March 18, 2007

Heard Around the League: The R.E.M. edition

To celebrate R.E.M. (my all-time favorite band) and their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this past week, and to kick off a new weekly feature here on Los Cupcakes, let's take a look at the MLS 06/07 offseason...

"Pretty Persuasion" (1984, Reckoning): David Beckham Signs with the LA Galaxy
We all already know, and the tabloids would tell us if we didn't, how pretty our boy Mr. Beckham is. I would say the same for his wife, but then she started shrinking and now looks like a stiff wind might snap her legs. However you feel about his celebrity, you can't deny the impact of David Beckham's signing with MLS.

The persuasion part is rather interesting. Beckham was the odd man out in Madrid as we started the new year, unloved by new coach Fabio Capello and riding the bench. Poor result after poor result meant that it was time to end the Galactico era once and for all. Without the promise of first choice play, Becks decided to come personify the rules change that was nicknamed in his honor. Regardless of what was said immediately after the announcement, it's come out that there were other options for Beckham than LA. AC Milan made an offer, as did Bolton and maybe other Premiership teams, and Madrid also offered a contract to keep him selling shirts. What persuaded Beckham to come to America?

Some would say it's the chance to be a movie star in Hollywood, others would say he wanted to grow the game he loves in a country that could use his help, still others would say he was brainwashed by Tom Cruise. Who knows? I do know that he will change MLS as we know it when he arrives this summer.

"Carnival of Sorts" (1982, Chronic Town): US v. Mexico in the SuperLiga
The carnival will begin this summer when the long-rumored SuperLiga kicks off. Four MLS clubs and four Mexican League clubs have been invited to square off with $1 million on the line. Houston, DC, LA, and Dallas will represent MLS while América, Chivas, Pachuca, and Morelia will represent Mexico.

I wonder how the SuperLiga will evolve. For the competition to truly become "the biggest tournament in North America", it needs to have more on the line than money. Convincing Mexico to put up one of its Copa Libertadores slots to the tournament champion would be one idea. Personally, I think it will put pressure on CONCACAF to make the Champions' Cup a Champions' League. The Cup as it stands just isn't enough to determine a true representative for the World Club Cup.

"Leaving New York" (2004, Around the Sun): Amado Guevara changes coasts, joins Chivas USA
After Bruce Arena hailed Guevara's abilities when he was named Red Bulls' coach, he turned around and dealt the Honduran playmaker to Chivas USA for their designated player slot. New York signed Claudio Reyna with a DP slot, but haven't used the second one just yet. They failed in their attempts to get a number of players in the winter and now will look to add someone in the summer window.

I think this move makes Chivas a very dangerous squad in the West and makes Red Bull a fairly boring one in the East. The creativity for New York is going to have to come from the wings while Claudio holds down the middle. Besides, how long will Claudio be able to hold up in the physical MLS and on the awful Giants Stadium turf? The Bruce might be up for a Second Guessing (1984, Reckoning) on his love affair with Reyna.

"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (1994, Monster): New national TV deals rake in the $$$ for MLS
While no one knows what the frequency was for Dan Rather years ago, the frequency for MLS is cash. ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel, HDNet, and TeleFutura are all paying to broadcast MLS matches this season. We've already seen the benefits of this arrangement on ESPN, with a noticeable increase in the time given to national team matches. The ESPN game will move to prime time on Thursday nights on ESPN2. FSC has set aside three hour blocks from MLS broadcasts, with a pregame and postgame show. TeleFutura will bring the league back to a national Spanish-speaking audience for the first time since the early days on Univision. HDNet, well, I don't get to see that channel so I can't say too much. Candace Krueger was nice the one time we were able to get Taco Mac to put a game on for us.

Now that we have the time paid for, can we upgrade the production and the announcers?

"Losing My Religion" (1991, Out of Time): Salt Lake stadium situation
If you're not familiar with the story, the song "Losing My Religion" isn't technically about religion. The phrase is actually an old Southern expression, similar to being at the end of your rope. Don't worry, I didn't know that either until I had heard the song many times.

The song is actually a classic story of unrequited love. The great fans in Salt Lake almost knew this song too well when the threats of RSL leaving town were flying fast and furious during this offseason. Promises were made about funding, then they were pulled, financials were requested, then they were denied, finally the funding was refused, but then the state came to the rescue to make it happen.

There's rumblings now that there still might be some issues, so don't go putting away your CD's just yet Loyalists. Count me in for hoping this gets worked out in Salt Lake. Real St. Louis just wouldn't work as well, would it?

"Can't Get There From Here" (1985, Fables of the Reconstruction): Improvements in the non-playoff teams, or lack thereof
Our friends, the Stormin' Mormons, belong here. They have definitely made some improvements to become more competitive in 2007. Junior Captain America, Freddy Adu, has arrived to run the center of midfield. Nick Rimando has come, gone, and come back after ol' Salt-n-Pepper Scott Garlick's retirement. Sadly though, the Rimando/Garlick situation and the handling of Jason Kreis in the expansion draft make me think of another R.E.M. song, Stumble (1982, Chronic Town).

The Gals have also already been mentioned. The arrival of Golden Balls, and no, I'm not talking about Nate Jacqua, will also have a big impact on the field. I'm not so sure about Coach Yallop's idea of playing him in the center of a three-man midfield, but we'll see. Joe Cannon is also an upgrade between the sticks over Kevin Cartman.

Speaking of the Wiz, they added Cartman, but they lost Josh Wolff, Alex Zotinca, and Dave van den Burgh. You can't underestimate the loss of Bo Oshoniyi as well. Sorry, who am I kidding? The parties the Mystics threw to celebrate Bo's Departure (1996, New Adventures in Hi-Fi) were probably epic. The Crew have seemed to follow Kansas City's lead in offseason upgrades. They added Andy Herron from the Fire in the draft, but that's about it. I can't give them credit for winning the lottery for Robbie Rogers, but that should also help. It doesn't look like the Village People needed all that much though, judging from their so-far successful preseason.

"Begin the Begin" (1986, Lifes Rich Pageant): Opening Day
The Cupcakes crew is definitely looking forward to the Opening Day festivities. We'll kick things off at 3:30 with the unveiling of the Big Dick as DCU travels to Colorado. Dallas visits the Stormin' Mormons at 6, Chicago hosts New England at 8:30, and our new friends from Toronto debut at the Home Depot Center against Goats USA. The Brewhouse better be ready for the Cupcakes.

The funniest part, HDNet picked the Crew-Red Bulls game for their exclusive broadcast. There will be no Crew cowboy hats at the Brew on this night.

Honorable mentions:
  • "All the Right Friends" (1980, eventually on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack): New York Red Bulls coaching staff
  • "She Just Wants to Be" (2001, Reveal): The rebirth of pro women's soccer and how MLS is involved
  • "Strange Currencies" (1994, Monster): The failure to sign more designated players (Zidane, Figo, Delgado, Blanco, Fowler, etc.)
  • "Walk Unafraid" (1999, Up): Sueño MLS
  • "What If We Give It Away?" (1986, Lifes Rich Pageant): The US Open Cup and its diminishing stature
  • "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" (1987, Document): MLS success in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup
  • "Get Up" (1988, Green): The growth of the supporters' groups


joemybro said...

I'd have thrown in a vote for putting the word on NickyR and Freddie under "Don't Go Back to Rockville" since they both would have wasted another year in D.C., and if Poplar Point doesn't work out for the stadium and they have to look outside the Beltway for a place, Rockville, MD might not be a bad idea.

Longshoe said...

Good one, I didn't think of that...