Johnny Got His Flight

Yeah, sorry, Johnny, you gotta get online pretty much after the final whistle if you're a surprise MLS Cup participant and you need to fly across country. JetBlue can still send you from JFK to Long Beach for a bit above $400, even with a couple of days' notice, I guess.

No, I'm not going to harsh of Vecsey for saying the Sting won the Open Cup in 2003. I make too many mistakes of my own every day. Now, if one wants to take issue with the unwarranted Cosmos necrophilia, go ahead. And something about this reads wrong to me:

Disciplined coaches stick with a lineup and don't tinker for the sake of tinkering; Altidore's head left New Jersey long before his roster spot; Reyna's retirement was a feature, not a bug; "nuts, our players got caught cheating" isn't exactly an operatic aria of pathos; and I'd rather have a cowardly coach who imports players who don't immediately need to be benched.

Stammler's loss was tough, though, he's turned into a fine player.

Oh, and putting the wrong link to RagingBullNation.net? Yikes. Although once I got there, I see that Johnny did get his ticket. Good for him.

Why shrug off Vecsey, a high-profile writer on one of maybe the two most famous newspapers in the world, for making flubs, while if I were to say that the Tampa Bay Rowdies won the East in 2001, I could confidently expect to be hounded clean off the Internet? Because it isn't Vecsey's job to report on MLS. His job, at least in that article, was to give casual sports fans a glimpse at an American soccer nutcase.

Maybe you don't paint your face or put a ring in your nose,* but don't kid yourselves. To the big wide world, you're a lot closer to Johnny Toro than you are to Joe Typical Sports Fan, just by caring about this fringe league in a mistrusted sport. If Johnny wore the exact same getup in Chicago, people would just say, "Wow, what a devoted fan!" instead of...well, you know what, you're a soccer fan, you've heard it.

Which brings us to the reception you'll get in Los Angeles. "I'm here for the game" leads to a series of increasingly mystified follow-up questions, more than even "I'm here for the foot-fetish convention" or "I've come to track down the man who killed my parents." True story - wearing Galaxy gear head to toe at LAX on the way to Dallas in November 2005, the screener asked me, "When does the season start?"

Yes, you know you're an individualist following an unpopular sport, but this week, it's The Most Important Thing In The World. At least missionaries in the freaking Amazon rain forest prepare for years to deal with questions like "Jesus? Who's that?" You guys? Forget it. Picture Jules and Vincent in "Pulp Fiction" trying to "get into character" with people hanging around asking "What's that, a gun or something?"

And that's not even the worst part. As Sartre said, "Hell is other soccer fans."

But we'll get to that later.

*Apparently Johnny was actually born with those horns in his head, an inoperable condition that makes wearing hats difficult.