The Problem in Portland, PLUS: MLS' All Time Best Teams

I will admit up front that this is a topic I have intentionally tried to ignore, even though I have made a point of following the ins and outs of the MLS expansion derby (pronounce that however you'd like).

I've ignored it because THIS ISN'T THE KIND OF STORY that's easy to dispose of in a paragraph or two.

And of course there's the temptation to write stuff like "Wait! I thought the idea was that everybody lies about sex, and doing some young intern is not only perfectly fine but something that it's acceptable to lie your ass off about", which isn't going to sit well with a lot of people.

(Partly too, I knew I would have a hard time ignoring the fact that the intern's name is "Beau Breedlove" which even the cheapest hack of a second rate fiction writer would find embarassing)

Mostly though, when this story broke a few days ago I couldn't see how it could possibly make a difference. (If you're not familiar with it, HERE'S AN EXELLENT SUMMARY.): An openly gay man easily won a mayoral election in a very progressive city where his sexual identity was not only not a problem but many locals have suggested that it was actually an asset, and then admitted that he's been lying about a relationship with a young intern. In an age when nobody cares if the Secretary of the Treasury lies on his tax returns, how could this be a big deal?

But if the widely respected John Canzano says this could very well impact Portland's MLS bid, I have no choice but to believe him. And if he says that MLS has been on the phone looking into the situation, I have to conclude that they too feel there may be a problem here.

No one can say how the story in Potland will play out, but I think I can take a reasonable shot at how MLS is going to react: if there's some chance that this diminishes the political muscle and momentum which will be needed to get a stadium built, then they're not likely to want to just put a team there and hope for the best.

Now and then some writer with time on his hands and/or a dearth of column ideas gins up a "Best Teams in MLS History" article. Like most of that kind of thing, in any sport, it's of course strictly a matter of opinion and mostly serves as a converation piece.

Still, when I ran across THIS ONE the other day I thought it was perhaps a bit more well-thought-out than most I've seen, for a number of reasons.

Herewith, the authors Ten Best Teams in MLS History:

10 1996 Tampa bay Mutiny
9 2005 San Jose
8 2002 Galaxy
7 2001 San Jose
6 2007 Houston
5 2003 Earthquakes
4 1997 DC United
3 1998 Galaxy
2 1999 DCUnited
1 2008 Columbus Crew

Obviously I'm wildly biased in favor of his pick for number one, but even if I wasn't it was inevitable that a team would come along that could at the least lay down a challenge to the carved-in-marble certainty that DCU 1999 was the finest outfit the league has ever seen.

And boy, were they ever good.

Equally interesting is his ranking of the 98 Galaxy at #3. Most of the time teams that don't win the Cup don't make lists like this, but in truth you could make the case that it's them, not the two in front of them, who was the best MLS side ever. They could score seemingly at will, they were ridiculous in the back, they went 13-3 on the road for Pete's sake.

The '05 Earthquakes were another team that seemingly deserved better, but they had to settle for the Shield and a move to Houston rather than the Cup and a home of their own.

And nothing but applause for the '96 Mutes coming in at #10, a team which, at a time when watching MLS games usually took a very strong stomach or a bucket of No-Doz, they managed to be entertaining and fun, even with Thomas Rongen working hard at stopping them. They didn't win the Cup either but I always think of them as having been a glimpse of what was possible.

The sad saga of Christian Gomez, whose not-so-long trail from 2006 MVP to 2009 pariah is probably a cautionary tale of some kind if we could just figure out what, exactly.

Earlier, it was reported that New England, Dallas and Chivas were all interested in the guy as long as Colorado was willing to keep some of the $400,000 hit. But as first Dallas and now New England seem to have backed off, and Chivas seemingly luke-warm at best, it's entirely possible that the guy will be spending the season sitting on Gary Smith's bench.

(What? That's Smith. Yeah, Gary Smith. He's Colorado's new coach. No, really.)

At this point you have to believe the guy can be had for a bag of balls and a smile as long as you'll pay some of his salary. Unfortunately for the Raps, there just don't seem to be any takers.