The Clean Sheet: Shooting stars

Name the two coaches who have come under the most fire this season. Come up with Greg Andrulis and Peter Nowak? Yeah, me too. Now name the two coaches who both have reasonable claims to be the coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Don't worry, you don't have to go too far - it's the same duo. That, kids, is a microcosm of the 2004 MLS season, one in which you really have no idea what's gonna happen next.

First off, congrats to Peter Nowak on winning the right to coach the East on July 31 at The House That Juan Berthy Suarez Built. But you gotta ask, could anything else go wrong for Greg Andrulis this year?

In case you missed it, the coach of the team with the most points after last weekend earned the right to coach the All-Star Game. With 20 points, D.C. United was leading the Eastern Conference, so Peter Nowak got the nod.

The catch? Columbus, who only trailed United by two points, had played a full two matches less than D.C. Therefore, it could be (and was) argued that Greg Andrulis simply did not get a fair shake. For instance, if the league had gone with points per game as of last weekend ... well, see for yourself:

EASTERN CONFERENCE (FOLLOWING GAMES OF JULY 4) 
TEAM GP PTS PTS PER GAME
DC 15 20 1.33
MET 15 19 1.27
CLB 13 18 1.38

As could be expected, the folks in Columbus were none too happy, with outgoing Crew President Jim Smith telling the Columbus Dispatch, "It's disappointing that a system is set up that doesn't allow Greg to be considered as the All-Star coach. It's unfair."

Well actually Jim, the system isn't set up to not allow your guy to coach the All-Star Game, just don't have your team wait until game six to finally get a win next year. The rules were pretty clearly laid out, but yes, it does seem the Crew were a bit hard done by.

On the other bench will be Planet LA's own Sigi Schmid, not exactly a grizzled All-Star veteran: "It's my first All-Star game, I don't know what you do," he joked. "I just hope they have stuff that's big enough to fit me."

So while some think it should be Peter and Sigi, others think it should be Greg and Sigi, and still others think it should be Paris and Nicole - all I really care about is that the game has a lot of goals. Heck, we had a couple All-Star Games last weekend in D.C. and Kansas City now, didn't we? Anyway, what if we:

1) PICKED THE COACHES BASED ON GOALS SCORED: Let's be honest, the All-Star Game is a show - if it's East vs. West, I want a lot of goals, preferably of the highlight-reel variety. Therefore, I say reward the coach who encourages the most offense during the season by sending the guy whose team has the most goals per game in the conference. Right now, that would mean Sigi (1.88 per game) against Bob Bradley (1.73).

2) HECK, FORGET THE COACHES, JUST SEND THE FULL METRO AND GALAXY TEAMS: Why? The average MLS game this season has 2.76 goals. When LA plays? 3.4 goals. When Metro plays? How about 3.8 goals (thank you Jonny Walker). They are 1-2 in the league in scoring. You want goals, I say just let these two teams play each other.

3) COMMISSIONER'S PICK - PIERLUIGI COLLINA: The Commish gets to add who he wants, so bring in Collina to give it some big-game feel. The guy IS big-time soccer, and would bring some additional star quality to the event.

Or you could bring in Urs Meier to ref the game and see if any English fans jump out of the stands and pummel him for the call that knocked them out of Euro 2004. Now that would be some entertainment.

Okay all of these ideas are either (1) stupid, (2) stupider, or (3) kinda cool but probably a slap in the face to the MLS refs. So, as usual, I'll just leave the ideas to the people smarter than myself...you know, basically everyone else in the world. But that doesn't mean we can't talk about 'em ...

THE NEWS: Be honest - what is more shocking: Greece or the Kansas City Wizards?

TCS SAYS: Tough call. The Greek run was downright unreal (so much for my Czech Republic), but who foresaw the season the Preki-less Wizards have had so far? I still can't figure out how Bob Gansler's boys have done it, and I watch every game. And just who the heck is Davy Arnaud, anyway?

Oh, and to make matters worse, you know what these guys do with their free time in between wins? Crossword puzzles. Seriously. Big article in the Kansas City Star about it the other day. OK, here's a crossword question: 7 letters, clue is "Harry Potter's friends or a team who needs a life." Chris Klein is on my side, at least, with this summing up of his teammates: "They're nerds." Yeah, but it has to be said, these nerds are certainly having their "revenge" this season, aren't they? I just wanna know which one would play Booger.

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: I guess the week away helped your old pal, Tino, as we rally with a three-for-three weekend thanks to the Wizards over my Burn, Mile High Club over the Revs and LA over the Quakes. Suddenly my limbs feel a little safer, as my debt has shrunk big time.
CURRENT BANK: -125
THIS WEEK: Kansas City hosting D.C. this weekend. D.C. is all about up and down, so it says here they are due for a stinker. I'm putting 125 on the Wizards to get me off the schneid.

MLSnet.com COLUMNIST LOCKS OF THE WEEK: OK, 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, JB and I all deliver winners, but turns out Hard C didn't get a pick in, so he gets a loss for missing the deadline. That'll learn him ...
STANDINGS:
Lalas 7-6

Palace 5-8

Bradley 4-9

Connolly 4-9

THIS WEEK:

Bradley: Dallas and Columbus tie

Hard C: Chicago over New England

Tino: Kansas City over DC Adunited

Lalas: K.C. over D.C.

GRAB A COLD BUD (OR AQUAFINA) AND PUT YER FEET UP:
WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

Saturday - QUAKES AT METRO (4 p.m. ET on The Deuce): After seeing Jeff Cassar stone Landon's penalty on Wednesday night, San Jose will be hoping Jonny Walker wants to do a lot of dribbling.

Saturday - RAPIDS AT GALAXY (10 pm ET on Fox Sports World): Third-place Colorado is four points behind second-place KC, but four points clear of fourth-place San Jose. So with a win, Colorado will ... uh, with a loss, Colorado will. What? An MLS team will actually not move up or down in the table for a week? Thank goodness, this parity is killing me ... way too much math this year.

Sunday - FRIENDLY: POLAND AT USMNT (7 pm ET on The Deuce): The Americans are now seventh in the world, their highest ranking ever. Clearly that means they get a bye to the next round of CONCACAF qualifying. What? They don't? It means nothing? Aww ... burnaflickle!

FLICK-ONS:

For those scoring at home (oh, be quiet) Alecko Eskandarian leads Fabian Taylor by a goal in Tino's Golden Boot race - most goals without a single assist. Esky has six and Taylor has five.

Hey, it's Thursday. Isn't it that time of the week? You know, when the Rapids sign another Cuban player?

I'm not saying the Revs need some wins, but if they don't get things going soon, Mr. Mia Hamm may not be the only one on his way out of Beantown.

I don't know if I have been out West to long, but for my money, the California Derby is simply the best rivalry in MLS - the games just always live up to the hype.

I hate to start rumors, but I did hear Freddy was seen drinking Shirley Temples the other night with Maria Sharapova.

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


To report a comment, mouseover or touch the comment and then click/touch the flag icon (Flag).