One thing they don’t tell you about having a newborn son…visits from the family take up a lot of your time. So, while playing tour guide this weekend, I only managed to catch the second half of the US-Costa Rica game and MLS Wrap. Guess it could have been worse. I really need to get my Tivo hooked back up.
Anyway, while catching up two articles caught my attention. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but Nick Green at the Daily Breeze in LA has become my favorite Soccer Reporter in this country. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he holds much the same opinions as I…or maybe it’s the fact that he calls it as he sees it (which is often the same as I see it). So, I come across this piece he wrote in the Breeze about tonight’s Galaxy vs. Yokohama game. Then compare it to what was published in the OC Register and you’ll see what I mean. If the sport and MLS are going to succeed, we need to media to do more than just regurgitate what some MLS PR person would write. My hope is that if enough of the media point out where MLS is selling us less than the best possible product, the bosses will finally do something about it and give us a better product all around….one can dream right?
So this leads me to the main point I wanted to make after this weekend. So, after 10 years, it looks like my biggest complaint about the league these days is that so many matches are played without the best players. The last two weekends have been the best examples of this. I had planned on running a list of how many players each team was missing due to international call-ups…but I’m lazy and you just need to look at the squads the US, Guatemala and Costa Rica (are there any Tico’s playing in MLS now?…haven’t had enough coffee yet today) to get an idea of how depleted MLS rosters were.
You take away the top players in the league and sell the games as meaningful and count the results in the standings….yeah, that’s really giving the fans value for money. I don’t know about the rest of the league, but at the HDC I was paying much the same ticket price for Galaxy games as I did the last time I saw Ipswich play in the Premiership (honest, it was only a couple years ago…maybe 3…they’ll be back). Paying Premiership prices to see MLS Reserves is hardly value for money. C’mon Mr. Garber, you keep talking about bringing the MLS schedule in line with the FIFA International calendar. All you have to do is have weekends off when there are International games. Heck, there’s a division of your conglomerate who own marketing/broadcast rights for the international games (for both the US and Mexico) why cannibalize your product with such conflicting choices? Let the fans of the sport focus on (and possibly travel to) the Internationals on those weekends and then everyone can focus on league fixtures the once all the top players return to their clubs.
Speaking of MLS matches, I had a feeling with a new coach on board to give the players added incentive, Chivas may get their second win of the season…and first on the road. Boy was I wrong. Is it me or do they just suck? Even with former Galaxy stars Ezra Hendrickson and Ryan Suarez in their backline, their defense is like a sieve. How long will it take Vargara’s crew to fix the damage they’ve done?
Oh yeah, I mentioned it a while ago but the US stuffed Costa Rica in SLC on Saturday. It was a much better performance than we saw last week in Chicago against England. But how good would the US be right now without Kasey Keller? Good result, on to Panama tonight. How many are planning to stay up late and possibly have little sleep before going to work tomorrow? Will that basebore game that’s on when the US-Panama game is being played really pull more viewers? We’ve got a long way to go.
Finally, speaking of the World Cup Qualifiers, I was happy to come across the HexagonalBlog this morning. I don’t know who the guy who’s publishing the blog is, but he’s doing a great job of rounding up everything that’s anything related to the regions best trying to make it to Germany next summer.