MLS labor agreement means we won’t miss any games

SHARE MLS labor agreement means we won’t miss any games
SHARE MLS labor agreement means we won’t miss any games

BY NORMAN CHAD

For the Sun-Times

On the brink of a national nightmare, on the doorstep of our darkest hour, on the verge of our greatest fears being realized, we have been saved:

Major League Soccer players and management finally negotiated a new collective-bargaining agreement, averting a strike that would have wiped out the start of the 2015 season.

For an MLS aficionado such as myself, had we reached soccer’s nuclear winter, it would’ve been akin to whitetail deer orchestrating a work stoppage at the start of deer-hunting season in Oklahoma.

When a player strike shortened the 1982 NFL season to nine games, I summoned the emotional strength to get through it.

When a labor dispute ended the 1994 Major League Baseball season without a World Series, I summoned the emotional strength of get through it.

When a lockout canceled the 2004-05 NHL season, I summoned the emotional strength to get through it.

And when another lockout cut the 2011-12 NBA season to 66 games, I summoned the emotional strength to get through it.

But even if I went to Costco and bought every case of emotional strength in stock, it couldn’t sustain me through the loss of even a handful of MLS action.

If I don’t see Obafemi Martins score a goal once every two weeks, I break into a cold sweat.

Outside of my honeymoons, MLS has provided the most gratifying and exciting moments of my adult life-in-progress.

Who can forget Pete Marino scoring in the 16th minute to lead the Columbus Crew past the Tampa Bay Mutiny 1-0 in July 1996?

Who can forget Sean Henderson scoring in the 42nd minute to lead the Colorado Rapids past FC Dallas 1-0 in October 1997?

Who can forget Juan Agudelo scoring in the 76th minute to lead the New York Red Bulls past the Seattle Sounders 1-0 in March 2011?

Who can forget Lee Nguyen scoring in the 35th minute to lead the New England Revolution past Toronto FC 1-0 in October 2014?

For 19 seasons, from March to October, the greatest players in the world — well, not the greatest players in the world but some decent lads — have satisfied my MLS sweet tooth.

Sure, I appreciate the World Cup. But the MLS Cup always has been my top-of-the-heap futbol experience. The MLS Cup is New Year’s Eve, Mardi Gras and the NFL Scouting Combine rolled into one. Heck, my annual MLS Cup party makes Vanity Fair’s after-Oscars party look like a Tupperware party.

I am reminded, though, of two minor complaints I have with my beloved MLS.

The aggregate-goal playoff format leading up to the MLS Cup — in which the team that scores the most goals in a two-game series advances — is the worst idea since the Stamp Act. It is so 19th century. In fact, I believe the Scottish Football League was the first to use aggregate goals in 1890.

The United States is often wrong about global issues, but on this one we should stand tall. A best-of-three or best-of-seven series is more sensible than aggregate anything. This notion — ‘‘If I beat you 2-0 and you beat me 2-1, I’m better’’ — is Old World nonsense. This is the New World, baby!

Frankly, aggregate-goal insanity is stunting MLS’ growth, as is the other thing I must complain about.

It’s easy to go online to find the other leagues — at NFL.com, MLB.com, NBA.com and NHL.com. But when I wander the Internet to fill my MLS needs and type in MLS.com, I get real-estate listings. Real-estate listings! MLS is elsewhere on the World Wide Web.

As it were, trying to check on Fabian Espindola’s stats last year, I accidentally ended up buying a winter home in Nova Scotia.

Good for MLS.com, not for Major League Soccer.

Ask The Slouch

Q. You need one guy to coach one game with academically suspect players for all the marbles. Do you take Roy Williams or Jim Boeheim? (Corey Millman, Fishers, Indiana)

A. I’ve still got to go with Jerry Tarkanian.

Q. Did the guests storm the court at your weddings? (Deepak Sachdeva, McLean, Virginia)

A. No, but many of my ex-wives’ friends stormed divorce court at our hearings.

Q. Do you think it’s possible that those who think time inexorably moves forward have never watched the last 30 seconds of a basketball game? (K.W. Hemphill, South Riding, Virginia)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com. If your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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