Brian Ching booed mercilessly after a goal. Pat Onstad heckled throughout the game. Then, of course, the little post-game slapfight between Ching and Ryan Cochran. This ain't Faulkner, the past is past. Or else the Casbah simply prefers Thomas Wolfe.
I badly misread the mood of San Jose supporters towards their former players tonight. As with so much today in American soccer, I blame Landon Donovan. He, like Onstad and Ching, left town after helping bring glory and treasure to Earthquakes fans. Donovan, however, deliberately chose to play for FC Antichrist when he returned to MLS, and I think that might have soured the Bay Area fanbase on tearful homecomings. The fan groups did not sing "You're not Earthquakes anymore" to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," but "Puto!" to Onstad made the point just as succinctly.
I should also blame Kinnear and Yallop. I'm sure the two men respect each other as leaders and friends as much if not more than any two other coaches in the league. And I know for a freaking FACT they told their respective teams "Either the man or the ball, but preferably both." Houston should feel plenty stoopid for dropping all three to the expansion team, but this is now a rivalry game. I'm one of the last to get that, but now it's pretty obvious. From here on in, throw out the records when these teams play in San Jose - this is strictly Ravens at Browns henceforth.
Oh, the game. It's a good thing the Crew are in first place instead of last, because seeing Grabavoy and Kamara link up THAT well must have driven the blood pressure of central Ohio fans up at least a few beats. You might wanna take a flier on Sierra Leone, based on tonight - again, Crew fans can probably caution me against getting too excited, but Kamara looks like any day now he's going to finally break out and do some serious damage in this league. I thought Grabavoy would make the All-Star Team in Columbus, though.
The other thing we learned is that Eddie Robinson is a more effective defender than Pat Ianni. Well, "learned" might be a strong word. "Confirmed," perhaps. In other news, most mornings a big fiery ball rises out of the eastern horizon. If I were a Dynamo fan, I'd focus on how F.N. Suite the Davis-to-Ching goal looked, delight that the two of them are healthy, and drool at the thought that Houston might have faced their toughest conference opponents tonight. I'm not saying Houston's gonna win out against the West, but I'm not NOT saying it.
(By the way, usually "Puto!" to the keeper is simply shorthand for "Dear God in Heaven, send us some decent material." But the nostalgia trip from seeing the Casbah banner - and even a couple of cloudy jade shirts! - makes up for it in this case.)