Sic semper tie rantings

Last week, the civilized world was scared stiff about the prevalence of ties in MLS. And I said this:

And on Saturday, there were only four out of six games drawn. See, I was right.

Again, if you look at the beauty, grace and intricacy of individual trees instead of looking at the burning forest, there isn't much to worry about. One of the draws was 2-2, and no one is ever going to complain about a close game with four goals. Okay, Helenio Herrera would, but no fan is going to.

One of the draws was where the visiting team was a man up for most of the game. Another of the draws was when the visiting team was a man up for most of the game, and two men up for the last five minutes plus stoppage. 1-1 looks bad on paper, but those were tense moments for all involved.

Which is one of the p.r. problems our little game has. You can't judge what the game was like based on low scores as confidently as you can in other sports. There are only a few ways to justify, for example, a 10-7 gridiron game. Pitchers duels in baseball are, sadly, for aficionados and fantasy team owners only. But there are nearly as many different kinds of 1-1 games as there are 1-1 games.

"Yeah, but RSL and DCU finished 0-0." [Mark Rogondino]I didn't see the game[/Rogo], but Charles Boehm claimed to see "an abundance of attacking play from both sides."

"Yeah, but Charles is writing for the league site, and the league site isn't gonna say 'Fans were put through excruciating torture in RFK Stadium, and we'd have all been better off if Salt Lake and DC simply overslept.'"

Well, the reports from your fellow posters argue for watchability. RSL and DC fans seem more concerned about the result - typical fans, more concerned with the result than the artistry of the beautiful game - but they're not criticizing the lack of excitement. Lack of everything else - DC fans in particular seem miffed, what with missing a chance to lead the conference perhaps playing a part - but no one seems to have dozed off.

Ties are a problem for Chicago, Columbus and DC, if you think they are tying games they should be winning. They're also a problem for the Galaxy, but Bruce Arena and the team don't seem to have gotten that it's three points for a win these day.

For the league, though? If the people who take the time to watch the games are entertained, then there's not an issue.

The other complaint is a more general one about parity, which is technically a different discussion. But assuming ties are a side-effect of parity, even then the league doesn't have a lot of incentive to worry. According to the standings, parity is working perfectly. There's not a lot of daylight in either division between second and fourth, and not much to decide between fourth and sixth. There are almost certainly going to be a lot of nail-biting playoff races this year. Even if you don't include San Jose or Dallas being just one nine-game winning streak away from contention.

If having twelve teams or more think they have a shot at the postseason means having deeply flawed first place teams, you'd be hard pressed to get the league to admit the merest possibility of a problem. Those two deeply flawed first place teams meet on ESPN2 this Thursday, by the way.

And it's gonna be a tie.