Unprofessional Foul


July 24, 2009

Autopost 1: Feeling Buzzed…

Sometimes, the week’s stories need a little more rumination, a little more thought. While we try to cover everything with speed and force, occasionally we’ll look to Autoglass to provide a little something extra from his constant cross-country business travel schedule. This is Autopost.
The July Buzz
In the past several weeks, interest in soccer has surged in the US. After a low point in World Cup qualifying (the Costa Rica and Honduras matches), and a sluggish start to the Confederations Cup, the USMNT bounced to the Final with five great halves against Egypt, Spain and Brazil. They followed this with a nice run to the final in the CONCACAF Gold Cup by their “B” side. The Nats are playing well against quality sides and doing well in their region. People are noticing this.

This was followed by the Beckham saga (more on this later) and the current run of stateside friendlies by some of the best clubs in Europe. The Seattle-Chelsea match was electric. Well played and attracting 65,000 paying fans. This week, Chelsea defeated Jose’s Inter at the Rose Bowl before 81,000. The Rose Bowl!  Euro clubs are making a habit of spending pre-season training in the states against each other and fit MLS sides. The crowds are growing. ESPN is covering.

I don’t know what this buzz will ultimately mean, but you can certainly feel it, no? Sure, a poor US run next summer in South Africa could (will?) blow this momentum instantly. And MLS continues to fly below the radar. But for now, I’m enjoying the full stadiums and the focus on International and European club quality.

More and more Americans, and more and more in the media (Bill Simmons!) are focusing on the best of the game rather than our domestic version. I think that’s very cool.

A Midsummer Night’s Transfer Fever Dream
Much has been written about the spending of Real Madrid and Manchester City. As a Chelsea supporter, I find nothing scandalous about either club’s behavior. These players are worth the sums paid exactly because someone paid them. I don’t think either club will do as well this season as they hope (Where are the back lines? Where are the spines?), but fair play to them for trying.

What I find more interesting is the reaction by the other big clubs in Europe. Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter, you have to believe, could compete with these valuations and step up. But they have not. They seem content to not buy into the frenzied market. Most have made, or seem about to make, a couple of nice signings, and each seems confident that they will be fine while keeping their powder dry for a calmer transfer season. You can feel the calmness and confidence emanating from these clubs.

Then there are Liverpool and Milan. They seem not to have the funds and have been a bit hurt this summer as neither been able to protect their players. Liverpool could enter the season having traded Alonso and Mascherano for Glen Johnson. Milan lost Kaka. Each club believed itself, legitimately, to be on the verge of a move up. Each has been unable to buy the key pieces they need. Did they lose their momentum to City and Madrid’s market distortions?

Lastly, Arsenal. Frankly, Arsenal wasn’t going to spend this summer regardless of the market. Between the Emirates Stadium debt and an admirable belief in Arsene Wenger’s “beautiful youth” plan, they will stay the course. Losing Adebayor to City and Nasri to injury will hurt, but the kids will get yet another chance. The question is, how many years will the Gooner faithful wait for results? And is a small, fragile side always going to be prone to injury in the Premiership?

Money or Chelsea?

Money or Chelsea?

England’s Brave John Terry
As a Chelsea supporter, I was horrified at the news that John Terry might leave. He personifies Chelsea’s heart, courage and recent success. But as time progressed, I realized that a 28-year-old centre-half may well not be worth 250k pounds a week. And 40m pounds of transfer fee might be put to good use building for the future. As to John himself?  God knows Terry has earned the right to choose where he will play next year.

Weirdly, I’ve reached a point of calm in the Terry affair. I honestly don’t know how I will feel if he leaves.
Yet I do know how I will feel if he stays. This transfer is, by all accounts, entirely up to Terry himself. And Chelsea are not going to match City wages. Let’s say Terry stays for, say, a token increase in salary. This will mean that he will have turned down an absolutely massive increase in salary to stay with a club he loves.

Again, none of us can hold it against John if he leaves. City are offering big money and he has given his all to Chelsea.

But if he stays? Has there ever been an athlete who has turned down such a large pay increase to stay with his club?  Really, in all of sport? Wouldn’t that make John Terry a living example of what supporters always wish their heroes will do…yet never seem to? John Terry will have NOT taken the richer deal. John Terry will have stayed true to his club despite the greater money. This simply never happens any more.  England’s Brave John Terry, indeed.

England’s Craven David Beckham?
It’s all so sordid, this Beckham business, isn’t it? I’ve always liked the guy, and the new book really does s**t on Beckham’s entourage much more than on him personally. But this incident in Carson the other day with the LA Riot Squad (Even typing those words makes me laugh out loud, by the way.) was quite the shocking turnaround for a guy that has always had it together.

Look, Beckham doesn’t deserve to be the most recognized player in the galaxy (heh heh). But he also doesn’t deserve to be demonized. He’s a hardworking player who has always been a good teammate and a good guy, by virtually all account. At least  he was until last season with the Galaxy and this past weekend on the Home Depot Center pitch at half time. What’s going through his head? Word out here in Southern California is that Becks speaks to Tom Cruise at least once a day. Does this explain Becks’ behavior? Is this his couch-jumping moment?

Anyway, I’ll head out to the Home Depot this month to catch a match or two. But I do hope that the Beckham saga winds down soon so that we can back to the football. Simply watching that glorious counter-attack first goal against Milan….Beckham to Donovan to Gordon, the length of the field in a flash…damn.

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