A few months ago, I was watching a Liga MX playoff game. I could not for the life of me remember who was playing, just that it was not Tijuana (my Liga MX club of choice). As the game played out, certain things were apparent to me. Firstly, the quality of play was better than that of MLS. It was not better by leaps and bounds, but it was certainly a higher, more technical class of play. Dispute it as we often do, Liga MX is better than MLS. It will continue to be better than MLS for some times.
This is not to say MLS is no good, awful, horrendous, and unwatchable; it is just to say that MLS is only 17 years old. Think of your performances at 17 years old. Compare that to a much older pro. Do you really think you were that good as a 17-year-old? If you do, I suggest asking around. You may be overrating your skill – but I digress.
Stuck in a rut.
That is where the United States Men’s National Team seems to be right now. Since 1990, when the USA first started regularly qualifying for World Cups, there has not been too much of a worry about qualification. Every USMNT head coach has been able to do it. Several of them have done it more than once. Yet here we sit, just prior to the Antigua & Barbuda match in qualifying, and supporters are concerned not about qualifying for the World Cup but about qualifying for the Hexagonal in order to qualify for the World Cup.
American soccer fans are tabloid journalists reporting on child stars. If there is one thing we love, it is building up our young players and then watching them crash and burn. We do it all the time. After all, what is more interesting to watch than the crashing and burning of someone with a big ego – even if it was us who created that ego to begin with?
Granted, we still hold out hope that Freddy Adu will reinvent himself a la Neil Patrick Harris. Harris, the child star who donned magazine covers, could not make it big in movies, then became a scene stealer on a much smaller stage, is a career path that Adu could follow. Adu, of course, is the child star who donned Sprite commercials, could not make it in the big world of European football, and we are all hoping he becomes a scene stealer in the much smaller world of MLS.
Like with Doogie, there are those of us who still hope he will turn into a superstar on the biggest stages of the National Team, but there are also those who hope he crashes and burns from his current level of success. Yet, it was us, the fans along with MLS, US Soccer, and even Pele, who built up young Adu. We gave him his alleged ego. He was always good, but never great. Thus is the case for many a young soccer protégée and many a child actor as well, but even with slight failures not everyone completely crashes out.
Hank and Abram talk MLS MVP, the power of marketing behind Thierry Henry, USMNT Qualifiers, Cameron playing out of position, all things Sascha Kljestan, NASL playoffs and expansion, if CONCACAF Champions League even matters, and if AEG’s sale could hurt MLS in CCL.
You know what I’m not getting ready to do?
Okay, realistically, I do understand the allure of playing fantasy football (and for the record I’m referring to the American football, not the European one in this instance), but I’ve always found the actual practice of it to be rather mundane. Frankly, I’m in the school of thought that the guys who sit around playing fantasy football are the same guys who used to pick on the geeks, nerds, and poindexters in high school for playing Dungeons and Dragons or Magic the Gathering and are now essentially doing the same thing.
So, American soccer fans, let’s all take a moment to sit down. We need to talk.
Something weird and unexplainable is happening. Something we never thought we would have to worry about. Something that we have yet to be forewarned of. Though the rumor mills and speculation machines had us all believing a move was inevitable, Clint Dempsey is still playing — or at least on the roster of — Fulham.
We have all heard the rumblings. It was Champions League or bust for Deuce. You knew it. I knew it. He knew it. It was time for the big show. Months later, with less than a week until he is going to need to start mending fences with Martin Jol, Dempsey is playing with the Fulham reserves. It is a bitter pill to swallow. It is bitter to you. It is bitter to me. It is bitter for Clint Dempsey. But it is time to admit that maybe, just maybe, Clint Dempsey is going to stay at Fulham. Read More…
For Kicks & Giggles is a series here at Viva la Futbol, which highlights some of the top football blogs that I have found over the course of each week. If you would like to see your blog added here, either send me a shout on Twitter @MindOfAbram or an email to Viva.La.Futbol.Ahora[at]Gmail[dot]com. These lists will feature between 8 and 11 blogs, videos, or various web related things at least every other Friday.
By this point I’m sure that everyone has heard about the “soccer riot” in Egypt. Somewhere between 74 and 80 people have died, nearly 1,000 people have been injured, and former USMNT coach and current Egyptian National Team coach Bob Bradley was involved in a march to support the protesters.
Why do I know that most people have heard of this “soccer riot”? I know this because it was all over the American media. They absolutely made sure that it was heard about. This wasn’t sold as a political uprising. At first it wasn’t mentioned that security locked the people in the stadium like caged animals at a dog fight. There was no mention of the constant political upheaval in Egypt since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak. No, this was nothing more than another “soccer riot.”
Nationalism is, perhaps, the biggest aspect in supporting a national team. So when a player denies, or is perceived as denying, his or her heritage it seems as if a nation turns on them. However, players’ national acknowledgements and identifications do not necessarily make them Benedict Arnolds. Even if that is the storyline that supporters groups are trying to sell.