For all of you who seem to feel that I dislike all things Canadian, I hereby submit my hearty approval of THIS COMMENTARY FROM NORTH OF THE BORDER.
Now I'll grant you that it begins with the usual collection of erroneous "facts":
Nine cities, including Montreal, are in line to bid for two expansion franchises in Major League Soccer, which, in theory at least, is the height of professional soccer in North America.
It's impressive that they can fit that many errors in just one sentence. Did you get them all?
1) It's seven cities, not nine
2) They are not "in line to bid", they have already submitted bids.
3) MLS does not grant "franchises".
4) As long as Mexico is still attached to this continent, the oft-repeated Canadian fantasy about MLS being "North America's" top league is insulting at best.
But skipping over the glaring errors (including the "fee could be as high as $40 million" bit - that's a bare minimum, and some owners want $50 million) and the nonsense made up out of thin air (the statement that"MLS... was born out of the soccer fever that surrounded the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Someone mistakenly believed the support for this one-off event was evidence Americans had suddenly developed a passion for the world's most popular game." - is patently ridiculous) we get to the heart of the argument:
They think Montreal and the other Canadian bidders should tell MLS that they're changed their minds about joining the league and MLS in turn, "threatened with the loss" of Canadian teams, will buckle like soggy cardboard and change the rules, lower their fess and, basically, drop their pants in panic over the specter of losing out on Edmonton, Ottawa, Yellow Knife and Moose Piss, Saskatchawan.
I agree, guys. Stand up and fight the power! Tell Don Garber you won't be bullied! Start your own league!
That'll sure show us.
I'm as pleased as anyone else that Jon Busch, one of the really, really good guys, has won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award. Never the most physically gifted of GK's, he more than makes up for it with a frightening level of intensity that borders on maniacal.
The one hole in his game used to be his tendency to come completely unglued, jump in a teammate's face and scream like a PCP-crazed lunatic when someone in front of him made even a minor mistake. Whether his defender was right or wrong, embarassing a teammate like that in front of a stadium full of fans is a good way to make enemies. Fortunately, from what I've seen he's pretty much gotten that under control.
Unfortunately, Buschie winning the GK trophy likely means that the ever-manipulative MLS poobahs are going to give the Comeback Player Award to someone else, probably Santino Quaranta, which is a shame. (What, you think they actually count votes and stuff? Oh grow up.)
Busch ripped up both knees, in succession, over a two year period, endured lengthy surgical recoveries, and was then unceremoniousluy (and, according to many, unfairly) dumped from the Crew by SIgi Schmid, a resentment which still festers not too far underneath the surface of this intense and proud man.
He took a huge pay cut in return for a bench job in Chicago (the only offer he got) and worked his way back to the top of the league. It's one of the great comeback stories in this or any other sport.
As I've said elsewhere, as far as I'm concerned all Quaranta did was smarten up and stop jamming shit up his nose. Altogether a good and positive thing, but not exactly what I think of as a "comeback" but more of a guy finally beginning to reach his potential after holding himself back by being an idiot for several years.
But maybe it's just me.
I'm a huge fan of The Best Eleven blog, and THIS PIECE IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHY
Argentina is basically running away with the MLS "Goal by Nationality" race, as might be expected, but I would never have come up with the fact that England is second.
Thank goodness guys like him do this stuff; if we had to depend on me, it'd never happen.
Much ado over the last few days about the Bakary Soumary decision to toss in with Mali.
A lot of people are expressing some frustration with the process, and certainly the way the US treats people who try to folow the rules as opposed to just sneaking across the Rio Grande at night really needs some overhaul, but as a general rule I'm a big believer in people becoming citizens because they WANT to become citizens, not because the Nike contracts are better for USMNT members.
In any case, as good as the kid is - and he's very good indeed - it's not entirely clear that he'd be a starter for the US anytime soon, and that's a problem some of us tend to overlook.
I'm reminded of the case of Jeff Cunningham, who was called in repeatedly over the years by Jamaica, for whom he would have been a starter and would in fact probably still be a regular call in.
But Jeff, encouraged by Bruce Arena and others, held out for US citizenship. He jumped through all the hoops, out-waited the bureaucrats and - after several years - finally got the OK to pull on the US jersey.
So then he gets a handful of callups, can't break into the lineup, sits the bench a few times and is done for. He blew the chance of regular callups - and regular checks - for probably a decade in return for nothing.
I have a picture someplace of Jeffo after the last US -Mexico qually in Columbus. Arena had sent him on at about the 88th minute, mostly to run around for a couple minutes, and in the middle of the post-game celebration amongst the delerious players and fans, the pictures show Jeff standing there looking like he wants to kill someone.
We all forget sometimes that this is their job, and national team callups aren't just sentimental journeys for the dear old flag but rather income opportunities.
In a case like Freddy Adu's, he had another offer - as the four zillion BS threads devoted to the topic can attest - but smartly chose the US.
There's not much doubt that he'll get all the callups he wants over the next ten or fifteen years and, all things being equal, Nike pays much better for a US national team hero than they do for a Ghanaian. It's strictly business.
Soumare made the smart choice and went with the sure thing.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame released the 2009 eligibility list yesterday, and there are some interesting choices.
The sure thing locks have to be Earnie Stewart and Joy Fawcett. Not even worth debating.
It's the next group though where there is some real depth and some tough decisions, assuming they aren't going to admit them all:
Jeff Agoos certainly has a hell of a cliam, as do Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow and Tisha Venturini.
Which once again leaves out worthies like Marco Etcheverry, who'll - sadly - probably never get in, along with Robin Fraser, Mike Burns, Joe-Max Moore and Peter Vermes, among others.
I guess it's a healthy thing that there's aplethora of deserving candidates rather than a shortage, but it's unfortunate that some terrific players are once again likely to come up short.