By J Hutcherson - WASHINGTON, DC (May 18, 2012) US Soccer Players -- Leave it to Major League Soccer to try and takeover the story when most of us are focused on the Champions League final and national team roster announcements. Thursday was a banner day for player movement in MLS, with the Juan Agudelo for Heath Pearce trade and the Danny Califf move making Chivas USA a compelling team. Credit the club with timing, redirecting the conversation in the days before their home date against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
All of a sudden, we're talking about Chivas USA's upside and what the additions mean for an 8th-place team. Add in the issues with the clubs Agudelo and Califf are leaving, and Week 11 gets that unexpected boost of added intrigue.
New York are doing well, but their answer to the Agudelo playing time issue was to make Wednesday night in Philadelphia his swansong with the Red Bulls. Philadelphia get the prize for uncomfortable exits, with Califf openly questioning the move. One would assume that's not going to impact a professional's work on the field, and what Chivas USA accomplished is intriguing. Agudelo is an improvement and a new system could turn him into an ongoing critique of New York's priorities.
Chivas USA's choice to make the Califf move means they're not sacrificing defense for offense. That's not immediately business as usual in this League. Normally, a club would take their chances before realizing they need cover. Making both moves speaks well of what Chivas USA has planned. For years, they've been a team in theory, never truly capitalizing on their connection to the club in Guadalajara and unable to keep a coach around long enough to really establish a system. Now, it looks like things have changed.
Derek asks: I've been reading about the Financial Fair Play rules and I'm wondering if UEFA is tracking the state of the Euro along with everybody else. The thought that the Euro could collapse should have everyone in soccer concerned. That could be more disruptive than anything soccer has faced in recent years and would be a major problem for the clubs.
All anyone needs to do is check the editorial and world sections of the New York Times and other major papers to get a quick education on the issues with the Euro (the currency, not the soccer tournament). It is a major concern that goes well beyond professional soccer, but certainly impacts the game. That's one of the issues with really understanding the sport in Europe. You also need to pay attention to what's happening with the countries involved and the European Union as a whole. That includes items like the Euro, unemployment in Spain, and other social and monetary issues that directly impact the value of currency and the ability of people to spend it.
UEFA knows it doesn't exist in a bubble of convenience, and it's a safe assumption they realize potential market destabilization will impact them along with other industries in Europe. It's difficult to make a transatlantic comparison here. Looking at what happened with American clubs and leagues during the economic downturn in the USA isn't going to necessarily predict what might happen in Europe.
DJ writes: I don't know if you noticed the articles on mainstream sports sites calling the Manchester City - QPR game and the final day of the Premier League season in general one of the greatest sports moments. It's interesting that you chose to go in the opposite direction by defending the playoff system. I remember when baseball was considering contraction there was talk of dividing it into two separate leagues with promotion and relegation. I don't know how serious they were, but I do think the US sports see things they like from soccer. Maybe putting an emphasis on the regular season title is one of them.
It takes nothing away from the Premier League's final day to say that the playoff systems used by the North American leagues can also provide that kind of experience. It doesn't have to be one or the other.
Chris writes: How big of a disappointment is a Champions League final not involving Real Madrid or Barcelona in American terms? I'm thinking it would be like a Miami - LA matchup in the NBA pushed aside for Clippers - Pacers. Yeah, I know we're talking about one league with basketball, but there's still the feeling that something special has been replaced by a second choice game.
It's a disappointment, there's no question about that. What it cost both teams in terms of player suspensions to make the final isn't helping things. That doesn't mean we won't get a good game, but it won't be THE game everybody expected up until a few weeks ago. If that's a knock against Bayern and Chelsea, it's a fair one. They can take solace in knowing that whoever wins will likely get the kind of tribute that only comes with American glory hunters parting with cash for something that features the badge of their new favorite team.
Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves. Please, tell me all about it.
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