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A few notes from an exciting soccer weekend…

It was great to see such a large turnout Saturday night in Oakland – almost 40,000, the largest crowd the Quakes ever pulled in. (The Quakes did play a home match in front of a bigger crowd once, but that MLS match was tacked on to a Women’s World Cup game, so, no, that doesn’t really count.)

Anyway… the crowd in the press box was just as impressive. You know it’s not your usual MLS game when Playboy Magazine is represented on press row. Maybe they heard the rumor about somebody playing “sexy football,” and had to check it out.

Post-game, usually, there’s maybe 10 reporters forming a semi-circle around Frank Yallop for his post-game comments. Saturday night, the media room at McAfee Coliseum was packed with about 50 people, including 5 TV cameras. (Harvey, my CLS brother, you should have made it six.) It gives you a glimpse how big this league could get. And, if anyone from the NY Red Bulls or the (soon-to-be) Seattle Sounders were tuning in, it might help them do the math about the ROI (marketing hipster-speak for “return on investment”) a Thierry Henry contract might bring in.

You think it’s tough waiting for the Quakes to find some help up front, just imagine you’re Frank Yallop. The Quakes coach talks about the July 15 transfer window opening like a kid anxiously looking forward to Christmas, but unsure of what Santa Doyle will bring him. With all the trialists coming and going, the Quakes should (read: better) have someone (or two) on board by their July 27 game vs. New York. Starting with that July 27 game, the Quakes will have 9 of their last 13 games at home for a final push to the playoffs.

Yeah, I said playoffs. Despite looking every bit like an expansion team so far, the Quakes are just six points away from a playoff spot (with two games in hand) as I type this. It helps to be in the weak Western Division this season.

It’s good to see the Quakes are creating more chances, but the goals are still slow to come. Meanwhile… hang on, I think the U.S. just scored again vs. Barbados.

As happy as I was to see the turnout in Oakland, the Sunday crowd down in Carson was sad, just 11,476 to see the 8-0 US win. Some blame that dismal attendance on the lack of a “name” opponent (especially coming a week after the US played Argentina), but it was a World Cup qualifier, on a sunny day, and who wouldn’t want to see the US score a bunch of goals? I blame the brain trust at US Soccer, who could’ve done more to hype the match, and maybe should’ve scheduled it to be played somewhere where it’d get more attention.

I don’t have much good to say about the business-side of US Soccer. One glance at USSoccer.com (when it’s not crashing) shows how amateur hour they can be — the site looks like my bedroom floor when I haven’t done laundry in several weeks. What a mess. (The US Open Cup is a US Soccer event — not an MLS event — which might explain why it’s so poorly marketed.)

Moving on… I hope MLS and US Soccer can work together a little better when it comes to scheduling. I understand it’s impossible for the league to take a week or two off during World Cup Qualifying, but could MLS at least not hold matches the same day as the National Team? (I’m guessing the answer is “no,” due to the Telefutura TV contract.)

I still remember a night in 2005 when the Quakes were in Dallas, playing at the same time as a World Cup Qualifier. The World Cup qualifier was shown on the Pizza Hut Park’s video screens while the MLS game was going on simultaneously on the field. The crowd would react to something happening in the game on TV, and players on both Dallas and San Jose would stop, turn and look.

At least on Sunday the two matches were timed so that they could’ve been put together as a double header, so that’s progress. (Did FC Dallas show the US game on the stadium TVs once they were done beating Chicago?) But it’d be good to have our soccer nation’s attention focused solely on the National Team on World Cup match days.