Soccer birthdays: It’s a big day for American soccer birthdays. And probably a day for us all to count our blessings.
John O’Brien (pictured) may have been the best all-around man in a U.S. shirt during that amazing quarterfinal dash at World Cup 2002. Blessed with a silky touch and a giant soccer brain, O’Brien put it all together that summer for Bruce Arena’s team.
Later, a series of debilitating injury took the Ajax-trained Californian out of the game way too early. Following a couple of aborted comebacks, O’Brien walked away from the game after playing just once for Chivas USA in 2006.
He turns 35 on Wednesday.
Still on the subject of counting your blessings: Pablo Mastroeni was set for another season with the Colorado Rapids. But symptoms lingered from an early season concussion and it now seems entirely, sadly possible that the former Rapids’ captain, also a 2002 World Cup veteran and a member of the 2006 World Cup side, has played his final professional soccer contest. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the man.
Mastroeni turns 36 on Wednesday.
Big Important Stories of the Day: The last Wednesday in August is what we call a “Dandy!” There’s CONCACAF Champions League fate to be decided out in sunny So Cal, where the Galaxy can keep ahead of the small pack with a win over Puerto Rico (a team that has spoiled the Galaxy CCL plans before). A trio of MLS games features suddenly hot Columbus against Philadelphia – and you do not want to miss a chance to see the Crew’s newest wow-wow duo, Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain. They’re good.
And that’s not even the best. D.C. United hosts New York in a clash of Eastern rivals. (Hint: take the Black and Red. Their stars are rested, they look great at home in 2012 and the Red Bulls have mostly struggled away from the comfort of their Harrison home.)
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Zach Thornton
*Ahead on the blog today: The Daily Dempsey will make another appearance … tick-tock … tick-tock… Transfer deadline day is Friday. We’ll have some thoughts on first-year MLS coaches and how it might affect the big decisions ahead between Caleb Porter and Portland. And we tell you why San Jose has already more or less wrapped up the Western Conference crown.
That’s right. Box up the blue ribbon or the replica Arch (you know, gateway to the West and all …) or whatever it is they give to the Western Conference winner and ship to Buck Shaw Stadium. We’re calling the race! Already. Check back later and you’ll see why.
Getting into the afternoon and evening time, Richard Farley will have something to say about the MLS matches later Wednesday.
It’s a big day. We’ve been carbing up. We’re set.
What you should watch on TV today: D.C. United-New York is on Galavision (8 p.m. ET). I hear that other people get Gala in HD just fine. I am jealous, because Gala in HD on my set looks like rabbit ear TV circa 1986. And that makes me pout. Just ask my poor girlfriend.
Galaxy-Puerto Rico is up on FSC at 10 p.m. ET.
PST background noise while blogging today: Weather Channel all day. Keeping our fingers crossed for all our friends in New Orleans and points nearby. Hang tough, guys.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is…