One of the more interesting bits of recent CBA-negotiations-related news I've seen this week was a brief comment from Steven Goff that got virtually no notice at all:
The "union accepted the league's offer to pay for the players' flights" to Washington so they could take part in the talks on Thursday.
Both the construct and the concept are noteworthy. The implication is that the league - AKA: "The Enemy" - badly wanted reps from all the teams to witness the proceedings first hand. There have of course been comments from team reps who said they didn't really know what was going on, which has always seemed pretty peculiar.
It's at least plausible that the owners don't think the rank and file membership is getting a clear picture of what's on the table, being forced to rely on whatever Foose & Co. chooses to tell them.
It raises the question of how this came about: did the idea of having these guys come in originate with the league itself?
In any case, we have further word from Goff - who, seeing as how he works at the WaPo and the talks are being held in DC, is the go-to guy here - that the talks continued deep into the night and wee hours of the morning, something like 14 hours.
As he rightly notes, it doesn't mean anything constructive is happening. My rudimentary understanding of how mediation sometimes works includes the tactic of keeping everyone at the table regardless of what is or isn't happening, forcing the principles to physically feel the sense of urgency.
One good thing: they have an endless supply of free RedBull and can literally stay awake for weeks.
Another question that nobody much seems to be asking is: Where is USSF President Sunil Gulati?
Almost anywhere else in the world, the national federation would be deeply involved in all of this, serving - if nothing else - as the "honest brokers" that their position as the ultimate sanctioning (and governing) body of the domestic leagues demands.
As the late Tim Ellison (OldGuyFC) would have gladly told you, the problem is the inexplicable, inexcusable conflict of interest that has been allowed to continue at the top of the federation, namely that Gulati, in addition to being President of USSF, is also - incredibly - the President of Kraft Soccer.
In other words, he collects paychecks from a team owner.
This situation has existed for years, and everyone has pretended that it's no big deal. But suddenly it IS a big deal: the US soccer community needs some leadership and Sunil Gulati is hiding under his desk refusing to return phone calls.
Soccer in this country is facing the biggest crisis in it's history, and the head guy is nowhere to be found.
In the "Let's Have a Little Perspective" department, we have the reaction of Jamaican national Lovel Palmer to his signing by the Dynamo:
When reached yesterday, Palmer was besides himself with joy. "I'm just elated as it's every player's dream to play overseas, and I guess I'm living my dream now," he said.
The fact is that the Caribbean and Central America are chock-a-block full of players who would hitch hike, walk or swim to the US for the chance at a few years of having MLS deny them their basic rights.
In the "Careers heading the Other Way" department, there's the news that former MLS first pick Nik Besagno has signed with the Kitsap Pumas of the PDL.
Say what you want about the plight of recently-dumped Danny Szetela, who was signed by the league at about the same age and, similarly, straight out of Bradenton, but at least the guy actually had a career of sorts.
Besides, Szetela has a promising future as a cast member on Season Two of Jersey Shore. Besagnos is barely old enough to buy a drink, let alone troll the boardwalk for social diseases.
Finally, I feel it my duty to the soccer community to pass along word that MLSRumors, everyones' go-to site for solid, reliable soccer news, is apparently ACTIVELY INFECTING computers that log on with some kind of nasty virus.
Now I personally have only the greatest respect for Asian porn, but when you're looking for the latest JENS LEHMANN TO SEATTLE info and end up looking at Hentai tentacles, something just isn't right.