by West Coast Craig

Carson — The quick rundown on sports this weekend reads like this: MTM’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 won’t be seven point favorites again this season), while it looks like Eddiz had a decent day picking the college slate on Saturday, though we’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 Belichick…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 Frankenstein’s monster reacts to fire. If only I could get them to smoke some of what I’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 lot…though some security guys came around on their golf cart and told us that they don’t mind us having some beers, but if we don’t have plastic cups then we’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.

That’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 should’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 can’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 Beckham—and the fans around me sure had a lot, such as “Go back to Europe” and “You suck!” (and his new Mohawk didn’t win much favor either),
but the guy can serve a ball with precision into the box…and only because the rest of the Galaxy players are too old and slow to do anything with them isn’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 England’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 didn’t effect the rest of the stadium, so all the advertising was still lit up, and the beer garden was still flowing with cold brew…Guinness and Smithwicks on tap! This of course only revved up the already raucous crowds. Here’s the thing about live soccer, the fans are real fans…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.

it’s true, they’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, they’ll travel up to Quest Field in Seattle to face another MLS powerhouse in the finals…Real Salt Lake? A four year old expansion team is playing for the cup (and I might mention that they’re also a Western Conference team, but because of some strange playoff seedings, they beat Chicago for the Eastern Conference Championship on Saturday)…and none of this makes much sense, though I can say that, hopefully, it will be a good game because it’s old and slow and experienced (the Galaxy) versus young and fast and reckless (Real).

I’m losing them again…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 you’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 seems…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 us…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 everything…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. “You’re gonna get sick eating those,” the guard who earlier encouraged our beer drinking admonished. He may have been right…but it didn’t keep us from stopping at another cart on the way back to the car, this time getting the grilled jalapeño on there as well. I got sick all right…sick with gastronomical delight!


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About West Coast Craig 226 Articles
West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.