This hat trick/QOTD is going to be a bit more succinct than I normally am (but it will probably still end up a bit longer than I intend it to be), but I found a few nuggets to share with everyone for my Wednesday piece. I am shooting for a longer Fire related piece for next Wednesday. It's been a while since I have had a lengthy Fire story, but with the draft coming up and the always interesting offseason transfer window, business should start to pick up soon. Also look for lots of other Fire related stuff shortly as part of us here at HTIOT will be at the MLS Superdraft and will have lots of good info. for us all. Without further ado, follow me after the break for the hat trick and a good QOTD...
1. We all know Dominic Oduro had quite the 2011 campaign. Take a look at this interesting article of stats from Opta, which shows one of the reasons why he was so dangerous in 2011. "King of the Counter Attack". That sounds like a pretty good title for Oduro to possess. Also, despite ups and downs for Diego Chaves, did you know he was in the top 5 for finishers in "big chance" situations? Despite inconsistent playing time, Diego knows how to finish when given the chance.
2. As of this writing (literally taking place right now), USMNT legend Landon Donovan has been chosen to start in his first appearance back for Everton on a short loan. They square off vs. Bolton, with the match being on foxsoccer.tv (online subscription service). MLSsoccer.com has a little blurb on this, as well as a bit on Clint Dempsey possibly moving to a bigger club in hopes of playing in the UEFA Champions League once his Fulham contract runs out.
3. The David Beckham saga continues to have twists and turns. At one point it was all but inevitable that Beckham would join PSG. Now, that deal has fallen through, and although a new deal with the Galaxy is not a done deal, the Galaxy believe they are getting closer. I don't get caught up in the Beckham hype, so the real reason for me including this in the hat trick is because I found an interesting blurb in this article. It mentions at one point that an added challenge of getting a Beckham deal done is that "We have the added complication that David has the right to purchase a franchise in this league". That certainly jumped out at me upon reading it. The article doesn't really go into extra detail, but it is certainly different from lots of other star MLS contracts that I have heard/read about. I can't remember seeing a stipulation mentioned like this for any player's contract in the past.
This brings up an interesting point. Is Beckham playing hardball, saying that he would consider resigning only if he had a chance to purchase a team in the league? This would certainly make sense with his explanation for the PSG deal falling through: family reasons. Many reports have said that his family/wife, as well as David, like LA and want to stay there. If he likes the league enough, it does make sense that he may want to be an owner or part owner some day. He can stay more involved with the game this way, and it's certainly cheaper to get a team going here than in England or most other parts of the world. A name like his could also do wonders for the league approving a 20th MLS team, and possibly beyond that heading into the future.
Frankly, I can't see many other scenarios other than Beckham asking for this stipulation. It doesn't seem likely that the Galaxy would offer this outright to him for no reason. The only thing I can think of is that the Galaxy may know of other serious offers, so they are trying to offer something unique that would put them out in front in the race to sign him.
This certainly makes for an interesting point of debate. Does this type of contract start to pop up more and more as big stars come to the MLS in the later parts of their careers? Obviously a club like the Galaxy wouldn't look to sell the franchise to a player unless the cash was right. What about a smaller club? Is it feasible that a player could join a club not named NY or LA and possibly buy the club when their playing days are done? It would certainly help increase visibility for the club/MLS in general to have famous owners that are also former players. And it would help guarantee future expansion of the MLS, although I think at this point we can all agree that future expansion is likely anyway. Have rich owners with big names recognizable all over the world certainly can't hurt. The main sticking point is to find the right group if they player doesn't want to get the club going by himself outright. However, if you have an international star with the money to get a club going, that could really push an affiliated ownership group over the edge to get an MLS franchise when they otherwise wouldn't quite be able to themselves. Basically, groups need the player's name and money, but the player needs the group to help with funding. I would also imagine other investment groups (that would be on a non ownership basis) might be a bit more willing to open their wallets and join forces to get a team and stadium lined up if they get to work with a famous icon.
As our very own James Coston pointed out in a recent article, there are plenty of cities that could be very good to place an MLS franchise in. In the case of St. Louis, they have been very close to getting one, but lack either the financial clout needed or a soccer specific stadium (SSS) plan. Or both. I think retired soccer greats helping out could help some of these franchises to become a reality. Of course everyone involved needs to make sure the situations are right, as the MLS does now in regards to approving new franchises, to make sure existing clubs and the league as a whole doesn't suffer. In the end, if done right, I think the benefits could outweigh the negatives. I would imagine fans of Beckham, for example, might watch and follow the MLS when they otherwise wouldn't just to support the team he owns. And it's all about expanding the league out and getting bigger and better. Certainly some good food for thought. Imagine what it would be like if a former Fire icon could possibly own the team some day after he retires?
Question of the Day
I was having a debate about this with some friends the other night, which I think makes for a good poll question. Now that Donovan is back in the EPL for a short time, we got to talking about who is considered the best ever US soccer player. Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey? Obviously there are other names to throw in the hat too, but the crux of our discussion came down to this: Landon is obviously more successful at the MLS level because he has been there longer. Clint plays in the world's best league, and is the most successful American ever in terms of English soccer and scoring prowess. He just surpassed Brian McBride for most goals by an American in the Premier League. So Clint clearly has the foreign pedigree. In terms of the USMNT scene, we gave the edge to Landon. He has had more big goals and we felt contributed more to his MLS team and also his National team. Overall, most of us in our group decided that Landon Donovan was the best American soccer player ever. So what say you?