Free Kick-A-Palooza Scheduled for Saturday

Apparently I'm just catching up to "THE GREATEST SOCCER COMPETITION IN WORLD HISTORY".

Saturday night in Reliant Stadium A WHOLE BUNCH OF FAMOUS GUYS WILL BE KICKING A WHOLE BUNCH OF BALLS and one of them will win a million bucks.

Meanwhile, a whole bunch of famous goalkeepers will be trying to stop them, for half as much money.

If this whole thing strikes you as really, really stupid, join the club: we're having some jackets made. The point of hitting ridiculous free kicks is not standing around cracking wise with some pals and then having a few goes.

Rather, it's bending it around a hostile wall in a hostile stadium when you're exausted from having played 87 minutes and your team is down a goal.

When they can duplicate THAT. let me know.

Maybe it's just me but lately it seems like THE MLS GOAL OF THE WEEK competition has become sort of like a TeenBeat "Vote for Which Jonas Brother You'd Like to Snuggle With" competition.

Well, except that San Jose fans don't vote.

Point is, the quality of the goals seems to count less than who you play for. Which is fine, really. Fan voting always turns out that way and in the long run, who really cares?

But sometimes - this week being a prime example - a new young kid from overseas who barely knows how to hail a cab or call out for pizza nabs a really breathtaking goal and it would likely thrill the hell out of him if he won the thing.

If this sounds like a plug for Emmanual* Ekpo's nominated strike on Saturday, you're dead right. What good is having this blog thing if I can't abuse the privilege once in a while?

Most of us moan a lot about MLS Developmental salaries and while there are pros and cons involved, it's pretty much an agreed-upon embarrassment to have these kids parking their three-tone 89 Skylarks next to Landon's Jag every day.

On the other hand, THERE ARE GUYS LIKE JUSTIN BRAUN one of the newest members of Preki's Cobra Kai Dojo at Chivas USA who are so tickled to be making $12k in MLS he likely has to pinch himself sometimes to see if he's dreaming.

As I've said before, the real problem as I see it isn't the pay, which is pretty similar to rookie league pay in other leagues, but rather that since there's no lower level to send these guys out to they end up in MLS locker rooms which only serves to emphasize the disparity.

The real problem though is not that some 20 year old making Coolie wages gets to work out with the team every day. That smacks of opportunity and working your way up and starting level jobs and all of that.

Rather, it's when guys like this end up starting that it becomes absurd. It seems to me that the simplest way to eliminate most of the perceived unfairness is to say that any player who actually starts a game, regardless of his wage rate, cannot earn less than the MLS senior roster minimum for that week (ie. $33,000 divided by the number of weeks in the season or, I suppose, divided by the number of games in a season)

I recall when there was no such thing as the dev roster and appreciate that we're talking about incremental, baby steps here, but fair is fair: if you end up doing the big boys work then you really have to get the big boys pay.

*I was overdue for one, I guess