Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guzan and the bigger picture

Brad Guzan is on trial with Celtic.
I'm happy for Brad, but the entire situation with his move there has been frustrating for local reporters.
The official news of his trial broke abroad, but not because no one from LA asked him about the move or his plans. Brad was a brick wall, rejecting our questions with as much ferocity as he defends his net.
Even the simplest queries were smothered.
"Are you talking to Celtic?"
"I can't say."
Well, that gives us a whole lot of nothing to write about. Which, incidently, affects exposure and publicity for Brad, his MLS team, and the entire league. Nice going.
Earlier in the day, Grahame Jones had chided Sunil Gulati at the press roundtable for U.S. Soccer's similar stonewalling about upcoming games, citing as an example the news about the upcoming game in Spain breaking there first.
Grahame didn't understand why the organization couldn't even admit that such games were a possibility, pointing out that even if they didn't pan out, the media coverage would include both the original option and any revision, thus ensuring a double amount of the publicity US Soccer says it seeks. Instead, when all the news breaks abroad, it makes soccer look second-rate here in the U.S., when it's really the federation keeping local media in the dark.
I've got a similar gripe about the Galaxy. It's annoying when news about the team breaks on the East Coast because every question I've asked about the topic here results in a denial. If a trade gets to MLS headquarters in New York and someone is going to leak it there, for heaven's sake, admit that transfer to me, Luis, Grahame, Billy or Jaime first, so publicity for the team shows up where the team actually plays.
Instead, it's become harder to get any information from the Galaxy, especially since Beckham arrived. The trades are also killing the local reporters and their sources. Reporters talk to players and develop a trust there, but it takes time, and that's blown away when players leave. New players are often so nervous about making a good impression that they'll say essentially nothing for a long time. Same thing with new coaching staff.
No one wants the kind of regurgitated coverage we get stuck producing sometimes. We had Brad right in front of us, there's no way he didn't know he was flying out the next morning, but he couldn't say something simple like, "I don't know how it will turn out, but I'm flying over there tomorrow and I'm really happy for the chance."
Instead, we've got the after-the-fact crap. No, I won't hold it against Brad. He's a good guy, and his agent probably told him not to say anything, but it's depressing when the programming is so complete.
The media aren't the enemy. We're trying to cover the sport that so many involved with say needs more coverage, and instead of assistance, we're dealing with a lot of resistance. It doesn't really make sense. Agents and organizations such as U.S. Soccer and MLS and the individual teams need to think about how much they want to control their players and club information versus how much they want the public to even know who they are.

30 comments:

Eastlachiva said...

Since when is covering Chivas USA and its players a priority for you guys?
Don't get me wrong because this is a good blog. However, Chivas USA or Brad Guzan are more certain to release information to other outlets that the trust AND know.

Just m opinion.

A.C. said...

You're entitled to your opinion that we don't cover Chivas USA enough, but you're wrong that any information was released from Guzan or Chivas USA to anyone else.

Or if they did, show me that link. Somehow I doubt that Chivas USA trusts and knows sports news papers and sites in Europe. They're the ones who broke the story that Guzan was officially on trial.

Anonymous said...

Hey AC as a fan it did feel strange that Ives and that other DC reporter and even sky/bbc had more details than the local LA guys! I mean, I would expect to to hear from you guys before them. Best of luck this coming season.

BTW, can you get a hold of Jaime and see what's going on with his blog? It's denying access to a lot of the readers. Thanks

A.C. said...

Jaime reads our blog pretty regularly, so just ask him the question here yourself if you like.

Hi Jaime! Could you give me permission to read your blog again, too?

Toddzilla said...

To be fair to Sunil, he did agree with the thought that U.S. Soccer could do a better job of promoting games even when they aren't already 'in the bag'.

As for the situation with Guzan, I wonder if you'd hear a lot more on the local level if MLS wasn't in single-entity mode. I would think that teams/agents/players would feel more free to talk about the possibilities when the league doesn't really have much to do with it, as in other sports. On top of that, sounds like you're just out of luck with the people in the team structure that you're dealing with.

East River said...

This finally explains why I was begging for Guzan news from you guys the last few weeks and you guys were posting nothing on the subject.

Was this part of the reason USSP temp cut their coverage of MLS? Have the journalist ever tried to sit down with MLS and others and explain what their needs are and how it benefits MLS and others in the long wrong? I assume USSP cutting its MLS coverage alarmed MLS enough to open a dialog between the two orgs.

MLS and its teams may take media coverage and US soccer media for granted, but some of it may be due their own immaturity in media relations as compared to other leagues. You could go on and on about this.

eastlachiva said...

Soccer by Ives and Steve Goff? had more on this story than you guys that's all I'm saying.

Does Chivas USA even know who you guys are? That's not a dis on you guys. They are very secretive with player movement.

FC Uptown said...

Well, one thing that shouldn't be a secret is that Celtic is offering $1 million dollars (cue Dr. Evil) for Guzan. Yep, the guy who is on a great roll as gk is being offered about 40% of the Preston North End offer for Twellman. USSF-MLS is the real "single entity". AC, just keep up what you do, which is great.

East River said...

fc uptown

From what I read on scotsman.com the offer is around 1 million British pounds which is like 2 million dollars. Compare that to what DCU got for Troy Perkins who got GK of the Year for 06 and Celtic's offer looks a bit more respectable in my opinion.

JT (Chicago) said...

eastlachiva, it sounds like Ives and Goff are the league plants. They get watered first.

Our guy in Chicago, Luis Arroyave, is a terrific writer but he usually isn't given the information first - or can't get the verification he needs to publish the news he uncovers.

Meanwhile, the leaks somehow always seem to find their way to Ives or Goff. It's just a reminder of how small minded (controlling) USSF & MLS are in their "effort" to extend soccer media coverage in the USA. The dependable pets get the crumbs; others are left to scramble. I can understand why AC, Luis & others might be frustrated as they try to bring information to us - fans who care about MLS.

Here we are, the people who actually support MLS clubs and we can't even get the information we'd like to get from MLS from the source we trust (Sideline Views or the Chicago Tribune's Red Blog). One day perhaps MLS/USSF will realize that they have to feed everybody - not just their selected pets.

EASTLACHIVA said...

That's what it sounds like to me. People get a little hyper-sensitive around here the moment a post sounds remotely critical. I apologize if that is the case. This is a good blog, not the best place for all-things Chivas USA, but good for USMNT stuff.
Having said that, the Chivas FO is almost always secretive whent hey underwhelm us with their signings. I don't think they have the best communication with the media.

Bonji said...

I know the feeling. KSE and The Rapids are so closed lipped nothing leaks out unless you corner the coach at the Miami airport. MLS needs to work with teams on media policies to make sure fans get the news they need and crave!

Anonymous said...

AC,

Do you know why jaime cardenas' blog is saying it is "private"?

Is anyone else having problems accessing http://kornerpocket.blogspot.com/ ?

Jimmy Chowda said...

FWIW, lack of access to information and to the players is one of the things that killed tennis in this country.

Son_Of_Sac said...

You know, this article makes so much sense. We are always looking for more information, and we don't find out anything in MLS until after the fact. It's bad for the league and sport in America to have nothing to talk about. The other sports run on gossip, and fill the Sportscenters and Baseball Tonights with serious gossip. Soccer could use that more.

www.SacUnitedSoccer.blogspot.com

Matt Y said...

You and Luis are great writers as are Ives and Goff.

I think Goff and other DC blogs have done a great job creating a buzz about DC United...I check his blog multiple times a day because I'm a huge DC fan. Having constant information has made me even more intersted in the team and I'm sure it's worked the same for other DC fans.

My point being...if the Galaxy and Chivas want a more loyal, interested fan base...the best way to do that is to get the info out to the fans. No better way these days than via reputable writers who have blogs....

We are spoiled in DC to have Goff...he's a good writer and seems to have great access to the DC United team.

Let me tell you..most of us can't wait to read the latest update on DC transfer targets....wereas the local Galaxy/Chivas fan...probably can't find anything out there so they lose the connection with their team during the offseason.

It's unfortunate that your blog seems to be always behind on MLS happenings...especially on the home team front. Sounds like the home teams themselves are to blame..and that's a shame.

Anonymous said...

that is disappointing, especially guzan. as a us soccer and mls fan, bringing attention and excitement to the fans is so important. guess i will go back to finding out what arsenal and west ham are up to.

Anonymous said...

Son_Of_Sac said...
" It's bad for the league and sport in America to have nothing to talk about. The other sports run on gossip, and fill the Sportscenters and Baseball Tonights with serious gossip. Soccer could use that more."

Some of us read this site:

http://mlsrumors.blogspot.com for the stuff you mentioned. It's always interesting and they seem to collect stories from all kinds of sources, foreign media, blogs like Ives, Goff and this one, and take it a step further.

Indeed they even linked to this story which is how I got here.

Josh said...

Wouldn't this be more of an issue that you just don't have enough insider sources? It's not the players responsibility to give information out, especially if he is still under contract. This blog seems to have become more and more a spot for complaining about the unfairness of being a reporter, or the "ongoing" drama of Hope Solo. I would say this is just an opportunity for learning, and to try different avenues to get information, not just straight from the horses mouth.

East River said...

Josh does have a point. Goff when quoting sources often doesn't name names. A couple of days he stated in the comments section of one of his post that his sources do not come from the DCU Front Office, but often outside sources in the know. Oddly enough DCU front office people often deny or decline to admit to inquiries about potential transfers and so on until it clears MLS HQ. But Goff has been on the DC sports scene before MLS launched, his deep roots may score him the scoops that soccer journalist such AC and LB who have to work 2nd jobs can not manage to pull.

A.C. said...

I've never set this blog up as a source of breaking info. It's a place for Luis and I to offer tidbits and thoughts that we can't place elsewhere. If I have a scoop, I'm going to try to get paid for it, and this blog doesn't do that - it never has. We would just have leftover quotes, pictures or just chat about things and one day I said, hey, lets get a blog going and put this stuff on there. It hasn't ever been any more than that. If that's not the information you care for, there are a lot of other blogs designed to do different things.

A.C. said...

Let me also clarify that I'm not wanting MLS, any local team or the Galaxy to give me better information to place on my blog. This all started because LA reporters were asking Brad Guzan questions about something that they would have written news articles about if he'd given an answer. It's not about making my blog a better one, it's about getting the news of something out locally to someone.

JT (Chicago) said...

Josh, east river, and AC,

This discussion reminds me of a conversation I had with a local reporter before the Fire was announced as the new MLS franchise. It was very difficult to get any league confirmation on anything but bits of information were leaked to certain writers outside Chicago who were friendly with the league. A similar relationship existed with national team information.

This was the way the Chicago Bulls operated as well. The "breaking news" or well sourced rumors would almost always surface first at certain locations, as well as the puff pieces that the Bulls wanted out to the public. It often reminded Chicago fans of the way Pravda was used back in the day.

Anyway, I still think that MLS and its clubs need to rethink their relationships with local media and for that matter, emerging national media.

I'll be curious to see what kind of cooperation CSRN gets this upcoming season from MLS clubs for its "Around the League" show and for its "Chivas USA" show. The individual clubs seemed to warm to the network as the season drew to a close. I hope that continues.

East River said...

Speaking of CSRN many of their correspondants are just members of that team's supports groups.

Back to AC's post, what I was hinting at was that Goff and formerly Ives's SBI is that they were blogs linked to newswpapers who pay them to get the scoops and break them on their blogs. My comments are directed to AC and others attempts to get sourced information for her articles on soccer365, ESPN's soccernet, and USSP. As for the blog, I love this one b/c its independent from major news organizations unlike Goff's or the old SBI. SV provides the background info we normally don't get from bloggers such as Goff or news org's beat writers. The pictures, the personal conversations, and the actual audio of player comments. None of it fits into ESPN soccernet or other outlets, but its what I'm addicted to it when I visit SV.

I believe what AC has been getting at is that American soccer officials are overly coy to the point that its absurd and it hurts the popularity of the game in the US as well as journalist ability to provide their outlets stories so that they can earn a living. An example being the Gulati(?) roundtable AC brings up, Gulati's coyness on answering the possible friendly with Spain. Its absurd to deny it the whole thing, when the coach of Spain is openly discussing it. But the denials are so automatic that MLS and USSF do it anyway, when he and others could address the issue by saying something like "things are in the works but nothing is final". I think AC's post has been blown out proportion a bit.

Anonymous said...

Maybe US Soccer and/or MLS are pissed at you.

Have you written articles that were negative to MLS/US soccer?

A.C. said...

My point wasn't that U.S. Soccer and MLS teams and players aren't talking to me (me, me, me) it's that they often aren't talking to anyone local.

As far as writing negative articles, I hope I have, because negative things have gone on at times with the league and that needs to be reported, just like the positive stuff that I've reported as well. Whether or not anyone is pissed at me, I can't say, but that's not the point. You don't have to like someone to work with them, especially if the end result in a beneficial one for both parties.

JT (Chicago) said...

AC, I think that's the part MLS/USSF has missed all along. Give access to accredited journalists at all levels (local & national) and they will get the stories to the public. Deny them access to stories and the interested public may miss out.

MLS/USSF have to get over the idea that journalists are merely extensions of their PR departments.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask myself if the reporters in europe broke the story first because of the perceived favoritism you assert or are they just better at their job? Journalistic lassitude is often justified by claims of stonewalling and obfuscation. The fellow at the Chicago Tribune is claiming the same issues with the Chicago Fire.

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