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Lagerwey or the highway

Standing in this week for SI's Grant Wahl...

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Posted: Wednesday June 14, 2000 04:06 PM


SI's Grant Wahl is on vacation; his regular Inside U.S. Soccer column will return July 5. In the meantime, the keyboard has been handed over to special guest columnist Garth Lagerwey, a former Duke University star and the most eloquent backup goalkeeper on the Miami Fusion roster.

Grant took a vacation, so he let me take over for a couple of weeks. No worries, happy reader, you will get your fill of real insider news again shortly. Just think of the interregnum as shorter than Ben Olsen's mop and longer than George Gelnovatch's Major League Soccer playing career.

In the meantime, I have a couple of ideas...

Mischievous mismatches of the week

Every week in a press release and on its Web site, MLS lists its key matchups -- the two players from opposing teams who are most likely to determine the outcome of the week's games.
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These predictions are usually as accurate and compelling as the inanities that spew forth from my speaking orifice when I am out having a couple of cocktails and romancing the young ladies, so I thought it would be more entertaining to cover some of the league's most unbalanced showdowns.

Brandon Pollard, Dallas Burn vs. Darth Vader --

Brandon recently averted a confrontation between teammate Eric Dade and Mamadou Diallo of the Mutiny by moving his hands in circular motions around Diallo's noggin, using his healing powers to reshape the energy field around Diallo's head.

Vader, we have recently learned, took three movies before realizing his potential to manipulate the Force. Brandon has only been this far out there for a couple of months. There is no limit to his potential.

Verdict: Pollard in a rout, and that is if he doesn't use aromatherapy, another of his burgeoning interests.

Jeff Bilyk vs. N'Sync --

My roommate is to cuteness what the figure of an MLS goalkeeper coach is to a barrel of rum. Though not the only player to attend a high school girls' all-star game and emerge with a phone number, he is the next generation's Cobi Jones, an up-and-coming, pre-teen matinee idol.

Verdict: N'Sync may have more street credibility right now, but Bilyk is a bruiser, and when things get rough, he could kick all their Barbie-Doll-wannabe butts.

P-40 vs. Dan Calichman and Mark Semioli --

The catch here is that they would be participating in a spelling bee. With the exception of the obvious -- Duke graduates -- the big red head and the lawyer are the Socrates and Aristotle of MLS players.

Hopefully, Project-40 developmental program will turn out more stars than Marcus Hahnemann can eat plates of spaghetti, because it is a gamble along the lines of starting a controlled burn right outside Los Alamos.

Verdict: Um, New England's Carlos Parra spelled honesty with an "O." You make the call.

Intense interview

One of the coolest aspects of being an MLS player is the wide-open access it gives me to the really big stars. This week I decided to use my clout to get an exclusive with Marcus Owens, Miami Fusion equipment professional.

Q: Any reaction to being named MVP of today's scrimmage?

Marcus: I am somewhat taken aback. At my age, the skills are gone.

Q: Are you still good enough to play D3, USL?

Marcus: I don't have the fitness for 90 minutes, but it would be 20 or 30 minutes of hell for someone.

Q: How long did it take before your tank was empty today?

Marcus: It was empty when I got out there.

Q: How many pints will it take to refill it?

Marcus: Twelve seems like a good round number. That way the fuel will be sloshing around in the tank.

Q: When you get really pumped, do you use more suds in the laundry?

Marcus: My measuring cups are marked, so I use the same level every day.

Q: With all the heavy lifting you do in your job, do you do a lot of sit-ups to stay in shape?

Marcus: I prefer the 12-ounce elbow curls.

Q: You worked in Myrtle Beach before you joined us. Why do you always work on the beach?

Marcus: I like to surf.

Q: With all that beachfront living, are you pretty smooth with the ladies?

Marcus: No. I am a quiet, reserved guy.

Q: You mentioned that you took this job to get your foot in the door of professional sports. Where do you want to work next?

Marcus: The English Premier League or whoever pays me the most.

Q: Is there anything you dislike about your job?

Marcus: Chasing balls in the stands when Henry Gutierrez kicks them there.

Q: When Henry kicks balls over the fence into the airport in practice, are there any hazards you have to contend with in retrieving them?

Marcus: Snakes, spiders, bees and the little Portuguese guys in the hangar.

Q: Do you wear gloves to pick up the training gear at the end of practice?

Marcus: No.

Q: When you are picking up the dirty training gear barehanded, do you ever think of what the players were doing last night?

Marcus: I try not to wonder about that kind of thing. I just use plenty of hot water and soap.

Q: Does it upset you when Jeff Cassar gets hot and peels off his shorts and goes spandex and headband only in training?

Marcus: I am not alone in that opinion.

Fantastic finale

When I asked my new editor if I was going to get paid for helping him out with the column, he explained that instead he was giving me a lot of exposure. Most of my friends feel I got enough of that while I was the streaking the quad in college. His comment is enlightening, however, because it implies I may have discovered a field less lucrative than that of MLS player.

As the P-40 member of the literary pavilion, I look up to my readers as the Francis Okaroh and Thomas Dooley of my writing career.

Well, hopefully some of you aren't that old. Anyway, please use the Web, and tell me if you laughed harder than a player confronted with a post-match curfew. Look at it as endorsing Commisioner Garber's idea of propelling MLS from niche to national sport.

I will facilitate reader-writer sharing by concluding with this pearl of wisdom from my aforementioned, revealing collegiate "career." Never forget, ladies and gentlemen, that it is coldness, not the come-from-behind goal in injury time, that is the great equalizer.

Related information
SI's Grant Wahl: Garber talks
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