Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Questions Waiting to be Answered

So the Metro nation sits and waits…waits to hear about the fate of its team. Michael Lewis seems to be only journalist with the contacts that will comment on the supposedly impending sale of the Metro to the marketing powerhouse Red Bull. Today comes word that a few high-profile former NY Cosmos are pushing the deal and may soon be in charge of the club. But where would Alexi Lalas and his staff find themselves in that scenario? Out of work? Like him or hate him, Alexi has put a visible face on the organization, and Mo Johnston has been a breath of fresh air in terms of his willingness to speak to the press and fans about how the team is coming together. And about the team… where would the sale leave the mixture of youth and experience on the roster that seems so promising this preseason? What of the emerging success of the Metro youth system, which won a Super Y-League championship last season, and the club’s entry into the new Super 20 League? What of Johnny Exantus?

More importantly, why is this all happening 26 days before the Metros’ season-opener? Couldn’t this deal have come together at the end of last season, or wait until the end of this season? There’s enough confusion in the marketplace about the team to begin with, and unless the Toro Rossos are going to spend big $$ in the next two weeks to tell the public about the name change, what kind of caffeinated buzz does Red Bull think it can generate?

For the small number of rabid Metro faithful, it’s a strange time. They’re no denying that the club’s record has not been pretty since the 2-1 loss in LA in April 13, 1996 and Caricola’s own goal with 12 seconds remaining the week later, but that doesn’t mean the erasure of the club name will be welcomed. Over the club’s ten seasons I’ve collected plenty of Metro memorabilia, from the Clint Mathis bobblehead that sits on my desk to the Season 10 scarf on the back of my chair. Renaming the team after a soft drink just seems odd. If the Mets were suddenly renamed the New York Ford F-150 Trucks, with no avowal that the Mets ever existed, I’d feel just as cold and bewildered. Here's how fans of SV Austria Salzburg felt after Red Bull descended on them. The always excellent Ives Galarcep outlines the Metro Nation's challenge in today's Bergen Record.

Clueless in Jersey

BigAppleSoccer’s coverage of the sale is making the Newark Star-Ledger’s Frank Giase look hopelessly out of touch (and not like George Clooney). Today’s weekly “On Soccer” report surmises that New Jersey politics are forcing the hand of Phil Anschutz, who Giase believes has tired of trying to get the Harrison stadium built. Giase adds that Anschutz is “not well-liked in New Jersey.” What a bunch of hooey. Lewis’ report today notes a sweetheart deal for rent and naming rights for the Harrison stadium as a part of the Red Bull sale, which may top $30 million, a record sale for an MLS club. Giase’s column is usually no more than a collection of wire reports, and for the supposed “home paper” of the Metros, Giase’s readers deserve more.

Bueno Suerte

Best of luck to New England and LA ahead of their tough tasks Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. It’s a shame that the away goals rule isn’t in place for the competition, as both teams played home scoreless draws in the first legs of their quarterfinal ties. The Galaxy will be on the artificial surface of the Saprissa (9pm, FSC), while the Revs will be up the road at Alajuelense (11pm, FSC). Let’s hope for at least one victory on the tough, rough Costa Rican road.

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