The Clean Sheet: A quick study

Landon Donovan 55

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just to see if Chivas really does elicit that strong a response in this town. Before heading off to a morning of running errands and the likes, I threw on a Chivas jersey and set out to see what the day would bring.

To summarize: I was flicked off, whistled at, given the thumbs-up and honked at ... and that was just when I took the Palace Pooch for a walk before I left for the day. Seriously.

Here are a few highlights of my morning:

8 a.m. -- Went to the burrito truck that honks right outside my window every morning at 8 a.m. Who the heck eats burritos at 8 a.m.? Answer: only those smart enough to do so. I walk to the truck and the guy yells out, “Chivas Man, I get you burrito, free today 'cuz I like your shirt.” He then goes in the back of the truck for a minute and comes back out with a burrito. I smile and thank him and walk away.

Suddenly, I wondered if the burrito dude was actually a Club America supporter. It dawned on me the guy was in the back long enough to do things to my breakfast. The scene from “Road Trip” where the fat, sweaty waiter “warms up” the dork’s French toast popped into my head. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t ask where the chef put the bread to warm it up. I junk the burrito. Being a “Chivas Man” for a day could be tough, I’m gonna have to watch my back.

8:45 a.m. -- I get in the Palace Family Truckster to head out for some errands, which must begin by taking the world’s most annoying left turn out into the stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic. You can wait days just to get to make the left. It’s like waiting for a goal in a Crew-Wizards game. Then suddenly a car stops and the driver waves me out. The guy is wearing a Chivas hat, I swear on the Rothenberg trophy. I smile back and wave. This is getting strange.

9:30 a.m. -- I take my car into the shop to get it looked at. The guy who looks at my car casts an appreciative (I think) look at the jersey. He finishes looking at my car and says it looks good, the brakes just need to be tightened up a bit -- says he can do it quickly and have me on my way. Then it dawns on me: was that look appreciative or conniving? And suddenly he wants to “fix” my brakes? My mind cuts to me stamping on my severed brake pedal and slamming into the Krispy Kreme store across the street while the under-handed Club America supporters back in the garage howl in laughter. While the thought of regaining consciousness under a mountain of donuts is almost worth a head injury, I decide to take a pass on the brake “repair.”

11 a.m. -- I take the Palace Pooch for another walk. A car goes whizzing by and someone yells something as the car splashes a puddle all over me. Then I realize it hasn’t rained in L.A. for about 17 months. I really don’t want to know what that was. Home for a shower.

11:30 a.m. -- While walking to the grocery store in swanky Brentwood, a few girls whistled at me. Good looking ones. Wasn’t the Chivas jersey. Yup, happens all the time. Then one walked up to me and said something in Spanish and held out a piece of paper. I figure naturally she had recognized me from my language-barrier-traversing fame, so I catered to one of my many fans and took the paper and autographed it. Next thing I knew she launched into a verbal tirade as I realized I had just signed her map of celebrity homes and now she had no way of finding Lionel Richie’s house, which was all she had wanted help with. Not a high point for your old pal Tino -- time to lose the jersey. So that was a quick glance at my morning. I was honked at and whistled at so much just walking down the street I felt like Christie Brinkley walking by a construction site (before she had to resort to those infomercials, I’m talking pre-Billy Joel, back in the “Vacation” days). Then again, I don’t imagine she was flicked off by a bunch of angry-looking Mexican dudes very often.

Yeah, I was flicked off so often I felt like Jim Rome wearing a Mexican national team jersey walking into a Sam’s Army party.

Additionally, I’ve always wanted to learn to speak fluent Spanish, and have picked some up over the years. However, I am pretty sure I learned some new slang phrases, and I get the feeling not too many of them are taught in the first few lessons down at Berlitz, if you know what I mean.

But for every obscene gesture or shout, there were probably more thumbs-ups and supportive yells. There were definitely a lot of people who seemed to love seeing a vertically-challenged yutz like me in Chivas colors.
So with everything that happened that day, I for the life of me can’t figure out why it’s not a good idea to have some of this passion as part of the league -- and I hope it is out here on Planet LA.

Like it or not, there just aren’t enough people yet who absolutely love or loathe an MLS side, so what’s wrong with importing a little bit of the rabid passion to turn up the heat a bit? As my day shows you, those red and white Chivas stripes are simply a lightning rod for a lot of fans.

Yes, there are issues to work out, on the field and off. But the bottom line is the bottom line -- MLS is a portal to international soccer for this country, and many of our neighbors who come from south of the 2-0 Parallel have that love for the game the league is desperately trying to continue to breed in The States. And from a money standpoint, it ain’t gonna hurt to put some new butts in the seats around the country if that’s what the Chivas brand name brings.

So with that, I am going to go back to wearing a less polarizing jersey -- like that of my red-hot Dallas Burn. Wearing that jersey won’t threaten anyone.

In fact, the only way you would be threatened around someone in a Dallas Burn jersey these days is if you were standing right in the goal behind Scott Garlick ... then you’d better bring a helmet.

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

WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

  • Saturday -- UNITED AT FIRE (4 p.m. ET on The Deuce): Peter Nowak and Dema Kovalenko go to Soldier Field to face the team whose midfield they used to anchor. Well, unless Dema has somewhere else to be ...
  • Saturday -- BURN AT METRO (7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports World): Bob Bradley has 34 flamboyant strikers from all over the world and who scores the game winner last weekend? Some guy from Staten Island who lists his favorite food as “steak and potatoes.” Go figure.

    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:


    So last week I tell everyone to take my two picks (Metro and L.A.) and bet against them for a guarantee of some coinage. Then I actually win both games. I can’t do anything right. Oh well, at least we took back 200 Wolyniecs on the weekend.

    CURRENT BANK: -450
    THIS WEEK:

    That Galaxy offense has me interested, so let’s go 100 there, and another 100 on the Fire over Adunited.

    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: Ladies and gentlemen, we are experts, so it should come as no shock that all four of use successfully gave you dead solid locks last week. Wait, I just looked at our records. Yeah, scratch that -- I’m shocked, too.

    STANDINGS:

    Lalas: 5-4

    Connolly: 3-6

    Palace: 3-6

    Bradley: 2-7

    THIS WEEK:

    Bradley: Los Angeles over Kansas City

    Hard C: MetroStars over Dallas

    Tino: Los Angeles over Kansas City

    Lalas: Chicago over DC

    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. Send any questions and comments to tcsresponses@yahoo.com.


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