For MLS, San Diego is the right place, wrong time

Full disclosure: I don’t like San Diego sports fans that much. Their fan base seems to be completely fueled by envy of all things Los Angeles and Oakland. If you don’t believe me, ask about the Padres chances and you’ll get a 30-minute screed about how much they hate the Dodgers for their wealth.

The Chargers? Ask a San Diego fan about them and you’ll get an even longer gripefest about the team moving to Los Angeles. Funny thing, San Diego has a lengthy history of losing games and teams to Los Angeles.

But I willingly concede that San Diego is a soccer town. I can’t explain why, but the city used to fill Qualcomm Stadium — a feat the Padres and Chargers couldn’t do — with a soccer team back in the 1970s-80s. The San Diego Sockers kept the old North American Soccer League afloat for years.

San Diego, in my opinion, could support a Major League Soccer team in its sleep. The town should’ve gotten Chivas USA back in the 1990s, only the team and league made a foolish decision of sharing a stadium with the LA Galaxy. Chivas stunk, lost its fan base because LA wasn’t going to support the worst of two soccer teams, and folded.

But San Diego would have enthusiastically supported mediocre soccer. It did before.

MLS has been expanding at a clip that I think is way too fast. Next year, Atlanta United and Minnesota United jump in to grow the league to 22 teams. A year later, the league will try to shoehorn a second franchise in LA again. David Beckham has supposedly been promised an expansion franchise for playing here. He wants it in Miami. That’s 24.

MLS envisions 28 teams eventually in the fold. Keep in mind how stupid this is: the English Premier League, arguably the elite league in the world, has only 20 teams. Serie A in Italy has the same. Bundesliga in Germany has 18.

That leaves four slots left with groups in Tampa, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Detroit; Nashville; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Sacramento; St. Louis; San Antonio and San Diego wanting in.

San Diego would, in normal circumstances, be a wise choice. To be frank, I still believe the city should’ve gotten the second Los Angeles team. The rivalry would have been amazing. San Diego would have drawn fans not just from the area, but neighboring Mexico. The Galaxy are to MLS what the Dallas Cowboys are to the NFL.

It’s not happening.

I don’t see California getting five teams, and Sacramento Republic FC already leads the lower-division United Soccer League in attendance with plans for a larger stadium in place if MLS OKs their plans.

The league has been wowed by the fan base for Orlando City SC, which makes the Tampa Bay Rowdies bid intriguing. And obviously I’ve no way to give a first-hand account, but a lower-division team in Cincinnati is averaging about 18,000 fans per game.

San Diego, meanwhile, has a reputation — a well-deserved one — but it’s not enough compared with the ticket stubs that these other cities can provide. According to a recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the hearty souls who want a team will have to pony up a $150 million franchise fee and build a $250 million soccer specific stadium before 2020. MLS, as it turns out, won’t settle for Qualcomm Stadium any more than the Chargers will.

Or even better, somebody at MLS will come to his senses and say “Wait a minute, we’re going to have eight more teams than the best league on earth,” and stop expanding before it reaches 28.

The upshot is this: Major League Soccer has made more than its share of idiotic decisions, but they are decisions the league will have to live with. It’s nothing personal. It’s just stupidity. For professional soccer, San Diego is the right place at the wrong time.

There has to be more from the Galaxy

I read an authorless column from the Los Angeles Times this morning about how the moves made by the Los Angeles Galaxy were much ado about nothing because the team draws about 20,000 fans per game and the television ratings aren’t stellar.

I’m not sure that’s the point. Major League Soccer has mostly followed a slow-growth business strategy since its inception because it knew it wouldn’t surpass the NFL no matter what Fox News tells you about Colin Kaepernick. At some point, MLS might get ambitious and try to pass the NHL, but where club soccer ranks on the national landscape hasn’t been a factor.

Instead, Tuesday’s moves for the five-time champions appeared to be much ado about nothing because there is nothing to suggest the team will be any better next year. Even worse, it’s hard to tell if the team will qualify for the playoffs next year. Ultimately, that’s what matters to those 20,000 fans per game — which, I might add, is an attendance average that exceeds at least three Major League Baseball teams.

New coach Curt Onalfo is probably a good idea, despite what the afore-mentioned column suggests. True, the Galaxy have excelled at attracting internationally known soccer commodities. In my eyes, though, the least important star should be the coach. The U.S. men’s national team tried that approach with Jurgen Klinsmann and it didn’t exactly help.

In addition to four seasons as an MLS coach, Onalfo has served as the Galaxy’s USL coach. “Los Dos,” as fans like to call the team, has played pretty efficient soccer. To me, letting him run the big club is a sign of continuity. The Galaxy have earned that right to ask for fans’ trust there.

But the incoming players so far are underwhelming, at best. It seems to me the Galaxy have a trustworthy defense that doesn’t need addressing. Midfield and forward, though, are cringe-worthy at the moment. We already know about the departures of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Steven Gerrard and Nigel De Jong. What might be under the radar for fans is that dependable scorers Mike Magee and Alan Gordon are no longer under contract, either.

The Galaxy acquired the rights to two midfielders yesterday. Jermaine Jones is a name MLS fans have heard of. He’s also a 35-year-old reserve. Miguel Aguilar is a guy who couldn’t regularly crack the lineup for his last MLS team. It’s hard to believe either of them will make an impact.

The team has two designated player slots for next year. For the uninitiated, it’s basically a way to circumvent the salary cap to acquire top-level talent. The rule was created so that the Galaxy could add David Beckham back in the day.

The sooner those slots get filled, the more likely we’ll be impressed.

There has to be more… Shouldn’t there? 

It’d be nice to read something hopeful about the Galaxy soon

I don’t expect opinions on Major League Soccer to lead to a spike in page views, but I find the LA Galaxy right now to be far more interesting — and troublesome — than anything social media has to say about the president-elect. That would be because I know virtually everybody’s opinion on the president-elect.

But what the hell is going to happen with the premiere franchise in MLS? I have no idea.

In less than two weeks, the winner of five MLS Cups — and possibly the only club that anyone overseas even notices about American soccer — lost two of its biggest names and its coach/general manager. One of those big names, striker Robbie Keane, is a former MVP and won three titles. Bruce Arena would have been in charge of filling multiple major holes in the roster, only he left Tuesday to rescue a confused and unmotivated United States national team.

We also have no idea if Landon Donovan, likely the greatest player in U.S. history, will return to the team or if he’s content having made a curtain call comeback so his family could see him play.

This is a talent drain both on the field and in the front office that couldn’t come at a worse time, especially after that foolish decision by the league to insert a second team in Los Angeles. Keep in mind: the league tried that before with Chivas USA and that team tanked so bad the league had to pay to keep the franchise afloat.

It’s hard to understate how important the Galaxy is to soccer in the United States. When the league struggled out of the gate more than 20 years ago, Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz purchased multiple teams to keep MLS afloat until it got its financial house in order. The Galaxy also brought welcome international attention to the league when it signed British legend David Beckham, which inspired average sports fans to give the team and soccer a chance.

Losing Arena, Keane, Donovan and Steven Gerrard is — admittedly on a much smaller scale — akin to the Pittsburgh Steelers losing Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethelisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. But for MLS, it’s a headache. It’s one thing for a signature franchise in the NFL to struggle. The NFL isn’t going anywhere if the Cowboys, Packers or Steelers stink for five years.

But MLS might become the fourth most-popular team sport if it continues to grow a fan base. In order to do that, simply put, the Galaxy can’t afford to suck.

The offseason isn’t particularly lengthy in MLS. Baseball ended at the start of this month. Opening day in the major leagues comes about a month after MLS kicks off.

The clock is ticking in Carson, Calif.

Major changes loom for the LA Galaxy

To say the pieces simply didn’t fit is an understatement. The names the LA Galaxy assembled were cornerstones for any franchise in Major League Soccer. The task was to mash as many cornerstones onto the pitch as possible.

The Galaxy couldn’t, after being eliminated from the Major League Soccer playoffs last week. Now, the marquee franchise of the league has no choice but to change.

I didn’t approach the subject last week because let’s face it: most of us were all worked up over the presidential election and its aftermath. But I’m tired of reading about that stuff, so here goes.

When the Galaxy first started playing a version of fantasy football instead of soccer, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The problem is that doing so suggests the franchise figured piling on international stars would simply overwhelm the rest of a league full of North Americans. As international fans will tell you, every continent has a fundamental different style of play. European clubs don’t play the same as South American clubs, for instance. Here in North America, the Galaxy took a sort of European/Mexican/American approach and as a consequence, I think there was little cohesion.

Put another way: Who was the go-to guy for the Galaxy? Robbie Keane? Giovani Dos Santos? Jelle VanDamme? Steven Gerrard? Hell, was it Landon Donovan with his brief comeback?

Consistently successful franchises have a plan, find the talent to fit the plan, and execute. The Galaxy was that type of franchise. Now it isn’t, so it’s incumbent upon the front office to simplify. Change is necessary.

Gerrard is likely the first to go. The former Liverpool midfielder suggested as much in a social media post that stated he will miss the city of Los Angeles. I don’t hate Gerrard. Seems like a great guy. He’s right. He didn’t fit.

This may sound absurd, but I think Keane might be next. He’s a free agent and the former MVP has suffered significant injuries the past two years.

The gut feeling is the team might purge older players and rebuild the team around Dos Santos, who is entering his physical prime, is among the leaders of a pretty damn good Mexican National Team and as a Latino, would blunt the competition for fans that expansion team LAFC will try to swipe.

A Galaxy team that returns next season with a healthy Gyasi Zardes with Emmanuel Boetang becomes lightning quick on offense, instead of one that chooses moments to counterattack. And an effective designated player signing, perhaps at midfield, would make up for the losses of two Europeans who are past their prime. Perhaps if Donovan is committed to a full offseason of training, that would be the guy to take.

I wouldn’t change a thing on defense. The Galaxy was effective there.

In the meantime, time’s a-wastin.’ Anyone who thinks the seasons in baseball or basketball is long hasn’t seen enough soccer to understand that we’ll be talking MLS sometime after Valentine’s Day.

Donovan may help Galaxy, but not MLS

If you’ve heard of the law of diminishing returns, know that I don’t take as much pleasure in sports as I used to. Only recently have I come to grips with sports as an addiction, like heroin or the music of U2. I often find myself watching sports not because of love as much as a function of the autonomic nervous system. I watch because the feeling of “must do” overrides the feeling of “ought to do.”  

For those rare occasions when an athlete does something truly thrilling, I love the guy for that fleeting moment of reintroducing the love of sport. This was the last time I honestly lost my composure watching a sporting event.

So know I love that Landon Donovan, who retired too early in my opinion, returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy last week and played in his first game Sunday in a 4-2 victory over Orlando City SC.

Overall, though, I have a sinking feeling this is a bad idea for MLS. The reason is that the league, while telling us repeatedly about its improving quality of play, rarely acquires an elite soccer player who is still in his physical prime. Indeed, there is a global reputation of the league handing out golden parachutes to international players who want a final decent paycheck before bowing out.

Consider that Donovan is currently the greatest American-born player. He isn’t the most recognizable player in MLS history. That would be David Beckham, who joined the Galaxy at age 32. Beckham’s arrival rang in a rule change for a league that was known for being miserly — the designated player rule. Basically, it’s a financial workaround to bring in a limited number of free agent talent. And other teams responded by bringing in international superstars that were a bit past their prime, such as the New York Red Bulls did with Thierry Henry, who was 33 when he signed.

Orlando City SC and NYCFC made multiple designated player moves to excite a fan base for their first seasons in 2025. Orlando signed 32-year-old Kaka. NYCFC added David Villa, 33, Andrea Pirlo, 36, and Frank Lampard, 37. Lampard’s ballyhooed arrival last year fizzled thanks to age-related injury.

Even when the league debuted, it touted as one of its main draws Colombian star Carlos Valderamma, who was 35 at the time.

Understand, I haven’t much of a clue how to make MLS on the same level as Serie A in Italy or the Premiere League in England. Heck, I wouldn’t know how to lift MLS past Liga MX.

But signing players on the downside of their careers isn’t a solution. If you name your MVP award after a guy, you shouldn’t ask him to play again and expect it to work.

On a personal level, as a fan, I’m glad Donovan is back.

But what’s left of my sports-fried addicted mind knows that this is simply the latest hit of bad heroin.

The week in L.A. sports (8/12/16-8/18/16)

I didn’t post about SoCal sports last week because I was too busy ripping the flesh from my ankles in New York. I averaged 10 miles per day in dress shoes, despite the subway system. I don’t know how women do it in heels. I really don’t.

On the plus side, I learned that my blog needs focus to grow an audience. What type of focus? No idea. So there’s that.

What happened with our favorite teams over the last week? Glad you asked:

Dodgers: The boys in blue took over first place in the last couple of days, which is nice but — and I have daily arguments with people about this — the point is not to win the division. The point is to win the World Series. And this team is unlikely to do that.

Consider these excellent points brought up by the Los Angeles Times on the Dodgers pitching staff.

As a side note, you’ve likely never heard of Joe Davis because Los Angeles doesn’t get to watch Dodgers games on TimeWarner SportsNet, but he’s apparently the heir apparent to Vin Scully — on a year-to-year basis. Davis is a 28-year-old self-described “broadcasting nerd.” Seems nice enough. He currently works with a partner on Dodgers road games, last night with Orel Hershiser.

Davis doesn’t live in Southern California, though, which makes me wonder: If he’s such a broadcasting nerd, wouldn’t you want to hang with Scully for a while?

Rams: More than 90,000 people went to the LA Coliseum to watch an exhibition football game. That’s how stupid the NFL was for not bringing a team here earlier. Angelinos missed football so much that 90,000 of them were willing to leave the Coliseum after the game into that funnel of broken dreams known as the USC parking lot.

Damn, last time I was there for a crowd that big, it was for a Rolling Stones concert. It took more time to leave the parking structure than Mick and the boys spent on stage.

The Rams won with fourth stringers in the fourth quarter, which isn’t good.

An inspired thought from CBSSports.com: Coach Jeff Fisher isn’t as good at assembling a team as you think.

Galaxy: The team has struggled to score recently as its lineup has been missing Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes. LA escaped Colorado with a 1-1 result. Keane returns to action when the team travels across the country to take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium tomorrow.

Lakers: Nick Young appears to be done with the team, not by his choice. The guy, who in his defense was the victim of the D’Angelo Russell videoclip prank in the spring, has actually attempted to mend fences with the teammate who stabbed him in the back. It doesn’t matter. Russell was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, and he’s Nick Young. The Lakers can’t find a trade partner. The talk now is that Young will simply be cut.

Meanwhile, the Lakers also signed Yi Jianlian from China. He was a draft bust from 2007. The No. 6 overall pick played 272 games over five seasons, first with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Clippers: Paul Pierce said he will return for a 19th NBA season, according to the Orange County Register.

Kings: People love lists, so the NHL Network created a time killer, “Top 20 Defensemen in the Game Now.” Drew Doughty is No. 1. Not a bad choice. 

The week in L.A. sports (7/22/16-7/28/16)

The problem with these last two weeks is it has been all politics, all the time. It’s truly difficult to find other things to talk about.

Thank you, Major League Baseball.

So here goes. Let’s take a look at the Southland…

Dodgers: While the team has, in fact, climbed to within 2 1/2 games of the National League West lead after being down by at least seven, I don’t see much reason for optimism yet. First, this rally has been more to do with Giants ineptitude rather than Dodgers competence. San Francisco’s record since the end of the All-Star break has been 2-9, worst in the majors. Do you think San Francisco is going to remain the worst team in baseball for the rest of the year? I don’t.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers still have major problems in their rotation — with no timetable for Clayton Kershaw’s return — and their lineup — the outfield stinks.  The nonwaiver trade deadline is Monday afternoon. LA has been linked to at least three front-line starting pitchers (including a starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, Chris Sale), a handful of power hitters and today, a top-notch closer. The latter rumor is curious. There’s nothing wrong with Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers are going to have to prove me wrong. I don’t accept any of it until it happens. The alleged smartest front office in baseball was in a similar situation last year and did nothing. It also struck out on free agency and trades last offseason. As previously reported, this franchise has six current and former general managers on the payroll and it strikes me that they are micromanaging the team into the ground.

Clippers: Yesterday, news broke the franchise was considering sites on the west side of town for its own arena. … Dude, maybe all this political crap has me too pessimistic but I just don’t see it happening. I think this is posturing for a better deal with Staples Center.

Here’s why: True, the Clippers would generate more income by concessions and parking in their own arena. True, it could possibly revitalize an area the same way L.A. Live sprung up around Staples Center. Triple true, they could recoup some of the money by selling off naming rights to the arena. Quadruple true, the Clippers would control their own scheduling as opposed to being a third wheel behind the Lakers and Kings.

But arenas in a metropolis can cost close to $1 billion now, such as Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Heck, even Amway Center in Orlando cost more than $400 million. You’re telling me that’s going to be paid off in hot dogs and parking vouchers?

Lakers: Let’s just ignore “trade rumors” for a few months, shall we? I mention this because the blogosphere is losing its grip again over Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

What we can talk about is that ESPN projects the Lakers to be the worst team in the NBA Western Conference again. Oh, better than the 17 wins from last year, it claims, but still an awful 25. Sigh… I actually think they’ll pass 30, but that still means they’d stink.

Rams: They did the right thing last night by clipping last year’s starting quarterback Nick Foles from the roster. I can’t imagine the guy being a mentor to top draft pick Jared Goff. Having said that, the team released its preseason depth chart. If the season started today, your starting quarterback is Case Keenum and the best thing I can say about him is he doesn’t suck.

Ever notice how the Dallas Cowboys get linked to every “name” that becomes a free agent? Not that Foles is a big name, but if I were the Cowboys I’d take a flier on the guy. Dallas can’t afford another lost season if Tony Romo gets hurt. And Foles cut his teeth in the NFC East.

Galaxy: Last week, the lads dropped two thunderbolts in the first 12 minutes of the game and held on to knock off the defending champion Timbers 2-1 in Portland. The team is starting to look like one focused on winning a sixth title, playing like it deserved the hype when it acquired Giovani Dos Santos and Steven Gerrard last year. And they play defense, to boot, which was sorely lacking last year.

Kings: Hey, you can’t expect a hockey team to make news in July. Still, if you’re an Angelino, I dare you to look at this and not smile a little.

The week in LA sports (6/9/16-6/16/16)

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com asked a fair question: Why can’t we wait until the end of LeBron James’ career before we talk about his legacy?

The answer: Look to your competitors over at ESPN. James is a 31-year-old man. He came into the league at age 18 and was annointed the next Jordan back then by the network, and this was before the network debuted “First Take” and infected the nation with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. That cheaply produced hype show begat many more. Now, ESPN has 11 shows that feature at least two opinion flingers disguised as journalists chucking poo disguised as original thought.

And all of them, as recently as last year’s NBA Finals, still called James the greatest of all time even though he was about to lose yet another title shot.

I wish I didn’t have to write that. I don’t hate LeBron James. He’s had a damn good career to me.

But don’t direct “legacy” talk here like it’s my fault. Blame ESPN.

Now to the SoCal teams:

Dodgers: There is no good news on the horizon. The team simply can’t hit, aside from shortstop Corey Seager, and can’t pitch, outside of the incredible Clayton Kershaw. At their current pace, the $250 million roster with the alleged smartest front office in sports history will be sellers at the trade deadline. They are six games behind the Giants and only one Dodgers team has ever rallied from more than seven games out to win the division.

The Dodgers have not been to the World Series, let alone won one, since 1988. Every team in the division has gone since, even the Rockies and Padres. There is no reason to expect that streak to break this year.

I have many more thoughts on this plummet to mediocrity, but i will save that for a later time. 

Lakers and Clippers: I just read a rumor that claimed the Lakers will trade starting point guard D’Angelo Russell and starting forward Julius Randle to the Boston Celtics for the No.3 overall pick. Let me get this straight: Two starters — your two best players — to your worst rival for a couple of draft picks?

Now do you see why sports blogs aren’t worth a bucket of chum?

So let’s keep it simple: The Lakers have the following picks — the No.2 overall pick in the first round and the 32nd overall pick. They need height and shooters. In my opinion, they will take the best player available with No. 2 and the best center available at No.32.

The Clippers have the 25th and 33rd overall picks. They could use help at small forward and so-called “wing” players.
The draft will be held one week from tonight, June 23.

Rams: The death of former running back and career criminal Lawrence Philips in prison was ruled a suicide. I’ll shed fake tears the moment I find a needle.

New quarterback Jared Goff finally got to run plays with the first-team offense. The first-team defense confused him, but he said he liked it. In other words, spin. He’s a rookie. He wasn’t going to say anything else, lest he look like a punk.

Kings: Priority free agent Milan Lucic and the team are at a bit of an impasse in contract talks. It doesn’t appear to be acrimonious. The Kings are standing firm at $6 million per year, which doesn’t sound like much unless it’s the NHL. Then it’s a massive amount of dough.

Galaxy: While many of its top players are part of international tournaments, what was left of the franchise began U.S. Open Cup and earned arguably the ugliest win in franchise history — needing extra time to put away a team of amateurs.

Amateurs. Look at the link. The goalie has a bigger beer gut than I have.

This is my problem with the Galaxy. Not that I expect Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, et al, to play 90 minutes of every match, but this franchise doesn’t take tournaments seriously. The Galaxy is to MLS what the Cowboys are to the NFL. If MLS is going to grow on the world’s stage, the LA Galaxy have to dominate these tournaments.

Watching Orlando City soccer, the lion’s share is in rule-breaking

I’m an unusual person. I not only like soccer. I really like Major League Soccer.

It’s not as good as the Premiere League, Bundesliga or Serie A. Hell, Liga MX is a superior product, but MLS is the only thing we’ve got going without getting up insanely early for televised games or moving to Europe.

So I’ve sung with the Angel City Brigade in support of the Los Angeles Galaxy. In my travels, I’ve seen games in Portland (an amazing atmosphere) and Dallas (an inspiring collection of alcoholics) and now that I live in central Florida, I’ve seen a lot of Orlando City SC.

I don’t want to mince words. Watching a 90-minute Orlando City soccer game is comprised of about 75 minutes of pointless mind-numbing brutality and 15 minutes of excellence.

The excellence comes from Brazilian legend Kaka, the onetime best player to walk the planet. Tonight in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact, it was Kaka who left the imprint on the Canadian team with two assists to Orlando’s second-best player, Cyle Larin.

Larin might not be long for the team. When you excel in MLS, foreign leagues come calling. Kaka might not be long, either. He’s in his 30s.

Which leaves Orlando City in a bit of a pickle because the rest of the roster isn’t nearly as good as its swelling fan base thinks it is. The Lions play with no discipline whatsoever, and the result is that they have allowed the most goals in MLS since they debuted last season. They also collect yellow and red cards at an alarming rate — including five yellows Saturday.

But that is not an accident. One could even say it appears to be part of the plan under coach Adrian Heath.

An expansion team in any sport lacks the talent level of established franchises. In soccer, as in the NHL, expansion teams lack defensive talent and usually make up for it by playing a physical brand of defense — tugging on the jersey, extra contact, and so on.

When you are constantly making contact, you will be called for more fouls. It becomes important that — if you lack the speed to keep up with superior opponents — you make up for it with good positioning so that you can disrupt their flow without drawing fouls. Soccer television analysts call it “keeping their shape,” when the defense keeps good positioning.

Orlando City’s positioning is poor. They let so many opponents slip past them, particularly the vastly overrated Breck Shea, that its shape may as well be an amoeba. The consequence is that the Lions are constantly chasing down their opponents to foul from behind, which will draw not only the ref’s whistle, but his yellow and red cards as well.

When you foul somebody that is facing you, it doesn’t look as bad as tackling somebody from behind. That’s just logic.

But good luck trying to find common sense on the Orlando City back line. Of the five yellow cards OCSC earned Saturday, one player picked up a yellow card in his first game back from a suspension. Not exactly a lesson learned from time off.

Yet when Larin was interviewed at halftime about the game’s growing foul count, he said he didn’t have a problem with it. Instead, he urged the team to play with even more aggression, more physicality.

That’s foolish. If you keep getting fouls and cards, a thin roster will be further hollowed out with suspensions. Instead of playing with more aggression, Orlando has to play with more discipline.

So where does discipline come from? The coach? Perhaps, only Heath was suspended by MLS earlier this year. The game he missed out on due to suspension, Orlando lost a winnable game against a struggling Sporting Kansas City.

How can you expect the defense to play with composure when the coach is getting suspended?

If Orlando City played with discipline, look out.

But you can’t tell that to an Orlando City supporter, because when I’ve gone to games they’re too busy complaining about the referees. Look guys, those were fouls. They really were.

For a few moments in Saturday’s game, Lions fans were throwing objects on the pitch.

On the plus side, at least that means those fans have something in common with the players and coach — lack of self-control.