The failure of Mehdi Ballouchy
August 24, 2011

July 25, Metro - Dallas, 82nd minute, Metro down 2:1. Mehdi Ballouchy is substituted for Chris Albright. Three minutes later, Titi Henry ties the game at 2:2.

August 13, Metro - Chicago, 60th minute, Metro down 2:1. Mehdi Ballouchy is substituted for Stephane Auvray. Three minutes later, Joel Lindpere ties the game at 2:2.

August 20, Metro - New England, 72nd minute, Metro down 2:1. Mehdi Ballouchy is substituted for Stephane Auvray. 15 minutes later, Dane Richards ties the game at 2:2.

We have nothing against Mehdi Ballouchy, the person. By all accounts, off the field he is the nicest guy and a great human being. But on the field...

Ever since he arrived late last season, the target has been on Ballouchy's back. Metro looked like a world-beater before his arrival; that stopped as he stepped on the field. Some saw that as a lag that is often needed to integrate a new player into the lineup; others made Ballouchy a punching bad for the failure that followed. And rehashing his point-blank miss in the decisive playoff game that would have given Metro the lead, it was hard not to fall into the latter category.

Yet this season, with a refurbished lineup, Ballouchy was supposed to be a spot player. But even since the opener, he has started, only briefly flirting with the bench soon after the Dwayne De Rosario arrival (remember that guy?), which, not coincidentally, was Metro's best stretch of the season -- by far. But as the Gold Cup loomed its ugly head, Ballouchy has been starting, and failing, starting, and failing...

Yes, Ballouchy can pass the ball, but when Ballouchy lines up in central midfield, he is too timid to control the match. When he is on the wings, he tends to drift centrally, often rendering himself invisible. Defensive midfield? Don't get us started. Ok, fine, for two of Metro's worst results this season, recent losses to Colorado and Salt Lake, happened when Ballouchy was forced to play that position. Forward? Sigh... And is it coincidental that two teams that traded away Ballouchy, the same Colorado and Salt Lake, went on to win MLS Cup soon after?

Metro history has been full of terrible terrible players, from Edmundo Rodriguez to Khano Smith. Ballouchy does NOT belong in that discussion; he has a valuable skill (passing), and could be an asset off the bench in proper situation. But he is not a starter. Now let's hope "Clever" Hans Backe realizes that before it's too late... If it's not too late already.

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