The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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I Returned!

And it was about time, too. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Honduras is an amazing country with a proud people who have stood firm through decades of hardship. I am not denying that. And they completely took me in and helped me lay low when that international criminal ring was trying to kill me. That is a given, for real. Much credit for that, Honduras. I hope the day never comes, but if you are ever in a dark alley at a time of need, I will have your back, Honduras. That’s how things are now. Between you and me. Between us.

On the other hand, Honduras is not exactly the world’s capital of being able to catch Lost at its regularly-scheduled broadcast hour. Between thatUnion Flag and the way my internet access would always cut out just when I was getting to the meaty part of an Ives post (nothing worse than being 45 comments into a 150-comment thread on Andrew Wiedeman’s national-team potential and suddenly getting thrown a 404 error), I was ready to come home, I won’t lie to you. So when I heard through the grapevine that Dancer and his lieutenants had gone down in an Interpol sting on the illegal praying-mantis trade, the first thing I did was jump on an airplane and head for the first non-“different” McDonald’s double cheeseburger I could find. I got it at the airport. It tasted like pure-grade joy.

I love you, home and native land. There’s no shame in being a man who cries when he thinks of his country. There is no shame in being a man who cries proud tears at the airport due to his country’s ability to serve him up a delicious double-cheeseburger at an affordable price. I have so much TV lined up on my iPod, it’s like 30 Rock and House are in there having an awesome, tiny party. Just popping vicodin and saying catchphrases till they can’t feel their legs anymore. I don’t even know what I’m talking about. I just got back two days ago, you guys.

Anyway, now that I’m here, I figure it’s time to catch up on what’s been going on in the old ML of S. I mean, this isn’t a league where you can afford to take a pause. You sleep on a story one day, the next day 23,478 blog comments have been generated about something called “CSS” (apparently the league’s new website forgot to use it? Like I said, I got the main action on Ives, but it was always like, “skim to the fourth paragraph before the roaming power outage knocks out your system and forces you to go outside and appreciate the elemental beauty of a Central American lightning storm”).

I mean, so, I know there was a big deal with the collective bargaining agreement while I was out, and I guess that’s taken care of, so good. In case you were curious, here’s my theory on collective-bargaining negotiations: Pay a man. Just pay a man and he will play soccer for you, entertaining thousands. It doesn’t always have to be complicated. You don’t always have to be Tina Fey saying “shut it down.” Sometimes the world just wants to watch a man play soccer. You know what I mean? So just pay him.

Now that’s not to say that the guy who’s getting paid doesn’t have a pretty big obligation not to ask for too much and make the wonderful thing of watching a man play soccer start to feel like the less-wonderful thing of watching a man stress out between yacht purchases. Be reasonable, man who is getting paid. You have a steady income, after all. That’s more than a lot of people in these complicated times.

CheeseteakSo anyway. I knew I wanted to hit the ground running with this Soccer of the Major League business. Luckily, Run of Play was able to use its clout with the league office to get me a seat at the all-time home opener of the Philadelphia Union tomorrow. (Apparently the code for the new site actually contained hidden death threats directed at prominent North Carolina politicians as well as the platform of something called the “Aggro-Separatist Planter’s Revival Party,” and Brian got on the phone and hinted at a desire to tip off the Raleigh News & Observer.) So what that means is that I’m writing this from the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Philadelphia!

I’m super-excited to be here. Philly’s a weird town—in the cab line at the airport, I counted seven guys with mustaches, which, if you think about it, is just way too many—but I’m kind of digging the vibe. It’s like, and maybe I’m just thinking this because no one knows how the whole MLS experiment will work out, but it’s like the whole city placed a huge bet on bad odds and is constantly waiting on the outcome. Just constantly measuring up against that one tiny sliver of hope. That’s it. That is exactly it. Philadelphia is “the town that doubled down.”

Anyway, Ives fans, I’m going to check this and go exploring—maybe cruise past the new stadium, maybe get some face time with the Liberty Bell. I am high on this country, and I am about to go see where the Constitution happened. I’ll be back after that + some cheesesteaks.

Word is I can do footnotes on here now. A person is about to spread his wings.

Word is bond, Honduras. I will get you a coffee, Honduras.

I guess not feeling his legs anymore is the whole reason House takes vicodin, so in a way he might as well just be at home playing the piano or gazing pensively into a bottle of bourbon or whatever, but I mean, I just think an unbelievable run of catchphrases from the cast of 30 Rock would also help to take his mind off the infarction.

That sounds spectacular, and yeah, I could get romantic about it, but trust me, eventually you just want to know what the Jesus is happening with Sawyer.


I Returned!

by Vandal-prone · April 9, 2010

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