Aug. 18, 2006
Wolyniec return a good deal
By Michael Lewis
Before anyone jumps out of a window over the John Wolyniec trade, a bit of sane advice: It's not the end of the world that the New York Red Bulls gave up a pair of draft choices, even a second-round one.
Well, MLS SuperDraft picks are expendable.
League history has proven that.
Few coaches, if any, have respect for them during the season if they can get a veteran player to help them now and then.
It's important for MLS teams to win now and not necessarily develop talent over two or three years (see what happened to Bob Bradley during his three-year tenure with the MetroStars).
That's not to say that I'm going to throw the future out of the window, but the Red Bulls and Bruce Arena can get picks for the next two drafts back quite quickly in a trade or two in the off-season (it's happened before and it will happen again).
Arena's acquisition of Wolyniec makes a lot of sense on several levels:
* He brings back a proven commodity who has been effective as a starter and off-the-bench.
* He brings someone in to push Edson Buddle, who has underachieved grossly and is in his worst productive season in his six-year MLS career (he had three goals in 556 minutes over 17 games -- five as a starter in his rookie season in 2001 as opposed to three goals in 1,648 minutes over 20 matches and 19 starting assignments this year).
* And, he brings back a fan favorite as a great PR move.
Arena will never win sentimental coach of the year.
But the Red Bulls' coach and sporting director realizes the club's limitations in what players it can acquire for the stretch run.
His major rebuilding will come during the off-season (yeah, here we go again).
If Wolyniec can score three or four goals down the stretch and win some games for the Bulls, the deal will be worth it.
It's a great window of opportunity for Arena, Wolyniec and the Red Bulls.
That collective groan that you might have heard in Foxboro, Chicago, Kansas City and Columbus and in some other MLS cities points west on Wednesday night and Thursday morning came from players and coaches after watching the Red Bulls acquit themselves quite well in their scoreless draw with D.C. United.
Arena's debut with the Bulls sent a message throughout the league: His team will be a handful and then some to handle the rest of the way. Don't expect any easy games.
Except for D.C. United, which has been head and shoulders over everyone else, and the two Texas clubs -- Dallas and Houston -- everyone else has been mediocre.
Everyone beats everyone else.
So, if the Red Bulls can go something like 5-4-2 the rest of the way and finish at 10-10-12 and 42 points, reaching the playoffs and finishing third or even second certainly isn't out of the question.
They still need some sort of consistent scoring threat up front to be a real contender.
Remember the movie, "The Game Of Their Lives," about the U.S. National Team's great 1950 upset of England in the World Cup? Well, it's got a new name as its Sept. 12 DVD release gets closer -- "The Miracle Match."
Don't know why of the name change, although there has been speculation on the BigSoccer.com boards that it was too close to the name of a Disney movie or the fine documentary about the 1966 North Korean side that stunned the soccer world at the World Cup in England.
I was quite disappointed in "The Game of Their Lives (Miracle Match)" when yours truly and about six other people watched it in a Farmingdale, L.I. movie theater in April 2005.
Saying that, I will plunk down my $20 (well, actually $19.87 if you purchase it through amazon.com) to buy the DVD.
Let's face it. I have a soccer Jones really bad.
Michael Lewis can be reached at BigAppleEdit@aol.com.