The Clean Sheet: Did you say 'Utes'?

the Internet is our talk radio -- and it is true. Unfortunately by that comparison, my column is about as buzz-worthy as the overnight farm report, but that's another story for another time.

With the announcement behind you now, all the attention from the fans around the country will quickly focus on your team name and logo, your venue, your coach and players, and everything else that goes into throwing together a soccer team in the short time you have.

Soccer fans are a passionate bunch, so they will be outspoken about their opinions on all of these issues. Really outspoken. You know, not that you ever had to deal with any of that as head of the Knicks.

But to be honest right now, I don't care if you name the team the Utah Canker Sorzz and hire Kenneth Lay as your new general manager. Heck, you can have all the players wear those little John Stockton shorts and call the team the Great Salt Lake Wedgies for all I care.

The bottom line is your investment should make everyone stop for a moment and look at the big picture. Your addition to the league is a shot in the arm for soccer supporters around the country on several levels, but the main reason is simple: You are betting your time, money, and reputation that Major League Soccer is truly a business with tremendous upside.

The great thing is -- you are not alone. After MLS announces next week (probably, maybe, likely) that Jorge Vergara will put his team in Los Angeles, the stage will be set for a 2005 league in which 25% of the teams will be owned by money new to the league in the last couple years.

In addition, with new money in Seattle ready for 2006 and other markets such as Rochester not far behind, suddenly MLS has left any doubts about its immediate future in the rear view mirror. MLS is an entity multiple communities and investors are looking at as a good buy, and there can be no stronger commentary on the state of the league.

So with that, on behalf of all soccer fans, I would just like to say thank you. And now - you may want to go get to work.

Anyway, I very much look forward to analyzing your every move, from the great choices you will make to the ones you may regret -- such as the talk I already hear about you considering signing Mark Eaton as your first goalkeeper. We should talk about that one before you pull the trigger.

Yours in soccer,

Tino Palace

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: With one wave of their wand, Kansas City earned me 125 to bring me back up to even on the season. Thank you, whoever you guys are.
CURRENT BANK: 0
THIS WEEK: Let's go 50 on the Quakes to sort themselves out and 50 on the Fire (with or without Run DMB) to bounce back against Metro.

MLSNET.com COLUMNIST LOCKS OF THE WEEK: Okay, you guys asked for it, so now you're getting it - every week the MLSnet.com 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: I know Hard C spent time at the adidas ESP last week, but ESP is something he obviously doesn't have - as evidenced by his 4-10 mark. Oh, I kid because I care ...

STANDINGS:

Lalas -- 8-6

Palace -- 6-8

Bradley -- 5-9

Connolly -- 4-10

THIS WEEK:

Bradley: TBA

Hard C: TBA

Tino: Kansas City-Dallas draw

Lalas: D.C. over Los Angeles

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

WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

Saturday - RAPIDS AT QUAKES (4 p.m. ET on The Deuce): OK, San Jose, enough of this already.

Saturday - GALAXY AT UNITED (7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports World): If I'm The Commish, I absolutely would have put Freddy on the All-Star team, too. However, I just wonder how that's gonna play in the D.C. locker room?

FLICK-ONS:

Anyone notice it was an Adidas jersey The Commish and Checketts were holding at the Wednesday presser? Does that mean they will be wearing the three stripes?

I hear the Italian supporters in Salt Lake City are pushing for the team to wear red and black vertical stripes. That way when they play the regional derby with Mile High Club, it will look just like AC Milan vs. Inter.

According to the 2000 Census, Utah had the highest average number of people per family at 3.57. The census also notes that traditionally high levels of fertility contributed to the high averages. Maybe they should name the team the Utah Swimmerzz?

Speaking of, Victoria Beckham and her spouse pulled out of their scheduled appearance on Leno last week due to a vacation in Morocco.

Quick thought on that fancy Celo-strator or whatever it was called during the US-Poland game last Sunday: The Queen of the Palace loved it because she got to see 17 Landons on the field at once, but I kinda felt like I was watching soccer while sitting in an Amsterdam coffee house. You know, if I actually had ever been to an Amsterdam coffee house ...

Speaking of Marcelo Balboa, I did catch up with Mark Cuban at the ABC soiree the other night (he's psyched about his new show, "The Benefactor"). Anyway, he had good things to say both about his broadcasters and soccer as an HDNet property going forward.

Despite Drew Barrymore signing on to star in the movie, I am boycotting the American adaptation of Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch." In case you hadn't heard, they are changing it to be about a Red Sox fan. At least Arsenal won something once in a while ...

Headline on MLSnet.com following Metro's 2-0 win over San Jose last week: "Clean sheet lifts Walker's spirits." Recent headline on ussocceruk.com: "Bradley thankful for clean sheet." Hey, glad I could help.

The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs. Send any questions and comments to tcsresponses@yahoo.com


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