If you wander around tailgates long enough, you learn some pretty interesting stuff. I was introduced to a guy in a Galaxy jersey, described as an itinerant soccer hooligan, who asked me if I knew about “those Herbalife people”. Not the Galaxy team, the “fans” who showed up in strangely large numbers at DSGP. Wow, you might have concluded, dedicated. Spending all that money to fly here, stay in a hotel, just to cheer for their guys.
Here’s who they really are, according to the itinerant soccer hooligan: local (i.e. Colorado) Herbalife multi-level marketing sales drones, given free tickets by the kindly Herbalife execs, to go cheer for the corporation’s pet millionaire players. Not just free tickets, but shiny, pre-printed signs and T-shirts. OK, interesting insight. Then, while strolling around the parking lots before the game, I saw them. Herbalife people, hauling themselves out of their cars (Colorado license plates; not cars that any self-respecting rental company would own), with their shiny pre-printed Herbalife signs and uniform T-shirts. As one Rapids’ fan said after the game:
I was wondering why they had cheesy signs rather than scarves and such. Makes sense now.
The Herbalife poser fans crowded into the Away Team section and dutifully cheered on cue for the Galaxy players, waving their cheesy pre-printed signs. I doubt most of them could distinguish between Landon Donovan and Donovan Ricketts, or realize that neither of those players were on the pitch. Maybe they were lured to DSGP with the promise of a glimpse of David Beckham. As were many, MANY other people.
Way to alienate soccer fans. David Beckham and the Galaxy and MLS are playing us for fools. They think Colorado fans are rubes and hicks.* In future, do not buy a ticket to a Rapids game because you want to see David Beckham or any other pampered millionaire who needs to be cheered by posers. Buy tickets to Rapids games because you want to see the Rapids play. Lately, Jamie Smith is as good in dead ball situations as Beckham anyway. Plus he has a cool accent.
The Herbalife posers might just have been a jokey sidebar to the game, if it weren’t for the latest version of “Incompetent MLS Refs Ruin The Game“. Seriously, the casual soccer fans who bought tickets to see David Beckham were not merely disappointed; they ended up completely alienated, after the latest dismal display of bumbling MLS refs throwing the game. Here’s a solution: no ref gets paid until the game film is reviewed. Their pay is cut 25% for each blown call. 4 blown calls and they take home nothing.
Here’s another solution: instant replay. Easy to see that the ball is off the end line when the Galaxy player crosses it. Easy to see that a player is taking a dive. Easy to see that a mugging from behind in the box should be a PK. We have instant replay. We get the facts straight as the replay rolls; we just can’t make use of them.
Latest tailgate survey: on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you care if a Rapids player makes the MLS Popularity Team? Actually, the MLS calls it the “all star” team, but it doesn’t take more than 2 functioning brain cells to understand that it’s basically Soccer Idol – the popular players with large fan bases, who know how to stuff the ballot box, win the votes. So what do Rapids fans think?
Score # fans
Clearly a split, leaning towards “We Don’t Care”. A few fans thought that at least one of the Cup Champs should be on this team, and Drew Moor and Matt Pickens were mentioned more than once as likely picks. Most fans didn’t care, and even thought it was better that no Rapids wasted time sitting on the bench for this spectacle, or worse, playing and getting injured.
*And still haven’t gotten over the fact that their special anointed ones didn’t win the MLS Cup last year. The note about the Rapids going to the White House is buried waaaaaaayy at the absolute bottom of the MLS home page. Not featured in the Latest News scroll at the top.