Let me just warn you right now: you are not in for a treat.
Miss (poor, poor) Shin Guardian had to listen this past Friday morning as I Googled up some ALF quotes and began rattling off one terrible sitcom one-liner after another, much to my glee and her despair.
I then commented that I was going to write a column on ALF and soccer just because I could. I highly doubt, say, that the Sports Illustrated editors would approve of this idea if I brought it to them.
If I’ve offended you with my lack of responsible soccer writing (with peddling an 80′s sitcom column on a late Sunday evening/early Monday morning), it is more than understandable. There will be some better fare from TSG during the rest of the week.
Miss TSG’s feedback on my column idea: “What the hell does ALF have to do with soccer? None of your readers–unless they listened to Eddie Vedder before he went to live in a cave–are going to even know who ALF is.”
Well folks, here is your chance to learn. And for the youngsters, I’m quite aware that many reading were likely born after ALF went off the air.
Here goes anyway, taking an ALFism and applying it to some goings-on in the soccer world.
- – - – - -
For: Freddy Adu.
Alas, poor lass. The young Nike beaucoup dollars hopeful is rumored to be chased back to the States after finding no takers for his contract or a loan overseas. Last two pit stops: Greece and Switzerland.
However, if rumors are true that Adu is going to the Galaxy (perhaps the Alan Gordon trade was a prelude), I’m not sure it’s precisely the right move for Freddy.
It’s imperative that Adu needs pitch repetitions, cultivation and mentorship. He’ll get most of that in Los Angeles whether Donovan departs or not. Actually, it’s somewhat funny that TSG suggested a few moons ago that Adu could use a Clint Mathis (recently retired from the Galaxy) as his mentor.
That said, the ideal move for Adu (and the league) would be to a team like the Rapids or Toronto–just a little off the beaten path with a smidge of wiggle room to get some firm playing time.
Is Adu a full-time player if he goes to Los Angeles? Nope.
Further, as Adu’s Twitter account can attest, he’s a little star-struck…he would, again, be in Los Angeles–a team that may know his name and not his resume. The last thing Adu needs to do is show up in an Entourage episode…as a back-up.
That said, any move that has Adu getting some playing time and learning from veterans is a good one.
If Adu does go to Los Angeles, don’t expect him to start and don’t expect him to initially play outside.
Bruce Arena, despite the Galaxy’s recent swoon, is about managing playing time and having players earn it. He’s not just going to throw someone into a starting position.
Secondly, if you watch Arena’s wingers, their first priority is crossing the ball and maintaining defensive pressure up the field–did you expect to see Tristan Bowen lobbing them in as much as he’s been doing? Me neither, but that appears to be the directive.
No, the Adu move, if made, is likely with respect to initially playing him as sub in the middle of the field.
Juninho, according to some LA beat writers, is already starting to garner a little attention outside of MLS…just something to note there.
- – - – - – -
To: Don Garber and his Landon Donovan situational management comments.
Garber has done an absolutely phenomenal job in growing the league, even more so when you consider that he had to manage a breadth of owners–some better than others, some with deeper pockets than others–through a league that wasn’t earning any take-home change.
But you have to wonder if Garber and company have priced Landon Donovan out of the market.
It’s quite clear that this summer is the best time to fetch a good price for Donovan who, at 28-years-old, is in the prime earning time of the career.
A few weeks ago, TSG castigated Garber because he devalued the league in suggesting that Landon was the league. But in turn, maybe Garber knew what he was doing.
Some suggest he was talking up the MLS star, but maybe the Soccer Don was ratcheting up the rhetoric so as to ward off teams that were going to make a bid. If you’re an EPL team, why go through the hassle of acquiring a player who, at 28-years-old, will likely not develop that much more, and attempt to acquire his services if there is a premium on his services for what he does off the pitch.
No one knows what’s in Landon’s head or what teams have made offers, but bully pulpit from the front office–who later retracted that statement in an interview during MLS All-Star weekend–should be favoring the development of players.
It sets a great precedent if you actually encourage and facilitate players moving to a better league and getting rewarded with a higher direct deposit. Then players want to come to MLS to develop, not as a last resort. Nery…
- – - – - -
For: Curt Onalfo and D.C. United.
Just how tough was that coaching search for D.C. United prior to the season?
TSG was already calling for Onalfo’s dismissal just two weeks into the campaign…as I’m sure many others were.
Now D.C. United–rightfully–has done just that, terminating the Onalfo era error in Obamaville with just over 2.5 years left on his contract.
Did anyone–anyone–think this would go well after Onalfo’s Wizards stint?
It’s like needing to buy a car and saying, “You know what, I don’t care if that Ford Festiva doesn’t run well and likely will break down in a month, I need transportation to get to work.” It’s called a “Ben Olsen Zip Car” and it’s looking like a lot better value right now than the full-on purchase.
Wouldn’t United have been better off affixing an interim tag to Ben Olsen (a fan favorite who likely would be cut some slack) before the season after a host of coaches–including a collegiate one in Akron’s Caleb Porter–turned the gig down beforehand?
D.C. United President Kevin Payne chalks up the firing and subsequent severance payments to the “cost of doing business.”
Maybe that’s what got you into this situation in the first place, D.C.
- – - – - -
Brian: Do you get Sesame Street where you live?
ALF: No, and frankly I don’t get it here either.
For: Those who lament the Euro-MLS friendlies, but want MLS to grow.
I’ve got a big “huh” for those pundits.
Look, I can understand not wanting to push a player and encourage an injury. Lamentation for that is understandable.
However, if MLS wants to grow the sport, it’s already been proven that they can’t convert non-fans into being new fans, so they need to attract people who are already fans of the sport.
Beyond that, MLS is looking at the revenues of 50,000-plus attendance matches (70,000 for the All-Star Game, almost 90,000 for this Saturday’s highly entertaining Real Madrid-Galaxy clash at the Rose Bowl) and the accompanying revenue share certainly helps the league.
MLS grows by introducing those already interested in the sport to the rising talent of the domestic league in friendlies just like this past Saturday’s.
If a potential fan is not going to an MLS match, subtract one MLS team and add a globally renowned team. Seems like a simple and effective formula to me.
- – - – - -
For: Sir Alex Ferguson’s cool, calculated and Arsenal-like play in the transfer market…I think.
Will Alex Ferguson re-earn the “Sir” affixed to the front of his moniker?
Two years ago, nearing the start of the EPL season, the Old Trafford headmaster spent–big-time–on what he thought was a proven striker in Tottenham’s Dimitar Berbatov.
Berbatov may still yet justify his transfer fee, though it’s not looking likely. You couldn’t really blame Ferguson for the move, with Ronaldo almost certain to depart after the season, but Manchester United didn’t want to get hijacked in the following year with the transfer kitty brought in for the Greasy One.
Now maybe Manchester United is battling some financial issues, but as of last year Ferguson seems to have put his foot down and not let the Red Devils get taken to the cleaners as teams holdout for top dollar from the Manchester side.
Ferguson looks like he might have scored twofold heading into the 2010-11 campaign.
First, he cooly heisted Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, in true cloak and dagger form, for $6M (reports of $10M still abound).
And second, that move seems to have a lit even more of a fire under Kiko Macheda, who at all of 18-years-old, could play some major minutes for the club.
Suddenly, a striker pool that last year held Rooney, Berbatov, and a frayed Michael Owen could this year sport Rooney, Berbatov (perhaps playing up to his contract and potential), the next Mexican international sensation in Javier Hernandez, and academy-grown Italian Macheda.
Well played? May 2011 will tell.
- – - – - -
Willie: Some people are so blinded by the thirst for money that it causes them to lose their values and do things they shouldn’t do.
ALF: Well, that explains Ghostbusters II.
For: Manchester City’s sheer transfer season lunacy.
Claudio Reyna is turning over in his grav…on his ankle right now. (Sorry, this ALF humor is getting to us.)
Seriously, Roberto Mancini must be descended from the captain of the Titanic or the Hindenburg. Loosen the scarf, buddy.
A smattering of questionable moves at exorbitant prices last year: Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz, and Joleon Lescott.
Now, the $24M move for Yaya Toure–with Toure rumored to have a 5 year deal at just over $10M per–was one thing. Frankly, I think Toure is better than folks are giving him credit for (not jutification for the move, but still…), and if it locks in your team to a pipeline of players from the Ivory Coast, then even better.
But $27M for James Milner?! And frankly, it’s not the money. James Milner is an excellent player, but he is most certainly not a dynamic, make-your-teammates-better player.
City, you have the industrious Barry (who is the first Ghostbuster movie), the competent foulmeister in Nigel De Jong, and now Toure. What will Milner do for you and where will he play?
Shocking, bizarre, and very Ghostbusters II.
- – - – - -
For: All of you that can post up in the box and convert some service.
Little is out…
Brian McBride where have you gone?
With both Spain and the Netherlands stamping the playbook on the 4-2-3-1 formation in the World Cup, and José Mourinho hunkering down and riding out the attacking waves from Barcelona in last year’s Champions League Final, look for the good old fashioned “take it to the corner and cross” play to come back in fashion.
If weaker league teams think they can bunker down themselves in that formation, teams are going to have to go over the top some to get some goals. It’s that simple.
Every team is going to need a little of the “Beckham-to-Crouch” in their playbook.
Some teams have already made their striker move: Everton (Jermaine Beckford, 6’2”), Blackburn (Diouf on loan from Manchester United, described as having “ridiculous spring” and being aggressive in the air), and West Ham (6’2” Frenchman Frederic Piquionne).
Meanwhile, Fulham are looking to bring in 6’2” Roque Santa Cruz (they’d be looking to bring in better if they had the budget), while Santa Cruz’s club–Manchester City, doing something right–continue their pursuit of 6’4” Wolfsburg man Edin Dzeko.
- – - – - -
ALF: Oh, by the way, don’t bother looking for your laxative on a rope.
Willie: Oh, you mean my soap on a rope?
ALF: Trust me on this one.
To: Whomever approved the new Real Salt Lake jerseys.
Who’s most unhappy with the new Real Salt Lake canary kits?
(A) The Columbus Crew and their fans who donned the bright color before it was trendy
(B) Club America whose jerseys are iconic and arguably quite similar
(C) Real Salt Lake management who probably forked over some beaucoup dollars that should have gone to strikername instead
(D) RSL fans who now need to contemplate buying the darn things
You replace Xango on the jersey with Bimbo and you might have well have just shopped at the Club America discount store. Maybe there is some research out there that suggests the jersey will blatantly or broadly appeal to a bigger demographic…?
I’d like to see that research before I give the jerseys any more credit here.