Tuesday, March 23, 2010

There will be soccer

Talk about being out of pocket on the wrong weekend.

While I took a brief hiatus from the laptop, the League and the players union reached terms on a new CBA that would run through 2014. And wouldn't you know? I actually thought that Bob Foose should've been canned. How embarrassing.

Obviously, this is fantastic news. We no longer need to worry about whether ESPN would broadcast replacement Sounders vs. replacement Union* or defer to a replay of the World Series of Poker Tournament or simply stream an endless loop of that waterskiing squirrel.

(*The tsunami of irony behind a club named "the Union" fielding replacement players is just too much for this blog to handle. It would be tantamount to casting "Biggest Loser" alumni for "America's Next Top Model.")

The players seem happy about it. Of course, the League is happy about it. It ceded alot less than what the players were asking for, at least publicly. But you know who's really happy about it?


For a split second - okay, maybe a few minutes - I feared that any work stoppage hit the kill switch on what promised to be a very big year for American soccer. I was definitely scurred. Twenty-ten had all the makings of such a year: the World Cup, a healthy sixteen-team league, a world-class women's league, and home-grown Americans left and right lighting up the EPL. And I thought any interruption would be disastrous.

Fortunately, my fears - along with the fears of many others - were eased once the news came down that an agreement had been reached. Cue Van Halen's "Jump."*

(*I have absolutely no idea why this particular song popped into my head while I finished the sentence previous. I'm not even much of a VH fan. Don't get me wrong - it's a decent "feel good" song and all, but there are tons of those around. Why "Jump?" I just don't know. All I know is that I'm 28-years-old and I'm STILL wondering how many licks it actually takes to get to the Tootsie center of a Tootsie Pop.)

It's fascinating. Some people talk about the 1950s as the golden age of baseball. And others cite the 1960s as the golden age of football. Well, right now, Americans are witnessing the golden age of soccer. No doubt about it. And I suspect that it's only dawn. The naysayers of American soccer are becoming harder to hear. Fourteen of MLS's 16 clubs either have soccer-specific stadia or have firm plans to build one. WPS, unafraid to render fresh ideas,* appears primed to succeed in ways that WUSA once dreamt of.

(*Its playoff format - the tablewinner gets an automatic bid to the championship match - as well as its recently-introduced "pick 'em" order for its All-Star game are just two such examples of the refreshing outside-the-box thinking that every sports league would be wise to imitate.)

In short, this weekend reminded all of us of one thing: it's a wonderful time to be an American soccer fan.

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