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 Daily Sweeper, 09.12: Playoff Push; Nats Chat; Awards; LA Sickness; Apology to the Women’s Game

– Ives Galarcep picks through the traffic jam rushing toward the seventh and eighth playoff spots. I think he’s got it about right – though do feel obliged to acknowledge the distinction between what is actually right or real and that with which I agree.

– Credit USSoccerplayers.com’s Ken Pendleton for writing a column that makes we want to reel off my favorite point about the comparative progress made by the U.S. Men’s National Team (“It’s been ten fucking years, people! It’s at least another 10 to water-into-wine, never mind raising the dead!”), but, picking through the aftermath of last weekend’s loss to Brazil, he makes a subtler point. This excerpt, which by no means does the whole piece justice, gets at a crucial distinction:

“Goalkeepers aside, however, the US still has not produced a player who merits comparison to Ronaldinho, Kaká, Robinho, Daniel Alvez, or even Diego and Julio Baptista, for that matter. In fact, a good case could be made that Ramos and Reyna, as well as Hugo Perez, had better balls skills and were more creative than any player that has come along since.”

In other words, this isn’t the stale gripe that we’re not improving exponentially; instead Pendleton acknowledges a general improvement while lamenting persistent shortcomings on an individual level. Can’t say I disagree with that a whole lot.  He closes with what needs to happen and, without putting unwarranted faith in the MLS’s plans for player development, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re headed in the right general direction.

– I don’t plug RSLFM.com, but that could be because I fear its slick layout. I mean, look at their preview for tonight’s game against DC United; it’s like a frickin’ media guide! What do you get outta me? The profanity-laced ravings of a bald guy on the wrong side of 35 sans eye candy.

– The end-of-year awards thing tend to pass me by…oh, hell with it; I think the awards are silly and I don’t get so much as the minutest flutter of satisfaction out of them; only games, trophies, and wins matter…which is probably why I never got wind of the Newcomer of the Year award. But, if you’re into this kind of thing, the New York Times’ Goal blog handicaps the Newcomer race. WVHooligan goes…let’s see…one…two…three…five better and handicaps all the awards.

– The latest report on the injury-ravaged horrorshow that is the LA Galaxy.

– Finally, earlier in the week I griped about the lack of parity in the women’s game (I’m not going to find the link, but accept full responsibility for my writing).  Grant Wahl, who certainly knows better than me, states outright this will be the most competitive Women’s World Cup ever…though only after unpacking an incredible amount of crap about Beckham.  So, I hereby acknowledge my knee-jerk ignorance.  And Dwight Schrute did a promo for them (hat-tip: The Beautiful Game); he’d never do that for me…in spite of me watching The Office religiously….