It's Greek to Me, Ralston as Curt Flood and Getting a Long Tan

In the absence of photos of MLS players huddled around 55 gallon fire drums in front of Rio Tinto and RFK this morning, American soccer fans are forced to look for actual soccer news for our Monday morning amusement.

(Although one positive to the former scenario might be that a few stray sparks, possibly from burning the extensive porn collection they found in Josh Wicks' locker, might waft stadium-ward and burn the old barn to the ground, but then I've never liked Baltimore that much.)

High on a lot of people's lists today is the clip of Freddy-Adu-to-Eddie-Johnson:

[ame=""]YouTube- Scoda Xanthi - Aris 2-1 (Eddie Johnson Goal)[/ame]

A nice enough piece of execution, to be sure, but I have a hard time not focusing on the venue: Scoda Xanthi Arena, built in 2004, has a capacity of 7,422.

Like a Greek version of Stade Saputo, we're assured that they can add a fourth set of bleachers and thus raise the seating to a whopping 9,000 or so, but judging by the "crowd" in the clip that's not something they need to move to the front burner anytime soon.

Like most people, when we hear news of this or that American player heading for fame and glory overseas we envision them playing in front of insane crowds at Anfield or the San Siro. Scoda Xanthi, on the other hand, makes that circus tent San Jose currently plays in look like the Azteca during a USA qualifier.

One thing we always hear from Euro-bound footballers is how they want to "experience the tremendous atmosphere" at games over there. Well maybe, but when CommunityAmerica in Kansas City, minor league baseball stadium, can double your attendance, well, something in the story doesn't connect.

On the other hand, one good thing about playing at Scoda Xanthi is you don't have to listen to constant carping from dimwitted Canadians complaining about your attendance and demanding that your team be moved someplace else.

In the hard news department comes news this morning that PENNSYLVANIA POWER & LIGHT (affectionately known as PPL) will be the stadium sponsor for Philadelphia Unions new digs.

I'll have warm thoughts every time I write them a check.

In this blogging thing, sometimes the pieces you don't write are the ones you're happiest about.

Take the one I was pounding out over the weekend about STEVE RALSTONS' COMMENTS regarding his soccer future.

His "I'm not going to re-sign with New England" statement struck pretty much everybody as a bit odd, given MLS' ironclad contract controls. Unless he had overseas options, which seemed unlikely given his age and recent injury, what could it mean?

Well, yours truly thought he might have connected the dots and come up with the answer: Ralston was obviously setting himself up as the MLS version of Curt Flood.

He was planning on mounting a challenge to the league, providing us all with enough blog and message board fodder to last two years at least. And best of all, it was going to be me (I'm not "renowned" but there are one or two people who don't say entirely awful things about me. Don't worry, I'm working on them) who figured it out.

I was going to be a hero, maybe even get a job as the PR director for a league which doesn't actually exist. It was going to be my ticket.

Unfortunately, IT APPEARS THAT TOM TIMMERMAN has outdone me in the connecting-the-dots business by using - jeez, like this is fair - actual facts instead of wildass drunken speculation:

According to Timmerman

AC St. Louis has called a news conference for 1 p.m. on Monday to introduce its first player. Now, maybe they’re going to introduce somebody nobody has ever heard of. But the first Athletica player was Lori Chalupny, so I would think the ceremonial first AC St. Louis player will be somebody other than someone off the street or someone they saw at the tryouts over the weekend. And keeping in mind the previous post about a certain St. Louisan who has decided not to re-sign with MLS …

Now of course while one of us is definitely wrong, and both of us COULD be wrong, I guess maybe I'll go with Timmerman until someone comes along with something better.

The eminently talented Tripp Mickle (whom we would never make jokes about based on the fact that his name reminds you of a urinary tract infection of some kind) HAS THE SUBSCRIPTION-REQUIRED POOP on DC United owner Wil Chang's search for some new investors.

Toward hat end, Mickle tells us, Chang has hired Inner Circle Sports, a noted sports management and investment firm, to beat the bushes for him. (Please note: making the connection between Washington DC and beating a Bush will simply not be tolerated here, do you hear me? I'm serious. Don't make me stop this car) headed by their CEO, Rob Tillis.

I'm guessing though that the prospectus, printed in six color brilliance on the finest of glossy paper, won't include TILLIS' REMARKS REGARDING MLS from a few months ago:

While acknowledging that the league has been around for 15 years, he nevertheless told the writer:

"To say that a league like MLS has staying power - I don't think we're there yet"

But that was before he was charged with getting people to sign on as investors. Now, presumably, he'll be telling them to stop wasting their time on shaky bets like gold in favor of the rock-solid security of a million or two sunk into Major League Soccer.

You might very well have missed, or glossed over, San Joses' signing of one Joey Gjertson, previously of the USL before it became whatever it is now.

BUT YOU MIGHT FIND HIS STORY INTERESTING. Here's a guy who played at a community college, got a spot based on a tryout and has slogged his way through a few years in the minors before finally landing in MLS at the age of 27.

You know, the kind of story we'd like to see more of, which tends to prove that there really may be some point to second division soccer after all.

Imagine that.

Soccer is single handedly providing the grist for a Monte Python-type skit featuring odd names.

First we got Dilly Duka, followed shortly by Bright Dike and the even more prosaic Two Boys Gumede.

Now, apparently in a shrewd bid for the hitherto undiscovered Chinese entertainment dollar, the Tampa Bay Rowdies (or whoever they are today) have signed a forward named LONG TAN

Tan played last summer for the United Soccer League's Atlanta Blackhawks in the Premier Development League, scoring seven goals in 12 games for the club. He had previously played for Shanghai's Pudong Zobon in the Chinese First Division.

Since I'm already hiding from Tripp Mickle today, I have nothing to add.