Thursday, August 16, 2007

A little football talk... nope, not that "football"

So David Beckham did it. He finally played a decent amount in an MLS game and gave us a look at how he’ll manage playing here. The verdict? Damn son. Guy’s nice. Playing about half of the LA Galaxy’s match against DC United yesterday, Beckham had a goal and an assist to Landon Donovan and looked like he’ll be just fine playing here for the next five years. Of course, this leads to further questions about the impact Mr. Becks will have on the sport of football (soccer – we’ll just call it soccer) in the United States.

First and foremost is the issue of club names. There are some guys in the MLS who can downright play the game. There are obviously solid American players (Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson) as well as foreign stars (Beckham is head and shoulders above, and then Christian Gomez, Jaime Moreno). The guys are real players, so why do the teams have Mickey Mouse names? Not all teams are guilty here, as the expansion franchises (such as Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA) have done a nice job. But only one of the founding fathers of the league (DC United) has a name that is acceptable. Please, the New England Revolution? The Los Angeles Galaxy? I’m surprised Bechkam hasn’t demanded an immediate change to something manly, like “LA City”. Okay, that’s a terrible suggestion, but you get my point. Keep the good names, fix the rest. Personally, I’d go see an FC New England match, but I’m not paying money to see a team with “REVOLUTION” written in comic sans font across the front of the jersey. Speaking of which…
There is a major problem with a lot of the jerseys in MLS. I just checked Wikipedia and was appalled to learn that only two franchises in the MLS are currently profitable. Fortunately, the league is going in the right direction, unlike, say, the NHL. But still, that’s not great news for a league that has been around for some eleven years now. So a good question is; what’s a good way for a club to make money? Sponsorship, DUH! How to the European and South American clubs do it? Get a title sponsor, and have their logo on your jersey. It’s become the norm in soccer, and believe it or not, it actually looks 39 times better than the way clubs are doing it now. Well, most clubs. Again, some have it right (see: Toronto FC, DC United… this is becoming redundant). So I took a gander at the LA Galaxy jerseys to see if Beckham made a good choice in his move and, guess what: The team changed jerseys significantly upon his arrival! Seriously, they went from green and gold to navy and gold, got a title sponsor (Herbalife) and put the team seal on the shoulder. It looks really sharp, just as a soccer jersey should. Hopefully the rest of the clubs will follow suit. Suit… suit starts with S… you know what else starts with S?
Pre Beckham 2007 LA Galaxy Jerseys

Post Beckham 2007 LA Galaxy Jerseys

Soccer specific stadiums, or SSS’s for short. These are vital to the success of the league. Why? I don’t know. They just are. Apparently having one has helped LA become the most profitable team in the league though, so it must help. Plus they’re just so much more logical. You don’t want a stadium 5 times bigger than you need for various reasons. First of all, it looks pathetic to have 9,000 people sitting in an NFL stadium, as is the case at Gillette when the Revs are playing or in Kansas City for Wizards games. Plus, the idea of a team having its own venue is a draw in and of itself. If New England renovated Nickerson Field to have stands on each end and a total seating capacity of around 20,000, they’d do much better. A bunch of the teams have already made the switch, some are in the process (New York, Salt Lake), but others (NE, Kansas City) still need to hop on the bandwagon.

If Major League Soccer can make some of these improvements, and I think they will, I’ll start caring. Otherwise, I’ll just continue to cheer on my favorite English teams. Those, of course, are Norwich City (yeah… I’ll explain in a moment) and Liverpool. I’m a fan of the Carlsbergs ever since I educated myself about the Hillsborough Disaster, and I’m a fan of Norwich City because some guy in Malaysia talked me into it in 2005. I was trying to figure out which jersey to buy (they were all bootleg but looked very authentic) at his shop for around 40 ringets (7 bucks), and was initially going to go with Arsenal, but was talked out of it. Malaysians have an affinity for Manchester United, so he persuaded me to go with that one, but I view Man U as being the Yankees of club soccer (though I’ve been told that Chelsea is more like the Yanks in terms of buying whomever they want, and Man U is more like the Braves, whatever that means). Needless to say, I said no thanks. Being an apparent Manchester fan, this bothered the man, and he proceeded to convince me to buy a Norwich City jersey. It was sharp enough, and the corporate sponsor was Proton, a Malaysian company, so I figured it would make a nice souvenir if nothing else. After buying it, I got an English Premier League program and educated myself about the “Canaries”. Apparently in 2004 they won the 1st Division and were promoted to the premiership. Well, I didn’t have an English Premier League jersey for long. After 2005, they were relegated back to what is now the Football League Championship. Oh well, the faux jersey is still pretty nice, even if the ironed-on logo is decomposing.

Anyway, I don’t want this to turn into a Uni Watch rant, so I’ll cut myself off. Although before doing so, I’ll enlighten you all with this fun story about the Norwich club. Nothing quite like getting the runs at a team dinner.


GS-1 said...

Until YOU become a big fan MLS, it's hopeless for that league.

Alec Woodard said...

You know, I know absolutely nothing about the way they do business in the Australian Rules Football League, but I think I'll go make a blog post about it...

Maybe do some actual (non-wikipedia) research the next time you decide ot blog about a topic you know very little about.

Bonji said...

Thankfully the success of MLS won't be determined by people who "don't get it." I'm sure you'll get it once it's cool though.

Adam said...

"SSS’s for short. These are vital to the success of the league. Why? I don’t know. They just are. Apparently having one has helped LA become the most profitable team in the league though, so it must help."

Are you f-ing kidding me? You do realize that crap like this totally debases any opinions you publish right?

earth2 said...

All of the credibility you may or may not have had went completely out the window the minute you listed Real Salt Lake as one of the best team names in the league. That's without mentioning you listening the Dynamo as a "Mickey Mouse" name. Give me a break.

In addition, a total of FIVE teams are expected to make a profit this year (Chicago, Rapids, TFC in addition to FCD and LA). Here's a link:
Most of the rest of the teams are close to being profitable already. The key component in profitability, according to the league, happens to be the SSS. With the SSS the teams can now control the revenue flow without having to pay up to the stadium owners in poor lease deals.

Your choice is your choice but you're really missing out on some fine experiences by not supporting a home side. No one's going to argue that an MLS side is better than one of the big four, but that's not really the point now is it.

tres thomas comma space eye eye eye said...

mickey mouse names? that's the first time i've ever heard of such criticism towards mls in that respect. that i think points to its ludacrisy and reflects the overall trifling effort of this article. mls has without a doubt some of the best sounding names in professional sports and much more original than names in baseball or football. it's also noteable that while you are so proudly and vocally uninformed, you also have quite an entusiasm for ignorance. maybe it's better you leave soccer for the rest of us.