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Leg 1
11/23 5:00pm
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11/30 9:00pm
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11/23 1:30pm
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11/29 3:00pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

The Clean Sheet: A watchful eye

right in front of the old TV. Yeah, the old TiVo has had smoke coming out of it on more than once occasion as of late and the pizza delivery guy told me he might just start having his mail forwarded to my house.

How bored have I been? I actually found myself watching MTV's TRL one day, figuring I'd learn the names of all the hot acts these days. Wanna know who was in the rundown? How about Mariah Carey and The Backstreet Boys? Are you kidding me? Maybe Greg Lalas' wardrobe still actually is in fashion.

My TRL highlight, though, was an old commercial during the show with our boy Landon in a Quakes jersey for a website called verbnow.com. I jumped on and checked it out, and while I can't quite sort out what exactly the site is, they did have an old bio of Landon in which he names his fave rock band ... Boyz II Men. No wonder he didn't feel like he fit in over in Deutschland.

Now normally in this column, I lay out the two or three things on television I am sure to be watching during the upcoming week. Whether it is an MLS contest, a match from across the pond, or some awful TV show that has me roped in, there are always a few times I know I will have the Palace Posterior firmly on the couch tuning in.

When I looked ahead this week to what I will be screening (as we say here on Planet LA), it suddenly dawned on me that I will be spending more time sitting down than a strange, B-list celeb at the Michael Jackson trial.

So as a public service, I devote my entire column to what to watch -- at the movies and on TV -- between now and the next time I write:

NOW PLAYING AT THE MOVIES:

"UNLEASHED" -- The Revs, Galaxy, United and FC Dallas -- the four offenses I lauded in my recent plea to leave parity in the past -- combined to score 11 goals last weekend, resulting in three wins and a road draw. While those who prefer to live in MLS Past will note that most (or all) of these teams will probably come back to the pack ... you may be right, but let's just enjoy the ride for a little while, anyway.

"KICKING AND SCREAMING" -- The newest soccer movie hits theaters this Friday, as "Kicking and Screaming" tells the story of Dema Kovalenko's return to MLS action.

"THE UPSIDE OF ANGER" -- A two-hour documentary on the refereeing decisions made on Planet LA in the two matches last weekend. The RSL people maintain they were hard done by on the handball call on Marlon Rojas, and I have to say I agree. There was no way for either official to tell with 100 percent accuracy if Rojas' arm was in the box (and I think the ball clearly played arm), so my preferred option would have seen the referee blow the whistle and place the ball on the edge of the box for a dead ball. That said, the referees had nothing to do with Real missing a couple sitters or giving the ball away like candy most of the night -- the real reason they lost the match.

Sunday at The Home Depot Center, a strange match got even stranger when Jair Marrufo handed out his three late penalties, and I agree with everyone else -- the third one was pretty, uh, gutsy. I'll leave it at that.

"GUESS WHO" -- A movie about a soccer league in which not one single player wears their last name on their jersey. I'm sorry, I just need to tell everyone that I despise this practice. I have hated it since Day One in MLS, and I hate it even more now that MLS has made so many strides. Having players with their first names on the backs of their jerseys completely flies in the face of this effort, and just looks dumb. Someone in NYC draft a memo, and let's send the ridiculous "Douglas" and "Thiba" jerseys to the scrapheap next to the old shoot-out clocks.

"THE INTERPRETER" -- I often get e-mails wondering why I never interview coaches or players. The answer is simple: I never have any idea what they are talking about. Want a few examples?

"I won't talk about the officiating because unfortunately I'd get fined. I will tell you that after every game I call Joe Machnik, who is in charge of the disciplinary committee. I won't call him again. I think he knows the way I feel. I just pray to God that we have better officiating in the future." -- Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo, on the refereeing in Sunday's loss

TCS SAYS: Uh, Fernando, glad you won't talk about it ...

"We continue to do things to build a strong fan base." -- MetroStars coach Bob Bradley, on his struggling team

TCS SAYS: Yeah, Metros supporters, I'm not sure either ...

"It feels like we just won a championship." -- Chivas USA 'keeper Brad Guzan on the win against RSL

TCS SAYS: Let's see, a 1-0 home win on a pretty dodgy PK call against a banged-up expansion team in a game in which the other team had a defender playing 'keeper for the last 10-15 minutes and your team couldn't get a single shot on goal. Man, I wish Queen of the Palace was that easily amused.

"I'm starting to hate this place." -- Real coach John Ellinger, after losing again at The Home Depot Center

TCS SAYS: That one, even I understand.

"THE PACIFIER" -- A flick about what should be stuck in players' mouths who complain to the referees too much. The movie should also be called "The Yellow Card," as that's what the refs need to do more of to stop the incessant bickering. I cannot for the life of me understand why the refs let the players constantly show them up. I was shocked at how long Marrufo let Jeff Cunningham get out of line after the first PK on Sunday before finally brandishing his yellow card. But clearly Landon Donovan is the worst offender in this book, as he consistently gets away with berating officials, waving his arms and the whole nine ... cool that stuff out Landon, you look like a little baby when you do that. Here's hoping the refs starting throwing dissent cards out early and often.

AND ON THE TUBE ...

Saturday -- UNITED at REVS (4 p.m. ET on The Deuce): From knocking one out of the park at RFK to fishing for acclaim in rainy Foxborough, "It Boy" Clint Dempsey has brought the funny with the post-goal celebrations. Keep it up son ... the scoring, and the creativity.

Saturday -- WIZARDS at CREW (7:30 p.m. ET): Great to see Chris Klein back healthy and on form, and Kansas City has even dusted off Preki and gotten him back on the pitch. As for the Crew, they are badly in need of some good news, so vote for their mascot on the MLSnet.com poll ... they need something.

Saturday -- CHIVAS USA at RAPIDS (9 p.m. ET): The two worst teams in MLS lock up Saturday night in Denver, and you get the feeling this one is either going to be 0-0 or 5-5.

Saturday -- METROS at FIRE (8:30 p.m. ET on HDNet): It kills me to say it, but when you look at the Fire's team, there is no way this lying, cheating, stealing band of thugs isn't going to be decent this season. If Lubos Reiter brings it and this team gets/stays healthy, Chicago fans may have something to cheer about this summer even after the White Sox collapse.

Saturday -- FC DALLAS at EARTHQUAKES (10 p.m. ET): The march to the title continues for The Hoops, who should roll over a rusty Quakes team who had a bye last week. I know, technically they played the Metros, but c'mon ...

Saturday -- GALAXY at RSL (9:30 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel): The wheels fell of a bit for RSL last weekend at the HDC with injuries and Andy Williams getting rightfully benched at the interval, but fortunately the opponent was Chivas USA so the punishment was just a 1-0 loss. On the other hand, the Galaxy looked disinterested in a rather fortunate win over Colorado, and tend to, um, stink on the road.

Sunday -- FULHAM/NORWICH FOLLOWED BY CHARLTON/CRYSTAL PALACE (12 p.m. ET on FSC): You can have the Champions League final, give me a last-day-of-the-season relegation battle anytime. There are four teams (separated by just two points) fighting for just one spot this weekend, and Norwich and Palace are two of them -- so these games should be fun.

Monday -- "24" (9 p.m. ET on FOX): Hopefully the number of goals it will take to win the Golden Boot this season, but if you missed this show all season, get the DVD the second it comes out ... fantastic.

Tuesday -- AMERICAN IDOL (8 p.m. ET on FOX): New Eng-er-land fans are desperately hoping their team does not become the Carrie Underwood of the MLS season -- off to a fantastic start, and then seriously struggling to get any better. Still sticking with my girl, though ...

Wednesday -- RAPIDS at FC DALLAS (8:30 pm ET): Arsenal put up a touchdown on Everton the other day over in England, and I see no reason why my boys couldn't do the same in this one.

Wednesday -- CHIVAS USA at RSL (9:30 pm ET): The Battle of the Newbies hits Wasatchville, and while John Ellinger and Thomas Rongen were seen sharing a chuckle last Sunday at the Galaxy-Rapids game, rumors were that Rongen's job security was no laughing matter before the win against Real.

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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