Is this the end of Rico?

John's leading a good discussion of the CONCACAF away goals rule over in the comments of his post. Both John and Jasonma had me going "Yeah, that makes sense" over equal and opposite arguments, so we can correctly conclude that I have nothing helpful to add. But maybe you do. I no longer wish to throttle Mark Rogondino for screwing up the rules - it's understandable that he thought the Islanders had an effective two-goal advantage, because if that goal had happened in regulation they would have.

The Islanders run in the tournament was equal parts Cinderella and Don Quixote, so it should be forgiveable in this instance to be sad that the much worse team did not advance. There was a great passage in "Brilliant Orange" about how a statistician whose name inexcusably escapes me embarks on a heroic crusade to convince the Dutch that penalty shootouts are not random. I bring this up because there is absolutely no way that Colin Clark did not have the Rich Coasters practice penalties before this game. They were going in as defensive and desperate; they had to know a shootout was a possibility - and, given the resource disparity between the two teams, a fairly positive outcome for Puerto Rico.

And yet, their shots were about as accurate as MLS Rumors. You can practice penalties, you can scout goalkeepers, and maybe you can improve your chances to a significant degree - maybe enough to turn silver or bronze medals into gold. But there's practicing penalties, then there's practicing them in thin air after running around for two solid hours against better players against a hostile crowd.* The only time I ever saw Landon Donovan botch a penalty kick was, you guessed it, in a shootout against Pachuca, then as now a much better team than the Galaxy. And that was at sea level.

It was hardly a masterpiece of a game, but great fun. Enough to justify CONCACAF expanding a tournament beyond its popularity, or enough to justify USL partisans crowing about their superiority to every team north of the Rio Grande?

....you know, let me think about that.

Hey, speaking of inaccurate rumors, the Galaxy issued not a mosquito, not my libido, but a denial regarding former Atalanta silverback Christian Vieri. I was trying to figure out whether Adam Scime of Goal/SI or Steven Goff broke the story first, because whoever did beat a fairly longstanding AEG policy. I once tried to get a comment out of them regarding reports that Luis Figo had signed with AEG - reported, among other places, on freaking MLSnet - and was told that AEG never ever ever commented on rumors. Either getting Bruce Arena to conform to corporate policy is as difficult as getting Baby in a corner, or either Scime or Goff (or, vastly more likely, both) are just better at this sort of thing than I am.

*Well, theoretically. If it were at an MLS stadium, "MOVE CRUZ AZUL!" posts would be a-flying.