The Devils You Know

Allow me to clarify. Friendlies still don't matter, unless it's your team that's playing. And even then, I don't know if the Kansas City Wizards get THAT much out of Sunday's win.

Okay, Wizards fans will tell their grandchildren about the day they beat Man United. I guess that's pretty good.

But it doesn't help the league any. Not really. How excited are FC Dallas fans, for example? Outside the Kansas Cities, this result is only useful as a blunt instrument on a subset of Eurosnobs. "I don't like MLS. I prefer the Premiership." "Didn't Manchester United lose to the Wizards?" "...the second goal didn't cross the line."

No, seriously, that's the take over on Manchester United's official site. The only reason Kansas City won was because of an inconclusive, controversial goal. Because Manchester United goes into places like Kansas City playing for a tie. I'd link to their article, but the blasted website wanted to give me more cookies than Keebler, and when I tried to see the match video, it wanted to sell me a subscription to MUTV then crashed my browser. Major League Soccer Soccer Dot Com looks pretty awesome in comparison.

Based on those highlights - Berbatov was offside on the penalty, Arnaud should have gotten at least a yellow for grabbing the ref's arm, Nielsen stinks at trying to save penalties, and the AR was RIGHT ON THE GOAL LINE for the second goal, and had no hesitation. Kansas City won that game. Oh, and they held on for an entire half a man down.

Yes, I know, Manchester United is just tuning up. And by tuning up, I mean, trying desperately to find some guys who can play defense. Yes, I know, they didn't have Wayne Rooney...because he's been in such magical form this summer.

Losing to Kansas City is not going to sink the MUFC brand. They're probably already over it. The issue is, whether it will do anything for American soccer. I don't really think it will.

How many of the Manchester United fans in Arrowhead are going to be Wizards fans now?

Yes, all of them - if there's any justice in the world, which there isn't. But they should have been Wizards fans already, no? I think way, way too many of them, if they put on a blue shirt, will make it Chelsea or Manchester City, rather than admit they were mistaken about MLS. Current Wizards fans are in heaven right now, and good for them. I just wonder how many new Wizards fans this will create.

To be fair, reasonable minds may differ:

Hey, that would be nice. I like the Wizards. Like Dallas and Colorado, they're the MLS lower middle class - the ones whose attendances are mocked, the ones with few stars, the ones with few trophies, the ones that are continually moved to allegedly better markets by fantasists who like to spend other people's money and run other people's teams. I'm glad Kansas City got this.

But this is something Kansas City has to take advantage of. Manchester United gagging a friendly won't sell a single ticket outside their catchment area, and it's a fairly good question how many this will sell to their actual target fanbase. If people look at this result, and ask OnGoal why they're not selling out every game next year? That's as unrealistic as anything Project 2010 ever came up with.

Also, the Red Bulls beat Manchester City, but Manchester City sucks.

Now, it would seem that I think these games are more important than the Seattle-Colorado game, because I've spent so much time on it. So I guess I bought into the hype, even though Sounders-Rapids, I think, is a real harbinger of how the West is going to go. Colorado, who I really liked at the beginning of the year, haven't won in nearly two months. Seattle seems to be the - okay, the Ljungberg divorce isn't final, but the Sounders are already putting on the Old Spice and enjoying the single life, if you know what I mean. Even Montero looks happy now. We'll see how long that lasts, but the rest of the West didn't exactly need the Sounders making like Dallas last year, cutting through the rest of the league like a combine harvester trying to grab a playoff spot.

And I don't think Colorado is going to stay in their slump, but I'm always wrong about Colorado. Every time I see Omar Cummings, I wonder why he's not a freaking All-Star. It's never been easy to figure out the Rapids, though. Is it all Mehdi Ballouchy's fault, or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

The battle between Important Games and Popular Games is hitting full whine this week, with Dominic Kinnear apparently concerned that Bruce Arena plans to prioritize a CONCACAF game over the All-Star game. Now, from what I can read, Kinnear is just sugarcoating the situation to Houston fans who want to see an All-Star Game with actual stars. But it's amazing this is even a discussion - Los Angeles and Toronto have CONCACAF games the night before, end of story. Donovan and De Rosario will come in at the end of the All-Star Game, wave at the crowd, and fly back to their teams...and even that's sort of an unreasonable imposition. De Rosario sort of owes it to Houston fans, and if Landon can make the Daily Show he can make the All-Star Game.

The fact that we're having these discussions about which games take priority, let alone wondering whether Landon and De Rosario should freaking start, is the biggest sign of all that MLS isn't where they want to be yet. It isn't even so much that meringue friendlies and exhibitions are trumping games that count - it's that MLS couldn't move the All-Star Game far enough away from actual factual games so this discussion doesn't arise. (It does with pitchers in the baseball All-Star Game, but that's usually one or two players who fans did not vote for. With MLS, it's nearly half the starting lineup.)

Of course, Dominic Kinnear could have said "The Galaxy shouldn't need Donovan and Buddle to beat freaking Puerto Rico anyway," which would have been (1) a fantastic way to mess with the Galaxy, and (2) absolutely true. But I don't think Toronto is as prohibitive a favorite over Montagua, so the problem does still exist.

The Sounders were very thoughtful about this, by playing so incredibly badly that none of their players made the All-Star team. It might cost them a playoff spot, but it didn't hurt the All-Star Game, and they'll still be at full strength against the team that it will amuse me to misspell "Meatpan."

It's all about priorities.