Saturday, March 21, 2009

Don't you hate spring?!

A lot of people get excited about the coming of spring. It's a time of hope, it seems, and all those other uplifting feelings that people who don't follow Canadian soccer often experience.

I don't. I hate this time of year.

You see, I live in a part of the land where snow covers the ground for much of the year. When the temperature inches a few degrees warmer, and the snow begins to recede, there is a progressive revelation of 5 months of trash, grime, and filth. Not to mention puddles and ice on the sidewalks and streets for several weeks that make both nearly un-navigable for the non-automobilist.

Still, I try. I've been cycling to work the past week, doing my best to avoid puddles, potholes, and asshole drivers. I recently had an experience that underlines how the damage of spring in this city is not only aesthetic, but emotional as well.

You see, when you're riding along wet roadways that are just beginning to uncover 5 months of accumulated dirt, sand, and salt, your bike is going to get dirty. Grimy, in fact. And if you don't clean it up a little before you put it away, good old fashioned rust goes to work. One sunny day, this last week, I was riding along, enjoying all the sundry clicking and grinding noises that are made by a 30-year old ten-speed rescued from a dumpster, when I heard a more final sounding SNAP.

By a combination of a corroded and poorly joined chain link, and sheer power from my lower limbs, I had snapped the chain of my bicycle. This is not ideal, when said bicycle is your only mode of transportation.

The chain isn't much use like this.

So I trudged home along treacherous sidewalks, pushing my steed beside me. This was a blow, but not the final one.

The final straw came as I was shuffling along a skating rink of a sidewalk and was about to walk past some hipster walking in the other direction. He nodded to the icy ground beneath our feet and said "I can see why you're not riding".

This was maddening for a number of reasons. First, I do not like to have my manhood called into question by a guy with a shoulder length side-parted bowl cut. Second, this chap failed to notice that riding was, in fact, not an option, due to the chain that was dangling from the entirely wrong part of the bicycle. Third, the streets were relatively clear of ice, meaning that in assuming I had chosen to walk on the sidewalk instead of riding, he perceived me to be both cowardly *and* foolhardy.

Finally, it was somewhat emasculating to notice a slight smirk at the ironic colouring of my bike. You see, the red frame pictured above is complemented by handlebars taped in pink, which is more anti-theft measure than anything else. I don't know what kind of calculations this guy was making about my person, but none of them could be good.

This time of year, I hate Winnipeg.

All of this is to say: I hate spring!

However, most don't share this point of view. Soccer fans among them. In North America spring signifies the beginning of the soccer calendar, and tonight is the night for most of MLS. Toronto will begin with a visit to Kansas City who, somewhat maddeningly to me, will be enjoying rather unseasonably warm weather this evening.

I don't really care that much about MLS for the time being, and I don't have the full array of cable channels necessary for me to be a true devotee of Toronto FC in any case. I'll have to wait for the matches that are carried by the Mother Corp. Still, I can feign interest and track the Canadian players on Toronto until I really get in the mood, once this dreadful in-between season is finally over.

Tracking the Canadians for tonight's match-up, it looks like their numbers may be reduced from the potential maximum:
Canadian Adrian Serioux is another newcomer, but the central defender is questionable for Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. Nana Attakora-Gyan, another Canadian defender, didn't travel with the team due to a hip flexor.


Carver was also coy about who will be his starting goalkeeper against the Wizards.

Greg Sutton was the team's No. 1 shot-stopper last season, but Brian Edwards started the first game of that season (and could again this year), while rookie Stefan Frei has looked impressive in training camp.
Nana is only a bench player at this point, so his absence doesn't change the scene too much. But if Sutton and Serioux don't start, the only Canucks in the lineup are likely to be Jim Brennan, Dwayne De Rosario, and possibly Kevin Harmse.

I'll always be following Real Salt Lake fairly closely this year, as I think Canadian international Will Johnson is going to have a huge season for the Stormin' Mormons.

The one bright spot about March is that I continue to enjoy the month-long free preview of Setanta sports. There are several leagues I'd rather watch over the English Premier, but watching the AIG-shirted suffering a loss to Fulham, while Rooney and Ronaldo compete for the title of Most Petulant Player, was quite a good way to begin my Saturday morning. Watching Man U lose is a weekend ritual I could see myself getting into.

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