Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting Real with RSL

Congrats to RSL and Nick Rimando, one of my favorite players in MLS, for reasons that I have never been able to articulate. I just like the guy. And big props to Cletus on winning his one and only MLS ring. Who would have thought that 10 years ago? And also big props to Jason Kreis. That team had the front page treatment in the Deseret News or Slat Lake Tribune, one of those, right before moving into Rio Tinto last year talking about how they were, in real “Man on the Moon” huge type, THE WORST TEAM IN MLS. Since then, that team has been in two Cup semifinals and now won a Cup Final. Remarkable.

And now reality: I think RSL in 2010 will be the first defending champion since the 2006 Galaxy to miss the playoffs entirely, though this is hardly a unique analysis. That team is good, but nothing more than that. Though of course, they were clearly the better team last night. Next year they have no Movsisyan, and we all know that over the course of a whole season, a date with the Royals is usually one Dynamo at least expect to win, either here or at Rio Tinto. Championship or not, I don’t see that changing next year. I don’t mean to be brutal or anything, just honest. This is a team that just got hot at the right time. Let’s not make them out to be anything more than that. That is, until they prove it over the course of a whole season.

That being said, I do not join the chorus of opinion that says that RSL is proof positive that the playoffs are a crock and that MLS does not crown their true champion.

The solution to these “problems” (if such they are) is to stop this ludicrous Supporter’s Shield title and name the regular season champion something a name that’s befitting, like, oh I don’t know, how about “Season Champion”? Get a trophy befitting the status of champion. Use the name champion, whatever. Just like with the Supporter’s Shield now, the team gets a berth in the Champions League, and in addition, a scudetto to wear all of next season.

Then use the regular season to seed a postseason tournament of eight teams, the MLS Cup Tournament. The winner of that tournament is the MLS Cup Champion.

How so very precedented is a format like this? The regular season champ is the champ, the MLS Cup champ is a champ and the USOC champ is kind of like a champion. You could have a domestic triple, a domestic double or three separate trophy winners. That is just fine by me. We are often accused of being to Anglocentric in our soccer here in the US. Well here is a situation where it works. The USOC = FA Cup. The Season champ = Premier League champ. MLS Cup winner = Carling (League) Cup.

The reason I want to keep the playoffs is that I like tournaments with all of their silly internal logic. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day and upsets happen far more frequently than during the marathon of a regular season run. The regular season does not produce undeserving champions, while it is true that tournaments do. However, this is only a problem when the tournament presents the only title to win. So keep the playoffs. Keep it all. It’s fun and entertaining and leads to debates and discussion and upsets and favorites and the whole shebang. Keep it all. Read more!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Slowly out of the shell: MLS Cup, Ireland and an Orange Future

OK, after taking this week off to mostly just troll other blogs and not comment too much on MLS or soccer in general after letting last week’s loss sink in, I do have some thoughts on a rash of topics:

(But before I begin, I have to tell you my favorite lines from anyone about events so far this week. Dan Loney, who is my absolute favorite blogger out there ( said that a strike or lockout in February would “put the damn in Gotterdammerung.”

Meanwhile, Bill Archer ( on the Thierry Henry handball controversy “Soccer is a lot like life: it's unfair. Your heart breaks for Ireland, who've gotten the shaft in this whole deal from Day One, and after 500 or so years of misery you'd think the Irish could catch ONE break in something but I guess that's not to be.”)

(Though, an Irishwoman got to marry Playtherapy, so I guess Bill isn’t completely right on the never catching one break thing!)

As for MLS Cup predictions, I was listening this morning to an interview that Dominic Kinnear did yesterday on World Football Daily. They nailed him down on making a prediction for the final. He said that he had been wrong about every one of his predictions so far, which makes him not much worse than me, as I’m sitting on 3-7 right now, which puts me BELOW blind chance!

But even though I suck, I am going to go with the conventional wisdom here and pick LAG for almost the same reason that Kinnear did, Donovan. And while he meant the new MLS MVP (How is it that this is the FIRST time he has won that award? He is the best American outfield player ever, and there is no one even close to him on that score. Weird.), I’m not talking about Landon, who is perhaps only the second most valuable Donovan on his own team. Donovan Ricketts is going to keep that team in the game. The LAG back line is going to be tested by a strike force that partners much better than Ching and Oduro (or Ching and Landin, more on that later), with speed, creativity and power in the attack. However, frustration will mount as Ricketts pulls their ass out of the fire over and over and over again. It’s always dangerous to place everything on a keeper, but the combo of Ricketts and LAG being so quick in transition means that RSL will be back on their heels after each miss or save from the Jamaican.

Everyone loves Nick Rimando and I count myself in that group, but we all know that Rimando has his flaws and can be fooled and wrong-footed just as often as he can be spectacular. As much as I am rooting for RSL to take the upset win, I will not predict it. LAG wins their third star 2-0. (And no, I do NOT fancy them winning a third star before Dynamo. I am not happy about that and Hainault’s goal should have counted and we should not even be HAVING this freakin’ conversation since with two power outages and a ridiculous call we’re sitting at home and tell me what the frak was the difference in all the banging and falling down in the box between Hainault’s goal and Berhalter’s anyway?!!!? What a CROCK!!...

Ummmm. Hmmm. Wound still fresh I guess.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Ireland and the Hand of Frog. You know, I don’t blame Thierry Henry at all, not one bit. You play to the whistle and that’s that. If the ref didn’t call it, then that’s where the Ire of Eire should fall. He was his usual classy self after the game when he said that it was indeed a hand ball (contrast that to Maradona’s comments in 1986. What a puerco.), but that he was not the ref. There were four things that happened on that play, any one of which should have called it back. Two French players were offsides (though not Henry), and Henry touched the ball twice, once on his upper arm and once with his hand, bang-bang. I can understand the AR and ref being blocked from the handball, but the AR was not blocked from the offsides. And if he was, how could that have been true? It was a free kick. If you’re not positioned to make an offsides call on a free kick into the box, where the hell are you?

I do not agree that the game should be replayed. Anelka was clearly taken down by Shay Given in the box earlier in the game, which should have been a penalty. No call there, so where exactly is the FIFA conspiracy to get France in and Ireland out? However, ultimately justice is served if (A) that crew does not work FIFA matches anymore and (B) some form of technology review is implemented. It does not have to be like the debacle that is replay review in American pointyball. It could be a simple, simple, no more than 30-second review by a fifth official (or by the fourth official because if he’s not waving in a sub or signaling time remaining, what exactly is he doing over there?) in certain situations that lead to a goal. Kinnear mentioned that in his interview, as have many others. Replay is not evil, but it can be implemented poorly. Avoid that and you can use that power for the good.

On to the Orange, I absolutely agree with many that Dynamo will have an overhaul in 2010. Clark is almost certainly gone, which the team announced earlier this week. I think it’s about 60 percent (maybe more?) certain the Goalden One is gone as well in January. Holden might just stay because of his roots here in Houston, close to his family and he didn’t exactly set Denmark on fire with his performance there on Wednesday. However, he did make MLS Best XI, which I find to be a little surprising, and has established himself as among the favorites to go to South Africa. We’ll see what January brings, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s possibly gone as well.

So where does that leave us? I think it best to assume both are gone, which leaves us with options like this:


Starting at the way back, Tally Hall has proved himself this year to be a more than capable replacement eventually for Onstad, should he ever decide to remove his age-defying Ring of Power and throw it into Mount Doom. For the first offseason that I remember, replacing Onstad is a settled issue.

Moving up, I think Wade Barrett is through. If John Spencer gets one of these head coaching jobs (and I’ve said all along that DC United is a perfect fit for him. Pity poor De Rosario that he has to play for that punk Preki now. That honeymoon is going to last until maybe President’s Day. Playing at home has not exactly been a bed of roses for Dwayne, now has it?), then I think Barrett would be an ideal pick to replace him on the bench next to Kinnear.

Of course, that leaves us with Hainault, Eddie, Little Boswell and Chabala. I do not include Cameron here because even though he was an MLS Best XI as a center back this year, with Eddie back and the hole we have in midfield, Geoff, with his speed, toughness and range moves up to holding midfielder. That drops Mulrooney and his shaky health back to defense. But where does he play? Clearly, the opportunity is at Chabala’s spot. Chewie has all kinds of pace, and had maybe his best game as a pro in the return leg against Seattle, but his passing leaves a hell of a lot to be desired. Work on that, and he’s a stud. Waibel, sad to say, is also pretty much done, though he might be valuable as a part-timer like this year.

Midfield without Holden and Clark is not exactly a disaster with the cast of characters I’ve got listed there. Cameron will be a great holding mid in this league, maybe equal to and with a better passing touch than Rico. He clearly needs to work on his dribbling skills, as he overruns the ball on occasion, but hey, he’s only been in this league for two years and is already an MLS Best XI. If South Africa was coming in 2011 instead of 2010, he’d be getting some serious run for national team play.

Davis in the middle is where he always wants to be anyway, and where he winds up playing most of the time. Just go ahead and put him there. A left-footed CAM could be a force there. He’s a better distributor than Holden, though not quite what DeRo was. And he’s not afraid to pull the trigger on a shot (unlike Holden). Playtherapy and I thought that Davis was the best player in orange at the HDC last week. He has creativity, great delivery and a deadly shot. With Holden gone, CAM is his role.

On the wings we have the fearsome threesome of Mullan, Danny Cruz and Corey Ashe. Cruz, when he played, was fearless and had an impressive work rate over there. He was a terror when the joke that is Thomas Rongen played him in the U-20 World Cup this summer in Egypt. He is exactly like Brian Mullan, and is benefiting greatly from having Mulls as his teacher. Same for Corey Ashe, who credits Mulls with helping him develop his cross. So we have three players for these two spots, which I think is at least one less than we need.

Midfield depth is an area of great need. I don’t think either Mulrooney or Mullan can get through an entire season without injury, though Dynamo will be playing far less games next year with no CONCACAF in either the spring or fall (I think that’s right, isn’t it?). I think they’ll probably be in SuperLiga (if they play that tournament) and put in their usual half-hearted USOC run, so there may be some fixture congestion in the summer, but nothing like what we’ve seen the last few years. Danny Cruz is good, but I doubt he’ll be an effective full-time starter just yet. Ashe is a great sub, but I question his effectiveness over a full 90. Sometimes he's fantastic, and sometimes not. Still, he is getting better and better and I think would have been a strong player in the playoffs if he had not gotten hurt in the Rayados friendly.

This team needs a creative and powerful midfielder to complement this corps. If Holden stays, he’s that guy. If not, then this is a serious hole needing filling between now and April. Jon Michael Hayden and Eric Ustruck are in-house choices, and both looked good at times in CONCACAF and USOC games, but neither seem to be setting any worlds on fire, so I think it’s best not to plan on them being the answer to any questions any time soon.

Up top, oh boy. Another offseason, another set of questions about how to fix the Dynamo attack. Ching is another year older and just had surgery on Wednesday on his knee. Minor surgery, but still. I believe Luis Angel Landin will be an impact player in the league next year, training with this team from Day One, fit and in the flow. He is the best ball-handler on the squad, bar none. If you didn't, you should have seen what Mister 3D and I saw in the Seattle game. For a guy nursing a bad knee, he left it all out there. Now, it’s also true he was awful at the HDC. No question there. I just think that by Memorial Day we’ll know, but there’s plenty there to like. His touch, positioning and presence are impressive to say the least. Two months is not enough time, especially if he’s hurt for a significant part of that time, to assess this guy.

Oduro needs to go. I think we’ve now seen the best we’ll ever see from Dominic Oduro (the Seattle game), as well as the worst (every other game). The pace is great and until he develops a finishing touch, he is a late-game sub stretching a tired defense with amazing pace. Ask anything more from him and you might as well install protective glass in front of the stands on either side of the field because there is not a goalmouth wide enough for this guy. Now I might very well be wrong here, as I didn’t see his Seattle performance coming at all. But we learned in LA not to expect that performance from him. And that’s the deal, when you’ve got someone in his role and with his pace, a solid performance SHOULD be expected. If he can’t deliver, then sayonara, you’re better off without him. With his pace, he’s going to get the ball, and in dangerous areas. Constantly getting it to him there and having him fail throws off and misshapes Dynamo’s entire attack.

Cam Weaver possibly could be a Nate Jaqua type, and if he stays healthy, could provide solid, solid play when Ching heads to South Africa in the summer (assuming he does). I think Weaver, who’s still pretty young, could be the heir apparent to Ching as target forward. Abe Thompson is a sub and that’s all he’ll ever be.

So clearly, help up top is a need. Ching-Landin and Weaver-Landin are the top two choices right now with Oduro as a late sub and Abe Thompson as an even iffier sub. That brings up major ifs and buts, especially about Landin. If he’s a true bust, then Dynamo are screwed and a midseason replacement becomes crucial. Replacing Oduro and adding another forward with pace and presence would be ideal. Conor Casey is apparently very unhappy in Colorado (who wouldn't be?). How great would he look in Orange?

I am not conversant enough about options that are out there to know who can fill those roles, but I do know that Dynamo right now, even without Holden and Clark, are a playoff-caliber squad in MLS. Though of course, just being playoff-caliber is not the goal. The talent triumvirate of Luck-Canetti-Kinnear, Inc. have their work cut out for them. They don't have the problems some clubs have (Did I mention Colorado?), and that is all to the good, but there are serious issues out there to be addressed to be sure.

The offseason is going to be a long one and the tendency is to jump to conclusions. But just hold solid and have faith. By this time next year we could be looking at both work on the construction site that is Dynamo Park and an impending MLS Cup. Orange-colored glasses, you are my friend. Read more!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Orange I have been, Orange I am and Orange I shall remain

Regardless of this result, regardless of any strange non-goal goals, regardless of anything, I remain

Absent the Hainault goal, the result was a well-fought one and deserved, just really, really not what I wanted.

More to be written on this at another date. For now, I sleep late tomorrow and the offseason begins. Read more!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Orange in the stars

I was starting to write a long piece on magical thinking and sending orange-colored positive waves westward for tonight's game. Then I read the stories in the Chron today (listing of the stories and Bernardo's blog post here) about how the entire world seems aligned against Dynamo in favor of the Galaxy, including Alexi Lalas (which actually fills me with something like relief. When that guy picks your team, you know you're in trouble.) And you know what I have to say to that?

Well, take a look at that picture there, and instead of a sunrise, imagine a moonrise.

As a long-committed magical thinker, I have often looked to superstitions and portents when it came to important events in my life, like say the births of my children, engagement to the my wife and (equal in importance here?), major Dynamo games.

So this morning, I was looking at the predawn sky, and one thing I picked out was the spot where M31, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda, lay. I looked over to the Big Dipper and found several more galaxies. Looking at my star chart I saw the presence of many, many more galaxies and know from just a cursory understanding of astronomy and the universe that anywhere I look, if I looked hard enough and with the right equipment, I would find that the sky was suffused with galaxies. They are everywhere on the sky.

And then, faintly, almost imperceptibly on the east, came a slight glow. Before I knew it the eastern horizon was awash in color, and one color in particular.


An orange that blotted out the view of all galaxies, everywhere.

Of course, it's a sunrise and it happens every day, yadda, yadda, yadda. But I know an omen when I (want to) see one. Orange wins, Galaxy loses.

This brings up the subject of superstitions, good luck charms, etc. We all have them. I have a set ritual for home games, and when I alter it, I walk into Robertson Stadium far more nervous than perhaps I should be. For road games, I have had a hard time developing much in the way of a ritual because there are so many different situations in which I will watch a road game. But here's the deal, this morning, I'm looking for something appropriate to wear for today at work as I wait and wait and wait for the game to begin tonight. And what do I find? A completely unused and unworn Dynamo T-shirt from 2007 that had slid back behind the other shirts. This shirt has one star on it, but most importantly, the last time Dynamo were in a Western final, THIS WAS WHAT THEY WORE! And what happened? Let's all look here in the Way Back Machine below and see:

Wow. Nice. I think I like what I see there.

More good signs and lines I am finding around the interwebs:

The Keeper: Tonight the Galaxy have a date with destiny ... or should we say a date with A DYNASTY! Our Dyna-men know what it's like to win at Away Depot Center ... a win tonight and they'll be headed to the MLS Cup next weekend in Seattle.

Away Depot Center. Nice.

Fallas' prediction in the Chron: Dynamo 2-1.

Commenter on Ives: Matchups aside I think Houston's resiliency comes through and Houston wins the match. Also, I think Seattle is better than LA and Houston really controlled that series. I see a 1-0 Houston win.

My prediction: Despite the fact that I am a mere 3-5 in the playoffs so far in predictions, just one game less than random chance would provide, I continue on unabated, secure in my knowledge that I am 2-0 in postseason Dyna-games.

Dynamo 2-1. I'm going with Bernardo.

And oh by the way, did anyone else notice that the Chron today had an extensive front page treatment of the game, as well as making it THE major feature in the Sports section. Huge kudos.

LA Times? Check out the main page online here. Notice something missing? Like ANY MENTION AT ALL, EVEN ONE, OF THE GAME TONIGHT? Now by the time you look at it, the page may change, but at 12:42 p.m. Central, 10:42 a.m. Pacific, the LA Times main page is completely silent about the biggest game in their coverage area today. There's a story about Miguel Cotto, about the Lakers (natch) and another about the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Bengals?

It's worth saying again about how much better Houston is as a soccer town than just about everywhere else in the United States.

In the other semifinal (Oh yeah, that.) I like RSL, I like Jason Kreis. I like that team, really I do. And when their offseason begins late Saturday night, they should be able to start a project to be a force in this league in 2010. But earlier Saturday evening, Chicago wins 2-0. Not much drama there. Read more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ljungberg the ljoser just will not shut up

Check this out from Freddy Ljungberg's blog people:


I’m sorry that it has taken quite some time after the game to post something, but I have actually been quit pissed off and in a bad mood after the game and wanted to think things through before I said anything.

The whole team is of course extremely disappointed about getting knocked out but it was a great atmosphere in Houston and I personally also thought it was really cool that President George Bush was in the stands.

The game itself was more of a brawl then a nice game to watch I guess. Being on the pitch it clearly felt that it was going to be someones mistake or luck/bad luck that would be the decider of the game in the end. Unfortunately that was the case as the goal was discussed after the game and they say it is quite clear from the TV pictures that it was a handball.

But with that said I don’t want to take anything away from Dynamo as they are a very good team and I wish them all the best for the rest of the playoffs!

So basically what he's saying is that Dynamo are fine, but the win was illegitimate and the goal came as a result of a handball (I presume he means on Mullen, but in Ljungberg's brain, you know, this could mean anything). So, good win you cheaters.

This is amazing. You know, I was just starting to think that my harsh comments about Seattle in the previous post were out of proportion, but now. Truly, truly amazing. What a Ljoser Ljerk.

I'm just speechless here. I had a lot of respect for that guy and his play on the field, but this is incredible. I'm "quit pissed off" too Freddie, but not for, I think, the same reasons.

I was sitting right in front of the whole thing and the out of focus Telefutura vid gives a misleading impression. The ball skipped off Levesque’s head and off the back of Mullan’s clavicle/side of his head area to bounce back towards Ching. It was the freakiest thing you’ll ever see, very Magic Bullet. The camera angle does show Mullan’s arm/elbow up along the line of the ball, but TeleFutura’s Zapruder film/video quality is so bad it’s deceiving. The ball was not a handball, just a weird deflection from near the shoulder area. It’s similar to when De Rosario scored one off his face a year or so ago.

Ljungberg can say what he wants, and you will not see me defending that field, but two days after that game is not the time to call the loss illegitimate, which he implies. But whatever, more spice for next year’s games, eh? Read more!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Because it has to be seen and said again

It happened right in front of me, and by the lack of reaction on Keller's face it took me a sec to even realize what had happened!

If you check the highlights page on the Dynamo site, you get the Telefutura call ("QUE GOLAZO!!") and then the Dynamo radio call, with James Clarkson yelling so loud I think it knocked them off the air for a second or two.

My voice I know still hasn't recovered. I rank it behind the Dallas playoff game two years ago (because, hey, it was Dallas we punked), but not that far behind.

One more word about Seattle and then I will let the whole matter rest. I have always made it a point to go up to supporters of the other team (especially in internationals) and shake hands. But after this game, I could not bring myself to do it. I know for a fact that that the Greenies there would have rubbed our nose in it if the Sounders had won. I wanted to shake hands, honestly, but then I saw them raising their scarves after the loss and I just could not. I felt like I do with Cubs fans. If they're going to glory in their losing, then I'm going to leave them to it.

I don't hate the Sounders, I just have had enough with the whole green thing. I'm glad they lost because if they had gone all the way, then just like Ljungberg's whining, we would never have heard the end of it.

And not to be totally a homer here, but this leads me to an even worse Green Meanie. Everyone who complains about the Robertson Stadium field will have no quarrel from me. My graduate alma mater has behaved like a serious disgrace of a landlord. I know UH is angling for their own new stadium and all, but I cannot believe they let their own student-athletes play pointyball on that pitch, much less let it be seen in a national showcase like a professional sports playoff game. Saprissa Stadium, which honestly can't be much harder than that field, at least is smooth. Walk that field and you will see pits, ruts and sand like a dune buggy competition on a hard tack beach had just been run on it. I cannot bring up enough how embarrassed I am as a graduate alum and Dynamo supporter.

That being said, at least it is out of sight, out of mind until February, since, because Mike Magee belatedly remembered how to fall down, that's the last home game there until 2010 (Odyssey V). Sometime later this week, maybe I'll be able to take a more dispassionate look at this weekend's match-ups. Among a few impressions:

1. Who would have thought that skinny kid Patrick Nyarko had it in him to bull through Emmanuel Osei like that to win the ball and start the winning sequence for Chicago? Forget Cootiemac's winning slot job. It was Nyarko denying Osei's little blocking move that made that happen. I have always wanted to see that happen, and while I don't endorse the idea that you can just bull through a guy, I also don't like little namby-pamby screens like that. Also, HUGE kudos to Nyarko for ensuring that the Eastern final isn't played before the Northeast equivalent of Pizza Hut Park's 5-7,000 fans.

2. Does Chivas USA ever lose without ending the series in a fight. Remember here in 2006? Preki going after Dema was classic, easily the best moment in that entire series. Too bad he didn't hit him harder though. Talk about someone who deserves it. (Though, like I said above, I am firmly opposed to needless violence, emphasis on needless.)

3. Drew Carey didn't man up to accept Oscar de la Hoya's bet. Like Hope Solo said a couple of years ago, "I expected more from him." And another quote from that link from Kasey Keller: "Drew is just a little bitch." Come on Drew, man! I am a fan and you have let me down.

4. We are Orange! Read more!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Well, that was fast.

I was kind of hoping for a Dynamo/Columbus final to have the last three champs facing off But wouldn't you know it, the Crew pulled an epic fail, losing a one goal advantage.

At home.

To the worst road team in the league.

Worse than NYRB.

Let THAT sink in.

Bye, bye Massive Bananas.

"Maybe with a few scary moments."

Maybe some prescience there. But with this one, I leave no doubt

"Crew will have to pretty much fall over..."

Thank you Frankie Hey Dude, for making that right.

Too bad my scoreline prediction wasn't as prescient. Oh well.

The highlights are up at now. Check out the three RSL goals. On the first two, both were directly the result of Hejduk screw-ups. And the best thing was that right before RSL scored the first one, Harkes was going on about what a great game Hey Dude was having! HAH!

Oh, one other thing now. If the Revs dispatch the Fire, New England will HOST the Eastern finals. Read more!

One leg too few no more. Playoff picks proceeding

So again, we take a look at the Orange Crystal Ball moving from the unidextrous to bidextrous results.

The first weekend, I have to say, was more than a little strange. From the sublime of the Dynamo/Seattle match to the ridiculous of Warzycha sitting Moreno AND Schelotto to the utterly predictable of a Steve Nicol-team being Lucy to the Chicago Fire's Charlie Brown to the completely surreal of the HDClasico draw. So without anymore bloviating, we'll start on this weekend:

Regular season: 91-125 for a percentage of .421 or 19 games over blind chance
Playoffs so far: 1-3

I added the first line there just to salve my wounds over last week. But will that stop me? Hell no.

REAL SALT LAKE at CREW. 2-0 Columbus
You know, I have to say that Robert Warzycha sitting both Alejandro Moreno and Guillermo Barros Schelotto took me completely by surprise. If I were RSL, I'd be plenty pissed at being disrespected like that. That being said, controversy or no, the defending champs are going to have to pretty much fall over to lose at home to RSL. For the anarchic nature of it all, I'm rooting for the Royals, but I don;t expect it to happen at all. Crew go through, but maybe with a few scary moments.

REVOLUTION at FIRE. 1-1 New England is in those guys' heads. Expect to see a flurry of shots from Chicago, one after the other after the other, and Matt Reis batting them all aside to get through to the Eastern finals.

CHIVAS at GALAXY. 2-1 LA You know, I really, really hope las chivitas beats these guys, not because I hate the Gals. Really, I don't. I think that team is very, very good. But (A), Dynamo need Chivas to win so we can get the Western Final here in Houston; (B) The sooner this Beckham thing is over the better; and (C) See (A). However, my head says something completely different here. I think we saw in the first 90 the best Chivas can possibly do, while that is not true about the Gals. So Goatpeople, here's one for you. And Gals, see you next week.

SOUNDERS at DYNAMO 2-1 Houston There is no way I can possibly be dispassionate in analyzing this game. None at all. I think there are a great deal of results for which, in a dispassionate sense, you could make plausible cases as likely scenarios. So while I go against my heart in Columbus and La La Land, I can not here at home. Key factors that will play roles are: Dynamo are at home; The Orange are playing with toughness and confidence that was so evident in May and June (not to mention 2006 and 2007); The short field; the Sea of Orange; The experience of being in this position before; The leftover feeling of 2008. So my head and heart are in agreement. I am Orange. Read more!

Great moments in Seattle history

1. Not technically in Seattle, but you don't have to cast a wide net to get this one:

2. Check out these crowds below. Here's a team made mostly famous from Jim Bouton's stories of drugs and debauchery in Ball Four:

3. This courtesy of James Cooke:

4. The 2001 Seattle Mariners

Regular season: 116-46
Playoffs: 4-6


5. The unSuper Oklahoma City Thunder.

And in that same vein:

6. November 8, 2009

And in case any of you think this is unfair: Try this link, courtesy of the always-excellent Bill Archer.

Or, just read this excerpt (but don't east first):

"We all know that Seattle is the center of MLS soccer, that no other city supports its team like this one, that Seattle has set attendance records and every game was sold out this year. And that other MLS towns like to hate on that, like this city is afforded special status because of the support for the team or something ridiculous. Read more!