Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Seattle Sounders FC--Willing to Pursue Henry

The new Seattle MLS franchise will be called Seattle Sounders FC a sort of compromise name. I have to admit, I think keeping the "Sounders" in the name was important for historical and fan base reasons.

The Seattle Sounders played in the North American Soccer League and has long had a franchise in the United Soccer Leagues first division, as well as the W-League, etc. Sounders was needed and was right, regardless of the naming rights etc.

With over 13,000 season tickets sold for a team that won't begin play for another year, you can't ignore the fans in that area.

The rumor of Thierry Henry coming to Seattle in 2009 is still in the air as both the Seattle GM Adrian Hanauer and the majority owner Joe Roth both indicated that ignoring the possibility of Henry coming to the MLS would be stupid. Roth said
"To answer the question, would we pay for somebody on the scale of Thierry Henry ... the answer is yes,” said Roth, a sleepy-eyed movie exec who has been a soccer player/coach/devotee for much of his life.

To give you an idea what kind of statement that is, it’s illuminating to see that the 30-year-old Henry earned a reported $26.7 million in 2007. He’s globally marketable, and renowned for his social causes and the fight against racism.

But Henry or anybody else with a world-wide profile needs to contribute on the field to make it work in Seattle, Roth said.

“You don’t want to get a big name that doesn’t organically fit in with the team or somebody who is past his game,” Roth said. “You can’t force it. It’s the same way with movies, you can’t force a movie star into a role that he doesn’t belong in.”
Now for a team that doesn't exist, a comment like "organizally fit in with the team" is a hedge bet against being unable to pay the Henry transfer fee (which will be big) or Henry changing his mind.

Still, Roth is right, Henry would have to make an on-field contribution to be worthe money. Looking at all the MLS designated players, the biggest name in the bunch has scored exactly one goal, has a couple of assists and just a few starts under his belt--David Beckham. Has Beckham raised the profile of the MLS--absolutely. Has he rasied the quality of the game? No, not when compared to the likes of Cuatalmec Blanco for Chicago, or Juan Pablo Angel for New York Red Bulls. Beckham as that potential, but we haven't seen it yet.

Henry might make a difference in the level of play and he might not. But what Henry might do is the same thing that Beckham has done, raised the profile of the MLS internationally. And if Seattle can do that as an expansion team, that is a good thing.

Update: Just saw this peice as well. Rumors that Henry and Barcelona are not on the best of terms and speculation is running rampant. Seattle is mentioned as a destination for Henry along with the likes of some of the best clubs in world soccer, Manchester United, AC Milan, but also with clubs with aspirations like Newcastle and Manchester City.

No comments: