#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Monday, March 4, 2013

It Started out Good and Only Got Better

Magee was good because, well, he is good.
Yesterday was a great day for soccer...for me.

Oh, I'm sure it was a great day for soccer for a lot of folks. But this is all about me. Let me explain that comment as I take you through my day, which began with the Roma vs. Genoa game.

I was happy to learn in the morning that the game would be on RAI-Italia, channel 1194 on my Optimum TV package. Since Optimum does not carry the BeIN Sports network, I rely on RAI for my Roma television. If RAI doesn't have the game, I am at the mercy of pirate internet streams.

It got better. My nephew was not in the starting lineup found his way into the game at the 40 minute mark when one of his teammates, Miralem Pjanic, went out with an injury. At that point, I called my mom, who was home alone, to tell her that her grandson was entering the game.

Roma was leading 1-0 as I placed the call, but seconds after Mom picked up the phone, I uttered, "Oh no." Michael had given the ball away on his first touch, in the attacking half, and Genoa was rushing the ball down down the field. "Oh no," I said again as a Genoa player went down in the box. "Oh no," I said a third time as I saw the referee point to the spot, awarding Genoa a penalty kick. As I started to explain to my mother, she said, "Why are you telling me all of this? I'm watching the game."

So, I got in my car and drove to my mom's house to watch the second half. Turns out, she gets BeIN Sports on her cable. We watched the second half together. Her grandson played quite well and Roma scored two goals to win 3-1 and grab a critical three points. So, that was the beginning.

CHAPTER TWO

I then came home and watched the Galaxy and Fire play. And I had one of those "smart dad" moments. I told my 14-year old son Beau, who is an aspiring player, to keep an eye on Mike Magee.

Grandma was fired up for the Giallorossi
Why Mike Magee? Because I told my son to watch the way Magee moves around the field. The way he always seems to be open. The way he somehow makes it difficult for defenders to keep track of him, even though he's far from the biggest, strongest or fastest player on the field.

So, what does Magee do for me? He scores a hat trick.

Now, for a second, let me go serious soccer guy on you. During the Roma-Genoa telecast, my friend Ray Hudson offered up some brilliant commentary on Francesco Totti. I'll paraphrase Ray said something like, "There are analysts now who provide charts and graphs of every player's every move during the course of of a game, with red circles and arrows, but there's no red circle or arrow that can do justice to the ball that Totti just delivered." Again, that's a paraphrase.

But, I think, a little bit of what Ol' Ray was saying ties into what I was saying to my son. There's something inexplicable about what Magee does on the field. It's the part of soccer (and all sports) that still intrigues me. Anybody can see a guy strike a ball 100 miles per hour. Anybody can see a guy run past a defender, or out jump a defender for a head ball. Not everybody can see the other stuff.

At MLS Media Day a few weeks ago, Magee's teammate Robbie Keane was telling Brian Straus of the Sporting News (and a few other reporters) he thought Magee was a player who should be considered for the U.S. national team. His reasoning was, basically, "the guy's a good player."

Ray Hudson and I think alike when it comes to charts.
A few days later, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated ran an anonymous player's poll, and a good number of the 18 MLS players who were asked "Who is the most underrated player in MLS?" responded, "Mike Magee." Keep in mind, this was before the opening day hat trick.

I have distinct memories of Youri Djorkaeff commenting on a then-19-year old Mike Magee, playing for the then-MetroStars. I remember Djorkaeff saying, basically, "Magee is a very good player."

So, my final brilliant analysis goes something like this: "I think Mike Magee is a good player because it seems like a lot of really good players think he's a good player. I'm even considering turning it into a stat. Quote me: "Mike Magee ranks highly in the GPBALORGPTHAGP category."

CHAPTER THREE

The U.S.-Mexico Under-20 game and the Red Bulls-Portland game were played almost simultaneously. This meant picking one to watch on the television and one to watch on the ipad.

Let the boys be boys. Soon enough they'll be men.
I began with the U.S.-Mexico game on the TV. I'll keep my thoughts brief. Fun game. The stakes weren't all that high because both teams had already qualified for the U-20 World Cup, but a fun game because you could see it meant a lot to the players on both sides.

While I think the U.S. potentially has some really good players, I'm reluctant to go overboard. I'm old enough to have been down this road before. Let these kids enjoy the moment, hope they continue to immprove, and hold back on anointing them as guys who will play in World Cups, etc., until they've held down spots on professional teams. That's my take and I'm sticking with it.

As for the Timbers-Red Bulls game, you should just watch the highlights. It was a game full of rumbling and stumbling and a crowd that wouldn't sit down or shut up. Great, great fun.

In fact, I'd rank it No. 1 so far this year in the GGF category. And put a red circle around it.




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