MLS is begging for a star. Not a good player, not a great player, not a designated player.
A star. A player that transcends the sport. A colorful personality that is known for his on and off the field exploits, whether good or bad. Preferably good, of course.
The NFL has Tom Brady. The NBA has LeBron. MLB has, whether it likes it or not, Alex Rodriguez. And, of course, golf has this guy named Tiger. MLS has…?
Not even David Beckham. Yes, Becks transcends the soccer world by attending these glitzy Hollywood shindigs with Posh and TomKat, but it’s different with him. He’s English. He’s not American. He's not one of our own, so to speak. Brady, A-Rod, and LeBron are ours. American. Nevermind the fact that they make more money than we can ever imagine – they’re still one of us. They watch TV like us, eat hamburgers, and speak the same way we do. Becks? Not so much.
So who will step forward? Which American soccer player right here, in Major League Soccer, will give the league the avatar it needs to further establish itself here on our shores?
*Speaking of establishing itself, here’s hoping that Women’s Professional Soccer doesn’t adhere to the same model that MLS is currently following.
*For those wearing rose-colored shades: only eight days until Becks reports back to Galaxy camp!
*It’s March 1st, and up to 15 inches of snow is predicted to fall within the next 24 hours. Anyone still think MLS should adhere to the international schedule?
*I don’t care what anyone says, expansion is not what MLS should be doing right now, not after the commissioner – yes, commissioner – of the NFL just gave himself a 20% salary cut to save costs. The NFL. Cutting costs. Note MLS: Wake up.
*Among the preseason whispers this preseason is the sentiment that first overall pick Steve Zukuani, whose knock is that he shies away from contact, will not pan out in a physical league like MLS.
*Another preseason whisper is that Juan Carlos Osario has exactly half a season to prove that last season’s late run was not a fluke.
*Which, unfortunately for JCO, is exactly what it was.
*Houston may not see another MLS Cup championship for awhile.
*This week’s quiz: which former New Bedford Whaler missed participating in his club’s 1932 championship game while backstopping for the Boston Red Sox?
*By my unofficial count, I’ve already seen one more commercial for WPS than for MLS.
*Which means I’ve seen zero MLS commercials at all this year, not even the local Revolution broadcast spots.
*Just so you know, the Revolution are playing three preseason matches this year. Three as in one, two, three matches. Three as in 270* minutes of preseason fare.
(*Thank you, Ron.)
*And there’s not truth to the rumor that it’s only three because Steve Nicol says his players are still tired from last season’s schedule.
*Going into its third season of MLS, Toronto has a soccer spec stadium, wealth of season ticket holders, and now, it has bought – yes, bought – its very first player via transfer.
*Which begs the question: what the heck are other MLS clubs doing while this is taking place? Playing MLS Fantasy?
*In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m rooting for WPS to succeed, if only to teach MLS how to run a professional soccer league successfully.
*Line of the Week this week is actually an entire training tip straight from Chicago Red Star’s Lindsay Tarpley, courtesy of ussoccer.com:
BRING A LOT OF SOCCER BALLS WHEN DOING FINISHING “This may sound silly, but the more balls you have the more repetition you can get without wasting time chasing balls. A lot of things I do only require one ball, but when I start hitting shots or crosses, the more soccer balls I have the better. If you are a young player, start collecting soccer balls now!”
*For the record, there are nine soccer balls sitting in my backyard. Still working on the finishing myself.
*From the Captain Obvious Files: Kobe Bryant, recently outfitted as a Barca player on the cover of ESPN the Magazine, should have MLS hitting up his agent for some potential Kobe-MLS promos.
*Paul Gardner suggests that the use of larger goals and extra points for goals scored would prevent soccer from falling into oblivion in the February 2009 issue of World Soccer.
*The funny thing is neither idea is really that original, or foreign. The USISL experimented with larger goals in 1995, and the NASL awarded extra points for goals back in the late-70s.
*Don’t forget to remember that while you’re shoveling another thick, 14-inch blanket of snow out of your driveway, that not only is First Kick 2009 20 days away, but that WPS’s inaugural match is only 29 days away as well. MLS and WPS: it warms your heart even when there’s 14 inches of snow on the ground.