This week's POWER RANKINGS!
1. Luke Cage, Power Man
2. The Powerpuff Girls
3. Austin Powers
4. Powers Boothe
5. "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy
6. Samantha Powers
7. Tyrone Power
8. Stefanie Powers
9. "The Power" by Snap! ("I've got the power!" etc.)
10. Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround Part One
Also receiving votes: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Power Girl, J.D. Power and Associates
I have two opinions on Oscar Pareja and Caleb Porter's folie a tissue over the weekend, which is two more opinions than I wish I had on the subject. Firstly, Pareja's timing was crapulous, to say the least. There is a time and a place to run one's pie receptacle to a disliked peer, and freshly on the receiving end of a 3-1 is not that time. Especially if you believe, as I do, that particular result is an example of MLS parity than where these teams are likely to end up. Portland still looks like they will struggle mightily for a playoff spot, while Dallas still looks (to me) like they will cause much more trouble in the MLS Tough Conference. Laugh last, Oscar.
Secondly, Pareja's message about crying to refs is completely and universally accurate. It's hardly an MLS problem alone, but if Commissioner Garber and the Disciplinary Committee would like to take the worldwide lead on this issue, that would be glorious. Pareja was talking about coaches, but I would start with players who surround referees after every call or non-call within a hectare of the penalty area. Card them to within an inch of their lives, then fine them the rest of the way. I am perfectly willing to sit through some seven v. seven matches to achieve this. And yes, I'm perfectly willing to see my favorite team - Dave Denholm's Galaxy, a typical offender when it comes to this sort of thing - drop points like the RAF dropped incendiaries until they learn to act like professionals.
I don't think it's productive to talk about improving the sport's refereeing if we don't make the effort to treat them like professionals. Baseball's umpires rule the sport with egotistical tyranny. And MLB has a crew of four to six to manage a game that is something like 99% at rest. Soccer referees do a vastly more taxing job with less assistance. I'd prefer a second field referee at least, but putting another guy out there to be abused at will won't help the game's repute.
This doesn't mean fans can't criticize the referees. That's right there in the Constitution, next to where they mashed the Undo button on the 18th Amendment.
This doesn't even mean that coaches and players can't criticize referees. They just have to pay for the privilege. I think that was in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
Oh, and it goes without saying that Pareja and FC Dallas are going to take the lead on this issue, and not complain to the referees again this calendar year.
On another topic. I have noticed that my favorite team, Dave Denholm's Galaxy, is playing like pan-seared garbage at the moment, and I have high hopes they will recover. So I choose not to worry about a two-game losing streak.
But I don't get where people are saying there's not urgency in the MLS season, Taylor. The Kansas City-Philadelphia game after - an intra-conference non-rivalry match between two teams that have stumbled out of the gate and into the drainage ditch - should have been covered by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, it was a screwball masterpiece. It also probably will matter in the long run, since Kansas City will need those points in the MLS Tough Conference, and Philadelphia missed a chance to gain ground in the MLS Easy Conference. Twellman himself saw a nice, crispy little San Jose-Salt Lake match - another game you'd think would have been given over to early-season tinkering rather than breakneck desperation. Just because Bruce Arena's alarm clock is set for August doesn't mean that's true for the other 19 teams.
In fact, this is the best time of year to see urgency. Unless you think Philly will have something important to play for in October, which, well, good luck with that. Although it is tough to cheer against the Union if Mo Edu helps produce gems like this Off Topic piece.
Oh, that reminds me. It's now a duringview and not a preview, but here's how I think MLS will shape up this year:
MLS EASY CONFERENCE
1. New England
4. New York Red Bulls
5. DC United
6. Jesus, I don't know
7. Could be anyone
8. Seriously, this division is going to be a pie fight
9. I was bluffing after second place, to be honest
AND A MONTH IN: Um...Columbus has only played three times, you know. And it's not like I picked them to go undefeated. I probably overestimated New England's resilience when they are not Jermaine-compliant, and I probably also overestimated what I still think will be DC United's regression to the mean.
I also don't believe in expansion teams, because this isn't 1998. Expansion teams are expansion teams until proven otherwise. One of them may sneak into the playoffs, because this is the MLS baked goods aisle, but that's an excuse to give away T-shirts in November, and nothing more.
Oh, the Toronto pick? Um...their coaching staff is loaded with 1996 Galaxy players, and I really hope they do well. I also really, really bought into the Giovinco hype.
I don't hate NYCFC remotely as much as I thought I was going to - congratulations on outdrawing the Yankees on respective opening days, by the way - but then again, Lampard isn't there yet.
....Chicago's won twice already? Frank Yallop for coach of the year, man.
MLS TOUGH CONFERENCE
3. Los Angeles
4. Salt Lake
5. San Jose
6. Kansas City
11. Chivas U...oh, right
Looks like I hopped on the wrong Canadian bandwagon, although since when is beating LA in March anything to write a sonnet about? San Jose is still desperately grabbing for their early 2000's glory years, but Dominic Kinnear is a smarter way to go about it than Frank Yallop. I'm not exactly sold on Owen Coyle as his replacement in Orangeburg. Most of the rest of this list is trust in front offices. I think Salt Lake does fine even without Lagerwey, and I think Colorado at this point has terrible malignant neglect. I either have Kansas City too high or too low, or in the right place.
But mostly I loved what Dallas was doing last year, despite being brutally upstaged by that HYDRA v. SHIELD business being played out on the Pacific. I think the West becomes a race between Seattle and Dallas for...a home field advantage in the playoffs that won't matter. Well, the two of them will fight New England for the Supporters Shield and each other to avoid the Galaxy in the first round.
Or maybe they want LA in the first round. "Champions until Bruce says otherwise" is a tempting homer pick, but a great case can be made for "Completely stuffed and ready to push away from the table." The Galaxy's now obligatory slow start signifies literally nothing. That said, Seattle is going to try to punch LA somewhere terribly sensitive on Sunday, and I think we're all going to be interested to see how the Galaxy respond.
My pick for MLS Cup was LA to win again at home over Toronto. I should pretend I never even considered such craziness. But, again, because I'm that big a Galaxy homer, but also because way-out crazy picks that don't come in get forgotten, but way-out crazy picks that come true? I can live off those forever.