free page hit counter The Metrologist: September 2006
Not ready to make nice.

Caption contest!


Name the new Colorado Stadium!

I'll start.

"The Ayers Rock Ground"

The Most Disingenuous Quote In The History Of Soccer


I can't resist. Step up, Alan Pardew, and tell us about how the ballyhooed arrival of Tevez and Mascherano at West Ham has thrown a few sour notes into the harmonious choir that was their locker room.

"That happens at every big club and [becoming a big club] is hopefully where we are going. The situation will only get worse in terms of players feeling aggrieved they're not playing. All they can do is work hard on the training ground and convince me with their performances that they should be playing.

Will you pardon me a minute while I have a little chuckle at this?

(burns esophagus, sprains abdomen - literally busts a gut, laughing.)

Fitness and availability aside, there is no conceivable "hard work" on the training ground or anywhere else - short of that involving loaves and fishes - which will allow the two starters now consigned to the bench to dislodge the Argentinians in the near future. What a hilarious, if understandable, example of managerspeak.

Minding the Schopp


(come on, it's not the worst of the Schopp puns you've heard - or will hear)

When a half-decent offensive foray by Marvell Wynne, and Taylor Graham not ending up with an own-goal are your highlights, you realize that ”highlight” can be such an inappropriate word sometimes. Such was the case with Wednesday night’s match against New England – a too-predictable, somnambulant loss in front of eight or nine hundred predictability and somnambulance enthusiasts. The final nail isn’t in the coffin yet, but rather an extremely fat carpenter exhausted himself nailing in the next-to-last, and has fallen deep asleep on the lid. It’s pretty much the same thing.

Oh, and then there was Markus Schopp, whose at-least-he-looks-like-he’s-professional 45 minute coming-out already has some fans looking forward to his contribution next year. Without any concrete knowledge of Herr Schopp’s mindset, first impressions of MLS or (most of all) contract details – with nothing but a pronounced desire to show how clever we can be - let’s spend a moment speculating on the odds of him even being around this team come the new year. The sense here is that chances are, he’s not. Consider some information that’s been making the rounds, as well as what the man said himself at

“The main reason for my return was Kurt Jara, Salzburg’s new coach….another reason was probably the length of my contract. Salzburg wanted to obligate me for three years – till the EM 2008. I now have the possibility to establish something with this club over 3 years. Until then I hope that my achievements will keep convincing the coach of the Austrian national team and that I will be drafted in for the EM 2008 in Austria.”

Reportedly, one of the factors delaying Schopp’s arrival (besides the proverbial-with-this-team work permit delays – it’s like Giants Stadium was built over an ancient customs and immigration officers’ burial ground) was the prolonged hashing-out of how much of Schopp’s wage Salzburg would continue paying. In which case, the notion that Salzburg and New York would mutually support each other in dominating their respective leagues – vorsprung durch corporate synergy! – looks a little shaky. But it also implies that, despite running him off the team, Salzburg still holds a claim to him (and will, for between one and two more years). Per the usual with MLS transfer announcements, the terms of his move to NJ were “undisclosed.” A loan? A sale? If you can make sense of this interview (wacky google translation), it’s a short-term loan with a player option in December. And that’s what we’ll go with, till someone credible – are you out there, Ives? – tells us differently.

So what, hypothetically, goes into the "opting" part of this player option?

Well, he has to like the team, the league and the atmosphere. Who wouldn’t, after Wednesday night’s stirring display on the field and in the stands?

But furthermore…

If his stated desire to return to the Osterreich mannschaft for a shot at Euro ‘08 is real and not just wishful thinking, then he knows, or he has to know, that he’ll have to get back to Europe post-haste. Markus, it’s just not going to happen in MLS, and that has as much to do with the visibility of MLS in Europe (almost nil) as it does the perceived quality of the league. That in itself might portend a move.

For one thing, European observers have noted his connection to former coach Kurt Jara. So if Jara turns up coaching somewhere in Europe (hardly unimaginable), then a move might soon be in the offing, as well.

Then there’s this; the major difference between acquiring the Djorkaeff-type, free as a bird and wants to go to America to chill type player, and acquiring the JP Garcia/Paco Palencia/Schopp type, who don’t really fit into their home teams’ plans yet can be cajoled/coaxed/paid to do a stint at the branch office (which is what the NJ team is).

In this case, if Schopp sucks, then it’s no help to Metro anyway – just another in a long line of foreign flops. But if he performs well with Metro, he’s a likely bet to be summoned back to Salzburg (who are paying the lions’ share of his salary anyway) or else sold on somewhere else in Europe. This is only the right thing to do, by the way – it would be totally crass of MLS to hold on to him if he can make more money, and increase his chances of making the national team back home.

Of course, it wouldn’t be unheard of, either.

In other words, while grasping at straws is a ritual aspect of Metro fans’ lives, please don’t go getting attached yet.

Wouldn't want to break up that Buddle-Woly tandem anyway


"I'll believe it when I see the..."


"shovels in the ground." - scores of Metro supporters, on the latest stadium promise (1996-2006)

If you are a Metro fan and live/have lived in the NYC area, you have probably looked out at least once from 280, from the PATH, from an Amtrak train, perhaps even from an plane coming down into Newark, and dreamt of a Metro stadium taking shape behind those great old brick walls around the titanic old Guyon factory in Harrison. I myself built Metro Park a hundred times from a PATH train window back in 2001 (God, it really has been a long time waiting), from the black and red-bedecked Harrison-Metro Park station, to the string of bars overflowing with soccer fans up the Boulevard, to the halo of light hanging over the place on the night of a big game. Someday....someday.

We Metrofans waited a very long time for yesterday's events. Giants Stadium represented virtually everything that held us back, as a team, a soccer league, and as fans. The day marking our escape from it should really be among the greatest, if not the greatest day in this team's history up till now. The fatted calf is still being saved for opening day in the new place, but the second-chubbiest should have felt very, very worried yesterday morning.

It's a shame, then, that I feel so cold about it all right now. My own feelings about "our" team aside (and I use that possessive pronoun cautiously) for the moment, it's hard (especially from a distance) to get a sense of exactly how worked up the remaining Metro fanbase really is. Perhaps that's not entirely fair; I wasn't there and so don't have any firsthand dirt on the days happenings (and given the area's industrial heritage, let's hope no sentimental fans dug up a scoop of earth as a memento, lest their children end up with three eyes, or they themselves develop an aggravating tumor by the weekend.) No doubt those fans who took the day to go down to Harrison were suitably excited. Yet from reading the boards, there's something curiously muted about the whole thing.

Perhaps it the result of senses struck dumb by the whole surreality of shovels really hitting the ground. Perhaps it was weariness brought on by nearly two hours of political pronouncements and mutual backslapping. Perhaps it's the fact that a substantial part of the long-time Metro core, guys and girls who kept the Metros experience passionate and fun and interesting and sharp for years, are gone now. Those who pledged years ago (seriously or not) to order season tickets at twice the GS prices the day the stadium was begun...many have vanished. They've grown older, moved out, had families, or simply lost interest in this. One gets the feeling that everyone, from Garber to RB to the diehard fans remaining, believes this will draw many of them back, along with the much vaunted six million other "soccer-affiliated people" in the region, according to some study Sakiewicz conjured up; one wonders how much they're all depending on that.

I think they're bound to be disappointed.

Metrofanatic's report is, as usual, the most articulate and comprehensive in terms of contextualizing the saga.

Then there's a report from The Kin Of Fish. And photos.

Photos from ESC head honcho jamison.

Press reports from Ives Galarcep, Frank Giase, Jack Bell, and the malodorous end of I95.

A couple things worth pointing out:

I have to question the conclusion made by a number of message boarders, and even tacitly by MF, that we might still be waiting for things to get done in Harrison - or worse - if Red Bull hadn't stepped into the frame. None other than Nick Sak admitted yesterday:

""This deal really got done last August," Sakiewicz said. "When Codey became governor, he sat down and said, 'What will it take to get it done and done the right way?' He set a positive environment.""

Would it have happened with AEG (or someone else) after all? Would we still be holding our breath? All we can say is impossible to say.
Still I'm hesitant to bow and scrape too much before Red Bull right now. But then you knew that by now.

Our Favorite Metro Beat Reporter, Galarcep often seems to have two modes - one critical to the point of being strident, the other rather more willing to repeat whatever rationale is coming down the line; never was this more in evidence than in the weeks after the RB takeover, when he swung from positively sycophantic to harshly questioning in the course of about a week. We'll allow him some leeway in playing both sides of the fence; it's gratifying that he, unlike so many others, brought the former attitude along and aired it out a little yesterday -

"Now, about all those fans who have given up. The ones who took one too many trips to an empty Giants Stadium only to deal with overbearing security and buy overpriced concessions and watch an uninspired and oftentimes disappointing team let them down.

Will they come back?

Will Red Bull even make an effort to bring them back, or will Red Bull help realize the worst fears of some die-hard fans who think Red Bulls matches will turn into energy-drink promoting sideshows.

Sounds a little far-fetched? Well, aside from the home-opening festivities in April that included a Shakira concert, what has the new ownership done to attract fans?

In case you haven't noticed, attendances have been steadily declining. No, not the numbers that are announced (which count all tickets distributed), but actually bodies in the seats. Yes, you can argue that the team on the field hasn't exactly done much to make fans want to turn out, but we are still waiting for all these snazzy marketing campaigns from a company considered one of the best in the business at creating buzz, and not just the energy-drink-generated kind."