Where Are the Indians?

Those of you who never stop by for curry takeaway on the way home from work will be relieved to learn that Bob Houghton, famously bad original one-year-and-fired coach of the Colorado Rapids (and charter member of the soccer Good Old Boys network in the US) is advising his players in India, where he's the national team coach, to STOP PURSUING CAREERS IN MLS because it's just not good for their development.

He says they should look to Sweden, incubator of football stardom, instead.

Gosh, Bob, that puts us in a real bind over here. How in the world will we ever replace all those marvelous, sublimely skilled, creative Indian players in MLS, like.....um....well, do we even HAVE any Indian players?

Enjoy Stockholm, guys. Pack heavy clothing. We'll try to slog on as best we can without you.

Via the ever worthwhile IVES GALARCEP comes notice that FIFA, in their infinite wisdom, has completed the requisite shuffling of paperwork from office to office in Zurich until at last, having run out of institutional inertia, has cleared Jermaine Jones to play for the USA.

Of course what with his broken leg and the fact that qualifying is over, the immediate impact on the US National side will be negligible, but, like Jeff Cunningham or Jay Heaps, he now joins the list of what a scout once told me are referred to as "out theres", guys who are, well, out there someplace if you want them.

Speaking of injured guys who are "out there" for Bob Bradley, Maurice Edu is pretty hot under the collar after reportedly being subjected to RACIALLY TINGED ABUSE from fans after a recent match.

Making the case even stranger is the fact that a) he didn't play in the game and b) the people hurling the abuse were his own teams' fans.

Other than that, the whole thing makes perfect sense.

Of course, nobody ever said that Rangers fans were all that bright, but you'd think if they were going to get boozed up and act like buttwipes they'd at least direct their garbage at the OTHER teams' guys.

Old Man River - excuse me, I mean Kasey Keller, says he's having such a ripping good time playing in Seattle that HE THINKS HE'LL MAYBE STICK AROUND AFTER 2010, when he will turn, if I recall, 78.

Unfortunately, Bradley Friedel, who was always the better keeper and is still one of the best in the world, is having an equally good time in the Premiership, making both Blackburn and Keller look like pikers.

(Oh, be quiet. This is an opinion piece, not Wikipedia. Not that there's THAT much difference between the two.)

Friedel used to say that he intended to play a last year or two in MLS, but has reportedly changed his mind recently based on the fact that he's playing as well as ever and making a huge pile of money for Villa while continuing to look like one of the best keepers in the world.

So this probably isn't a sign that every US soccer fans' fondest wish, seeing Keller and Freidel in opposite goals when an MLS referee blows the whistle, is any likelier than it was previously, but it lets us keep dreaming a little longer.

Speaking of the Sounders, I've seen some interesting discussions lately about why Seattle has been signally successful while the previous couple of expansion teams continue to struggle (although, incredibly, TFC is in a good position to finally claim a long overdue playoff spot).

Unfortunately, THIS ARTICLE which comes via duNord, is so far off the mark that you'd think a Torontonianite wrote it.

Oh wait.

The writer says that the Sounder's "methodology" was to "make use of the expansion draft" (instead of, I guess, skipping it to go play golf) and then "select a veritable superstar first overall" in the Superdraft (I'll admit that I like Zakuani just fine, but using the word "Superstar" to describe him is a tad bit over the top) "sign a marquee playmaker in the DP slot" (ie: take a huge risk on a veritable cripple) and, my favorite: "unearth a previously unknown young striker"

Gosh, why didn't anyone else ever think of this stuff?

And of course listening to Drew Carey, a nice guy and a great fan but relatively clueless nonetheless, describe how it was all a product of their collective genius and soccer savvy is less than informative either.

What can be said is that, for a number of reasons - including, it must be noted, good fortune in avoiding injuries this season - MLS is in the awkward position of not only being the first supposedly serious football league to stage a major championship on plastic grass but also is presented with at least the possibility that one of the teams involved will be playing at home on a surface that puts the opponent at a distinct disadvantage.

Everybody is happy to see the success in Seattle, but here's a bet that, secretly, Don Garber is praying they go out of the playoffs quickly enough to avoid him having to answer a bunch of embarrassing questions at his annual MLS Cup Q & A with the media.