Date: January 23, 2010
Where's yours? E-mail where your FBM sticker is to freebeermovement @ gmail (dot) com.
Preki was named the Major Indoor Soccer League MVP in 1989, the MVP of the Continental Indoor Soccer League in 1995 and then accomplished that feat not once, but twice, in Major League Ssoccer in 1997 and 2001 while scoring 79 goals and adding 112 assists in 242 matches for the Kansas City Wizards and Miami Fusion. At age 40 he led MLS in scoring and was a member of the 2000 MLS Cup Champion Wizards. He competed in the 1998 World Cup for the U.S..
Dooley, played for the Red, White and Blue at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, performed for the Columbus Crew and MetroStars. He started his journey to soccer stardom in the German 11th division, playing on Saturday and Sunday nights before working his way up to the Bundesliga. He had secured a solid career with the likes of Hamburg SV, Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. 2010 was the last year Dooley was eligible for the HOF.
Preki and Dooley both distinguish themselves by doing the dirty work of playing American soccer before the sport was really on the general public's radar. These sorts of players, the ones the Hall has been honoring recently former the foundation for the sports' emerging popularity today. Fox Soccer's Jamie Trecker adds:
Dooley's significance may be lost on newbie fans who came to the US game during the 1994 World Cup or later.
The fact of the matter is that Dooley's decision to play for the United States and to give up a successful career in Germany to train full time in California under Bora Milutinovic was a turning point in building a team that was able to carry the American flag beyond the first round of that 1994 tournament.
You have to remember that there were many who believed the United States should not host. The outspoken European media decried the idea of handing FIFA's plum to a country with little or no interest in the game, to say nothing of lacking any type of quality professional players.
Dooley brought soccer smarts and stability to the American defense. We'll never know how much his on-field command of the situation helped settle the nerves of his teammates. And Dooley's reading of the game was special: he could launch major runs that supported the attack without sacrificing space at the back.
The FBM remembers proudly watching Preki and Dooley participate for the Nats in France 98 while sitting in a bar in Hungary and sneaking beers (we were 15). Standing up and singing the National Anthem in front a bunch of bewildered Hungarians before USA-Iran the likes of Preki, Dooley, and others inspired this youngster to double-down on soccer. Where would the FBM be today without that moment?
Just as we mused about the 1950 USMNT, the players that have been capped for the Nats form an admirable history for all American soccer fans to give thanks for their contributions to the growth of our sport.
What's actually a little more outrageous is the fact that Clint Dempsey's absolute Gol-azo-azo-azo for Fulham vs. Stoke City on Tuesday was left out of the "Sportscenter" top 10 plays. Imagine if that goal came on Telemundo. Andres Cantor might have pulled a play out the Mick Shrimpton playbook.So like sands through the hour glass our ESPN vs. soccer community world continues to turn. Grab a beer and sit down because 2010 is going to be a wild ride.
You'd think, mind you think, the goal in-and-of itself would be worthy of inclusion -- the next day a play from Sevilla/Barca made the list. But since it was an American, it seemed a slam dunk -- no pun intended for the other clips on the list, especially since it's on the short-list of Premier League "Goals of the Year." (Maybe John Harkes, who won the award back in 1990 with Sheffield Wednesday blocked it.)
Alas, Dempsey's strike will live on in the Inter-tubes, which isn't all that bad.
Yet it holds to a bigger point, which I've made a million times in this space, so if you want to skip ahead no hard feelings.
In the year 2010, ESPN is sports in America. When it comes to soccer it continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth.
On the one hand it's acquired some Premier League rights, the World Cup, USMNT games (mostly), etc. At the same time the Worldwide doesn't have anchors that can get through a highlight with the correct names, or simply ignores the best goal by an American in Europe, perhaps, ever. (Obviously it wasn't better than a pedestrian NCAA basketball dunk.)
You'd think that John Skipper would realize that, hey, we own the rights to these events. Shouldn't we try to drum up interest through osmosis? Wouldn't Dempsey's great goal -- by an AMERICAN -- plant some seeds in the back of the casual fans minds for the World Cup in less than six months? Wouldn't it help familiarize people with perhaps America's most important or at least enigmatic player for the campaign in South Africa?
Look, the most ESPN I watch is on the machines at the gym. So do a lot of people, I'd assume. Wouldn't a glimpse of Dempsey's rainbowing volley subliminally help draw eyeballs to the set in June? Wouldn't it help dispel the notion that Americans can't play at a high level?
I won't even mention MLS's presence on ESPN. Sure it gets microscopic ratings, but wouldn't some casual talk about the league or, gasp, HIGHLIGHTS, help increase interest. Treating MLS like the Pro Bowling and Pro Billiards leagues is an embarrassment. (Of course, the league's rating are that, too.)
Maybe this is an overreaction. Maybe since the game was on Setanta in the midweek (more on that later) somebody missed it. It's possible. The game was 3-1 at the time in the 85th minute, after all.
Again it's goals like the one scored by Dempsey that capture the imagination and make people fall in love with the game. Nothing sends the imagination soaring more than a crack from distance. Half of YouTube and every other tube site is devoted to goal highlight compilations.
For the major sports force in the country to swing-and-miss on a the very definition of a highlight is part of the reason why the best American soccer player is filming ads for the Mexican lottery.
"I was amazed at how comfortable Donovan looked–almost as if he’d been playing all season for Everton. What a great day for Lando and US soccer.With the continued success of Dempsey at Fulham, Tim Howard at Everton, Jay DeMerit at Watford, and Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan at Aston Villa, Donovan can add his name to successful American abroad to make up for the mixed performances other intrepid Americans that have plied their trade across the pond. Every successful American performance in England and Europe helps push the U.S. brand further into the hearts and mind of scouts and coaches.
“With Louis Saha’s clever runs and Tim Cahill’s waspish presence augmented extremely well by the expert dribbling of Landon Donovan on an eye-catching debut, Everton caused Arsenal serious concern from the off,” Amy Lawrence, The Guardian.
“With Arsene Wenger’s side missing Alexander Song, they struggled to impose themselves in midfield allowing Everton debutant Landon Donovan, in particular, to take advantage. The American gave Gunners left-back Armand Traore a torrid time throughout, and it was from his corner that Everton opened the scoring,” Ian Hughes, BBC Sport.
“With 25 minutes to go and the Emirates pitch turning white, Moyes turned to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, a man more accustomed to the adverse conditions. He replaced Donovan who will have warmed his manager with an industrious first outing on English soil,” Everton FC match report.
“Donovan looked lively on his Blues debut, the American offering an outlet wide on the right as he came in for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.The American will feel he could have done better on the equaliser however when he failed to clear the ball enabling Andriy Arshavin, back after a foot injury, to slip it inside to Eduardo who rolled a pass into Denilson’s path whose shot took a wicked deflection off the unfortunate Osman to wrong-foot Howard,” David Randles, Liverpool Daily Post.
“But Everton have improved dramatically since [the beginning of the season] and the introduction of MLS loan signing Landon Donovan for his debut gave [Everton] an extra creative edge,” The Sun.
"Man, we don't want your soccer. There's no way Americans are going to buy the idea of 90 minutes of running around without much happening. Thanks for trying guys, but we'll stick to baseball and basketball."