Weekend: Just Treading Water

If Roy Keane and Jack Warner can stop lobbing hand grenades at each other for a day or so I can catch up on some other stuff.

Of course primary among them is the zany, madcap antics of those lovable mugs north of the border.

A few weeks back I wrote that Canadians had no intention of stopping with MLS teams in Montreal and Vancouver, but were pushing ahead with plans for other cities as well.

And as usual, I felt the wrath of the Maple Leaf nation as they hooted and pooh-poohed (speaking of pooh-pooh, how's fatherhood so far, Dan?) my silly xenophobic nonsense.

So of course word came this week of a major push to get AN MLS TEAM IN OTTAWA, which would bring the total number of Canadian teams in the United States of America's Division 1 Professional Soccer League to four, or about 20% of the league.

And I'm sure they'll howl at this one too but there are persistent reports that a group of investors are putting together a bid for Edmonton even as we speak.

And does anyone want to tell me it'll stop there? Will Calgary and Winnipeg really want to be left behind?

This is the country which claims it can't support a soccer league - no money, no stadiums, no fans, distances between cities too vast. Except that there is now a virtual stampede of rich guys begging to plunk down $40 million, build $70 million stadiums, swear they can pack them with 20,000 people every week and are just dying to hop on a plane to Los Angeles to play the Galaxy.

All of which, of course, raises a thorny question for Sunil Gulati.

It's Don Garber's job to make MLS money. It's Gulati's job to do what's best for soccer in the USA.

So when it comes time for the USSF to have to vote to allow a non-US team to enter MLS (as they must do each time) does Gulati vote as the President of Kraft Soccer, a member of MLS, or does he vote as President of the United States SOccer Federation?

Better yet, does he simply resign one of his jobs and eliminate the blatant conflict of interest?

While I'm on the subject of doings in the Great White North, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention why it is that Guillermo Barros Schelotto is having an MVP caliber year: it's all due to John Carver.

JOHN FIGURES THAT AFTER HIS LITTLE HISSY FIT earlier this year describing GBS as a diver, the Argie midfielder really did some soul searching and became a new man:

"I think I've done him a favour," Carver said, (spelling it out for any Americans who might be listening)..

Which was awfully swell of John, really. Except of course that a) Schelotto's English skills are charitably described as "rudimentary" so it's doubtful he would have understood much of it b) it's unlilkey to say the least that Schelotto watches Canadian TV, where Carver's little tirade was seen and c) legendary Argentine football heroes generally don't pay much attention to obscure idiots like ...what was the name again?

Meanwhile, Sigi Schmid has announced that he's holding Guille out of todays match at BMO because he doesn't want to subject his best player's 35 year old joints and ligaments to the painted concrete they laughingly call a soccer pitch up there.

THE LOCAL MEDIA SAYS that The Rotund One is "saving" the guy "for the playoffs" which directly contradicts what they quote Sigi as saying two paragraphs later, but they're likely tired of hearing that veteran players and their coaches are increasingly leery of setting foot on their field.

Also, in case you missed it, TFC rented out Hunter Freeman from NYRB yesterday.

In return for third and fourth round supplemental picks (otherwise known as "sacks of crap") Freeman, who has already reached an agreement to play in Norway next season, will suit up for TFC.

If Freeman ends up coming back to Toronto in 2009, TFC will owe RedBulls a natural second rounder. If he comes back after that his rights revert to les Taureaux Rouges.

Is it just me or are MLS deals getting more and more arcane?

Meanwhile, directly across Lake Ontario last night, the Rhinos took it on the chin from the increasingly relevant Puerto Rico Islanders, who look like a sure thing to take the first slot in the USL 1 playoffs.

This is creating something of a problem for some other teams, who are fighting desperately to stay out of the fourth spot which will mean they have to face PRI in the first round.

Dallas refugee Colin Clarke has done an amazing job with the Islanders, quickly transforming it from a hispanic-dominated team to a Caribbean-heavy side, taking them to a third place finish in the Caribbean Football Union and a first round COCNCAF Champions League win.

He'd be a shoe-in for Coach of the Year were it not for his opponent last night, Darren Tilley,

Tilley came in at the last minute, after the team had gone bankrupt, had no owner, the city reposessed the stadium, they were being sued for $10 million and it looked like the Rhinos were history..

As the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE notes, "His first practice had 11 players, including three goalies and four others who had minor injuries. Since a brutal season-opening road trip (0-3-2 record) and an 0-4-3 start, Tilley's Rhinos are 11-4-5."

A couple of remarkable coaching jobs, for sure, and the playoffs should be well worth a look.

Finally, with the plethora of problems South Africa is faced with at the moment in their preparations for WC2010, one would think they had plenty on their plate without looking for more.

One would be wrong.

The SA organizers are gearing up a massice effort to CURTAIL WHAT THEY DESCRIBE AS "ILLEGAL GUIDING

Apparently, the chance that a tourist might give some unemployed guy ten bucks to steer him around town a bit is a major concern, outweighing rampant crime, an AIDS epidemic and the fact that half the country is without electricity much of the time.

Whose idea was this again?