that has been rescinded. But if you take these guys out of the rotation, that means more games for guys like Jair Marrufo or Baldemero Toledo, who haven’t seem to catch the new vibe and spirit at times this year, still sometimes defaulting back into old habits and failing to read the riot act to thugs and bad actors. Or it means falling back on guys like Abbey Okulaja, Michael Kennedy or Terry Vaughn, the likes of whom we haven’t seen so much this year. So, really, what’s left to do?

Panic quotient: Sleeping bag in the desert. Nice calm night. Wait a minute! Is something moving down at my feet – inside the sleeping bag?!

David Beckham: There’s no hiding it: the timing of Stuart Pearce’s visit to sunny So Cal really put Beckham in a pinch. According to some reports the Great Britain coach was here to watch two matches. Beckham didn’t play in one, which is revealing on its own. If Beckham can’t play in two league matches stitched closely together, how will those 37-year-old legs perform over back-to-back contests against teams chalk full of young bucks? Then the Galaxy stunk up the joint in the match Pearce did see. And surely the GB manager saw Beckham chucking desperately to get back into position on New York’s goal in that one? Blek. If Pearce liked what he saw, then his scale might just be busted. None of this means Becks won’t be selected after all, politics being what they are. Still, the man is desperate to be part of these London games, and he can’t be feeling peachy about things at the moment.

Panic quotient: See the doctor about a minor skin rash, but Doc wants to show a couple of more docs. Pretty soon: “We’d really like to make this a full-blown case study. Darned if we’ve never seen one like this!”  

TFC’s Bradley: “Responsibility, privilege and passion” on line in playoffs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Michael Bradley #4 of United States looks on against New Zealand in the second half during an International Friendly at RFK Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Toronto FC’s supporters fell in love with the club almost immediately, but it’s taken to Year 10 for the Reds to get a home playoff match.

The latest batch of TFC stars have embraced the battle for relevance, at times even surpassing expectations the lofty expectations of championship-starved Toronto.

[ MORE: Bradley talks TFC renaissance

This is a city which has seen the Blue Jays and Raptors find the precipice of glory in recent seasons, but not reach the apex. The Leafs haven’t been to a Stanley Cup final since the NHL had a whopping six teams.

So winning would be a mighty big accomplishment, right Michael Bradley?


“Being captain or a big player on a team in this city carries an extra weight,” said captain Michael Bradley. “I’ve loved every second of that; playing in this city, for this city, and being captain. It’ll be nights like Wednesday night where the responsibility, privilege and passion that I have for this role will get magnified that much more.”

He has a way with words, doesn’t he? The USMNT captain begins Canada’s quest for a title at 7:30 p.m. ET against visiting Philadelphia.

Whitecaps lock up Welsh coach Robinson through 2020

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5:  Head coach Carl Robinson (right) of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during their MLS game against the Colorado Rapids April 5, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Colorado won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
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Vancouver is hanging onto stalwart coach Carl Robinson despite a massively disappointing season.

The Whitecaps were tipped to compete for the Supporters’ Shield, only to miss the playoffs. There were plenty of excuses for the ‘Caps, including an injury to Kekuta Manneh and the transfer of Octavio Rivero.

And Vancouver is alive as the No. 1 seed in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, also claiming the Cascadia Cup.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high ]

Robinson has signed an extension through 2020, from

“Carl’s body of work over the course of his five years at the club has shown that he is one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in North America. While this past season was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved within the club, we have complete faith in Carl’s continued vision in acquiring the necessary players to build a team that will compete with the best in MLS.”

Robinson turned 40 this month, and has been leading the ‘Caps since December 2013. This is a smart move for both Vancouver and its coach.

PST shortlists Major League Soccer award candidates

New York City FC forward David Villa, left, and New York City FC defender Chris Wingert celebrate Villa's early goal during the first half of the match between New York City FC and Toronto FC, Sunday, July 12, 2015, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
AP Photo/Kevin Hagen
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Major League Soccer’s playoff run begins tonight with Philadelphia at Toronto and LA hosting Real Salt Lake, and it also gives us a chance to run down the regular season.

We’ve already discussed several items, including Portland and Columbus’ historic flops, DC United’s red-hot form, pre-playoff power rankings, and predictions.

[ MORE: Chalobah’s double nutmeg ]

But what about the season that was, the one that saw Bradley Wright-Phillips snag his second Golden Boot and Colorado nearly grab a shocking Supporters’ Shield?

We rounded up our staff’s opinions to put together combined shortlists for MLS awards.

Rookie of the Year

Jordan Morris (Seattle)
Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia)
Alex Muyl (RBNY)
Jack Harrison (NYCFC)
Jonathan Campbell (Chicago)

Newcomer of the Year

Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC)
Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy)
Tim Howard (Colorado)
Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle)
Jelle van Damme (LA Galaxy)
Luciano Acosta (DC United)
Ola Kamara (Columbus)
Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado)

Goalkeeper of the Year

Brian Rowe (LA Galaxy)
Andre Blake (Philadelphia)
David Bingham (San Jose)
Jake Gleeson (Portland)
Luis Robles (RBNY)

Coach of the Year

Patrick Vieira (NYCFC)
Jesse Marsch (RBNY)
Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado)
Oscar Pareja (Dallas)
Greg Vanney (Toronto)

Most Valuable Player

David Villa (NYCFC)
Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto)
Sacha Kljestan (RBNY)
Bradley Wright-Phillips (RBNY)
Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle)

Spanish FF fines Valencia for bottle toss; Chastises Barcelona

VALENCIA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22:  FC Barcelona are hit by objects thrown from the seats after Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona scores his team's third goal from the penalty spot during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Mestalla stadium on October 22, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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Spain’s football federation has fined Valencia about $1600 for the water bottle tossed at celebrating Barcelona players on Saturday.

It’s also criticized Barca’s reaction to Neymar being hit with the water bottle.

[ MORE: Watch the incident here ]

Lionel Messi in particular flipped out at fans, who were furious after Barca scored a match-winning penalty and celebrated near the touch line.

From the BBC:

Spain’s football federation criticised the Barca players for their “exaggerated reaction” and for celebrating in front of home fans, but added “nothing justified” the reaction of the Valencia supporters.

There’s an easy joke to make about playacting/diving here, as Luis Suarez hits the deck despite not appearing to be hit.

But it’s critical to remember that these players at the moment don’t have any idea what’s happened, only that they’ve been hit. And Suarez is covering head, perhaps wondering what’s coming next. Neymar laying on the pitch for a while seems a bit overboard, but I don’t blame Messi nor his teammates for being furious with the supporters.

What do you make of it?