Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Saturday, October 22, 2005
  It's Playoff Time!
What a crazy couple of weeks for me. Sorry about the lack of rambles recently...but family and career come first.

So, the playoffs started last night. DC were in Chicago for their first leg. Like many of you, I didn't get to see the game but with a 0-0 scoreline, I can only assume it was a nervous match-up. We'll see what happens at RFK next weekend.

Speaking of the playoffs, DaMarcus Beasley had a comment which cought my attention in a recent interview with SI:

We know we are not supposed to lose games in Holland. The mentality is very different. I went from being in Chicago where just making the playoffs is considered a good season to if we one lose one game, the whole city shuts down.
*sigh* we still have so far to go.

Check out the whole article, it's worth the read.

More on Adu's comments about his lack of playing time in the Washington Post.

Not only did all this hype surely turn off some people who might want to simply go and watch a prodigy, but it had to jack up Adu's expectations as well. No kid, no matter how great he is (LeBron James is Exhibit A) needs to hear how great he is all the time. Undoubtedly, Adu has his own set of expectations, which include making the 2006 U.S. World Cup team. And now that it appears unlikely, he's upset. What's happening to his timetable? How could this trip to the top be derailed so early?
*sigh again* Yep, this is pretty much what I've been saying for a while. Thank you Mr. Welbon for saying this much better than I could. However, I'm not sure all the playing time he can get would be enough to get him in Arena's squad for next summer but selling him, MLS fans and casual sports fans a false bill of sale (bait and switch?) is really good for the long-term success of the league.

So, Sigi Schmid is now in Columbus. Congratulations Sigster. You were treated poorly by AEG after bringing the team the only titles the team had until recently. I've a feeling fans in Ohio will be glad you're in town now.

This move brings up some interesting possible moves now. As Mr. Jones reports in the LA Times, now that the U-20 spot is open, who goes there? Who will fill the spot in New York? (Yallop's been quoted saying he hasn't spoken with Lalas) And, most importantly to this Sashfan, who will replace Sampson if/when Doug Hamilton pulls the trigger?

Oh, and Jones does include an interesting exchange between Schmid and a reporter from the press conference the other day...

Meanwhile, Schmid managed to bring a smile to Ohio faces Thursday morning when he misheard a question from a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter.

It was allegedly style — or the lack thereof since it could not have been his winning record — that got Schmid fired as coach of the Galaxy last year, and it was style that tripped him up again on his first day as the Columbus coach.

Asked what style the Crew would play, Schmid, who has lived for 43 years in Southern California, replied:

"All I know is I needed gloves last night. It's a little chillier in the evening than it is where I lived before.

"We're not going to have an NBA-style dress code because in our league — unlike what one NBA player said — there is a difference in income."

The reporter interrupted. He had meant style of play, he said.

"Oh, style of play," Schmid said. "I thought you meant style of clothes. You see what [NBA Commissioner] David Stern has done to me? He's, like, got me all concerned about that stuff."
You've gotta love the guy. I'm sure he'll be very popular in Ohio and will add to their trophy case. BTW, the entire collection at Hunt Stadium is a single trophy won by beating a team coached by Sigi. Ah, how small the league still is.

So, the big matchup--as far as I'm concerned--this weekend will take place in LA. Honestly, this is the best rivalry in the league. It has what other regional matches don't have, a great history. So I'm looking through articles in the local fishwraps about Sunday's game and have to laugh at the totally different angle it's being viewed.

First, there's the Smurfury News. Now, I know I said I'd never read Ann Killion's stuff again. However, I've had a chance of heart there. I'm seeing the humor in her work now. I'm actually starting to enjoy the chip-on-the-shoulder/underdog/David-vs-Goliath slant of their reporting--especally when it comes to matchups with the Galaxy. So, what is their (her) angle this weekend?
Dodgers-Giants didn't give us much this year. The bloom is off USC-Cal. Chargers-Raiders was a bust. Sharks-Kings is dormant. Lakers-Warriors remains to be seen.

But there's a gem of a SoCal-NoCal rivalry to get behind, starting Sunday. It's full of passion, hard feelings, physical play, crossed loyalties, evil owners, haves and have-nots.

It's the San Jose Earthquakes vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy. Building up over the MLS's decade of existence, it has turned into one of the nastiest, most intense rivalries in sports.
Ok, I'll buy that. I think both sets of fans will agree there.

"I absolutely believe the league should put some money and resources into promoting it, because this rivalry is unmatched in this league," Landon Donovan said during a conference call Thursday.

Oh yeah, him. Donovan has just a little something to do with how high the emotions will be running Sunday in Carson, when the teams play the first of a two-game playoff series.

Donovan's defection to the Galaxy (synopsis: he left San Jose for Germany, made a U-turn and wound up -- surprise -- with L.A.) is just the biggest affront in a long series of slaps at San Jose. Both teams are owned and operated by the same company: Anschutz Entertainment Group. But the Galaxy is AEG's precious darling, and the Earthquakes are the sad, neglected waifs.
There we go, there's the type of reporting I'm starting to get a kick out of. The poor downtrodden masses sitting amung the empty splinter-filled bleachers at Spartan Stadium. There can't be an LA-SJ match-up without Killion bringing up the Landon and red-headed stepchild angles. She's got it down pretty good too. This time she did it all in one paragraph.

So, while NoCal feels they are mistreated and that SoCal are the Evil Empire, what's going on South of the Grapevine?

Now this is classic.

Label this column the Steve Sampson Job Watch Episode 4: Earthquake Disaster Unpreparedness.

Mark the date on your calendar: Monday, Oct. 31.

On Halloween, the Galaxy coach could find the coffin nailed shut on his frightening MLS tenure if his team bows out in the first round of the playoffs the previous Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Well, we-Galaxy fans-were told by Doug Hamilton that first place wasn't good enough when he fired Sigi Schmid.

Sampson's team has four wins in its last 10 games, but only two in the 10 before that.

In comparison, Schmid managed eight wins in his last 20 games in charge.

Whereas Schmid had his team topping MLS when he was fired, Sampson's Galaxy ignominiously backed into the playoffs a month ago, courtesy of a Real Salt Lake lost to Dallas. This, in a weak Western Conference with two bad expansion teams among the worst the league has ever seen.
Though I doubt many will admit thinking it, I'm pretty confident that most LA fans are having secret thoughts that perhaps crashing out of the playoffs against the Quakes may not be a bad thing for the long-term success of the team.

So, quite a difference in the way both camps are looking at Sunday's game. I can't wait.

Ok, this has been a long ramble, but I do want to bring up a couple of stadium notes.

First, will we be calling it Microsoft Stadium at Wembley Way? Will the suites be know as the Microsoft Windows Vista? Probably not, but it's a deal for both parties.

Finally, I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm not too confident we'll be seeing a new stadium in Toronto in time for the 2007 season.

At a meeting yesterday of the Canadian National Exhibition board of governors, Toronto resident Alan Kasperski spoke against the plan.

"This is plain and simple an example of taxpayers subsidizing professional sports," Kasperski said.

"MLSEL built the Air Canada Centre at a cost of $250 million using all private money," he said. "So why can't those same people pay for their own soccer stadium?"

Kasperski said there appears to be a rush to okay this deal so that MLSEL can get its MSL franchise in time for the 2007 season.

"Why can't they play in the Rogers Centre?" he said. "There are a number of MLS teams that currently share National Football League stadiums in their cities."
I don't know much about Canadian politics but I've a feeling the use of city funds could make this every bit as difficult as getting a stadium built in Harrison. I hope I'm wrong.

Well, time to settle back and get ready to watch today's match-ups...oh wait, I didn't buy the DirectKick packages....oh well.

UPDATE: I need to pay better attention to things and stop trusting MLSnet. I turns out both games tonight are on FSC. I just watched the first half of the Metros/Revs match. Time to grab a drink and watch another 135 minutes of playoff action.
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 /

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