Happy Birthday to me

It’s been a long week with my next 6 years lying ahead of my in my Linguistics Ph.D program and with the whole Antonio Puerta incident.  It’s also my birthday today and I’ll be taking a bit of a break in the next couple of days enjoying my time, recharging the battery and moving into my new digs in downtown Buffalo.

I’ll be back blogging after this weekend’s moving extravaganza and La Liga weekend dedicated to Puerta.
And I have to give love to my girlfriend Renae, who on my birthday bought me a Liverpool Scarf, a subscription to Four Four Two, and a DVD set entitiled ‘History of Soccer’.  When I asked her why she got me the DVD’s, she said

‘To help with your blogging.’

Now she’s a keeper.

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Power Rankings: Join the Fun (and why I’m such a wally)

No offense intended to anyone out there who goes by “Wally” – though you should really consider “Walt.”

As regular readers of this site know, I roll together all the power rankings I can find every week and average out the scores to produce “collective rankings” (example from Week 20) Most the material I use comes from other bloggers and a few of the national soccer outlets – e.g. ESPN, Fox Soccer, Sports Illustrated, etc. That’s just by coincidence, though. As the season has progressed, the numbers of pundits in my sample has been shrinking, something I feel limits the amount and diversity of opinion going into the numbers.

It took a commenter to point out that it doesn’t have to be this way. Today, or last night, a guy named Mark in NRH posted his power rankings at the end of my power rankings for this week and that’s when it hit me: why not ask visitors to the site to load up the comments with power rankings of their own? Assuming that works, and I have no reason for thinking it will, I’ll grow the sample and, by translation, the wisdom going into the collective rankings. Yippee!!

So, here’s your invite: at the bottom of this post, pass on your power rankings and I’ll roll them into this week’s collective rankings; Mark in NRH is already being lumped in whether he knows it or not. If you run a site of your own, just provide a link; if you’re just commenting, drop ’em in below. And there’s no need to be shy about justifying your choices; no one will be penalized for length. There is, however, one rule: clearly bogus rankings – and, here, I’m talking about someone ranking Real Salt Lake #1 – won’t be included. That said, I do intend to be very open with the entries; in other words, barely plausible will fly.

Have it: tell Center Holds It how you think Major League Soccer’s 13 clubs stack up. And, um, there is no prize. (Dude, I’m broke.)

Ritual Sacrifi…whoops…Superliga Final TONITE!

Best foot forward.

In a better, kinder world, fate would have consented to Major League Soccer to fielding its best, hottest team against the Mexican Primera’s mighty CF Pachuca, a team that one notable pundit dubbed the best soccer team in North America. Instead they’ll face the Los Angeles Galaxy and its south-of-green defense, the same “wall” that the can’t-score Colorado Rapids banged three goals through in 45 minutes time. Why? Because Fate, that rotten bitch, conspired to have the Galaxy’s only win – wait: make that their one competent performance – for the entire month of August come against DC United in the Superliga semis. So, the Galaxy it is: thus, MLS puts its clubfoot forward…and in front of an artificially reduced crowd no less….stupid undergraduates…why aren’t you out drinking? It’s Wednesday, people.

Oh well. At least we have the memories of this inaugural Superliga tournament, along with the hope that next year’s tournament – the qualification for which is based on merit, as opposed to Beckham and demographic calculations – will be better still.

Here, for those who want it, is MLSnet.com’s official preview.

On the upside, it looks like the Galaxy will be able to play, oh, half a Beckham and maybe three-quarters a Donovan: it sounds like both players will suit up for the Galaxy’s likeliest (only?) shot at taking a positive from 2007. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get still another Wild West Shoot-Out; the Galaxy has been part of two of the best games this season, so credit them for that if nothing else.

And, for the record, I will be pulling for them in spite of my essential loathing for them and a soft-spot for Pachuca. Then again, I’m the kind who likes pulling for the underdog – and the more improbable the better….say, a one-legged, blind kid cherishing the delusion of winning the Boston Marathon…why did that image come to me? Sorry, I’m in a cruel mood today.

With the inaugural Superliga nearing its end, looking back and, all at once, forward seems a natural thing to do. And Luis Bueno did just that yesterday for his Press-Enterprise gig (where’s that paper from now?). Bueno weighed the good against the bad and came to a conclusion or two about this tournament: Mexican clubs are better, the format cheated the Mexican clubs with the games being played in the States and in the Primera’s preseason, etc. And he’s got decent points on each count.

As I see it, though, the little cheats we pick up – e.g. MLS teams are in form and on home turf – balance things out. In other words, we get those little edges, while the Mexican clubs enjoy better resources and bigger rosters. That said, I’d also trade a raised salary cap in MLS for playing some of the games in Mexico (to go one or two further, I’d prefer a raised salary cap free of league micro-management – i.e. teams can sign whomever they want under the terms they can so long as they stay under the cap; no developmental players, etc.; just players; and we could alternate between countries for hosting, etc.). And, for next year, regular TV – and regular TV does not include Telefutura, dammit – is a must. My back is already tensing up at the thought of fighting that over-stuffed online feed during tonight’s broadcast; I can already here the echoes of my wife’s biting mockery.

All in all, though, I have to say I enjoyed the Superliga distraction. It’s helps tide me over while I wait for the main event: the CONCACAF Champions Cup…damn, that was a fun tournament this year.

So, go Galaxy. We’re looking to you to find your best foot and get it out there.

10 Bright Spots of Week 21: Galindo finds form, Blanco retains form, and Denilson signs a form

At Because I Think…

Let me know if I missed anyone that deserves to be on there….

Greatest goal you’ve never seen…

Credit goes to For the Love of Sports for the find.