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Soccer is on an upward wave in this nation despite a professional league that makes a lot of unfathomable decisions

Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey, left, lines up a second-half shot on goal as Chivas USA's Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, right, defends. (Associated Press)
Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey, left, lines up a second-half shot on goal as Chivas USA's Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, right, defends. (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • A couple things happened yesterday that made me realize something. The MLS may be the worst run professional league in America. But why should we care? Read on.

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• You know, honestly, I don’t have a good answer to my own question. I’m pretty sure when my sons are my age, soccer will be one of the three major sports in this country, but I’m not sure that is why we should care. It’s a long way off and there are a lot of rivers to cross between here and there. But in the here and now, the MLS is doing its best to make sure that never happens. The league held its All-Star Game yesterday in San Jose – on a Thursday night in late July, which is fine. And the all-stars did a fine job, holding their own most of the night in a 2-1 loss to Arsenal, the English Premier League team I know the most about. (I really like their goalkeeper, Petr Cech, because he wears a helmet that reminds me of the one my dad used to wear playing football back in the 1930s.) That’s fine too. But explain to me why the best scorer our country has, Clint Dempsey, playing in a showcase, was relegated to a reserve role, entering the match in the 73rd minute? That’s a good thing for the Sounders, sure, as Dempsey should be rested and ready for this Sunday’s match vs. the L.A. Galaxy. But isn’t an all-star game about presenting your best talent? That’s why the MLS instituted a rule recently that penalizes players who are injured. Yes, you read that right. The league, not wanting players to feign injury and skip the all-star game, put together a rule that also penalizes players who are coming off an injury. Case in point, the Timbers’ Liam Ridgewell. Ridgewell, Portland’s captain, suffered a calf injury recently and it cost him. In more ways than one. Not only did he miss the Timbers’ recent match with the Galaxy, he couldn’t play in the all-star game. And now he’ll have to sit this weekend’s match with Sporting Kansas City whether he’s healthy or not. He’s been suspended. Even if Ridgewell’s been cleared by doctors, he can’t play. In the league’s eyes, he skipped the all-star game so he has to sit the next match. Nice. Even if a doctor swears he couldn’t have played? Even if a doctor swears he’s now ready to go? Yep. No leeway in this league. No sir. It’s all black and white. And just plain silly. Soccer may ascend the ranks of professional sports in this country – I do believe it is inevitable – but through no help of the guys who run the MLS. Not if they keep making silly decisions like these.

• I’ve got some good news – for me – that you can judge anyway you like. I’ll be back on the Washington State football postgame show again this fall. For some reason IMG keeps asking me back and has done so ever since I retired from the S-R. So once again I’ll be available for you to berate via telephone an hour after each Cougar game ends. Of course, the star of the show is KXLY’s Derek Deis, who will return to host as well. And he’ll be hosting the pregame show again too, joined this year by someone who has a pretty deep knowledge of football and the Cougars, Alex Brink. So it's Brink on pregame, Jason Gesser during the game and yours truly in the wee hours of the morning. Sounds right.

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• Indians: It wasn’t the best of nights for Spokane, as the Indians had only one hit in a 3-0 loss to Tri-City. But Josh Horton, who has the game story, also sized up the Indians’ prospects in his online notebook. ... Everett is on a roll. As is Salem-Keizer.

• Preps: Ryan Maine will have something interesting to write about in his mandatory “How-I-Spent-My-Summer-Vacation” essay this fall at Freeman High. ... Once a Wampus Cat, always a Wampus Cat? That seems to be the case as this story from Jim Allen shows.

• Mariners: Another off day on the road for the M’s, this one in the Windy City. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few stories to pass along. There is John McGrath’s ode to Wrigley Field and the news Drew Storen, the M’s newest reliever, has always been a Mariners’ fan.

• Seahawks: By putting a bow on the John Schneider and Pete Carroll contract extensions, the Hawks have assured themselves some continuity for the next few years. As they have been winning recently, that’s a good thing. Now, can the club offer Michael Bennett some continuity as well? ... Schneider thinks Bennett will report to camp on time. ... Russell Wilson has no problem living up to an Armed-and-DangerRuss reputation. ... The Hawks signed veteran defensive lineman Chris Clemons in the offseason. It looks as if he won't even make training camp. ... Who will make up the Hawks' 53-man roster?

• Sounders: Seattle announced another international signing yesterday. ... Maybe this is why Sigi Schmid is gone. 

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• Another Friday. That means tomorrow is Saturday. Not too many of those left before they begin to get filled with college football. I love college football Saturdays except for one thing: They mean winter is coming. And, as you all probably know, I’m not a huge fan of winter. Oh well, it’s better than the alternative. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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