Stoppage Time With Brian Crookham: "Bringing Young American Players Home

STOPPAGE TIME
With Brian Crookham

This Week's Edition: "Bringing Young American Players Home"

You may have heard the rumors over the last few weeks. Real Salt Lake was working on a deal to bring US National Team midfielder DaMarcus Beasley back to MLS. Since it appeared there was no way the deal could be completed prior to the closing of the international transfer window there will be no Beasley in Salt Lake for the race to the playoffs. This brings up a couple of big questions.

Why couldn’t the deal be completed? Does anyone else get the feeling that if one of the big market clubs were working on this deal it magically would have been completed in time for him to be in uniform this weekend? I don’t pretend to know what goes on in New York when requests like this come in nor do I know what it would take to get Beasley out of his Dutch club PSV Eindhoven but something tells me it could have been done.

The more important question may be why does Beasley want to come home now? At 24 Beasley is too young to give up on playing at the highest level possible and trade competition for comfort. The potential for a Wednesday US Open Cup game vs. the USL First Division vs. a Champions League match against Liverpool. That is what you are trading in.

There is no doubt that Beasley has been through a tough eight or nine months. Soccer players are human and adversity can take its toll especially when your life is in the public eye. I hope that he can survive and come out better for it.

Beasley’s US teammate Landon Donovan went down the same path. Watching Donovan can be a delight when he decides he wants to play but it is maddening to watch him stroll around the field when he decides he doesn’t.

You have to give credit to a player like Bobby Convey (also a member of the ’99 U17 team that included Donovan and Beasley) who spent more than his share of time on the bench at Reading. It was refreshing to see him get off the bench not by picking up his ball and going home but by working through the tough times and earning the right to show the boss that he could help take the team into the Premiership.

The players who are products of that U17 class have all faced the challenge of being pros before most of their friends were in college. Let’s hope our future stars are of the Bobby Convey mentality and will do whatever it takes to ply their trade at the highest levels.

The most promising generation of young players the US has seen to this point appears to be a little softer than we had hoped. As MLS develops its own youth scheme we have to hope that they can start to change the culture and send a tougher more driven product into the professional soccer ranks.

Rapids Notes:

-There is still all to play for when it comes to the MLS playoffs. Each of the four teams fighting for the final two playoff spots play each other one more time this year.

-Glass half full - Colorado not only has a three point lead on the bottom two they also have a game in hand.

-Glass half empty – six of the Rapids' final nine games are on the road a daunting fact when you consider that the team is 1-7-2 away from Invesco Field.

-The availability of Alain Nkong may be just what the Rapids need on the final stretch. To this point the team has earned the majority of their 32 points simply through hard work. Nkong’s ability to break defenses down from midfield will be key as the playoffs near and games tighten up.

-Fernando Clavijo really likes the character of this team that character will be tested during the final 10 games.

-If you haven’t seen the New Rapids Stadium Complex there is no way to describe what you are missing. The Rapids have had the benefit of building their facility while taking into consideration all of the logistical concerns of the venues that have already been constructed. The facility is as good as advertised. The April 2007 opening will be special for everyone in the soccer community.

-Don’t forget Joe Cannon is on a live conference call with fans next Thursday it promises to be entertaining and possibly even insightful. Possibly.

Brian Crookham's "Stoppage Time" column runs exclusively on ColoradoRapids.com. Brian is the Assistant Technical Director for the Colorado State Youth Soccer Association and serves as color commentator for Rapids broadcasts on Altitude TV. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and not necessarily those of the Colorado Rapids or ColoradoRapids.com. Send any questions or comments to Brian at StoppageTime@att.net