My Father was Minister of Big Piles of Money in Swaziland.....

Here at the BigSoccer Center for Editorial Excellence our motto is "We do it all for the chilluns", and with that in mind I hereby offer our latest Public Service announcement:

If someone comes up to you at a soccer tournament where you're standing around watching your meal ticket - excuse me, your athletic proxy..., no wait, I'll get it: your "brilliant young budding international superstar-in-waiting" play the beautiful game with a dozen or so other 9 year olds and offers to put him into a Toronto FC uniform, best not sign anything.

IT SEEMS THAT THE LATEST NORTH-OF-THE-BORDER SCAM consists of grifters posing as "scouts" for the Soccer Giant of the North getting people to fork over some dough in return for a spot on a TFC side.

Presumably, these people aren't going to this much trouble or small change ("Psst! Hey, Buddy!
I can get your kid into John Carver's developmental roster for twenty bucks" is probably not the sales pitch), so there's probably a substantial sum involved.

So if you have kids, or know kids, or plan on kidnapping any kids in the near future, beware of Canadians bearing contracts.

Unless of course the "scout" starts in about how MLS refusing to honor FIFA dates makes it impossible for TFC to win and how if they don't get him a DP that he's going home and MLS referees have it in for him.

In that case, just back away slowly and get the hell out of there.

In case it was past your bedtime and you missed it, let me summarize Alexi Lalas' appearance on the halftime show of the New England/Chicago match, to wit:

The guy's a complete ass.

Let's put it this way: when the very first comment a guy makes is that he "hasn't spoken out before now" because he was concerned that anything he said "might seem self-serving" you know that a) what he's about to say is entirely self-serving and b) he's getting ready to trash somebody.

And since even Alexi isn't stupid enough to start in on Tim Leiweke, Phil Anschutz or Bruce Arena, he takes careful aim and lets loose with a broadside aimed at David Beckham.

He says the problem with the Galaxy isn't, as we all thought, the fact that the former GM assembled a team full of lousy players. Not a bit of it.

Rather, the problem is that David Beckham is the captain.

See, Alexi figures that the team needs "leadership" and he advises Bruce Arena to go get some guys who aren't afraid to speak up and stand up and lead the team.

Now I'll leave aside the absurdity of Howdy Doody giving advice on how to assemble a winning team to Bruce Arena, since Arena has dne it a time or two and Alexi - well, let's just say that his record is somewhat less glowing.

What I will say is this: if Lalas thinks that anyone takes one damn thing he has to say seriously, he's nuts. You'd have a little respect for the guy if he would at least say "I have to shoulder my share of the responsibility for what went down in LA; in the end, the buck stopped with me and I didn't get the job done"

But we get none of that. Instead, he sounds like Steven Cohen, off on one of his tiresome rants about David Beckham.

Unfortunately for Alexi, Becks neither knows nor cares about anything Lalas has to say and, more to the point, neither does anyone else.

As discussed in these parts over the last couple of days, the topic of MLS attendance trends is pretty complicated and there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Particularly the eyes of various soccer-hating, jock-sniffing neanderthals who are paid to pound out daily slop that appeals to the prejudices of much of the American sportsfan landscape.

Another element we can toss into the mix is contained in a comment in THIS COLUMBUS DISPATCH ARTICLE on Crew attendance figures.

Now to those of us who have been in the stadium or eve watched on TV, it's hard to reconcile lower official numbers with what you see with your own eyes.

And the answer is both simple and a whole other issue: they stopped papering the house and started counting paid tickets and turnstile clicks.

And in fact, a year or two ago Commissioner Garber made some remarks about how numbers across the league really had to be brought more in line with reality, likely because as corporate sponsorship money balloons, the beancounters who ultimately write the checks want actual, reliable numbers, not Fantasyland figures made up by counting birds flying overhead and blads of grass.