Other news from the weekend

Okay, before I get to the MLS playoffs, I want to take a moment to mention one of the greatest finishes in the history of motor racing if not all of sports.

Let me set the scene. It’s the final race of the Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton has to finish, at worst, fifth to beat Felipe Massa to the world championship. Massa is winning the race, but if Lewis finishes fifth or better, it doesn’t matter. If Lewis finishes worse than fifth, Massa wins the world title. In the end, it all came down to the final corner of the final race of the season. In the span of one lap, I went from calling Hamilton a “choking dog,” and yes, I used those exact words, to calling it the greatest finish in the history of motor racing. The finish is below.

I don’t care if you don’t like racing. That kind of drama is why I watch Formula 1. Yes, for over 90 percent of the season, the races are tedious, the officials are crooked, the protagonists are dull and everyone involved is filthy, obnoxiously rich. But finishes like that one just make it all worth it. At the end of most recent seasons, I’ve found myself saying, “eh, I am not going to allow myself to get so involved the next year.” Then, March rolls around and there I am am, an inch from my TV, watching the first practice session from Australia at 2 in the morning.

After this year’s finish, I’ve skipped that middle step. Now, I cannot wait for March and the season-opening race.

  • Okay, on to the soccer. I dunno what it says about MLS that, in its first batch of playoff games, the key goals were scored by Steven Lenhard, Kei Kamara and Yura Movsisyan. Does it show that these young US-trained players can step up on the big occasion? Does it show that the stars on these respective teams didn’t perform when it counted? I don’t really know. At least the games had some drama, if not too much scoring. I am looking forward to the matches next weekend. With Columbus, Houston, and Chicago all hosting crucial second legs, we should see some big time action in front of some big time crowds. Frankly, there’s no excuse for any of the four matches to draw fewer than 20,000. I suspect Chivas won’t do so, but we shall see. I’ll have more specific thoughts on these matches later in the week.
  • Is the party over at Chelsea? Now, I am not suggesting that they are about to go broke and collapse Leeds-style, but if Roman expects the team to start making some semblance of a profit, you can expect a big change in how Chelsea goes about some of its business. Frankly, it would take a sell-off of massive proportions to damage their very safe looking title chances this season. But I suspect we might not see a Chelsea team this strong again if Roman is serious about making some his investment back.
  • Like everyone else, I am thrilled that Jozy Altidore scored his first goal for Villareal. Let’s hope it’s the first of many more.
  • Great story here by Tim Vickery on the rejuvenated striker Adriano
  • I don’t often talk about college soccer here, but good lord – how good is Wake Forest? The defending national champs are on the verge of wrapping up their regular season undefeated and with only one tie. Get this, during the season Wake has scored three-or-more goals 12 times including over top-quality opposition like UCLA, UCSB, Maryland, BC and North Carolina. Wowza.
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