Players You'd Work to See?

This morning's Houston Chronicle ran a Q & A with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has actually has business with Major League Soccer (MLS) through his ownership(? - is it full? partial?) to HDNet. Cuban has some interesting things to say about "it all," but the most interesting part to me was this passage on some English dude's arrival in the States:

"I don't know if you can put a dollar value on [David Beckham's arrival], but you are going to see a net result value in terms of visibility. If you talk to people around the league, they are selling tickets. People are calling and asking about when they are playing the Galaxy and trying to buy tickets for that. That's a new event for MLS. Other than Freddy (Adu) there really wasn't anybody who drove ticket sales — maybe Landon (Donovan) a little bit. It really is a unique event for MLS, and the telltale sign is in soccer ticket sales and coverage during the season."

This got me thinking about a more specific question: what MLS players - current ones, mind you - would prompt you to make that little bit of extra effort to get to the local stadium to see them play?

This is probably an odd question for most full-time soccer fans. I mean, watching the game is borderline Pavlovian: you watch it because it's on TV or at the local stadium and you have no idea how that beer got in your hand...must be magic of some sort. (And, yeah, I watched The Office last night.)

Since I don't live in an MLS market, the question is somewhat hypothetical to me. But, that doesn't mean I'm not seeing anyone's name jump out on the long, long list of current MLS players. And some I don't even need to look for: without looking I'd name Dwayne DeRosario because I think he's that good. The same applies to a guys like Ronnie O'Brien or Brad Davis; I just like their respective games, I guess. Jeff Cunningham gets my vote on the "crazy factor" alone, but I also think he's worth watching for his game. Ditto with Amado Guevara - on both counts. And I still think Clint Mathis, weight, attitude, and all, sees the game on a different level than any American player; the brain is willing, but the body...

After these, there are about a score of players I'd watch more or less because I'm curious about how they work - or don't as the case may be (I'm done throwing out links, so I'll just list a few of them - alphabetically, for the record): Freddie Adu, Mehdi Ballouchy, Edson Buddle, Ricardo Clark, Terry Cooke, Eddie Gaven, Ivan Guerrero, Daniel Hernandez, Mike Magee, Kyle Martino, Pat Noonan (hey, my first Rev), Ramon Nunez, Michael Parkhurst, Ante Razov, Chris Rolfe, Danny Szetela, and Ricardo Virtuoso - to, um, name a few.

With this second set of guys, I don't know that I'd try as hard to get to the park, but I'd like to see how they play live where I can pay attention not only to what they do with the ball and how well, but to their movement off-the-ball as well, how they create space, provide support, etc.

Anyway, I've gone on plenty long enough. Any thoughts on this out there?



john said...

I do live in an MLS market, so for this season plan the is to make an effort to guys who left in the off season (Adu, Esky, Rimando, etc.) Besides that there are no players in the league that I would go out of my way to see in person if I can also watch it on the tube. I will try to get the Galaxy game, not so much to see Becks but to see the whole spectacle, and to abuse him (and LD of course) mercilessly during the course of the game.
Now this plan is somewhat dictated by a tight budget. If I had the money I would have season tickets, but to play along, hypothetically I would try to see DeRosario, and as in the past, if there is a top National Team guy on the opposing team I'll try to get to that game as well.

The Manly Ferry said...

"If I had the money." God, ain't that the thing.

Good call on the atmosphere for a "Beckham game." I'm on the same page there. The funny thing is, and this is something I had intended to mention, I half expect the guy to be 12-feet tall. It's kind of the same with DeRosario. It somehow gets in my head that these are bigger, stronger versions of human beings, when in reality soccer guys are pretty modest physically. It's a fame thing, I know, but it's a funny one. As least to me.

Anonymous said...

Mark Cuban owns all of HDNet and has been spotted at FC Dallas matches. He makes no secret he is a fan of the sport and FC Dallas.

Gareth Sleger said...

I think MLS fans owe it to themselves to see Claudio Reyna play when the Red Bull are in town. At 33, this is his first time ever playing professionaly in his home country!