Today marks Day One of the traveling three ring circus known as Chad Ochocinco’s “Tryout” with Sporting KC. I’ve gone back and forth on this since the announcement.
On the one hand, I can theoretically understand why SKC would invite Ochocinco in for a few days. Let’s face it MLS is not exactly on the tip of most sports fans’ tongues.
In fact, there’s an almost unnatural distaste for soccer among some of the meathead NFL crowd.
They see soccer as a euro-centric pageant where guys with frosted tips and mullets roll around on the ground every time they get touched by an opposing player. So maybe, in a way, getting the support of a legit NFL star could help to bridge this gap between the D&D MLS diehards and fans of big time American sports.
And that’s a big maybe.
The other thing SKC has going for it is the old “any pub is good pub” theory. We all know this one.
Now here’s the part I can’t understand. In my opinion there is no chance that Mr. Ochocinco comes even close to earning himself a contract with SKC. None. Zero. Think about it.
Yes, he’s an elite athlete – no one’s denying that. He’s fast, strong, and coordinated. But if you haven’t noticed, there are some other fast and strong guys around the league – hell, around SKC – how about CJ Sapong, Teal Bunbury, and Kei Kamara? And Ochocinco hasn’t really played a game of soccer since before high school. That’s like, 15 years ago. Still think he has a shot?
My god man, get a hold of yourself! (*slap in the face, douse with cold water*).
Think about the foot skills of SKC’s Omar Bravo (who was voted MLS Player of the week after his two goal performance on Saturday).
You could put Chad and Omar in a 10 x 10 box and Chad wouldn’t even touch the ball, let alone possess it.
And Bravo is like, 5’6”. Think about the speed and deception of Ryan Smith. He would turn Ochocinco inside out with his lethal first step and cut back moves. Seriously, think about it.
This whole deal is a lose-lose situation for SKC and the MLS. Here’s why.
It already makes MLS look like a sideshow and is a distraction to the SKC organization as a whole, including the coaching staff and players who have to put up with Chad, put on a happy face, and lie to everyone by saying, “Yeah, Chad’s a good player, he’s serious about this, we’re just trying to find the best players for our club.”
Ever see a team in the EPL or Spanish Primera pull a stunt like this? No.
This smacks of a minor league baseball promo for chrissakes.
So for a league hungry to attract top level international players, hungry to gain the respect and legitimacy of other pro leagues in this country, this is not a step forward. It is a step back.
But what if Ochocinco comes in and blows everyone away, earns a contract and becomes a soccer star? Worst case scenario. If that were to happen, I guess the league ain’t quite what you thought it was, eh, MLS fan? Like I said before, though, not gonna happen.
The crazy thing is, I actually heard some local sports radio guys, most vocally Nick Wright, making the case for Ochocinco. Oh yeah, just throw him in there to win some head balls and score a few goals! Those tiny MLS defenders wouldn’t know what to do with a hulk like Ochocinco flying at them! Really? You’re serious aren’t you? Damn.
But unfortunately, what is going to happen is that Ochocinco will come in, be utterly out of his element on the soccer field, attract a media circus to Swope Park, and then be gone. Is it worth it? Well, it did generate a bunch of articles and headlines, right?
I’m sorry, but this stunt just seems too short sighted. SKC, if you can hear me, ditch the PR stunts and focus on the one thing it all boils down to – winning games.