Forget the Moneybags Match: Here's the Game to Watch Tonight

OK, so we're all supposed to be as giddy as Cathoilic Schoolgirls on a trip to the Vatican today in anticipation of the Clash of the Titans.

Of course it's mostly the Battle of the Bucks, since the truth is that the FIVE COUNT 'EM FIVE Designated Players on the pitch (I'm sure they'll have Thierry hanging around someplace so that the director out in ESPNs' truck can cut to him from time to time) represent a staggering $21.7 million in guaranteed compensation from their clubs. or about 30% of the entire league payroll of $71.3 million.

Put another way, Henry and Beckham individually make more money than every team except their own. LAs' two DPs pull down 78% of their teams' payroll; Henry, Marquez and Angel represent 83% of theirs.

So the real question is: except for the supposed "historical" aspect of the match, is this game likely to be all that compelling outside of New York and Los Angeles?

Put another way: will you actually tune in at 11PM Eastern and watch it? Or is this the kind of game you put on your DVR while you either go to bed or watch a movie with the significant other or go prowling for poon someplace and then never actually get around to watching unless someone's leg gets broken and there's a big hoo-hah going on next week about whether the instigator (ie. Dema Kovalenko) really meant to do it. (Yes)

Well, as a public service I hereby offer the following: Landon Donovan will still be the best player on the field and this is the kind of game he shines in, and Dema Kovalenko will spend the evening stalking Mahdi Ballouchys' knees and ankles.

Advantage LA.

Now that we've dispensed with the game you can go ahead and miss, I have one tonight that you really, truly, absolutely must see:

#1 Akron vs. #2 Tulsa on FSC at 8 PM.

Yeah, yeah, I know. You don't watch college soccer because it sucks. You also don't watch WPS because it sucks. And you don't watch USSF2/NASL/USL1 soccer because it sucks. And you don't watch indoor because it sucks.

Quite the little snob you're becoming there, Mango. Just saying.

Anyway, there's a really good reason why you ought to watch this game tonight, namely that next January you'll be shrieking and howling about how your team needs to draft one or another of these guys and it might be nice if you had the first damned clue what you're talking about.

Consider Akron University:

They've played ten games so far this year and have yet to give up a goal. They went to the North Carolina Tournmanet a couple of weeks ago and beat the #3 Tarheels and #4 Wake Forest 3-0 and 2-0 respectively.

More importantly to you, the first pick in the 2009 MLS Superdraft was SteveZakuani from Akron. The fourth pick in 2010 was Herrmann Trophy winner Teal Bunbury of Akron. So was the #10 pick. Blair Gavin. And #47 pick, Ben Zemanski, is a starter for Chivas.

And here's the scary part: it's possible that this years' team, without them, has better personnel.

If you folow the game at all then you're very familiar with TOP DRAWER SOCCER which, among other things, ranks the nations' Top 100 College Players.

The latest list, which came out on Wednesday, had the folowing AKron players:

#1 - Midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong, a two-time All American (and future scourge of MLS game day announcers everywhere)

#7 - Forward Darlington Nagbe. a 2009 All American

#13 - Defender Kofi Sarkodie

#14 - Defender Zarek Valentin

#26 - Midfielder Michael Nanchoff

#30 - GK Daivd Meves

#37 - Defender Chris Korb

#64 - Defender Chad Barson

#81 - Midfielder Scott Caldwell

#95 - Midfielder Ben Speas

Which goes nicely with the #3 Freshman in the country, Perry Kitchen, along with #15 Freshma, Forward Darren Mattocks, and #77 Midfielder Eric Stevenson.

Valenton and Baron, both sophomores, and Kitchen, were all three named to this weeks' TDS National Team of the Week.

I could go on here but the point is, basically, that there are two or three MLS teams who would probably be wiling to swap rosters with Akron Coach Caleb Porter.

If you were wondering why Porter turned down the DC United job last Winter, let me ask you: if you were him, what would you have done?

The astonishing thing is that Porter is doing all of this not in the Big Ten or the ACC or the Pac Ten or the Big East. He's doing it in the Mid American Conference.

What's more, he's convincing Bradenton kids and other premier recuits from all over the country to come spend a few years in one of the true armpits of the US, Akron Ohio. The facilities are second rate. They play in a second (or third) tier conference. The weather is miserable (and winter is particularly grim). The nearest airport is down the road in Canton. The campus is urban, charm free and high crime. Nobody in town has a job.

In short, kids ought to be hanging up on the guy instead of eagerly signing on the dotted line.

Straight up, this might be as good a collection of talent as any NCAA Div I program has ever fielded. And that's after losing Zakuani and Bunbury.

And just for good measure: the rumors about next years' recruiting class, if true, are utterly frightening.

So forget the Money Mashup at 11 and instead check out Akron and Tulsa.

Then, come January, nobody can tell you that you don't know what you're talking about.