We’ve got a roundtable coming up this week on MLS, but I thought I would kick it off myself today with some observations that I have from opening weekend in MLS.
To qualify, I’ve only been to a few MLS games and probably only outright watched a few more before I started writing this publication. Probably the best experience I had at a game was when the Dynamo played the Earthquake in an exhibition game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district on, even by SF standards, a cold and foggy night. MLS, you put a team at Kezar permanently and I won’t miss a home game. Scout’s honor.
Actually went with the Die Hipster Brewing guys to that one, and I do remember Brian Ching looking so thoroughly disinterested in playing that night that he got a second yellow early and walked right off the field into the warm locker-room.
That said, and perhaps this will be interesting for you guys or not, I thought I would offer some of my two cents, so you can correct me below or back-up my contentions:
• The MLS doesn’t need another “Beckham”
If you look at the amount of quality soccermen from overseas playing or thinking of playing in MLS–according to reports–you can really see an influx of players who played outside of North America start to gain a little steam post Beckham experiment.
Whether you see Beckham’s MLS time as a success or failure for the product or business, you can’t dispute that the England national certainly added legitimacy with his pedigree of Manchester United and Real Madrid.
After Beckham (January 2007) arrived then did an assortment of others Jaun Pablo Angel (Aston Villa, August 2007), Freddie Ljudberg (West Ham (year hiatus) October 2008), Ryan Smith (Crystal Palace, 2010). Add to this sampling of players, rumors of Thierry Henry and Raul among others..
MLS doesn’t need another “David Beckham,” a press-driving player, it needs to continue to get quality players from overseas that want to play in the United States before they exit their prime. Think of this way, while Beckham lifted numbers, what player can match Beckham’s magnitude with the casual fan to attract fans (hint: not Henry or Raul), maybe a Messi, Rooney or Ronaldo and that’s about it and none of them are obviously coming.
• There is a noticeable increase in production value and advertising in 2010.
With apologies to this comment by Johnny F, opening saw quite a bit more camera angles in the two games we watched (SJE/RSL and LAG/NER) this weekend. (Johnny we have not heard back yet on our email to FSC on the camera issue.)
Lots of camera angles and lots of attempts by FSC to pick out contributing parts of the game (like Gooch and David Beckham sharing a luxury box at HDC).
Further two of TSG’s suggestions for ESPN for soccer coverage, we’re picked up by Fox (admittedly with lower production value than we had hoped): A Landon Donovan cribs feature (it couldn’t have been drier) and a “telestrator” which featured the two broadcasters moving around checkers on magnetic board. Splurge for the full telestrator Fox!
Watched the RSL – San Jose Earthquake game Saturday and Amway and Addidas advertisements were all over the field.
Watch the Galaxy – Revolution game and FSC had an Auto Parts computer graphic on the top right of the screen next to the FSC shield for intermittent parts of the broadcast.
Watched a boatload of commercials on both ESPN and FSC that were not about hair replacement. Nice job MLS.
• There was some seriously good finishing opening weekend.
Just last September? Yes it was and what an answer from opening weekend.
How about Donovan’s service to a charging Edson Buddle for the lone score in the Galaxy game? Quality (Yes, I hear you on the message boards, you probably want an invitation)
How about Freddie Montero’s diving header on an errant shot? (:32 mark)
How about defender Mike Chabala navigating the FC Dallas defense and poking home (2:30 mark)
How about all three RSL strikes–two by Javier Morales–as the Salt Lakers dismantled the Earthquake?
You get the point. We’re not ready to call Hedjuk’s comments history, but if opening weekend is an indication, finishing has notched up.
If anyone has an update on how potential USMNTers played in MLS, I’d love to hear it.
• I don’t often just repost a link to an article, but one, this is interesting, two the Guardian is an excellent journal. Lionel Messi….Lionel Messi!…He of little fame in his home country? Wow.
• …..and if Steve Cherundolo scores on a free kick, we’ve got to show it….even if the camera man doesn’t:
• Gotta throw that Torres strike in there from today in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Sunderland. Earns my first ever curse on TSG: Holy shit! No beach ball necessary.