Major Link Soccer: Short-staffed Timbers, Omar Withdraws

You won't see Johnson or Powell take the field this weekend. - Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

And while we look ahead to match-ups against our two most historic rivalries, The Galaxy must decide whether their own rivals are really rivals.

Sounders

Fredy Montero's hot start has not gone unnoticed in the upper echelons of world soccer. As mentioned in yesterday's Diplomats article, the former Sounders striker has attracted interest from Valencia and Malaga, A promotion like that would give him a good chance to get some World Cup looks, even if he wouldn't necessarily be first team for either side.

In preparation for today's match, the Vancouver Sun caught up with Adrian Hanauer, poking his brain on life as a GM of the "most successful sports expansion in history".

Washington was one of two states to identify with Soccer as the sport of choice for the entire region by Slate.com (Is that Shalrie?). Their map is a fascinating one, allowing only one level of each sport to identify with one of the 50 states. As for the other soccer-playing state... I have no inside knowledge on the accuracy. The alternate choice was rowing, which makes a lot of sense given UW's history. However, I can't help but think that perhaps there is an alternate history where pro basketball is the choice (it isn't represented anywhere else on the map. Sorry NBA!).

MLS

It took three years, but a bet between the hosts of The Brotherly Game and Black and Red United has finally been settled. At the time, the two men made a gamble: the winner of the next trophy would host the loser's site for a day. With Black and Red United's unlikely Open Cup victory, TBG became a hive of scum and villainy for 24 hours. See the hilarious fallout here. I actually didn't mind those flesh-colored jerseys...

While the Sounders prepare to face their two closest foes, the LA Galaxy are coming off their most recent beating of Chivas USA wondering if it's even worth getting up for the "Superclassico" anymore. This is exactly why rivalries are better when the teams involved are good. Sure, you may wish for Portland to lose every game they play, but what fun would taunting them be if they were just a punching bag? Arguing with punching bags gets you sent to mental institutions, and they never show "Psych" when you want them to.

Speaking of rivals, the Timbers will be short a few players when they host the Sounders this weekend. Ryan Johnson (not the jerkier one), Rodney Wallace and Alvas Powell will all be off with their national teams, though Donovan Ricketts is staying behind. While those guys leave, Omar Gonzalez returns to the Galaxy to receive treatment. Gonzalez took a hip knock against Chivas and thought it wasn't a big deal at the time.

Those familiar with Bull Durham may know the character "Crash Davis". I'm ashamed to say that even as a lifelong baseball fan, I have not seen Bull Durham. Regardless, Crash Davis is a monster in baseball's minor leagues, approaching the record for most home runs hit in pro ball outside of "The Show". Waking the Red equates that to Landon Donovan's imminent breaking of the all-time MLS goal-scoring record. To which there may be some merit. However, the world of soccer is a poor comparison to Major League Baseball for many reasons. There are so many more players, and no single league is clearly the dominant force in the sport. Donovan would have been a tree in the forest had he played in England or Spain. He almost certainly would never have come close to breaking goal-scoring records. However, as easy as he is to dislike, he did do a lot of good for MLS and the American game by staying here. The record is a fitting tribute to what he may have sacrificed by not going overseas.

Longtime Spurs keeper Brad Friedel is sniffing around about the vacant Columbus Crew coaching job, but he'll have to fight the interim manager for the right.

World

The United States occupies an unusual position in world soccer. Frequently, deciding what Nationality you play for is as simple as looking at the "Place of Birth" line on your Birth Certificate. More frequently than most other countries, players will pick other countries despite being born here, or play for us instead of another. The former is true here as Steve Beitashour will likely play for Iran in the Asian Cup after receiving and accepting a call-up. Both his parents were born in the Middle-Eastern country.

On a similar note, it's not always easy to explain to soccer newbies how a player from one country can play for a club team halfway across the world. It's an intricacy someone would do well to explain to Haitian President Michel Martelly, who called Haitian National Teamers playing abroad "intruders". Seems he's got it backwards.

The Major League Baseball playoffs kicked off last week about the same time as the NHL dropped it's first puck, but more people are watching Mexican Soccer. 4.2 million people tuned in for Club America vs Chivas de Guadalajara, making for the biggest disparity in interest between two closely affiliated clubs ever (Chivas USA).

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