08.20.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneThere are 576 international teams included in the FiveThirtyEight.com Global Club Soccer Rankings, positions determined by all sorts of data shoved into a software program that comes to measure something called the Soccer Power Index. It might be a bit underwhelming, then, to trumpet the fact that the LAFC has nudged itself up six spots to No. 304, while the Galaxy has dropped from 297 to 340. A far cry from Man U, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich. None of that info should factor into a discussion of the third and final version of El Trafico for this 2018 MLS season – at Carson’s StubHub Center, Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN. Based on the first two meetings, bizarreness seems to win out over rational computations.
The 2-2 draw back at Banc of California Stadium on July 26 was basically an LAFC loss, after it had built a 2-0 lead and saw things fall apart on the last 15 minutes of regulation. Then there’s that actual 4-3 Galaxy win back during the first meeting at StubHub Center on March 31, highlighted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s MLS debut and subsequent magical comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Without Ibrahimovic as well as Jonathan dos Santos, Giovani dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini – all kept back because of the pain they would endure on the artificial turf of CenturyLink Field — the Galaxy was demoralized in a 5-0 loss.  Ibrahimovic has still scored 15 goals in 16 starts for the Galaxy, who sat fifth in the Western Conference, two points behind third-place LAFC.

1twoWe don’t necessarily look forward to what they call “MLB Players Weekend,” which means all the players wear the cheap looking, softball-style uniforms and put their nicknames on the back. The Dodgers are scheduled to have “D MOUNTAIN” (Rich Hill) pitch the opener of a three-game weekend series against the Padres, followed by “KERSH” (Clayton Kershaw) and “AWOOD” (Alex Wood) to finish it up. None will get the help of KENLEYFORNIA but expect some defense assistance from EL MINISTRO – that’s Manny Machado, who was called “El Ministro de la Defensa” during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The Dodgers this week:
Home vs. St. Louis, Monday at 7:10 p.m., (SportsNet LA and Channel 5), Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. (SNLA), Wednesday at 7:10 p.m., (SNLA, ESPN, with a Chase Utley bobblehead giveaway).
Home vs. San Diego: Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 6:10 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m., all on SportsNet LA
The Angels this week:
At Arizona, Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports West
Home vs. Houston, Friday at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 6:07 p.m., Sunday at 1:07 p.m., all on FSW (Friday is an Angels’ ‘80s replica jersey giveaway)

1threeFor the L.A. NFL exhibition Week 2 doubleheader last Saturday, the Rams’ game at the Coliseum had an announced crowd of more than 69,000 in the afternoon – most of them, wearing Raiders’ gear – while the Chargers drew about 23,000 at StubHub Center for their nightly exercise against the Seahawks. Consider a year ago, the Chargers drew just 21,000 in the 27,000-seat stadium for their first L.A. appearance against Seattle in the exhibition season. The interest of who owns L.A. can’t be measured by any of this, yet it continues with another back-to-back test for Exhibition Week 3 on Saturday. The Rams take on Houston (Coliseum, 1 p.m., Channel 2) most likely without many of their starters, while the Chargers chill out against the Saints (StubHub Center,, 5 p.m, Channel  2, a CBS national game), after the Chargers have a join practice with the Saints on Wednesday and Thursday in Costa Mesa. Meanwhile, the Raiders are back in Oakland hosting the Packers (Friday, 7:30 p.m., Channel 5).


1fourThe Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, who’ve been knocking each other out of the WNBA trophy ceremony the last few years, meet again in the 2018 playoffs that begin this week – but this time it’s a one-and-done situation — Tuesday, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. p.m., ESPN2.
Although the Sparks finished tied for second in the Western Conference final standings, they go into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed based on overall record (19-15) and the fact they lost to Connecticut in the final regular-season game Sunday. The Sparks, who lost four of their five regulars-season games (all to playoff-bound teams), interestingly enough draw the defending champion Lynx (17-16), who dropped to fourth in the Western Conference and become the No. 7 seed overall.
If the Sparks win Tuesday, it’s back to Connecticut for a one-and-done second-round game against the No. 4 seeded Sun again (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2). Seattle and  Atlanta have byes through to the semifinals. More info: www.wnba.com


1fiveAs we try to figure out why the Radames Lopez team from Puerto Rico is playing in the International Bracket of the Little League World Series and not part of the U.S. Bracket … Since Huntington Beach repped the U.S. and outlasted Hamamatsu City Japan 2-1 in the 2011 title game, the Tokyo-Kitasuna team from Tokyo Japan has won the Little League World Series title three times (2017, 2015 and 2012). Another Japanese team (Musashi-Fucho in Tokyo) and a team from Seoul, South Korea alson won in 2013 and 2014. Only one other U.S. team – Maine-Endwell from New York – interrupted the international streak and took the 2016 title.
So, Puerto Rico (1-1), as the representative of the Caribbean Region, is alive and plays the Latin American Region champ, Vacamonte of Panama (1-1) on Monday (10 a.m., ESPN) to start the second week of action. Japan’s Lawaguchi Little League has already won its first two games of the tournament and has to wait until Wednesday (noon, ESPN) to face the Asia-Pacific Region reps, South Seoul of South Korea, in a battle of unbeaten.
This year’s International and U.S. title games are Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., in Williamsport, Pa., while the overall championship is Sunday at noon.
More info: www.littleleague.org

And then there’s this:
static1.squarespace.comThe first official weekend of college football happens. Already.
Call it Weak 0.
Saturday, we’ve got Prairie View at Rice (4 p.m., ESPN), Hawaii at Colorado State (4:30 p.m., CBSSN) and Wyoming at New Mexico State (7 p.m., ESPN2). There is a fourth game, but we won’t even bother you with it.
When Thursday, Aug. 30 rolls around, then we’re in for it.

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