TOPIC ONE: In which fan bases who are so prone to rectoencephaly that they would dare to compare their region to Catalonia, Tibet and Palestine are completely on the side of truth and right So, who owns your supporters club?
The answer to that used to be "Who cares, it's not like anyone's going to make any money off it." MLS has decided to ring in 2013 by making sure that every supporter's group is either duly organized, or else.
That's my main takeaway from the kerflapple of the league trying to steal - sorry, copyright - "Cascadia Cup." For those of you who haven't been following the story: the league tried to steal - sorry, copyright - "Cascadia Cup."
There really isn't a heck of a lot more to the actual story than that. The embarrassment has gotten to the point that even Major League Soccer Soccer is covering it.
The league's cover story is embarrassing - if they were really trying to "protect" the Cascadia Cup, they would have told the supporters ahead of time. Problem is...you know who's NOT covering the story?
SoundersFC.com, portlandtimbers.com, and whitecapsfc.com.
The teams themselves can't take sides here, certainly not publicly. Which tells me what a complete morass this is going to be. The Cascadia Cup was the supporters' idea - unlike abominortions like the Honda Superclasico - but it involves entities that have their own trademarks and intellectual property to protect. MLS didn't own any of Timbers, Sounders or Whitecaps a decade ago, but they sure as hell own it now. And without the teams, the Cascadia Cup is nothing.
The endgame for MLS was, eventually, to prevent PNW supporters from selling T-shirts and memorabilia to an event they made up. (Who the hell else would buy one? Although let's not forget the time that the nation was overrun with unofficial SBI Mafia T-shirts.) MLS should pay the legal fees to the groups in question, just for forcing them to go to the trouble.
The other thing that tells me is that supporters groups need lawyers these days. If the PNW groups were a little less organized, this would have ended differently. And by "organized," I mean legal, corporate, paperwork, regulations, forms, bureaucracy. As Too Much Joy put it, "Something's wrong with this world when clowns got lawyers, too."
I try not to meander too far afield on What It Means To Be a Supporter, and I shouldn't overpersonalize this sort of thing anyway. But man, some of us got enough corporate in our life already. Can't I just show up, stand up and yell? I don't want a rank or a serial number. Yes, I know, the teams have a right to know who they're accommodating when they set aside standing, general admission(ish) sections for ne'er-do-wells and sociopaths like us. (Oh, like you're a pillar of the community.) But just having a fun little group name, with maybe some T-shirts and badges, shouldn't mean lawyering up.
MLS has made it necessary, and I don't see their asses getting kicked hard enough to unring the bell. Therefore, if you don't have an answer to that question up top, well, someone will soon.
TOPIC TWO: Ryan Nelsen wants it all
A ways back, I wrote "If you asked Toronto FC for a peanut butter sandwich, they'd put the bread in the middle." So I ask you - why am I not in Bartlett's at this point? Certainly not because the sentiment is unfair.
For any young general managers out there watching the game, if someone asks you whether your brand new coach is going to continue his playing career for a different team in a different country in a different hemisphere, the answer should start with "no." Follow-ups, such as "of course not, who would do such a thing, what kind of mugs do you think we are, what on earth would possess you to ask such a silly question," are now, unfortunately, inoperative, thanks to Kevin Payne and his self-appointed mission to make the Toronto Maple Leafs look like NASA.
The sad thing - one of the sad things - one of the many sad things is, Nelsen fits the MLS coach identikit these days perfectly. Hard-working international, former field general, familiar with the bizarreries of the MLS system - Nelsen is at the very, very worst, an uncontroversial pick.
The other sad thing - again, among many - is that if you're going to scout England, Nelsen is in a position that would be both ideal and unique. What better way to check out a potential signing than playing against him? And who better to judge than an international captain who played in the World Cup (without losing, either)? If Toronto signs no one but players who impress Ryan Nelsen, that should make them contenders.
But you know the expression, "Don't quit your day job?" Nelsen needs to quit his day job.
Once he does, all this should be forgiven - and we'll find out whether Nelsen can actually coach. The larger issue - that an MLS team's management can't get their act together to the standard that is now expected from Portland Timbers fans - will probably stick around, especially when Kevin Payne inevitably signs Freddy Adu.
OR AM I?
TOPIC THREE: The United States Soccer Federation has named several players to an all-star, or "national team," and will schedule games against similar teams organized by other countries' federations
Sorry. I know no one comes here for insight, but I got nothing on Klinsmann's latest team. I like the team a lot, I like the players, I hope they do well, I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free, etc.
It's just...Edson. Edson Buddle.
I like him, too. He had a couple of really terrific seasons for LA, and he got his ring. I wish him better than well with Colorado. But he deserves a callup in 2013 less than Wow-Wow Wubbzy.
I'm in the minority in thinking that Buddle's addition to the World Cup squad in 2010 was the smart move. World Cups are about What's Happening Now!!!, and Buddle was in better form than Brian Ching. (Starting Herculez, and bringing Buddle off the bench - that's a different topic.) But you can't believe Buddle deserved his World Cup spot AND believe he deserves a January 2013 callup.
Even the idea that this is his "last chance" - well, no, the last chances are May/June/whenever the last minute friendlies are two summers from now. You can't call in a player in Buddle's position - wrong side of 30, off a lousy year - unless you think he's going to contribute right now. Otherwise he's just taking up a camp spot from someone who might conceivably integrate into the team down the road.
There's also the premise that Klinsmann is calling in the best players available, and has all along. I still can't wrap my head around that, and neither can ussoccer.com:
The coach thinks as many as six to nine players from this group could make the flight to San Pedro Sula next month as part of the first World Cup Qualifying roster in 2013. Ultimately, the aspiring internationals hope to establish themselves as future contributors on a team building towards 2014 in Brazil.
Um...unless we're talking about guys going from zero to hero like Chris Wondolowski, who himself is by far from a lock to make the roster - guys should already have been in the player pool for at least a year already. Connor Lade and Buddle are wrong picks for different reasons, unless in 2013 they both tear up MLS. And if they tear up MLS, they would have been called in anyway.
Still - if only 25% of these guys are going to do anything for the team this year, why am I even worrying about Buddle and Lade?
So, I won't. The most important thing we need to do is to make sure we learn to pronounce Matt Besler's name correctly. Besler IS the sort of young player who had the kind of revelatory year that demanded a callup, so we need to educate the public. The easiest way to do that will be to give him a nickname. We have three options, and that will depend on his play against Canada and Honduras: "Honey," "Bumble," or "Killer." I realize I of all people should not encourage nicknames based on last names, but we need to think of the greater good.
Sadly, political and racial history make the best potential nickname - "Africanized" - out of the question.