I keep hearing how Tim Cahill isn’t a big name. How he’s a signing less flashy and more ordinary.
And then I keep saying, “So stinkin’ what?”
Red Bull Arena is chalk full o’ the pretty, the preening and the preeminent. If there’s not sufficient star power in names like Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, then I have no idea what people must think of the rosters in about 14 MLS markets.
Name recognition has always been oversold in MLS as a ticket driver. Yes, David Beckham moves the attendance needle. The big name Mexican stars can to a point.
After that? Name schmame. Soccer fans here are more sophisticated every day; talented players draw crowds (eventually), recognized name or not.
Besides, show me a team that wins and I’ll show you a team in position to score big at the gate.
That, in my mind, makes Cahill worth his weight in gold, simply because he’s such a good fit and can potentially be the proverbial “last piece” for the Red Bulls. He’s also the kind of player who thrives in MLS, an energetic midfielder with plenty of pace and strength, and lots of fire in the belly to match his experience and intuition.
Think, “Joel Lindpere, but with larger stores of skill and athleticism.”
But don’t take my word for it. Dig, if you will, what Henry said about Cahill after Tuesday’s friendly against Tottenham in Harrison:
You saw a little cameo of what he can do. He’s clever. You saw Teemu and Tim not running a lot, just putting yourself playing where you should be. Football is not only running, going up-and down without playing the ball…They were putting themselves in the pockets where they knew maybe Tottenham was going to hurt us. That’s what they were doing. He made one run: one penalty. You’ve got to be clever (to do that).’’
Cahill’s good work in the attacking half led to the Red Bulls only goal. He played just a half in the 2-1 loss. More from Henry:
You saw how he can jump, hold the ball, go into contact. Tim Cahill is going to be – you’ve got to let him get in shape, because this is his preseason – but especially in New York, people are going to love how he plays. He’s committed, gets in your face, great headers. He’s clever on the field…. I know people are expecting a big name, but you want somebody who is clever, adapts well to what you need on the field. You’re going to get that with Tim Cahill.’’