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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Celebrations, Snarky Tweets, and More

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This week Cash celebrates, Russian racism, and Merritt Paulson is bitter.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, Mane Landers!

The Good

When Orlando City took Chris “Cash” Mueller with the sixth pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, the Lions were hoping to get some additional offensive power. Mueller was described as one of the most MLS-ready prospects in the draft. During the preseason he was scoring goals, but one can’t always expect the preseason to be indicative of the regular season. One thing Mueller has shown in every minute he’s been on the field is determination. This kid wants the ball, wants to win, and wants to be a part of something bigger. Much has already been said about his two goals in the last two games. What I want to focus on are how he handled himself.

After he sparked the comeback against the Portland Timbers with his 80th-minute header, he didn’t do a knee slide, or any other type of “look at me” celebration. And that was after his very first MLS goal. He simply grabbed the ball and headed back to midfield so the Lions could try to get more goals. When Dom Dwyer scored the go-ahead goal, the real celebration was on. The fiery Mueller bypassed the pile and did a knee slide out of the camera’s view. This led team comedian Scott Sutter to begin the Chris Mueller Knee Slide watch.

Mueller would get his second goal of the season against Philadelphia, on a solo run in the 45th minute. The goal put Orlando up by two with much of the game still to go, and so there was time for the rookie to enjoy this one. Much to Sutter’s disappointment, there was no knee slide, as this time Mueller emulated Cristiano Ronaldo in his celebration.

Before anyone gets their pants in a twist, I’m certain that Chris doesn’t think he’s Ronaldo. I just think he is enjoying playing, enjoying scoring, and I hope he keeps on doing both. He can steal Dom’s backflip as far as I’m concerned, as long as the goals keep going in.

The Bad

PRO gonna PRO. Nobody knows that better than Orlando City fans, and I’m all for anyone being able to express their opinions regarding calls made in a match. I include players, coaches, managers, front office personnel, and owners in that sentiment. We have freedom of speech in our country, and as such everything is fair game. Now that’s not to say that you have freedom from the consequences in regards to what you say. A prime example of this is the fine that Portland Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson received from MLS following his comments of the penalty call Dom Dwyer earned. If you didn’t see it, here’s what he Tweeted:

Now, let me be clear. I don’t have a problem with his Tweet. He disagreed with the call, as I’ve disagreed with calls in the past, as I’m certain you have disagreed with calls before. Should he have made the comment public? It obviously wasn’t in his best financial interest to do so, as he was fined for it, but that’s his choice. Paulson isn’t the first owner or manager to get fined by a league, and he certainly won’t be the last. What I think would be an interesting discussion is how much freedom an individual that is associated with a sports team has when expressing their opinions publicly. Paulson sort of apologized on Twitter for the comment after he was fined.

I get that he might have needed or wanted to get this type of statement out into the conversation, but notice he didn’t take back his original opinion of the call. And I think that’s perfectly fine. The bad is what happened after Sydney Leroux Dwyer commented on the fine.

Paulson decided to make things much, much worse.

Calling out Leroux for venting on social media by venting on social media after he called out a conspiracy theory on the penalty. The cognitive dissonance is strong with Paulson. Leroux responded as any mother would.

As I stated earlier, I had no real problem with the original Tweet about the call. However, Paulson may have stepped into a battle he doesn’t want. It’s one thing to call out refs for a controversial call, as he would have the support of the Portland fanbase. It’s quite different to get snarky with the wife of the player involved in that play. Add in that she wasn’t disputing his point on the call, and merely pointing out she couldn’t bring her son onto the field after a completely different match, and he simply comes across as a jerk. If he’d stuck to a factual telling of Providence Park policies regarding family members of the opposing team, he might have avoided all of this. Once he engaged on a personal level, he lost the public perception battle. Let’s just say it’s been a rough few days for Paulson.

The Ugly

FIFA is rarely the good guy. It is an international organization that was indicted by the FBI under Robert Mueller for corruption, after all. But sometimes even FIFA does something right. The next World Cup is in Russia, as we’re all too aware. With only two months to go, FIFA charged the Russia Football Union with fan racism. The investigation was prompted after incidents from a match last month in St. Petersburg when France defeated Russia. Certain fans were doing monkey chants at French players, in particular Paul Pogba. Russia was also charged with fan racism in the last two European Championships. Racism is ugly no matter what its form, and this isn’t the first time it’s reared its head in the soccer community. Hopefully, there will be a stiffer penalty this time.


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