Is it Opening Day Yet?

The question isn't whether Gregg Berhalter will or won't be coming back to MLS, where apparently both DC and RedBulls are interested in him. To me, the question is how much can the 35 year old possibly have left?

I've always been a big fan, but come on; who does he think he is, Brandi Chastain?

Lee Nguyen is now OFFICIALLY SIGNED with world renowned Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Ho Chi Minh City. Whoever they are.

I understand his deepdesire to spend a few years playing in the land of his father's birth and all of that, which is reportedly his primary motivation, and more power to him.

But as a young man whose best earning years are ahead of him, I would think this is a bad time to engage in sentimentality. I'm certain that lots of MLS teams would be pleased to have him, and would be willing to at least match the money he'll make in Vietnam, and there's not much chance of him getting Bob Bradley's attention playing the home-and-home Hai Phong series.

Fabien Espindola, who managed to make MLS the Joke of the Day with his "Back-flip-to-injury-list" escapade, WILL NOT REURN TO REAL SALT LAKE after they announced they were declining to pick up his contract.

He's signed in Venezuela where, hopefully, he'll leave the gymnastics to the girls.

We're not supposed to read anything into the fact that ESPN is pulling the plug ON THE MLS THURSDAY NIGHT EXTRAVAGANZA.

This is because now the game can float around between other days of the week andwill have live leadins rather than taped dreck.

They also feel that a real advantage here is that now we can see more of the Galaxy and Chivas. Oh boy.

It's too bad that Arturo Alavarez can't answer the call for El Salvador after all. The guy has gotten pretty shabby treatment from Bradley/Nowak, the kicker being his exclusion from the Olympic team last Summer. Robbie Rogers was able to make Nowak look like an idiot and batter his way back on, but Alvarez couldn't.

Not that USSF would be likely to do the right thing in situations like this, but it's too bad there's not some kind of a way to sign off on the kid and let him go. It's not like we're going to use him.

I'm not nearly crazy enough to try and compete with Danny's compelling - for lack of a better word - arguments yesterday regarding a name for the new Philadelphia MLS team.

Personally, I'm just thankful that the options don't include Philadelphia Hotspur, Rangers or
Juniors (although Philadelphia Academicals would get my enthusiastic support). Enough of the frankly embarassing Euro-poser crapola already.

(Just as an aside, what has that garbage gotten us, exactly? Did Dallas' attendance or TV numbers suddenly take off when they renamed themselves "FC"? Is Houston is more popular in Texas because they're called Dynamo? I mean, if there was money involved, OK, I guess it's worth it, but I don't believe it's ever sold a single ticket or shirt or hot dog. Ever.)

However, it's unfortunate that Loney neglected to mention the real skeleton in the closet here, ie. that the original Philadelphia Atoms became the proto-Chivas.

Back in 1976 when Atoms owner Tom McCloskey got tired of losing enormous sums of money, the league went looking for a new owner.

What they found was a group of four Mexican clubs, including Chivas, who felt that - stop me if you've heard this one - it would be a smashing idea to put together a team full of Mexican players and show the Gringos how this game is supposed to be played.

Not that there was no place on the team for Amrican players. The new coach - a veteran MFL man - announced that while the actual soccer stuff - kicking, passing and scoring - would of course be handled by the new guys from South of the Border, the Yankees would be relied on as the teams thugs and enforcers.

The result was a team which couldn't draw flies unless the Cosmos brought Pele's Flying Circus to town and which finished a truly remarkable 34 points out of the playoffs.

There was some talk of moving the team to San Antonio for the 1977 season, with the hope that they could sell tickets to Mexican-Americans who would be enthralled by the fact that a lot of the player's names ended in "z" and would otherwise not notice the horrific stench, but nothing came of it and the Atoms were done.

Now personally, I don't think it's any of my business what Philadelphians decide to call their team.

I'm as big a fan of history as anyone (having grown up there, I was truly appalled when they named Rochester the "Rhinos" when they could have used the elegant, historical and still fondly remembered "Lancers") but it's their team and they can call it whatever they like.

But if you ask me, compared to the slop the ownership is proposing, Atoms is one hell of an improvement.