Arsenal/Rapids: Transatlantic Peck on the Cheek

A few days always...

There's not much to generate excitement in the partnership between the Colorado Rapids and England's Arsenal that was announced last week. From where I sit, the best news is that the Rapids are still the Rapids; a name change would have evinced a certain whorishness from the MLS side, especially with no money moving around. A report in the local media describes the extent of the deal:

"The collaborative agreement doesn't involve an exchange of money or equity, but the Rapids will get to tap Arsenal's sports management and playing expertise, while Arsenal will have an on-the-ground partner to help it build its brand in the U.S."

Clearly, this is something less than a trans-Atlantic embrace. Still, it's hardly going to hurt, right, learning to play "the Arsenal way"? Today, yes. But, oh, ten years ago, the following quote from Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush, which appeared in an press release-cum-article, would have prompted either raised eyebrows or laughter back in England:

"It will be somebody with a strong Arsenal lineage who will come and build the Arsenal way of playing. Arsenal has a very special and stylized way of playing. It's a very offensive, very beautiful style that will be very attractive to the American customer."

Type "boring boring arsenal" into Google and you'll see what I mean - even if no less prestigious institution than the BBC has since ruled that albatross dead.

Another interesting wrinkle in the whole exchange came with the birth of the Arsenal Cup, an as-yet shapeless tournament that will be open to American teams. Ian Plenderleith, who tries, among other explorations into the deal, to predict what this Cup will be, had this to say:

"Whatever form that takes, it sounds ominously like a superfluous gimmick in an already crowded soccer calendar."

While there's probably some truth in that statement, I'd suggest another possible angle: it could serve as a one-stop arrangement for Arsenal's scouts.

All in all, though, it is what it is: the Rapids new uniforms don't look so bad, they kept their name in the mail-order marriage, and, when it's all said and done, Colorado's players may learn a thing or two.


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