19 August 2006

Soccer Saturday Soapbox

Soooo...big ol' soccer day today in MLS. The Red Bulls and the Rapids play today. I just had myself a Red Bull at the store today. It was nummy. I had to restrain myself from buying two.

But anyhow, the Rapscallions are playing DC United at four, and Da Red Bulls play the Columbus Crew at, I believe, 7:30, in the stadium that I went to a few years ago to watch the U.S. Women. Very nice facility. Much better than RFK, where I've also been for the same purpose. Probably loads better than Giants Stadium and Invesco at Mile High, as well (although Russ has been to the latter on several occasions, for, I believe, professional lacrosse. Not sure if that team is able to pack it in better than the Rapscallions).

MLS, from what I've seen, has become a more entertaining league over the years. They've gotten rid of overtime, which just killed the regulation match, and was very frantically paced, to boot. No fun to watch an overtime completely devoid of strategy. And, frankly, no fun to watch overtime, period. Like I said, it makes the regulation game much less urgent. People complain about too many ties (the Red Bulls and New England each have about 10 this year)? Well, overtime is as good as a regulation tie every time, just about. Glad to see it gone, but for playoffs, where it is all but needed.

It's also gotten more exciting skillwise. Better goalkeepers, for sure. New veteran foreign players. An increased importance on NCAA men's soccer as a developmental pipeline. An excellent top minor league, and several more leagues below it (but then, they were here before MLS).

As much as I hate seeing major, abrupt changes in how MLS works, I wouldn't mind seeing a single table for MLS. USL's Divisions 1 and 2 do it. New Zealand, the best nation in Oceania, does it. It would sure not mean an end to playoffs, which is good, because DC United have 18 points (that's six wins at 3 points a pop---one point for a tie) more than second place New York. The East is getting boring, and were it not for playoffs, we'd know that DCU would be going to the MLS Cup, and we have quite a few matches left.

east
D.C. United 46
New England 28
Chicago 25
New York 25
Kansas City 25
Columbus 20

west
FC Dallas 39
Houston 35
Colorado 31
Chivas USA 30
Real Salt Lake 26
Los Angeles 23

Last two in each conference do not make playoffs.

Personally, I'd rather it be thus:

D.C. United 46
FC Dallas 39
Houston 35
Colorado 31
Chivas USA 30
New England 28
Real Salt Lake 26
Chicago 25
New York 25
Kansas City 25
Los Angeles 23
Columbus 20

As far as playoffs, a gold old-fashioned American final-four would be fine, at a predetermined site. I've also wondered about a play-in round. I guess, essentially a wild-card, wherein the top three are in the playoffs, but first, #4 has to play #5, and the winner of that gets to be the fourth play-off seed.

It's 79, with 69 pct humidity. I could sure use another Red Bull.

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