Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down

One of the many ways in which soccer fundamentally differs from the other major professional sports in the US (yes, I know what I just implied) is of course it's grudging tolerance of drawn matches in the regular season.

The NFL and NHL both have little mini games to decide a winner while the NBA and MLB just keep on playing, although with baseball, after nine innings it seems like the game has already gone on forever. (It's not really true that children born in the second inning will be entering sixth grade about the same time that the pudgy, balding middle-aged manager who, for reasons which defy explanation, is wearing a uniform, shambles to the mound to hand the ball to the closer)

(I mean, seriously, can you see Bruce Arena leaning against the team enclosure with that sourassed look on his puss while wearing a Los Angeles Make Big Money Working From Home shirt and shorts? And do they even make jerseys in Sigis' size? I admit I'd pay good money to see Hans Backe and Schellas Hyndman in full game gear looking like slightly demented tourists who missed the bus back to the Rest Home, but overall it's much better this way.)

Was I going someplace with this? Ah yes, ties.

Now I realize this puts me in the distinct minority but I never minded the so-called "NASL Shootout", an anachronism which MLS resurrected from the dustbin of history along with the countdown clock and Roy Wegerle.

As we all know, it was eventually sacrificed on the sacred altar of The First Church of Slavish Devotion to The Way They Do Things in Europe, but there are times when it's easy to make a convincing argument for a comeback.

Like, for example, yesterday.

When six league games result in five draws and a slumber party of a 1-0 result where the losing team had not even one measley stinking shot on goal, it's hard to convince the non-believers that this is a league they need to adopt to add a little excitement to their lives.

Still, for us true-blue dyed-in-the-wool hardcore believers, there was plenty of interesting stuff. It's just unfortunate that we few, we precious few, we band of...oh forget it.

The team that, not 24 hours earlier, had traded one of the best players in MLS history, Dwayne DeRosario, started both of the guys they obtained in return, thereby putting the lie to all that coaching crap about players needing time to blend with their teammates. I'll wager they couldn't have even named a good half of the guys wearing shirts that matched theirs, but I've always maintained that once the whistle blows good players know how to play and both Tchani and Borman accounted themselves admirably.

The peripatetic Alejandro Moreno, who's currently on his sixth team (laugh all you want, the man has four rings) scored for Chivas on 3 minutes, the not-quite-as- Alan Gordon got it back in the 36th at which point the BMO faithful might just as well have gone home and spared themselves watching Maicon Santos ruled offside on one goal and badly flub a second after making both the last defender and the keeper look like they were wearing cement shoes.

In Vancouver the Whitecaps looked like the deadest of the dead after world famous whiffer Kei Kamara made it 3-0 in the 62nd minute, capping a two goal performance by USA Flavor-of-the-Month (and Canadian refugee) Teal Bunbury.

An Atiba Harris goal 17 minutes from time seemed like nothing more than a pride-salvager but two ridiculous goals by another mono-monikered Brazilian, ostensibly named Camilo, AFTER the clock showed 92 minutes gave the Caps the point and sent Peter Vermes straight to the duty-free store for a bottle of single malt.

There's an old soccer saying that 2-0 is the most dangerous score in the game because it seems insurmountable and can make the leader ripe for plucking. Nobody ever said that about 3-0 after 70 minutes, however.

At any rate, if ever there was a tie that felt like a win, this was surely it for the Caps. Conversely, I can't recall many ties that must have felt more like losses to SKC.

The previously pointless - in more ways than one - Portland Timbers also grabbed a point, in their case a historic first-ever-MLS one, to get themselves off the schnied while a clearly frustrated New England side, performing in front of just over 7,000 home fans, were clearly frustrated at their inability to finish a slew of quality chances.

In New York, the newest RedBull, the aforementioned DeRosario, didn't come on until he second half but he immediately had the assist on a Dane Richards scorcher. This was followed three minutes later by Cam Weavers' equalizer, which closed the days' scoring.

To be fair, this one was at times wildly entertaining, but in the end there were two goals scored within 3 minutes and the rest of the game was largely irrelevant. These are two teams you expect to be fully capable of lighting up the scoreboard like Times Square on New Years Eve, but you only get so many good looks and if you can't cash them in then you're very lucky to come away with one point.

Dan Loney will surely have laudatory things to say about David Beckham today after Stupid Spice found another of the leagues' sudden plethora of Brazilians, Leonardo, with a free kick in the 33rd minute after which a patented Bruce Arena lockdown made the result both boring and inevitable.

Say what you will, the man has to be one of the greatest game killers in the history of soccer caoching. In his case, 1-0 might as well be 5-0.

On the other hand, the still-winless and increasingly frustrated Sounders could have used a few pages of Arenas' playbook as they coughed up one goal leads not once but twice and head back to the drawing board to see if they can figure out a way to grab three points against the Fire at Qwest or whatever it's called today.

Bottom line, there are still five winless sides in MLS this morning and while it's obviously still very early, for a couple of teams it's time to get busy before they find themselves in one of those bigass holes you end up paying for come October.