Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dear MLS Rookie

Dear MLS Rookie,

Congratulations! You haven't started your first season under the shadow of a strike! The Players' Union and the MLS owners came to a new collective bargaining agreement and avoided a work stoppage. 

There's even more good news. The minimum yearly league salary is now $60,000. If you're a Generation Adidas player, you're probably already making more than that, but if you're not, it's a decent salary. 

Don't be stupid with that money, though. Get a budget going and track where what you've earned goes. Roommates are still a good idea, too, because young players can collaborate on carpools, off-season training sessions and even food expenses. 

You're young, but an athlete's body is never invincible. Injuries are part of the game. Have a back-up plan in mind, just in case your soccer dream doesn't work out. Dream a new dream.Take care of yourself by eating well, too. Don't just inhale burgers because they're cheap. Every team has a resident health guru, whether it's the trainer who can bench more than any player, or a teammate like Jimmy Conrad used to be, always going on about superfoods and never cramping up, even in extra time. Listen and learn. Take in what you can handle and be open to new ideas like yoga, kale and kombucha. 

Even if you don't personally feel that way yet, there is life outside of soccer. Skype or call your family when you have downtime. They'll help you maintain perspective when you're struggling in practice and stuck on the bench. Also realize that some of life's most difficult injuries never show as bruises or broken bones. If you feel you need counseling, don't suck it up or try to be macho about it. Get help. 

When you can, try to give help, too. You may be a rookie, but there are developmental players hanging around the team now who look up to even you. An encouraging word or respectful treatment from you would mean the world to them. Those little kids hanging around at the end of practice? They may not know your name yet, but they see you in that jersey and get excited by a wave or a smile. Do the community charity events your team plans. Appreciate team staff and that will be remembered. Some players get traded a lot, but are always thought of fondly by all their teams because they're such good guys. Others are only remembered by, "Good riddance." 

Have a thought for the game reporters, too. True, they may be trying to get quotes from the team stars right now, but at some point, you'll get the chance to say something. Make it thoughtful, personal and honest. They'll come back for more quotes. You're making more money than many of them do now at this point, so even if what you say gets taken out of context now and then, is it worth getting heated over? Pick your battles. 

Most everyone, reporters, coaches, fans, etc, involved with the game loves it, just like you hopefully do. But unlike them, you get to play - maybe not as a starter, but yes, you get to play pro soccer for a living. That's awesome. Enjoy it. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Saprissa Hates Club America More

Here's my wrap-up on how Club America took care of bidness against Saprissa in Costa Rica

I've been to the Monster's Cave, back when I lived in Costa Rica during part of my college years. It's a concrete cave of a stadium, but I always thought of it as small. I mean, I've been to Azteca, which is huge. 

But it gets wild there when the fans fill it up. They get loud. But all the fan support couldn't push Saprissa past an Aguilas squad which has found its form this season. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

One Big, Happy Family

Sure, there are problems in Mexico, but that doesn't mean that the country can't celebrate when one of their own makes good


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Best Never Rest

I'm checking out the number of veteran players who made the latest Liga MX Best XI - quite a few. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cubo Cut Down

I'm not really referring to how Erick "Cubo" Torres went down in the box - it's more about how the president of Guadalajara, Nestor de la Torre, reacted. 




Though I didn't even know what Nestor had said about Cubo when I went to the Tecate presentation the next day for interviews, I couldn't leave it out of my article. 



I'm not sure if Torres will last the season at Chivas, but Houston will probably be happy to welcome him early. 


Leftover quotes from my interview:  


Nestor

We don’t have any problem playing against the Galaxy. For us, the Galaxy is a team with good characteristics and it would be a competitive game. I think it would be interesting. It would be interesting because of what the Galaxy represents in this community and because of what Chivas also represents in Los Angeles. It would be an interesting clash of cultures.
Chepo

Nadie gana solo. Es una parte importante - la aficion.

No one wins alone. The fans play an important part. So does the owner, the coaches, the players, the trainers, the equipment people - everyone plays a part. Together, we can do this.

Cubo


Well, in life and in work, the ability to adapt is important. When people can adapt to change, they can be successful. Whether it’s Chivas USA, the national team, Chivas Guadalajara, or Houston, I’ll work hard to adjust and do well.

I’m working hard, with a lot of humility and when it’s time to go to Houston, I’ll be there with that same attitude. I’ll be proud to be with a good organization like the Dynamo as well.

Chepo

What is here in the United States is very special, because the fans here don’t get to see the team in person very often, but they’re so excited when they do get to see the team. It means so much to them. We want to make the fans happy.

We want to bring the team here more often.

It’s a great responsibility. It’s very similar, but the magnitude is different, in terms of the amount of people. The people identify with these type of squads. To coach Guadalajara, to coach Mexico, it is similar. The difference is there’s 120 million people in Mexico, aside from those in the USA, and despite the differences economically, culturally, male or female, or religion, they simply want to see their national team win. They get really excited about that.

It’s something that professions have to learn to handle. They have to face a lot of pressure, but but despite that, they have to go out and perform their best. We know that it’s like that - sometimes you’ll be on top, sometimes you’ll be on the bottom, but you have to be able to express yourself and stay professional. People will notice when you put your best effort out there. And when they see that, they’re satisfied. Usually, the results will follow as well. If you win, of course you get the reward from that effort, but even if you lose, you still know that you gave your best. In the end, that gives you satisfaction as well.

All of players have to compete against each other, and I have to evaluate who is in the best form at the time. Whether they start, or are on the bench, or even make the bench, that’s part of the competition. What’s complicated for me is making those choices.

I don’t feel like a savior. We, as a group, have to work on this mission together. So everyone has to be strong so that we can reach our goals.




Thursday, February 5, 2015

Strikers Struck Down

Miguel Herrera, Mexico's ebullient coach, is in a bit of a quandary.  The double demands of Copa America and Gold Cup have, in my opinion, been part of a difficult test for Mexican players that helps them improve. 

But it's a strain to play both tournaments, so different rosters are often utilized. 

However, El Tri is getting really thin at one particular important position. 

What should Herrera do? What can he do? 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Living the Dream

I'm sure LD didn't intend it, as celebrities in commercials don't really get to pick the storyline of their scripts, but I think some junior ad person had a little fun poking at Jurgen Klinsmann with this new bank commercial. 

First of all, the entire premise is based on what Klinsmann famously did in 2003 - play for Orange County Blue Star under a pseudonym. Like so many things Klinsy, the story of why is a bit inconsistent - in one piece, Klinsy says the coach suggested the pseudonym (but why would the coach know or care to pick out Klinsy's home town as the last name?) - yet elsewhere, Klinsy has said he picked out his son's name, Jonathan, as his psuedo, but then wrote only the initial on the team sheet, leading everyone to call him Jay. 

Of course, even if Klinsmann had written his real name, many wouldn't have recognized him anyway. LD is far more recognizable in the USA than Klinsmann ever was as a player. The idea that the Latino player on the rec squad here wouldn't recognize LD is pretty unfathomable. 

Then there's the subtle dig at the very end of the commercial. LD has been left on the bench (like JK left LD off the roster) and it's very much played to the "what an idiot coach!" angle. That's unmistakably a JK slight, at least in my opinion. 

Judge for yourself.