MLS Fangirl

Comments from a fangirl's eye-view on Major League Soccer, the American slice of the world's greatest sport.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Fashonista stuff

Just caught sight of the new Houston Dynamo's new kit, and y'know, it's not bad to look at. I'm an Oklahoma State University alumna and, as a current University of Oklahoma student, an antagonist of the University of Texas, so I know about orange uniforms. This doesn't suck, photowise, anyway. We'll see how they look in action.

Kickoff eve

Gol Time tomorrow! What sucks: I have to work tomorrow afternoon, so I either need to find a way to wrestle the TV away from the cops reporters, or see how stealthily I can watch a game via on my computer. Seeing as most of the time ESPN2/ABC shows the games I'm the least interested in, I get a lot of mileage out of

What's great: Fútbol AND fantasy fútbol. I imagine that I'll be just as bad at playing fantasy fútbol as I am at playing en corpus. Although it looks like my goalkeeper pick of Troy Perkins was a serendipitous one, what with Nick Rimando still out on a foot injury. But get well soon, Nick!

Also, it seems that Freddy Adu is getting a chance to be a starter this season. Gee, with the way he's always been hyped, you'd think he'd always been a starter. "It's Freddy Adu-And-D.C.-United!" like it's his whole name. Don't get me wrong, I think Freddy's a great player, but he ain't that great. Yet. When he's on, he's on. When he's not ... eh. Now that he's at the ripe old age of 16, it'll be interesting to see if he can turn it on at will and keep it on for a full 90.

Just watched the Embrace the Colors ad at Um. Hmmm. OK. I may try to distract any fútbol initiates that I entice to watching a game when that ad comes on ...

Let's see, do I have any predictions about this season: Not really predictions. I still don't know what I'm talking about half the time, so prediction is too strong a word. But here's what I hope:

I hope Chivas does better this season than last. I think they were just starting to come together at the end of their first season, and I hope they carried that bit of momentum into the 2006 season.

I hope that DC United recaptures their 2004 glory and finishes the season on top. It's biased of me, but I'm a fangirl, and they're just too good a team not to be on top.

On that note, I hope Alecko Eskandarian has a great season.

I hope that any interest, if any, in fútbol from June's World Cup will carry over into interest in MLS.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

At least I bought the tickets. That's something, right?

The Saturn Challenge Cup between FC Dallas and the Kansas City Wizards was in town last night.

I wasn't there. I got sick on Friday and was still too ill Saturday night to go.

And I'm pretty bummed about that.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is there such a thing as Monday-morning quarterbacking in soccer?

So's I asks myself today, "Is it really fair of me to be disappointed in the US Men Team's spanking in Germany yesterday? After all, it was not, as they say, the first string, and they were playing what very likely is going to be Germany's World Cup contingent. Most of these guys here aren't gonna be the team, so should I have expected anything out of them at all?"

Except here's the rub: inexperienced players or no, they're still wearing the team colors, and no matter who they are, they're the team. One can focus on the team that is made up of individual players, or the Team that is One Whole Unit. And that's what we're talking about here, the Team. All I ever ask is that the team plays as well as it can. Considering the fairly solid first half, I really expected more of the team in the second. Inexperienced or not, World Cup drafts or not, I think they really could have done better.

I appreciated this quote by Bruce Arena from U.S.

“In all honesty, in a game like tonight, we were pretty undermanned, obviously, not having our full compliment of players. The game served the purpose of evaluating players. I’d never come again to Germany to play the host country in their last tune-up before the World Cup with a second team, but this team is wearing USA. We got beat, and we deserved to get beat.”

Although I'd really like to point out to the writer that it's complement -- with an e -- not compliment ...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quickie recap

So, like many futbol fans, I have to work today, so I didn't actually get to watch the whole USMNT vs. Germany game. I did get to watch the first 20 minutes, was 15 minutes late to work and MatchTracked the rest. My thoughts as the game progressed:

First 20 minutes: So far, so good, although there seems to be a lot of bad luck on both sides. I really hope Josh Wolff is OK. ...

Halftime: OK, scoreless. That's not a bad sign.

47th minute: Dammit. That's OK, it's just one goal from Germany. They can recover.

74th minute: Dammit!! Another goal. OK, that's all right, there's still time, they can get one goal or even tie.

77th minute: Dammit!!!! What the hell!

80th minute: DAMMIT! How is this possible, I turn my head from the damn computer for one second and there's another goal!

85th minute: Huh, a Steve Cherundalo goal with an assist by Kasey Keller. I love it when that happens ... but ...

OK ... so 4-1 isn't ... well, I'm still disappointed. Having not seen the game, I'm not really sure what happened, so I'm looking forward to game reports. I may stay up to watch the delay on Telemundo just to see for myself how exactly the team gave up three goals in six minutes. Just tell me they played as well as they could ...

Later ...
After reading the game reports, all I can say is, ouch.

A few weeks back, before the game with Poland, I wrote little sumpthin' here about the possibility that the greatest opponent the US Men's team was facing wasn't European teams, but sheer overconfidance coming off a great run of friendlies. After the win against Poland, I was thinking that maybe I was wrong, that the team had its ego well in hand.

Eh ... maybe not. The AP story linked above quotes USMNT veteran and keeper god Kasey Keller as saying, "Maybe some guys were looking at that ranking a little bit too seriously. It's a reality check for a few guys and that's a good thing, this time, that it doesn't happen June 12."


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A little worried, Germany? Maybe you should be

I love love love! this story from AP about Germany's anxieties about playing the US Men's National Team on Wednesday at Signal Iduna Park. Coming off a 4-1 loss to Italy earlier in the month, Germany would really face a beatin' to their rep if lil' 'ol US beat their britches.

And yet, it could honestly happen. But best of all, even if the US team loses the game, as long as the guys turn in a decent showing, they've really won the war. After all, this is an understrength team, playing without its usual heavies -- even its top MLS players will be absent. Germany is turning out the best of its best. Unless the US totally screws the pooch, it's no contest, they'll prove their mettle. It gives light to something that most of the world has started to already notice. We're not fifth in the world for nothin'.

But is that really fair for Germany? They're facing a crapload of pressure, to not only win, but to avoid losing to what should be a freshman beating. The US really doesn't have that, so the guys walk in anxiety-free. I remember when Mexico lost to the US in the September qualifier, Mexico's coach Ricardo Lavolpe snarking off that it was easy for the US to win when they face no pressure. "The U.S. is a small team. They play like my sister, my aunt and my grandmother," he said. Yeah, that's a grandmother who kicked your team's butt 2-0. But I wonder if there's something to that? Do our guys have it easier because the spotlight on them is so dim? Or is it tougher for them to go into every match with a chip on their shoulder, knowing that if they lose they're brushed off with the "Well, it's the US, what do you expect" treatment, and if they win that they're only inching the US forward in terms of general audience acceptance?

Even Coach Arena commented that, "After watching how everyone is treating my friend Juergen, I'm not sure I'd want to have this kind of pressure in the United States."

But I dunno. I don't know that this kind of pressure is necessarily a bad thing. It certainly shows the kind of honor, dreams and glory that a national team can carry on its shoulders. To have that, instead of expectations and dismissals, might make a good trade.

Ooooh, MLS musings ...
The story also indicates that Bruce Arena said that if he leaves the US team, he'd consider coaching in MLS. What team, I wonder ...

And just because I love soccer for the players as well as the game ...
Looking at the lineup, with my beloved Frankie Hejduk out nursing his hamstring injury, I hereby designate my crush of the game to be Pablo Mastroeni ...

Monday, March 20, 2006

A bit less MLS

SportsTicker reports that in addition to being without his usual US Men's National Team players, Coach Bruce Arena will be missing a few more. In addition to Landon Donovan missing the game because of a strained calf and Clint Dempsey staying home for bad-boy behaviour, my adored Frankie Hejduk won't be there either, due to a hamstring strain. He's been replaced by Hamburg SV midfielder Benny Feilhaber. So that brings down to 10 the MLS presence on the 19-man roster.

Now let me see ...

... if I can get this straight:

1. There once was an MLS team that represented New Jersey and New York, the Metrostars.

2. A really nasty, PixieStix-tasting drink company bought said team and changed its name to Red Bull New York, dissing the Garden State, except the team still plays in Jersey, thus proving that you can take Jersey out of the team, but you can't take the team out of Jersey.

3. And yet -- now MLS is annoucing an expansion in 2009 for the Philadelphia/Jersey area.

So was this what they had in mind all along when they dumped New Jersey out of the name for the former Metrostars? I'm guessing yes.

This seems like a wierd deal, location-wise, to me, but then again, I don't live on the East Coast and have never had the good fortune to visit, so I dunno, maybe that's the kinda thing that would work out there. More fútbol is more fútbol, so I'll take it.

In other news:
Less than two weeks until the MLS season starts. Yay! Except I'm working on Saturdays now, boo.
48 hours until the USMNT meets Germany for what I'm sure will be a good tough game.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

When you actually need a lawyer ...

Bruce's Belly has a link to a Washington Post article stating that DC United coach Peter Nowak is considering possible legal action against Real Salt Lake coach John Ellinger over the recent brouhaha. And good for him if he does, because this is one of those cases where I can really see the need for a lawsuit.

Race is a tricky issue. In heated and sometimes unexpected moments, you can hear things that weren't said because you're expecting them to be said, or you can be the only one to hear things that were said that no one else heard because they're not expecting it to be said. As a biracial woman, I've experienced both situations. When it's the first case and I'm uncertain, I rely on the views of those around me. I can admit it when I made a mistake. When it's the second case, well, it's just a horrible place to be, and all you can do is use reason and logic to try and figure out where the truth lies, and when you're right and you know it, you stick by your guns and keep calling for what's right.

This is where I'm standing in the middle of this case. I want to believe that Peter Nowak's an OK guy. From everything I've read, it's not in Nowak's character to say something that flagrantly terrible. Couple that with an accent that everyone, even he, admits is difficult to understand, and that's just a misunderstanding waiting to happen. He has repeatedly denied the accusation and even admitted to saying something that's unsportsmanlike, which may have led to the fine (but hey, thanks to MLS's say-nothing statement, we'll never know exactly why he got fined).

So let's look at the other side. An accusation was made by Real's Ellinger. It was backed up by some players and coaching staff. And since then, they've been more or less silent on the issue. That side isn't even mentioned in the Washington Post article. So I have to wonder -- if those folks really and truly believe that Nowak made a racist statement, shouldn't they be protesting the fact that Nowak was only fined? If DC United was really harboring a racist in a position of power, isn't it their duty to do something about that because they know it to be true? Except that they haven't, and in that the silence speaks volumes to me.

You can answer that in a number of ways, that MLS is keeping a lid on the Real opinion, that MLS is protecting Nowak, that the press just isn't covering their side, etc. and anon. Except that if Nowak were a racist and Real's folks were letting him slide, then they would be as culpable as he. So the ball is in Real's court. Or on their end of the pitch, as the case may be.

Just for the sake of argument, let's go Mythbusters style on this and go extreme -- if Nowak didn't say it, if Real's folks didn't actually hear Nowak say it, would they have any reason to manufacture drama? Perhaps to get attention for their team? They won the scrimmage 3-1, so I can't imagine why they'd do it on purpose, and the team seems to be doing well in preseason, so again, can't imagine why they'd invent it. If you've read this blog, you know that I'm no lover of Real Salt Lake, but even I wouldn't honestly go off into accusations of race-baiting. Until and unless there's more evidence brought to light, I'm going to file this under "unfortunate misunderstanding" and enjoy my season.

In other news:
The Bruce has announced his team for next week's friendly between the US Men's National Team and Germany's team, and 12 MLS players made the cut. As this isn't an international fixture date, not every team in Europe has released players for the game. However, players for German clubs, my favorite MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller, Steve Cherundalo and Gregg Berhalter, are on board, as are Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey from English club teams, as well as Cory Gibbs, who's playing in Holland, and Heath Pearce, playing in Denmark, who;s making his second appearance this year with the USMNT.

MLS players are Houston's Brian Ching, Wizards Jimmy Conrad, Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff and Kerry Zavagnin, Landon Donovan from the Galaxy (Later addendum: OK, so Landon's not going, taken out by a calf strain. I could say this makes things interesting, but quite honestly, Landon hasn't really done much lately, USMNT-wise. Could be that we won't even miss him.), Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni, Real's Eddie Pope and Chris Klein, DC's Ben Olsen (does he still have the beard?), Revs golden boy Taylor Twelleman, and my crush Frankie Hejduk of Columbus. I guess this probably means I won't be seeing Wolff, Johnson and Zavagnin at the Saturn Challenge Cup in Moore that following Saturday, but oh well.

Germany picked its team and it looks like it'll be nearly at full strength, so this should be a really killer match. Can we take them? I'm going out on a limb here and say yes, yes, gawdalmighty yes, we can take them. These are all good players, and I think they'll do well. Is it too much to ask for another blizzard bowl like the game against Poland? And I wonder exactly how late to work I can be so I can watch this game ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

So what exactly ...

... does this mean, that DC coach Peter Nowak made "improper remarks?" That he made a racist statement in reference to Real's Atiba Harris, or that he was unnecessarily harsh in his comments about him? The little blurb a is typical PR/news conference sorta thing, in which the incident is expected to be put behind us and let's all move on. Except that I'd really like to know if I'm supposed to be OK with the fine because of the statement to send Harris "back to hospital", annoyed that he got fined for making another statement that was taken out of context or misunderstood, or annoyed that he only got fined for making a racist statement.

I'd really like it to be the former rather than the latter. Hopefully more will come.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Obsessed? Nah ...

Is it a bad thing that I'm postponing the celebration of my wedding anniversary by one day because it's the same day as MLS Opening Day?

And what does it mean that I decided not to take a summer class because it will interfere with my ability to watch the World Cup?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fantasy redux

OK, the actual real MLS fantasy league has kicked off, and this time I picked a team for real. It's quite a DC-heavy team, but I'm OK with that, since, as they're my favorite team, I'll be following them the most. Six out of my 11 players are DC -- all three strikers, 1 midfielder, 1 defender and the keeper. I'll let you guess who I picked out of that lineup. Anyone who reads this blog at all knows exactly the DC striker that I just love to pieces, and the hint for most of the rest is that I adore the South American contingent, they're a hoot and a holler.

Yeah, that'd be Alecko, Lucio, Facundo and Christian, Santino, plus Troy on goal.

Rounding out the group, I've got Paulo Nagamura of LA, Kerry Zavagnin of KC and Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni in the mid, and Nick Garcia of KC and my futbol crush Frankie Hejduk in the back. I've got some La Copa de Mundial worries for Zavagnin and Mastoreni, and very slight stirrings of wonder for Frankie and Santino, but I'm fairly certain this is a group that'll be mostly playing domestically throughout the summer. I have no idea if this is good, and they were costly, but I know I like them all, so that should boost my pleasure in the whole thing.

I am breathlessly awaiting my tickets for the Saturn Challenge Cup match between KC and Dallas on March 25, and it occurred to me to wonder who all will be showing up in tiny lil' Moore, OK, for this game. I could swear that I heard that the US Men's National Team for the March 22 international friendly against Germany in Germany will be staffed mostly by US-based players, since the European clubs won't be releasing players for it. Well, as much as I'd like to see Zavagnin and Eddie Johnson and Josh Wolff and such, it'll be a fun night even if they're not there.

And hey, look, the USMNT is doing a send-off series before they head to Germany for the World Cup -- vs. Morocco in Nashville on May 23, vs. Venezuela in Cleveland on May 26 and vs. Latvia in East Hartford on May 28. (In my horrific ignorance, I actually sat there for a second and thought, "Latvia? Isn't that the country of which Dr. Doom is the dictator? Sad, I prove I'm a product of public education). Now, how far is it to Nashville ...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

At least I think it's good news ...

AP is reporting that my favorite forward, Alecko Eskandarian, has had hernia surgery, but he should recover and be ready by the time the season opens for DC on April 2.

I am very much looking forward to Alecko's return to the pitch, so I'm taking this as a good sign that things are proceeding apace and we'll be seeing him on the field soon.

Well, it beats Wal-Mart New York

It isn't so much the self-centered audacity of corporate owners naming teams after themselves that bug me so much as the lack of creativity that such practices show. It's not that I mind naming rights, it's just that the right to name should come with a mandate of creativity. I get the idea behind branding a team. I protested the concept of the FedEx Orange Bowl for years before I finally got the idea that hey, it's money to keep the tradition going, you gotta get that advertising in there one way or another. But shit like the GMAC Bowl or the Bowl just irritate me. Slapping on the corporate brand instead of coming up with a name that supposedly sums up the team's essence is just plain boring. It kind of takes me back to my Little League days when I played on such teams as Stanley Farm Equipment and Tractors and Lair Rock and Gravel. But I suppose as soccer in the US grows out of the youth movement, that kind of corporate naming is at least familiar to soccer players and soccer moms.

Red Bull New York doesn't sound too bad, really -- at least Red Bull is a team sort of moniker, so it's in a very blurry spot -- something that I don't care for but don't really hate. But lordy, what happens when a corporate owner with a clunker of a name decides to do the same thing? Could such a thing as Sierra Mist United as D on the DCenters blog joked be far off? And it's not even an original US thing, since they already did it with Red Bull Salzburg.

Oh well. Corporate branding is here and it's always been here and it will always be here. May as well accept it and move on. But y'know, I may have actually been prompted to try a Sierra Mist because they support MLS, but I keep drinking it because, darn it, it's actually very tasty and Sierra Mist Free is about the best caffeine-free diet drink out there. But sorry Red Bull, your product sucks, so that and your uncreative naming will never get me to quaff a Red Bull, despite the MLS team ownership.

And don't even get me started on Budweiser. Oooh, I hate Bud.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lil' help here ...

OK, Wizards faithful, give a gal a little assistance. Yeah, I know the spectre of the RedMetroBullStars is hovering about, but I have some local curiosity, so I'm throwing the question out there to see if I can get an answer: Wizards fans, how's your city treating your team? I'm curious, because the rumor mill is just flying on whispers that the Wizards will be leaving KC to make its home in Tulsa next season. I, myself, have been doubtful, of that possibility. Tulsa's a small metro, and although it did once host the North American Soccer League's Tulsa Roughnecks , I've stated before that I'm uncertain whether a small market like Tulsa -- hell, Oklahoma itself -- is big enough to handle a major league team, especially MLS. But maybe I'm wrong -- maybe a small market is exactly the way MLS is looking, so a move by the Wizards south to Tulsa might be the start of the Next Big Thing.

Is KC doing right by its team and working to get that soccer-specific stadium as promised? Or shall I start prepping for weekends of round-trips down the turnpike?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

So out of 10 years of MLS ...

... the best goal of the decade comes at the end, I guess. announced the results of the Sierra Mist Goal of the Decade vote, and it ended up being Carlos Ruiz's 2005 bicycle kick stunner. And I have to say I'm good with it, even if it did come at the expense of my beloved DC United.

Admittedly, I earlier voted for Dewayne De Rosario's bending free kick, but I regretted the vote the second I hit the button. Yeah, it was pretty, but it doesn't say "great soccer" to me, it just said, "great kick." The difference is subtle -- well, no it's not. So sue me, I got blinded by the pretty.

Ruiz's kick met all my criteria -- teamwork, good execution and -- most important -- flair. Poor Nick Rimando barely even had a chance to move, and the after-gol celebration by FC Dallas was lovely. So yeah, it's sweet. I'll take it. I wish I'd been paying attention to all 30 nominees, because I'm really not personally satisfied until I weigh in on everything -- just like I'm not going to be really happy with the Oscar best-picture results until I see Crash and Munich. But that's a whole other deal ...

Other notes:
Three and a half more weeks until the beginning of the MLS season.
Still about two and a half months until World Cup.
Red Bull buying MetroStars? Eh, I'm not much of a MetroStars fan, so I'll reserve comment until things shake out. Except to say that I'm also not much of a RedBull fan, it tastes like carbonated PixieStix to me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

From 1836 to Dynamo

So the Houston team has finally changed its name from the 1836 to the ... get ready for it ... the Houston Dynamo. I quite unfairly groaned out loud when I read that, because the name just sounds so ... ugh, what's the word ... I guess it just clangs in my mind's ear. It kinda sounds like a name you'd give for a Little League soccer team. It also puts me in mind of Dynamutt, from the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but that's me just being childish.

I've always had a thing about names, they just have to sound right. I once had a rule that stated if a guy had a name that sounded strange when it was being called out in a fit of passion, it just wasn't going to work out. Well, wouldn't you know I got over such things, so I'm trying to let the name Dyanmo (see, I can't even spell it. And when I try to say it I say Dymano. Dynamo. Say it with me, Dy-na-mo. Sheesh) grow on me. After all, I didn't like Fire, I didn't like Burn -- but hey, they changed that for me -- but after awhile I got used to Fire and now it seems like the right name for the team. I still loathe Real Salt Lake, but I suppose it could be considered appropriate, and at least that city takes care of its team.

The article on does a fair job explaining the roots of that particular name and its links to Houston. Houston is an energy town -- most of the energy-related jobs from Oklahoma have migrated south to Houston -- and it has a skewed link to the former Houston Dynamos. So as much as the name just goes over for me like a lead balloon, I expect I'll get used to it. It at least has a cheer-friendlier feel than 1836 did.

Friday, March 03, 2006

MLS in OK?!!!

Holy merde, but this makes my entire weekend, nay, make that my entire MONTH! Muchos besos to MLS News and Views for posting this link to an article from the Sapulpa Herald newspaper that the Kansas City Wizards and FC Dallas will play an exhbition in Moore, and some are hoping that the game, the Saturn Challenge Cup of Oklahoma City, will become an annual thing.

This isn't the first time that MLS teams have played exhibitions in Oklahoma. The Wizards played FC Dallas back when they were the Burn in 2004 and the Crew in 2003. Both had sell-out performances and prompted some efforts to land an MLS expansion team in Oklahoma. This all was just before I became a rabid fan of this sport that I now adore beyond belief. I was playing indoor soccer (very very very badly, mind you; passion for the game doesn't seem to automatically confer skill upon you) in 2004 and remember thinking that I should attend the Burn-Wiz game, but tickets sold out before I could even think about getting them.

This kind of excitement about soccer has always belied the Oklahoma sports media's belief that this is a sport that only kids play. Obviously there are soccer fans in Oklahoma, and yet coverage is generally minimal. I checked the archives of one of the state's newspapers and only found a handful of stories about MLS over the past 18 months, two of them features about wunderkind Freddy Adu. I do remember that the qualification by the US Men's Team for the 2006 World Cup was relegated to a mere three-inch brief on the inside of the sports section. After all, there was American football going on that weekend.

This being a World Cup year, with interest sparking thanks to national media investment in the upcoming brouhaha in June, soccer's stock is starting to rise, not just in Oklahoma but everywhere in the US. If the US Men's Team does well, it may translate into some real enthusiasm that could give MLS a nice boost. I remember in 2002 there was a blip of interest by the US team's nice performance in South Korea/Japan, but it faded pretty quickly and the "no one is interested in soccer" attitude returned full force. But things are changing, and it looks like interest in both soccer in general and MLS in particular really is starting to gain a foothold.

Can that translate into an MLS team for Oklahoma? Either an expansion or, if the rumors hold true, a disgruntled team leaving its original base? I dunno. I honestly don't think Oklahoma has the population density to support a professional league sport yet. But playing host to the New Orleans Hornets while their city is getting back on its feet has shown that we can do it, at least in a temporary capacity, and it might lead to greater things. But soccer? The regular attendance for a soccer game -- about, what, 15,000? 18,000? -- is the size of a regular-sized town in Oklahoma. Outside of the holy duo of college football and basketball (and lately the Hornets), I'm not sure that any other sport gets that kind of attendance. There just aren't enough people in this state of 3.5 million people -- which is smaller than most metropolitan cities -- to have the kind of diversity needed to cultivate a soccer fanbase.

I'd really like to be wrong about this, because I would give my right foot to have a team of my own. Oooh, except then would I have to give up my passion for DC? When my home team and DC played, who would I go for? Oh, what a Sophie's Choice of a deal that would be. ...

Well, it's all quite unlikely, unless the Kansas City fails the Wizards miserably and they do come to Tulsa, as the rumor mill says. State officials have pretty much said that landing an MLS expansion is years and years away, and by then I'll be outta here.

But at 7:30 on March 25, I'll be ponying up my $25 for a seat up front to do my part to support professional soccer in Oklahoma. Every little bit helps, right?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


How, I wondered, would I be able to tie into MLS for a US Men's National team mostly made up with Europe-based players? Sure, I'm all wrapped up in the national team as well as my MLS, but I still like to focus on the home players, since they're the ones I get to watch for six months out of the year.

It turned out to be pretty easy. Not only did the Revs' Clint Dempsey put home the header that won the game in the 48th minute, aided by fellow Rev Taylor Twellman, but in the second half the only way I was able to keep track of the second half of the game at all was through

If a game is on during work hours -- and I work some pretty crappy hours, so I have to do this more often than not -- I MatchTrack the game at US It ain't great, but it's better than a kick in the eye. I was able to watch most of the first half before I came to work, and it looked like a hard-fought match for both sides. Finally the US men had an opponent who was really making them work at it and earn that goal.

Then I came to work, tried to sign on to the US Soccer Web site ... and nothing. I got repeated error messages. When it finally did bring up the MatchTracker, it would work for three minutes and crash the computer. So I missed out on Dempsey's goal, his nice little patriotic salute, the blizzard battle, the yellow ball, everything. I got an update from, thankfully, so -- oh well. Thank you, MLS for the information and for the player who garnered the win. This game put paid to my last lingering fears and doubts that the earlier wins were too easy. Huzzah! On to face the Germans!

And while watching the game -- and I noticed that "The American" Brian McBride sat out, what's up with that? (later edit: ah, groin injury, I see, thanks AP) -- I was wondering how an entire team of MLS stars would fare against a European team. Perhaps their playing style is different enough to shake things up? It would be interesting to see.

Pregame musings

Two hours and change until the US Men's Team meets Poland in Germany. ...

MatchNight has an interesting article about the hubris the of-late successes the men's team has been garnering might lead to a nasty downfall. Yes, the team is at its most successful in its entire history, but a comment posted with the story sums it up: "That's not saying much."

OK, so that's pretty cynical, but as a cynic and a realist, I'm inclined to agree. I'd love to shake off this attitude, but as I haven't yet seen the team face an opponent of any real mettle, I'm reserving my bragging rights. I don't know what it says that the team stomped two teams and tied with one that failed to qualify. I've seen Japan play much better than they did in San Francisco last month, and I wondered if they didn't let their belief in the US as a weak player override their game, although I dunno, it also seems that they're not nearly the team that they were and are having some troubles. I know that every team is supposed to look at a game -- any game, even a friendly -- in the spirit of true competition, but we all know how going up against a team with a less-than-stellar reputation can bring out laziness. The US has something to prove in every game and the players go out all-balls every time. That's definately an advantage and has been the deciding factor in the recent wins. That's the kind of attitude that I'd like the team to continue to cultivate. I'd hate for them to do the opposite of what their opponents have been doing, that is, let a taste of recent victory infect them with the kind of overconfidence that leads to a long, hard fall off a pedestal of overhyped expectations. Confidence is only as good as the results that back it up, and they've still got a ways to go yet before they can run on that kind of attitude alone. Their performance against Poland today and Germany later this month will go a long way toward either confirming the US reputation as an easy win or busting the chops of all naysayers who think that the US only plays good football with an oblong ball.

Me, I'd like my chops to be busted so I can finally shake off that pessimistic attitude. I harbor a little flame of hope that we're as good as we'd like to think we are, and I'd like that flame to go on to a full-on blaze. I think this is a team that can surprise some people out there, including me, and as long as they can keep going out to prove that yes, we DO play football in the United States, they can do it.

Two hours and counting ...