Martin Rogers has an odd sort of article up on Yahoo. Taking quotes from a Thierry Henry interview in the NY Times, Rogers seems to think that Henry is singing the praises of the MLS. I haven't read the original article, I'm only reading Rogers' quotes, and I'm coming away with a very different impression.
But first let me quote two sentences from Rogers himself, that appear at opposite ends of his column. Put together, they argue a pretty consistent idea--older, formerly great European players will continue to come over here, because they want a working vacation in the MLS:
"Critics of Major League Soccer can deride the standard of play all they want, but they will not prevent the arrival of more international superstars over the next few years...But those who love to bash MLS overlook a key factor – lifestyle. Sure, the standard of play is not yet close to the levels of the leading European leagues, but the fact remains that plenty of people want to come here. "
But later, Rogers hates the idea that people would suggest that the MLS would be a working vacation. In fact, he suggests that people who think that Henry would be contemplating such a thing are awful bastards who don't know what a bad-ass Henry is. Which is weird, because that seems to be one of his own arguments.
But back to Henry. He's 30, which is an age that often marks a steep decline, particularly in players with speed-based games. Henry is all speed and finesse. He's under contract until 2011, as Rogers points out. Given Henry's recent decline (which Rogers doesn't seem to want to admit exists, but it surely does), are there other leagues that will want Henry when he is 34? I don't know.
But putting two of Mr. Rogers' sentences together reveals this disconnect pretty well, I think:
"Henry, 30, is under contract at Barcelona until 2011 and feelings can obviously change....Now, I fully expect another stream of emails criticizing MLS with claims that Henry will only come to the U.S. for a final payday, or that he'll be looking for an easier ride in a lower-level league in the twilight of his career. Such statements are insulting to one of the finest players on the planet. "
It should be noted that Henry's quotes seem to make him out to be one of the people insulting his motivations for coming to the MLS: "Don't get me wrong, I just love the U.S. I don't know why. I love the way you live. I love American sports. For me, it's a dream to go to training and then see a game of football, basketball, whatever game. For me, New York is the best city in the world."
Did I miss the part where he talks about how awesome the MLS is? This sounds a lot more like Lothar Matthaus than Rogers seems to realize. Regardless, if this flood of 30-something Europeans continues, than we will have to start marketing Columbus, Kansas City, and Houston differently. They can't all play in New York. I bet Ronaldo would love BBQ--Kansas City for him. Does anyone know if Zidane likes skiing? Maybe we can sucker him into playing for The Rapids.
Take that MLS Haters! Henry is willing to play here when he's pushing 35, and only in NYC, because he digs the culture of NYC! That means the MLS is garnering respect.
In attempting to make your point, Martin Rogers, I can only quote the Simpsons: "You got greedy, Martin."
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