Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saturday Sports Report's Sunday Musings: Up first-- Soccer -- Just wanted to add a couple of thoughts to last night's posting on the MLS. I caught the replay of last nights New England-Kansas City match. First, I know Lamar Hunt has been a huge part of the business of professional soccer in this country, and it would be great to see the Kansas City franchise succeed. If last night's crowd is any indication of the future, however, I don't see how the franchise can be maintained over the long run. There are cities here with soccer pedigrees that would bring the MLS more chance of success. The MLS has not been shy in abandoning the Florida markets. Maybe, instead of expansion, which will only dilute an already terribly thin talent pool, the MLS would do better to relocate this ailing franchise.

On the field, the New England Revolution continue to impress. The push up to the final minute of stoppage time, game-tying goal, was a thing of beauty: Several high-quality touches, culminating in Ralston's goal, which was ably slotted to the corner of the goal, out of Oshonyi's reach. The best touch, though, came from Clint Dempsey, who delivered a lovely bit of skill with a no-look touch to his left to set up Ralston. I'm falling in soccer love with Clint Dempsey. I was in Nuremberg to see the game against Ghana, when Dempsey become the only American to score during the recent World Cup. To this observer, Dempsey was far and away the most consistent performer on the U.S. squad. It was a shame he wasn't in the line-up against the Czechs in the first game. His unrelenting hustle might have rubbed off his teammates. If Dempsey has to go over to Europe to earn the respect, and gain the polish that the next national team coach will require, here's hoping that happens for him soon.

Major League Baseball -- Speaking of falling for a player, I just watched Carlos Beltran hit a grand slam for the Metropolitans. The Mets are just pummeling the Braves this weekend, This has been a long time coming for Mets fans. It hasn't been quite as long a wait for the arrival of the Carlos Beltran that the Mets thought they were buying last year, but it is just as welcome. He can be one beautiful player to watch -- so graceful it's like watching a gazelle play baseball. David Wright is a fantastic talent, as well, but it's Beltran that really has the star quality. Welcome, at last, to New York, Carlos...

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