Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Tale of Two Writers

Within the last month or so I’ve seen two different sides of Sports Illustrated’s feelings about soccer, both from ‘big name’ football (pointyball) writers.

Dr. Z played ‘bad cop’:

“Should the NFL be worried about MLS as competition now that Beckham has arrived? I mean, they do have a team in L.A., which the NFL can’t seem to do.”

You’re almost right there, Jonas. Except that the place they have chosen in which to showcase the Big B is Carson, Calif. And didn’t you read how the crowd of 27,000 in the Home Depot Center absolutely went wild, even though his team, the Galaxy, lost, 1-0.

... Threatening to immediately eclipse Beckham in popularity is the Chicago Fire’s Cuauhtémoc Blanco, whose attributes, according to the AP report of his debut against Celtic AC Sunday, were his “stutter-step dribbles, change of direction and uncanny backward passes.”

OK, so only 15,719 showed up in Bridgeview, Ill., at Toyota Park, but that’s almost capacity, isn’t it?

I dropped the not-so-funny jokes that are a mainstay of Dr. Z’s column, but it sure doesn’t look like he’s a fan.

Peter King is a much nicer read if you enjoy the beautiful game:

g. Sports Illustrated NFL editor Mark Mravic on the scene at what I heard was a great sports event, the MLS game (with David Beckham) between the New York and L.A. teams Saturday night at the Meadowlands, witnessed by 67,000 and won by the Red Bulls, 5-4:

“Well, the tailgate scene was kind of surreal. Just like a Jets or Giants game at the Meadowlands, with all the grills and tables and tents and even a few motorhomes, except that instead of people chucking footballs around the parking lot, there were about 10,000 pickup soccer games going. And at least half of the fans playing in those games were little urchins in Beckham jerseys. Inside, every time Beckham set up for a corner kick or a free kick, the crowd would rise in anticipation—and then a chorus of boos would cascade down. The Red Bulls fans may have been outnumbered, but they were louder by far. Beckham’s pure class, though. After the game he walked around the edge of the field applauding all the fans that showed up.

“I’ve been to bigger soccer games — U.S. – Mexico at the World Cup in Korea; U.S. – Italy last summer in Germany — but I’ve never had more fun at one.’‘

Soccer is really a fun game when done right. I hope that game helps the cause.

I can’t say that I’m a big fan for the Becks-love-fest that’s smothering almost everything else in the MLS off of TV right now, but I do hope to see a lasting increase in attendance and coverage for the MLS and USL leagues.

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