I love NFL fans.
I love them in the way you love your neighbor's idiotic and overweight but harmless dog who embarrasses his owners by barking when visitors are around but would rather lick an intruder than bite him.
I love the way NFL fans are confused by the recent surge of popularity in Major League Soccer and start using words like "sacred" when getting steamed up in the defense of their own favorite sport.
I love Trevor, who can't seem to remember where he comes from but knows one thing – soccer is BAD!
And what about this guy?
Who is David Beckham? No idea. That is because I, like Roger, have spent the last 10 years on Pluto.
Enough with the laughs and on to the serious business of this week's mailbag. Thanks again for all your responses (especially yours, Trevor), most of which centered around foreign stars that MLS should target.
There was big support for Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and Claude Makelele to be brought in as star signings, but some complained that Andriy Shevchenko, Luis Figo, Francesco Totti and Jay-Jay Okocha were left out of my top 10. I will address the issue of each of those players individually.
My comments appear in italics.
FOLLOWING IN BECKHAM'S FOOTSTEPS ("Giving MLS more star power," Aug. 22, 2007)
Just curious as to why you left Andriy Shevchenko off your list of potential MLS players? He's got an American wife and a kid named after Michael Jordan!
I actually think there is a good chance Shevchenko will end up playing here in the U.S., but I would not like to see MLS go after him as I am worried he may not offer value for money. At his best, he is a wonderful player, but I have been disappointed with him at Chelsea. He seems to have lost some hunger and drive. If he can't get "up" for competing in the Premiership and Champions League, is he going to get excited by a Thursday night game at Real Salt Lake?
Luis Figo is an older player with Beckham-like skills and could improve a team with his experience.
Figo and Shevchenko were by far the two most popular names mentioned in the mailbag. Unlike Shevchenko, I think it would be great if Figo came to the U.S. I actually hope my sources are wrong on this and that we see him in MLS, but I have heard he is a lock to be fast-tracked into a senior executive role at Inter Milan.
I was surpised you omitted my favorite player and one of the most famous defensive players in the world: Paolo Maldini. He may be older than most of the names on your list, but he can still play at the highest level and has expressed an interest.
Maldini is a true legend of the game – a top-class player and a first-rate individual. Problem is, he will be 40 next year. It would be nice to see him come over for a season, but MLS should not make him a priority.
Americans would have a much better chance of watching soccer if L.A. had brought hot-tempered Wayne Rooney over. If they would have offered him the money they offered Beckham, it would be a good possibility.
You can't be serious, John. They could have offered Rooney four times as much and he still wouldn't have come. It just doesn't make sense at this stage of his career. We won't see him in MLS for at least 10 years, if ever.
Totti would be a huge addition to MLS and would help the league prosper even more. What do you think?
I don't think Totti will play for another club apart from Roma, or live in a city other than Rome. He would be great for MLS, but I can't see it happening.
Where's Jay-Jay Okocha on your list? He's got the dazzling skills that would get fans excited for the right reasons.
Okocha's breathtaking skills are wonderful to watch and he would be a real crowd pleaser. But he is on a highly lucrative contract in Qatar and will probably end his career there.
Zidane? NO! The guy has absolutely no class! He was willing to cost his team everything based on a hollow insult. Materazzi won that day when Zidane played right into his hands.
What a shame that a true soccer genius will be remembered for one moment of madness rather than the beautiful skills he displayed for years. To say he has no class is false. He brought joy to millions with his magnificent play and apart from his actions in the World Cup final has been a good ambassador. It still haunts me, though – I know he was horribly provoked, but why did he do it?
Do you think Brian McBride will ever come back to MLS? Even though he has been playing for Fulham for a couple of seasons, he still has history in MLS when he used to play for Columbus Crew. What do you think?
McBride was on my list, but the serious injury he picked up at the start of the Premiership season knocked him off. We need to see how he recovers and whether he can get back to his best. However, he is a good man for the sport and U.S. soccer is lucky to have him.
Didier Drogba, the English Premier League striker and Chelsea forward, will be 30 years old this season. He will be leaving in a year or two. Why don't you mention him as one of the future MLS stars? He is a real bomber, the best striker in soccer.
Lexington Park, Md.
Drogba is a brilliant player – I tore apart my fantasy soccer team to accommodate him in attack – but we won't see him in MLS for quite some time. He still has plenty to achieve in Europe.
It's not a "sad trait" of the great English public to knock famous people. It's the media. Please don't portray us like that.
Following the 1998 World Cup when Beckham was sent off against Argentina, an effigy of him was hung by a noose outside the Pleasant Pheasant pub in south London. This was far from being an isolated incident. I don't know who strung the effigy up, Victoria, but it was not the media.
MLS, much like many other professional leagues, is geared towards the large-market franchises. From the beginning, big-name players constantly have been placed in the large markets while the smaller markets of Columbus and Kansas City suffer to find top players to bring in or are allocated less marketable and less skilled players.
I agree with you to an extent. The problem is: How do you bring big-name players to the smaller markets? For many European footballers, the only Columbus they have heard of is Christopher, and plenty of them won't have heard of him. Most of these guys are always going to prefer a move to California or New York.
Beckham's value is clear. I have never read an article about soccer in my life. I read about football and basketball daily, but just the fact that he is such a draw has piqued my interest. … He adds value.
That is why whenever anyone questions whether Beckham is worth his big contract (regardless how he plays) the answer is always yes. He gets people interested in the game who would otherwise be apathetic.
- Andriy Shevchenko