"Let's Talk About Something Fun; How About Magic?"

As Dan's BFF Stevie NOTED YESTERDAY regarding tonights' "Game of the Century":

I know it's almost impossible to alter the national TV schedule at this point, but it's a shame the Galaxy-Columbus Crew showdown Saturday night is available to viewers outside SoCal and Ohio on the league's online/pay package only.

I agree that it's too bad, since MLS needs to have games like this available to a broader audience than just the lunatic fringe internet soccer crowd, but since kickoff is scheduled for 10:30 PM Eastern I'm not sure having it on ESPN2 that late on a college football Saturday would gain you much, at least East of the Mississippi.

Plus, despite the announcement that Stupid Spice has been placed on the active roster and has been medically cleared to play, il Bruce has announced that we won't be seeing him tonight. Pity.

The game that ESPN was shooting for is obviously the one two weeks from today when the Deuce will carry LA/NY: game time is 11PM on a Friday, and if the collective star power of those two teams can't draw a respectable audience even at that hour then maybe we need to rethink this whole thing anyway.

The larger issue though is how much tonights' match will really matter in the long run.

The Royals took a bit of the luster off of it with Thursday nights' draw with Seattle which pulled them even with the other two at 44 points in the race for the Shield, but win or lose LA will end the night the way they started it, occupying first place in the West, and unless Hunt Sports can find a way to sell Dave Checketts a couple of points then RSL will still be standing third in the race for the Shield as well.

Of more interest to hardcore MLS fans - or, as Steven "D-Bag" Cohen once described us, "the morons" - is the fact that the Supporters' Shield, longtime red-headed stepchild of Major League Soccer, has gradually become a very big deal.

The players care, the fans care and the league itself all of a sudden is in love with it.

(Of course we won't know it's truly arrived until Simon "Insistence is Febrile" Borg writes some typically brainless, ignorant and inane article on Major League Soccer Soccer denigrating it. Think of him as a dumpier looking George Costanza; whatever his opinion on any given subject, the opposite is unvaryingly true. The fact that Borg gets paid to write means there's hope for every ape in Africa.)

Maybe now is a good time to finally get serious about the project to replace the Shield with something a bit better made.

I'm as big a fan of quaint tradition as there is on this Earth, believe me, but at this point I have no doubt that the various MLS Supporters Groups could raise some serious dough between them all and come up with something we can all be proud of.

There's nothing cooler than having a league trophy that visits Supporters Group tailgates and watering holes and that the teams get to display only because the fans allow it.

It's of course a shame that we can't send the old one to the Hall of Fame, since currently that consists of three lockers at a "U Store It" facility someplace (while, it should be noted, the building and grounds that US fans contributed millions of dollars to construct got handed over to a local group for free) but that's another discussion.

(Hell, even Canada HAS AN HOF. Maybe they could store the thing. It's as close as Toronto will ever get to it anyway.)

Finally, here's my favorite MLS related article from the past seven days, courtesy of Goal.com, which contains the following:

"I would just like to play (in MLS), that is really a dream of mine," Riise told VG Nett........

Riise is currently recovering from a knock to the head

(For those of you who've written me asking whether I planned on making one of those ludicrous sports bets with Dan over the result of tonights' game the answer is no. He'd probably welsh anyway.)