Wednesday, July 15, 2009

7/15/09: MLS Having a Heck Of A Week



Last weekend over 18,000 fans (including 300 Crew fans) brought it, with a great atmosphere during the Chicago vs. Columbus game on ESPN2. This week the Columbus Crew visited the White House on Monday, and President Obama gave the Crew the whole procession with a press conference and some excellent photo opportunities. Today, articles with Obama heading a soccer ball are now around the world with the Daily Mail and the Sun in England discussing politician's soccer skills. The question of the day appears to be, "whose better suited at forward Barrack Obama or David Cameron?" Even Fox News(not well known for it's like of either Obama or soccer) has the iconic picture of the 44th president heading a Crew soccer ball.

Because of this culmination the trip was more than worth it, even if some Crew players were a little befuddled with White House politics (Obama put his name behind volunteer work that the Crew have always done). Nevertheless, having a president, with a massive appeal around the world, heading a soccer ball with the Crew logo is as good as it gets when it comes to positive marketing. As the small give, was worth the big take of the Crew's logo around the world. And, this visit shows progress. President Bush invited the Houston Dynamo to the White House before, but didn't invite champions yearly. Now the Crew with Obama have ushered in a precedent. At least, for the next four or possibly eight years, a MLS team will expect to take up a hour of the President's time yearly with a tour and a press conference. That's a nice legitimization of the sport.

With MLS getting their presidential visitation finished up early in the week, eyes have now shifted towards the return of David Beckham on Thursday night. The next chapter in the Grant Wahl saga(Dispatch writer Michael Arace weighs in after reading Grant Wahl's book The Beckham Experiment here). Books and drama aside, Beckham will step on the field at Giants Stadium tomorrow either to lift or destroy his side against the Red Bulls in front of a packed house. Soccer fans will be watching to see how the Beckham and Donovan relationship goes. Can David Beckham win back his teammates? Will LA have another horrible showing or will they come out on top? How will this season go? And, how will it all end?

This is the kind of drama MLS desperately needs. Drama that will intensify on Sunday when LA faces off against Beckham's recent side AC Milan in a friendly. But, after this week I believe that Beckham mania will calm down. I also think that Beckham will come back healthier and with a chip on his shoulder and LA will start moving up the table.

Beckham and Obama should be enough news for a week, right? However, Saturday ESPN2 will also have a doubleheader, with a solid contest between Houston and TFC up at BMO field at 1 o'clock, followed by Seattle playing a friendly against Chelsea at a packed Qwest Field at 3 o'clock. The atmosphere there should be luring for some of those Chelsea players five years down the road.

So, overall what a week this will be. As MLS has had a team visit Obama, will have upwards of 60,000 to watch Beckham's first game back at Giants Stadium on Thursday, another 70,000 to watch Seattle face off vs. giants Chelsea, 20,000 at BMO for Toronto vs. Houston, and a visit from AC Milan to round out the week. Not so shabby for a bush league. :-)

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