Been a while, but, alas, sometimes work interferes with fun (for both Scotto and Slurposan it seems).
Lots to potentially discuss, so we’ll do a bulleted list of topics and let the comments dictate which is the most interesting:
--MLS Playoffs: I wrote earlier that I was coming around to the playoff system. Well, no longer. Now I’m going to attach a few conditions to my endorsement. First, the importance of the MLS Cup should be downplayed or distinguished. I like the idea of an end of year tournament, but the prestige should be attached to the Supporters’ Shield. Why? Because injuries hampered the two best regular-season teams in the playoffs, namely D.C. and Chivas. D.C. was the best team over the course of the long season, and that, I think, is more of an accomplishment than hitting a hot-streak or staying healthy through a three-week playoff tournament. That said, the end of the year tournament can still be held and can still be celebrated (it would be a great double).
--DC going out to Chicago: I attended the game in D.C., and the teams put on a thoroughly entertaining match. The play was generally sloppy but the intensity was high. Chicago took advantage of D.C. defensive lapses, and their victory cannot be said to be unjust. The furious D.C. rally in the second half was a blast to witness, but ultimately came up a hand-ball short (it was the right call). I think had D.C. gained control of the midfield earlier, this could have been a different match. (Or, had their defense not gone awol when it did).
--Houston sounded like the place to be for the second leg of the series with Dallas. Something like 30K showed up to watch this extra-time thriller. That’s what I’m talking about.
--Yallop leaves (resigned from? Fired from?) the Galaxy, and the Red Bulls can Bruce Arena. The first not surprising, the latter definitely surprising. Interesting stories surfacing from NY—like that Arena and Reyna’s relationship had soured early in the season. Anyway, the coaching search for both teams should be interesting to read about.
--Lots of rumblings about D.C. still trying to sign star Juan Sebastian Veron. I look for another couple of solid DP additions for next year, which could make for a great 2008 season.
--European notes: Dempsey scored again on a nice poacher’s goal in a clash with Reading (Bobby saw about 15 minutes of action). What an entertaining match, though. I have to give it to Fulham, they may not be winning many yet, but they make them fun to watch. Meanwhile, over at Derby County, neither Benny Feilhaber nor Eddie Lewis made the squad. Starting to look like Benny’s decision to leave Hamburg for Derby was a bad one. What’s strange is that I can’t find any explanation for why he isn’t getting any playing time. At this rate, he needs to be looking for an exit strategy. Other tidbits: In Champion League action, Adu’s Benfica side lost last night to Celtic (Freddy didn’t make it in), while Rangers and DMB take on mighty Barcelona today (who, incidentally, I saw over the weekend absolutely brutalize Real Betis—to borrow from Ray Hudson’s commentary, it was like Barca were playing against green and white cones on the practice field, rather than Real Betis players).