MLS players not at ease with Jabulani balls

Major League Soccer has been playing with a version of the World Cup’s ‘Jabulani’ ball since the beginning of the 2010 season but players are still not at ease with it.

Major League Soccer has been playing with a version of the World Cup’s ‘Jabulani’ ball since the beginning of the 2010 season but players are still not at ease with it.

The adidas ball used at this year’s World Cup in South Africa attracted plenty of criticism from national team players and a similar version introduced to MLS has also been dissected by the North American domestic league players.

"In MLS we play with a certain version of it," Kansas City Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad said. "It's definitely different from balls of the past. It moves quite a bit. What happens is you think you have it judged, and all of a sudden it will float on you. It's just a foot, but you've already anticipated where you think it's gonna go, and it doesn't go exactly where you think.

"There is something about when you add the Jabulani to altitude, it definitely moves around a lot more," Conrad added. "If you're gonna be pumping it up in the air a lot, it's gonna be hard to judge what it's gonna do."

"I blogged about this ball in January, so this commotion isn't new to me," Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "I knew this ball was going to cause problems."

But one player, Houston Dynamo’s Danny Cruz, was a fan of the ball saying it was conducive to high-scoring games.

"I love the ball. I think it's great for attacking soccer," Cruz said. "It really is, and it makes the game interesting. And I love the way it moves when you hit it. It's just getting used to it, because you play with one ball all year, and then change.

"There's always that transition point, and it takes a little time. But teams have had months to work with it and figure it out," Cruz added. "I do find it interesting how many people were using it as an excuse when necessary. Someone scored an absolute bomb the other day, but he didn't go and thank the ball. It was just a great strike."

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