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Not ready to make nice.

Come on Metro!


This blog is as good as done (I hope you're not just figuring that out) but special occasions demand special returns.

The Metrologist supports Metros in this afternoon's MLS Cup.

Classic Metros like these guys.

Will we watch it? That remains to be seen. The early double bill of Jets-Titans and Ravens-Eagles will put some strain on the remote finger, but even if that's the real sports story in these parts tomorrow, we might get around to watching the first half. That should be enough for a team that's played some pretty attractive soccer (by MLS standards) against a team that plays anti-soccer, against a team that is in every sense of the term, anti-soccer.

Make us proud, Eddie.

This Week in MLS-related Avian News


In order to deal with the flock of seagulls seagull infestations at BMO Field, Toronto FC has unveiled a new weapon (I use that word loosely, as you would about a team that hasn't scored since...I can't even remember. It's Bitchy The Hawk.

Not missing a beat, RBNY has responded with an ornithological mascot of its own.

No word yet on whether they will be bringing in outside birds, or just using the ones that are always circling over the organization.

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Press-ganged - 8/15/07


In which we parse some Metro media...

Pitchinvasion recognizes the fillip of media attention being lavished on MLS supporters over the last day or so. Not the first time the unique atmosphere of MLS support has been plumbed, nor the last if Steven Wells has anything to do with it. For Metro supporters in particular, I would refer you to the pieces done by actual, long-suffering Metro fan (aren't those adjectives all redundant?) Bob Ferguson in the late, lamented NY Sports Express for their You-Are-There quality, if only I could.

This New York Observer piece on elements of the diehard Metro support is already the subject of some discussion in Metroland. I say "elements" advisedly. Though the conceit is that it depicts the Empire Supporters Club and Section 101, which last time I checked were somewhat synonymous (most people in 101 are ESC, but not all of the ESC hangs out in Section 101), there's a bit of randomness and catch-as-catch-can about it. There's a lot that anyone who's spent time around Metro support - or any MLS team's organized support, I bet - would recognize. But there's also much generalizing and generalized, much evidence that the author is unaware of the real nature of his subject, and a little bit of smug mean-spiritedness. Then again, it is the NY Observer we're talking about. When Saturday Comes it ain't, much less the International Journal of Cultural Studies.

Is it an accurate picture? Is it condescending?

The article is what it is, which is a little of both.

I can only speak as someone who was in the ESC for a good long time, but hasn't been for a couple years, due both to distance and a overwhelming disaffection for the current identity, which I just can't get over to the point that I'd give money to that miserable company and show up in the stands.

Nevertheless, I believe there is precisely one thing that has been, by and large, great about the Metro soccer experience over the past 12 years, and that is the caliber of support brought by the ESC. It is the sole reason why many in the NY and NJ area have stuck with this team (or close, for that matter) through thin and thin. It's particularly interesting to get an outsider's view of it.

So let's get the sticky stuff outta the way first. There is some pretentiousness - occasionally cringe-worthy amounts of it. Yes, there's the occasional casting of sham-accents - when it's blatantly played-at is when it's most grating and out of place. For every fantastic adaptation of a foreign chant (something done by supporters around the world, ) there's one that isn't particularly well understood, sung awfully, or way out of context. There is a fair amount of trying too hard, and a poster on Metrofanatic - English, by the way - nails the problem with that succinctly.

But you know, that's in line with a phase that most of us have gone through at some point or another - the slightly strained attempts to show off, among other things, one's international savoir faire. It's devilishly hard to resist, like being that guy who meets the cute foreign chick and throws what little you learned during your study-abroad semester at her, because you can. Maybe it's having something to prove, maybe it's just to be a little different. Perhaps there's too much of that high-concept hyper-cosmopolitanism in a group like this - you may have a soccer reservoir a mile wide and an inch deep. There's no harm in that, you tend to grow out of the excesses of it, eventually. In the meantime, trying too hard is far preferable to not trying at all.

As for "patently nerdy enthusiasms" and all that connotes, that's primarily a matter of how the dedicated, hardcore American soccer fan - the sort of guy or gal that goes out to see an early round Open Cup match, then comes home and writes about it on Bigsoccer, or on a blog - is framed. Now, honestly, there have been times when you could look around the 101 crowd and swear you'd been dropped into a Fellini film (the unkind image not mine, but I'll take it). But would you like to meet the fellas who go out to watch Rotherham vs. Walsall reserves on a rainy night in February? I'll wager that those people are no less nerdish about their soccer (or anything else), but they're the heart and soul of the sport in its traditional environs, and I'd sure as hell rather stand in their section, as opposed to sitting alongside Johnny Loudmouth Frontrunner, in his fresh new Chelsea or Barca top. The diehards here - call them the geekcore if you must - is where virtually all the interesting stuff comes from.

Above all, I suppose I have an issue with this running dialectic of "authentic" versus "simulated" or "play" supporters. Who decides that? That difference, that aspect of inauthenticity and pretend is implicit in phrases like "slipping in and out of English accents" and "many of them present themselves as passionate, rowdy and, like their foreign counterparts, a little dangerous." That may in fact be a legitimate point, but let's warily attempt to talk a little performance theory here: it's not just MLS fans playing the part of traditional fans; all supporters - American, European, whoever - play-act some variation of the Traditional Supporter part, when you get right down to it.

And with that broached, I'm not going to wade any further into the deep waters of theory tonight. But I will leave a question out there, if you're not ready to accept what I just said, then we have to figure out, just what do role-playing American supporter have to do to become "real"? Or is there, in fact, no way possible? Some question.

And on a sidenote, who the fuck cares what Joe Benigno knows or doesn't know about anything? That's just bizarre. Did the author take the "Famous ESC" song that literally? God help he hears the one that half the English-speaking fans in the world sing, about being the finest football team the world has ever seen.

It is a little gratifying to read that "the vast majority of E.S.C. chants and banners have not adopted the new name." That makes up (a little) for the retch-worthy sight of those all-red jerseys in 101.

Meanwhile, local North Jersey weekly - coincidentally enough, The Observer - also pitches in with this story on the stadium woes, which doesn't say much different from the Star-Ledger story I mentioned a few days ago (and absentmindedly, forgot to link). Bottom line: the cleanup is going slower than expected, the opening of the stadium has officially been shoved back at least till 2009, but otherwise, things are just peachy!

Nothing much different from stuff we've already heard, except for this; there are so many little insinuations, so many little messages left between the lines, that one can't help but wonder what the underlying message is. Does it not feel like the stadium still hangs on a knife edge?

The more you look at this article, the harder it is to tell. It could, after all, just be bad writing:

"The multi-million dollar soccer stadium that is under preliminary construction in Harrison has hit a major snag, causing postponement of the development of the stadium for a full year until the start of the 2009 season."

Take that last sentence. "Postponement of the development of the stadium" is so unclear, you could take it to mean that construction won't begin till '09. That's ridiculous....isn't it?

What stands out are the repeated

"What makes the project sticky is the amount of public money tied into it."


"Harrison had expected to repay its debt on the stadium by collecting property taxes on the rest of the project. But you can’t collect property taxes on projected sales, just legitimate sales"

to the precarious, politically-significant nature

"The county of Hudson has also a vested interest in the project, having floated nearly $40 million in bonds to build a parking garage near the stadium. The county figured that the parking deck would pay for itself in the coming years, but not if there aren’t any cars parking there."

of the stadium's funding

..."the plans for the permanent home of the team remains in a state of limbo — once again."

which is being messed with by this extended cleanup (or AEG-RB wrangling, depending on who you believe.)

"We’re sticking to the goal of having a professional soccer stadium.”

Boy Bruce, you sure know how drive home the idea this is all just minor hassles.

When I read all that, I see those phrases sinking down the page like little depth charges, not detonating....yet. Or maybe they're hinting at nothing. Are you ever reassured by seeing the words plans, permanent home, and limbo in the same sentence?

"But the project that was delayed and then delayed some more has been given yet another delay of game. You have to begin to wonder whether this might be some sort of negative sign — or whether Harrison, Hudson County and Red Bull can somehow make this thing finally work."

All baseless speculation on the part of a journalist, or veiled hints at which way the wind is blowing on Harrison? I honestly couldn't tell you now.

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Buy It Now! Or wait a few hours to see if Larentowicz snaps his tibia.


I'm not going to spend too much time analyzing it now, but over the past few days I've been peeking over at the Ebay and Stubhub markets for the 8/18 game against the LA Beckhams. Perhaps someone more savvy about reselling on the interwebs can illuminate us better, but considering it's a "major event" I'm pretty underwhelmed when I see auctions for 2 two tickets in the lower level coming down to the last hour with only a bid or three, much less the majority of the tickets on offer going for face value, or perhaps even less.
Stubhub says it has 855 tickets on sale (including several blocks of 20 or more), and that number has hardly moved over the last couple days.
It just doesn't strike me as a live market. That could mean any number of things, I suppose.

So you tell me how hot this thing is in NYC. I can't say I have a bead on it through this, but I think it has something to tell us. No, watching the Ebays ain't necessarily scientific, but it's a damn sight safer than actually taking team management, hyperbolic color commentators, and fans on their wishful words alone.

Could be interesting to watch for a spike either way - people dumping or some of those tickets disappearing - depending on whether or not Becks gets blasted by some Rev bruiser. If he actually plays tonight, of course.

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Petter Villegas is alive and well and living in midfield in Puerto Rico


The things you learn watching FSC on Friday nights!

Sadly (and surprisingly), no video of Petter's (the extra "t" is for "too much dribbling") stupendous golden goal against Tampa Bay in 2000 was found. To this day, that 30 yard bullet to the top corner to win the game is one of the great phantom punches I've seen in my sports-watching life (Villegas scored a few goals, as that clip shows, but they were not of the Riise ilk). What compares? I remember Islanders goon Mick Vukota scoring a hat trick once in an NHL game. The man could barely skate, yet he somehow found himself on the doorstep for tap-ins three times. As catching lightning in a bottle goes, it's on that level.

In between the FSC EPL games, let's take a look at two Metro-related stadium stories coming out, both of which rhyme with the word "dusterbuck."

Would you like to start off with the news that as of this weekend, Giants Stadium is getting more difficult, more time-consuming, and more expensive to reach? This is like saying that the ball is developing even more roundness, that Rob Stone is becoming even more puerile, that hard-working scientists have figured out a way to make a kick to the nuts even more painful.

Key quote:

"Welcome to the brave new world of parking, Meadowlands-style, where the rules of the game at Giants Stadium have just changed after 31 years.

The reason is construction of a $1.5 billion stadium in the parking lots just north and east of Giants Stadium, with the loss of 5,000 spaces creating a parking crunch that will last until the new corporately named stadium opens in 2010."

No one really seems to know what this means for soccer. But let's just jump the gun anyway; oh my God, can we wait for the stories to come out of this after the Beckham game next weekend! No, we can not. It has all the makings of a logistical disaster, on par with the legendary Metros-Ecuador (I believe) doubleheader years ago, which saw scads of fans arriving via PA bus halfway through the second game. This game will actually draw a sizeable crowd, testing the organization's ability to direct and guide tens of thousands of people - many of whom probably have never been to lovely East Rutherford and environs - out to Lyndhurst, over on shuttle buses, and back. Oh, and by the way that'll be double the normal parking fee, please.
Of course I have utter faith in RB.

I'm not sure this is going to be such a hassle for the regular RB crowd, since the 6-8000 coming out week after week probably won't fill up the available lots and arena garage anyway. I could end up wrong on that. Regardless, it really is a gut-punch to anyone thinking the team is going to sop up lots of casual Beckham consumers, barring an absolutely scintillating game (and really, it's the Galaxy and an ill-conceived Metro side - you banking on that?) Look, it's your first time out for the MLS experience, or your first time back in years for that matter; you drive out to Jersey, get shunted around the mulberry bush AND you drop at least twenty bucks on parking? And don't you dare think about taking that grill out when you do find a spot. It doesn't matter if MLS and the team aren't really at fault here - how many of those first-timers and flinty Europhiles are coming away pie-eyed with the romance and spectacle of soccer in the Swamp?

But, you say, at least they'll have a stadium of their own in 2008 2009ish. Being of such a sunny disposition, you'd rather go right to Matthew Futterman's Star-Ledger story on the interminable efforts to unearth what appears to be an buried, toxin-ridden Parthenon or something.

Key quotes:
"the stadium has become the project public officials no longer want to brag about."


Kevin Tartaglione, Advance's chief operating officer, said his workers are encountering the same obstacles workers on the stadium site have found.

Advance plans to build apartments, dozens of stores and restaurants, a hotel and small office complex at the site.

Tartaglione said, unlike the soccer franchise, he anticipated the environmental and excavation issues....

"We were actually thinking it would be later than that based on the scope of the work that needs to be completed," Tartaglione said. "I haven't confirmed that with Red Bull or AEG. I know they are discussing it, but we are following our own course of action."

Read carefully. RB seems to be leave that Spring 2009 opening date out there without really committing to it, and there's a decent hint as to why.

So, believe who you want to believe about the stadium opening in 2008 early 09; the construction guys who seem to know what they're talking about and have planned for it, or the soda pimps who, well, don't bother to tell anyone about what's going on if they can avoid it.

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It's busy times here at Metrologist World Headquarters. Doing some housekeeping, tweaking the look ever so slightly, arranging my sure-to-be-sensational fantasy EPL side on the cusp of a new season(arise and conquer, Planet Of The Tevezs), refinancing the house for Beckham tickets, and dealing with real world obligations, all while stoically surviving the nasty middle American heat.

Knowing a thing or two about blogging dry spells myself (a subject for later posts), I've gone about culling some links to blogs that have fallen by the wayside, have gone dark for a year, or just don't seem to fit in with what I want this blog to be about anymore.

Lucky for you, I've been hooked on a few new ones, which you ought to check out.

Pitch Invasion is one of my favorite daily reads nowadays. "Football supporter culture, passion and politics." Just my kind of stuff, and the more blogs I see like this (see also: Culture of Soccer and Two Hundred Percent. Give me others!) the better. Let me be totally honest. There's a number of bloggers out there that have the gift of recapping/commenting/waxing insightful/newsgathering down, but so much of what's out there - and I'm not calling out, or even thinking of anywhere in particular - seems a combination of dizzy news feedback-looping, attempted clairvoyance, and somewhat meandering snark.
Perhaps it's just me: I'm just not much good at breaking down games and players in such quasi-analytical ways, nor am I all that interested in reading, much less writing such stuff, at least on the novice level. I enjoy the game immensely, but it is mostly the culture, the economics, the politics and everything that surrounds the game that I really want to deal with here. As fans and people, we are all in touch with, and can say something worthwhile about, that.

Secondly, I cannot fail to mention the mindbender that is Football Is Fixed. I quite seriously don't know if its treatise-spinning anonymous author is a holy prophet, a paranoid conspiratorial nut, or if it is all actually a magnificent wind-up. It is a great, if get-a-cup-of-coffee-and-settle-in-for-a-while kind of read. Should I be concerned that I find it, in fact, all too believable?


Altidore: "If I wait until I'm 21 there might be a big drop off"


"The quicker you can get there the better."

More on Ives's story at Ives' blog.

I would, too.

Talk about ginormous cojones!


That's what you need to tag a $2800 markup on tickets to the Goldenballs show in the swamp. Of course, you splash out like that, you also get VIP before- AND after-game access to the "exclusive" Red Bulls "pub." Well, now you're talking!
Let's watch this one...


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