Let's get physical: I wonder if maybe the point of the article should be sour grapes ("The Year of El Gato," by Rick Kennedy, July 14)?

The fact is that soccer is a physical game. They do not have physical players in many of the South American and Latin American leagues. Sure, it helps to make attractive soccer, but it doesn't help develop players of international quality.

Comparing Argentina and Brazil to Mexico is absurd. Argentina and Brazil are great teams because they combine the physical play with flair. The reason Mexico has been dominated by the U.S. recently is because the U.S. team is tactically, athletically and physically more gifted. The reason Landon Donovan disappears in Europe is because he is 5'8", 148 pounds. But he dominates Mexico because they can't physically dominate him. The reason Galvan Rey can score a ton of goals in the Colombian League and then come to Major League Soccer (MLS) and suck is because in Colombia the average defender is 5'8", 150. Here, the average defender is 6'1", 190 pounds.

Mario Torres and Oscar Pareja are very good with the ball at their feet. They have incredible foot skills. But MLS is not going to take a chance on players who a) have no tactical understanding of the game and b) cannot handle physical play. And that sums up most of the great players in the local Hispanic leagues.

Mario Torres isn't as talented as Ramon Nunez, so he doesn't see as much time. But he is in the same boat. Nunez has the ball skill to play in MLS, even to be a starter. But he is so easily marked out of a game and pushed around because of his size and lack of speed that he struggles to make an impact on games. Now, as a coach, who are you going to bring in? Someone who is "supposed" to be good but isn't strong enough to show it in games, or someone who is going to help you win?

As for Pareja, he excels in practice in short-sided games, where foot skill and ball skill matter more than fitness. But he just doesn't have the fitness to play in the league anymore. If you watched the Open Cup game last night, where he started and was one of the most ineffective players on the field, you would see that.

FC Dallas is a good team. The Dallas Burn was horrible. MLS has gotten so much better in the last three years, it is night-and-day different. If these guys would just come out and watch a good team--regardless of whether or not it has two European players, or if it has a handful of Latin players, or if it has two black players--they would see the team is much improved. Futbol is football. We all love the game, and as long as the team is good, we should be able to support it. And don't hide behind a wall of racism just because our best player is black, white, purple, orange or blue.

Jason Benfield


On the ball: What a great article on FC Dallas. That was an incredibly thorough piece--you gave most of the important voices a place to have their say. Thank you.

I will say that I think the claim that Colin Clarke is a racist should have been allowed to be addressed directly by the coach himself. That is a pretty serious charge, and one the facts simply don't support. I also think that Greg Elliott and Andy Swift should have been given more of a chance to give their perspective.

But those are minor comments. In the end, those who have an open mind will read the entire thing and learn something. Those who have already made up their minds will pick out their validation statements and move on. But you and your staff did their job.

Kevin Lindstrom

Via e-mail

Rogers at Bat

No more excuses: There is something seriously pathological about those fans who made excuses for Kenny Rogers ("Balls for Brains," by Jim Schutze, July 14)--e.g., "He's under pressure with contract negotiations, or he had a bad day." This sends a message to teenagers as well as younger children that it's OK to be a bully because Kenny did it and look, nothing happened to him! It sends the message "It's OK to kick the sh*t out of the skinny kid down the street." If Rogers escapes with nothing more than evoking pathetic tenderness from his fans, then humanity is locked in a time warp of the ancient Roman arena.

Bruce Kaller


Ball's in their court: After--what?--five or six scathing Pulitzer-quality columns on City Hall, Dallas officialdom must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jim Schutze took on Kenny Rogers instead of City Hall in this week's column.

Norton Rosenthal


Serious Scientology

A body of practical data: I have been a Scientologist for 30 years, so it was with great surprise and disappointment that I read your parody of a story on Scientology (Full Frontal, July 14). I guess your regular readers might know that the letters accompanying the article were made up by your writer as derogatory jokes. But whether or not they knew they were fake, the snickering put-down of our religion by your writer seemed to be gleefully written for teenage boys. The implication that a person has to be gay to do Scientology is bizarre. The article completely skipped over what Scientology is: a body of practical data that can be used to help reach one's goals in life. The article completely ignored the obvious question: Why are there so many successful people in Scientology, including entrepreneurs, professionals and, of course, celebrities? What are the tools in Scientology that help make these people successful? How does Scientology help people get off drugs? Perhaps someday you'll write a real story on Scientology.

Richard Jessup


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