Here at Major League Soccer Talk, we strive to provide the best services to all of our MLS-loving patrons. As fans ourselves, we know that you’re looking at the schedule and saying to yourself, “Do we really need this two week NFL-style break?” The answer is emphatically, “Yes, we do.”
After those quadriceps-damaging Brad Davis tackles (his own quad, mind you), post-splintering Beckerman lasers, and of course Robbie Keane’s lovely impression of Ozzie Smith after a night of intense drinking, we all need a chance to catch our collective breath. This has been a whirlwind of a ride through three rounds of playoff mayhem, and we definitely need 14 full days for our minds to be unblown (and the couch sores to heal).
We are well aware that this is a FIFA Weekend, and that MLS could certainly earn the Swiss Stinkeye if they happened to schedule their pivotal match on November 13th (since MLS never schedules matches on FIFA weekends). To this author, it does seem unbalanced to pack 50 lbs. of soccer into a 35 lb. bucket (or 4 matches in 11 days for a Wild Card participant, had either made it to a Sunday Conference Final), and then have fans sit around for two weeks hoping to remember which teams actually made the MLS Cup Final when the day finally arrives. We don’t even have a sniff of prime-time soccer from the US Men’s National Team this weekend, as they play weekday afternoon matches on the European continent.
So this leaves many of us wondering, “Mr. Garber, what can I do with myself without soccer for two weeks?” And I won’t postulate what The Soccer Don would respond, because the Gaffer let the retainer slide from the last time. Nevertheless, I painstakingly sat down on my couch (ouch, those sores…) and put together my own suggestions for you, as a friend who will also be craving that ultimate showdown come Sunday evening. This is my official, “List Of Things To Occupy Your Time On Sunday, November 13th When The Soccer Jones Gets Real Bad.” I know this will enlighten you, and if it doesn’t, then I hope by the time you’ve digested this list it will be time to flip over to ESPN for the big match.
– As shown above, twiddling thumbs can be a very engaging exercise. From my (very) cursory search, it appears there is no official world record yet for thumb twiddling. I’d recommend holding off until Sunday; for one thing, carpal tunnel is not fun, and if you started now, MLS Talk’s health insurance only pays out on the second Sunday of every month (and even at that, the deductible makes Keane’s salary seem reasonable).
– You could occupy yourself by joining the Occupy movement in your closest city. Be careful: you might get wrapped up in the whole Bohemian atmosphere. All of the sudden, you’ll realize that November 20th has passed. On the other hand, you may find some other footie lovers to help, well, “occupy” the time.
– You could watch the NFL. It can sometimes seem that MLS wants this outcome, especially since MLS Cup is scheduled for 30 minutes after the beginning of the Philadelphia-NY Giants grudge match. I mean, you have this time period between 7 PM and 8:30 PM where NOTHING is scheduled on Sunday night except a bunch of windbags on 60 Minutes. But hey, let’s make sure the NFL game gets started before MLS Cup, just so that anyone who may have flipped through and stumbled upon the match will already be settled on the biggest NFL game of the day. Take it for what it’s worth.
– You could listen to the latest MLS Talk Podcast. I should have put this first, but I didn’t want to seem too shameless in my plug for Chris and Chris. The pod this week has a full recap of the entire MLS Playoffs up to this point, with some expert analysis…and of course some fun as well.
– Shovel the snow off your walk. Yes, it’s weather dependent. If this works though, maybe I’ll have license to pursue that career in meteorology after all.
– Write an article about what people should do during the awkward two week hiatus.
– Sign up for Twitter and spam random people with links to virus sites. Not that I think this is particularly exhilarating, but it seems like one or two of these types of accounts mentions me every week. Whatever floats your boat.
– And if all else fails, do what the MLS players do: fall down, grab your knee, and writhe around until the referee (or your significant other) tires of your less-than-convincing play-acting. Wash, rinse, repeat.
OK, so maybe this is all a tad absurd. Heck, if MLS had finished up play a week earlier, MLS Cup could have been played yesterday and we’d all be speculating where Posh will bed down come January.
The two week break is agonizing. The NFL can get away with a lag because of the media circus; even then, most reporters, players, coaches, and fans think it is too long between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. MLS doesn’t have that depth of exposure to the general public. ESPN halfheartedly put a link at the bottom of the list on the front page about the Galaxy reaching the Cup Final. In an 18-day stretch, MLS could have had an entire 10 team playoff extravaganza. In my mind it would have been a clinic on a concise, fair way to decide a champion. Instead, it will have been nearly a month since the final regular season game, and at this point a number of the less ardent fans will have long-since ignored the whole process.
As far what I’ll be doing Sunday, I started my Twiddle Training yesterday. The two-a-days are unbearable. I’m hoping that in 2012 this week off is history, and I’ll be able to raise my bulked-up thumb in approval.