The Clean Sheet: A Planet LA primer

so you may want to make early dinner reservations.

FOOD: There are tons of people out here who enjoy all the wonderful vegetarian restaurants, those who treat their bodies like temples and delight in the plethora of eateries that serve the very best in tofu pies and bean cakes.

Thank god for those wackos, because they keep the lines at the burger joints from being too long. With apologies to my man Tex on the new FC Dallas logo, Planet LA is home to some of the best burgers in the country. Your first stop is In'N'Out: Get yourself a double-double animal style with fries well done and a shake, and then sit back and enjoy a party in your mouth ... and the totally-worth-it subsequent bout of indigestion and heartburn.

If you decide you want to try someplace else for your next red meat fix, hit Fatburger, where they will put just about anything you want on the burger, and if you super-size it they throw in a free angioplasty. But if you're in a rush, just hit Carl's Jr. -- they put the onion rings right on the burger ... and you just can't coach that.

TRAFFIC: I usually cruise around in the Palace Chopper, but I understand the commoners who must drive cars get stuck in a spot of bother from time to time. Kidding aside, I have discovered a great hobby of mine here in L.A., where the mantra is "He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins." I jump in the dilapidated Palace Chevy and get on the highway, find the nicest cars out there ... and cut 'em off. They may shoot you afterwards, but watch how quick they get out of the way before they do!

THE MEDIA: Yes, they tend to lean a little bit one way out here, but what do you expect in a town that is run by Hollywood? At least you can usually tell where they are coming from, as was the case recently from L.A. Times footie writer Grahame Jones, whose Liverpool side is readying for a crushing defeat this weekend at the hands of Europe-bound Crystal Palace.

Jones opined about the Galaxy's sacking of Sigi Schmid, calling it, "the most spectacularly boneheaded move of the MLS season." Yes, never any drama out here, is there?

OTHER SPORTS: With no NFL team here and the hockey season, a-hem, on ice, thank the Lord for the Lakers. You know the Lakers, the team with Kobe Bryant and a bunch of other guys so unknown they could be the Kansas City Wizards ...

On the other hand, you can personally thank AEG for the wonderful billboards you may see around town featuring tennis starlet and super-babe Maria Sharapova to promote this week's WTA Championships at Staples Center. I know she's not quite, exactly, uh, 18 yet, but I almost drove off the side of the road the first time I saw the billboard. The ads have the Wimbledon champ reclining against a tennis net, clearly dreaming about having an In'N'Out burger with me after she turns 18.

THE PALACE PALACE: If you make it up to posh Brentwood, you can see three prominent star homes in a very small radius: the place where the O.J. stuff happened, the house where Monica Lewinsky's parents live, and the huge estate owned by none other than your old pal Tino, the Queen of the Palace and the Palace Pooch.

The neighborhood is very safe, as O.J. is out combing the streets all the time looking for the real killer ... just don't get caught in the crossfire of the heated rivalry going on between neighbors Jim Belushi and Julie Newmar (Catwoman from the old "Batman" show) up the street. They are in a doozy which has featured everything from egg throwing to a $4 million harassment lawsuit. True story. Gotta love L.A.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: The Los Angeles area is home to several very prominent universities and academic institutions, as well as USC. At these schools you have many good looking young men and women passionately adopting major causes, such as the TCS-supported mandate that MLS change the name of its championship game beginning next season to MLS Cup X and use roman numerals going forward.

PLASTIC SURGERY: I'm not saying most people out here have work done starting at pretty young ages, but this month McDonald's has a promo giving out a little serving of Botox in their Happy Meals.

CELEBS: Yes, if you hang out on Planet LA, you will inevitably see some faces you recognize from television ... you know, the opposite of the guys on the Kansas City Wizards.

NIGHTLIFE: Yeah, there is a seriously hot scene out here ... unfortunately I am the last person to know exactly where that is (or what that even means). However, I do know that if you see some guy on a table, playing an air guitar and ripping his clothes off, do not call the cops ... that's just Max Bretos. And if you see some other guy trying to stuff one dollar bills in Max's jeans while he's dancing on the table ... that's just Greg Lalas.

DAY TRIPS: Two words: Vegas, baby. Either by a quick flight or a five-hour drive each way, you can get to and from Sin City in a day and have plenty of time when you're there to get in a few tournaments of Texas Hold 'Em and lay down $1,000 on Dema to get red-carded in the Cup Final.

***

THE NEWS: What a contrast the two Conference Championship Games were, and what an interesting final they set up.

TCS SAYS: Frankly, at times I thought the Kansas City-Los Angeles game was one of the worst played of the season. There were stretches where neither team could string together three passes, which just again shows how Kansas City can seemingly find ways to win under most any circumstances.

On the other hand, are you kidding me with that D.C.-Revs game? Let me first off say thank you to the New England Revolution for really coming to play. If they played like that more often, man would they be fun to watch, although we'd of course miss out on their annual mad dash to sneak into the playoffs.

Anyway, I'll leave the expert analysis on the Championship Game to the guys who know what they're talking about, but I do have a few thoughts:

  • In the previous eight MLS Cup Finals, by my count the team that scores first is 6-2. Know what that means? Absolutely nothing, but it says here the team that scores first Sunday will indeed win the match, just looking at the way these two teams play.

  • This really is the league's best offense against the league's best defense isn't it? That's kinda fun. (I know the Metros technically scored the most goals in the league during the regular season, but they also gave up a league-record 147 in 30 matches, so that doesn't really count.)

  • This one could come down to goalkeeping, and no matter who plays for K.C., the Wizards have a decided advantage in this category.

  • OK, I joke every week (and several times already in this column) about the no-name Wizards, but this is a talented bunch that has been the most consistent (and best coached) team in MLS this season.

  • Here's a guy you maybe haven't heard much about who you should watch on Sunday: Jack Jewsbury. The rookie out of Saint Louis is a busy midfielder and came on nicely at the end of the season ... whoever he is.

    Predictions, predictions ... I know, I know. OK, here you go:

  • Dema will kick someone. Hard. Might be an opponent, might be a teammate, might be national anthem singer Ricky Fante.

  • Bob Gansler might wear shorts.

  • If you haven't seen him play lately, you will be shocked at how spry Jaime Moreno looks.

  • At least one MLS team marketing exec will end up with a lampshade on his head at a pre-MLS Cup social event.

  • And just for the heck of it: Kansas City 2, D.C. United 1.

    THE NEWS: Colorado sacks Tim Hankinson.

    TCS SAYS: No shock here.

    THE NEWS: The Quakes will be back in San Jose next season with Dominic Kinnear at the helm once again.

    TCS SAYS: No shock here.

    THE NEWS: Mexico national team coach Ricardo La Volpe has threatened to quit for the fourth time in almost as many months, according to Reuters.

    TCS SAYS: No shock here.

    THE NEWS: The evil dictators at MLSnet.com have asked the columnists to file some little online postcards from the MLS Cup festivities this week, creating some extra work for your old pal Tino.

    TCS SAYS: Say what, now?

    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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