Archive for the ‘Red Bulls’ Category
I’m back!! Your humble scribe has been caught in the excitement of global ‘futbol’ and has been away from penning Suckyball for a good while. It’s about that time for me to return to update again on the state of all things ‘Sucky’ with American soccer. No, I won’t harp on the fact that the American team would’ve gotten thrashed by Argentina, the Netherlands, Columbia or Germany (again). The USMNT played pretty much how I predicted they would play: they were thiiiiiis close, and they put up such a cloooose fight. But I’m not here to degrade them as other countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal went home early and they didn’t have someone as amazing as Tim Howard playing goal keeper.
No, the reason I’m writing on the eve of the World Cup final is because next year NYCFC will
invade appear in the Bronx and distract everyone into believing that MLS 3.0 is on par with La Liga or the Premiere League (when nothing could be further from the truth). NYCFC, in my view, is a calculated cash grab by the Yankees and Middle Eastern oil powers that in my opinion will crash and stumble just like other European attempts into MLS. They’re not guaranteed anything in MLS no matter how many dollar signs they dance around the Bronx.
You can read all about the ‘Goliath’ team here:
So why the vitrol on something that’s supposed to bring more attention to New York? Here I’ll break down the reasons for skepticism.
1. Since when did New York deserve more attention?
I’ve lived here for six years and I’ve seen Barclays center open up for the Nets, I’ve seen the Giants and Jets both fight for Superbowl spots, in addition to Met-Life Arena even hosting the most recent Superbowl. New York has seen the Red Bulls play strong enough to win an MLS Supporters Shield, and then I saw the same city not really give them any credit for it. The crazy hockey fans here make huge deals out of Ranger play-off appearances and a ton of Spike Lee-ish Knicks fans believe that year after year Carmelo is a strong enough player to make a Finals appearance (but I don’t think that Spike Lee himself believes that, only a million of other Knickerbocker fans that still keep hope with Zen Master Phil Jackson supporting the team) … ..
And all these sports situations don’t even include or acknowledge the ubiquitous, omnipresent New York Yankees baseball logo that comes at you at all angles from sports pages, ESPN Sportscenter recaps, Jay-Z’s lyrics, Times Square gift-stores and now even the new press announcements from NYCFC itself. The worst irony is that this Yankees hat is my favorite to wear, because when I wear it I’m telling the entire Tri-State area that I support all things New York, and this city agrees with me.
The city that never sleeps accepting NYCFC is not the same as another city taking in a new flashy and trendy sports team. This isn’t Oklahoma City turning into Durant’s Thunder Town or Seattle getting Sounder fever.
Let me put it this way – Tim Cahill went Beast mode for Australia this summer and scored this:
… and New Yorkers thought … ‘Oh yeeeah, Cahill plays for the Red Bulls ….. too bad I’ll never go to a game there’.
2. NYCFC WILL PLAY ON A BASEBALL FIELD!!!
Try and think of all the monumental over-hype that will come next year as David Villa and other potential big names start playing in the Bronx. The NYCFC ownership has been hemming and hawing about ‘beautiful play’ and ‘Barcelona-type passing’ that they’ve been ignoring that the often ignored Red Bulls have been trotting out European legend Thierry Henry himself to the shrugs of MLS fans. The league has been getting stronger for the past decade and doesn’t need to bow down to Europe (that much) when it comes to style …. especially for a team that will play on a baseball field!!! Also as a side-note, the MLS All-star team will get blasted this summer by Bayern Munich … but so would Barcelona too you think? Barcelona isn’t that Barcelona anymore … the NYCFC owners should just start saying they’re expecting to play German soccer or Munich-style offense.
I can take back this negativity if NYCFC makes an announcement for a new soccer stadium in a few years, but I don’t see that happening. New York real estate can be an expensive, treacherous snake pit and even if oil rich owners have a blank check then you can count on New York businessmen to make the whole situation as expensive and head-ache inducing as possible. In the meantime ….. your great, powerful, MLS megabrand of NYCFC will play on a dirt baseball field for their early incarnation.
3. The Red Bulls have a history that connects to earlier New York soccer.
While that link is tenuous, it’s real. The Red Bulls were the New York Metrostars and that team fielded a young Tim Howard and Michael Bradley and was even coached by former USMNT team coach Bob Bradley. The Metrostars developed some guy named Mike Petke who then stuck with his home-team after retirement and became the respected RBNY head-coach last year. The Metrostars were an MLS original franchise that also went through the same difficult pains that the Galaxy would go through as they gave a ton of money to an international player (Beckham) only to watch the team middle and flop. The Galaxy and Red Bull both got their acts together for better performance, but even brand new Red Bull Arena still doesn’t sell-out even with the likes of Henry, the pre-mentioned Super Cahill and MLS’s number one goal scorer (Bradley Wright Phillips).
This is a harsh statement to make, but if you think NYCFC will save the league from being too American or weak you’re ignoring the past. L.A. tried being European, NYRB tried being European, Seattle is trying to buy a title as an American/African/whatever it takes to win team. NYCFC will have to get in line with everyone else.
4. If you’re a New Yorker who will support NYCFC your levels of hipster-amateur-neophyte soccer lover will be off the charts.
Wow, New York has a team that’s in a real New York borough ….. but the Giants and Jets play in New Jersey, and there’s not that much of a travel time difference from either the Bronx or New Jersey from mid-town. (Cough, remember, baseball field!!)
Wow, NYCFC will be ALL international stars …. David Villa is a great player, wonderful player, but he’s ONE player for a team that’s signed just three new players as of this month. Sure, Frank Lampard might play for them. But isn’t he the same player who mocked the World Trade center attacks and now you’re cheering for him represent NY? If NYCFC sign Messi, Ronaldo or even James Rodriguez then I might support them, and that’s saying something.
NYCFC has tons of money and will buy an MLS Championship!!! The weak teams are DONE for ….. You don’t think NYRB, the L.A. Galaxy, Seattle or even Toronto FC have tons of cash to throw around? Part of the new MLS ownership line of thinking is forgetting about the salary cap all-together and just buying whoever you want.
NYCFC isn’t going to change soccer history here anymore than the Nets moving to Brooklyn will change the history of the NBA. They’re both business decisions meant to take advantage of an immense, crowded world city and its wealthy and (at times) shallow young fans. The Metrostars did change history at Giants stadium and I wasn’t even there to root for them. They live on through NYRB soccer and are now supported on the fringes, out from the sight of most New York media and outright ignored by ESPN. You can’t ask me to support NYCFC when NYRB has given me enough of a soccer experience to not cast them aside like they’re nothing to anyone.
WOW, NYCFC AND NYRB WILL HAVE A BIG COOL ‘APPLE’ DERBY !!! ……….. Now this, derby thing, I can agree with. But, I’d rather watch them play it out in a real soccer stadium instead of the dirt-filled, misshaped, awkward baseball field meant for someone else’s powerful team. NYCFC, I hope you lose ten derby games in a row to NYRB for the near future.
Right when I thought that Americans had stopped caring about soccer for maybe five minutes … Beats by Dre dropped an advertisement for their headphones with major international cameos. You don’t believe me? Here:
I think the stereotype of the hipsterish, smug Eurosnob is getting shoved aside by Lebron James and his corporate brethren. Did you expect Serena Williams and Stuart Scott to be involved? I was also shocked to see Little Wayne display an expensive chain with a soccer ball on it. But hey, you have to find new listeners somewhere right?
When American audiences and Apple itself have given the company new millions, the next logical step is sending Beats By Dre to places like Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany etc. I had a feeling that American advertisers would start spending a ton of money to hype up this World Cup, but I should’ve realized that their marketing push would reach outward across the entire world, not just the small fifty states.
And how weird was it seeing Nicki Minaj in the same video as Chicharito?
…. But at least MLS received a nod with Thierry Henry acting the part of un grand souteneur. Bon Chance America!!! Enter the jungle!!
Next year NYCFC will debut and as a New Yorker I’m interested in how the league will publicize them. To start with, I haven’t seen any real publicity besides the other video where the players kicked a kid’s soccer ball in the Chelsea neighborhood. Whereas team management did put up a giant ad on the back of a building sometime ago, most New Yorkers didn’t take notice because it wasn’t featured on Yelp or the Food Channel. So when MLS Insider decided to focus on Jason Kreis and his move to become a ‘City Man’ my skeptical side took over. This video has to be nothing but a glossy publicity ad to an apathetic public.
So let’s look deeper ….
0:00-0:52: Kreis reveals his concerns about becoming manager of a team with no players and watches a few Manchester City players practice. By now there hasn’t been mention of any signing and possible fans have to just hope they’ll have someone like Nasri who’s featured in a slow highlight montage. The director is using Nasri to show ‘The City Philosophy” (more on this later).
And then for a bizarre reason Kreis fawns over Wembley Stadium instead of the Etihad. It’d be like a coach of ‘Yankees London’ talking about how great Fenway Park is in my opinion. The whole tone of the video so far is Kreis’s European Workation.
:53-1:20: Kreis’s career in a thirty second nutshell. Of course Kreis gets my respect for being a lifelong MLS Company Man but I’m surprised his team didn’t do a bit more looking back at what they had. Bad luck was a factor along the way as any regular RSL fan will admit. First RSL was peaced out of the CONCACAF Champions League Final a few years back when they were the closest team in MLS history, then they gave away the US Open Cup to a weak and delirious DC United team, and just last year they lost on penalties in last years MLS cup. For a team that’s been so strong Kreis had to weather some tough losses.
1:20-2:28: Kreis explains that it’ll be difficult for him to return to Salt Lake after not only being their fist draft pick but then coaching them past Donovan and Beckham to an MLS Championship. I’d like to point out that Jason’s lisp went away a bit. I don’t know if he intended to speak better for this video or what the situation was that changed, but it’s better for the league when an important coach like him has clear speech.
2:28-3:00: I’m supposed to think Kreis is just a regular guy learning the ‘City Philosphy’ when he’s driving around Manchester in a Jaguar?? If you look closely at the steering wheel he is indeed James Bonding it around England. Is that the City Way they keep going on about? If you do well with Manchester City’s owners they’ll give you a new Jaguar so you can break off the mirrors learning to drive proper? Maybe it’s a rental car, or a nice car to borrow from a club executive, either way well played Mr. Kreis.
3:00:3:48: Kreis looks over the Elite Development Squad players and U21′s. Because when I think Manchester City … I think of developmental players and not well compensated gun for hire internationals??
3:48-4:56: Let’s meet Patrick Viera, not only a retired champion footballer but someone ‘interested in getting Kreis’s opinions’. I was confused by this segment, were they asking Kreis’s opinions on possible NYCFC players? Or are we supposed to believe that Kreis is now privy to major decision making for the youth portion of a club very close to winning a Premiere League Championship? Do tell Jason, we’ll discuss which striker will move up to the first team after tea time.
4:57-5:30: City’s Philosphy is the same as Barcelona’s. And by that he means possession orientated soccer? Or does he mean using unknown amounts of oil money to sign players like Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli? For every player on the Elite Development Squad forgive me if I think there are four being scouted from rival teams. As any English fan will tell you, City rose to power the same way Chelsea and Manchester United did during the later 90s. $ucce$$ follows the teams with enough cash to pay for it. No matter what this MLS Insider/Adidas video tells you always remember that NYCFC paid the highest amount of money for an expansion fee in the history of the league and Garber might have to wait another thirty years to match it.
5:30-5:53: The CEO of Manchester City states that if you watch any Manchester City or NYCFC team then you’ll know them by the beautiful, fluid Barcelona-like passing. It’s interesting that this is brought up right before Jason Kreis mentions he has to win. You know, Arsenal played some great looking soccer at the beginning of this year but pretty much is being ignored. In my opinion Manchester City can pass it around like thanksgiving dinner all night but a true Manchester City funded team has to win. NYCFC will be held to the same standard, just like NYRB and the Galaxy have had to find out.
5:54-6:52: Jason states that his job is difficult because a lot of the younger players haven’t seen much playing time in the first squad and he doesn’t know who to choose. Suuuuure. Because every MLS manager would hate having ten youth squad players from Manchester City and access to 3 major international designated players. Good luck Jason, we all know how difficult it is to drive around in Jaguars and pick out Elite Development Squad players. You’re just a regular coach in a difficult task like Chelis had been when he was asked to manage Chivas USA a few years ago (this is major sarcasm).
6:52:-7:23: If we took Leonel Messi, put him with the worst team in MLS, would they still be the worst team in MLS? I get the point that Kreis is making but if you look that statement it literally makes no sense from a competition or financial standpoint. No way they’d be the worst with Leo Messi! Is MLS that bad that even with the addition of one of the world’s greatest players the team would still be a disaster? Right now Montreal is dead last after 5 games. We’re saying Marco Di Vaio and Messi wouldn’t do anything? How many season tickets would be sold in Montreal? Ce n’est pas une problème!!
I think Kreis is taking a slight shot at the Galaxy and Beckham with this statement, but for all given purposes, teamwork wins games. And there’s no ‘I’ in team or
City Manchester is there?
7:23-8:49: Kreis is shown walking around an empty stadium taking everything in. There’s a few logo shots of the Manchester City crest and Kreis hopes to have ‘just a portion’ of the culture to trickle down to NYC. He’s not kidding, right now NYCFC will have to share a stadium with the Yankees and their New Jersey rivals just took a major step forward by winning the supporters shield last year. New York is RBNY territory and NYCFC is just a tiny blip on the radar. Kreis is smart enough to mention that success might come 10,15 years down the line. But Jason, as a head coach in business with Manchester City, do you think that’s enough time for you to stay on the job?
In short, my only inklings of NYCFC are from a Youtube video posted about five months ago and the random online news story about where they are trying to play. Their search for a possible stadium location now includes a Yankee Stadium parking lot and also parkland in Queens that major politicians aren’t allowing until they get
major bribes more local activist support. I haven’t heard anything about the team in local news, I haven’t heard my friends talk about it at work. I haven’t heard about NYCFC on the radio or in major talk on ESPN or NBCSN. In short, it’s a bigger news story in Manchester than it is in NYC. We’ll see how the team develops and when they sign their squad. But for now most MLS fans will have to wait for short videos to pop up that make Manchester City seem like Christmas morning.
This year both the San Jose Earthquakes and L.A. Galaxy botched two very close opportunities to advance past their Mexican counterparts in this years CONCACAF Champions League. Although not the end-all & be-all of American soccer, this tournament is a bell-weather event that MLS headquarters keeps focusing on winning. Although the Galaxy came within a goal of moving on San Jose was even closer than that; one sole kick in the final shoot-out would’ve let them advance. In the end both MLS teams went home empty handed. To pour salt in the wound, they won’t even be able to compete in next year’s tournament.
So now, without further ado …. Your 2014 CONCACAF Champions Leage MLS Representatives!!!
The New York Red Bulls!!
Captained by a legendary striker that’s playing in perhaps his final year, the Red Bulls have a very strong chance of not even watching King Henry step on any tournament field. Not only do some of the CONCACAF first games take place in Caribbean countries but it would be bizarre to watch the likes of Cahill and Henry jog around an empty track stadium against much weaker competition. In comparison, L.A. had been frustrated by having to travel mid-season and starting million dollar players against opponents not afraid of slide tackling them with the backing of non-caring referees. At least when Cahill is fouled in America a needed whistle is blown, but I doubt the Red Bulls will get any preference when some of the Red Bulls could BUY the other squad outright. Traveling in this tournament is rough enough, and Henry has already spoken out against his needless traveling to places like Seattle or Vancouver.
My final take: Petke will have his hands full with a squad that’s right now lucky to tie a team like Chivas USA. Later this year when the interleague tournament gets underway he’s going to get another crash course in coaching. How to balance travel, squad, field adjustments and hotel accommodations. I wish them luck but my Suckyball sense is saying it’ll be tough to deal with some of the Concacaf non-sense with Henry’s status up in the air and Cahill getting World Cup wear and tear.
Next up …
What better representative of MLS than a squad that grabbed the LOWEST amount of possible points last year? Later this year there’s little chance of signing any outstanding players and they’ll have to hope Eddie Johnson can somehow pull out miracles against high-caliber Mexican teams. If Donovan and Keane couldn’t pull it off, I have little reasoning to think that D.C. United breaks down any doors. The only reason they made it into the tournament was winning a U.S. Open Cup final that they had no business being in because of their ugly season results.
My final take: Do they deserve to be in the CONCACAF Champions League? Yes, of course, they earned it. Do they stand a chance against the top Mexican clubs licking their chops against them? ….. Good luck United, go in peace and play your best!! Take your vitamins and pray hard brothers!!
The Timbers might have the best chance of pulling through, but keep in mind they were allowed in because of a rule change right before the MLS Cup. Diego Valeri and Nagbe are decent players and I can see them putting in the ground work and surviving the travel to far away games. Portland has every motivation to take this tournament serious, because Seattle won’t be in it!!
My final take: I don’t have a crystal ball but Portland’s ownership and financial backing wouldn’t consider the tournament a write-off. They’ll be in it to win it, and I would hope Valeri lights up the Central American competition. L.A. and San Jose missed major chances to build up goal leads against Tijuana and Toluca, pretty much every 10th shot was hitting goal post. Diego Valeri doesn’t even have to score, just pass it to the right Timber sprinting down the flanks.
And now …. your MLS Champion and a returning team …….
Sporting Kansas City!!!
MLS’s best team not only led the league in fouls last year and then somehow limped into MLS Cup victory, but they also got smashed by Cruz Azul 5-1 in a quarter-final match. After the game they sure needed Blue Cross (Cruz Azul, get it?) to carry them out of Mexico because Graham Zusi and company had a melt-down as every defender forgot how to play. It might not be pretty again in next year’s tournament. Of course Zusi is stepping up as a great American player, but SKC just doesn’t click when forced to stand toe to toe against Mexican clubs. This year they’ll probably do well in MLS League play but this CONCACAF tournament can get grueling. You’re traveling to far off locations, in the middle of a World Cup year, testing 2nd and 3rd string players and your final present is Mexican clubs not only at the top of their league but also in mid-season form.
My final take: SKC is Don Garber’s poster child for a successful team. They have decent fans, in a soccer specific stadium and their city appears to embrace them. But come on, do you think Mexicans are afraid of them? They might need to sign more players which brings me to ….
A top 5 USMNT Mid-fielder? Check. A top English striker who doesn’t mind moving to Canada? While we’re at it you might as well throw in the Brazilian national team goal keeper …. why not? Check!! The ownership of Toronto FC not only
got invaded hired a major power player from the L.A. Galaxy (Tim Leiweke) but they also received his expert advice in putting together a winning team (making sure giant checks don’t bounce). All TFC has to do is win the Canadian Championship and they’re in, where they can beat up on DC United and NYRB’s 3rd string team. If this happens even more Loonie money will continue to pour in and TFC just might sign a Chelsea player to complete Don Garber’s fantasy signing. You can find out more information about the Canadian Championship here:
Which brings me to final conclusion. Out of all the possible MLS teams coming up in late 2014, why does it make perfect sense that the favorite team to go further into the Concacaf record book than any other MLS team won’t even be American … but Canadian?? At least we might be able to see Jermaine Defoe drop some CONCAGOALS in the process.
Here’s a Youtube video showing why Defoe’s investment might not seem so crazy, courtesy of DC United’s defense:
As the MLS season gets into gear I should go ahead and give Suckyball’s blessing of negativity to a new batch of upcoming games. If this year was like the years before it I would’ve had a field day bashing the league’s clumsy attempts to get closer to the high standards set by European football’s powers. And let me say without hesitation: this year has some problems. If you can ignore the Walking Dead team of Chivas U.S.A. and the confusing idea that NYCFC might have their stadium well outside of the 5 boroughs (talk is of Westchester, which makes Harrison New Jersey seem closer than it is) … then this year’s upcoming season bodes well for the league.
I always feel 50-50 with my hate towards American over-hype and the glossing over of sub-standard play. But can you tell me that MLS will never come close to Premiere League play after watching Sunderland vs Crystal Palace? I watched Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe play well enough that if they were in the bottom of Serie A it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. Besides beating Mexican teams next week, what else do you want MLS to do? A million fans dogged MLS for losing Deuce (myself included) and what can we say when he not only comes back to the league but he’s not even the major signing?
The Beckham deal was a circus. The Red Bull Arena and Henry deal were similar to Austrian kids playing Monopoly to buy up as many expensive spots as they could, until they realize they were actually using REAL money and have debts to pay off. But the deals this year, they seem like at least five or six of the owners know enough to grow the league. Let me show with own life experience how much soccer has grown in the United States, in just four years!!
2010: I worked in an office where I heard about the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets and even the Patriots all the time. Two co-workers followed soccer and the rest of us only talked about it because of the World Cup and we rehashed stereotypes about Germany being tactical, Maradona being a crazy coach and that Ghana was beatable. The first co-worker who followed soccer was someone who refereed in his spare time for extra cash. I didn’t know if he was Irish, English or German; just that he predicted the U.S. wouldn’t go anywhere and that he knew more than three players on the national team (I just knew about Landon Donovan because … he played with Beckham?). The second co-worker always talked about Columbia and Rinaldo being better than Messi. For a long time I thought Messi was the beginning and end of soccer until ….
2012: I worked in a new office and a co-worker not only said he watched a Red Bull game but he even wore a Manchester United shirt!!! Other co-workers at least followed the 2012 Euro’s and they had debates about if Mario Balotelli was a real Italian or just a great African player that tricked Italy into giving him a spot. When I went to watch Real Madrid play live I then understood the hype about Cristiano after he sprinted past over-matched defenders and launched goals from one side of the field into the opposite net to thundering applause against a quiet AC Milan squad. So even though it wasn’t a World Cup year at least the interest in soccer wasn’t non-existent.
2013: I worked in an office where every Friday people tried to outdo each-other with new team jerseys. My Everton shirt would be one-upped by a new Barcelona jersey which would be matched up against an Ecuador national team jacket. The next week I’d bring out MY OWN Barcelona jersey to go up against someone’s new expensive scarf or the newest Columbian merchandise. My supervisors must’ve been confused when every Friday turned into Futbol conversations by an office full of potential advertisements for worldsoccershop.com.
2014: Not only do I work in a new company that’s ran by over-hyped European soccer followers, but I was told that when the World Cup goes down half of the office is going to go crazy every day with anticipation. We’re not going to talk about it like it’s an ESPN story, but the employees are going to go back and forth at each-other and track every goal on their smart phones before the imminent trash talking. Because Queens has the highest percentage of foreign born immigrants in NYC, that means that at least five different countries will be supported under one roof come this summer. This is the change I’m talking about.
If someone tells me that in 2018 MLS will play well enough to surpass Mexican teams I wouldn’t think they were crazy. If someone told me that in 2020 a group of European soccer fans would somehow plan a vacation trip around visiting an MLS team I wouldn’t think it was that outlandish. Seattle and a few other American teams have potential to be not only top draws for American viewers but international fans.
But if someone keeps saying that by 2026 America will make the World Cup championship match, well, I think we’d still be a bit sucky by then.
PS … In the off-chance this website is read by any MLS ownership groups … WHY ARE YOU THINKING OF SIGNING CARLOS PUYOL?? SERIOUS?? YOU THINK EUROSNOBS ARE DESPERATE ENOUGH THAT THEY’D BE HAPPY WITH THAT? PUYOL? SERIOUS? BARCA PUYOL? PLEASE STOP UPDATING YOUR SPREADSHEET AND POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS, YOU CAN DO MUCH BETTER!! (No offense to Puyol, it just seems a strange signing rumor.)
Garber’s mention at the draft of the $75-$100 million annual losses incurred by the league was arguably the first shot across the bow of the players’ union, as it gears up to shape its demands for that new CBA. – Graham Parker via Grantland
If you’ve been following American soccer for the past few months you’ve heard some pretty bizarre rumors and even stranger realities. Not only is Michael Bradley leaving Europe to play for Toronto, but somehow an English national player has decided to go along with him. This news follows the previous transfer saga of Clint Dempsey who dropped into the middle of Seattle’s season and issued a new period of MLS I call ‘Money Losing Soccer’. No matter how many times Sporting Kansas City wins future cups back-to-back, the owners of MLS have now grouped together and banded into a Lord-of-the-Flies entity pushing some groups against others and forcing the weak into a small market jungle to face rising salaries and the wild boars of new business groups expansion teams. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Don Garber, despite his claims that MLS is drowning in red ink, has different cities calling his cell phone every day that try to feed him another sixty million for a new team. People living in Sacramento somehow think that if they’re rewarded an MLS team then out of the blue people will compare that city to San Francisco, or even San Jose (which already has a team!). There’s no going back this year: Money Losing Soccer will continue to sign expensive names despite only a weak correlation with winning anything.
Let’s look closer at some recent DP’s that have came into the league and are munching on the fruits of Don Garber’s labor from last year (all dollar amounts are annual):
Thierry Henry - $4.35 million
Robbie Keane – $4.3 million
Tim Cahill – $3.6 million
Landon Donovan – $2.5 million
Marco Di Vaio – $1.9 million
The above players were all huge news at those times, but then a few more came up, distorted player pay scales and they all occured within half a year:
Obafemi Martins – 1.6 million per year.
Clint Dempsey – Projected $8 million per year.
Michael Bradley – 6.5 million per year
Jermain Defoe – 8.3 million
(Note: All pay numbers were from various press releases that were released. If you need to check their numbers then please use Google, they won’t be hard to find.)
This pay is unbelievable and it’s no surprise that the business executive that landed his highness David Beckham went all out trying to raise Toronto FC from the dead for his new boss. That Tim Leiweke, flush with revenue from Toronto’s hidden gold-mine, must’ve tried to land a single impossible Moby Dick signing and then must’ve ‘settled’ to land Bradley and Defoe. Keep in mind that the combined 14.8 million, per year, is nothing to sneeze at and I have to doubt that the millions of new Toronto FC t-shirts on sale can even start to balance that checkbook. Within a span of a few years MLS went from a ‘slow but steady’ league that many people preferred, into a league that is letting a couple Yankee-style evil empires develop. Literally, there is a new MLS team that is working with the Yankees to field a 2015 team. NYCFC isn’t batting an eye at the 3 Designated Player rule. In fact, their new coach sounded like they would rather just go to 5 designated players and get it over with.
So no matter how much Garber whines about player salaries or ‘money losing teams’, everyone should realize that a few owners are doing this to themselves. You think the Red Bulls and the Galaxy will go into 2015 and then all of a sudden decide to play cheap? Get real. There’s no going back to the old days. Even if your team will continue to get bounced from the play-offs with your new star (Seattle), play in the tri-state area almost invisible to your true big city potential (NYRB) or watch as your blue chip signings get closer and closer to retiring in a two year span (L.A.). MLS isn’t going to get cheaper, they’re only going to have more owners drive up the price of players. Which could be a good thing if you’re a fan, but if you’re a fan of a small market team it’s getting easier and easier to think that you’ll have no shot of success. Of course SKC and RSL went to the final last year with great teams built on a balanced check book. But in a few years I’m sure they might not have that chance when they have to match up against Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Cahill or the new NYCFC 3DP All-Star squad.
On the final note, I used to be a Padre fan. What that means is that I used to root for Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman and a hobbled aging Rickey Henderson closing out his career. I deluded myself into thinking every year we had a chance, but we continued to come up short. In hind sight for a few years we celebrated our star player, a closer who came out to pitch maybe two innings under giant banners celebrating his pitching (Hoffman). Then I moved to New York and saw how baseball really worked. The Padres were pretty much a small market team who generated money by signing their players off to the richer teams. Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez come to mind and there should be a few other examples that I would check, if it didn’t hurt my inner fan that much. After a year in New York I started following the Yankees more because not only have they won championships, but they have the money to keep the players they want. It’s cold hearted and sad, but it’s true.
It might happen to MLS if the weaker teams decide to pinch budgets and wait for their team to sell to a new investment firm. Money Losing Soccer will reward the teams who can stomach revenue swings and turn the smaller budgeted teams into people waiting on the sidelines. Enjoy MLS 3.0 America, because in ten years MLS 5.0 will be unrecognizable and might create their own top four similar to Europe. It might be Glory Glory Seattle Sounders* or L.A. Ceeeelery Ceeeelery*.
Asi, Asi, Asi Gana El Salt Lake might not be uttered*.
*These are all European chants for Man U, Chelsea and Madrid respectively.
Over the past couple of weeks MLS was hit by two major news stories. Not only did Michael Bradley decide to leave Roma for the treasure trove waiting for him in Toronto, but Don Garber put together a new T.V. contract to provide MLS with enough cash to move forward again. These issues are important, game-changing and I’m not going to even begin studying their implications as every major American soccer news outlet is beating the stories to death. To me, it’s not that big of a deal that Bradley is coming back to MLS because no player in Bradley’s position would say no to the avalanche of cash that was being offered. I wish him the best of luck and hope he can back up his decision come Brazil.
Speaking of well-paid players, none other than Xavi Hernandez is being linked to the Red Bulls. As crazy as this trade sounds it doesn’t seem impossible. Thierry Henry and Xavi are good friends from Barcelona and I can imagine Henry advocating for another European DP on the roster. If the story ended there I wouldn’t pay any mind to it, but now NYCFC is being rumored to prepare their own bid because part of their management team worked for Barcelona before.
So without further ado, I write to you Xavi! In the billion to one chance your agent ever reads Suckyball, here are the reasons you should go to Harrison to play for the Red Bulls. Don’t decide NYCFC, it’s not the greatest decision and I’ll tell you why.
- Doesn’t RED sound better than BLUE to you? You’re playing for Spain this summer right? It’s La Roja, not La Azul. Think about it, if you play with Henry then you’ll be with Los Toros Rojos and aren’t bulls part of your culture too? There you have it, it’s a win win. Stay true to the Spanish National team ciento por ciento.
- If you decide to play for NYCFC you’ll be playing on a dirt baseball field!! Say what you will about having an extra commute from Manhattan but at least the Red Bulls have their own soccer field that’s only used for soccer. What kind of message does it send that one of Spain’s current football geniuses is jogging around a baseball field with bizarre sight lines?
- The NYRB have a history! Well, by history I mean they’ve played for a few years before NYCFC but they did win a major trophy last year and there are die-hard fans for life. Nobody in New York is talking about becoming a major NYCFC fan, they’re only going to wait and see how the team comes together. The Red Bulls aren’t a club put together on fast-forward anymore. Mix-ups will happen with a brand new team on a dirt field.
- Just because NYCFC has a ton of cash, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a winning team. RBNY, LA, Seattle and Toronto FC would love to give this piece of advice to you. An MLS team can buy Messi or Ronaldo and they’ll somehow still get bounced in the play-offs.
- Just because you would play in New Jersey doesn’t mean you’d have to live there. Thierry Henry can take you to Knicks games, the best French restaurants and where to get your new New York tattoos. Who would help you out if you sign with NYCFC? Old Barcelona managers that’s who, and chances are you might not like them that much. Stay with Henry, he’s a champ just like you.
Sign with Red Bull Mr. Hernandez, the choice is easy.
Also if some of you readers aren’t familiar with Xavi’s work, even after a World Cup victory and complete ownership of Spain’s mid-field, you can check out this video and catch-up on it. Then e-mail his agent and him to choose Red.
There. I did it. The above picture of Bill Clinton sitting next to Mick Jagger represents not only America’s sense of the World Cup but the confusion of foreigners making new sense of Yankees and our footie sensibilities. Notice Bill’s outfit: a Red, White and Blue track jacket ensemble not only freeing his patriotism but also highlighting the absurdity of why he would wear a track jacket. Does anyone think that Clinton was noted for being health conscious? He’s America’s sentiment of soccer: oblivious (because I doubt Clinton knew more than five players on that squad, I’m sure I didn’t!), optimistic (because if America could put a man on the moon, shouldn’t we beat a team like Ghana?!!) and scheming (as much as Bill was admired for being a laid back and warm president, does anyone doubt the intelligence, ambition and cunning it took to become the most powerful man in America from his modest and humble origins? We all trusted and liked Bill even though we also agreed he was a natural and artful liar; maybe that says something about America).
On the right side of the photo is Europe’s typical power fan, via England. To start with, Mick Jagger and European soccer is old. Clinton is a few years younger but somehow Mick Jagger maintains his youthfulness by dying his hair darker and still running around on stage in long winded performances. The world must be amazed Mick Jagger didn’t have three or four hip surgeries by now after so much wear and tear on his body, I know I am. Also Mick is experienced with the game. Whereas Bill attempts to fit in with the patriotic track suit, Mick wears nothing symbolizing his attachment with England. He doesn’t have to, England had been to this party for multiple decades and have won their own World Cup, should he wear a James Bond tie with his suit? Whereas Mick is professional, Bill is winging it with aplomb. Mick’s even wearing a scarf (and a good percentage of American men, even if it’s cold, will probably be afraid to make that fashion statement). Mick and Europe’s connection to soccer is respected, innate and inherent.
So what happens when you sit Mick Jagger and Europe next to Bill Clinton’s American cheekiness? You get the same feeling Mick Jagger is projecting, confusion and questioning. Why do Americans support soccer now when they’ve created the bastard corporate success of the National “Football” League. England, Mexico and a ton of other countries routinely ask themselves ‘Can’t they leave soccer alone?!!! It was ignored it for half a century, why should they get good at it??!!’ And also there’s a good chance Mick Jagger and Europe are looking at the players America is trotting out and asking who are half of these players?
So 2014 sees an upcoming World Cup arriving, another meeting of nations and cultures, and a chance for America to study about 3-5-3′s or Michael Bradley’s time at AS Roma. As a special gift to ‘Welcome America into the Soccer World’ the World Cup will make them play against Germany and Ronaldo, an almost sinister draw where the entire world is rooting for the Americans to get outscored quatro a cero. We will take that test as best we can, but when the cup is over then MLS is back to advertising Dempsey vs Eddie Johnson. The World Cup might draw more viewers to MLS, but it won’t turn it into La Liga overnight (No matter what Don Garber might tell you).
Are you still reading this? You must be interested in American soccer so let’s get to see what’s important about the upcoming year, and why I consider it pivotal.
1. World Cup 2014. It only comes every four years and MLS has to take advantage of that. If Dempsey, Donovan or ANY MLS Regular succeeds in front of a world audience that will bring more respect to their league. But if they go down in flames then MLS’s stock will drop with them. They’re financially tied at the hip, going up or down hinges on that summer in Brazil.
2. Expansion. Although no new team will play in 2014, there are deals being made behind the scenes that will affect not only expansion but the attendance for next couple of years. 2014 is a game changer for Beckham and his Miami franchise and even now Minnesota has cash lined up saying MLS can play in it’s new fancy NFL stadium. Hey, they’re not Seattle but they do have cash. Did I mention they want to give Don Garber cash for expanding?
You can read more of that here:
So even though Orlando, NYCFC, Miami or Orlando won’t be playing in 2014 it should be aware that the decisions they make in their offices as far as sponsors, game plan or PLAYER SIGNINGS will push MLS either ahead or sideways in a short period of time. I thought expansion was a slow but steady process but for 2014 it’s a mess filled with NFL dual use stadiums, converted parking lots and rich celebrities pooling investment money together in Florida.
3. Television Ratings of Death
A new television deal is needed for 2015 and major negotiations will be underway between ESPN, NBC and Univision. Maybe the deals will be hammered out during the upcoming World Cup. Here can be an example of what might be heard at that summer:
NBC & ESPN: We’ll only give you a little bit more cash so your league will have to continue losing money for a few years. No one watched Chivas USA versus Seattle.
Garber & MLS: We’re presenting an opportunity to access the youngest and fastest growing segment of America’s sports fans. All these teenagers are soccer crazy and passionate about their supported teams. Give me double the money before I retire.
NBC & ESPN: They’re watching the Premiere League and buying FIFA video games. We lose money advertising MLS because more people watch fishing, college football, hunting shows, reruns of Everybody -
Garber & MLS: Everybody Loves Dempsey!!! And he signed with Seattle and is doing well…. he’s playing there and WANTS to play there! He’s also playing for the USMNT as well as Seattle, and look … they’re playing Portugal right now! Amazing, so much excitement and passion and commitment for the global game.
NBC & ESPN: When can you sign Ronaldo?
Garber & MLS: Did you know that we’ve had commitments from Frank Lampard to sign with a major television market? That’s right the famous Chelsea player has a good chance of heading to Minnesota United in 2015. Also Kaka still wants to go to Orlando FC for his 15 million dollar per year deal.
NBC & ESPN: We asked about Ronaldo. What about Luis Suarez, Spanish people should like him right? Is there any player close to Beckham’s level of fame that we can work with? Chicharito?
Garber & MLS: Our work with Thierry Henry in New York has grown that br-
NBC & ESPN: We didn’t ask about him. Let’s cut it short because we want to go to the beach and drink. The Americans just tied with Portugal and we’re taking it as a huge victory. We’ll give you one minute Garber, keep in mind NBC is already running with the Premiere League and those ratings speak louder than yours.
Garber & MLS: We own American soccer. Even though no one watches MLS, even less people watch college or NASL games, and that’s including the Cosmos for right now. You can’t even make a supporter chant without MLS lawyers copyrighting it and re-branding it to sell airtime. Not only do we control the U.S.M.N.T. revenue but when the Mexican national team has friendlies on our soil they work through us and make more money. You’re stuck with us, for better or worse because MLS was there when American soccer didn’t even knew it had potential. Right now we’re ignoring the regular draft to pick-up latin American talent for pesos on the dollar. We’re going nowhere and even though no one watches on TV, they watch on internet feeds and show up to international friendlies and All-Star games that we control. We might be losing money but rich and wealthy powers are signing with us as we reach for further milestones and grind out the smallest advantages. We’re not going anywhere because we built this entity from scratch and pyramid scheme support. Like it or not we need more money but it’s the AMERICAN WAY.
NBC & ESPN: OK, Calm down, we’ll give you a little semi-generous pay raise but we need the Mexican National team to play at Dallas stadium again this year. See you in 2018.
The NFL & Roger Goodell: Hahahhaa, ESPN gave us how much money?!!! Wait, what do you mean people stopped watching some of our teams? Don’t we have extra British and Mexican viewers now?
David Stern: 謝謝你中國!!! I’m honored to be back at the Shanghai Dwayne Wade KFC-Taco Bell Arena to sign another important deal between the NBA and Chinese local businesses. Us at the NBA are committed to giving China’s population a priority in our international vision because of your unique and continued support for our causes and players …. And now, to perform a golden lion dance of friendship and Goodwill …. theeeeee Miami Heat!!!!
In Suckyball conclusion, I’d like to find out what type of readers this humble blog attracts. I know there’s a few of you, hopefully you’re supportive and like when I post more. So to get more interactive with you (wherever you may be) in 2014 I’ll put up a poll along with my content to gauge interest. It won’t hurt, but I’m just curious what you think about soccer in America.
So, here’s the first poll and last part of this ridiculous New Years Post. Happy New Year!! I hope American Soccer won’t suck that much now!!!
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?