Apparently some group of people in Bavaria have conquered Europe. But as an American, I don't have time for that. Maybe I'll get around to it in a year or two. So, the US National Team played another game, and there was another run on anti-depressants. We may have to stop televising these things. Yeah, Omar Gonzalez wasn't wonderful, but was a time when a guy who helped shut out the home team at Azteca would have been cut some slack. The point of these friendlies is to get ready for the Gold Cup.
Wait, are we even supposed to care about this Gold Cup?
In theory, a continental championship is a pretty cool deal. The problem is when you decide to play it more than once every four years. That leaves out even numbered years - because, duh - and the odd numbered year before the World Cup makes the whole thing kind of irrelevant.
Like, say, this year. At best, the Gold Cup is now a tune-up for the teams in the Hex. Klinsmann is taking advantage of this by calling up fringe players like Landon Donovan. At worst, it's a schedule-eating, roster-depleting cash grab and nothing else. CONCACAF needs to grow up and have the Gold Cup every four years, like a real tournament.
Speaking of real tournaments...I guess we can ask Bruce Arena what it would take for him to take the Open Cup seriously. He has won the thing once upon a time. Maybe he was still scarred by the 1997 final or something.
Arena and Schmid are actually correct when they complain about a schedule that sends them across the country for a midweek game. Did Frank Yallop complain too? He should have. Part of the problem is that the lower divisions are over-represented in the East, especially the Southeast, and someone has to go play them.
Forcing those teams to go to the West Coast is a poor answer, too - if those games appealed to San Jose or LA, they'd have bid for them. And they don't sell terribly well, either. Which is a sad truth about some teams and the Open Cup. Bruce Arena could play lower division Southern California teams in his kitchen all the way to the final, and still not waste his starters. It isn't simply that staying healthy for MLS Cup is a vastly bigger priority - staying healthy for regular season games is more important. Staying healthy for the first half of international friendlies is more important. The long trips are a red herring - anyone who saw the Galaxy sleepwalk Open Cup games at the Home Depot Center against the likes of AC St. Louis knows where the Open Cup is on the to-do list.
There is a solution besides regionalization - although organizing the rounds geographically makes a good deal of sense. Simply have each MLS team carry a squad of about, oh, thirty-five or forty, like big European teams do. Since that involves having the kind of disposable income that big European teams do - and even the Galaxy and the Sounders aren't there yet - then we're going to have to deal with the occasional MLS team sacrificing the Open Cup to the Angel of Convenience.
Speaking of teams that advance in the Open Cup. The Sounders are out, the Galaxy are out, and Chivas USA are still in. So they fired their coach and are getting sued. The Open Cup doesn't solve very much, does it?
It wouldn't surprise me at this point if the whole point of Chivas USA wasn't to troll me personally, as soccer's longest-running and most elaborate practical joke. It honestly wouldn't be any dumber than any of their other business plans.
Longtime MLS watchers will remember that Colorado, Kansas City, and San Jose were all written off at various times, and are now perfectly healthy franchises. Longtime MLS watchers will also remember that Miami and Tampa Bay were folded up like card tables, and (sorry, Florida fans) the league was stronger for it. If there was ever a point to Chivas USA besides laundering Omnilife profits, I was never able to see it, and I doubt I ever will - then again, I'm not an unbiased observer. Even its stated purpose - to expand the brand identity - has backfired.
Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will recall "Attack of the The Eye Creatures," the film that inspired "They Just Didn't Care" as an ongoing theme when it became clear that no effort had been spared. Chivas USA has responded to that discrimination lawsuit by saying "Chivas USA is an organization that respects people without distinction." That was the headline. It's been up for two days. Either no one noticed the unfortunate implication of the phrase, or, vastly more likely, They Just Didn't Care. Fan groups like the Black Army are trying to protest, but remember what Schiller said about contending against stupidity.
Since literally all of the problems of the team could have been solved at any time since the franchise opener by moving to any of half a dozen lucrative markets, and since Vergara has seen the Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC, Seattle Sounders, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, the third San Jose Earthquakes, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Montreal Impact all take root from scratch during his time in MLS, and since any one of us can name a bunch of other cities still on the table for expansion - why is Chuck E. Chivas still bothering? Well, either Vergara hates money a lot, or he's being forced to stay by MLS in order to get the kind of expansion fees you get when you add Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose, Vancouver, Montreal and New York instead of moving an existing team. Which answers partly why Vergara hasn't cashed in - after all, he has an entirely legitimate claim to his share of those expansion fees.
At some point, though - probably around the times the owners of Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose, Vancouver, Montreal, New York, and the next couple of expansion teams take along look at how revenues are being earned and distributed, and note the big punch in the wallet they take every other trip to Carson - someone might want to explain that in the long run, it's better to actually be a successful franchise than enable others through inaction.
Of course, at this rate, MLS will be dealing with Ted Chronopoulos and Dan Calichman as owners, and not Jorge Vergara, so perhaps that explains the league's inaction.
EDIT - oh, yeah, Robbie Rogers. Everyone knows how much I hate to disagree with Steve Goff, but I think he rates more than a throwaway sentence at the end of a post. (Oh. Oops.) Anyway, even though one milestone has been achieved, the story is ongoing, so let's follow up on Robbie when we have a little more time.