MIKE WOITALLA: The four-year wonders

A friend of mine played for a German Third Division club that had once beaten a First Division foe in the DFB Cup. The keeper, he told me, had played tremendously. After the game, the media mobbed the giddy goalie, who on national TV said, "I plan to play on a First Division team." At the season's end, the club, long since eliminated from the cup and back to bush league life, cut the keeper. The shocked keeper asked why. Well, the general manager had heard the interview, and successfully shopped for a new keeper. I think of that story every time an MLS player talks about playing here for awhile before going to Europe or the Mexican league. Often, these plans are accompanied by claims that offers have already been made. Have they ever thought about how their coaches, teammates and, most importantly, their fans feel about it? Why not just say, "I'm bailing on you bozos as soon as I get a better offer"? The modern sports fan may be accustomed to the mercenary attitudes of athletes. Major American sports and soccer clubs abroad have such devoted fans that the revolving door of stars doesn't dampen their enthusiasm. MLS isn't on such solid ground. MLS clubs rely on their personnel to establish an identity. Plus, continuity on the field leads to success. Holding on to stars is a challenge to MLS, which writes the contracts, and its coaches, who can make players comfortable. Jaime Moreno, Marco Etcheverry, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones, Brian McBride and Jason Kreis are MLS stars who have been with the same teams for four seasons. That's loyalty rare in today's sports world. And for those who were quick to criticize MLS for losing Frankie Hejduk and Tony Sanneh - the re-signing of Moreno through 2002 more than makes up for it. FANS, LET'S HEAR YOUR VIEW Click here to log onto (Soccer) American Graffiti. Then click on the topic titled "YOUR VIEW: The four-year wonders" and respond to Mike Woitalla in 200 words or less. Best responses may be reprinted in Soccer America Magazine. If YOUR View is selected, we'll send you a cool T-shirt and pin... Because You're FANATIC.
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