While we're all anticipating Confederations Cup semifinal...boy, typing that feels weird. What next? "Now that Freddy Adu has realized his potential...."
Anyway. Probably lost in the excitement was this interview with Peter Wilt that Paul Demko conducted and posted at DuNord. It's not JUST about WPS, you crybabies - some interesting stuff about the Fire's salad days, the Minnesota Thunder, Toyota Park, attendance - I'll give you a little taste, though.
Despite the fact that the Red Stars are currently suffering back strains from holding up the table, this is why I think WPS is in better hands than the WUSA was.
Having said that...I hesitate before contradicting Wilt, but in the bad old days soccer was absolutely, 100% marketed as a cause before MLS. It was something you "should" like, because the rest of the world did. I always thought of it as "spinach" marketing - watch soccer because it's good for you. It wasn't as overtly political as women's soccer, but there was certainly a mixture of neediness and entitlement in the message.
Perhaps this was a reaction to soccer-haters, who seemed unusually loud back in the 70's - Dick Young's infamous declaration that soccer was Communist leaps to mind. But George Will trashed gridiron football with a much better line - "violence punctuated by committee meetings" - and NFL fans simply ignored the taunt. Soccer fans, though, tried to convert people like Young. None of us would try that today, but back then? People really thought, "If you only give the game a chance...."
It's much better today, of course. Jim Rome, the modern equivalent of Young, pads out his program with anti-soccer rants, and Eric Wynalda...well, I think schoolchildren should learn and memorize his reaction.
There's a good deal more self-confidence amongst we soccer fans these days. But early MLS (another thing it feels weird to type - sorry, short attention span) Early MLS wasn't marketed as a cause - it was marketed as a fad, which is arguably worse. Soccer is a tradition-obsessed sport, even by the standards of obsession with tradition set by other sports - and here comes MLS with its wild color schemes and hip names.
Which WPS isn't doing, and which is actually Wilt's point, but the idea that the history of American soccer marketing has been a story of strategy and success is a little bit on the Oh Hell No side.
Anyway. The Red Stars are currently freaking terrible, largely to my eyes because Carli Lloyd and Lindsay Tarpley apparently have a side bet going on who can be more insanely disappointing. The Sol haven't actually clinched first place and a spot in the championship game...but it sure feels like it. The Sol have a date in St. Louis (I'll call the team Saint Louis, but the city is St. Louis, dammit) - then the two teams meet Saturday morning. 10 freaking a.m.! Stupid Home Depot Center scheduling conflicts. We'll see if parity is only for teams 2-6 in WPS - right now, Marta is playing just flawless soccer. Which explains some of her impatience with her mortal teammates, I suppose. But hey, it is fun to watch.