It’s All Saints Day, doncha know?
Before getting to the good stuff – e.g. the stuff about soccer – I’ve got to pass on something funny about trick-or-treating last night. In case you don’t know, I live in Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb of Portland with a heavy Hispanic population. I did go out as a nun last night and, let me tell you, the looks I got; the Hispanics, especially got a kick out of it; maybe it’s the Catholic angle. Most people were amused, if to a surprising degree, and I got a few cold stares; some kids looked freaked, but that’s not so weird. But having spent my entire life in, I dunno – tolerant, adaptive, maybe even “hep” – circles, I can only say I was neither prepared for, nor planning on, being a center of attention with a costume like that. For Halloween parties past, a dude dressed as a nun is entirely unremarkable, if a little lazy.
– I still love reading this kind of thing, from Sacha Kljestan’s Q & A sit-down with USSoccerplayas.com:
“Sacha Kljestan: I grew up watching MLS, so [Carlos] Valderrama, Peter Nowak, Preki, and [Marco] Etcheverry were my four favorite players.”
OK, so lumping “coach” in there may read like a brown-nose maneuver, but the cool thing is, we’re more likely to grow supporters when kids grow up following the league. This, incidentally, is why getting families to the games matters: they may cramp your style by keeping you from telling the ref what you really think, but if you limit the attraction to the league to the young, the hip, and the barren/infertile, that can bite you on the butt. Sing it with me….”I believe that children are our future…” There is a second piece to this: namely, keeping the “fun young adult vibe” in the stadiums; after all, the little critters need something to which they can aspire once they get the yen to separate from mom and dad.
– Another quote, this one from Ryan Hunt’s playoff thinker for Sports Illustrated:
“Just like in 2005, none of MLS’ top four seeds enters the second weekend of the  conference semifinals with an advantage headed into the home leg. And that was perhaps the most unexpected postseason in league history, with three lower seeds advancing out of the first round and the West’s No. 4 team (Los Angeles) rolling to the MLS Cup crown.”
So, you got that, New England, DC, Houston, and Chivas? Get with it ya deadbeats. And while you may look at the final regular season standings for 2005 and think, “well, yeah, the lower seeds went through, but that’s because the Rapids were one of the top seeds” (insert double-take sound effect). True, but the rest of them were the usual suspects: San Jose/Houston, DC, and New England.
– One more thing before getting to the fairly slim post-season chatter: The Beautiful Game pointed me to a U.S. map dotted with the franchises from the old North American Soccer League (NASL). The main point of interest for me? That someone thought teams could fly in Memphis, Tennessee or Tulsa, Oklahoma. These may have been “soccer hotbeds” at this point (yeah…right…let’s just say it will take a lot of convincing), but they, um, don’t spring to mind for me now when I think about MLS expansion.
– Now, onto the few playoff items I have.
DC United v. Chicago Fire
I’ll leave it to The DCenters briefing for the real pre-game chatter. A couple “fluff” items struck my fancy today. First, I find something…I dunno something… about this quote from DC midfielder Ben Olsen:
“’There has been a lot of talk about how Chicago has got our number and I’m a bit tired of that and I think the guys are a bit tired of that,’ said Olsen, whose team went 1-0-2 against the Fire in the regular season. ‘There’s only one way to deal with that, and it’s to go out tomorrow and show that is not the case.’”
I guess I can’t blame Olsen for struggling with how to answer the same damn question he has heard for the past two weeks. Maybe it’s the “let’s end poverty” vibe – e.g. facing a problem that the question treats as impossible by commenting that it’s just something you have to do. But, it’s impossible, right? No, this isn’t a real-world oxy-moron like the poverty-thing – DC can beat Chicago, of course – but there’s something comical in the phrasing. Anyway…
Speaking of more player fluff, I love Jaime Moreno for how he handles questions about his personal life. If only more major and minor celebrities would operate this way; if only the ravening public would let them. Some things are better kept private; most things, in fact.
Wow…not much about the game there, huh? Um…here’s MLSnet.com’s preview. That good enough?
Houston Dynamo v. FC Dallas
This one will be a little more meaty. The Houston Chronicle ran a couple previews: one, asking Dallas defender Clarence Goodson about how Dallas plans to cope with what should be an all-out Houston attack; not surprisingly, Goodson answers in “athlete-speak,” a dialect of the English language that possesses the opacity of political speech, but without the bullshit. The other item came from Glenn Davis, who looks at tomorrow night’s deciding game from a couple of angles.
I’ve got a lamentation piece rattling around my head. I may or may not get to that today. Or I could get overwhelmed by a slow-mugging by ennui.