Archive for the ‘Red Bulls’ Category
Let’s get this done shall we? This past week Manchester City’s ownership group decided to make a splash by taking some of their more popular players and using them to hype up the new NYC team. What I’m surprised with is how it might be bigger news in England than it is for typical New Yorkers. Two of my friends who are die hard soccer fans don’t really care about the upcoming team even if it moved into Yankee Stadium this Christmas. So without further ado, let’s look deeper at City’s Pride in
Advertising the Battle of New York!!
0:00 – 0:20 Hey kids in Brooklyn! Do you like these Manchester City stars? Great, because they won’t play for New York City anytime soon! Well, maybe Joe Hart will in five years, but the rest of the squad will be too busy playing in Europe in their best days and for better money. It’s a little ironic to me that there might be more interest about NYCFC in England than New York itself. Brand new soccer fans in the States might know about Manchester City itself, but players? Vincent Kompany who?
:20 – :40 The Highline in Manhattan is a great place on a Saturday afternoon … but not to play soccer. It’s too crowded and the ball will get lost and maybe bounce into a nearby Thai restaurant. The Highline idea was great civil move to reorganize abandoned train tracks, but now you’re just going to get stepped on by thousands of other people crowding in your space and slowing you down. This video doesn’t show the crowds, the car traffic, the ongoing movement of a trendy area in a crowded urban center. Believe it or not the Highline leads north into the Chelsea area, which is New York’s main spot for men who will really enjoy Manchester City players (if you get what I’m saying). Also it’s great that Joe Hart (MCFC’s goal keeper) was featured in this; because at the moment the team might cut him and City fans would just rather he be over and done with. The Premiere League hasn’t been that nice to Manchester City this year. But at least the Highline idea was a good move.
:40 – :53 I have no clue who the mystery business man is but there’s a good chance he’s a player and an inside joke. But why not try to attract New York City business by having an anonymous man in an expensive suit kick a ball into the Bronx! Because all of them can do that with a two second notice, when did Gordon Gecko go Pele on the walk to Wall Street?
:53 – 1:02 Yankee stadium does look pretty nice in the video right? It’s a newish venue, a great symbol for New York sports and there’s a very high chance it will be half empty when the shine of NYCFC starts to fade off. It holds 50,000 people and MLS is hoping beyond hope that a Seattle phenomenon starts to appear, but the catch is that the Sounders had been playing for decades to build up their following. I can’t help but doubt that NYCFC will be happy with 30,000 people for a Wednesday night game against some of the worse MLS teams. AAAAND, did all of you readers notice that viewers flipped watching Sounders and Houston games played on grid-iron lines? Well I expect Yankee stadium to have every single game in some sort of diamond/square baseball hybrid that will lessen the experience a bit. Attention all of international MCFC supporting suckyball fans: NYCFC playing in a baseball field will look very odd when you’re used to regular footie pitches and designs that make sense for the sport.
But, hey, this is a nice video and the Manhattan High Line was pretty cool wasn’t it?
1:02 -1:14 A nice attempt by City to connect with Harlem’s famed basketball community and make a connection with potential fans. Because soccer players and basketball players in Harlem get along so great right? When is the last time you saw soccer players dribble around point guards in the middle of a competitive basketball game?
So far we’ve seen featured areas of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Upper Manhattan (Harlem) but no mention of Queens? I don’t feel slighted because I live in Queens, I feel slighted because Garber made such a big mess about them wanting a stadium here and how important soccer is to the Queens community. Soccer fans here kept hearing about the latino population, the international 1st generation immigrants and so on. But fiiine, big mister Manchester City just needs fans from a Manhattan basketball game and the Chelsea area. Don’t mind the city that has fans flooding into Citifield to watch Argentina vs Ecuador and the like.
There’s no Staten Island feature either, but most New Yorkers would also want a world with no Staten Island. I haven’t been there but people tell me to avoid it, so I will.
1:15 – 1:48 Hey kid in Brooklyn, here’s a soccer ball with our autographs. Now don’t go getting crazy ideas about visiting Red Bull arena even though it’s a little closer to you and has more history to it (and a wonder shield). You need to travel maybe an hour and a half to a half-filled stadium featuring players that won’t be us. And don’t worry, NYCFC is just like MCFC, it won’t get demoted!
All in all I’d say this is a successful video and wouldn’t mind seeing more. But NYCFC just had their spotlight taken a bit away from Orlando, and Miami (AND possibly Atlanta or San Antonio). Will their team be big enough to create the rivalry MLS is dreaming of? Or will Yankee stadium provide a half-empty crowd for most of the season?
What is this? Did the author of this blog appear out of nowhere to type again? What gives?
Well, let’s side-step my topic of my long absence and look a bit deeper into the upcoming 2013 MLS Cup play-offs. Remember, MLS keeps telling you that the league is exploding and young viewers can’t get enough of teams like the Galaxy, , NY Redbulls, Sounders and oh, wait …. they’re not in the play-offs anymore are they?!!!
The league is going to have to promote an upcoming final with such stars as maybe Kyle Beckerman (he does play for the USMNT right?), um, Graham Zusi … Darlington Nagbe? OK, even if they’re not gigantic stars at least MLS didn’t overpay for them. So what will follow are the hypothetical scenarios as to whom will play in the the MLS cup championship. Before I list them, let me preface everything by stating who’s out and what they would have brought to the table in case they had made the final.
Henry is out, he would’ve brought in extra ratings from Europe where they are still surprised the Frenchman can still play. It would’ve made a great story about how the always competitive Henry and Cahill led their team despite being hindered by league parity (even when the Red Bulls spend the most on their team this year).
The Sounders are out. It was a story that would’ve played nice for TV. The team that draws in 60,000 fans for a home game AND signed Clint Dempsey would’ve been playing for the league title.
The Galaxy are going home. Donovan and Keane had their magic run out so the last game won’t get to promote them as usual. While on a side note …
Beckham isn’t involved with this final. But he is bringing a new soccer team to Miami as a small consolation.
Which brings us the Final 4. Just to make this more trendy, maybe MLS should name these the Quatro Finale!
Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Portland, Houston.
Here are the possible match-ups and the venue the final will take place in, depending on regular season point totals.
RSL vs SKC: This will be played at SKC’s home field. Garber will be thrilled because SKC’s field is brand-new and their new fans will pack the house. But TV Ratings should drop because no one outside of Salt Lake City or Kansas City really cares. Even I might not watch this game, and I get made fun of for watching early Concacaf Champions League games.
RSL vs HOUSTON: This will be played at RSL and again the league should be happy with the field as it is another soccer specific venue. I doubt the game will have grid-iron lines on it unless BYU’s field somehow disappears and their college football team has nowhere else to play except Rio Tinto. This match-up shouldn’t be that bad ratings wise as Houston has a strong southwest following and this would be their third straight MLS cup.
PORTLAND vs SKC: It will be played in SKC, again another soccer specific stadium. I guess it would be more interesting to watch because Portland is involved, but am I shallow because I like watching the Timbers Army chainsaw a log for every goal?
PORTLAND vs HOUSTON: This will be played in Portland and although ratings should be poor by most standards, Portland’s atmosphere would be a good showcase for the league. And while their home field technically feels like playing on hard concrete, and that concrete causes what seems like five injuries per half, the field is at least green and looks normal on TV. So this match-up, at least for me, might be watchable (if it’s raining outside and I have nothing to do, and if I’ve caught up on books and Netflix)
So which stars will drive the promotions? Beckerman? Zusi? Brad Davis? Dominic Kinnear? Since when is your coaches story more interesting than a lot of their star players?
I know that the quality of play is increasing, and I know that a few more people are watching but this year the MLS’s supposed best game might fall flat. Is it possible that the MLS can find itself mirroring play in Europe, where the regular season point total could be more entertaining than the cup games?
To begin with, congratulations to the U.S.M.N.T for their Gold Cup victory. I would usually point out that Panama isn’t the strongest team in the world, or that Mexico’s first team was nowhere near the competition … but you can only play against the team you’re scheduled against. So in that case, Team USA received the Gold Cup in front of over 1.7 million viewers. That doesn’t suck that much, I hope they can stay on track.
Now for something a bit different:
A couple of years ago the L.A. Galaxy made a bit of extra change by scheduling friendlies in places like Hong Kong and the Phillipines. Now it’s a bit harder to sell tickets with just Donovan and Keane involved, so the MLS Asian friendlies pretty much stopped. Which is a shame because it looks like big European teams can’t wait to schedule flights East. For example, Manchester United just had fun visiting Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan (for three games) and Australia. In somewhat related news David Beckham stepped out of his car in Shanghai and a mob appeared that caused more than a few security guards to get trampled. I can’t imagine Clint Dempsey drawing that kind of fan fare but the future’s not written yet. But it’s not just Manchester United fans …
Chelsea went to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Liverpool decided to visit Australia, Thailand and Jakarta. Don’t forger that Manchester City went to Hong Kong to play against Tottenham and Sunderland. And not to be forgotten Barcelona will take their team to Thailand and Malaysia for a few summer games too. It looks like an important part of being a major global team is sending your second team out on a field thousands of miles away and not taking the match too serious. [Full disclosure: I am seeing AC Milan play this Sunday at Giant's stadium, I want to start a WHY ALWAYS ME chant very much]
If we look deeper, we find that not only are these games profitable but they’re part of a major push closer to the world’s largest growing economy. Sure, there’s only a finite amount of Manchester United scarves you can sell at a single game, those fans that attend and hear about the game are future viewers. Friendlies breed audiences for global ratings which is a big reason the Premiere League and Champions League are reaping windfall profits from television stations. Although Japan is already a soccer hotbed, all eyes are to China where the most people could be future soccer fans. Right now they’re watching Manchester United, Real Madrid and a few other superclubs. They’re not watching their Chinese teams that much, and MLS by comparison is just invisible. If Don Garber is serious about being a major league he has to get the attention of ANYBODY IN CHINA … because right now I think NOBODY IN CHINA is even aware of the Seattle Sounders.
Which brings us to MLS ………… I can only think of two MLS teams that might have a shot of putting together a tour of ANY KIND. Henry and the Redbulls might draw a stadium or two in France (maybe). The Galaxy lost David Beckham but might be a superstar away from setting up more games in the Philippines or Indonesia. Also as a side-note Beckham actually did go to Hong Kong with the Galaxy many years ago but the locals were disappointed. If the Galaxy sign KaKa or I don’t know, Gareth Bale, whoever, then they can put together a few games. The Galaxy is always the team trying to be a dynasty but right now it’s not going to the Yue Dynasty or Han Dynasty anytime soon because they just aren’t signing big enough names.
All this is a shame because I can see MLS growing little by little. The issue now is that the BPL keeps growing bigger and bigger, and it’s already a HUGE league. Can New York City FC buy Luis Suarez and Chicharito already?? Please, please?? ……… Then we can schedule a friendly in Dubai.
I’m starting off this post because of Jay-Z’s hat, because in a sense the Yankees logo is an ambassador for New York from Hong Kong to Tijuana. And of course by now you’ve heard of the Yankees putting in a guestimated $25 million to bring a soccer team to New York. I get that Manchester City is a big deal but if the Yankees are involved that much they’re going to try and make sure everyone knows about it. Which brings me to some questions that I think the Yankees organization would LOVE to answer.
1. Where will NYCFC play?
Answer: Yankee stadium of course! How can you not see this coming? The Yankees make good money by inviting Chelsea and the like to run around for 90 minutes so they might as well invite MLS teams. This begs the question, can they market a game against Chivas USA? Will people pay money to watch NYCFC against any basement dwelling MLS squad? Everyone makes a big deal out of using NFL facilities or college fields, but wouldn’t it look weird to have NYCFC (from here-on out City FC) only bring in 15,000 people in a stadium that can bring in at least 50,000?
Everyone is up in arms because the Red Bulls only take in 25,000 people tops, but the Red Bulls at least have a smaller stadium!! Yankee stadium will not be a great stadium if no one shows up!!! To me it’s certain for Yankee stadium to open their doors because the Flushing stadium push isn’t that relevant now. I live in Queens and the posters near the subways go ignored, and even if Don Garber tries shoving $100 million dollars to corrupt city politicians the stash will be divided so fast there wouldn’t be enough money to buy a shovel. The bottom line is that Yankees stadium will be in play for three or four years, and that’s if anything’s workable for a new stadium.
2. What do the Yankees get for 25 million?
Besides an MLS team playing at Yankee stadium for five or six years that will bring them close to even …. what other revenue can they generate? Do you think the people of Manchester will start watching baseball all of a sudden? Is there a huge demand worldwide for the Yankees? I doubt it, they get the majority of their cash through MLB broadcasting and millions of fans all worshiping the statues of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. The Yankees are the top dog in American baseball, but I can’t see any crossover unless you count the people watching from the Dominican Republic or other smaller island nations. They like baseball, and soccer, so they might buy a $25.00 hat (like I did).
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a couple of catches along the way after the start of the team. For example: The new logo might look close to the Yankees logo. Why not? You put the NY and the FC together and people can’t help but think about the Yankees. Also the team has to be on TV somewhere right? Well instead of showing Arsenal games over and over, the Yankees can broadcast City FC against San Jose or whomever.
3. Will they spend a lot on players?
In MLS this year you have the Galaxy and the Red Bulls as the big spenders, and of course their teams are ranked well ahead of the rest. But even if an ownership group decides to open up their pocket a little it’s no guarantee for a team to succeed (Seattle’s having a tough time this year and they had claimed to sign a major player from Spain). My answer to this question is … maybe?? Both the Yankees and Manchester City like to solve problems by overspending, but in MLS not only will they have a salary cap but there’s no guarantee the team will jump to first place. We saw this with David Beckham and Henry. Let’s say City FC make a huge deal and sign Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney (why not?). Is that a guarantee they’ll have an undefeated season? MLS has shown that their teams aren’t the pushovers they used to be and to build a supersquad the sheik’s family will once again get used to watching his money fly into the wind. Manchester City has shown they don’t have a problem losing money, but they’re going to double that by pouring their savings into MLS?? MLS teams are famous for never having a profitable year! I know the oil family is rich, but they’re trying to stay that way right?
4. Is Manchester City using this team to skirt around BPL league rules?
You can read the link below to brush up on the new financial regulations starting next year:
I can’t help but think this new MLS link is very fortunate for our friends from Manchester. For next season and beyond, every team in the BPL has limits on how to spend their money. For example, under the new rules you can’t just go and lose $150 million for the fun of it after three or four years (Manchester City, we’re looking at you). You also can’t raise player salaries too high from year to year, there’s a certain percentage that has to be maintained (Manchester City, hey, yes, you, pay attention). The BPL is doing this because of what’s going on with Spain’s money, or at least the lack of Spain’s money. Everyone knows about Barca and Real Madrid, but the rest of the teams are bleeding cash cows and have no chance or survival. It’s the exact type of league that Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City would LOVE to emulate. Nothing would make some teams in Britain happier than buying the title and having the red ink splashed on the papers. But now there are new rules to limit the spending, or at least slow down the phasing out of some of England’s most known teams (Everton, Newcastle, West Ham, may heaven be with you in the next ten years).
And enter MLS and City FC, based in New York. Manchester will have a chance to offload some of their first team players to New York and when convenient they can fly them back across the pond. For example, three players will cost Manchester City 90 million a year but then the English side will have to put down that they lost 90 million for the year, which is what financial fair play is fighting against. But if the players are signed with City FC in Manhattan then those wages are billed to MLS and City FC and NOT the team in Manchester. When the players are then loaned out to play in England they’ll have the chance to play in important premiere league games, therefore cheating the salary cap in a way and pushing out the the smaller teams yet again. And if a player gets a raise, say from 20-30 million, MLS and City FC will foot the bill (pun intended) and not Manchester City even thought that player might go back again and try winning the title in England at the start of the season.
It’s also worth noting that the FFP rules state that the “cap does not cover extra money coming in from increases in
commercial or matchday income”. This means that t-shirt sales, merchandising, cross-over deals will help a team go against the cap. This could be another angle Manchester City will try to play. Imagine Yankee stadium turning into a mini-Manchester City fan fest selling sky-blue hats and making the uniform look so close to Manchester City’s kit that Manchester United fans will take offense. And then further down the line you’ll see billboards with Carlos Tevez (or whomever) hawking AT&T wireless because of the new branding deal. So in a sense, City FC will be American, but don’t doubt for a second that you’ll always be reminded of what team will be more important.
As long as the TV ratings are stable and more than 15,000 people go to the Bronx for a game, everything should be okay right Mr. Garber?
Yesterday I was lucky enough to voyage over three hours away to Harrison New Jersey to watch the much-hyped Galaxy vs Red Bulls game. Despite having an immense payroll (by MLS’s standards) and an above-average (by American standards) stadium, I can’t say I’ll be going back anytime soon to watch the Red Bulls again. For starters, the PATH train system is still a mess and multiple stations almost had flooding issues because of the rain. And that was when trains could even move. It’s not Don Garber’s fault, but our train was stuck for over twenty minutes due to track issues, and then kept starting and stopping on the way to the stadium. The PATH is a major connection point to Red Bull Arena and it wasn’t a shock to see less people attend one of the biggest games of the season when trains couldn’t do anything. A good number of fans got there 30 minutes late because the PATH stations are delay-plagued nightmares. It was no wonder MLS fans are pointing fingers at the Red Bulls organization complaining they don’t know how to market the team to such a huge city. Which brings me to ….
NBC decided awhile back to take on the added responsibility of showing Premiere League games. So now average Americans will have the chance to watch more Manchester United, Chelsea etc etc (pretty much bigger teams than the Red Bulls), at the expense of MLS. What happened yesterday at Red Bull is a good example of why ratings will be flat. No matter how successful the Galaxy or NYRB will be in the next five years, they’re NOT English BPL teams. This might be a conflict of interest when NBC will, as promised, show a flood of English soccer on Saturdays and Sundays. I watched a great game yesterday that could’ve been twice as good if actual sunshine made more of an appearance, but ESPN2 ratings for it might suffer because yesterday was also ‘Judgement Day’, the last game of the BPL season and stacked with games with the powerhouse teams. No matter how much NBC says it’s committed to MLS you have to take a step back and look at further implications.
1. If a soccer fan in America doesn’t have an MLS team near-by, why wouldn’t he become a fan of European soccer? Next year they’ll watch BPL games on NBC, they might ignore MLS broadcasts.
2. If NBC executives have time-slots open just for mediocre MLS teams or either a bigger European match, which will they broadcast? It’s not reassuring that sometimes REPLAYS of big European teams draw more viewers than smaller MLS teams.
3. The NBC contract with MLS will be renewed soon and the MLS ratings are flat. Because MLS takes a good amount of money from television contracts it’s not going to help their goal if they take less money from NBC. ESPN2 just overhyped the LA / NYRB game and I’m confident in saying that the ratings might not be groundbreaking. That was ESPN2′s biggest game of the season, devoid of Beckham, and aching for just one more big star. Keane, Donovan, Henry and Cahill are a start but they’re not going to move the needle. How can they get the best players when MLS isn’t getting the fatter television paychecks.
So anyway, you’re still reading this? You must like soccer. I’m not typing this out to be depressing but the next two or three years will be crucial to MLS making the next big jump. I know that it can survive, but look at these factors and how they develop:
A: Commissioner Don Garber, a man who helped the league through some bad rough spots, is set to have his contract renewed next year in 2014 (at least that’s how it was reported a couple of years ago here: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2010/08/20100802/This-Weeks-News/MLS-Extends-Garbers-Deal-Through-2014.aspx)
There’s a chance he might not be around anymore and MLS will have to eke it out with someone that doesn’t have his experience with the league. If you give him credit for bringing new stadiums and better players to the league, if he leaves then is it expected for the growth to continue?
B: Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke don’t run the Galaxy the way they used to. It seems to me that together both of them were sort of a Darth Vader / Emperor combination that weaned Donovan to maturity and brought Beckham stateside. But Tim is now with Toronto trying his best to make them capable by himself and the Galaxy just got a postcard from London that Frank Lampard is staying there. How many more tricks can Anschutz have up his sleeve at this point when the Galaxy are back-to-back defending MLS champions and face an upcoming ‘International Champions Cup’ where they might get blown out of the water?
C: Chris Wondolowski, last year’s MVP, is pretty much invisible when it comes to activity outside of the league. In America we’re used to seeing top athletes sell sneakers or flat-screen TV’s but Wondowloski hasn’t made those roads yet. Maybe advertisers feel that 2013 he couldn’t duplicate the amount of goals scored? They’d be right so far, but I think having an MVP is a two way street. Peyton Manning represents the NFL and can get non-viewers to catch a game or two. If MLS could find some way for Wondolowski or future MVP’s to succeed in other sponsorships and commercial deals, then it should get more partial viewers to tune into a San Jose game to watch him play. In MLS’s defense I know nothing about MLB’s MVP winners and have no clue how successful they are outside of baseball games.
In closing, there’s a chance that MLS can make it through the season with their head held high. They came close to getting a team to the Club World Cup, San Jose is building a new stadium (while Wondolowski is playing there) and even Mexican club coaches are agreeing that MLS is getting better. But these TV ratings and NBC’s deal with the Premiere League might catch the league at a bad time. The American teams are still losing money and hoping on better television contracts, if no one watches games then why would major stars come over?
Over the past week all sources are pointing to Queens where Manchester City’s owners are determined to set-up a new MLS expansion team. You can read about it here:
It won’t be hyperbole to say it’s a major move but some people have been reporting that Man City wants to create a feeder team into England. So my first piece of advice:
1. DON’T SET-UP A FEEDER TEAM.
It’s pretty much a slap in the face to the league when a bigger league decides to shove a little brother into MLS. It’s already happened with Chivas USA, a team that continues to fail and has to let out press releases that state they’re not about to get taken over by the league because of horrible operations. I get that the main Chivas team has millions of fans but they somehow turned off Mexican fans in America when they realized the American team’s not that great and they’re not even close to being like the Galaxy even if they share the same stadium. How can you root for a team when their focus is on player development and not winning the league? You pay money to watch a team win and not practice.
Manchester City owners, if you’re reading (but you’re not), PLEASE don’t use this MLS team as a training pad for Manchester City junior athletes or whatever they’ll be. Which brings me to ………..
2. SIGN EXPENSIVE DESIGNATED PLAYERS
Thierry Henry is the only reason I travel two hours to New Jersey and buy a nine dollar beer at Red Bull stadium. Period. End of story. MLS makes more money when ‘Goliath’ teams play even if there aren’t really any Davids in the league (even the bad teams aren’t that bad). That also goes for the Goliath players who lead those teams. I can’t be the only one who wouldn’t follow the Red Bulls that much if Henry decided to leave the team. No offense to Cahill or Juninho but if they’re the only big names I won’t follow the team that much.
The new Manchester City New York FC team (or whatever name they come up with) is about to spend a hundred million to enter the league and create a stadium. They better sign big players to fill it, otherwise there isn’t a guarantee the team will catch on even if they play under the Empire State building. Many soccer fans complain that they don’t get why the Red Bulls aren’t catching on but they don’t live in this area like I do. There are just too many sports teams and too many other things to do for New Yorkers instead of going to New Jersey on a weekend. Henry drives revenue and the new Queens team NEEDS to sign a player at his caliber. Anything less than that will be a slight failure.
3. GET A SPONSOR THAT’S NOT A PYRAMID SCHEME
I get that money is money but it just looks bad on a league when even Dallas FC, a high-rated team this year, advertises Advocare and the L.A. Galaxy still have a deal with Herbalife. Can you imagine an important play-off game with Dallas against L.A.? Herbalife versus Advocare, and the winner must use the BEST IN WEIGHT LOSS AND HEALTH
NYC has plenty of business in Manhattan doesn’t it? How hard will it be to get a normal, standard business to sponsor the jerseys? Why not get the upcoming derby to match against shirts and have Kool-Aid, Minute Maid or Gatorade against the Red Bulls? Or maybe a Vodka, making a Red-Bull Vodka derby. Anyway, just don’t embarrass yourselves with MLM dirty cash.
That’s pretty much it for now, the new team should succeed unless there’s a cataclysmic blunder somehow. When that much money involved there’s a lot of leeway with the team. Even the Red Bulls are better now all of a sudden, maybe it has something to do with being the most expensive team this year. Although I still think their defense needs an upgrade.
I’m cutting to the chase again, there are three factors going into 2014 that will turn the heads of many soccer doubters.
NBC is going to broadcast English Premiere League games to about double the audience of Fox soccer. That means that America who ‘doesn’t get’ soccer will be exposed to teams like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. Give the average new fan two years and in 2016 he’ll complain about how MLS should raise the salary cap or initiate promotion / relegation. Of course I’M a different fan because I don’t have any favorites, I just watch Chelsea, Everton, the Red Bulls, the Galaxy, Real Madrid and own a new Barcelona shirt (this is sarcasm, but the shirt real). NBC is banking on the brand awareness of super clubs and then throwing L.A. Galaxy and Sounders games on top of them. Good move NBC, but wait there’s more …..
If you thought that international friendlies are just an excuse for rich owners to rake in a bit of extra cash for letting Ronaldo and Landon Donovan run around the field then – you’re right. But the scale of the friendly is about to change because now Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is bringing in more super clubs and then having them play for a $250 dollar trophy in a fake competition televised by Fox Soccer. This International Champions Cup will likely fail because the price to put the show on might fleece the tournament’s organizers. Not every tournament has UEFA’s mountain of cash to organize and this ICC thing is banking on television money and interest that might not be ready yet.
In the meantime it won’t hurt the teams themselves to run around Miami and take in the sights. Chalk this one up as another situation where the European teams win and the Americans try and make money off of it. Oh and by the way, don’t be surprised if the Galaxy play a game close. As ‘America’s best soccer team’, I expect them to tie or lose by a goal in the competition. Another blow-out won’t look good to the people organizing the tournament.
And good luck to Guinness who’s paying to put their stamp of approval on this new tournament.
3. World cup, world cup, Brazil, sound the alarm, soccer, 2014 summer. Nike, Gatorade, Wheaties, etc. There will be no faster way to brain wash half of Americans to like soccer than the 2014 world cup. Advertisers might have lost out in the 2012 Olympics when America crashed and burned out of the qualifying, but this time there will be no mistake: EVERYONE will be talking about the World Cup.
Although these soccer stories are pretty mundane now, I think they’re another soccer wave to come crashing to America’s shores. There will be more, don’t be surprised when the friend you thought would never follow soccer now has a favorite European club. Or is a Sounders fan.
And I’m okay with that. Let’s start here, a recent interview with Eric Stover, a former Red Bull employee who blasted off into the Cosmos universe.
He didn’t give a job title for what he did with the new team, but he did drop great answers foreshadowing the future team goals. For example (the red lettering was from me):
We have been clear that our goal will always be to get the top of the soccer pyramid in the United States. What that means exactly, to be honest, we don’t know for sure.
And then when asked about the importance of the U.S. Open Cup he responded:
Whoever they line us up against, we’re very eager to play that game. If we could play it tomorrow, we would. That competition will be every bit as important as the league competition.
……. so they have enough players to go up against a typical MLS team? Or is he himself going to join in and run around the field? The Cosmos might have a roster filled with part-time players right now and they’re ready for the U.S. Open Cup!!!??? And even if they do get a better team, a huge IF, it’ll be almost a fantasy for them to win the U.S. Open Cup because of not only MLS teams vying to get in but the other NASL sides trying to block their path. These Cosmos people better pray that enough people go out to Long Island and buy enough popcorn to cover their new office bills.
But why am I okay with this? In some strange demented way it reminds me of grassroots American soccer. The team’s not ran by an invisible entity in Austria doling out marketing money and counting beans. And neither is it aggravated by the fact that most New Yorkers don’t care. The thing with the Cosmos is, Eric somehow sounds like they’re expecting to fail the first few years and they just need to survive enough to get their footing. Eric Stover sounds like an old School MLS type, not the new school buddy/buddy AEG type dealmaker with links to the treasury department and investment firms. Even if we find out years from now that Saudi money is backing the team (which it likely is), if you look around you the web you find out that maybe FIFTEEN OR LESS people are running the American business operations. This team is has a pretty Spartan life now and they don’t even have the luxury to brag about their plans. They’ve been very open with facts such as:
- They’re playing at a University stadium far away from Manhattan that can hold 15,000 people. They have no clue how many people will show up or when attendance will rise (if any).
- They’re hiring the best players they can, with the best money they can scrape around, and will play the best soccer to their ability. Which means they WON’T have the best team in America. Unlike MLS they’re even willing to take players off the street if they’re good enough. I am serious: http://nycosmos.com/news/cosmos-hold-five-open-tryouts-throughout-nyc
- $100 million to become an MLS new franchisee isn’t going to cut it for them, they’d rather play weaker teams.
The only thing the Cosmos have is name recognition, the brand was strong enough to play Manchester United in a friendly last year so I wouldn’t be surprised if 5,000 or more people flocked to Long Island to watch them play. But a sold-out university crowd doesn’t mean they’ll be signing huge stars. I think soccer has changed enough where a top player would know if the field has regular grass or is spray painted green*. But at least the Cosmos are TRYING to help American soccer.
*True story: After Pele signed, the field was so bad on the first game-day that large patches of the ground had to be spray painted to appear green. They had a legendary soccer player pretty much running around a horrible and dangerous field; it’s amazing what tons of cash can accomplish.