Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  Losing Donovan for the next month is bad enough

Those who have read my blog or my posts on BigSoccer for a while will know that I feel pretty strongly that MLS should not by playing matches on dates set aside by FIFA as International Dates. So far, no one has paid any attention to this bloggers opinion. However, the British media (ya gotta love them) have managed to create several stories related to this.

It started off positive enough. Becks has played well the last 5 months and done well enough to be considered for a recall to the England squad for a couple of matches next week. Of course, the fact that England have played like crap since McClaren took over I’m sure helped.

Now, that’s great news for LA Galaxy and MLS right? Heck, Alexi Lalas even said, "Ultimately, we look at it as a statement on the Galaxy. The fact we have a player who's been called into the English national team says a lot about who he is. We couldn't be happier for him."

Of course, all this does have its downside. Ya see, MLS and AEG (and, of course, the Galaxy) are making a mint off the signing of Beckham already. Wouldn’t it suck if he missed a few matches which sold out based on the fact that Becks would be in Green and Gold--or whatever the new colors are going to be when Becks dons the colors?

Lalas spoke with BBC Radio 5 a few days ago. In that interview, he basically said what managers like Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger say when their players are called up for meaningless friendlys in Africa or somewhere which isn’t around the corner. We’d rather he didn’t go, but it’s ultimately up to him. Or at least that’s the paraphrase I got out of it. That sounds reasonable enough. It seems t be that international coaches usually talk with club managers and try to work something out that works for everyone involved.

Now the British hacks (gotta love ‘em) started “finding” all kinds of interesting stories. The Daily Mail seems to think he could go to Newcastle (or Spurs, or Everton or Blackburn) on a three-month loan. No need for a vacation or rest or anything. Of course, the article is pure speculation. There are no real quotes from anyone involved. But sometimes fiction sells more papers.

So, back to the first point, Beckham being recalled for England. It seems someone in the British media decided to go to FIFA and get a quote from them about Lalas preventing Becks from joining England for games this fall.

"The same rules apply for everybody," a FIFA spokesman said. "For all national associations, for any club, for any player.

"Players must be released for friendly or competitive games if they are on the international calendar and the required notice is given.

"The only difference in competitive and friendly games is regarding the time frames. All players are equal."

Like I said above, it's no different than anyone else. I still don’t think Alexi ever said he wouldn’t let Becks join England. He simply shared his frustration at the business issue this creates for him.

So, what are the matches in question?

England

LA Galaxy

9/8/07

Israel

9/8/07

Colorado

9/12/07

Russia

9/13/07

@ Chivas

10/13/07

Estonia

10/13/07

Toronto

10/17/07

@ Russia

10/18/07

New York

11/21/07

Croatia

11/21/07

MLS Cup Final

All the matches are at the HDC so that shouldn’t be a huge problem…well, except for the Cup Final.

So, back to my first point, why does MLS still schedule matches (especially the MLS Cup Final) on International weekends? They used to say it was because of stadium availability. Honestly, I’m having a difficult time believing that one now that over half the teams now have their own stadiums…and that percentage is growing. Of course, events like the X-Games get to bump matches, but that’s another topic.

MLS/AEG has no one but themselves to blame here. They over promoted and over promised with Becks just like everyone did when Freddy Adu joined the league. When will they learn?

Of course, they weren’t as outrageous as Harrisburg, but that’s a whole new level…guess it work, they sold the match out. Anyone know when the 3rd draw is?

Just one last thought, at the start of the season in 1999, LA were performing poorly. My belief at that time (well, still) was that coach Octavio Zambrano was putting together a team which was built around Luis Hernandez who wasn’t arriving for a couple of months. Before Hernandez could show up (we know the story there) Zambrano was replaced by Sigi Schmid.

I hope Frank Yallop isn’t counting on Beckham's arrival improving LA that dramatically. Otherwise, McClaren won’t need to worry about Lalas wanting to keep Golden Balls when they face Croatia. But wouldn’t it be what MLS deserve, if LA makes the MLS Cup final and not being able to have the leagues most influential player cuz he has to play a match in London the same day. C’mon on Garber, you are still running MLS like it’s a second-tier league. Forget about NFL, NBA etc. You should focus more on other soccer leagues and schedule appropriately. Otherwise, you be creating more messes.

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Comments:
I agree, there is no real reason that MLS should schedule their matches around FIFA's schedule
 
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

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