Before you settle in to watch tonight's LIVE, streaming pre-season games from Arizona, head over to TheCrew.com for a LIVE stream of the “State of the League” conversation from 6:00-8:00 PM with MLS Commissioner Don Garber alongside Columbus Crew Owner Clark Hunt and Crew President & GM Mark McCullers.
Have a question the commissioner? Ask him via Twitter using the hashtag #Crew96. Make sure to follow the Columbus Crew on Twitter for further updates.
Watch the "State of the League" here.
Admit it: You can’t stand noobs. They’re always just a little too quick to pull out the over-the-top display of enthusiasm for whatever it is they don’t know how to do.
This week’s episode of IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia highlights the problem with newbies when Peter and Nance, an eccentric, overly eco-conscious couple played by the show’s stars — Saturday Night Live mainstay Fred Armisen and indie rock veteran Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney) — go to their first Portland Timbers game with a flag they designed to show their support for the team.
Yes, it is as tragic and funny as you imagine.
“It’s funny and weird because I’m not usually a sports person and I don’t live in Portland but I love Portland,” Armisen said when reached via phone last week.
“One of the things I love about it is that it reminds me of England a little bit, and the fact that they like soccer there as much as they do just makes it seem that much more vaguely European. We had to get them in the show somehow.“
He’s not saying that the wild passion of JELD-WEN Field’s section 107 is a put-on, though.
“It’s not an affectation, they really do love it,” Armisen said. “When we first met the people from the Timbers Army we knew it was a very real thing.”
Brownstein, a Washington native who now lives in Portland, testified to the region’s well-documented fervor over football.
“When I was a kid I went to Sounders games in Seattle, where I grew up, and I played soccer. I think for everyone in the Pacific Northwest it’s the obligatory sport you play.”
Like the character she plays in the episode, which airs Feb. 24 at 10 pm ET, Brownstein has yet to see the Timbers in action.
“I haven’t been to a game [in Portland] yet, but when we shot the episode it made me want to go,“ she says. ”Portlanders are eager for communal experiences and the Timbers are perfect for that. “
“Also the singing is really great, even just at the shoot. It’s all pretty intriguing so I really want to go.”
Armisen and Brownstein aren’t the only comedy titans taken with what’s going on in JELD-WEN’s North End.
“[Saturday Night Live creator] Lorne Michaels read that article in The New York Times about them,” said Armisen, “It was funny because he was immediately fascinated by them.”
This week’s show won’t be the Portlandia debut for a few members of the TA though, as they were cast for the “Allergy Pride” sketch that aired earlier in the season.
“If you watch the parade, they’re the Soy Punks,” Armisen said. “They were perfect for it because they were so good at shouting and shouting angrily.”
The Philadelphia Union -- in particular, manager Peter Nowak -- have taken a few hits this offseason. Understandly so, considering some of the messy player transactions, such as the sudden flight of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and the bizarre Sebastien Le Toux situation. I'm still not clear whether Le Toux was forced to go to Bolton or if he just failed and tried to pass the buck. Either way, he's with Vancouver now.
This all comes on the heels of a late overseas training stint for Danny Mwanga, Kyle Nakazawa's trade to LA, Veljko Paunovic's retirement, and the loss of Justin Mapp in the expansion draft. Plus, don't forget the explanations given by Nowak about Carlos Ruiz's transfer to Mexico.
But there has to be a method to the madness, right? Nowak seems sure. He tweeted this out on Monday in response to a fan's question:
“@Doug_Cutaiar: "I don't need details. Can you just assure me you guys know what you're doing with these moves this off season?” Yes.
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 14, 2012
That response -- "Yes" -- is so perfect. So simple. So Nowakian.
Lest any of the second-guessers forget, Nowak and the Union are still on the correct trajectory for a club born just two years ago. That is, in Year 2, they improved over Year 1, and even made the playoffs.
So despite the departures and the confusing aftermaths, at some point, everyone needs to have a little faith and give Nowak the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's succeeded everywhere he's been. And so far, he's succeeding in Philly.
It's been a frustrating few days for Union fans.
As has been well documented here at MLSsoccer.com, Philadelphia parted ways with 2011 stalwarts Faryd Mondragon and Sébastien Le Toux this week. From the very start, neither move went over particularly well – a massive understatement – within the club's core fanbase, which has been making plenty of noise online and elsewhere in the wake of losing their offensive and defensive MVPs from last season.
Particularly frustrating for MLS fans in the city of Brotherly Love was the way Le Toux characterized his treatment by the club. The Union's reponse was simple: They are building for the future and Le Toux was in the final year of his contract. The trade was simply a calculated business move with Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney waiting for their time to shine.
The following tidbit from manager Peter Nowak didn't exactly endear him to fans attached to Le Toux, though – “feelings are not included in my job description.”
Feelings are certainly a large part of Union fans' job description, however, and they've apparently been giving Nowak an earful (monitor full?) on Twitter today.
So much so that Nowak felt compelled to clear the air a little bit. The following tweets are Nowak's response Wednesday afternoon. Clearly, some people are having a hard time keeping their emotions in check.
I understand why everyone is upset , but please have faith we're doing what's best for the club. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 1, 2012
I do ask that you please stop sending curses to my Twitter account . My daughters and family read them and it is crossing a line. Thank you
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 1, 2012
Did you watch the live broadcast of the 2012 All Star game press conference yesterday? Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz was absolutely beaming.
And why not? After all the guy did play a pivotal role in bringing soccer to Philly, even funding the first four months of the endeavor on his personal Amex card, so you'd expect that he'd be as happy as an unmarked forward in the 18 yd-box.
But what about the fans? How do the Philadelphia faithful feel about the league's summer showcase coming to town?
"It's going to be fantastic," says Liverpool native and Son of Ben Mark Jenkinson. "It's great that they're all starting to take place in purpose-built stadiums."
Now knowing where Jenkinson hails from you will be in no way shocked to learn who his choice of dream ASG opponent is.
"Obviously Liverpool," he offers with a laugh, "or any really top-tier club. I'd really like to see East v. West again though. It may not have the draw of playing against a Real Madrid but it's definitely in the spirit of what an All Star game is all about."
He's not alone in his desire to see Liverpool trade in the Mersey for the Delaware River.
"I'd love to see Liverpool, Barcelona of course. Pretty much anyone except Manchester United."
Those are the words of Union fan Kelly Christine Delaney who is something of an all-inclusive All Star game fan.
"I was at the NBA All-Star game when it was in Philadelphia, I was at the MLB All Star game when it was at Veteran's Stadium and I'll be at the NBA All Star game again this year," says Delaney. "It's fun. They always feel like a Harlem Globetrotters game, even the baseball one, because there's a lot of showboating and everyone is there to have a good time. At the end of the night I can go home without being upset whether we won or lost."