By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001
Dallas debera mantener en control al talentoso volante Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama y al siempre peligroso delantero Mamadou "Big Mama" Diallo.
Long before the new census figures were out, long before Saturday's season openers were looming, Major League Soccer sought to expand its official Web site to embrace more of its fan base. Thursday's relaunch, headlined by a Spanish-language version of the site's news page, is a big step in giving America's version of the world's most popular sport a more international following online.
The translation, for those wondering, refers to the Tampa Bay Mutiny's season opener at the Dallas Burn on Saturday: "Dallas will have to keep control of the flying, talented Carlos Valderrama and the always dangerous Mamadou Diallo." But MLS wants its Spanish endeavors at MLSnet.com to be more than just a translation.
Not only will major news stories be available in both languages, beginning next week a weekly feature story and column will be available exclusively in Spanish. Other stories aren't translations, but rather "transcreations," taking on a new slant for Spanish-speaking readers. Fans can listen to the league's weekly Spanish media teleconference call online, and the site has a listing of Spanish radio broadcasts of MLS games, including WAMA-AM 1550 for the Mutiny.
"We want to make our Web site a meeting place for the new America," said Dan Courtemache, MLS vice president of communications. "We looked at our fan base across the country, and we almost mirror the most recent census numbers."
Soccer, after all, is a game whose following is infinitely stronger outside the United States, and many of the top stars of MLS speak Spanish, including the Mutiny's Colombia-born Valderrama.
Entering its sixth season, the MLS is battling with bigger, more established sports for space in newspapers and precious seconds on highlight shows, and Courtemache said soccer fans have flocked to the Internet for the information they're not finding elsewhere.
"We don't have the mainstream media covering us like the NFL or other leagues, so we've found that the Internet is basically the talk radio of soccer, with all the buzz, the rumors, the trades, the fans going back and forth."
For local soccer coverage, check out tampabaymutiny.com or mutinyfans.com, which both have message boards and news.
STRUCK OUT, LOOKING: If baseball's new strike zone has you arguing with umpires more than ever, MSNBC.com has an interactive feature that helps show what should be a strike, what used to be a strike and how pitchers are adjusting. There's a tricky quiz that asks you to make the call. It's easy to look bad with this one, faster than you can say Rick Ankiel.
TID-BYTES: To keep up with everything in Augusta this weekend, check out the popup live leaderboards at masters.org. ... Rotonews.com, one of the best fantasy baseball sites, has relocated to rotowire.com after its parent company, Broadband Sports, folded. ... A faction of anti-Duke basketball fans tired of hearing Dick Vitale rave about the Devils is active at petitiononline.com, asking ESPN to not let Vitale cover Duke games. The petition has more than 2,700 signatures, good for No. 10 on the site before Duke's victory Monday. Among the recent "signatures" are Shane Battier, Mike Krzyzewski, the late Len Bias (twice) and former Duke star Jay Bilas.
- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, send an e-mail to staff writer Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org.