Stop Believin'

Okay, apparently I have to once again settle the conspiracy idea.

Los Angeles hosts MLS Cup three count em EDIT – oops, four – times. Twice, Galaxy makes the semifinal, loses twice. Third time, Galaxy out in first round after giving up the worst comeback in soccer history. Fourth time, Galaxy misses the playoffs entirely, Chivas USA bounced in the first round.

Two years in a row, Blanco bounced out in the semifinals.

Two years running before this season, Beckham bounced out of the playoffs in the final game.

This year, Seattle is allowed to leave the playoffs without a single goal (presumably, we're aware that a Sounders-hosted Cup would have sold out in, like, two minutes).

When people say MLS isn't Serie A….yeah, it sure isn't.

And now, the State of the League as delivered by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

Fine, so it's not going THAT well. But you gotta think The D is pretty happy, and not simply because Bruce, Landon, Gregg and the gang carried Beckham's dead ass to Seattle. Unless the Sounders are a shell game that would make Enron blush, the expansion team is an amazing success.

(Oh. Quick note to Sounders fans tired of being ragged on by your new MLS buddies – that's a sign that your team is successful. Also, Supporters Summits notwithstanding, the proper state of one club's fans to another ranges from toleration to sneering contempt. It's not personal. It shows we're paying attention. Embrace it.)

As far as I can tell, worries about Portland are going to end up like worries about South Africa hosting the World Cup (GOD, I hope that doesn't end up being a horrible example). Playing in Chester doesn't seem to have hurt the momentum of the Phunions*. I haven't heard a discouraging word about Vancouver. And while Garber was too politic to mention it, how's that whole USL as alternative to MLS domination thing coming along?

A lot of the reaction to the call focused on the potential work stoppage. Beau has a good summary here.

I agree with Garber that talk of a strike is premature, but mostly because I think, ITTET, the players are almost totally screwed.

I hope Eddie Pope and the gang have a better grasp on the realities than I do, because here's kind of how I expect negotiations to go.

"Give us more dough or we walk."

"Have fun getting a job."

Just because Beckham and Blanco have made more money for the league, it absolutely does not follow that the mere mortals who make MLS games possible will be trickled down upon…at least, in the financial sense. If the league's international superduperstars like Beckham, Blanco and Angel stand resolutely with MLS, then the players have a ghost whisper of a chance…but betting on David Beckham's solidarity with MLS players seems like a longshot.

The fans would have to be resolute in supporting the players, too, making the threat of fielding Fake Sounders, Fake Galaxy and Fake Union teams empty. But betting on fan support for a labor stoppage in sports is risky indeed – even though the players in this case are clearly not overpaid and spoiled, there's the sense that they are, after all, being paid to play a game. That's above and beyond the simple fact that no one like's someone else's strike.

Then there's the inconvenient fact that it looks as if a lot of USL or indoor guys will be hanging around the pool halls looking for something to do next summer. It's gonna take a lot of playings of the Dropkick Murphys version of "Which Side Are You On?" to keep a flood of Clyde Simms off the practice fields.

This is way, way premature, though. I think Garber's tetchiness about this is simply down to us not talking about how wonderful things are going in American soccer.

So what if attendance is down? We'll just keep expanding, and the new teams will carry the old. Always worked before.

*Pronounced, of course, Funyons. "PU" as a mocking name will be played out before the Union even take the field, so I'm already trying to come up with alternatives.

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