116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Not All News Is Good News

Not even a week ago I was here on 116th street, basking in the progress made by Major League Soccer these past few years. Galaxy-Chivas played to a packed house in L.A., the MetroStars had been rescued by Red Bull, Adidas was outfitting the league in sharp, new unis and attendance was up league-wide. It was enough to make me forgive MLS for actually naming a franchise "Real Salt Lake." I knew the league still had problems, such as a small minority of unruly fans, getting a team into Philadelphia (okay that's a more personal issue) and the Kansas City Wizards in general, but nothing but sunny skies seemed to be on the horizon.
It turns out that fans may not necessarily be tired of Euro-styled naming of teams, but as the backlash to Inter Toronto FC shows, directly ripping team names from other squads abroad does not do much toward establishing one's own identity. As if that's not enough of a headache, the Wizards, who the league has been trying to find a buyer for since the stone age, have seen their stadium situation go from bad to worse. Unable to find a buyer and stuck in a bad situation at Arrowhead Stadium, the team may have to sit out next season while Arrowhead undergoes renovations.
Well, when it rains it pours, I suppose, because Red Bull might be a bigger pain in the arse than expected. With Alexi Lalas leaving to take over the Galaxy, the subsequent organizational shakeup in New York is leaving all options on the table, including renaming the team (again) as the "Red Bull Cosmos" (at least "New York Red Bulls" sounded like an actual team; this one makes me want to vomit; then again, the name also sounds like a vomit-inducing drink, so pick your poison). In addition to renaming the team, there is also word that RBNY is also considering walking away from the Harrison, NJ, stadium deal, the same deal the league practically killed itself trying to get done, the deal it took years to accomplsh, the deal that was going to ensure the financial stability of soccer in the New York region for good (AEG, the stadium operator, says the Harrison deal is still on). On the bright side, the MLS All-Stars will be playing Chelsea this year, so it's not all bad news, right?


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