North v. South

Northern and Southern California, to pass the million years by before San Andreas makes us neighbors, had a soccer derby this weekend. Had it been for water rights, it would have been more interesting. Jeff pretty much summed up the MLS version here - the word "sucked" has a prominent position in my vocabulary precisely for games like this, Bryan Jordan and Donovan Ricketts playing through pain excepted.

It was nice to see David Beckham hurt a team besides the Galaxy for a change. The game drew 15,000 and change, 50% over the capacity of Buck Williams Stadium.* By that logic, moving the game to the A's Hole was a sound business decision.

Shame it cost the Quakes two points. That game should have been a 3-0 or 4-0 laugher in front of a packed, delighted house. Fan influence and support are filed under "intangibles" for a good reason, but against a Galaxy team that has had about as much success on the road as Sheriff Buford T. Justice? That would have made up for Huckerby's absence and Yallop's baffling formation and strategery.

Playing the game in probably the single worst facility in the history of Major League Soccer, not excepting Dragon Stadium, did the home team zero favors. You would never in a hundred years have thought that the Raider Abomination has hosted at least two national team games. Maybe those China and Wales games were freaking awesome, but by all accounts playing in Oakland only helps the Earthquakes' opponents.

WPS inaugurated their California rivalry in the Sunday heat. Four thousand or so crammed into the shady side of the stadium, entertained by a Wagner-to-Marta goal eerily reminiscent of the Earthquakes goal the night before - long pass straight down the middle of the defense.

(I've been told that WPS, as part of their ongoing website improvements, will soon have video highlights of non-FSC games, to make our lives better and more fulfilling. I thought Sunday's Sol-Pride game WAS the FSC game before I got there. Anyway, it was a real pretty Marta effort. No words, they should have sent a poet.)

There are, contrary to rumor, other players on the Sol besides Marta - I'm a newly minted fan of Aya Miyama and Camille Abily. Karina LeBlanc is in the middle of a shutout streak that will make fans question (1) whether the best keeper in the region is really American, and (2) why can't Canada do more damage in World Cups and Olympics, with the talent they're turning out these days? But yeah, Marta looks as if she's worth the money. Impossible to see where the Sol offense comes from without her - I like Aya, but I don't like her shooting much. I think the St. Louis A's will find out - correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Marta will miss the next game.

Although the Sunday game was godawful, so were early WUSA games, and those got a lot better. Tiffeny Milbrett, as told to Nick Green, gives us a lot of cause for optimism.

She of course was comparing WPS with MLS. No, just kidding. She's comparing it with Serie A.

The Sol are doing everything right on the field, but there's a nepotism scandal brewing behind the scenes. The Sol claim that Sunny, the Sol mascot, is a former soccer star sidelined with a career-ending injury.

However, it turns out that Sunny may have gotten his job through his identical twin brother, Rippy.

Since the Riptide shut down, a fact I learned while looking up the last paragraph, Rippy's whereabouts are unknown. At least the The Shark family still has one family member in the treacherous mascot business.

*I make enough mistakes that I can't make a joke like this without people thinking I genuinely mistook Buck Shaw for the Kirk Cameron character from "Left Behind." If I proofed my posts more, I'd probably be funnier. There's a lesson there, which I shall ignore.