Monday, April 25, 2011
Burning Sensation: This Time it Really Hurts
By Peter Welpton
Like the plot twist in a M. Night Shyamalan movie you know is coming, so was the moment Saturday night in Vancouver when David Ferreira writhed on the ground with two broken leg bones.
Injury to Ferreira was for all intent and purposes a done deal - you just weren't sure when it was going to take place.
Its long been established that David held the distinction of the league's most fouled player. FC Dallas fans and staff held their breath through the 2010 season as somehow Ferreira was able to tough out, remain uninjured and play all but a single minute of the season.
As 2011 began there was a clear difference with David, his play, his effectiveness and his obvious frustration with the tackles he was suffering. Many of the early matches missed his influence or David simply was unable to stamp his usual mark. It was wondered how much that was due to the loss of Dax McCarty and Atiba Harris, or the move of Brek Shea to defense. While any of that didn't help the larger looming factor was the new level of attention he was getting.
in 2011 David was already averaging more "fouls suffered" per match as he did in 2010. It didn't take an expert to notice that opponents had picked up on the Rapid's style of game planning Ferreira - ya know, "have anyone close to David stop him by any means necessary before he can create magic" - because it's effective. Hell, it was the main component in Colorado's MLS Cup victory. It was no longer a single mark clacking at his heels, it was two or three tasked with making sure Ferreira did not get far.
Many of these fouls aren't "bad" or "dangerous". In fact, most are of the simple, harmless variety - just stick a foot in there and give a little trip - and are effective in their intention, stopping the flow of attack.
This goes back to an earlier entry where I ranted that MLS and USSF simply seem unable or uninterested in cracking down on the very thing that most hurts this league - persistent infringement. Though, in David's case he had been able to fight through the lighter fouls and many times play was allowed to continue and opponent began to turn to the heavier and clumsier stuff. It just happened to be Leather's bad luck that it was his clumsy lunging tackle that snapped David's two lower leg bones.
MLS must get the USSF (the group actually responsible for referees in this country) to instill the idea that the "professional foul" - dirty, injurious, or otherwise - has to be banished from the sport. They discolor the game in the most subtle, but damaging of ways. Creative teams and players are squelched to the advantage of those sides that aren't. That isn't good for MLS or the sport in this country.
Prior to Saturday, there had already been two or three moments that David lay on the pitch looking frustrated and pained. When he got up it was a relief. Many assumed that David was going to get up from that tackle Saturday night, frankly, because that was pretty bland in comparison to some of the crap he'd been dealt so far this season. It was not until the replay finally aired that we all saw the toe stuck in the turf one way and the rest of his body turning the other and realized that Schellas Hyndman now had a whole new coaching challenge on his hands.