USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter made the rounds

Soccer really does matter - and it could matter even more

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter. Getty Images.

We had the USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter on the show Wednesday morning. What a great guy and get for the show. The U.S. team will be here taking on Chile on March 26. Hopefully it will go better than the last time they were here.

Houston's soccer ambassador Glenn Davis opened a press conference later that day by saying that it was an historic morning. Never before had a Houston sports radio show done three straight segments on soccer. Glenn called me that night and was gushing about how great it was. There may not be a nicer guy in the sports world.

My soccer knowledge is extremely limited and you have to be very careful around soccer guy (not Glenn Davis. He's too nice to be a jerk. I'm talking about soccer snob) because he will light you up if you take the tiniest misstep. Do not call it a field or a game or ever say zero. Soccer snob hates zero. Zero must have done something ugly to his sister because he doesn't want anything to do with zero.

My knowledge of the game is basically 5-year old soccer. My son JT played it then but the other parents asked us to stop bringing him because all he did was run around and knock over the little girls. That is not an exaggeration.

He did grow up on the video game FIFA though and became a huge Cristiano Ronaldo fan so we watched a bunch of Real Madrid games. We also get into the World Cup every four years.

I've been to a few Dynamo games. BBVA is one of our best stadiums. Their first manager Dominic Kinnear was a great guy. He was on the show a bunch and liked to give us the business. Then we had their next manager Owen Coyle on on a weekly basis. His Irish accent was so thick that I couldn't understand anything he said. Our producer Del wrote the questions for me. I'd ask a question then wait until he finished and ask the next. He could have threatened to kill me for all I knew. Couldn't understand a word.

I went and watched our national team play Argentina at NRG a few years ago. That wasn't very exciting. We didn't stand a chance. The difference between the two programs was obvious even to a soccer moron like me. It really wasn't all that surprising that the U.S. didn't qualify for the World Cup. We weren't very good.

And here we are: a new coach and a couple of good young players. Will it make a difference? I hope so. Every four years when the World Cup comes around I hear how soccer is going to take over the States; how baseball and basketball need to step it up or soccer will pass them in popularity. And then the World Cup ends and we're back to watching baseball and basketball again and soccer takes its place in the background.

That the MLS is more or less a second division for soccer doesn't help. We are a major league country. Don't ask us to watch minor league anything. We won't.

We did watch the Dynamo when they were winning titles but they haven't been doing that for a while. They sure could use a star or two. They haven't really had anyone recognizable since Brian Ching. They had a full house for the Tigres game this week. Unfortunately they were mostly all Tigres fans. That's got to change.

A really good U.S. team can change that. We're waiting for soccer to explode here but the only way that's going to happen is if our team makes a deep run in the World Cup. Give us something to cheer about and we will. Soccer guy might not like us all jumping on the bandwagon but I know Glenn Davis won't mind. He works tirelessly to promote the sport he loves in a city that just hasn't been all that receptive lately.

We will be though if Gregg Berhalter just gives us a reason to.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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