Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
The deadline passes
Wow, that was one of the more hectic transfer deadlines. It was actually kinda fun following who is going where. Heck, even financially strapped Ipswich got in on the action and make some promising moves. My favorite move though was DaMarcus Beasley getting a new chance in Manchester
(the blue half). I think this will be a great move for him. Of course, how can I not mention the coup Wet Spam pulled off under ManUres nose. Nice one.
Two players not going anywhere though were Clint Dempsey and Josh Wolff. Both are staying where they are for different reasons. Wolff couldn't get a work permit. Surprising though that Man U got one for Tim Howard but Derby couldn't get one for Wolff. It's not like Howard had a lot more International experience when he made the move. Dempsey has a major beef with the league. But I'm sure he'll be the last one laughing. Why would MLS be so adamant about keeping one they suspend for 2 matches every other month?
Last weekend was pretty good. Town finally got their first win of the season and best of all, I got to see it live. Then LA goes and thumps DC 5-2 in RFK...too bad I wasn't able to see that match. We won't talk about Wednesdays match in Salt Lake.
Jamie Trecker freaked the heck out of me the other day. He wrote and entire column which I agreed with
- The US is missing out by not having a coach yet and not playing a friendly this weekend. Yep.
- Don Garber seems to be getting paid a disproportionate amount compared to what he's paying most of his employees. As much as $2 million/year, yep.
- MLS made a major goof not selling Clint Dempsy to Charlton. They'll realize their mistake when they get smaller offers for him in January and they get nothing for him next year.
- Single Table and separate (third) domestic competition at the end of the season. Ok, he had to go overboard somewhere.
Still, it's not often that I agree with either of the Trecker's so I've got to mention when it happens.
Speaking of writers going overboard with idea's...who is this Doug McIntyre guy
? Sorry Doug, your idea there is even more confusing and even less productive than what's already in place. Yeah, the higher seed home side only has to pull out a draw to go through to the next playoff round. Yeah, the playoffs are already so much more exciting and draw so many more fans to the matches than the regular season does. Having the home side only need a draw is really going to liven up the matches. A move like the one McIntyre suggests will only make things worse.
My favorite time of the year
Honest, this is my favorite time of the year. MLS season is heading to the playoffs. The season has started in England: heck, Ipswich are on TV here on Friday...not that they've done much so far this season to get excited about. I'm even watching Accrington Stanley play Notts Forest right now. College Football starts in a couple of weeks. NFL preseason has started. You've got to love it. There's so much to Tivo right now. I just finished watching the last couple of Tour de France stages--doped or not, that was a heck of a stage by Floyd Landis). Guess I can expect to go without sleep for a while...just like during the World Cup.
Anyway, the reason I mention all that is I watched two matches last night. I'm not counting the ManU-Fulham match as I couldn't watch once Man U went 3-0 up. The Reading-Middlesbrough and LA-Dallas games. Two players stood out to me: Bobby Convey and Landon Donovan. Not because they were the best players on the pitch but more the difference in how their careers have gone.
Convey signed with MLS at a young age. He grew and developed with DC and then went to Europe when he got the chance. He had a couple of disappointing years in England before he came to life. He looked like a seasoned professional and I hafta say he's a much better player than I thought he'd be when I was watching him at DC.
Donovan signed with Bayer Leverkusen at a young age. He was home sick and struggled to find a spot in the team. He managed to get a loan deal done to send him to San Jose. He excelled there and when he came time to go back to Leverkusen, he gave it about 5 games before deciding it was too much effort to fight for a spot (my opinion) and jumped at the chance to move to LA full time. He's a gifted player and carried LA through the playoffs last season, but you can do that when you are a big fish in a small pond.
A couple months ago back in Germany, you saw two different players. Convey was one of the bright lights for the pathetic US side. The jury is still out if Donovan was actually there.
Convey is playing well above his abilities, Donovan seems to play within himself unless the season is on the line. I know who I'd rather watch.
Giant Steps are what you take...
I’ve been starting posts and never finishing them for the last couple of weeks. I’ve really got to get back into more of a routine on this. But I’m here now.
So, what’s happened since I last posted?
Read through my blog and you’ll see numerous posts where I talk about the League/Sport of soccer needing to take baby steps to get where we (soccer fans in the US) would like it to be. That’s my theme today.
The MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea 1-0. Yeah, I actually watched some of it. I know I always say All-Star games are a joke, but I tuned in during the early part of the second half. At first it was just in the background I did other stuff but it slowly grabbed my attention. By the end of the match, I was sitting there watching it. To be honest, it wasn’t a bad game. Personally, I don’t buy Mourinho’s excuse that his players weren’t as fit as they should have been. Ok, so maybe they aren’t, but weren’t those same players playing on Germany just a month ago and didn’t the US players (granted there were only 3 on the All-Star team) get their butts handed to them? Most of the Chelsea players knew each other and have played together. Most of the MLS players had just a couple of practices together. It was a good result…nice to see. However, was the trophy presentation/confetti really necessary? That really ruined what was until then a nice event. I mean, the guys did a great job on the pitch but the over indulgent choreographed celebrations at the end really smacked of desperately seeking approval or something. C’mon, it was a meaningless friendly. It’s a nice Baby Step. But let’s hold that celebration for the next time an MLS side gets past a Mexican or Costa Rican team in the Champions Cup.
So, there are other teams over from Europe trying to tap into the American market and put a few extra Euros in their Transfer Fund. Selling merchandise (and getting in shape) is the main objective of these tours. But it’s good to have the chance to see these top players over here. It’s great to see massive crowds fill stadiums to see them and the best bit is some of these games are now against MLS teams…MLS teams that aren’t afraid to leave injured players on the sidelines (Landon Donovan) if it could make things worse. More baby steps.
Ok, enough of the trivial stuff, how about the big news?
From the “It’s about time” file:
MLS teams can now keep the rights to players they develop in their “Academy” and not have to run the risk of losing them in the “SouperDouper Draft.” This is a no-brainer if ever I saw one. The fact that it took several years for the league to come up with this plan shows how far they can bury their heads in the sand.
Finally, from the “We’ve been saying it all alone” file:
ESPN/ABC pimped the heck out of the World Cup. Highlights on Sports Center, special shows etc. Viewership was double what they expected. Wadda-ya-know, there is a market for soccer in this country. All that you need to do is give it air time. So, now ESPN have gone one step further and sight a multi-year deal to show matches. No more of this time buy stuff where MLS bought a 2 hour block on ESPN2 and had to pony up the cost of producing the TV coverage. ESPN will now take that risk and pay MLS for the right to do that. I hate to say it, but this isn’t a Baby Step, this is a Giant Step. Now, I’ll have to check out Sports Center this weekend and see if they actually show highlights of the matches. Add this to the new deal Fox Soccer Channel signed and MLS is looking pretty good right now. I wonder if GolTV is next.
Any way you look at it, this is great news for the league and the sport. I find it interesting that this wasn't done until after the World Cup yet talk of this deal started when ESPN bought the rights for the next two World Cups a few months ago. This is big news and hopefully it will pay off for everyone.