Steve Davis (whoops…It’s actually Jeff Carlisle, who) said it best in the preview of the Pan-Pacific Challenge (PPC) he wrote for ESPN:
“While the PPC isn’t the UEFA Champions League, it is a sign that the beginning of the MLS season is inching closer, and the fact that some international sides are tagging along for the ride at least raises the interest level a smidgen above a typical preseason friendly. With the inaugural PPC trophy at stake, here’s how the participants stack up.”
Davis’ (whoops, Carlisle’s; I like his) work, so don’t get me wrong when I say I can read his comparative enthusiasm for the PPC in the copy. Naturally, all the teams involved are making obligatory noises about taking everything seriously, not being there “to get a suntan” blah, blah, blah. Contrary, however, to The Honolulu Advertiser’s headline, this is just a friendly competition…it’s pretty hard to get around that.
That’s not to say, however, that I’m not irrationally geared up. I am wound-up for the PPC to the extent of asking my wife to alter her work schedule (and the effort succeeded; kick ass). And that’s less about the international sides in attendance, than the presence of a couple teams with which I’m familiar returning after a seemingly eternal hiatus.
That team of familiarity doesn’t apply to the Galaxy, a team so stretched apart by departures, arrivals, and impending cuts to personnel that they won’t look much like last year’s edition. It does, however, apply to Houston, who seem quite familiar, if a little banged-up in the groin, hamstring, and stomach. Then there’s their largely departed forward contingent…not to worry there, though. Just say the magic word – Wondolowski! – and you’ll feel better. Say it with me, people, it’s very empowering: Wondolowski!! Now, repeat often as you need to during the game.
Getting back to the Galaxy, the crazy changes (Ty Harden bolting), the stupid trades (see; Q. Kirk for G. Vanney; read a great post/article on this; sadly, I can’t find it), and severely out-of-whack salary set-up may not be so bad in the end. For one, few things inspire like playing for your job: with the ax hovering over a few of their mid-range vets, I expect a few of the Galaxy’s players to play their hearts out and legs off. Also, looking at LA’s roster, I’m not exactly seeing the bricks and mortar of a defensive fortress; maybe this will compel them to adopt the “Brazilian approach” – e.g. scoring more than the other guys, which should lead to high-scoring delight…especially when their legs fizzle by the end of the game.
Getting back, now, to Houston, I was thinking earlier that the order in which these will show – e.g. LA v. Gamba Osaka first, then Houston v. Sydney FC second – would help with alertness. I’m not so sure anymore. I expect Houston to be their usual hard-as-Hell to beat, but with even worse problems on offense.
Wait…almost forgot: Wondolowski! There. That’s better.
I’ll be back to try to whoop people up a little more tomorrow.
– Gold fish can so remember stuff….so lay off, dammit.
– In case this might sway people’s votes, Boston doesn’t support Mike Huckabee. I’m talking about the band, obviously, who I believe will serve as super-mega-delegates.