Friday, January 12, 2007

Beckham Addendum & This Week's Games

So it's a day later and we know some more things about the Beckham deal, particularly that the $250 mil is a mild exaggeration, that that figure actually only represents the potential earning of the contract. Further, we know that MLS and AEG (who own the Galaxy and a few other MLS teams) will be responsible for a relatively small portion of that. This is all comforting, and helps affirm that the contract is not a wagering of the farm.

So that great, awesome, let's move on. But there's one other thing I realized, a potential down-the-road storyline that I'd just love to see happen.

It involves the FIFA Club World Cup, which I've written about a little on this blog. It's still a fledgling event, and I suspect the rules will continue to fluctuate ever-so-slightly over the course of the next few years, but the central idea is this: the club champions of each continent get together and duke it out for world dominance.

This replace s a smaller event called the Intercontinental Cup, wherein just the champs of Europe and South America played one game for the title. These latter two continents resisted the expanded tournament, their respective seasons already being over-full with games. As such, their champions get a first-round bye- oh wait, I forgot, these are soccer geek details and not interesting, what were we talking about before that everyone finds interesting...

Oh right, Beckham. The point is this: as soon as this year, it is possible that the LA Galaxy could be playing meaningful games against either of Becks' old clubs, Real Madrid or Manchester United (with the latter being the one that would present the saltier contest).

The CWC has existed for only two seasons in its current format; on both occasions the final was contested between the winners of Europe's Champions League and South America's Copa Libertadores. But there was a representative from the CONCACAF region as well (CONCACAF complicatedly standing for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. Yeesh).

If the Galaxy can win the MLS title, there's no reason they can't win what's called the CONCACAF Champions Cup; they've already won it once, back in 2000.

Mind you; if they made it, they'd be hard pressed to fare well. Mexico's Club America, perhaps the biggest club in the region, were summarily thumped 4-0 by Barcelona this last go-round on their way to finishing fourth, ignominiously losing to Al-Ahly of Egypt in the third-place game.

But think about it. First of all it means Beckham in Japan, which is automatically huge regardless. It would bring international coverage to the event, of a kind that has eluded it up to this point. This coverage and exposure would be great for FIFA (who desperately want the event to eclipse or at least rival the Champions League in overall awesomeness) and massive for MLS.

Should we be so lucky, on top of all that, to see him playing Manchester United... that. would. be. huge.

I expect the Galaxy to, should they win the league, attack the Champions Cup harder than any US team ever has. They have the most to gain from participating in the CWC, perhaps of any team in the entire world.


And now our continuing public service, the heads-up on this week's Fox Soccer Channel Games.


Chelsea v. Wigan, 10am ET

Relatively speaking, neither team is doing well in the league. Chelsea are coming off two draws, unprecedented for them in the Jose Mourinho era. Wigan's slide is a bit more daunting: winless in six, including five straight defeats, with a further one of those being a last-minute defeat at the hands of these very Blues. After a strong start to the season, the Latics are now in very real relegation danger. They are definitely the kind of scrappy team that could spring a surprise here; but I just can't see Chelsea going three without a win.

Watchability: 3 stars (out of 4)

Blackburn-Arsenal, Noon, ET.

Blackburn are making progress under their second-year manger, Wales and Man. U legend Mark "Scrappy" Hughes. Last year they were just the dirtiest team in the league; this year they are just plain tough to beat, having won six of their last seven including four from five in the league. That one loss, alas, was a 6-2 thumping at Arsenal. Being at home, I won't be surprised if the Rovers push the envelope of acceptable violence. Still the Gunners seem too strong right now and should pull it out.

Watchability: 3 stars
Yank Watch: Brad "Land of the" Freidel, GK, Rovers

Bolton v. Manchester City, 2:15 ET (tape delay)

Full disclosure: I don't like Bolton. They're literally like a poor man's Chelsea; they sign fading legends (under shady conditions) and bring them into play workmanlike, defensive, ugly, effective football. Still, they're fifth in the league, so there's no accounting for taste. Man City on the other hand, are fun to root for. Their manager, Stuart Pearce, is a national team legend nicknamed "Psycho." He is as earnest as they get. Though in huge relegation trouble earlier this year, the Citizens have won three straight, and in the last two games DaMarcus Beasley has given them an assist and a game-winning goal. They are hitting their stride. I expect a draw.

Watchability: 3 stars (and I apologize in advance if it ends 0-0)
Yanks: Beasley


Tottenham-Newcastle, 11am ET

Two teams with good scorers and terrible defenses, which ought to mean a good game. Also, it's the Bill Simmons Bowl; he admitted this week that his love for his pre-season choice, Spurs, is wavering. He added that Newcastle's uniforms are so cool that he finds himself rooting for them against his will. I'd expect they'll be wearing their away strip here, which may confuse him yet further. This game will com down to one thing: who wants Bill Simmons more?

Watchability: 3 stars

Hey! This is the first time all the games of the week got 3 or more stars! Nice job, FSC! Especially with next Sunday's Arsenal-Man. U match looming on the horizon...

-Brendan Hunt

PS - GO BEARS! (Please.)

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