Pardon the absence. Spent much of the past two days working on a human-interest story about the Washington Spirit that will appear in print editions and online early next week.

*In an MLS match Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City won at New York, 1-0, and extended its shutout streak to 519 minutes. The announced crowd at Red Bull Arena was 12,338 — a low, but not uncommon, figure for a mid-week sporting event. The Baltimore Orioles, a playoff team last fall, drew 13,591 last night. The Pittsburgh Pirates: 9,570. Apples and orange, yes: Baseball teams play 81 home games, MLS teams host 17. But it does illustrate the challenge of getting people into a stadium for a mid-week league game of any kind early in the season.

Special events, however, do draw: At San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, despite the absence of European-based players, more than 46,000 attended Mexico’s 0-0 draw with Peru last night.

Revisiting non-soccer parallels…..

Following last fall’s elections, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Republicans should “stop being the stupid party.”

Maybe Red Bulls Coach Mike Petke should embrace a similar mantra after watching Juninho foolishly kick a dead ball at Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and receive a red card. Nielsen reacted as if he had just taken a punch from Mike Tyson, but Juninho’s actions were worthy of punishment. Last month, New York defender Roy Miller infamously and intentionally entered the box early on an opposing penalty kick, thinking he could nullify a successful conversion.

“He let his emotions get the best of him,” Petke said of Juninho. “It’s happened to me hundreds of times, happens to many of these players.”

*Speaking of stupidity, San Jose forward Alan Gordon will miss four matches for his behavior Sunday at Portland: one for a red card and three for using “unacceptable and abusive language.”

“I said the wrong thing. I made a mistake. And that came from somewhere I didn’t even know was in me,” a contrite Gordon told Bay Area reporters. [More from the San Jose Mercury News.]

You may not agree with MLS punishing players for the words they choose, but the league has acted consistently in recent years when such language is used. Gordon has only himself to blame.

*Americans abroad

MF Michael Bradley went 90 minutes in Roma’s 3-2 victory at Inter Milan, securing passage to the Italian Cup final on a 5-3 aggregate. They’ll face Lazio on May 26, meaning Bradley will report a week late to U.S. national team camp ahead of the friendlies against Belgium in Cleveland (May 29) and Germany in Washington (June 2).

MF Sacha Kljestan played 90 and capped Anderlecht’s three-goal first half with his second goal of the league campaign (video of his shot from distance) in a 3-0 victory over Lokeren.

F Charlie Davies and Randers reached the Danish Cup final against Brondby or Esbjerg with a 3-2 triumph (4-2 aggregate) over Horsens. D Clarence Goodson and Brondby drew the first leg 1-1 and will visit Esberg at 2:30 ET today.

*U.S. national team ticket updates (approximate numbers):

Belgium friendly: 13,000+

Germany friendly: 30,000

Panama qualifier in Seattle: 29,000

*Finally, here’s a sneak preview of a heart-warming documentary in the making about the Sons of Ben, the Philadelphia Union supporters’ group that formed before there was a Philadelphia Union to support. (The filmmakers are seeking funding to complete the project.)