Where Seattle Meets Barcelona

Everyone is flagging the Seattle MLS announcement, so, seeing as you’ve all seen/heard this before, I thought I’d play up the aspect that most appeals to me: the fan ownership thing, in which fans buy shares of the club. Drew Carey handled the announcement and, assuming he’s playing it straight (and we wouldn’t he?), fans who own a chunk of the club get to vote fer or agin’ the team president. That’s kinda neat, as I see it. More significantly, that kind of talk flies like one of those birds that migrates super-fucking-far on annual basis – e.g. very, very well indeed – in the Pacific Northwest. We pitch “progressive tents” at every opportunity in this neck of the woods.

Anyway, you can find a video clip of the announcement on GOALSeattle.com.

One last thing: somewhere during Drew Carey’s entrance, someone in the background blurts out “Say Portland sucks,” which kind of makes me titter given my comment on what I view as an entirely shared progressive culture in both cities. Having lived in both cities for 5+ years, I don’t see a whole lot separating them generally, which may explain the bitterness of the rivalry (certainly much more so than the half-silly, yet frequent references to a “rivalry that goes back to NASL days.” Yeah, it did…but with a 20-freakin’-year hiatus; just admit the hate is natural and stop trying to dress it up). At any rate, the Timbers Blog responds in kind…at least with the graphic that tops his post.

I can’t pretend I’m part of that scrum, of course. Hell, I may be living in Seattle in a couple months for reasons that none of you (should) care about (no, it’s not because an MLS team set down roots there; 1) I’m still holding out hope for a Portland team; 2) do you seriously think a married father of two can make his wife move for that?). In any case, I pack my weird brand of soccer whorishness wherever I go.

Whoops. One last, last thing: is it true, as reported by MLS Rumors, that Seattle’s MLS team won’t be the Sounders? Was this mentioned at the announcement? If so, how do Seattle fans feel about this one?

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Daily Sweeper, 1/1: Building the Future and (A Little) Playoff Dish for the Saints

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.

Anyway…

– 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 [2007] 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. Continue reading

DS, 10.18: Cooling PDX Dreams?; LA v. RBNY TONITE (+ Cobi); Solo’s Apology; Odds ‘n’ Ends

– The middle section of Ian Plenderleith’s MLS News Review for USSoccerplayas.com revisits the MLS-to-Portland issue and, to be direct about it, brings out the wet blanket. I’m not criticizing – the man is entitled to his opinion and, odds are, he’s not engorged with soccer-lust for an MLS team in his hometown – but I read what looks like the same article from my local paper and came away with a glass-half-full vibe – though the emphasis belongs on the “half” part. And, in his defense, Plenderleith flagged the biggest trick – e.g. the money invovled in upgrading PGE Park, something that will be particularly hard to sell in terms of public revenues given that the city undertook renovations on the facility not all that long ago.

– As we all know – and I’m not talking about The Ankle – the LA Galaxy continues clawing out of its grave tonight when they take on a Red Bull New York side that should be more interested in going into the playoffs healthy than in keeping LA out. Previews abound, but I liked what I got from Goal.com and Martin Rogers’ preview for Yahoo! Sports as much as any of them; the passage where Rogers calls LA coach Frank Yallop “a good and decent man” particularly caught my eye…though I can’t say why.

Speaking of LA, I came across a weird passage in Andrea Canales piece for USSoccerplayas.com on LA’s (evil-infused) resurrection. Here’s that:

“’All along I’ve said in this league you need a steady team,’ said coach Frank Yallop, who maintained that he never lost faith in his players. Instead, he blamed injuries and a difficult schedule for the team’s struggles”

Only after reading that did it occur to me that LA’s (wicked, Faustian) resurrection actually coincided with said difficult schedule…so, earlier in the year then, it must have been the injuries….or they just sucked…right?

– Speaking of LA, there’s something fishy about Cobi Jones retirement – specifically, the occasional rumors that it’s not going to happen. But then you read something like this on the front “page” of Sports Illustrated’s site:

“The Galaxy are set to honor retiring star Cobi Jones on Thursday night…”

I mean, if they honor him, he has to retire…doesn’t he?

– I’ve read a lot of MLS regular-season end-game analyses lately. Hell, I’ve even written a few (well, loose interpretations of them, anyway). But I think Red Bull Rising turned in one of the best end-game posts so far.

– Speaking of great contributions to the collective mind, it’s hard to top Dan Loney’s reaction to the public apology from U.S. Women’s ‘keeper Hope Solo, which was posted on U.S. Soccer’s site.

– Finally, 3rd Degree posted one of those items for which I’m a real sucker: FC Dallas’ All-Time Top 10 Players. Just seeing Ariel Graziani’s name reminded me why I developed that soft spot for the old Dallas Burn…and he doesn’t even mention Alain Sutter (who, for the record, hardly meets the criteria for that Top 10 list).

MLS Expansion: Double-Down on PAC NW & Beyond

My local paper reports this morning that Major League Soccer’s (MLS) top officials are again eyeing the Rose City’s potential as an expansion market. While nothing definitive appears in the article- for instance, no talk of negotiations, advanced or otherwise – it’s easy to disregard this as a simple means of keeping the lines of communication open. Indeed, the official line on the visit boils down to providing MLS Commish Don Garber with a chance “to see [PGE Park] in ‘game condition’ for a significant event.”

Reality aside, however, just seeing the reefer to the headline on the top of The Oregonian’s sports section set some wheels to spinning in my head – and those along somewhat urgent lines. Between Merritt Paulson’s (perhaps throw-away) figure on what it would cost to get the Portland Timbers’ PGE Park up to MLS standards and with a Seattle team to MLS looking powerfully firm for a rumor, it occurs to me that the future is now for Portland getting an MLS team.

Let’s separate this to make it prominent: Portland should get a Major League Soccer franchise in the same round of expansion that takes in Seattle, which looks to be 2009.

Clear self-interest aside (self-interest? where!?), a couple things recommend getting the Pacific Northwest “toe” in the national footprint in place all at once. To begin, if Seattle plays in one league and Portland in another, the risk of the rivalry between them losing its bite grows with each year – e.g. Seattle gets fixated on, say, San Jose, while Portland starts worrying about Vancouver’s Whitecaps. Pull both teams into the league at once and – Whammo! – enjoy the eye-gouging basement brawl between two expansion teams already entangled in regional rivalry. Second, the simultaneous move not only folds the Pacific Northwest region into league with a bang, it essentially wraps up the Western coast footprint. After Portland, Seattle and San Jose, where else does MLS go in a 18, or even 20, team league?

The last piece provides a nice segue into the larger question of expansion: where does MLS go to get its 18 teams by 2012? Continue reading