That’s right! Your humble correspondent can come up with no fixed theme for a post, so it’s time for….AN ELEVEN DEVILS RANDOM ROUND-UP! ™
ITEM: A writerly acquaintance in New York City, one Dan Kaufmann, belatedly forked over a piece sure to delight my sokkahblagging pals at A Pretty Move: an interview with Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. Galeano is a sort of Chomskyian figure in Latin American verbiage, but for my money, his limpid and passionate prose is at its best when he turns it to The Beautiful Game. If you don’t own his slim but inexhaustable ‘Soccer in Sun and Shadow,’ consider it a mandatory purchase and a long-term bargain. Nearly a decade after I acquired my copy, I still pick it up a few times a year.
ITEM: “Utterly gash.” That’s how the Guardian’s minute-by-minute summarizer described Galatasaray as the Turkish side surrendered a couple early goals to Liverpool during last week’s Champions League encounter. And what a horrid, disgusting and splendid description it is—for Liverpool’s own form. A 2-0 loss to Bolton Wanderers confirmed what I’ve feared since watching the Reds meander around on opening day against dreadful Sheffield United: I cursed Liverpool by choosing them as my Premier League club. Well, too bad for them, and too bad for me, because we all know you can’t undo that sort of thing. I let myself pull for multiple teams in the Italian and Spanish leagues, but that’s just “not on” where the Premiership’s concerned. So LFC and I are stuck with each other, and now that Community Shield they bagged back in August may be their last trophy. Ever.
ITEM: But, on the other hand, how ’bout them Reading Royals? The club once known as the Biscuitmen nailed down three crucial away points, beating West Ham 1-0 on a second-minute goal. The assist came courtesy America’s own Bobby Convey, while yanqui netminder Marcus Hahnemann helped preserve the win. Meanwhile, West Ham deployed USA defender Johnathan Spector. Imagine that—three Americans play in a Premiership match and hardly anyone even notices. Once, that sort of thing would have been the ultimate Man Bites Dog, Pigs Fly story.
ITEM: While the Euro leagues are still just unpacking their medicine shows for the year, we’re handing out trophies and getting ready to shut down for winter here in North America. Chicago Fire claimed the US Open Cup. DC United, a truly fantastic team that’s been in a relative slump lately after an unbeatable first two-thirds of the campaign, clinched the MLS Supporters’ Shield, awarded for the league’s best regular season record, last night. (Why isn’t it called the Supporters’ Cup? Oh.) And the Vancouver Whitecaps won the United Soccer Leagues First Division, the 12-team circuit that includes our beloved (but, yes, utterly gash) Portland Timbers. The ‘Caps—which, though they are the Timbers’ second-most-hated rival, are one of the best-run clubs in the oft-dodgy First Division—grabbed the hardware with an emphatic 3-0 away win over Rochester.
ITEM: In that *other* form of football we all know and love—the one where you get to use your hands all the time—my Mighty Montana Grizzlies invaded PGE Park and beat Portland State last night. Huzzah! Now I don’t have to pay attention to that sport again until December.
ITEM: The USL just announced a new affiliation with something called the Super-F League, which seems to be trying to become the primary national futsal competition. While the SFL looks more like a sanctioning body than an actual league right now, I guess this deal could portend some kind of off-season existence for the Timbers. With First Division franchises in Vancouver, Seattle and, thanks to expansion, San Francisco all sitting idle through the winter, wouldn’t it make sense for those clubs to field futsal squads for some kind of short-format league? Each city could host one two-day round-robin tournament for all four clubs in, say, December and January, with a point system determining the overall champ at the end. Gavin Wilkinson, can ya holla back?