COMMENTARY | Every sport has that "ugh" time of the year, a period that has fans literally begging for a return to normalcy and all that is right with their particular teams. For world soccer, that time of the year is right now -- July. Perhaps I'm getting more irritable in my old age, but it certainly feels like July gets more and more unbearable as the years go on.
Summertime is fun and all, but I'll be counting down the days until September.
Why July is the worst month of the year in world soccer: ITK!!
The summer transfer window is as wonderful as it is claw-out-my-eyes awful. Sure, thoughts of your favorite club(s) getting stronger and signing a star player or two are always nice to entertain, but not a single one of those acquisitions is worth all of the drawn-out rumors and "in the know" Twitter accounts that flood the Internet even before July 1 arrives. Look at Tottenham Hotspur alone as an example. In the past month, Gareth Bale has gone from having a transfer fee of £60m to £85m to £100m to not being for sale to being no longer a Real Madrid target until 2014 to agreeing to terms with the Spanish giants. Every summer window is like watching a kid who has gotten bored with the latest edition of FIFA mess around with the game's rosters because he can. Thinking about it alone gives me a migraine.
Why July is the worst month of the year in world soccer: Lack of meaningful games
July is the month where meaningful soccer competitions go to die. The best top-flight leagues in the world are on summer holidays until they begin their preseasons halfway through the month, while the most exciting international matches that take place during the summer are usually wrapped up before July 1. Apologies to all US Soccer purists, but the B-team tournament that is the CONCACAF Gold Cup just doesn't do it for me. Some reading this piece may be curious about Major League Soccer contests. I'm glad you asked.
Why July is the worst month of the year in world soccer: Poor MLS
MLS has no choice but to run a spring-to-fall schedule at this stage of the game, and anybody who tries to convince you otherwise is either trolling you or trying to advance some kind of warped agenda that is more flawed than the front office plan of Toronto FC. This leads to league contests taking place during the dog days of summer. While MLS arenas do well enough to protect spectators from the rain, they also trap in heat and humidity. Thus, July contests in certain areas of North America are often played in conditions where the temperature is nearing 100 degrees at kickoff. Add in the humidity that comes in the summer months, and you've got a recipe for some boring and ugly soccer.
Why July is the worst month of the year in world soccer: Ca$h grab$
July is the month of international cash-grab friendlies and tournaments, matches and competitions that are more about making companies and countries cash than they are about getting European clubs ready for their upcoming seasons. Two examples for this year are the 2013 Premier League Asia Trophy and the International Champions Cup, the second of which is happening right here in the States. What makes the first particularly ridiculous is that it will feature Manchester City, Spurs and Sunderland. Nothing says "grow your brand in our country" like a Tottenham vs. Sunderland July showdown that occurs in Hong Kong. The ICC, on the other hand, includes LA Galaxy, a side right in the middle of their real league season.
Most annoying about these summer kickabouts is that they are, on the local level, presented as actual competitive tournaments. Last summer, Spurs won comically tiny trophies for beating RBNY at Red Bull Arena. Advertisements in the NYC/NJ area for the ICC have routinely displayed a "No friendlies, just football" motto. I understand why these summer events happen. Just don't insult my intelligence regarding their existence.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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