April 2010

Puck's Friday Happy Hour: MLS Edition

Over the last couple of weeks, the MLS has been getting an amazing amount of publicity for being the country’s eighth favorite sport. Soccer has had to fend off a serious push from sports like Curling and Pairs Ice Dancing to maintain a top 10 spot after the Olympic Games. Everything seems to be moving in the right direction for “the little league that could.” Here are some recent highlights:

• After months of speculation, the MLS managed to avoid a work stoppage. Honestly, there was no way the MLS was going to survive if the beginning of the season was delayed or even canceled. Even though players and owners really had no choice, cooler heads prevailed and a deal got done. Sure, the league minimum salary checks in at a lackluster 40 grand, but it’s still a good start.

• While the four letter network rarely publishes anything worth wiping your ass with when it comes to soccer, I did find one gem by Leander Schaerlaeckens, which explains how the MLS has been an excellent development tool for the vast majority of USMNT players. I suggest you check it out here.

• The new expansion team in Philadelphia seems to be creating quite the buzz. Kick ass uniforms, the “Sons of Ben” supporters group, and an unbelievable Captain Califf mohawk seem to be driving larger than expected crowds to home matches. Placing more teams in large metropolitan areas is extremely important to the league’s continued success.

• Finally, who can forget the immaculate return of the golden child and MLS poster boy, Landon, I do what Mr. Arena tells me to do, Donovan from the blue side of Liverpool (I heard he brought a gun into a locker room when I was gone, sorry wrong sport). It’s fitting that the MLS season starts just days before Palm Sunday, as Donovan, the captain, attempts to lead the Galaxy to another championship. If only he had let his hair grow and lost his razor.

• With all this great press, it think it is time to remember one of the greatest lines ever spoken, by one of my favorite characters in film. Cue Winston Wolf, “Let’s not start sucking each others dicks just yet gentlemen.”

The MLS still needs vast improvement, and one of the most important steps to this improvement is the adoption of the European calendar. Why, you say? I am glad you asked.

Currently, the MLS begins their season just as nearly every European league is coming to a close. For example, the EPL is on game week 32 while the MLS is playing games two or three. The large offset of these two schedules is a terrible deterrent for any European talent to make a move to

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the MLS through any type of loan or sale. At the same time, it makes it nearly impossible for any American talent, (i.e. Lanbro) from having a sustained playing career in the best European leagues.

Also interesting to consider is all the talent the MLS will

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lose during this year’s World Cup. The MLS is at the very peak of its season when the rest of the world will be focusing on South Africa. All the American-based players will be training for weeks before, and recovering days after — their time spent in South Africa greatly decreasing the overall talent level of the MLS.

The argument against adopting this European schedule goes something like this, “Do you really want MLS games being played in freezing snowy temperatures at Soldier Field?”

You’re god damn right I do! If the Polish can play Slovakia for a chance to go to the World Cup in four inches of snow, we can certainly be playing regular season games in the United States. Think of the interesting home field advantage a team from the north would gain when playing a team from the likes of Houston.

If the weather becomes too much of a problem, the MLS could schedule in a month long winter break that would not shift the entire time line too far off the accepted European calendar.

Don’t get me wrong, I watch plenty of MLS, and in the grand scheme of things, the league is still relatively young. The MLS is basically a pubescent teenager; still trying to figure out how to “get his dick wet,” while trying to not let his mom find out about the embarrassing wet dreams staring Bea Arthur in a Tijuana donkey show. Imagine the possibilities if this young league continues to grow. Maybe a decade from now, this winner gets a spot in the Champions League? Nothing is impossible, including drinking a case of PBR with Amy Sanders. A Puck can dream.

Puck is the pop culture guru for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at puck@yanksarecoming.com.