Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Real Madrid game

I really, really didn't want to comment on this, but since everyone else has, I might as well too. First of all, let's remember that MLS was invited to this game last year and didn't go. I don't remember a positive reaction from that decision even remotely comparable to the negative reaction from the decision to go to this game. Of course, the truely negative stuff didn't come out until after the game was over. Rest assured, if MLS had won the game, no one would be saying it was a waste of time.

And it was not a meaningless game, no matter what the final score was. If you have the chance to prove yourself against the very best, then you should do it. It was a good experience for every one of those players, win or lose. Playing in that game is far more important in the career of a young guy like Jose Burciaga than playing the Minnesota Thunder. Yes, a few US Open Cup games were disrupted. But it's hard to care deeply about that tournament when it's never on tv, few people attend, and teams rest their stars half the time anyway. The prestige of the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu, that "meaningless game," is probably greater than the Open Cup. Of course we shouldn't interrupt our season, even if that game is more prestigious, but it's already interrupted many times for World Cup qualifying. If you're willing to take away stars for many weekends of league games, then doing it for the Open Cup is a no-brainer.

So why did Real Madrid invite MLS? They did owe the league a game after canceling the allstar game last year. But, let's not forget that the rumors of an expansion team have been there for a while now. They're now trying to build a "theme park" in Miami, and stopped here on their preseason tour. It makes too much sense to ignore. Beckham seems set on coming here in five years or so, so why not as part of a Real Madrid team? Instant attraction right there, and their young talent would far outshine that of Chivas. They see value in the American market, which is getting bigger for soccer. It was a great honor for the league to get invited to the game, which was pretty much inconceivable a few years ago. But even if this doesn't lead to an expansion team, it will still have been worth it. It was worth it for the media attention, the relationship with a top club, player development, and increased worldwide recognition of our league and our players. Yes, the world did see us get destroyed. But that means about as much as our win over Fulham: nothing.

Comments on "The Real Madrid game"


Blogger D said ... (8:07 AM, August 25, 2005) : 

ScaryIce -- I think you raise some valid points, but I also think you underestimate the base of fans. Many of us (including me) were very upset before the game started, and didn't want this to happen. I agree that there is a piling on aspect once the final score went up.

I understand your points about the honor and exposure, and I agree with them to a point. But if the game is an honor to play, than it should be taken seriously as an honor, and that would mean placing it in a schedule in order to put MLS's best effort forward for it. The situation we had didn't allow for that. So if it was an honor for us to be invited, we treated it badly by not giving it the respect it deserved. If we couldn't do that, we should have declined.

I know you don't want to talk about this. Neither, really, do I anymore. It happened, it's over, moving right along.


Blogger Tim Froh said ... (12:06 PM, August 25, 2005) : 

I think the biggest positive impact that this game could have was, as you mentioned, its impact on the younger players. It's a shame that Marshall couldn't find his passport. This game must've given Burciaga, Clark, Dempsey, and Mapp (among others) the chance to witness first hands the football atmosphere in Europe, and the kind of crowds they may face in future World Cups.


Blogger scaryice said ... (5:12 PM, August 25, 2005) : 

It's all about the long term. I probably should've mentioned that aspect. It seems that so many people that care about MLS want things to happen instantly. I can't tell you how much that annoys me. Of course, in this country where over 60% of the people are overweight, it's not really surprising that people want instant gratification. Any success for MLS and the sport in this country is not going to happen overnight. I see this game as part of that long term process.


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