The Clean Sheet: A Crew'd awakening

that the club did not want to spoil the weekend with the bad news. I have no idea if there was any truth to that, but you get the point.

Fast forward and the Crew is now undefeated in its last six, and more impressively has won four straight. Twelve points from four matches is a big deal, so full marks to the boys in C-bus for sorting things out. How about this - they are now in second place, only two points behind front-running Chicago ... and have a game in hand.

Now I have no idea how much of it is Andrulis, how much of it is the ball just bouncing their way, or how much of it is (former) Ohio State hoops coach Jimmy O'Brien secretly paying the Crew players win bonuses.

Whatever the motivation, fans in Columbus have gotta be more excited about this resurrection than Jeff Bradley is about the return of Joseph (don't call me Joey) Lawrence. Whoa!

THE NEWS: Get this -- AP is reporting that Greek side Akratitos, at one of their home games, gave water to visiting first-division soccer team Iraklis that was mixed with haloperidol, an anti-psychotic medication whose side effects can include dizziness, nausea or loss of coordination. The report says the players "apparently didn't drink the water, but they became suspicious and turned it over to police." Akratitos won 1-0, by the way.

TCS SAYS: A-ha! That's how the Crew turned things around!

THE NEWS: Quiz time. Ready?

Question: Vanuatu is ...

A) The last name of David, the new goalkeeper coach for the Revs.

B) The drug Courtney Love is on.

C) A group of islands in the South Pacific whose national team beat New Zealand, leading to the Kiwis getting bounced out of the World Cup.

TCS SAYS: Okay, the new Revs GK coach is David Vanole and who knows what Courtney Love is (or isn't) on, so the answer is C. Yup, little Vanuatu (who only the Boston Globe's Frank Dell'Apa would know used to be called New Hebrides -- he must've read it in Gazzetta dello Sport), did indeed beat New Zealand 4-2.

That result, followed by Australia somehow drawing with the soccer empire Solomon Islands actually helped knock the Kiwis out of World Cup qualifying. Yeah, by not winning, Australia helped get New Zealand bounced from the World Cup.

Now, I'm not saying the Aussies threw the game, but I hear Australian manager Frank Farina started his gardener and his mother-in-law as the two strikers.

The lesson in all of this for The Bruce? Just be careful this weekend. We all know I hate the silly FIFA World Rankings, but USA-Grenada is No. 9 vs. No. 138. Solomon Islands is now No. 130 and Vanuatu is No. 142. I'm sure the US will probably put up a touchdown this weekend, but New Zealand probably thought the same thing. Go end it early, boys.

THE NEWS: So, ya think TCS has no pull?

TCS SAYS: You don't need to be Oliver Stone to see that Jorge Vergara obviously reads your old pal Tino. A few days after my column about the positives of Chivas coming to Planet LA -- bam -- front page sports story by Grahame Jones in the Los Angeles Times saying Chivas indeed looks to be bound for The Home Depot Center.

Mr. Vergara, that one was on the house, but next time I charge you for the market research.

THE NEWS: Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa told a newspaper recently that going without sex during Euro 2004 is no big deal. "You can take it, it's really nothing extraordinary," he said. "If we had to stay here a month -- and that would be great because it would be a sign we were in the finals -- nobody would be desperate. No, we wouldn't really need any counseling."

TCS SAYS: Needless to say, Sabrosa is married with kids.

GRAB A COLD BUD (OR AQUAFINA) AND PUT YER FEET UP:

WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

In lieu of the regular games of the weekend, TCS is going to give you four first-round Euro 2004 matches you don't want to miss. Fox Sports World is airing five games live, the rest of them you either cough up for the PPV, go 'round to the pub, or convince the Queen of the Palace to let you come over to mine.

June 12: Portugal vs. Greece: First game of the tourney and all the pressure on the home side -- we know what tends to happen in the first game ...

June 13: France vs. Eng-er-land: Every punter in England is hoping for one thing: please, oh please, let Arsenal -- I mean France -- start Barthez in goal.

June 15: Germany-Holland: While this match-up has historically produced some crackers, the build-up is even better after the Germans got stuffed recently at home to Metro old boy Lothar Matthaus' Hungary.

June 18: Italy-Sweden: Italy is a popular pick to win the whole shootin' match, but Sweden is actually the seeded team here in Group C and always is tough to crack in big tournaments.

FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY:

I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy ... so every week TCS is gonna put a little action on the action, if you know what I'm talkin' about. Each week in this space we'll track how last week went and what's on the books, so to speak, for the upcoming week.

LAST WEEK: Broke even winning 100 on Chicago over D.C., but giving it back that night on L.A. losing to K.C.

CURRENT BANK: -450

THIS WEEK: These games are absolute crapshoots, as the most valuable possession this weekend may be a game program with so many players gone on international duty. That said, I'm going 50 each on a Colorado-D.C. draw and my Burn over the Revs.

MLSnet.com COLUMNIST LOCKS OF THE WEEK: Okay, you guys asked for it, so now you're getting it -- every week the MLSnet columnists are going to pick one lock of the week and we'll keep a running tally to see who actually knows what they are talking about. Late word is that The Commish was nice enough to offer a brand new Honda to the winner.

LAST WEEK: Lalas came through, big time. And not just because he picked the only winner again (he called Fire over Adunited, while Bradley and I lost on L.A. and Hard C had Metro).

The reason rookie gets the love is that when I was brainstorming for musical comebacks for my Andrulis bit, he came through with not only the ex-Skid Row front man in Bach, but also threw out some sweet ones like Kylie Minogue, Kiss, Cher and Neil Diamond. I know he was dying to add Deborah (don't call me Debbie) Gibson, but just didn't have the guts.

STANDINGS:

Lalas: 6-4

Connolly: 3-7

Palace: 3-7

Bradley: 2-8

THIS WEEK:

Bradley: Colorado over Kansas City

Hard C: Columbus, Kansas City tie

Tino: Dallas over New England

Lalas: Columbus over Kansas City

FLICK-ONS:

J. Lo got married again. I know -- shocker. She's gone through husbands this year like D.C. has gone through goalkeepers.

Speaking of 'keepers, Len Ziehm in Chicago reported that Benfica may not re-sign Zach Thornton. Obviously, Chicago seems to be all set at the position with the wonderful emergence of Henry Ring, but I wonder if ex-teammate Piotr Nowak wouldn't be interested if the big fella became available?

The ABN-AMRO bank in Holland issued a report that among other things noted, "Winning a tournament can boost consumer confidence in the victorious country, thus stimulating consumption, which in turn pushes up (gross domestic product)." Heck, if that's the case, a California team better win the U.S. Open Cup, these gas prices are killing me.

How about this story? So I'm at a theater last Sunday afternoon watching "Shrek 2" - go see it, it really is fun. Anyway, Eddie Murphy (ooh, there's another career resurrection, shoulda thought of that one earlier) has a great line and a row of little kids bursts out laughing and carrying on. Suddenly, some guy yells out, "BE QUIET!" Are you kidding me? The guy is at a kids' movie on a weekend afternoon and he's shushing some perfectly-well-behaved little kids for laughing too loud? Listen, pal, I know you're broken up about Claudio Ranieri's firing and all, but give the rest of us a break ...

Hey, Quakes defender Todd Dunivant is doing something really cool out in San Jose. Click here and see if you can't help a brother out.

The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.


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