Landon, Raul and Eternal Faith

Someplace on the scale of shocking news, here's one that ranks just below finding out that those dirtbags on Jersey Shore drive cars with cheesy ground effects:

Landon Donovan says that if things go really really well at Everton he might like to stick around after the ten week loan period is up.

WELL YEAH I think everybody knew that was how this was going to go.

Which of course leaves Galaxy Supremo Bruce Arena in pretty much the same bind he was in last year at this time: trying to assemble a team for the upcoming MLS campaign without knowing when or even if his best players (and around 20% of his salary budget) are going to be available.

For his part, DAVID BECKHAM is denying that he intends to hang up his snazzy custom made adidas boots after the World Cup, but even if that's true - and it's a big if - it's looking like LA will go until at least July without their stars.

Then again, with all of the exact same types of problems with the exact same guys last season LA came within a missed PK of winning MLS Cup, so I guess il Bruce will work it out.

Another day, another big European star prattling about coming to MLS.

This time it's RAUL who's threatening to cross the Atlantic for a couple of retirement-fund-padding years of fun in the sun.

At this point is there much of anybody left over there who hasn't claimed he was headed to MLS? And yet for all the ink and/or bits and bytes that have been devoted to the ever-growing list of suitors, as I look around the league I see the same number of European footballing superstars that we've had for several years now.

Now I'm sure that sooner or later one of these guys will probably turn up someplace over here, but until then I reserve the right to call bullshit on all of them. They don't really mean it and if they did MLS teams would be foolish to give them the kind of money they're looking for.

Everybody says they're planning on being "the next Beckham" but as we've been pointing out for quite some time now Beckham is a one-off. For MLS purposes, nobody else comes close.

In my continuing effort to demonstrate that soccer fans are more knowledgeable, better informed and, well, just plain brighter than fans of other sports, I note that NBA All Star fan balloting has both Alan Iverson and Tracy McGrady headed for starting spots even though neither one of them has had any noticeable impact on the court this season.

Generally speaking, MLS fans make excellent ASG selections, even if the writer-player-league voting block outweighs and overrules them, as in the case of Guillermo Barros-Schelotto two years ago when the fans voted him in, everybody else voted him off and the guy went on to win both league and MLS Cup MVP honors.

(This leaves aside the yearly "Stuff the Ballot Box" effort by the latest expansion teams' fans. Toronto did it, Seattle tried it last year and there's not much doubt that Philadelphia fans will do the same thing this year. It's become sort of a rite of passage.)

I have to say up front that I am surprised and pleased with the optimistic reaction that most RedBulls fans have displayed with regard to the announced hiring of Hans Backe as their new head coach.

I have to confess that one of the more amusing facets of last week's draft was watching guys like Backe and the Fires' Carlos de los Cobos trying not to look like visitors from the planet Zepton in the middle of a bizarre process they had probably barely ever even heard of until a couple weeks ago.

Of course fans of both teams are saying all the right things, like "coaching the game is the same once they blow the whistle" and "his contacts overseas will bring in lots of exciting new foreign players" and "his ability to speak other languages is a big plus".

The fact that MLS fans have been saying exactly the same things every time a foreign coach has been hired into the league over the last 15 years and it has never, ever turned out to be even remotely true is beside the point, I guess.

As is the fact that sooner or later some team will indeed hire a coach overseas and he will lead said team to fame and glory and a case full of Cups.

But until that happens, all we have to go on is history. And history says that these hires are not going to turn out well.

It's the difference between science and faith. Science is based on empirical evidence, whereby you come to a conclusion based on repeated, and repeatable, results.

Faith, on the other hand, comes from wanting something to be true so badly that you are willing to ignore substantial, irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

Fortunately, being a sports fan, and particularly an MLS fan, is nothing if not a giant exercise in raw faith: I don't care how few MLS draftees ever make substantial contributions; THIS year, the four or five guys my team drafted will all end up 20 years from now thanking the voters for enshrining them in Oneonta.

The fact that 90% of them will be selling insurance and coaching their kids' U11 club team, and we all know it good and well, doesn't matter a bit.

We dream, therefore we are.