Rank and File: Union at Portland Timbers

A few news items first...

First, in case you haven't heard yet, David Beckham did not make the trip to Philadelphia because Galaxy coach Bruce Arena wanted to rest him between weekend games.

As for the Union's injury report, the noteworthy items are that Stefani Miglioranzi is doubtful with a right groin strain, and Gabriel Farfan is probable with a left hamstring strain.

Second, Major League Soccer announced today that the MLS Cup Final will be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Sunday, November 20. The game will kick off at 9 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

The scheduling of the game prompted a lot of outrage among Union fans, because the Giants and Eagles are playing the Sunday Night Football game at 8:20 p.m. that night.

This is the third year in a row that ESPN has televised the MLS Cup Final in prime time, and also the the third year in a row that the Eagles are scheduled to play a Sunday night game on the same night. In 2009, the Eagles were at Chicago, and last year they hosted the Giants.

For what it's worth, the MLS Cup Final has been played during all or part of an Eagles game every year since 2006.

While it would be nice for fans in Philadelphia and New York to have an earlier kickoff, that would almost guarantee that the game would be broadcast on a less prominent channel.

No matter how much time we spend trying to rig our cable boxes, MLS games still get microscopic TV ratings. They aren't just a fraction of what the NFL and college football draw, but also less than just about every other sport ESPN televises - including poker.

(As an aside, ESPN's significant investment in college football - including new contracts signed with multiple BCS conferences in the last 12 months - is the reason why the MLS Cup final won't be on a Saturday any time soon. Good luck to the U.S. national team trying to get prominent TV slots for its Saturday World Cup qualifiers in the fall of 2012 and 2013.)

You might argue that if ESPN gave the MLS Cup a better time slot, the ratings would improve. That may be, but no profit-making television network in its right mind would take that kind of risk when given the opportunity to present American football-centered programming.

MLS ratings will have to rise on their own before the league has a chance of escaping the offensive lineman-sized shadow cast by American football.

If you want to read something that will make you feel better, here's a story from the AP to check out.  

LONDON - Soccer's governing body was hit with new corruption allegations Tuesday when six FIFA executive committee members were accused of receiving or demanding bribes during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast were allegedly paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar, according to evidence submitted to a British parliamentary inquiry by The Sunday Times newspaper.

Yeah. Makes us all feel great, doesn't it.

Now for your player ratings from Friday's game in Portland. 


Faryd Mondragón: 6.55


Carlos Valdés: 7.45
- "I thought Valdes and Williams were the men of the match. Without them it would have easily been 4-0." (Ethan Gomberg)

Sheanon Williams: 7.36
- "Did well as a centerback, but was put in a mismatch in trying to mark Futty on set pieces and we paid for it." (George Hasenecz)

Michael Farfan: 6.18
- "The Farfan twins were terrific, given this was their first MLS start and they were playing out of position. It is great to see we do have defensive depth!" (Chris Lane)

Gabriel Farfan: 6.09
- "The Farfan twins were great, much better than I expected them to be." (Ethan Gomberg)


Justin Mapp: 5.40

Kyle Nakazawa: 5.00

Amobi Okugo: 5.33

Roger Torres: 4.89


Sebastien Le Toux: 5.55
- "You have got to start to wonder about Le Toux. His chances weren't sitting ducks, but you get the feeling last year he would have netted at least one of them. Still love the guy, especially for his non-stop motor, but in the end it is putting the ball into the net that matters." (Chris Lane)

Jack McInerney: 4.75

Danny Mwanga: 5.45
- "Got into some dangerous spots in the 1st half, but then disappeared in the 2nd." (George Hasenecz)

Carlos Ruiz: 4.63
- "Can't complain enough about what he has done to this offense which was free-flowing and exciting last year." (JP)


Peter Nowak: 2.00
- "Peter Nowak gets a 2. So let's see you are down two defenders for the game and you don't play your 5th highest paid player who is your spare defender. Wait, he isn't even on the bench but yet he is healthy....? I still believe in Nowak and the kids played well, but I think it's time for at least some questions to be raised." (Pete Olmsted)
- "I would have given Nowak a 2 because of the team he put on the field. No offensive attack at all." (Dave Q.)