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Quote of the Week: “[Matthäus] could also find MLS rougher and more difficult to play in than he imagined, fail to settle well and use his eminently quotable big mouth to shred the last scraps of MLS’ already paper-thin credibility. Loose cannon on deck? You bet. MLS brass had best hope that when the thing goes off, it doesn’t blow a hole in their ship.” (Richard Snowden, internetsoccer.com)
How many years is that? Midfielder Tab Ramos, seeing his first action since the NASL folded, played the final 30 minutes of MetroStars pre-season match against Chicago Fire. The match ended 0:2, Fire. It had been 0:0 when Ramos stepped on the pitch. The consensus is that it will take two or three outings for Ramos to get match fit, but given his medical/attitudinal history, how many more years do MetroStars need to keep him on the roster for him to actually accumulate 270 minutes of playing time? Ever the optimist, MetroStars coach Octavio Zambrano hopes Ramos will be able to start in the opener at Miami on March 26. “He’ll be good for 60 minutes at least,” Zambrano parsed, without specifying whether the 60 minutes Ramos will be good for will occur against Miami, or over the course of the entire season, in toto.
US one step closer to World Cup qualification: Turd Emeritus Steve Sampson (World Cup, Class of ’98), who is currently coaching a U-8 side in Tulare, California, has been offered the helm of the good ship Costa Rica. As Costa Rica would have previously been considered one of America’s main rivals for one TCFKACONCACAF’s three World Cup berths, America’s chances of qualifying immediately increased exponentially. Maybe even Jason Kreis could score against the 3-6-1. Reports of mass suicide in Costa Rica have so far proven unfounded.
Slam of the Week: “It is perhaps the forward position alone that conjures fleeting images of glory for this otherwise dull side. The winter acquisition of Danish international Miklos Molnar and his subsequent displays of scoring touch have many tabbing him as the best striker in MLS. Should Canadian Alex Bunbury pick up where he left off late last year, the two could forge a relationship that will leave the twenty or so Wizards fans waving their pool noodles in violent ecstasy.” (Ron Ferguson, MatchdayUSA.com)
ESPN: “Hey, why didn’t we think of that!?” Last week’s match between San Lorenzo and Racing Club was interrupted by a lone pitch invader. This, in itself, is hardly remarkable. And now, the rest of the story. It turns out that the invader is an employee of the broadcaster televising the match, and the broadcaster was late coming out of their halftime commercial break. Bold initiative on the part of an intern wanting to make it in the glitz & glamor of third world television? No, a sideline flunky acting on orders from the broadcaster! The flunky was immediately arrested by the gendarmes. No word if the flunky has been seen since the incident, or whether he may have been disappeared from a helicopter over the Atlantic Ocean.
Dumbass of the Week: Bayern Munich’s Mehmet Scholl, who was given a caution for unsporting behavior after a teammate converted a penalty in Bayern’s 2:1 Champions League victory over Rosenborg. Scholl stripped his shirt off (a no-no) directly in front of the referee (a real no-no). Okay, this sort of thing happens all the time. Stupid, yes, but deserving of Dumbass of the Week dishonors? Hardly. But wait. It seems Scholl was already carrying two cautions in the competition, and a third would mean a suspension. Dumbass! No. Actually kind of clever — though one could argue UEFA’s rule regarding cumulative yellow-card suspension promotes such behavior, as it is better for a player to sit out a meaningless group game than a knockout round matchup. (Bayern is already through to the quarterfinals.) Which would make UEFA dumbasses of sorts. But we already knew that. No, Scholl is Dumbass of the Week for actually bragging about his stratagem — an act such such towering dumbassery that UEFA may end up suspending him for even more matches.
My game? My ass! Though your humble TotW editor loves football — which is kinda like saying the Pope loves mass — it is not his game. As you might be aware, MLS has switched its motto from “This stuff kicks!” to “It’s your game”. Oh? The old Voice of God ads (disembodied voiceover of empty stadium) were about as effective as slingshots against a Stealth bomber, but the motto was a good one: Even the grizzled old bastards on the TotW staff are at least aware that something that “kicks” is fly, cool, rocks, groovy and is really hip daddy-o. Plus it told the public something about the sport. There is a reason, afterall, why it is called football: because unlike the misnamed American pointyball variety, the majority of the players (though they might still be little guys with wierd names) actually kick the ball. Okay, so MLS shit-canned the old motto. No big deal, except the new one sucks donkey dongs. Labelling anything “yours” or “mine” is pretentious and way overdone. It’s another bogus marketing phrase craze. It seems like *EVERYTHING* these days is labelled MyThis and YourThat. Thus, jumping on MyBandWagon does nothing to distinguish MLS’s motto from anyone else’s. I always wonder if this whatever is mine, then I am going to going to do this, and this, and this with it. Oh, what was that? I can’t change it to the way I want it? But I thought you said it was mine? It is. Well, if it’s mine, I can change it, and if I can’t change it, it must not be mine. Stupid. It’s not “your” game! How can it both be yours and mine? Whose exactly is it? “Yours” or “mine” implies ownership. Ownership, disregarding government interference in things it ought not interfere in, means one can do with it what one wills. Do you suppose that if I were to march into MLS’s New York offices and start re-arranging the furniture — Yo, Garb, fetch me some coffee! — that I would not be arrested quicker than you can say “Riker’s Island”? If I were to actually assume that acting as if MLS were mine — or any of the other entities that claim they are “mine” or “yours” — I would consider myself lucky to end up in Riker’s and not in a precinct closet with a plunger between my cheeks.
Why he jumped before he was pushed: TotW is not a fan of most major media soccer urinalists, and Jamie Trecker brings deeper meaning to “Dumbass Treckerism of the Week” than Trecker père ever dreamed of. However, this past week Trecker fils rose above the dreck to pen what may be his one shining moment of intellectual incandescence. (Though he did rely on info dug up by a couple of guys from California, TotW is trying to positively affirm his effort.) It seems that USSF is in a whole heap of tax trouble. Why? Because USSF weren’t just content to practice gender equity, they made it their raison d’être. Like pharisees at the temple, they bragged about their purity only to be found … lacking. As TotW pointed out last week, Bruce Arena makes three times what World Cup winning women’s coach Tony DeCicco earned. What we didn’t know was the following. M. Trecker:
... More startling, despite the fact that USSF's total revenue dropped by $10.07 million between 1998 and 1999 (from $37.53 million in 1998 to $27.46 million in 1999), director's compensation increased by more than 100 percent, jumping from $563,363 in 1998 to $1.13 million last year. ... were the issue a straightforward one -- just the difference in salaries between two professionals -- this wouldn't be a big deal at all. For, the fact is, the men's coach probably does deserve to be paid more for the simple fact that the men's team earns more. ... this is America, a funny country when it comes to soccer: this is the only place in the world that takes the women's game as seriously as it does the men's, and USSF officials have skillfully played to that in public. When April Heinrichs was selected as the new head coach of the team, both President Dr. Bob Contiguglia and General Secretary Hank Steinbrecher heralded the day as a remarkable one for "gender equity in America." Heinrichs' contract, in fact, was presented as being, according to Steinbrecher at the time, "in line with what [the men's coach] is receiving." And, when the Fed agreed to give a new deal to the women's team, again, officials sounded the gender equity horn, saying that the Fed was a leader in women's sports. ... should any zealous individual at the IRS wish to bring up the Fed's "primary exempt purpose statement" -- which is contained on the tax forms filed to the government -- that statement has read for three years running as "To promote excellence and govern soccer in the United States in order to make it the pre-eminent sport recognized for excellence in participation, spectator appeal, international competition and gender equity." ... this is not an issue that is going to go away, and the Fed -- as usual, with its growing history of self inflicted wounds -- has no one to blame but itself.
Note this very carefully: The problem is not that men and women are receiving inequal pay, it is that USSF promised they would treat men and women equally, then said they had done so, when in fact they had not. In other words, they lied. And in fine bureaucratic tradition, they were handsomely compensated for their incompetence. Who is “they”? Who was running USSF until just a week before this juicy hairball was coughed up? Why, none other than the head whipcracker of the USSF plantation, Hank Steinbrecher. Last week’s resignation now seems a bit opportune, doesn’t it? TotW does not believe in coincidence; labelling a series of events a “coincidence” is an ostrich-like attempt to avoid determing exactly what happened and why. Things happen for reasons, and Massa Hank resigned for a reason. And now we know why. He stepped on his dick. He screwed the pooch. He got USSF in real bad trouble with the IRSS. And if there is one organization you want to dick with less than the NYPD, it’s the IRSS. Just ask David Koresh.
Normally news like the above would be enough make the cabal at USSF Turd of the Week, but this is not a normal week.
Woof, woof: yhTotWe always says (and he made this up), “It may be better to be poor & happy than rich & unhappy, but it is also better to be rich & unhappy than poor & unhappy.” Or so one would think. Nicolas Anelka, must believe otherwise. How else to explain his continued petulance and childish behavior? Despite going, then not going, then finally going to the “club of his dreams” in a $35 million transfer last summer Jolly St. Nic has been a royal pain in the patootie since the first day he set foot in Madrid. (See TotW #27, “You knew this was coming …”) Last week he missed three straight days of training. Madrid, which mistakenly thought his opportunistic perfomance in the World Club Championship two months ago signaled a change in attitude, this week suspended Anelka for 45 days, costing the surly one $360,000 in pay. Jolly St. Nic’s reaction? To bitch & moan some more in the French newspapers about how Madrid was treating him “like a dog”. Hey, Nic, if they were treating you like a dog they wouldn’t have suspended you — they would have put you to sleep!
Turd of the Week