Speaking with reporters yesterday in Pretoria, FIFA Grand Poobah Sepp Blatter had some words of wisdom for Major League Soccer.
He feels that if the US would only switch to a European style August to May schedule, then MLS "would have success".
Just like that, apparently, a simple calendar swap would make the millions upon millions of Americans who consider soccer to be about as exciting as watching dough rise suddenly slap themselves on the foreheads like so many V8 drinkers and say "Hey! Soccer is really great! I mean sure, when it was played in the summer I thought it totally sucked but now, playing in Chicago in January, I can see what a truly wonderful sport this is! Where can I buy season tickets?"
Of course Sepp doesn't think that horrid playing conditions alone will solve the American fan-indifference issue.
The real boon, according to Swami Sepp, would be that the best European players, who, he says, aren't in MLS because they won't play a seven month summer season, will flock here by the boatload once the US is on the same schedule as the European leagues.
Sepp neglected to mention how it is exactly that MLS would pay all those guys, but no matter. He says MLS "knows this" and that's good enough for me.
Blatter also feels that another big problem is that MLS teams share stadiums with American-style football teams, and they'll need to start getting some soccer stadiums built or they'll never get people to attend.
Well gloryoski, Sandy, why didn't we think of that?
Of course currently, out of 14 MLS teams, eight have their very own soccer stadiums and a ninth (NY) will have one shortly and when Philadelphia comes in they'll have one too, as will Portland, theoretically.
In fact, if you discount New York which is moving out, and Seattle, which would not for a minute concede the point anyway, there is only ONE MLS team currently sharing a building with an NFL team: the New England Revolution.
Other than that, Sepp is right on top of the problem.
I suppose we should be grateful, somehow, that Herr Blatter knows we even exist. Goodness knows we aren't exactly putting a lot of money in his pockets so he doesn't have much reason to pay attention.
Still, for someone who's always complaining about runaway player contracts and teams running up colossal debts trying to keep up with each other like so many NASL sides, I would think Blatter would be pleased with our little operation over here.
Apparently though he thinks it would be great if we could be one more set of teams bidding up the absurd salaries he claims to abhor.
In any case, Sepp has a much bigger kerfuffle to deal with at the moment, that being the claim by Egypt that the fourth official in Monday's match against Brazil watched a video replay on a conveniently placed TV set and then passed the word to the referee that one of the Pharaohs had committed a handling offense which resulted in a sendoff and a consequent PK which gave Brazil a 4-3 win.
FIFA denies that any such thing happened and, furthermore, they're going to have the TV removed so it doesn't happen again.
Blatter used this incident, which clearly shows the inherent value of sideline video replay, as an opportunity to reiterate his opposition to video replay.
Because - well, probably because no video equipment supplier has stepped up and offered him a big Tub O'Money to use their stuff.
Finally, with regard to the USMNT's slim-slimmer-slimmest chance to avoid the ignominious "3 and out" they seem almost surely headed for, the fact that among other events they would have to beat Egypt by, like, 70 or so looms as probably the largest stumbling block.
Still, we can take heart from the Canadian Bogus Championship Cup thingie, which concluded last night with TFC needing to beat Joey Saputo's "MLS ready" Montreal side by four in order to grab the Championship, and the Champions League spot, from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
To make matters worse, the game began with an Impact PK conversion, putting Toronto down by one more.
Now I'm not going to suggest that the long-rumored connections between the Saputo family and the New York mafia had anything to do with it - after all, I really can't see a bunch of fat guys in see-through socks laying down five or ten G's on a Canadian soccer game - but something pretty bizarre did indeed happen as the Reds proceeded to score SIX UNANSWERED GOALS on the hapless Impact and grabbed the Cup for themselves.
Much as it pains me to say it, overall this is a positive development. It's of course great for TFC's fans, who finally saw something good happen, but maybe more importantly it means that we won't have to listen to a bunch of crap about USL sides being superior to MLS teams based on the results of a problematic tournament which the latter has seemed more or less uninterested in winning.
For this I can only say: "Thanks, Toronto."