Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"CopaMLS 2009" Just Sounds a Little Strange

"I'm just indifferent right now."

"I hate it, even when our kids are playing it."

"Can we turn the station or are you trying to get me to fall asleep?"

You'd think I was torturing my wife when I turned on the 2009 MLS Cup.  For those of you who are new to the scene, the MLS is the soccer (football) league that David Beckham keeps trying to escape to play for AC Milan, even though he's being paid $25 million dollars a year by the Americans.  Even my promise that the said Beckham was going to be prominently involved only stirred mild disinterest and a yawn.  I guess I was the only one who grew up in the 1970's so desperate for sports (pre-cable) that I would watch English soccer (football) on PBS on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Well personally, I like soccer.  And the MLS desperately wants to be liked.  With names like DC United, Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo, one gets the sense that it tries to emulate Champions League soccer, but comes across as a bastard stepchild instead.  And what the hell is Club Depotivo Chivas USA?  Well, the MLS caught a huge break when Beckham's L.A. Galaxy made the final game, the CopaMLS 2009 against Real Salt Lake.  We decided to watch.  For as long as I could before I had to turn the station.

8:30pm.  Julie Foudy, the soccer analyst who broke down the unfortunate Elizabeth Lambert situation by explaining that soccer was rough and hairpulling was a part of the game, started the telecast by explaining that she'd rather "live on her feet, than die on her knees."  I suppose she's right about that, but it doesn't make me any less scared that she might pull a knife on me if I say a cross word to her.  The other pregame highlight was watching my wife swoon over Beckham.  "They should just have a camera on him all game to keep my interest," "Hi David.  That's what the sign said, not me," "It's probably too cold for Posh Spice, but he shouldn't be left alone with those metallic girls."  I mean she's talking gibberish now she's so feverish.   Luckliy for all of us, the game begins.

14'  Oh my.  Beckham, going for the tackle, runs headlong into Javier Morales' knee.  He starts writhing around in pain.  As is usual with soccer, it took us about 10 minutes for us to finally believe that he's actually, really hurt.

28'  It took 28 minutes for a real scoring chance to emerge as Beckham bended a corner kick to one of his teammates who proceeded to head the ball on to the top of the goal.  Now this reminds me, one thing that drives me crazy about soccer is the complete disregard for possession.  Whenever a goalie has a goal kick or kicks it with possession, he always appears to be more concerned about getting it downfield as far as possible, rather than trying to get the ball to a teammate.  Now I've only coached 6 year old soccer, but I've never seen a real scoring chance from the goalie kicking the ball as far downfield as possible; throw the ball to a teammate 20 feet away!

41'  YEAH!  The first goal by some guy named Mike Magee.  Assists go to Beckham and the league MVP, Landon Donovan.  I'm rooting for LA to do well, just so I can keep this on rather than Desperate Housewives.

47'  After what was called a 50/50 challenge (whatever that means), the Galaxy's goalie and a Real Salt Lake Forward dive into each other and fall to the ground.  I remark (to myself as it turns out) that this guy got kneed in the nether region, but it turns out that he hurt is hand (Are you kidding me? It looked like he got shot!).

63'  The Goalie, still reeling from his devastating hand injury, lets in an easy goal to Ronnie Findley of Real Salt Lake.  We learn that Findley was traded to Real Salt Lake by the Galaxy a couple of years ago and that this is a perfect revenge goal.  On another note, is there a city in the United States that could be less suited for a name like "Real" than Salt Lake City?  Names like "Fundamentalists" or "Teetotalers" would have been more appropriate than "Real."

79'  We see our first shot of Victoria Beckham.  She looks cold and miserable.  Insert your own joke here, you don't need me.

The next 45 minutes of play included a lot of unremarkable and sloppy play.  After regulation and overtime, the score remained 1-1.  Now comes the interesting part - Penalty Kicks. 

After the requisite announcer build up, Beckham scores the first goal quite easily and in fact the first 4 goals were scored pretty easily.  I just wish the goalies came out of the net screaming at the kicker to throw him off his game.  But wait, just as I'm thinking that, the goalies come through as Rimando and Saunders both make thrilling diving saves back to back.  Then Donovan, again the MVP of the league, kicks it over the net.  Beckham meanwhile, we learn later, wanted to go first so he could spend the rest of the time sitting on the bench brushing up on his Italian.

The tension builds as Saunders needs to make a save against Real Salt Lake to continue the season...and Yes, he dives to his left and makes the save!  Ah, but it wasn't meant to be as Real Salt Lake scored on their seventh chance after the Galxy missed their 7th chance.

Pigpile ensues.  After I turned the game off, I felt that everyone left reasonably happy.  I saw a pretty good game, my wife saw her stud and the MLS got its best ratings ever.  Maybe she'll even go to a Revolution game next year.  Or maybe she'll tell me to go to a game on a Friday or Saturday night, since she has to work those days.  Either way, I think we'll end up going.

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