Friday, August 10, 2007


Here is a sight that you don't see at a Major League Soccer often:

Over 40,000 people were in attendance at RFK Stadium August 9th to watch cameras watch David Beckham. The match was a joy to attend, both because of the large rooting interest in United and the equally large (and bizarre) rooting interest in all things Beckham. Luciano Emilio continued his fine form of aggressive, attacking football for United and drove a ball square through Joe Cannon's hands for the only goal of the match. That goal set Emilio up as the MLS's lead scorer, and put DC United into second place in the East, three points behind New England, with a game in hand over the Revolution.

And yet the good people of Kansas City, Salt Lake, and Columbus are likely to be denied the opportunity to view such a spectacle at their home pitches this year because of the injury sustained by number 23 in the SuperLiga Final against Pachuca. This turn of events has led to absurd calls for refunds of tickets sold in anticipation of Beckham coming to town. The reasons for the demand were articulated most vehemently by Filip Bondy, the Daily News correspondent, in a recent piece for MSNBC.

The argument, however, is ridiculous. Up until he set foot on the field in the second half, the fans that turned up at RFK were not sure that Beckham would play. While his participation certainly made the night more enjoyable, paying spectators were treated to a fairly decent match without regard to whether Beckham played or not. The message that Bondy (and other commentators apparently lacking in other ways to fill column inches) wishes to have these squads send is that absent the presence of an international pop star, an MLS match is not worth the price of admission.

Bondy, for one, argues that refunds (or exchanges for future Galaxy games) will earn these teams good will. Perhaps. But such moves would also constitute an admission that there is really no other reason to go to an MLS game. Futbol commentators in this country, in general, spend an inordinate amount of time ripping the quality of soccer played here, but the hatred for the American game evinced by this proposal (and effort to stir emnity against these teams) is unparalleled.

Had Beckham not played in the DC United match, fans might have been disappointed, but many would also be pleasantly surprised by the product that MLS puts out on the field. Emilio and Moreno alone are worth the (reasonable) price of admission. With luck, the same holds true in Salt Lake, Columbus, and Kansas City. The peripheral fan who bought Wizards tickets with the hope of catching Beckhamania will face the choice of abandoning the match and eating the cost of his tickets or attending the game and taking a chance that he just might enjoy watching Eddie Johnson take on Landon Donovan. And, with even more luck, if he makes the latter choice, he may buy another ticket to watch EJ work his magic against other opponents.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bring 'em up

What a happy sight to behold:


Not terribly aesthetically pleasing, but there is a general theme here: the ball gets across that line. I've liked everything I've read about the man, but I particularly like this:

McLeod Signs For Charlton

Now there have been false indications that McLeod is on his way to the Valley in the past and I can only hope that this is, in fact, true. The only unfortunate thing about this is that Pards move for Izale may be too late for him to see action against Scunthorpe on Saturday and the terrible possibility that Marcus Bent may play a major role in that match.

Regardless, may Charlton learn from Izale and just finish. Bring 'em up.

Goodbye Dante

The Bears announced today that defensive back/special teams whiz Dante Wesley was traded to the Patriots for an undisclosed draft pick:

Wesley came to the Bears with the promise of being a special teams gunner that would further bolster one of the best special teams unit in the NFL. While he certainly gave everything he had, he did not meet expectations. But rather than dwell on whatever may have led to Wesley's exit prior to opening exhibition matches, the important story, I think, is how much the coaching staff rates Trumaine McBride, the Bears 7th round pick out of Mississipi in this year's draft. David Haugh wrote a great piece on McBride in yesterday's Tribune that should have most of the city behind the kid:,1,6219336.column?coll=cs-bears-headlines

What Haugh aptly describes is McBride, the human interest story. I choose to interpret today's trade of Wesley as confirmation of McBride, NFL cornerback. I look forward to cheering for both as the season kicks off.


I grew up playing soccer in the western suburbs of Chicago. I vaguely recall being good at it, playing sweeper, knocking other kids down and occasionally (very rarely) the joy of converting the odd sitter. I also vaguely remember the Chicago Sting. But then things happened (as they tend to do), I moved to a part of the country where baseball/football/basketball ruled, to be around kinsmen who cared as much about soccer as they did about cricket or Australian rules. Never mind. For the next decade, soccer, for me, existed only in fragments -- as part of the Olympics and occasional border clashes with El Tri at Jack Murphy Stadium.

Fast forward another ten years and soccer is no longer fragments. I remain a diehard fan of the Cubs, Bears, and Bulls, but I am also a D.C. United season ticket holder. I make sure that I drop by the 4,000 seater where the men and women of Keflavik IF ply their trade and the training ground where Hearts of Oak refine their craft when the opportunity presents itself. I am now more interested in why Cienciano is revered in Peru than in the historical significance of Machu Picchu. I have become fanatical about something that an American should not be fanatical about: the world’s game.