Brad Feldman was meeting some friends at Cobras and Matadors, a Hollywood tapas restaurant that he likes and he invited me along.
He wanted to warn me, however.
"I don't know if you know Steve Cohen," he said, with the slight nervousness of someone announcing something potentially unpleasant. "But I've also invited him and he's going to be there."
Steve Cohen is the host of Fox Football Friday. He was born in London, and his many years in the States haven't diminished his love for English soccer, which he declares on his show all the time, especially when comparing MLS unfavorably to it. He also has a particular distaste for Landon Donovan, and he is not shy about expressing that, either.
In other words, Steve is like many, many expats and Americans that I know.
Anyway, I ended up sitting between Steve and Ivan, a former soccer buddy of Brad's who greeted me with, "Canales? I sent you an email once - I completely disagreed with you about Klinsmann."
No one fought, not really. Here's a sampling.
Steve: I like soccernet - it's my default page on my computer. Not the U.S. one (the one I, Andrea, write for) but the main world page. That's run out of England, isn't it?"
Me: I think so. It's definitely English-centered, that main page. We're just on a little tab there, labeled U.S. soccer. What's funny is how many English friends I have that will mention that they read soccernet all the time.
Steve: Why is that funny?
Me: Well, because so many of them throw a fit over the U.S. calling the game "soccer", and yet they go religiously to a site that uses that as part of the title. It's a weird contrast, or maybe they've forgotten the word comes from England. Over there, there's shops called Soccerscene and Soccer Store where the English shop, but then they reprimand Americans for calling it by the "wrong" name.
Steve: I'm like that. We were changing some format things about the show, and I said, 'I don't care what else you do, just don't change the title to anything "soccer". We're a football show.' So we stayed Fox Football Friday. Well, ok, we're a show on the Fox Soccer Channel, but it was important to me.
Later on. . .
Steve: Why wasn't Donovan at Copa America?
Me: I thought you just said the reason that you enjoyed the game so much was because Donovan wasn't anywhere near it.
Steve: He's a gutless wonder. Why didn't he want to go?
Me: Why didn't Dempsey go? Bocanegra? Howard isn't going to lose his place at Everton if he plays in the Copa America. Where was Claudio Reyna for one last hurrah? Beasley? Why didn't Mastroeni go?
Steve: Donovan doesn't want to cede his celebrity to David Beckham.
Me: I think he's been dusted on that count already.
Steve: You're a Donovan fan.
Me: I hate those extremes - you're either a Donovan hater or a fan? I can see that he's a good player in many respects and yet I understand that a lot of people feel that he lacks something.
Steve: He's gutless. And the worst part about it is that he's good. He could have been amazing in Europe. If he had stayed, he could have been great.
Me: You're a bigger Donovan fan then I am, then. I never saw him as amazing in Europe. I saw him as a fair to decent player. That's what most of the best Americans are over there. The US is still a team built on pieces working together, not stars. Donovan is a valuable piece, but he's still a cog in the machine, and that's why Copa America is valuable, to get more pieces of the machine running without him.
Steve also mentioned that he'd talked about my articles before on his show, and might say something again about my viewpoints (probably that he disagrees with most of them), but heck, that's what different perspectives are all about.