Friday, March 30, 2007

CORRECTION and Introspection

Leonardo was listed as Leandro in the Montedio Yamagata preview.....MEA CULPA!

While I have your attention----Takuya Yamada left MLS club FC Dallas last week, no word on what J League team he hopes to help relegate next year. Also there is no truth to the rumors that he was trialing with USL 1 squad Virginia Beach Mariners

Actually, all jokes aside, the Virginia Beach Mariners situation was pretty sad. A clown named Mike Sidebottom took over a franchise that had been through 3 owner groups in (I believe) 3 years. Sidebottom took over the debt payment and built up the hopes and dreams of all Mariners fans by acquiring talent and hiring former FC Dallas man Colin Clarke to coach the squad.

On March 15th, the checks did not go through for players and staff. Sidebottom decided that he really didn't want to be an owner and reneged on his agreement to be the principal owner. Two weeks later, the league announced the shutdown of the Virginia Beach franchise.

Japan has been relatively lucky and very smart in regards to franchise stability. The last great mistake was the Flugels Fiasco of 9 years ago, Fan support and a bottom-up approach have minimized the chances of teams going extinct. America is a completely different beast.

By my count, 16 USL/A-league squads have died off, until yesterday, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds were the most recent ones to die (2005). Major League Soccer, America's first division, has seen three squads exterminated. Tampa Bay and Miami were at opposite ends of the spectrum in 2001. Tampa Bay arguably were one of the worst franchises in American soccer history while Miami won the regular season crown (Supporters Shield). Both ceased to exist in 2002. San Jose had a rich and storied tradition dating back to the days of Pele and the NASL. A romp through the regular season was not enough to see the players moved in the middle of the night to Houston, Texas and the death of their franchise.

I count my blessings that I'm here and able to watch my team without fear of them closing shop in the middle of the night. Really, the worst that can happen is sitting through 90 minutes of Tokushima Vortis and when you think about it, it's almost a guaranteed win.

It's not all bad for my countrymen. San Jose has used a combination of grassroots support and a great guy with a baseball team and lot of money to push their way back into contention for a spot in 2008. It's possibly the only "EARTHQUAKE" I'll ever want to occur. Stadiums are being built in Colorado, New Jersey, and Salt Lake. Toronto sold a boatload of season tickets to guarantee massive crowds. And the USL welcomed the California Victory into the fold.

Unfortunately,Virginia Beach won't get to experience any of that this year. Mike Sidebottom decided that he was tired playing sports mogul and walked away without weighing the consequences. Here's hoping Mr.Sidebottom is never allowed near a pitch again.

Onto brighter things...........Cerezo Osaka FC is the 12th English blog to pop up. It's run by NipponBasse out of Norway and I look forward to reading about the mysterious pink and purple. Check it out at the link section!

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