Mailbag: Bundesliga Race, MLS, Who Would Win a Staff Fight?

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Q: Why do Everton suck?

*We answered this question last week, but Jon requested a standing order, and we were only too happy to oblige.*

A: Damn it , Jon, Everton don’t suck. THEY BEAT YOUNG BOYS BERN AND LUKAKU SCORED A HAT TRICK.

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU’RE PART OF A TEAM.

Oh, you meant in the Premier League? Well, okay then.

I think Everton have been caught in the same trap that Borussia Dortmund have been caught in this season: they have no plan B for the teams that aren’t really surprised by them this season, Tim Howard is regressing, and last, but not least, injuries have hit this team hard.

Roberto Martinez’s first season in the blue side of Merseyside was anything but blue, as Bobby introduced a new style of play that his defensively inclined predecessor, David Moyes, shied away from.

Everton were fun, exciting, and a genuine threat to make it to Europe. Then they were fourth. And nothing was the same.

While Martinez’s offensive inclinations were a breath of fresh air, on the other side of the ball, Everton weren’t doing so great, with Tim Howard sometimes keeping them in games and winning them singlehandedly. That has dried up this season, and we are seeing the result.

Injuries have also taken a toll, as Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Howard have all missed considerable time with various niggles.

Also gone is the element of surprise. Like the Phoenix Suns last year, Everton surprised a lot of teams by attacking. Bobby Martinez did something in his first year that David Moyes has never done in his tenure at Goodison Park: beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. Martinez also figured out a way to stifle and confuse Arsene Wenger by deploying Romelu Lukaku as a right sided winger alongside false nine (and Ballon D’Or winner) Steven Naismith. That is gone this season and teams have adapted to Everton, while the Blues sat idle.

If you recall, Martinez’s last season at Wigan saw the team from Greater Manchester win the FA Cup over Manchester City. That same season also saw Wigan relegated from the Premier League.

Luckily, it isn’t as dire for now 12th place Everton, and they have done really well in the Europa League, where the aforementioned issues aren’t as much of a hinderance.

This couldn’t come at a better time for Everton, as winning the Europa League this year gets you into the Champions League. And isn’t that what Bobby promised all along?–Ahmad

Q: Who’s grabbing the third Bundesliga CL spot and what makes you think so?

A: It’ll be a dogfight for the final Champions League spot in the German top flight. Schalke currently have that final spot, but they are level on points with surprising Augsburg and have Leverkusen breathing down their necks at two points back. Hoffenheim are five back. franco-di-santo-v-augsburg_3264557Werder Bremen are on fire and have pulled to within five as well. And who could forget about a resurgent Dortmund squad, winners of three on the trot and nine back?

I wrote about Roberto Firmino and Hoffenheim earlier this year; they are high on entertainment value but aren’t true contenders for that final spot, fun as they are. Franco Di Santo and Bremen have played great as of late–unbeaten in six, including a critical triumph over Hoffenheim–but only Hertha Berlin have played worse away from home. What’s more, Bremen have benefited greatly from a 35% conversion rate (12 goals/34 shots on target) over those six games, and that percentage has come down the past two matchdays. They’ll cool off.

Augsburg have hit a critical stretch of the season, and perhaps the pressure has started to get to Markus Weinzerl’s men; they blew a 2-0 lead against Frankfurt two weeks ago and needed a #KeeperGoal to secure a point against Leverkusen yesterday. They’re winless since the Dortmund game.

(Speaking of Dortmund, they could reach Europa League, but I think they dug too deep a hole and have too many teams to conquer in order to finish fourth. Plus, Champions League.)

Which leaves us with Leverkusen and Schalke. I favor Leverkusen not only for Roger Schmidt’s high-tempo, hyper-aggressive pressing style and superior squad, but because Schalke have been unhealthy and stale and uninspiring for swathes of this campaign. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar didn’t sustain a serious injury against Real Madrid and is nearing the end of his six-game Bundesliga ban, but Schalke weren’t particularly good when he was playing.–Jeremy

Q:  How many years until MLS is as attractive as a league like, say, the French or Portuguese leagues?

A: Major League Soccer is interesting, because I’ve always had lots of interest in it, but for many people, it’s hard to get into. Considering that I’m now a New York City FC season ticket holder, MLS should be more exciting than ever for me to watch.

But the problem with MLS is that Americans bash it for bringing over old, washed up players, hence why you hear people calling it “Men Leaving Soccer,” an abbreviation that’s up there in my “most annoying soccer abbreviation” ranks, because domestic supporters that are supposed to support their own league are bashing it by saying that the Premier League or La Liga is way better. Well, no shit, every Captain Obvious that proclaims that.

I’m not saying all Americans are bashing on their own league; many MLS clubs have incredibly passionate fan bases. But in order for the league to progress, broadcasting 16-David-Villa-holding-still4Cweboutfits are going to have to break the bank.

MLS has ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision broadcasting their games through the 2022 season; the colossal broadcasting outfits are there, but the problem at hand is the way the networks brand it (particularly ESPN). Unlike NBC Sports with it’s Premier League coverage, is terrible. When you watch EPL games on NBCSN, you have Goal Zone and post game interviews. It’s like ESPN shows more World Series of Poker reruns than MLS.  

The sad reality about MLS is that the interest level domestically has never held a national piqued interest. Attendance has increased yearly, but MLS isn’t the couch potato’s league. I’m hoping in the next five years or so that it’ll compete with the Portuguese Liga, Ligue 1, or even Serie A with the current crap they’re going through. Again, it’ll all depend on how networks market the league, as well as teams continuing to look for big name players to go after. Hopefully with NYCFC, Orlando City and the upcoming Atlanta franchise, the league will try and take advantage of marketing to new fans in the process. It won’t be easy.–Griffo

Q: What’s the biggest animal Harry Kane can eat whole?

A: Probably an organic grizzly bear. I’m not spitballing or anything.–Griffo

Q: If all of the EDIZD authors got in a fight, who would win?

A: I’ve chosen to answer this question using screencaps from our Slack page. (Cole and Griffo should be pretty clear, but Voyeur=Ahmad and Alex, Manchester=myself.)

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