MLS (Semi-)Daily Sweeper, 12.18: The REAL Dull-Drums, A World Cup Qualifying Must-Read

With the FIFA Club World Cup and the NCAA Championships done and dusted and half of Europe taking a winter siesta, things look to have really wound down for 2007. Speaking specifically about the U.S., a look at Fox Soccer Channel’s 15-day domestic forecast says it all: the only thing more pointless than an international club friendly is a days-old, tape-delayed international club friendly…that it stars the Major League Soccer (MLS) dog-n-pony show only makes it that much worse.

Given that, I’ll be going into a winter break of my own till the New Year, but won’t start that till the end of this week. I’ve got Christmas BS throughout, in any case, and will thus be too busy with food, euchre, presents, running my kids around, and having drunkenly aimless, yet unbelievably passionate arguments about everything under the sun to get to much for posting.

But there’s always today and the rest of the week – and, as Steve Goff points out on Soccer Insider, today is positively stuffed with activities. The time being what it is, I’ll get to those tomorrow…it’s not like the story is going to change on me. So, on with the show, this is it….literally…

– On ESPN’s site, Steve Davis posted the quintessential hubris-checker regarding the United States’ road through World Cup qualifying; those wanting a clearer explanation of what the hell he’s talking about can get that through My Soccer Blog’s road map for the first part of the journey. The latter is useful for Davis’ column, but by no means necessary. Speaking for myself, I’m most worried about the one I’m assuming worries everyone else least: the play-in home-and home versus either Dominica or Barbados. Yes, either team is miles below us, both in the FIFA Con-jo…er, World Rankings, and quality of play, but it’s the lower margin of error that brings the anxiety, not to mention the potential for MASSIVE, unbearable humiliation. The thing is, if the U.S. finds themselves in a funk, or if Barbados (to pick one at random) somehow steals a goal and plays killer, athletic defense…well, that’s it. Unlike in the round-robin stages, both games against whichever Caribbean minnow we face matter, at least so long as we don’t carry a butt-stomping lead into the second leg; anything less than a 3-0 lead going into the second leg and I’ll be more nervous than I ought to be given the opposition. This is the point of Davis’ column: weirder things have happened in World Cup qualifying. So, stay frosty, people. Continue reading

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Daily Sweeper, 12.14: Fun on the Rumor-go-Round…and it is fun, dammit

– Well, contrary to what was written in so many places earlier today (and on this site – wow – Wednesday; and the preceding ain’t a complete list, either) the deal to bring Juan Sebastian Veron to DC United is dead…for now. But I’d leave that last one in the big ol’, half-meaningless file titled, “Never say never.” Steve Goff has a bit of fun with readers in his autopsy report on the trade, but that misses the point. So…what’s the point? This is fun, dammit! This is the stuff daydreams are made of and, if nothing else, it gives us all something to talk about. What’s more wholesome than conversation ’round the ol’ virtual water-cooler? And, more to the point, figuring how and where a particular player fits in your team? That’s educational, man; it makes you think about how your team functions.

To be clear on this: I will shamelessly post rumors; I love the things. My policy on them boils down to rumor=good. I’ll mention the unconfirmed nature of what I’m passing on, but if you see MLS Rumors as my source, well, the title says it all. No sale is totally done till corporate – e.g. MLSnet.com – says it is. But don’t hide from rumors. They’re entertaining.

– Speaking of trade rumors, the Jared Borgetti to Kansas City Wizards/Colorado Rapids/Chicago Fire trade looks like it’ll go about as far in the end as the Veron thing did. Unlike Veron, however, I didn’t see much upside an a Borgetti deal. The man is 34 for crissakes. Yeah, I know. Blanco is about there too. Still.

3rd Degree had a decent piece today on player movement in and out of Big D. The “out” part of that seems the firmer: seems like they’re shopping Carlos Ruiz pretty widely, so I’m thinking they’re pretty serious about off-loading him. Also, check out where coach Steve Morrow is – and is not – going.

– Finally, seeing who Danny Califf selects as the three people he’d like to meet has grown my respect for the man. Sitting Bull, eh? Top-drawer.

OK, on to the Web junk now… Continue reading

Distraction: My Latest Assault on the DP Rule (posted elsewhere)

As promised down below, here’s a link to the post I wrote for the swap with Starting Eleven.  My basic point is that the rule, by encouraging Major League Soccer teams to go “sexy” first, distorts the normal business of building a team.  I pick on DC United to do this; not out of hostility, but because the issue came to me as I weighed what I view as their problems against their latest, likely signing (see the first bulleted item).

I like the post well enough, but don’t think much about my ending…I panicked on deadline.