The wonderful Shannon Boxx called it a day for the USWNT. Boxx was a consistent bright spot during the very mixed bag of results for the US women's national team over the past 15 years or so. Along with Abby Wambach, Boxx was one of the WUSA's breakthrough players. April Heinrichs named her to the 2003 World Cup team before Boxx had a single cap - the first time women's national team player had achieved that feat. Boxx rewarded Heinrich's faith with a Hall of Fame-worthy career for the national team.
(It was nearly but not quite matched recently by David Regis, John Brooks and Julian Green for the men's team in the modern era. It was more common in earlier decades, when US national teams were rather slapdash affairs compared to now.)
Boxx played an unglamorous position with poise and skill, and while her leadership didn't head off the implosion in 2007, whose could have, short of a reborn Joan of Arc? I was fortunate enough to see Boxx play for the late, lamented Los Angeles Sol. While Marta held the spotlight, there was indeed a team behind her, and Boxx helped make it inspirational.
She didn't need the World Cup title to be remembered as a great player, anymore than Solo or Wambach did. She will be a terrific coach somewhere, too.
Yeah, like Wambach and Solo, she was part of the magicJack train crash, but nobody's perfect.
Congratulations to NYCFC - depending on the results in the New England game, the club might complete two calendar months without tasing a home fan. That's definitely something to build on for 2016.
I suppose we should talk about this latest bombshell accusation against Juergen Klinsmann, this one courtesy of Grant Wahl. Just a couple of informational tidbits to add - Sue Falsone has a life outside soccer, and her website proves as much. In fact, this now out-of-date reference is the only mention on her site of the US men's national team. However, she worked with Athletes' Performance for 13 years, and Klinsmann has been a client of AP for years now. You may remember Klinsmann name-checking Athletes Performance back when he was calling MLS players lazy and unfit.
Major League Soccer Soccer quoted US Soccer saying Falsone departed the USMNT by mutual agreement - which has the ring of plausibility, especially after the fact. It could have been completely amicable. It could also be that Falsone was not precisely in a position to be fired in the first place, what with her non-full time status with US Soccer.
Apropos of nothing, Athletes Performance is now Team EXOS, a midlife crisis cult with an incomprehensible website. Well, that's what it looks like to me. You figure out their design and rhetoric, then, you're so smart. In fairness, Sporting KC and Galaxy apparently still use them. In equal fairness, the Galaxy are still eyebrow-deep in Herbalife garbage, so allow me to hit the snooze bar on their ringing endorsement.
Jay Berhalter, as it turns out, has a life behind merely being Gregg Berhalter's brother. I either forgot, or didn't know in the first place, that the older Berhalter is a former Chief Operating Officer for US Soccer. This is no chuckle-headed naïf doomed to be steamrolled by the Klinsmann Party Bus, in other words. As of this writing, Berhalter has not released a denial of Wahl's report.
You, presumably the proud owner of a hypocrisy detector, might wonder why Wahl's anonymous sources are any more justifiable or reliable than those of Doug McIntyre and Taylor Twellman at ESPN. The short answer is, they're not. And, as with Fabian Johnson's injury, we need to assume that we're reading this stuff courtesy of people with agendas. Agendae? Whatever.
Obviously I want Wahl's report to be true, so I could spend my golden years re-reading Klinsmann apologia and laughing myself to sleep. But so far, this fails the "What if I liked the coach?" test. I'd hate to see Bruce Arena get bounced from the Galaxy because someone said Curt Onalfo was doing all the work.
This doesn't change the fact that Berhalter could shoot these reports down in a second, if he so chooses. If he doesn't, and if Klinsmann isn't able to remove him for lese-majeste, conclusions shall be drawn. If that's unfair, it's still a better deal than demanding Moenchengladbach sit a starter to prove his honor.
#DecisionDay reeks of high schoolers calling press conferences to announce which college programs they will leave after a semester - so maybe MLS can add some dignity to the term. As MLS slowly stumbles towards a playoff system that properly rewards the regular season, we can take solace that at least third place is now measurably different from second. Once home and home is eradicated from the playoffs, then future #DecisionDays will be high-strung celebrations of parity indeed. Depending on Sunday's results, the Galaxy could either finish second, and along with Dallas clinch home field in MLS Cup should they get that far - or shut down the franchise and leave the city to LAFC. I exaggerate but little.
I hate to repeat my own Twitterings, but history suggests there's a strong possibility that either the Red Bulls or the White Bulls will have to settle for the Supporters Shield, and be extremely grateful that the Shield now comes with a continental ticket. Once upon a time, the Goddess of Small Sample Size granted us many appearances in MLS Cups by division winners. But behold the progression:
1996: Division winner loses MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
1997: Division winner wins MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
1998: Division winner loses MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
1999: Both division winners in MLS Cup
2000: Two division winners in MLS Cup (three divisions this season)
2001: Division winner loses MLS Cup vs. non-division winner (three divisions)
2002: Both division winners in MLS Cup
2003: Both division winners in MLS Cup (has not happened since)
2004: Division winner loses MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
2005: Division winner loses MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
And then, this started happening:
2006: Neither division winner in MLS Cup
2007: Neither division winner in MLS Cup
2008: Division winner wins MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
2009: Division winner loses MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
2010: Neither division winner in MLS Cup
2011: Division winner wins MLS Cup vs. non-division winner
2012: Neither division winner in MLS Cup
2013: Neither division winner in MLS Cup
2014: Neither division winner in MLS Cup
2015: Depends on Dallas and New York Red Bulls, doesn't it
Number one seeds have not been keeping their dates with destiny. If the death-goddess Parity feasts on beef this November, you read it here....probably not first. I'm not usually the first with stuff like this.
The Cincinnati Saints are marching out, almost certainly to Dayton, Ohio. (There's a Dayton, Kentucky, that's literally across the river from Cincinnati. This doesn't confuse anyone.) Faith in FC Cincinnati, despite literally every public effort so far, continues high. As we recall, the Lindner family is fabulously well-to-do, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut. Locals believe that losses could be absorbed as tax write-offs almost indefinitely (probably true), or at least until the team is awarded MLS status - which locals assure me will be much sooner than later. I still think San Antonio and Sacramento - let alone already announced teams in Atlanta, Miami and (now) St. Paul - will push the schedule back a few years at least. (FC Cincinnati can have LAFC's spot, though. They clearly have the same social media expertise.)
Also, keep in mind locals still think Pete Rose got a raw deal. It's tough being the one to tell them Peter Pan "flies" because of wires.
Swope Park Rangers is an awesome name. I saved that for last because I'm so ashamed of how much I love it, and how much I love that SKC made it official.