A Kick in the Head
The paper version of Unfair Park has always been good friends with FC Dallas. So big ups to the Hoops for advancing to the quarterfinals yesterday of the U.S. Open Cup, a soccer tournament open to any American club, pro or amateur, that can qualify.
It sounds like yesterday's game was a thriller--Kenny Cooper scored three goals, one with a minute left in double overtime to force a penalty kick shoot-out--but should the top team in the MLS have to work this hard to beat the Charleston Battery, a minor-league team? Granted, some of Dallas' best players were on the bench because of injuries (Carlos Ruiz didn't even travel), but would a B-team Mavericks squad need two overtime periods and free throws to put away a team like, say, the Texas Rimrockers or the Adirondack Wildcats? Come to think of it, maybe they would.
Americans love to point out all that is wrong with soccer--no commercial breaks, little scoring, flopping players who ask for stretchers--and love suggesting ways to fix it. But maybe this time soccer's got it right. How great would it be if the NBA embraced a tournament similar to the U.S. Open Cup, where any team that qualifies can participate and the tournament's games are spread out throughout the season? If you think the NBA teams would dominate, look no further than the 2004 Olympics, where a team made of NBA All-Stars was blown off the court by lowly but hungry Puerto Rico. Maybe it's just me, but I would love to see some more of that, not once every four years, but once every year. A team of scrappy, hungry gym rats beating a bunch of loafing, overpaid prima donnas? It's the kind of moment for which the slow clap was invented.