Low Comedy in the Estadia Azul

We all understand that - as Dan so eloquently pointed out yesterday - the so-called CONCACAF Champions League is a competition that the teams and their fans just don't care about.

But if Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer insist on holding this thing and insisting that it's somehow an important international competition, then is it too much to ask that they assign officials over the age of 14 who had actually previously seen a soccer game to call the thing?


To call that match a farce would be an insult to the term and if soccer in the US wasn't run by a bunch of empty suits Sunil Gulati and Don Garber would be on the phone with Port-of-Spain and/or Trump Tower giving them an earful.

But we know damn well that there's no chance of that, don't we?

Speaking of "furious", that's the emotion ascribed to Bruce Arena by THIS REASONABLY LAME PIECE from Goal.com today, the topic of which is David Beckham's impending departure on loan to AC Milan.

Now of course this is the same Goal.com whose Kyle McCarthy furiously demanded that the Columbus Crew have three points deducted for tossing streamers on Steve Ralston but had absolutely nothing whatever to say when Torontonians drenched Robbie Rogers in beer and trash a few weeks later, so their credibility isn't all that strong anyway.

(And in a further example of editorial excellence, after the Toronto incident they went back and excised the operative paragraphs from the online archive. Cute, guys. Way to stand up.)

Fact is, while Arena is saying pretty much what he's supposed to say - he feels not having Becks around would be bad for the team - I heartily doubt he feels that way at all.

Aside from the fact that Arena's remarks don't sound at all "furious" to me, this is Bruce Arena's team, and if there's one thing we know about il Bruce it's that there's only one guy in charge of this outfit, and it ain't Simon Fuller.

I have to believe that Arena feels he can get much better value with that $400,000 cap hit than he's getting right now and with a lot fewer distractions.

And speaking of Goal.com, they had ANOTHER BADLY REASONED POST the other day, this one on the topic of the "parity" supposedly rampant in MLS.

I won't get into commenting on how the items the author lists - such as a salary cap and allocation money - do literally nothing to reinforce the writer's contention. He evidently figured he was on safe ground dragging out a stale old MLS piece of conventional wisdom and taking it for a brisk trot around the park.

Problem is, while this same idea has been bandied about for years, I just don't see it.

If MLS is all about "parity" then why is Houston (nee San Jose) on top of their division again?

If this inescapable "parity" is the law of the league then how come New England seemingly has a permanent spot reserved in the MLS Cup finals every year?

If "parity" is how MLS works then how come out of the 12 league championships awarded in it's entire history two teams (DC United and Houston/San Jose) have won 2/3 of them and another team (Los Angeles) has won two of the remaining four?

I wrote in another discussion the other day that the operative model in MLS for a lot of years now has been the KC Wizards, ie. "worst to first".

Well, worst-to-first can happen in any sport (turn on the World Series tonight for all the proof you need), but it's an exception, an anomaly, not the rule.

The other example was, of course, the Fire, who came in as an expansion team and promptly took the Cup, thus proving - in theory - that any team could be put together over a Winter and win the Cup eight months later.

But Chicago won in 1998 and KC did it in 2000, and the league is much different now.

The more relevant model at this point is Columbus. Yes, Columbus finished out of the playoffs last year and now has the best record in the league, but that doesn't mean it was an overnight success.

Indeed, most of the pieces - virtually ALL of the pieces - were there last year as well, and most of them were there in 2006.

The thing that successful MLS teams - the ones that are at or near the top of the league year after year - have in common is continuity.

Continuity of players, continuity of coaching, continuity of management, continuity of philosophy. Sigi stressed from day one that the first goal was to assemble some talent and the second was letting them play together for a while.

In fact, it seems to me that continuity is the primary problem in DC this season. They took a successful - but not ultimately winning - team apart (for a lot of reasons) and tried to patch it back together and win immediately.

But that kind of massive turnover in personnel seldom bodes well any more.

Tinkering with the parts is part of the game, but showing up with a whole new roster isn't likely to take this league any more.

The byword in MLS 2.0 isn't "parity". Yes, the rules are theoretically designed to give everyone a shot, but in reality the teams that succeed are the teams that do it with superior organization and vision.

Just like in any other sport.