Danny We Hardly Knew Ye

There are times when it's just as well that soccer isn't that big a deal - yet - in the US.

Otherwise, sites like TheSmokingGun would be featuring, right next to the candid shots of Lindsay Lohan being dragged off in handcuffs and Charlie Sheens' latest Porn Star du jour, Danny Szetelas' mugshot:

As first reported by eagle-eyed BigSoccer lifer "patrickdavila" over in MLS: News & Analysis yesterday, Szetela has now officially completed the transition from bright and shiny prospect to bad joke.

The details of the incident at Johnnies Tavern ("The Coldest Beer in the Hemisphere") in Boonton New Jersey aren't particularly important. He and his two older brothers got into it with some regulars at a drinking establishment that some might call a bit rough and ended up getting booked by the local constabulary.

We're not exactly talking the lounge at the Marriott here.

Neither is it one of those Red Bank skin bins where The Situation hangs out looking for desperate, slightly chubby skanks with bad skin to drag home and treat like an animated version of his right hand.

It's the kind of place those of you who have moved beyond bars that advertise JagerBomb night in the front window are very familiar with. People come after work to put in some serious elbow bending. It's not amateur hour.

It's also the kind of place where nobody is going to pay a bit of attention to you - and that includes the waitresses - but they expect the same in return, and you forget this at your own peril because everybody knows everybody else and if it gets hairy your best bet is to run like hell.

And if the cops show up, the regulars are going to stick together and regardless of what happened and who started it, you're going to be the one taking a ride in the back of a squad car.

Something which the Szetela brothers, who should know better, apparently forgot.

A few years back, when SBI was just a gleam in his eye, Ives Galarcep and I went a few rounds over the farcical lottery that assigned Young Daniel to Columbus. (I'd give anything for a tape of that telecast. People still swear they saw something fall out of Don Garbers' sleeve as he was reaching into the bin, but that's another tale.)

Ives - along with, it should be noted, a lot of other people - felt that the lad should have gone to the MetroBulls so that he could live in his boyhood home town of Clifton, New Jersey.

And as I read the story yesterday - "Daniel G Szetela, 23, of Clifton..." - the thought that popped into my head was: "Everybody finally got their wish".

Now I have no intention of rehashing the sad and sorry tale of Danny Szetelas' soccer career except to note that he's been out of the game since 2009 when DC said sayonara.

Neither is it particularly appropriate to wallow in the kind of schadenfreude that those of us who were born with far less talent tend to engage in when a shooting star like Szetela flames out and lands with a thud in a place like - well, like Johnnies Tavern in Boonton NJ.

I'll only note something that I wrote in a thread way back in 2004 which BS archivist "arsynic" resurrected yesterday.

The kid was still 17 and had been in the league for about 2 months when he got into it with Amado Guevara, someone who wasn't about to take any crap from some wet behind the ears rookie. Danny got a caution and remarked afterwards:

"It was worth it because (Guevara) got a red card"

He was a hard, tough kid with an attitude. He knew how to make that work in his favor. And then it was gone.

Rather, the observation I want to make is this:

Look again at the mugshot. Look at his neck. More specifically, what he's wearing on his neck.

It's a snood.

Carlos Tevez has been working at making them famous this winter. Part neckwarmer, part fashion statement and now the THE TARGET OF A FIFA CRACKDOWN as, in between considering goal line technology for the zillionth time and voting on whether to fully endorse that disappearing spray stuff, they want the IFAB to look at banning this odd piece of neckwear on safety grounds.

No less an authority than Roy Keane THINKS THEY"RE STRICTLY FOR SISSIES, saying players "have all gone soft".

Then again, he thinks your average Navy Seal is a bit of a poof, so his standards might be a bit different than most other peoples'.

However you stand on the issue - as if there weren't more important things for FIFA to worry about - seeing Danny wearing one seemed somehow poignant.

I'd wager there weren't many other guys in Boonton that night wearing one.

The fact that he was, the fact that he still identifies with the game that way, says something that doesn't make laughing at his predicament as comfortable as it might otherwise be.

And maybe that's a good thing. I really don't know.