By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s Saturday Soccer Round Up
MIAMI — I started writing this installment of the Soccer Round Up on Wednesday, the day people paid attention to where a bunch of high school kids they don’t know are going to college next year.
For me, it was one week until the U.S. hosts Mexico in the opening match of the final round of World Cup qualifying.
But we’ll get back to that in a minute.Andy and Marcia Williams
The most important story that I need to get out is that of Real Salt Lake and Jamaican International Andy Williams and his wife Marcia’s battle against a rare, deadly form of leukemia.
Marcia needs a bone marrow transplant and the Williams are asking for donors to PLEASE step forward. Please visit the National Marrow Donor Program’s website and Soccer Unites Utahwho have been actively helping the Williams get the word out.
The main story having to do with MLS over the past few weeks has been the play of David Beckham…for AC Milan.
The LA Galaxy loaned him to the the Italian side for 3 months during the MLS off season so that Beckham could keep in shape and continue to be a part of England coach Fabio Capello’s line up as the World Cup approaches next year. Beckham has been nothing short fabulous in Italy, scoring twice and setting up other goals, looking like the Beckham of old.Beckham, though mindful of his contract with LA, wants to stay in Milan and the AC Milan hierarchy is going to do what they can to keep him. Reportedly Beckham’s lawyers will be meeting with LA and MLS to figure out what can be done.
Obviously the league will go on if Beckham decides that he wants to return to big time soccer. But I will be disappointed, not for the league to lose a good footballer but the message that it sends. Beckham kind of slept walked through this past season, perhaps because the Galaxy were horrible at times, but certainly didn’t display that kind of fire (or effectiveness) he’s showing now. Becks leaving would be just another signal (real or perceived) that the league isn’t ready to attract and retain big time talent, undermining the moniker of Major League.
But heck, if he doesn’t want to be here, peace out, Becks.
Consider this though, with Landon Donovan, (also on loan Bayern Munich in Germany) also looking like he might not be coming back to LA the league could be losing two of its big name players. Life goes on but man…
The Worldwide Leader in Sports dropped MLS from its Thursday night lineup after two seasons of anemic ratings. While weekly Saturday games will remain available on Fox Soccer Channel and continue to get solid ratings, the league took a serious hit losing its weekly midweek presence on the nation’s most popular sports network.
ESPN will still show matches during various days of the week and the league is making sure that the games that they show are high profile matches such as the Galaxy-Chivas USA derby.
I’ve argued elsewherethat the league should have known that the midweek matches wouldn’t sell well but hopefully higher quality matches will help the ratings this coming season.
MLS DraftFor the fourth time in six years, a Black player was the #1 pick in the annual MLS draft.
Expansion side Seattle Sounders FC chose Akron University product Steve Zakuani with the first pick in the 2009 MLS Superdraft. The Congo born-London raised Zakuani finished second in voting for the 2008 Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy after finishing with 20 goals. Zakuani turned down a chance to play for Preston North End in England for a chance to finish his education and play almost immediately for Seattle.
Zakuani follows US Internationals Maurice Edu, Marvell Wynne and Freddy Adu as recent Black players who have been #1 picks in MLS.
After dispatching Sweden with a 3-2 win in an international friendly at the Home Depot Center, well, the ish is about to get real.
The US, as I mentioned earlier, begins the Hex by writing another chapter in what has become one of the most hotly contested rivalries in international soccer. The US will “welcome” Mexico to Columbus Crew stadium next Wednesday (ESPN2 7pm EST, right before Duke-UNC I might add) in the latest installment of the Superclassico Norteamericano.
Four years ago, I wrote about this rivalryand it’s gotten no less fierce. The US hasn’t lost to Mexico on American soil since Bill Clinton was president and have not lost a WCQ to El Tri since the early days of Watergate. Mexico, just as they did four years ago, have started the trash talk with Sinha stating “We can’t be afraid to play a team who, from my point of view, is not superior to Mexico,” and Carlos Ochoa’s “We know that Mexico is much better.”
The US will follow this match up with an away match against El Salvador (March 28) before returning home to face the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago in Nashville (yes, Nashville) on April 1.
I’ll be writing more on this as the game approaches.
Black People Don’t Play Soccer?
Well the book has finally arrived. Former player and coach Rob Woodward (no, not the guy from the Washington Post) has completed his book, detailing all of the forces that have conspired (intentionally or not) to keep the interest of the World’s Most Popular sport at low levels among Black Americans. I met Rob at a match in Tampa two years ago and he was kind enough to thank me in his acknowledgments. I’m quite proud to be mentioned in a book that so far, is DEAD ON POINT. Rob unveiled the book at the recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention and the early buzz was both receptive and positive.
Pick up a copy of the book at Rob’s website. http://www.blackpeopledontplaysoccer.com/The_Book.html
BACK OF THE NET
Finally, for the dozens of you who tuned in last year on the Black Athlete Sports Network, I am working on bringing the show back on the Blog Talk Network site where fellow BASN colleagues Tony McClean and L.A. Batchelor have their shows. If you’d like to be involved as co-host or any other capacity, get at me.
That’s it. Keep watching this space as we count down to US-Mexico next week, including my picks for the top Black Players ever to represent the United States.