Friday, December 05, 2008

American footballers in London

A press release about Generation adidas' tour through England was siphoned into my inbox on Monday. Like many of the other releases that I get, I gave it a quick glance, stewed upon the info, then deleted it. J/K.

Anyway, the release heralded the return of GA to England for a mini-series of matches against the reserves from Cheslea, West Ham, and Aston Villa. And if that weren't enough, the release read that the players will get do some shopping, and catch a few high-stakes EPL matches. Seriously.*

(*Was it not for an unusually acute sense of judgement at 1am, I would have posted a lengthy diatribe against the entire premise of the press release. Playing football with some EPL reserves - okay, that's newsworthy. But proclaiming their extra-cirricular affairs? THAT wasn't newsworthy at all. But in the end, I ultimately nixed the idea because, in hindsight, it was extremely mean-spirited. Like, telling your girlfriend that she's not only a fattie, but handing her a brochure from the nearest liposuction specialist. It was not kind at all.)

Now, the kids, they may think this little excursion is all fun and dandy.* But I think GA may be better served by playing in, oh, I don't know, more than three matches. With the recent dissolution of reserve league, it would be wise to extend this tour by a few more matches given how little playing time each of these players (with exception of Bakary Soumare, Marvell Wynne, Yura Movsisyan and Chris Seitz) were afforded during the previous season.

(*Do kids today still say things are "fun and dandy?" I'm not so sure. They probably did at some in 1923.)

A winter tour which gets all GA members on board and plays the reserves and/or comparable sides overseas is an idea worth pursuing. And they should not be limited to the Home Countries. Send them to Spain. France. Portugal. Heck, send them to Turkey and Austria. Get these kids more experience, and less time shopping. That's what girlfriends are for.*

(*Just kidding. Mostly.)

Here's how to do it: Generation adidas becomes a touring club during the winter. Twelve matches, all abroad. First three in England. Next three in Spain. Three more in Portugal. And finally, three more among Turkey, Austria and Germany.

The tour should last two months. Have them start in early December, and play through January. I know that averages out to about 1.2 matches a week. But let's face it: many of these guys - like the Revolution's Rob Valentino and Amaechi Igwe - haven't played much soccer at all in the past year. So what better way to get them sharp then giving them something that resembles a professional soccer schedule?

In fact, for varitey, I would alternate continents Year One, Europe. The next year, South America. Year Three, Asia. And so on. That way, the oh-so-infallible English model isn't the only one utilized every year.

I know the counterargument will emphasize the lack of rest during the offseason. After all, MLS only has a three month offseason. But without the reserve league next year, when will these guys actually get to play? Charity tournaments with Hollywood United?

I'm sure the logistics of it wouldn't be easy. But if clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid can conduct preseason tours, why can't MLS, partnered with the world's largest athletic apparel manufacturer (adidas) do the same?

And not to deviate to a different sport, but baseball, which is played on a daily basis, has a wide array of winter leagues, many of which play a 50-60 game schedule in addition to the 150 or so games played during the regular season. And you know what? Players are usually OK by the time spring rolls around.

Okay, so the idea may be construed as far-fetched in the soccer world. It will take alot of effort to make it work.

Yet, the rewards would be reaped. The guys get battle-tested abroad. And hey - MLS gets its banner flown across the globe.

It all makes sense, which is probably why it will never happen.

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