Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Rodgers/Donovan War of Words: Just What MLS Needs

New Jersey and Luke Rodgers: Perfect Together
The verbal sparring between RBNY's Luke Rodgers and "American hero" Landon Donovan, which began on Saturday at the HDC, spilled over to Monday after Rodgers gave a... umm... candid interview to Red Bulls beat reporters assembled at Montclair State University. Pulling no punches, the Englishman reeled off a series of expletives to describe LD, including "prick" and "dickhead." Kristian Dyer provides a run down of the entire interview in his Metro column this morning.

Anyone who has watched Donovan over the years knows that he likes to flap his gums and isn't shy about getting in referees' faces. You could argue that it's part of his responsibility as captain to work the refs when he feels that his team is getting the short end of the stick. But even for Donovan Saturday' antics were over the top. More than once he ran the length of the pitch to argue a dubious point with the match referee Edvin Jurisevic. To Jurisevic's credit, he didn't take the bait and called a solid match overall, despite the frantic pace of the first 45 minutes and the numerous close calls on either side.

Donovan responded to Rodgers' criticisms yesterday via Twitter, asking in his typically cool Californian style, "I'm confused, who is Luke Rogers (sic)?" It was a bit of a weak retort, but I suspect things could get feisty again when the two teams meet again in late August at Red Bull Arena.

MLS is a league in which far too many games lack passion and bite. The back-and-forth between Rodgers and Donovan should help spur the New York/LA rivalry even further and give fans and media a lot to chew on as August approaches. For Rodgers, it's another feather in his cap with Red Bull fans. New York loves a fighter, and Rodgers has that quality in spades. Eventually his big mouth and aggressive play could land him in red card trouble or earn him a fine, but for now let's enjoy the ride.
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