Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Odds Are. . .

I wrote a feature piece on Omar Gonzalez last week for Futbol Mundial. It'll be out soon, but one thing Omar mentioned made be think of Oguchi Onyewu. Omar was talking about finally making it on to the U.S. national team, and how important that was. He alluded to how that would affect his future club decisions. Omar specifically said that he had heard from Jurgen Klinsmann that national team selection would focus on players who were game-fit and battle tested.

Translated: If you want to try your luck in Europe, go for it, but don't feel hard done by if you wind up on the bench and I don't take you to the World Cup.

Not long ago, Gooch was pointed to as the player who had done things the hard way - the right way - no Major League Soccer experience, straight to Europe, playing for bigger and bigger clubs. But then the soccer equivalent of the Peter Principle kicked in and he languished on the bench in Europe. Granted, he was also injured. At this point, though, Onyewu isn't on the USA roster. 

What odds would you give for his return? 

By the way, I'm not saying that playing in MLS would save Onyewu's international career or anything like that. That didn't work for Jovan Kirovski, for example.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Random FC Dallas fan

Check out the little FC Dallas Fan here. Gwen Stefani's oldest seems to know who leads the league. Rock on, Kingston.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

German Champions!

I do speak a little German - basically enough to ask for directions, order food and greet people. So I didn't write this in German.

But I did write it, and it basically sums up my thoughts on the Champions League.  

It's funny how the world works. When I was in Peru in 2005, about the last player I interviewed there was a sad-faced Neven Subotic, who was pretty crushed about his role in the USA's exit at the U17 World Cup. I wouldn't have guessed I'd be watching the kid eight years later in a Champions League final, but I'll say this. I knew even at the time that he took the game seriously. He was pretty focused. 

As for what I said in my excellent German, here's what I sent in to be translated: 

Some might say that the Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund final of the Champions League signals a new sporting era of German efficiency over Spanish art. I'd say that both of the finalists have raised athletic efficiency to an art form. I also don't think the style developed in Spain is dead. Instead, it now has some really viable competition. While it's always fun to see an international mix in the finals, the Champions League format has generally yielded the two most deserving clubs and a country derby has the extra bite of bitter familiarity. Prediection: Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Thursday, May 16, 2013

David Beckham Retires

 I still remember that sunny day in Los Angeles, waiting for David Beckham to enter the stadium suite that had been reserved for the local Galaxy reporters. We were a pretty small bunch, about twelve total. Soon, due to the dying print media industry, there would be even less of us. Beckham was big news at that time, though.

 He entered wearing a silver Burberry suit, smiling nervously, yet also well aware of his power to charm with that smile. Beckham tended to smile more when deflecting a question, for example, like when I asked him about his injured ankle.
 I guess the things I remember first were all the ridiculous scenarios. The reporters from tabloids who would show up at press conferences after the game to ask Beckham questions about Tom Cruise. The media chasing Beckham after matches he'd spent on the bench. Cruise, Tony Parker and Kobe Bryant all hanging out in the Galaxy locker room. The glaring Becks would do when journalists asked if he was hurting the Galaxy to go during the season to Milan, London Olympics, Royal wedding, England friendly, etc.

But what I'll recall most are the little moments, maybe. I watched Beckham's kids do a fair share of growing up during the Galaxy years. I'll remember Brooklyn peeking out behind the press conference curtain, Romeo kicking a ball around on the grass with his brothers, Cruz making funny faces. I never saw Vicki without her sunglasses, and I never saw her wear flat shoes. I would always marvel at how she could walk so well in heels.
 I watched Becks in various stages of anger, denial, frustration, despair, resignation, determination, acceptance, leadership and joy with the Galaxy. It was a rollercoaster ride that finally ended at a nice place for him, with back-to-back MLS Championship wins.

He seemed to settle in at the Galaxy once some of the hype got killed off by the initial poor results. No more press conferences at every game, just locker room interviews post-game like the others. Beckham never became just another player, but he found his niche as the team learned to utilize his unique passing game. Beckham himself learned to love Laker basketball and convertible cars. His teammates also came to appreciate his work ethic, genuine eagerness and restrained English humor.  Beckham, with his soft voice and intrinsically shy personality, wasn't ever a guys' guy, not in the sports macho sense, but he was always a loyal teammate who took the idea of his role as a sports pioneer seriously.

Four titles in four countries. It's simply an impressive feat. 

Goodbye, David. Here's hoping you were also serious about owning a team in MLS one day. There are still worlds to conquer.