With the World Cup 2006 in Germany only 47 days away, soccer is grasping the head lines more and more. No one will argue that Brazil is the big favorite to win the tournament. Bookmakers rate the favorites in the win market as Brazil 16/5, England 6/1, Germany 7/1, Argentina 8/1 and Italy at 10/1. The USA is quoted at 100/1. No one will frown their eye brows, except me! Why? Because the USA has been present at all of the last four World Cups, in the 2002 quarter finals they only narrowly were defeated by the later finalist Germany by 1-0, and they currently are ranked fourth on the FIFA ranking of April 2006! The USA team always has team spirit and now they have many players in European competitions. So I decided to watch a top match in the Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest division in the USA between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.
The New York Red Bulls are in trouble after a powerless defeat at home against arch rival D.C. United. The team is in turm-oil after Red Bull acquired the then named Metrostars for $100 million and renamed it the New York Red Bulls. Past Monday general manager Alexi Lalas resigned and signed for the Los Angeles Galaxy in his home town and owned by former Red Bulls owner Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). Most worriesome was however the way D.C. dominated the game in the Giants stadium at Meadowlands.
The Red Bulls – United game was the game between the Armenian-French starplayer and former world champion Youri Djorkaeff (10) and the rising star of Ghanaian-American soccer prodigy Fredua Adu (9). The difference in age and experience is gigantic. Djorkaeff is 38, had 92 caps and won almost every price in soccer there is: UEFA Cup with Inter Milan, World Champion in 1998 and European Champion in 2000 with France. Adu is now 17 and won nothing except being destined to become the Tiger Woods of American soccer and being the youngest professional soccer player ever when he signed with the MLS at age 14, a promise only few players knew to fulfill in their lifetime.
During the whole game a small group of about a hundred United supporters filled the seats directly behind the goal in section 121. Their drums did not beat in vain during the 90 minutes in the pouring rain, for their team had an easy day, despite the cold and drizzle. The game was lame in the first 45 minutes, gained some spectacle in the second leg. Typical of American soccer is the size of the pitch, very narrow, since most teams play in stadia that are built in the first place for American football. But American sports are centered around the viewers. The games are being broadcasted live in ESPN and in the stadia there are televisions everywhere to follow the game from close by or watch replays of fouls and goals live. Yellow and blue ponchos are spread out over the red seats in the Giants stadium at Meadowlands. I leave after 0-3 to United, escape to the buses that take us back to the Port Authority at 34th street, but by doing so apparently miss another 2 goals in the last ten minutes of the game.
Djorkaeff is retiring and Adu is full of ambition to stick to the possibilities that life as a soccer star hold. The Red Bulls made a powerless impression against favorites D.C. United. Although players like Edson Buddle, Tony Meola, and Marvell Wynne clearly stood out positively today, they could not prevent United owning the midfield. Christian Gómez, Ben Olsen and Jaime Moreno ruled and outplayed the Red Bulls.
But perhaps bright futures are perceived in troubled times. After the World Cup 2006 has ended in Germany this summer, the president of the World Cup 2006 organization and German all star Franz Beckenbauer will take up a prominent place in the organization of the Red Bulls. Beckenbauer played for the legendary New York Cosmos from 1977 to 1980 and in 1983. Other hot soccer news from the USA: the Red Bulls’ coach Mo Johnston’s days with the team seem numbered, Lothar Matthaus or Roberto Donadoni are likely replacements; the Red Bulls also approached Real Madrid’s Ronaldo to join the team next season, but having turned down a Japanese offer it seems unlikely; Romário de Souza Faria however will leave Vasco da Gama in Brazil and play for F.C. Miami in 2006.