United-Red Bulls clash one of many positives in MLS
Posted: Friday April 28, 2006 1:52PM; Updated: Friday April 28, 2006 5:59PM
Following this goal against the Red Bulls, Alecko Eskandarian (left) performed the celebration that brought him a $250 fine.
There's plenty of good news for American soccer fans these days. Thanks to FIFA's absurd ranking system, our national team is now recognized (at least by a computer in Geneva, one that's probably a TRS-80 or a VIC-20) as the fourth-best team in the world. And in the past couple of days we've seen some honest-to-God good news on the MLS front.
The game we see when we go to MLS contests continues to more closely resemble its European and Central and South American cousins every day. Some of it has to do with the quality of the players, some of it has to do with customs. Since the league launched 10 years ago, it has adopted standard practices such as having scoreboard clocks count up, having the ref keep time on the field and letting ties stand as such, instead of forcing a resolution with a ridiculous shootout. And now, finally, we have another thing we've been missing: controversial goal celebrations.
D.C. United's Alecko Eskandarian, who has killed New York all year, celebrated the first of his two goals in last Saturday's game against the Red Bulls by taking a swig from a can of Red Bull and theatrically spitting it turfward. For his trouble, Eskandarian was fined $250 by the league -- a mere pittance compared with the £60,000 Liverpool's Robbie Fowler was fined in 1999 when he celebrated a goal by dropping to the ground and pretending to snort one of the penalty-area lines as if it were a line of blow. (Fans of the opposing team, archrival Everton, had taunted him with accusations of drug use.) Nor was the spit take as audacious as the number perpetrated by Francisco Gallardo of Sevilla, who celebrated a spectacular Jose Antonio Reyes strike by biting Reyes in his, well, in his nether regions. ("It's sad that everyone is making so much of a fuss about this.... It was nothing at all," Gallardo said. Reyes' take: "I felt a bit of a pinch, but I didn't realize what Gallardo had done until I saw the video. The worst thing about it is the teasing I'm going to get from my teammates." I find that surprising. I would think the worst part would be getting bitten down there. But I'm not a pro soccer player.)