MLS Fangirl

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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Have fun storming the gol!

Those wacky posters over on the BigSoccer forum have started the mutha of all silly threads (access it through Triangle Soccer Fanatics!) -- altering lines from The Princess Bride and putting them in the mouths of the US Men's Team. It's freaking hilarious.

I didn't feel like signing up for BigSoccer to add my two cents -- or rather, my beloved Husband's two cents, since he came up with these gems -- so I'll just post them here for amused posterity.

USA: Futbol?
Fledgling fan base: That's right. When soccer was started in another country, it was called futbol. And this is a special "foot-ball." It's the futbol that should have been taught by my father, and I should have taught to your father. But today I'm gonna watch it with you.
USA: Has it got anything exciting in it?
Fan base: Are you kidding?! Fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles, genuine athleticism ...
USA: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Fan base: Oh, well thank you very much. Very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

Later in the television of the World Cup, a brief explanation:

Knowledgeable fans: We don't lose the tournament at this time.
USA: What?
Fans: The first round doesn't get us. I'm explaining this to you because you look nervous.
USA: I wasn't nervous. Maybe I was a little bit "concerned," but that's not the same thing

Friday, May 19, 2006

This is how Vegas makes money

To all you people who are betting at the US is going to win the World Cup (hat tip to World Cup Blog): I'll be happy to take your money. Just send it to me in a plain envelope marked, "Cash from Suckers Who Know Nothing About Futbol." If you really want to part with your money so darn badly, give it to me. I'm going to grad school next year, so I need the additional funding. Giving money to me is just as insane as betting on the US to win. That's what you get for taking the FIFA rankings so seriously (Do you learn nothing from the BCS?).

Speaking of La Copa de Mundial stuff, get ready for next week's Send-Off series as the USMNT tackles Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia, and they will be televised.

Quick MLS picks for Saturday:

Dynamo vs. Fire:
Jeez, the Dynamo on EPSN2 again?? The orange jerseys aren't that great, guys, pick another team. I normally would have automatically gone with Houson on this, but with Ching gone and some good players possibly sidelined from injuries, I think the Fire might actually rack up its second win. I'm going with Chicago, just because I'm sick of seeing Houston on TV.

New York vs. Chivas:
Awwww, I don't even want to make a pick here. I'd like Chivas to get a win here. They're due. But something tells me that New York is gonna show that Red Bull goes great with toasted goat.

Crew vs. DC:
Another away game against a team that they should be able to beat. I think DC should easily be able to keep it together to keep that first-place standing, but they've got that choking reflex to overcome. Still, my money's on DC, and that's probably a pretty safe bet. As my darling Frankie Hejduk is out with an injury that will take time to heal -- my husband had the same injury and he was on crutches for two months -- I actually *sob* sold him off my fantasy team. I'll get him back when he's back.

Dallas vs. New England:
Oh, Dallas, easily. Even with Golden Boy Twelleman looking to make Bruce Arena regret his exclusion from the national team, Dallas has been playing some serious soccer this year.

Real vs. Wizards:
Oooh, this could be rather exciting. Real Salt Lake needs to prove that last week's win over LA isn't just a flash in the pan, and the Wizards need to prove that they can get alone without Conrad, Johnson and Wolff. Who wants it more? Actually, I'm gonna take a chance and go with RSL on this one again.

Galaxy vs. Rapids:
Hee hee, oh yes, Rapids, no question.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Let's send Jon Stewart to the World Cup

Sportswriters. Blech. We hate the way they hate our beloved sport. They don't understand the rules, they snigger into their sleeves over its importance in the world, they think it's a peewee game played by limp-wristed, commie lovers. "You know what's wrong with soccer?" the sports editor whose desk was, unfortunately for me, right across from mine. "Not enough stats. All you have is goals made and goals attempted. And then what? No wonder those crazy fans in Europe riot, they don't have enough stats to preoccupy them."

Well, I wanted to fire back, there's also cards and corners, just to name a few of the multitude of other minutia that I could calculate. (A quick plug, for all your statistics needs, visit Climbing the Ladder, where you can get all sorts of statisical goodness in one easy stop.) But instead I turned to the one other soccer fan in the room and asked her what the hell was wrong with all those other sports that they need stats to make them interesting? They weren't really listening to me anyway, as they were sitting there speculating on when this year David Beckham will be gracing an MLS team with his overrated self, and confidently pontificating that MLS's salvation would be to move all its teams to minor markets.

They're pretty representative of sportswriters in the mainstream, excluding the few fine souls who are out there really covering soccer, who know it and love it and want to pet it and squeeze it and call it George. But with the World Cup just mere weeks away from gracing the consciousness of the US sportsfan, I'm shuddering to think of what the coverage will be like. Three minutes of commentary on the games, followed up by 10 minutes of ranting about why everyone hates soccer? Or talking heads discussing how great the US is, since according to FIFA we're fourth in the world?

We need a guy in our corner, someone who knows the game, the lingo, knows the ins and outs.

And then it hit me: Jon Stewart. I was watching The Daily Show last night, and for one reason or another -- I can't even recall why -- they showed a clip of soccer hooligans rioting. In referring to the clip, Stewart said the proper words, "fans on the pitch." Because he's a fan, he's been a player. He played in college, and he's been keeping up. He not only understands what it's like to be a soccer fan in the US, he articulated it in the best quote in the world.

Soccer is crystal meth. It's very addictive, but really messes up your teeth. I guess I've never viewed soccer as some sort of controlled substance. To me, it's probably more like Nutella. The rest of the world clearly loves it and puts it on almost everything, but here in America we're like, "I don't know, man, it tastes like almonds."

C'mon, if Dennis Miller can do Monday Night Football, can't Jon Stewart do the World Cup? Let's send Jon Stewart to Germany to do ESPN coverage over the World Cup.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Stars align for Grabavoy, but not for the Galaxy

It looks like it's been quite a weekend for Ned Grabavoy. Not only did he and Joseph Ngwenya get traded from the Galaxy to the Crew, but he got the game-winning gol for Columbus on Saturday to beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0. And on top of that, he managed to jump the sinking ship that is the LA Galaxy just before they committed the utter ignominy of getting whooped by Real Salt Lake at the HDC.

I can only imagine if Kyle Martino and John Wolyniec were wondering if there's any way to get back to Ohio. Still, in the end they swapped a tied-for-third team with a now tied-for-third team, with the Crew even with New England at 10 points in the East and LA even with Colorado in the West with 7. Despite the triumph of using last year's MLS Cup Champs to snap an 18-game non-winning streak, all RSL managed to do on Sunday points-wise is once again tie with Chivas for last place in the West.

What kills me is I owned Grabavoy, he was on my fantasy team for about a day before I decided to trade him in for I don't even remember who. Maybe I should look at getting him again, since I like getting to put members from my favorite teams on my fantasy teams. And I cannot believe that my prediction that RSL would win actually came out this time. Good for you RSL. Now let's see how well ya do at home now that you've gotten a victory appetizer in LA.

And speaking of favorite teams, the DC/KC game pretty much game off as I expected, although I wasn't expecting the points to rack up quite that fast. 3 points in like 20 minutes of play? Crazy, but crazy in a good way, especially Alecko's punt over Bo Oshoniyi's head in the 16th. Too sweet.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Easy listening

National Public Radio's All Things Considered on Friday had a quick three-minute interview with Wall Street Journal sportswriter Stefan Fatis (whom I would not describe with yesterday's coyote ugly metaphor) over the USMNT's chance in the World Cup. The site also lists a nice group of stories they've done about soccer in the US over the past two years.

Fatis neatly brushed aside anchor Robert Siegel's comment that there's just no excitement building up for the World Cup in the U.S., and gave what I thought is a very good estimate of the USMNT's true position in the world at the moment, and what its chances are in the Group of Death.

Currently watching the Houston/Dallas game on ESPN2, and once the ankle injury knocked out DeRosario, I lost all hope for that cannon going to Houston. Ouch.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Why is it called football when you can use your hands?

I'm in the middle of a rather asinine debate on a message board over the use of the word soccer for the game that the rest of the world calls football. Never mind that the main voice in this debate is a kid from Finland who thinks that the US is going to become a huge football powerhouse and start dominating the world game, simply because he thinks we have a ton of money and interest in the game over here. I'd like to introduce him to the cadre of sportswriters in the next room who, if they woke up in bed after a one-night stand with soccer, would chew their own arms off to get away from it. Yes, in the US, soccer is the coyote ugly of the sportswriters' world.

Anyhoo, it still boggles my mind that the game referred to around the world as American football has the football moniker. Why? Yes, I know the history and all, but why still call it that, and is there a good substitute that we, as fans of real football, could call it? I personally have been calling it JohnMaddenBall, but no one listens to me.

I am mad at either or my DSL provider, because the DC United game against Colorado kept freezing on me. It's probably a good thing for me, from what I hear DC thought it was last year and played accordingly. And what with last week being finals week for me, I didn't catch more futbol than that. I did, however, manage to vote for the guys I'd like to see get pantsed by Chelsea at the MLS All-Star game. My simple rule -- if you went to the World Cup, I'm not voting for ya. Yes, that rule would have been suspended if Frankie Hejduk had gone, but still. Those guys are getting a lot of face time anyway, and besides, they're going to be out of MLS for months, so they're not exactly representational, was my flawed thinking. Regardless, if my darling Alecko Eskandarian does not make this team, there's something wrong with the world in general. I also threw in a vote for Troy Perkins, who has turned out to be my most profitable fantasy pick. As much as I really like Nick Rimando, I'm sticking with Troy, he's a keeper keeper.

And hey, look, a new team name that seems to be unremarkable and yet classic. I'm all for Toronto FC although isn't it time we let an AC come in? Or SC -- Soccer Club -- since that's what we call it here. Ick, no, I don't like that. And did I miss something, or does this skew the team numbers into an odd 13? Or is 2007 the year when the Philly-NJ startup also takes off?

I completely missed last week on every game except the obvious ones -- like the Crew beating RSL and New England beating the Galaxy, but I was terribly surprised by the spread on that one. But I'll try again, here we go:

Houston vs. Dallas
Dammit, it turns out that I am interested in this game after all. Not so much for the whole unnamed cannon thing, but just because it's looking kinda juicy, what with Houston's win last week over Dallas. This week it's in Frisco, and Brian Ching is gone to USMNT training camp. There are a lot of Brian Ching naysayers out there, but I think he's fantastic, although I'm not sure he's the thing that keeps Houston on top ... er, almost on top. I'm thinking that Dallas will win this one, simply just because they're somewhat better than Houston on any given Saturday. But I'd like it better if Houston won again.

New England vs. Chivas
It's a crazy world if New England beats Chivas with fewer gols than they beat Cup Champs the LA Galaxy, and it's even crazier if Chivas actually beats New England. I think Taylor Twelleman is still sufficiently pissed about being in the USMNT reserves to score up a big game, so New England will probably have this one. But I'm betting on crazy and a huge Revs injury list and say it'll only be by 1 with at least one Chivas gol.

New York vs. Chicago
This is my "I don't care" game this week, so I don't have much to say about this one, other than I think it'd be nice if the game ended in a draw to keep up both teams' records.

Crew vs. Rapids
I know that the Crew are starting to pull it together, but really, so are the Rapids, and Colorado'll probably bounce off last weeks win to get another this week. The Crew's injury roster reads like a novel, and the Rapids really aren't going to be stung by Pablo Mastroeni being gone to play for his country, since he really hasn't done so much this year.

Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake
Just for funsies, I'm going to go out on a wild limb. Maybe this is the week that RSL decides to stop being everyone's biotech (yeah, when my brain reads this word it always scrambles it to another word) and break thatn 18-game losing streak. It would be the jewel in the shame crown for LA to lose to Salt Lake, especially if they lost badly, and a supercoup for Real to win. Normally I don't care for RSL, but they've officially hit under-underdog status, so I feel for em. Go RSL.

DC vs. KC
Ooooh, and this is, for me, the game of the week. It's the battle for first in the East between my two favorite teams, and I'm all a twitter about it. Easily, I want DC to win, and while KC has been thumpingly good this season, they've just lost a heavy trio of players -- Conrad, Wolff and Johnson -- to training camp. Even though they've been hot-potatoing around the gols, in that just about all of them have been scored by a different player, three good, solid players is still a hit. DC, on the other hand, is at home, they're needing a win to get over last week's Colorado debacle. If they don't choke, DC will win. I'd prefer it be a 1-0 win, however, since my fantasy team is packed with players from both teams, and that's about as good a victory as I can wish for, fantasywise.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Tapping the Rockies

Wouldn't it be great if Coors beer owned the Rapids so that when Alecko Eskandarian gets a gol on Saturday, he'd pop down a Silver Bullet? Which, by the way, tastes about as bad as a RedBull. Yes, the young men of DC United are going West to face the Colorado Rapids, and I'm going to be tardy to an end-of-semester party to catch this one on

Yes, INVESCO Field is high and yes, Colorado is cold and yes, the Rapids have cheerleaders -- providing the eye-candy for that segment of the population who aren't finding it on the pitch (hey, I respect and admire the players for their masterful skills, but good golly, these are beautiful men to watch, I cannot tell a lie) -- but it shouldn't be much of a contest between the Rapids and DC. DC comes into Week 6 still unbeaten, albeit with one draw against FC Dallas last week, whereas Colorado hasn't managed to quite find its form yet, especially after falling to the Dynamo again last week. While it'd be nice to see the Rapids bring it together on their home field, I don't think that DC is the team it'll happen with. It's DC, easily, with at least one gol from Esky and perhaps one from USMNT guy Ben Olsen.

I have the weekend off from work, in preparation for Finals Week, and instead of studying like a good girl, I imagine I'll be staked in front of the TV watching futbol for most of the day. Other predictions:

Revolution v. Galaxy
Last year I would have been tremendously excited about this matchup, but this year it's just bringing out a big 'ol yawn. These are two teams that obviously have a wealth of talent that have for one reason or another failed to ignite this season. What would be interesting to see would be for both teams to take off after their USMNT players go on haitus from their club teams. This is what happened to me with my indoor team, they consistenly won every time I was absent. Would that mean I was actually the Clint Dempsey of my team? Nnnaaaaah. Seriously, it would be nice to see these teams wake up and play the electrifying game that we know they can play. That said, I think despite the 1-2-1 record the Revs have been challenged a little more than the Galaxy, who recovered from a loss to the Crew by beating Real Salt Lake, whee. I'm going with the New England on this ESPN2 game.

Wizards v. Fire
Ooooh, KC is doing it to me again. I want this team to win, and yet with them being a point ahead of DC, a win will keep them on top, and I so love for the Black-and-Red to maintain that exalted position. At any rate, the Wizards have one loss on their record, and I imagine that they won't garner another on this weekend before Conrad, Wolff and Johnsonn toddle off to training camp. Easily, the Wiz wins, but I don't get to see it because it's on HDNet.

Dynamo v. FC Dallas
This is the game I'm not caring much about. Yeah, I know, there's a big 'ol cannon up for grabs on this, but geez, it's a Texas intrastate thing, and sorry, I live in Oklahoma and now that we've got the lottery and are about to legalize tattooing, outside of the porn and the 6-point Coors, we just don't have a whole lot of use for Texas up here. That said, I do think that while Houston is proving to be a solid team, the Hoops are on fire this season, and they're gonna stay that way. That as-of-yet unnamed canon is headed for Big D.

Real Salt Lake v. Columbus
I have to say I'm still, still majorly bummed that my darling Frankie Hejduk got bumped from the World Cup team. Still, I see that he's not on the injured list for the Crew's game Saturday against Salt Lake, so I don't know if we'll be seeing him. Normally I'd call this a bottom-feeder battle, what with Real Salt Lake having gone, what, 17 games or something since they last won a game, and the Crew still foundering at the bottom of the rankings well. But the Crew has been showing some improvement, and Salt Lake hasn't. It's just tough all over for them, and I don't think it's going to get easier for them this week. Yeah, the Crew got a good-luck win from the Galaxy a few weeks ago, but heck, they kept the Wizards at 1 last week. It's a new team, but they're growing up fast. Crew gets that three points in what might be the game of the night.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Awww, Frankie, say it ain't so

One day after he got named to the World Cup roster, my beloved Frankie Hejduk got replaced by Christ Albright due to injuries. It seems Frankie tore a knee ligament in the Crew's game against KC on Saturday, so the two-time Cup veteran won't be making a three-peat.

And it looks like I'll still be cutting him from the fantasy team, at least for a bit. Awwww, I'm so disappointed. I mean, really, I'm quite bummed, because he is my favorite player.

Oh well.

Good soccer things: Thanks to the magic that is the Internet, I at least got to see a clip of Bruce Arena on SportsCenter on Tuesday night. Also on the SocccerNet site is a clip of USMNT's biggest starfan, Drew Carey, trying to explain to an inept sportscaster his love for fútbol. And the idiot SportsCenter guy then totally blew it by asking Drew what he thought about all the other sports in Cleveland. Because we can't just talk about fútbol, oh no.

Other good stuff -- I saw a Gatorade commercial featuring the US Men's team, and it was lovely.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

MLS on the MNT

I hate that I was at work when USMNT Coach Bruce Arena was on SportsCenter -- can you believe it?? They're treating soccer like it's a real sport! It pays when the network owns all the broadcast rights, I guess -- announced the roster for this summer's US World Cup team. But now, the wait's over, and here they all are (MLS players in bold):

Keepers: The phenomenal Kasey Keller, who gets to play in his castle's backyard, Tim Howard and Marcus Hahnemann, with Tony Meola (RBNY)and Matt Reis (NE) on reserve.

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad (KC), Cory Gibbs, my beloved Frankie Hejduk(CLB), Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, and Eddie Pope(RSL), with Chris Albright (LA), Gregg Berhalter and Todd Dunivant (LA)in the reserves.

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey (NE), Landon Donovan (LA), Pablo Mastroeni (COL), John O'Brien (CHV), Ben Olsen (DC) and Claudio Reyna with Chris Armas (CHI), Chris Klein (RSL), Pat Noonan (NE), Steve Ralston (NE) and Kerry Zavagnin (KC) in the reserves.

Strikers: Eddie Johnson (KC), Brian McBride, Brian Ching (HOU) and Josh Wolff (KC) with Conor Casey, Chris Rolfe (CHI) and Taylor Twellman (NE) in reserve.

So, any surprises? Not really, this is pretty much the list that everyone and their dog has been trotting out for the past year, other than everyone and their pup was expecting Twelleman to make the squad. I admit, that surprises me somewhat. But I'd be more surprised if this list had been made four months ago. As late, I haven't seen much from NE's Golden Boy, whereas I believe that Olsen always has been very consistent. Also it's somewhat of a surprise that Brian Ching made it, but I think he's a good player as well. Yeah, he doesn't shine out there like Landon, but he walks that fine line between being consistent and dependable. It works.

What is surprising is that out of the 36 players on the list, 22 of them are MLS players, and 11 of those MLS players are on the squad, with 11 in reserve. That, I think, is a really respectable showing for MLS, and it shows that America's slice of the sport doesn't suck like a Hoover the way all the naysayers think. They run with the big dogs. Of course, this means I gotta cut Frankie from the fantasy team, darn it.

What is this lineup saying to the rest of the world? Well, it does say that we're coming with our best of the best, that's for sure, because that's what it is. Is this a team that's going to take over in Germany? Weeeeeelll ... probably not, barring some sort of Cinderella story miracle that would look really good in a movie with the Kurt Russell playing Bruce Arena. But it does say that the team is showing up for a full 90 every time, and I think with this team if they keep it together, they won't fall apart like they did in Germany two months back.

Ammended and expanded later by MLS Fangirl, to make up for a hurried, deadline crunched early version.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekend off

For those who are watching and keeping score, I took the weekend off. It's not that I particularly wanted to stay away from futbol this weekend, it's just that things came up, games were missed, recaps weren't read. As in all things in life, the game went on without me, beautifully I'm sure. Hopefully I'll be getting around to viewing some highlights sometime this week before the next round hits.

Right now I'm waiting for Tuesday to see who's going to make the USMNT. US has an interesting chart showing the opinions of various voices on who they think will make it. As it stacks up there:

With the nine predictions below, 15 players have been chosen on every 'ballot,' including Beasley, Cherundolo, Convey, Donovan, Howard, Johnson, Keller, Lewis, Mastroeni, McBride, O'Brien, Onyewu, Pope, Reyna and Wolff.

And it's really hard to argue with that lineup, although I'm not too sure about including O'Brien in there. As for the rest, yeah, my crush Frankie will go, too, because Arena likes him, and about a month ago I would have said Taylor Twelleman had a really good shot, although I'd be more inclined to go with Olsen. Anyway, we'll see tomorrow afternoon, and then the only question will be, how fast can I cut these guys from my fantasy team?