Gone Carrolling, and Other Random Thoughts

Brian Carroll - Best XI?

Brian Carroll - Best XI?

… From the Ask and Ye Shall Receive department, Aaron asked last night on the Podcast where Jeff Bradley might have disappeared to. Turns out, his work is available on mlsnet.com this afternoon with an early look at the possible MLS Best XI. You can read Jeff’s thoughts here.

Not surprisingly, there are no United players among the 11. What might surprise a couple people who haven’t taken notice (or, like me, just haven’t seen Columbus much this year), is that none other than Brian Carroll appears on the list. Bradley notes that United might be “second-guessing themselves for leaving him exposed in the expansion draft last year.”

It’s an interesting thought. Early in the year, I and others (including regular Fighting talker commenter Bootsy) noted that Clyde Simms was going to be a very important part of how well United did this season. When the failings of this club are discussed, it usually centers around the goalkeeping of Zach Wells, the disorganized Keystone Cops nature of the defense, or the myriad of injuries. Rarely, if at all, this season, have I heard anyone say that Simms, who pretty much took over that spot from Carroll and made him expendable in the estimation of United’s front office, was having a bad year.

Clearly, I don’t think anyone on the club has had as good a year as they could have. You can’t have players with career years and still perhaps finish out of the playoffs (in most cases). I suppose it’s not out of the question that you could question Simms with regard to the defensive failings, as he, the defenders, and the goalkeeper are all part of that mission. It seems that most of the year, well, during the Wells era, that the overwhelming blame fell on the keeper. Now that Louis Crayton has been in net for a while, blame when United ships goals seems to fall more to the back line.

Does United regret letting Carroll get away? Perhaps. But I don’t know that it was a key factor in determining the club’s position entering the final weekend of the regular season. To be honest, if Carroll is in the starting lineup rather than Simms, I don’t know that United’s point total in the standings would be any different.

If Carroll has been Best XI material this season – then absolute, whole-hearted congratulations to him. In no way do I intend to slight his talent, or the work he’s put in to become a quality player in what has been the East’s best team through most of the season.

But in looking back, I’m not sure United made the wrong decision. Too many other factors have combined to cause what has at times looked like a train wreck.

Tonight … United is in Mexico to play Cruz Azul in their fifth CONCACAFAFAFAFAFAF Champions League match. United have one point from the previous four and won’t advance. This game comes at a particularly bad time for the club, with what could be a do-or-die match at aforementioned Columbus on Sunday, depending on other results around Major League Soccer in the days leading up to that. If United could have sent one of its youth teams to this game tonight, it would have been fine with me. I’m banking on there hopefully being at least two players in the United lineup tonight that I have absolutely never heard of. Maybe we can coax Steve Rammel out of retirement? If the final score is in the 3-0 range, I’ll be happy.

In England, you have to love how the media works. The day after Tottenham fall in a crazy match at Stoke, 2-1, leaving them shipwrecked at the bottom of the Premier League table with 2 points through 8 matches, stories break about how that Jose Mourinho would just love to come back and manage in England one day. Aaron doesn’t think Tottenham would be the destination – and I can’t say I’d argue that in retrospect. But the soap opera is on. I expect soon to hear stories about how Mourinho is unhappy at Inter, how the retirement plan will finally be in place for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and how maybe Liverpool would like to put an end to the Rafael Benitez era once and for all if they don’t finally win the league this season.

The normal pattern is like this:

1. Player/manager interested in new club.
2. Club denies interest.
3. Player/manager denies interest in new club.
4. Club expresses interest in player/manager.
5. Deal about to be signed!
6. Deal kabonged at the last moment!
7. Deal agreed, player/manager to debut Saturday.

I don’t think anything would dare happen that quick with Mourinho, of course. But it will be interesting to watch.

Finally … Tottenham have only two more points in the standings than me.


4 thoughts on “Gone Carrolling, and Other Random Thoughts

  1. Heh. I’ve mentioned my disappointment in Simms this year several times over on BigSoccer. I don’t think that lets me off the hook, though; based on what I thought I knew *then* (when it was time to expose people), I agree with you in that I still would have made the same decision — which maybe says I didn’t understand things as well as I thought I did. However . . .

    When I’ve talked about being disappointed in Simms over on BS, it’s usually been in the context of talking about how IMHO there’s no one on the team that’s played as well this year as they did last year, including (but not limited to) Clyde Simms. With my limited soccer knowledge, I look towards the coaching staff for an explanation of why nearly everyone on the team seems to me to have regressed. If that’s true — if it’s the coach staff, or the team dynamic or mental state, that’s responsible for the poor performance of so many players, including Simms — then who’s to say we wouldn’t be looking at an equivalent situation if we’d hung onto Carroll and let Simms go? Maybe we’d be sitting here disappointed in Carroll while Simms was tearing it up for the Crew? I dunno.

    Looking beyond this season, I feel like there are things broken with this team that I don’t fully understand, that can’t be solved simply by replacing a player or three.

  2. I never thought about Simms having a bad year before. It never occurred to me, but I guess that’s because he never made any HUGE mistakes like so many other players have. He’s been consistently mediocre, but not to the point where you notice his mediocrity. So looking back, I cannot disagree with the notion the Simms has not had his best year.

  3. Carroll has been a rock for us in midfield all season and surpassed my expectations. I knew he was a decent MLS player but when Sigi traded Kamara for him I thought “are we going to field an entire team of defensive mids”? Of course we’ve come to see that Kamara is a bit of a head case so the trade was great for Columbus. I haven’t watched DC a whole lot this season but I can understand why United fans wouldn’t think much of losing Carroll. We’re happy to have him though.

  4. Andy: I don’t much miss 2007 Carroll; but I really miss 2004 and 2005 Carroll. From what I’ve seen watching the Crew, the latter is the one you got.

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