Friday, January 06, 2006

Seven Wishes for the Perfect Soccer Year

Strrecchhhhh. Yawn. Ok. After six weeks in hibernation, it’s time to kick The Kin back into action. The year’s first week is always a time for optimism. The year ahead is a clean slate, filled with possibilities. How can 2006 turn out to be a perfect soccer year? Read on for things I’d like to see…

1. The Metros break ground in Harrison, NJ.
Yes, it’s been six months since the presentation in front of the Harrison public library, since the soccer balls neatly arranged to spell 2-0-0-7, since mayors and congressmen and Nicky S. & friends told us that finally, FINALLY the Metros would have a home of their own. Since then, not a whole lot has happened, so those soccer balls would seem to be at least a year off from reality. Yes, the quasi-governmental agencies involved have passed motions to get the residences and parking deck to be built adjacent to the stadium, and yes, a sign has been erected near the site, but to date, nary a shovel has hit the ground. Hopefully that will change, and soon.

2. Houston embraces their team
Word out of H-town is that there are already 1,000 requests for season tickets for the former Quakes at Robertson stadium. Hopefully, with Luck, (pun intended) the squad will land a decent local TV deal, have smart outreach to the Hispanic population, and benefit from positive coverage my the local media to generate buzz, attention, and attendance to watch a terrific team take the field come April.

3. Chicago sells out the Bank early and often
Watching the Bridgeview Bank Stadium spring up before our very eyes has been an absolute joy. With luck, the BBS’ interior will be completed as quickly as the outside to meet the club’s June target opening date, and hopefully the Fire House will be filled all season long.

4. Oh yeah, and players too.
I have to believe that the MLS cartel is taking the US community’s call for a loosening of the purse strings seriously. In my perfect 2006, MLS will announce at the Superdraft in Philly on the 20th that the league’s salary cap will come with one “superstar” exemption. That’ll still leave time to use the open transfer window to snag some Euro and/or South American talent for this season. Without Freddy mania, or “Season 10” to hang the marketing hook on this year, MLS needs to create some buzz. A few mid-level names a la Youri D. for each club would go a long way toward generating some excitement.

5. A Surprise from the Youth
No, there aren’t a whole lot of spots for Germany on Il Bruce’s roster. But with the Nats camp underway at the HDC, here’s to hoping an unsung young name (Brian Carroll, Heath Pearce, etc.) gets a chance in the early friendlies and shows that he belongs. It’ll bring hope for the future, even if this unamef player doesn’t get in a game in Deutschland. By the way, if you haven’t seen Heydude outlast his team in “The Beep Test” at Nats camp, you must. The guy just doesn’t age. Must be the spirit of Jah or something.

6. Open Cup Upset for the Ages
What a better way to thumb their noses at MLS than the reincarnated PDL San Francisco Seals, with much of Earthquake fandom behind them, qualify for the Open Cup in their first year and advance to the fourth round, when they defeat the LA Galaxy in penalties. The match is played at a sold-out Spartan Stadium in July. After the game, the city announces that the Quakes will return in ’07, with an SSS to open by ’09.

7. The Big Stage
Here we go.
US 2-1 CZH
US 0-0 ITA
US 3-2 GHA
US 1-0 CRO
US 2-1 FRA
US 0-0 GER, Krauts win on pks.

Respect. Attention. Ratings. Admiration. Positive press. MLS Attendance gains. New Bruce Contract. Love. Love. Love.

Can’t wait to get started.

No comments: