by West Coast Craig
Carson — The quick rundown on sports this weekend reads like this: MTMâ€™s King Rex went two for three again yesterday, losing only his reluctant pick of the much more rotund Rex Ryan and the Jets (who probably wonâ€™t be seven point favorites again this season), while it looks like Eddiz had a decent day picking the college slate on Saturday, though weâ€™re gonna needs some spreads on there to really judge. A good weekend for Stanford, crushing USC on Saturday and then watching coed Michelle Wie win her first LPGA tournament on Sunday.
The Madden Football test was failed by Bill Belichickâ€¦in Madden the urge is always to go for it on fourth down, but if you fail it seems that the computer will do everything it can to screw you over in the following series. Somehow I doubt Bellichick gets his coaching strategies from playing the Xbox, but he does draw up a good PBJ recipe.
And on Friday night, the MLS Western Conference Championship was won by the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Oh what am I doing? The burn marks are finally healing since the last time I wrote about soccer on here. For some reason people react to the mention of soccer the way Frankensteinâ€™s monster reacts to fire. If only I could get them to smoke some of what Iâ€™m smoking on this.
We got to the Home Depot Center an hour before the game, plenty of time to drink beers in the parking lotâ€¦though some security guys came around on their golf cart and told us that they donâ€™t mind us having some beers, but if we donâ€™t have plastic cups then weâ€™d have to drink them in the car. Nice! This must be the only place where they encourage you to get behind the wheel and drink! Once we got inside, the playoff atmosphere was in the air, the place was buzzing, there was live music, big screens, the ESPN crew was taping up on the Mezzanine with everyone walking past, ogling Julie Foudy setting up her mic…
…while the smell of fresh kettle corn filled the air. Having worked up an appetite for something healthy, we got some Camachos macho carne asada nachos and gorged.
Thatâ€™s it, keep talking about beer drinking, bikini pictures, and gluttonous food, soccer can be as American as anything else! Keep going like this and maybe nobody will notice when I say that the game ended in a scoreless tie, that they then had to play two non-sudden death OT periods, and that play was stopped not once, but on two separate occasions because the field lights went dark, turning what shouldâ€™ve been a hour and a forty-five minute evening into something the length of an average Yankee-Red Sox game. And this was mercifully without going to penalty kicks to decide it, which I canâ€™t help but liken to a basketball game ending on free throws.
The game was tightly contested, with runs at both ends of the field, some hard fouls, and some great crosses. Say what you will about David Beckhamâ€”and the fans around me sure had a lot, such as â€œGo back to Europeâ€ and â€œYou suck!â€ (and his new Mohawk didnâ€™t win much favor either),
but the guy can serve a ball with precision into the boxâ€¦and only because the rest of the Galaxy players are too old and slow to do anything with them isnâ€™t his fault. Plus, the guy took a ton of heat in the British press, who rolled their collective eyes at his decision to play this game for the Galaxy rather than take part in Englandâ€™s national team loss to Brazil the next day.
Did I mention that the field went dark twice, once in each half? In a nationally televised League Championship game? Now why would the MLS have an inferiority complex? The good thing is, the rolling blackouts didnâ€™t effect the rest of the stadium, so all the advertising was still lit up, and the beer garden was still flowing with cold brewâ€¦Guinness and Smithwicks on tap! This of course only revved up the already raucous crowds. Hereâ€™s the thing about live soccer, the fans are real fansâ€¦and they make up for the sometimes lack of action on the field by staying ramped up and chanting and singing and drinking the whole game.
itâ€™s true, theyâ€™ll love your women and drink your beer.
In the end, the Galaxy won despite being collectively old and slow, scoring two goals in the OT periods (the first one coming off a nice Beckham set piece), and setting off a delirium in the crowd that had been waiting oh so patiently for that climax. Next week, theyâ€™ll travel up to Quest Field in Seattle to face another MLS powerhouse in the finalsâ€¦Real Salt Lake? A four year old expansion team is playing for the cup (and I might mention that theyâ€™re also a Western Conference team, but because of some strange playoff seedings, they beat Chicago for the Eastern Conference Championship on Saturday)â€¦and none of this makes much sense, though I can say that, hopefully, it will be a good game because itâ€™s old and slow and experienced (the Galaxy) versus young and fast and reckless (Real).
Iâ€™m losing them againâ€¦but damn, it was a great time. With just a little bit of effort, like all good things in life, soccer is a blast to watch, especially when youâ€™re in a passionate, screaming, chanting, cheering crowd. The MLS has a lot of problems, but the quality of fan is getting exponentially better it seemsâ€¦if only the quality of play would catch up. How can I go out on a high note here?
When it was all over, before we were out of the stadium, that overpowering aroma wafted over usâ€¦yes, the bacon wrapped hot dog carts were out. We quickly veered out of our way, following our noses to find one, and got two dogs loaded with everythingâ€¦though we were rushed because the same security guards from before the game came whirring up in their cart, chasing the dirty dog cart away. â€œYouâ€™re gonna get sick eating those,â€ the guard who earlier encouraged our beer drinking admonished. He may have been rightâ€¦but it didnâ€™t keep us from stopping at another cart on the way back to the car, this time getting the grilled jalapeÃ±o on there as well. I got sick all rightâ€¦sick with gastronomical delight!