Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Friday, January 26, 2007
  Catching up on some things
I’ve got a little time today so I thought I’d quickly mention some things which has caught my eye lately.

Where the heck is Collinsville? Continuing the trend of putting stadiums well outside the cities the teams are named after, St Louis looks like they are well on the road to getting a stadium for a possible MLS team.

Speaking of stadiums, will RSL ever get theirs?

…And then there’s KC who have had to bring in reinforcements to find somewhere (anywhere) to play. I’m hoping something good happens soon for them.

There’s always Cleveland.

Not one of those stadiums is in the cities they are named after. One of the great things about going to Ipswich games was being able to meet up with friends in a pub near the town center and be able to walk to the stadium from there in 10 minutes. Heck, I used to get stuck in traffic for more than 10 minutes trying to get to the HDC from Pasadena. That leaves less time for pre-game beers.

I meant to post this some time ago…but never got around to it. Soccer Dad did a good job of analyzing what happened with the Klinsmann fiasco. We’ve all had a lot of time to digest what happened and after the match last week I’m sure more of us are now comfortable with Bradley at the helm. But I will still maintain that the news wasn’t the story, the news was how much the media covered the story—and this was before the Beckham media blitz.

You’ve got to love the idea of a soccer made earthquake.

Even six months after the World Cup finished, Dave O’Brian is still catching flack.

It looks like some net geeks are trying to cash in on Beckham’s move to LA.

Speaking of big signings (well, not quite that big)…Reyna has now joined Red Bull. Anyone not think that was going to happen?

Wow, Chicago went after Zidane. Guaranteed every sports hack would be discussing the head butt 24/7 if it did go through.

Getting back to Beckham a bit. As a kid I used to stand on a milk crate in the Churchman’s Stand at Portman Road. Back then Town were managed by Bobby Robson. Now, Sir Bobby’s first management job was with the old NASL Vancouver Royals back in 1967. I’m guessing he hasn’t watched much soccer from over here since then based on these comments.

Now, back then Robson’s top striker was Paul Mariner. MLS fans may know him as the guy with glasses who’s always next to Steve Nichol on the bench. Back the 70’s/80’s, Mariner was one of the top strikers in England and was capped several times. He’s been in the US for a while now and I have to agree his response to Robson’s comments.

It's an interesting observation. To be perfectly honest, far be it from me to disagree with such a great man, but I think I've seen more games and been involved in more games than my ex-boss has seen. I think it just goes to show that the general perception of leagues the world over, we take a look at the A-League in Australia, what level do we think that is, the J-League in Japan, what level do we think that is, I mean, for that matter, what do we think of the Portuguese League? I mean it's all a debate, that's why football is such a fantastic sport; everybody can debate until they are blue in the face what (the different) levels are like. For the boss (Robson) to say that we are sort of League One is completely wrong. I think it will be interesting to get David's quotes at maybe six weeks or three months into the league and find out if he thinks this is League One. I would be absolutely shocked if he would say that it was... Having seen some English games over the Christmas period, from the lower leagues to the Premiership, I think that we are doing very, very well for a relatively young league. I think we are doing great and I think the stuff that most (MLS) teams are delivering and the product that MLS is trying to put together is fantastic for a league that is so young.

Problem is, if Beckham comes over here and does well then it proves their point that MLS isn’t any good. If Beckham comes over here and doesn’t take the league by storm, it proves that Beckham is well past his prime. Ya can’t win either way.

Oh and now all the “interesting” people looking for their 15 minutes of fame are taking advantage of the Beckham move. Can’t say I blame him for trying.

Finally, I’m still trying to decide if change is a good thing here. True, Johansson was a clueless muppet…but Platini…well, he is French.

Ok, that’s enough for now.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
  There's a lesson in here somewhere...
Yeah, there's a lesson in here somewhere...see if you can figure it out.
A tattoo artist from Argentina is facing a lawsuit after drawing a penis on the back of an Argentinean football fan instead of his favorite team's official logo.
If you want your teams badge on you, make sure you know what team your tattooer (is that a real word?) supports.


Friday, January 19, 2007
  Sure beats "here we go, here we go..."
I was raised on English terrace chants so I've no idea what's going on here. (I also don't speak Spanish) I'm assuming it's before the gates open. Whatever it is, it sure got me pumped up for a match.

Can anyone give me more info about this?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
  Hot and Spicy

Boy, what a hornet’s nest. The signing of Beckham has really stirred things up. Soccer fans in this country have suspected he would probably end up playing in MLS but I doubt many would have predicted it would be this soon.

You’ve got the Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon insulting Beckham and the fans at the Bernabeu then issuing a half hearted apology.

You’ve got the Real Madrid Coach telling Beckham to get used to watching from the stands and now backtracking a bit.

You’ve got the British managers deciding that Beckham is just taking an early retirement in the MLS geriatric league—I grew up watching Robson manage Ipswich so it bothers me to disagree with him here.


You’ve got the US sports media apparently pissed off that AEG would have the gall to invest that much money in some foreign player in a sport no one cares about in this country. I thought that hostility was reserved for World Cup years.

Whew. Such hate in the world. It almost makes you forget about Bush and Iraq…well, I did say “almost.”

Thankfully, there are writers like Grant Wahl who actually do research and get the real story to the people without all the negative editorials. Thanks Grant, great piece.

Lastly, there’s my old friend Ann Killion. I haven’t had a good Killion rant in a while so when I read her recent piece in the Smurf news, I just had to respond.

The league is certain to see a boost in television ratings, ticket sales and overall profile when Becks and his famous family (wife Victoria, a.k.a. Posh Spice, and sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz) arrive in Los Angeles. Beckham, glamorous, gorgeous and still owner of the most beautiful free kick known to soccer, is going to create a buzz.

But then what?

This isn’t Luis Hernandez here. When he arrived in LA, fans packed the Rose Bowl for one match and didn’t bother showing up again. This time around, people are grabbing Season Tickets. That’s a huge difference. Also, let’s not forget that MLS signed some very nice TV deals with ESPN and Fox recently…well before Beckham signed with MLS. It’s benifital for
the TV companies to ride this publicity as well. They have a duty totheir sponsors after all.

A lot of American soccer fans would like to see some of that $250 million plowed into player development, such as finding a better way to spot and develop players who aren't products of our elitist youth soccer system.

Now, Miss Killion, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention. The majority of the $250 million isn’t coming from MLS or AEG. It’s coming from various sponsors and endorsement deals. If you don’t believe it, read the Grant Wahl piece again.

Some of us would be more interested in the hiring of another former European star. That would be Juergen Klinsmann, who was all set to become the next coach of the men's national team before U.S. Soccer managed to screw up the deal. Now, the team is led by Bob Bradley as it embarks on another quadrennial search to improve its standing.

I’m sorry, what do the two events have to do with each other. USSF were dealing with Klinsmann, AEG were dealing with Beckham. How exactly are you linking the two? You’re talking Apples and Oranges here.

Here's one way his arrival is different than that of Pelé three decades ago: The New York Cosmos hired the best player in the world, whereas the Galaxy has hired the most famous player in the world.

If memory serves me right, Pele was in his mid 30’s and had already retired from playing when he was talking into joining the Cosmos. Beckham is 31 and captained England at the World Cup last summer. Also, Pele was probably the most famous player in the world at that time...I'd argue that Johan Cruyff was the best player in the world at that time. In my opinion he was.

MLS had better hope he still has enough skills -- though that's a double-edged wish. If Beckham arrives and is clearly the best player in the league, it will only confirm the rest of the world's opinion that MLS is a third-tier organization.

..And what if Edgar Davids and/or Ronaldo come to MLS and perform about the same as Beckham? It’s a gamble that’s being played. Obviously based on ticket sales so far it was a worthwhile gamble so far.

That's because Beckham, 31, comes to Los Angeles basically out of other soccer options. He had already lost his place in the Real Madrid side (and was told this weekend that he won't ever play again for the club). The former captain of England, he's no longer playing for his country.

C’mon now. Beckham stepped down as captain of England after the World Cup because he will be 35 in 2010. Steve McClaren, for whatever reason, decided to look at younger players for the squad in the buildup for Euro ’08. The way things are going I’d be surprised if McClaren still has the job by this summer and who knows if the new boss will want Beckham in their bid.

MLS was the only league willing to shower him with money and love. And it's quite a drenching.

How quickly we forget things. Everton, Bolton, West Ham, and Celtic are among the clubs interested in buying him. Fact is LA isn’t paying him any more than he would have got at any of the other clubs.

Beckham's job isn't to play soccer but to sell jerseys

That’s funny, one of the main reasons Real signed him in the first place was to sell jerseys and raise the profile of the club in Asia. Yes, he does get a percentage of the jersey sale revenue. Wouldn’t you take that if you were Beckham? Real never offered him that.

Beckham's deal is expected to open the door to other past-their-prime international stars, such as Ronaldo. That all sounds suspiciously like NASL, which folded in 1984.

Is that a bad thing? I’m not sure why everyone associates bringing talented name players to NASL as the downfall of the league. Fans were buying tickets and TV was starting to provide some decent broadcast packages. The downfall was due to teams spending more than they can afford on those players. MLS/AEG are spending well within their means to get Beckham so you can’t make that

Our best and brightest know they have to go to Europe to become great players, while former European stars may realize they can come here and coast comfortably into retirement. MLS might morph into a senior circuit.

Nice try Ann. There are so many differences here that I don’t know where to start. First off let me say it again, Beckham is only 31. He’s got a few years left in his legs. After all, how old was Preki when he retired? How old were Donadoni and Matthäus when they were in New York?

The fact is MLS isn’t the EPL, Serie A or La Liga. It won’t be anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean MLS teams should get the best players they can. So what if Beckham isn’t 27 any more. He’s still got his right foot which is what got him to the top in the first place. How bad can that be?

It sure hasn't hurt Brazil that their 'best and brightest' have to head to Europe.

Ok, enough of Killion. I really need to stop reading what she writes.

Sorry, I’m going to read some other stuff and I promise I’ll try and post something which isn’t about Beckham next time. Do the Galaxy’s new colors count as something non-Beckham?

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  I wonder what MLS would be?


Saturday, January 13, 2007
  All that money...
I've had a couple of days to digest the major news from Thursday. The thing which kept getting to me was the money involved. So I did a little research. According to Grahame Jones in the LA Times, only about 20% of his $250 million is actually from a soccer playing salary.
Beckham insisted that the decision to come to Los Angeles, where he already has a youth soccer academy, was not based on the hefty size of the contract put together by AEG, an estimated 80% of which will come from commercial endorsement deals and image rights.
Now, paying him $10 million/year sounds a lot more realistic. It's only 5 times the salary cap...and that's with him hitting all of his incentives such as hitting attendance targets and games played.

Beckham's pay raise is actually only about $1.5 million/year

The other 80% of the $250 million is all on endorsement deals. Becks gets most of his image rights and the US is potentially a much bigger market than the UK, Spain or even Japan and Thailand. Playing in the US, Pepsi, Gillette and such are willing to pay him even more for his time (and endorsement). The US is king of all commercial markets.

Also, expect to hear about a massive shirt sponsorship deal LA will be getting soon. It's a deal which wouldn't have happened if Becks weren't signing with LA. Looking at the numbers now, LA may have got the marketing tool for a bargain. Oh, and he should do alright on the pitch as well.

Now, add in the fact that LA sold 2000 season tickets on Thursday just after the announcement of his signing with LA. Now, I don't know how many tickets are actually in each price range but let's just say the average ticket price is about $600. That makes a nice little $1.2 million addition to the Galaxy's bank account. Is it a coincidence that LA announced their season ticket prices just hours after the announcement on Thursday?

Now, add in all the merchandise he'll sell--actually, AEG/MLS/LAG dropped the ball here by not having the 2007 shirts ready and available with Beckham's name and number on it. Real made a mint within hours of signing Beckham. Missed opportunity there. Spice fans all over the world would have been entering their Credit Card numbers on MLSgear.com if there was merchandise for them to buy already. It's not like they can blame Nike for not coming through. Adidas is their supplier now and they have a vested interest in making money off Beckham as well.

So, with a couple well chosen words, MLS has made this deal appear to be very different than it is. Well done by them. It got a bit of extra attention from the hostile US media. Of course, the negative stuff is flying around. The British in particular have some kind of fear that the sport will eventually catch on in this country. The media bias there than the US is void of real "football" and American's want to change the sport is almost as bad as the anti-soccer bias we have in the media here. This should be fun to follow.

Now with Posh in LA house hunting, it looks like Dave's days in Madrid may be over sooner rather than later. How much of a transfer fee will Real want? I'm now leaning towards him being in LA before the season starts...even better news?

I've a feeling this story will be worldwide news for a while. Seems to me that the investment is already paying off.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007
  Could it be?
I almost had coffee come out my nose when I read this headline from ABC News this morning, "EXCLUSIVE: David Beckham Will Sign With U.S. Team". Of course, if you read the article now you'll see they've backtracked a bit on the story. However, for the first time I'm now thinking this move may actually happen...and before the start of the season.

Did anyone actually see the show the quotes came from? I wonder if this information coming from them has anything to do with the new deal MLS and Disney have. Guess I'd better put the TV on ESPN News today.

EDIT an hour later: ...And now it's offical. The news is all over the place and it's even on ESPN News. Bummer he won't be here until August. I wonder if MLS are talking a possible transfer with Real?

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
  Old stars and youngsters
Maybe I’m a bit of a SoccerSnob…OK, I am a SoccerSnob…But I just can’t get excited about the SuperHype SuperDouperDraft MLS will be holding on Friday. I just don’t understand all the hype. Seriously, how many of the guys 52 guys (I’m guessing it’ll be 4 rounds of 13 picks) will see much playing time in MLS? The most media the draft will get will be articles about the local kid who played at the High School a few blocks from you going in the fourth round. Then he'll never be heard of again. Sorry, but most of the guys will end up in the USL. Which is why I'm just not to bothered with the whole thing.

I’m thinking the biggest news about the draft is that it’s on ESPN. It seems they bumped FSC. I’m seeing a new pecking order for the TV networks. GolTV gets what it can cuz they are on a very tight budget-but I do enjoy a lot of their content. FSC is Top Dog for Soccer Only TV…but only just over Setanta because currently Setanta doesn’t do it’s own programming…but that’ll change next EPL season. ESPN has the big bucks though and if they want, can outbid the three soccer only channels combined. So, the fact that ESPN2 is finding time on a Friday (when they would usually be replaying Worlds Strongest Man or something like that) to show the Draft is a sign changes are being made…but it’s still not really news.

So, what really is news? Actually, as much as I hate to say it, the whole Beckham saga is probably the biggest news. Do a search for LA Galaxy in Google News and you’ll find a million articles about Becks’ on again, off again, negotiations with Real Madrid and plenty of mentions that LA Galaxy want to sign him. We all know it’s very possible he’ll be wearing the green sash at some point this summer. However, we were all certain that Klinsmann would be the new US coach as well. At least if he does come to LA, British reporters will learn that the Kings Head in Santa Monica doesn’t show football, you have to go to the Cock and Bull a couple miles away to see the matches…unless you have FSC.

Only one problem remains: if Beckham wants to watch any British football, he is going to have to go to the King’s Head, an expatriate pub by the beach in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, this is also where most of the British paparazzi go drinking.

Of course, I always did my drinking and footie view at Lucky Baldwin's when I was in LA.

Then there’s Deuce. Congrats on your Work Permit Clint. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly he settles into the game in England. I hope everyone gives him time to get used to the pace. Personally, I don’t expect to see much of him until next fall. Maybe I’m wrong but a lot of great players have gone to England and needed a little time before they found their feet. Either way, he’s the most exciting player from the US since Landon crashed out at Bayer and Beasley lost his gig at PSV. I believe he’ll do more than both of them in Europe.

I’ve got a bunch of other things I’ve been meaning to comment on but it’s getting late. Maybe I’ll comment on the other stuff tomorrow.

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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 /

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