Definitely, They Ain’t…

14 04 2009

I truly don´t get soccer fans here in the States. Fans here want the league to get respect or think that there is a sense of entitlement that their league deserves.  Get in line.

I will tell you for starters, I have been considered a huge MLS basher, and that is farther from the truth.  MLS is considered a third-rate league worldwide not because of the players.   It is considered third-rate because of the way it is run.  The players are some of the best human beings out there and I root for every single one of them to make it big.  I want the league to do well because of them.  The administration of the league it what needs an overhaul, and I am not reinventing the wheel.  But let me not get off subject too much.

Kartik was slammed the other day for ¨pandering to the MLS¨, ¨backpedalling¨, and a host of other charges.   I for one, could give a rat´s ass about Don Garber and what he thinks or says about me.  To be honest, he probably doesn´t even know I exist.

I am not trying to blow smoke up Kartik´s ass.  I don’t need to.   He knows how good he is and what he needs to do.  Part of his job description is not for him to always write columns that will make you agree with 100% of the time.  He is there to make you think and really get past the superficiality that the media and its ala carte simplicity offer nowadays.  I am in no way as eloquent as he is.  Actually, I write like a sailor compared to him.  So to hear people criticizing him for his ¨position¨, it baffles me.  Based on his position as a writer, he needs to know when to pull out the feather and when to pull out the sword.

First of all, Bob Bradley´s job description as national team coach is not to help the league grow.  Yes, he might have that corralation a little bit more than any other coach in the world; in the end he is not responsible for MLS to grow. The league could fold tomorrow and Bob Bradley will still be the coach of the national team.  He does not answer to Don Garbage, I mean Garber.   Last time I checked, Sunil Gulati was the man with the plan.

Second of all, Bradley´s responsibility is to help US Soccer (not MLS) grow.  Now player preferences, those are exactly that- player preferences.  Part of the job is to select the best side possible to compete internationally.  This is the beauty of the game.  Each person would have a starting XI.  It is the nature of the beast.  But ultimately, he is the one whose job hangs in the balance with every match.  So that is why he has to pick the best players available out there for him.   His evaluation is based on how the US does in tournaments like Gold Cup, Copa América, the World Cup and others.  So he does what every single coach out the does, he looks to Europe first.  Brazil, Argentina, as well as teams in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia do that.  For the most part the US’ best players are in Europe, I would be safe to say about 70/30.  There are players like Landon Donovan, Sasha Kljestan, Brian Ching, as he mentioned that are locks for the national team.  The simple fact of the matter is that MLS is not cutting it as of yet on the international scene.  Call it lack of respect, call it whatever you want- it’s the reality of MLS right now.  Let’s forget about those old Dave O’Brienisms.  No one is a “eurosnob” in this picture.  Bob Bradley is looking for something more than just success… he is looking for the game here to obtain an identity.   Ric Flair always said,”In to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man…WOOOOO!!!”   That might be crazy to say, but in the end it is quite deep.  In order to be growing into the upper echelon of world football, we cannot be thinking about our hangups socially and politically to our counterparts across the pond.   When you want to learn about history, you read Gore Vidal.  When you want people to see the greatest basketball, you think of Michael Jordan.  So why can’t Bradley look at some of the best players, leagues, teams, and minds in the world?

Let’s get away from this crap of “snobbism”.

It’s not bleak though.  When we had Greg Sica on the show last week, he talked about the growing appeal of MLS in South America.  MLS is quickly becoming an option for several players South of the Border.   There is no doubt that the league is quickly becoming a haven for players that want stability as well as tranquility on top of playing decent soccer.

So maybe I am not the best person to go out and defend Kartik, but you guys better count your blessings.  Yes, I know that I am a step away from writing my articles in crayon but I do think I know a little something about the game.  He at least is one of the few that has the balls to go out and tell people the good things about MLS amid the MLS jokes that are hurled his way by both Mexican pundits as well as Europe and Latin America.   He’s one of the few that could stand up to them with eloquence.

This is the way I debate them…

So eloquence is not my strength.  My strength comes from my passion and sometimes that is not a good thing.  So thank you stars there is a guy like Kartik out there fighting for you.

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