Updated: Sep 26, 2019
A note from the author: It was brought to my attention that I jumped the gun on the date of the flea market. I've been out of town and simply mixed up the general excitement in this article from the Tennessean and thought the event had taken place. That was a mistake and I own it fully. Now back to your irregularly scheduled piece.
Be honest, you didn’t think you’d be getting something from me this month. But here I am, proving you (and Ben) wrong. You know the deal. Three things I love and three that I hate. I don’t care if you agree. Let’s go.
Three Things I Love
Since my installment last month, there have been two pretty big pieces of news on the MLS front. NSC announced the signings of both Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal. First, Leal is pronounced “Lay-all” not “Leel” as I so stupidly said in our episode right after the signing. While the Godoy signing a few months ago may not have been what everyone was hoping to see (a bit harsh IMO), these two signings absolutely were. While there is a bit less info out there on Randall than Hany, what we can say definitively is that both of these guys hit all the profile markers that we’ve seen from successful upstart clubs in recent years. We were lucky enough to sit down with Hany Mukhtar and Mike Jacobs to discuss both signings. Check those interviews out if you haven’t already done so.
Having a Healthy Roster
There was a good chunk of the season where we were missing key pieces all over the field. Perhaps none was a bigger absence than that of Daniel Ríos over the last few weeks. The club managed to acquit themselves well during that time, and is now heading into the stretch run with a fairly healthy roster. Outside of Reed (who is done for the season), Nashville is fully loaded for the most important stretch of the season. I personally am keeping my eye out on the return of Derrick Jones, who never really got out of the blocks before a bad tackle side tracked his start at NSC. He’s almost like a new signing a month before the season's end.
Being Able To Watch The Table
Some people (mainly my good friend John M. Sloop) get annoyed at me for watching the table too early in the season. “Way too many games left” or “It’s too early to know who anyone is yet” are common refrains I hear throughout the first few months of any season. But alas, it's time to table watch and man, has it been fun. There are few things as enjoyable as looking at the table and knowing you need a result to go your way, and seeing that for once in your life the sun hath shown on you. So obviously you can imagine I went completely bonkers last week when nearly every midweek and weekend result went our way. That being said, other results can never take the place of your own, which lead me to my next two points.
Three Things I Hate
Dropping Stupid Points
Probably our worst dropped points of the season all came against the same opponent. Simply put, Saint Louis is not a great team. They’re currently in the 9th playoff slot, but by no means are they guaranteed a postseason berth. The fact that they took all six points off of NSC, a team who is by every metric a better team, is an absolute scalp, and something that just can’t happen to a team who has home field aspirations for the duration of the playoffs. Bad results are bound to happen, but that loss after a win like we had in Tampa is an example of the type of points you just can’t let go.
The Same Blame Game
Sometimes the coach gets its wrong (See Mike Vrabel over the course of the last two weeks for definitive proof*). I was on record saying I thought Gary got it wrong in the Saint Louis game, and appeared to be set up for a draw. We can all agree that it certain circumstances the coach makes (or doesn’t make) decisions that appear to directly influence a negative result. That being said, not everything is the coaches fault. There was a lot of uproar around the Pittsburgh draw. It was a frustrating game, that unfortunately many people seemed assured of once a series of results went our way and we had a chance to go top. But for me you can’t put that one on Gary. A trademark of Bob Lilley teams for years has been limiting opponents chances, and making them be hyper efficient to beat you. As Ben said in game, Ríos failed to score on a chance that he converts 99/100 times and it was absolutely the difference in the game. Now it’s hard to blame Ríos, who had just come back from injury, but that doesn’t make it the coach's fault.
Save Our Fairgrounds
Let me be clear. I don’t hate the people in this group, and I don’t even hate their love for the fairgrounds. I’ve had multiple conversations on the record with different reps from this group, and I’ve always enjoyed my time talking with them. I frequent the fairgrounds for flea markets and maintain it’s a great experience. What I hate is the way they are handling this process. Filing frivolous lawsuits over and over again. It’s a waste of the courts time, and it’s a waste of time and energy for a young organization that just has too much other stuff to do already. Perhaps what I hate most, is that they finally got what they rallied around for years and now choose to complain about it. That being, improvements to the fairgrounds facilities. The new buildings are beautiful and the first flea market is set for this weekend with no drop off in vendors, and a growing waitlist. Despite this, you have leaders from SOF saying that it’s too much like a Neiman Marcus (check out Sloop’s interview with Rick Williams if you haven’t already). You simply cannot win with these people. The good news is, there has yet to be any injunctive relief granted their way, and it appears like there won’t be. The buildings will be demolished this fall, and we’ll be on our way to construction. We’re truly almost there.
Welp. That’s it for this month. If you didn’t like it, be sure to let me hear about it. Hopefully I’ll be back this time next month with a lot more stuff that I like, than hate. We’ll see…
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Speedway Soccer
*Follow up editor's note: GO COLTS! - Ben