Okay, so what WAS all that with Roma and Donovan about, anyway?
So Greg Seltzer at Major League Soccer Soccer interviewed the Thomas DiBenedetto, who is planning to branch out from baseball to harpastum, and he said this:
Looking at this quote again reminds me that "obviously" is one of those words that the great British author Terry Pratchett calls a "wallpaper word." (It's a habit I have in spades - when I say "clearly" or "undoubtedly," it means I don't have the facts to back up my assertions, nine times out of eight.) So when someone uses "obviously" three times in a paragraph, that's much more of a wish than a statement.
I mean, seeing as this paragraph came very shortly afterwards:
MLSsoccer.com has apparently, like Skynet, become self-aware.
Or, much more likely, there was such secrecy to this that even the obvious conclusion - Seltzer saying "Off the record?" followed by DiBenedetto rattling off the most plausible US national teamers - had to be kept off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.
It became much less so when Frank Dell'Appa came up with a number - the in retrospect suspiciously round figure of ten million euros.
Even Deadspin took time away from delving into the personal lives of ESPN employees to come up with an interesting analysis of what this could all mean. While it's not completely ideal that an American would be signed simply to exploit the American market, it weren't so long ago that the idea of a major European side bothering to exploit the American market would have been laughed off the planet.
Anyway, Manchester United decided to exploit the Mexican market, and that turned out amazingly well.
So when Seltzer's comrade at MLSsoccer.com followed up with Landon and Bruce Arena, it seemed inevitable that preparations were being made for Donovan move to -
For our younger readers - music used to be played on grooved vinyl discs on an analog device using a needle to transmit sounds to the speakers. And if the needle was dragged across the groove rather than along it, the result was a loud, jarring disorienting noise, which became a shorthand sound effect to signify that something had ended both abruptly and poorly.
Still, ten million euros works out to $14 million American, so you'd think Donovan's agent would at least entertain the -
For...money? Fame? He's not gonna play for free like Gooch, is he? Wouldn't Motzkin and Landon get a piece of the transfer fee?
Well, Donovan's absurdly loyal to Southern California, I suppose - I for one would have giggled if he played in Italy for a year, then came back to MLS to play for Chivas USA - but Donovan wasn't the only name mentioned, so I'd say it's a sure bet that some young American will join Alexi Lalas and Oguchi Onyewu as the only Americans to play in Serie A. (I don't count Giuseppe Rossi, and neither does The Irish Times, so there.) I'd say Michael Bradley would be -
...no, they stemmed from the official MLS league website! There has to be SOMETHING to -
...but....Everton? David Moyes openly pining away for him? Did we just imagine all that, too?
Seltzer - or "mlssoccer.com" - whoever or whatever learned of DiBenedetto's targets - kind of needs to burn his source at this point, although since I think the source was DiBenedetto himself, I don't think it will happen.
Sure, it's news, even off the record, when the owner of a European club starts chatting idly about all the Americans he'd like to buy. I sure found it interesting. I even went to buy a Vespa to throw off the HDC upper deck.
But MLS really ought to reconsider whether it wants to be in the speculation game. It's not Major League Soccer Rumors, it's Major League Soccer Soccer. Presumably it's at least as easy for MLS to run this by Donovan and Arena before as after publishing a story like this.
So easy, in fact, that maybe the front office and Donovan/Arena/AEG aren't on the same page. Sure, it's news that DiBenedetto wants to sign an American. But when MLS says it, it's really big news. And it pretty much has to be true.
I mean, what next? We find out the Galaxy didn't really lose to Puerto Rico last year?
Well, obviously, here is not, no matter what The Sundays believe, where the story ends. Roma will dip its paws into the transfer market soonish, and we'll be able to compare notes then. Maybe Donovan, Bradley and their negotiators are just being coy. Or maybe DiBenedetto wanted some cheap publicity for his latest venture.
Either way, someone at MLSsoccer.com is going to have to run some kind of retraction. So the real winners are the fans!
Until then - is it too late to ask MLS to get rid of the Facebook comments on each article? It's like watching the Morlocks come to the surface to feast on the Eloi.