Anyone remember Seattle's hilarious debacle involving Manchester United last year? First they were forced to essentially put a giant rug over their turf in order to make the Red Devils agree to play the game and then they got wiped 7-0 in front of a crowd that was 1/3 American Man United bandwagoners. It made them look like they were pandering and drooling to the whims of Sir Alex Ferguson just to get the privilege of being slaughtered. But hey, Seattle got a heck of a paycheck out of it and at least had a decent first half to hang their hats on despite the laughter that erupted after the final score.
That was par for the course in MLS when it comes to friendlies, really. Another feather in the hats of those in America who 'just can't support a league as awful as MLS' and instead look to a team in a country they've never been to for their footballing needs instead of supporting their local squads. It's always made MLS look bad, that's why we had #TrophiesNotFriendlies going as a popular hashtag on Twitter a while back.
That's why I like what Tim Hinchey and the Colorado Rapids did by bringing in Swansea City this summer.
The Rapids aren't known for hosting friendlies often, and quite frankly it's been OK to have the Rapids not getting creamed by Man United or Chelsea every single year for the sake of money. It's been a while since the Rapids had hosted one and putting one into the more quiet schedule of 2012 compared to 2010 was a smart move; but who would they take on after so many demolishings of MLS squads last year by top tier teams brought in?
Enter Swansea, a mid-table team that overachieved in the EPL this season after promotion via playoffs from the Championship in 2011. It's a team only a couple of notches above MLS level instead of a whole ladder above it.
Is Swansea going to be a huge draw? Not really, though there will of course be a good crowd there to see the Rapids take on an EPL level team no matter which EPL level team it is, and the team will get a hefty chunk of change along with the Swans perhaps gaining some new stateside fans as well. Win win, right there.
Will it garner the funds that a Man United or Chelsea friendly would have? Not at all, especially since the draw of a Top 4 squad would have meant ticket prices could be raised and the plastics would have flowed to DSGP, likely outnumbering the Rapids support in the end. Sure, the money would be there but the Rapids fans wouldn't. Remember the Spain vs. USA friendly that saw more red than red, white and blue in the crowd? It would be that all over again, an away game for the Rapids fans in their own park -- embarrassing for everyone but those who got paid at the end of the day.
Does that make the league or the team involved look good? Not at all, and that's why I'm glad that Hinchey and the Rapids took the Swansea route instead of the others. While the Rapids probably won't beat Swansea, it is guaranteed to be a closer and more fun game to watch than anything that the Rapids would have produced against a Liverpool or Tottenham.
Might the Rapids still lose 7-0 to Swansea? Of course, it's football and anything can happen. However, it's far less likely to be a Sounders/United style slaughter, which while less helpful to the bottom line will be a heck of a lot more fun to watch. Hope to see you all at DSGP on July 24th to take on the Swans.