In the past I complained that the national team would play like they weren't on television, on the grounds that we're supposed to be winning new fans. I therefore applaud the decision to keep the Panama game off any English-language outlet (although I guess new fans might have been excited by the end of the Venezuela game). I do however realize that a win on the road in Central America with a man down is not be lightly tossed aside, and I also realize once we were a man down that was about as pretty as it was going to get. I even sort of get why you'd drag a team down there in the first place - to replicate the Saturday-Wednesday schedule you get in World Cup qualifying, where chartered flights are a way of life.
The necessity of doing that with MLS players, who are in the air as often as the audience of a Pink Floyd laser light show, is debatable. But if Klinsmann really wanted to get his team used to hostile road environments, play the Venezuela game in Venezuela. With "Fuera Hugo" on the back, since the spot for last names is blank.
I also would like to congratulate the US women's national team on qualifying for the...really? I have to congratulate them for that? Why don't we give them a medal for wearing their socks under their shoes, while we're at it?
I mean, not to go completely Chris Rock cliche on you, but, isn't that what they're supposed to do? Yes, yes, they made World Cup qualifying look difficult a couple years ago...for which they took crap in appropriately bulky and smelly amounts. I have certain minimum expectations for my United States national teams, and that includes qualifying for things like the World Cup and the Olympics.
I'm more concerned with how the squad will pass the time between now and the Olympics. As diehard women's soccer fans, you have undoubtedly been following Beau Dure on espnW and sportsmyriad.com like a stalker, and are up to speed on the horrible developments in Women's Professional Soccer.
But just to nutshell it for you, activist judges are destroying our American way of life, and while the Boy Scouts have the right to associate with whomever they choose, WPS doesn't. Everyone comes out of this reeking like coelacanth diarrhea to some extent. But it's one thing to order the baby cut in half, it's quite another to open a baby-meat restaurant.
To quote Pia Zadora's inexplicably non-award winning performance in "The Lonely Lady," WHYYYYYYY? WHYYYYYYYY? WHYYYYYYYYYY? Go back and read this stuff. I'll wait, I promise. I got nothing but time.
Wasn't that fun? Now, put yourself in the position of either Mr. Borislow or, I dunno, one of the other five owners that sent letters inviting him to a game of Hide and Go F**k Yourself, or one of the few remaining employees of the league office who will have the privilege of asking Borislow to please stop making Al Davis look like George Halas. Why do you want to continue this relationship under any circumstances? What is anybody getting out of this? The fans and players get their time wasted with pointless friendlies, the league and the other owners have to somehow try to attract new owners while reloading their existing loose cannon, and even Borislow must realize that Internet Phone Ripoff FC has a long-term lease on the penthouse of organized soccer's shitlist, and next time they're going to damn well bring enough bullets.
Here's what I was really concerned about, though:
Borislow aims to re-sign many of the players from his 2011 magicJack team, including national team members Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Christie Rampone.
All of those players are icons, celebrities, warriors and legends of American women's soccer. And if any of them re-sign with Borislow, they should be banned from soccer for life. (You too, Shannon Boxx.)
But gee, didn't I just say that people should associate with who they want? Sure. And the USSF and FIFA shouldn't want to associate with players who support the single most harmful person in women's soccer since Dick, Kerr Ladies was outlawed. We just had several weeks of heartfelt pleas to support WPS, support the game, keep little girls' dreams alive - and now there's a chance that the most famous players in the game right now will give oxygen and leverage to the guy who put the league at risk? Well, if after all that, Wambach, Boxx, Solo, Rapinoe or Rampone decide to look after number one, then they should be treated like number two.
But gee, what if they simply want an easier schedule in an Olympic year, and don't want the pressure of important games acting as a distraction? Sure, because that's what we need to win the Olympics, players who don't do well under pressure. Just because the current "Pressure Makes Us" slogan sounds unspeakably stupid doesn't mean it's totally invalid. (Think of it like the "They can take our lives, but they can't take our freedom!" of USWNT slogans. There's a grain of truth in there, even though the actual words make no sense.) Say what you want about how the good ship WPS has sailed so far - it's still going to reach more fans than Dr. Borislow's 100% Natural Good-Time Family Soccer Solution. But it's going to reach a hell of a lot fewer fans without Wambach, or Solo, or Rapinoe. That's going to make things pretty tough for the rank and file dreamers who haven't quite been so lucky in their careers...but without whom, unlike Dan Borislow, there really would be no league.
The fans did their part. Even the USSF did their part, by giving the league sanctioning. Now it's time for the players who have made it to stand up for the players who haven't yet - and that means playing for a real time, not a part-time vanity project.
I laugh and mock and sneer at those who say that the USSF or FIFA have powers to force procedural changes onto Major League Soccer in matters such as scheduling, or playoffs, or weather. I will continue to do so, because if not, why even have a blog?
This, however, is different. Enforcing arbitrary and merciless rules in the name of league and tournament integrity is exactly in these organizations' respective wheelhouses. It's unfortunately not different, though, because I don't really expect the USSF to torpedo one of its own national teams for the sake of a pretty shaky league. Nor do I expect FIFA to - well, do much of anything, since the tournament in question is the Olympics and not the World Cup.
Hey, wait a minute - maybe FIFA does want the US to be forced to send a weakened team to the Olympics, to de-legitimize that tournament in favor of the Women's World Cup. And FIFA is immune from Borislow's lawyer-rattling, although for reasons which concern and irritate those who believe in democracy and law - like at least one of my fellow bloggers has amply demonstrated. But if FIFA is going to act like a kleptocratic autocracy, can't they for once use their power to promote the sport, even as an unintended side effect? I mean, the ends don't justify the means, but if the means are going to be used anyway, am I right?
Well, Blatter has bigger fish covered in industrial sewage right now, so hopefully the US women's soccer celebrities - and any other player with enough self-respect to avoid cracking mirrors - will realize that one of the five legitimate teams will probably pay them enough to make it worth their while, and leave Borislow's meaningless friendlies with meaningless players.
If, on the other hand, prominent members of the national team would rather be lionized by a kiss-up, kick-down plutocrat, or want to idealize the days when only famous national team players got paid and everyone else had to work three jobs or else retire from the game at age 21...then they should very quickly become prominent ex-national team players, and their spots given to players who won't sell out their teammates for easy money, easy schedules or easy compliments.
I have every confidence that women millions have looked up to for several years will make the easy, obvious, and correct decision. And if Dan Borislow really needs players who put their own ego above American soccer, let him sign Marta.