In my self-appointed role as one of the rationale, less impulsive voices of American soccer – more of a lover than a fighter, I like to say – I like to remind people of this:
Streaks happen, good and bad; but streaks that just happen to launch a season typically reap an extra helping of scrutiny. They become vulnerable to the scourge of false panic or unwise exaggeration.
A couple of Houston Dynamo seasons, for instance, lurched to a slow start. But if you watched the matches, the team really didn’t look too bad. Sure enough, things balanced out and the Dynamo was fine.
Last year, everyone went into an April tizzy about Sporting Kansas City. If you go back and look at the rankings from the time, I did my best to remind that SKC’s three-month death-haul across America to open the season was a crusher, and that Peter Vermes’ men weren’t looking too bad, all things considered.
The same works individually, too. First, three of 34 matches is a pretty small sample in itself, whenever the trio of matches fall. So these little March dips and daps shouldn’t trip the panic switches any more than a three-game hiccup in May or June or July, etc.
Not to pick on this story or this writer, but let’s look at the situation with Vancouver striker Eric Hassli.
The piece sets up a scene of brewing frustration. Some of the evidence was in Hassli’s yellow card last week against D.C. United and the “resulting skirmish.” Well, he wasn’t the instigator in this near-donnybrook. He looked like man in control to me. Besides, crazy stuff is always happening around Hassli (who is actually a placid fellow off the field). Yellow card? That’s usually just known as a “Saturday” around the Whitecaps’ booking-waiting-to-happen. He got eight yellows and three reds last year, after all.
Otherwise, Hassli hit for 10 goals in 2011. Does anyone really think, with 31 matches remaining, that such a sum has become unreachable?
Again, I’m not picking on this this writer. I’m just saying:
It’s still very early. We’re all looking for clues to how this long thing will unfold, but a little patience goes a long way. Let’s be careful about reading too much into too many things, too early.
No reason to set all those pre-season, educated guesses on fire just yet.