I’ll take the minority opinion here (although perhaps not that exclusive): New York’s trade of Heath Pearce for Juan Agudelo is a win for the New York Red Bulls. Maybe not long term, but the Red Bulls aren’t looking long term. They need to win. Now.
Yes, I know: They’ve won 4 in a row. But I mean “win” as in MLS Cup, not “win” as in this weekend in Montreal.
1) Agudelo is a good prospect and a highly skilled player, but he’s not there yet. Hans Backe has an attacking force that functions fine without the teenager. NYRB won’t have trouble scoring. Besides, if the forward has a good season, he’s on the move to Europe soon anyway. So why not get something for him while you can?
2) Pearce will thrive on the field in New York. He’s versatile, skilled, and smart. He fills roles. He’s a charismatic leader. He’s exactly what the Red Bulls need.
3) On the marketing front, NYRB loses a key young American, but Pearce is no slouch. That the move sent Twitter into overdrive before news that Agudelo was involved started to leak — Heath Pearce trending worldwide is not something I thought I would ever write — demonstrates this point. Pearce won’t own New York, but he brings a certain intrigue. John Godfrey nailed it: “He is SO Bedford Avenue,” alluding to Brooklyn’s hip street in Williamsburg. And then there’s Jason Davis’ take.
The real loser in the trade: Agudelo. He leaves a city he loves — a place near where he grew up — to join a Chivas squad that’s scored 6 goals in 10 games. But the trade could light a fire, spark a scoring streak, then open doors in Europe. Take it from Matt Kassel: “So happy for my boy @juanagudelo17#freshstart#heisfree.” Agudelo once said he felt like Backe wanted to control him with an xBox360 controller.
The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.
My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.
2018 MLS Best XI
Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)
Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)
Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)
Serie A lags behind other top European league in TV money, which has hindered its ability to recruit top end talent relative to its competitors.
Ricci says if American sports see value in bringing their top leagues to Europe, it holds that the reverse would be true. From the BBC:
“If we look at some other more developed leagues in terms of commercial strategy; the NBA and NFL, they are exporting one or two of their matches abroad, to the UK or elsewhere in Europe. I think it is a good strategy. It is a way to export something that is not an exhibition.”
Would a regular season match bring any more eyes or attention than the International Champions Cup, at least enough to offset the sacrifice of atmosphere? It seems doubtful, but the money is the key here. Italy wants to catch up with Spain, Germany, and England.
Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.