Silly Season Cynicism

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | View Comments
I considered starting this post with a rundown of all of the various European and South American footballers who have been linked to Major League Soccer over the last week or so. It's a substantial list, and includes names you'd recognize immediately. Others are less recognizable, but have a measure of star power in their homelands.  I've decided against compiling it because most of it is nothing more than noise. If you're curious, there are plenty of places that trade in that sort of "information."  Google if you must. Try to avoid the worst of them.

It's about leverage, pure and simple. Excuse my cynicism, and I'll allow that a few of the rumors might contain a grain of truth, but it's eminently clear what's going on out there in the world football marketplace. Major League Soccer, and more specifically "America", with everything that word implies from a socioeconomic and political context, is evoked as a convenient stalking horse to drive up contract offers. The sum of what most of the people involved in the spreading of rumors know about our league could fit in a thimble, but they have a few bits of supremely useful knowledge when it comes to playing the game of negotiating in the press - MLS has aspirations, casts a wide net, and has compiled a recent track record of signing players to lucrative contracts.

Don't discount the weight an idealized America brings to any player's contrived-interest dossier. Loved or hated, the United States possesses a powerful magnetism. That fact makes it easier for players to sell MLS as a legitimate competitor for their services to those with whom they're negotiating, despite the league being so new and the soccer such a work-in-progress. The Middle East has leagues that serve the same purpose (and land their share of whales) because of incredible money. The scales for MLS are tipped more towards ancillary benefits, with the money being just good enough make the ploy work.

Not that I'm complaining, necessarily. It does rub me the wrong way that MLS is too often the "other woman" rather than the first choice, but I'm also keenly aware of where the league stands in the global pecking order. If I'm being fair, MLS probably doesn't deserve as much of the chatter as it gets. The American factor looms large, and for every bucketful of players that use MLS to get a better deal with their current club or somewhere else, there are a few who are sincere in their desire to come Stateside.  I'm annoyed and appreciative at the same time.

Hey look, someone already did the list (or an attempt at one anyway).  Thanks, Steve.

I share Mr. Davis' silly season fatigue in regards to random, meaningless MLS shoutouts. Still, I can appreciate where the league is, where it's going, and what all this flapping of gums about MLS in various Indo-European language means in relation to those things and the incongruous status being in America allows it. It's a little bit good and a little bit bad. Such is the lot of America's top-flight.

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