I would’ve started this column earlier, but I had to finish watching a Little League game on TV first.
We now join an un-objective and un-comprehensive look at the week that was, already in progress.
Lots of Big News as the transfer window closes and a new MLS TV deal opens. Some important numbers from the just announced NBC deal: Versus, which will be known as the NBC Sports Network come 2012, reaches twice as many homes as Fox Soccer Channel, the outlet it will replace. Reported estimates say the deal is worth between $10 and $12 million a year.
Remember the days when MLS had to pay cable channels to show games? Back then, the league recouped costs by selling the ad time themselves.
Last bit of good news from the NBC deal: it ends, as do the league’s deals with ESPN and Univision, in 2014. Not only is that a World Cup year, but the fact that host Brazil is only one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone means that many of that tournament’s games will be shown in prime time, instead of in the middle of the night. That might positively effect TV ratings, and further enhance the sport’s popularity in this country. MLS, by then with 20 clubs and coming up on 20 years in business, should be in a good bargaining position to continue the rise in revenues.
The other Big News is from the transfer wire: the return of Freddy Adu, and the signing of Robbie Keane. First, Adu. I think this is also good for both the player and the league. Freddy will get some playing time, and it says something (good) that Peter Nowak was happy to have him back on his roster. (This from a coach that vetoed a reunion with Benny Felheiber.) The first time Adu and Nowak were together, Freddy needed his mom to take him to and from practice, as he was still to young to drive. Now, Freddy will be driving the Philadelphia offense.
The Robbie Keane signing shows how serious LA is about winning. (It also means Juan Pablo Angel has to find his third team in less than a year.) Don’t expect to see Keane lining up next Saturday against the Quakes, but he’ll soon join Donovan and Beckham for what should be the most telegenic trio the league has ever seen. Yes, Quakes fans, just the stuff you’ll love to hate.
Fans of the other HDC team, Chivas USA, have to be grumbling. First, Chivas scoring star Omar Bravo moves north from Guadalajara to Kansas City. Then, Benny Felheiber signs with MLS and Chivas is first in line for new talent and says "no." Now, they have a shot at Adu, and again it’s a "no." The Goats are in a 3-way tie for the last playoff spot (and the other two teams have games in hand). Despite the career year of Nick LaBrocca, and the continued production from Justin Braun, you’d think the club would want to get a little more help along the way.
Edmundo Zura? No opinion yet. Never heard of him. Haven’t seen him. Looking forward to seeing his debut.
A quick word about Jurgen Klinsman. Fun. In the post-game interview after his debut against Mexico, he was all smiles, laughing and saying it was "fun." When was the last time a US coach smiled? And, "fun?!" Amazing. Loved it.
A quick look around the league and you already know the scores. New York tried their fifth starting goalkeeper of the season and still let in a pair of goals, but since they’re playing Chicago, the game ends in a tie. The Fire’s 14 draws is a league record, and they have 11 games left on the schedule.
DC is 3-1-3 since trading for Dwayne DeRosario. In that short time, DeRo has already scored against former clubs Toronto, New York, and San Jose. Too bad for him DC already had their games with Houston before the trade.
After beating the Quakes, Colorado has 40 points. That would be good enough for first place in the East, but Colorado is in the West, so they sit in 4th. While I don’t like this division stuff (single table now!) at least the league has a balanced schedule this year. If it weren’t for the balanced schedule, the Rapids and other teams in the West would be facing a more difficult schedule than teams in the East.
And some teams in the West have it hard enough as it is.