Monday, March 15, 2010
MLS contract rules detrimental to players
Imagine you work at Burger King and you get sacked. Now, you want to get another job at McDonald's, but you're not allowed to unless McDonald's compensates Burger King. It seems absurd, but that's the way certain things work in MLS at the moment. If your team terminates your contract, it still can demand a trade from another club before you can go and play for that other club.
The CBA, for me personally, is a sad saga. I was told it would be settled when I came back to the USA in January. Now it plays a lot on the minds of players in the preseason because we don't know if the first game is going to be played on March 25 or not. If it isn't, it will be a very sad day for players and fans in this country.
Coming from Europe, maybe I see it differently, as I've been playing under FIFA rules my whole life, but the players just want those rights. If we keep the wage cap, it shouldn't put the league in economic jeopardy as it won't cost the league any more money than what it has already agreed to.One thing for me that is very confusing is what happens after a player's contract is up. I find it amazing that even after your club lets your contract run out without renewing, it still has all the power and still owns the player's rights.Sounders sign a top striker
Now, let's talk about what's happening on the field. We are 3-1-1 in our preseason, but I don't care about the results of the games at this point. We're training really hard even the day before the game to get fit. For me, the first game of the season is the one where we need to play well. But my understanding is that over the next few weeks we'll be doing less heavy work and focusing more on quickness and sharpness. It's always good to win in preseason, but I prefer getting the win on March 25 (against Philadelphia).
I spoke about refereeing in MLS last year. Defenders are allowed to push and hold and get away with much more than I have ever experienced before. I don't like to be pushed to the ground, especially when there's no free kick given, so this preseason I have decided to take matters into my own hands. I'm trying to put on six-seven pounds to see if I can stop being pushed around so much. I've never had to resort to these measures before but I'll try and hopefully it will work.
The other big news in Seattle is that we have signed Blaise Nkufo, a striker from Switzerland who is playing in the Dutch league. He will join the team in the July transfer window after the World Cup. I wish he could be here now, but it will be good when he arrives.
Last year we created a lot of chances, but didn't put enough away so hopefully Blaise can help improve on that. He works hard for the team and adds a physical presence and I've also heard that he's great off the pitch, which is, of course, very important, too.
World Cup preparations in full swing
The World Cup is just around the corner and many teams that have qualified played friendlies last week. I think these games can be seen in two different ways. On the one hand, it's great for national teams to gather and get some playing time together and try to get ready for the World Cup.
But, on the other hand, as I've experienced myself, when you're at the end of a long season and competing for honors you definitely don't want to get injured in a friendly and miss playing in those last few months when it really counts if you're going to be a winner or a loser.
While we were playing for the Champions League as well as the Premier League and FA Cup, I must say I didn't think about the World Cup at all. It was never on my mind until everything was over. Those games are so tight that if you're not concentrating, you're going to get knocked out. But, if you're in the middle of the table with nothing to play for over the last two months, maybe then it plays a little bit more in your mind.
Friendlies are called friendlies for a reason. The bigger players usually take their foot off the pedal a little bit because they do not want to get injured. It's always important to get wins, but in a friendly before a World Cup I think it's more important to try and give more time to players that the coach thinks could be a nice surprise off the bench to make a difference in the tournament.
Finally, on to my boys at Arsenal. I hope they can keep up their challenge in the Premier League. They don't have a roster as big as Chelsea, but I think Chelsea and Manchester United have let them back in it. If they're in it at this point, they'll be in it the whole way. As for the Champions League, I think their style of play suits the competition and I think they will be dangerous in the later rounds.
I have read quite a few articles from England about Aaron Ramsey's horrible injury, from which I hope he recovers well. Afterward, Arsene Wenger pointed out that Arsenal have had some bad injuries from bad tackles lately and questioned them.
I saw a very good article in one of the papers that made the point that players have been saying before games that they would kick Arsenal because that was the only way they could beat them. The author questioned if it is correct that people can say such things and asked what would happen if something similar was said in Spain about a team like Barcelona.
It's been a great trip. See you at my own blog.
Freddie Ljungberg is a midfielder with the Seattle Sounders. He also formerly played for Arsenal in the English Premiership and the Swedish national team. He writes daily at his own blog, www.freddie.speaksup.com.