FIFA compensation, Juan Agudelo, leadership in Philly, sellouts in Portland and so much more

Things we won’t worry about today

(Yes, I stole this concept idea from Time Magazine. But they once double billed me for a subscription, so I consider us all square now.)

  • I am most certainly not worried about members of FIFA’s well-heeled executive committee putting food on the family table. SI.com colleague and FIFA Presidential candidate Grant Wahl broke through the self-protective obfuscation and dug up the digits and decimal points on some of the lavish compensation. Let’s just say none of these suits will be hitting Groupon to make ends meet.   
  • We certainly won’t worry about the Portland Timbers not selling out their first game. Not based on this very cool video. It takes a couple of minutes – and you might say, “I get it, I get it!” before the end. But g’head watch to the end, and you can’t help but be impressed. Folks in Dallas, Colorado, New England and Chicago can only sigh an envious sigh.
  • I’m not too worried about my game grades at SI.com for Tuesday’s match in Nashville. I always check against others I respect, like this one. It’s really just a quality control thing, a follow-up exercise to ensure that I’m not missing anything, and to make sure I see things from different angles. I did notice that some journalists were a wee bit higher on Juan Agudelo’s starting debut. I rated him a “6,” so I wasn’t exactly dogging his performance. On the other hand, eager-beaver business gets you only so far. Strikers have to make chances, and then make one or two chances count – even 18-year-old strikers. Thoughts?
  • I won’t worry about hype in the pipe over Agudelo. Not because it isn’t happening. It is. But this is all part of the gig. I understand he’s 18. I understand that we can’t expect too much of the young man just yet. MLSSoccer.com columnist Jonah “Nacho” Freedman says we should all tap the brakes a little. I respectfully disagree on some accounts. Journalists like myself certainly have a responsibility to put his ups and downs in proper context. As for fans? They pay their money. They support the sponsors by watching games – and they are bound to get excited. It’s on the federation and the New York Red Bulls to nurse him along, to manage expectations and not to indulge any big-headedness that might seep in. Pretty much every big star in sports, whether we’re talking about world soccer or college athletics here, is a star to some degree at 18 years old. It can be managed. (By the way, his nickname isn’t really “Nacho.” But I’ve seen the man put away some damn Tex-Mex, and it is fierce.)
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  • I’m not worried about things getting too boring at Selhurst Park, home to Crystal Palace in South London. That’s because officials there have found a way to keep things all happy-go-peppy in the downtime around the match. By the way, I’ve been to Selhurst Park. Which means I’ve taken that walk through the working class neighborhood from the train stop to the grounds. And let me tell you, that is not a boring walk. Head on a swivel, you know? That kind of thing.
  • I’m not worried that Toronto FC coach Aron Winter won’t know exactly what kind of player he needs for that 4-3-3 he wants to take root at BMO Field. And just in case he bumps his noggin and forgets, he can look at this piece, which happens to be this week’s topic on my Talking Tactics column. Aron, you’re welcome.
  • I’m not worried about scoring getting out of control around U.S. national team matches. In fact, scoring is historically low. In an SI.com piece that should be posted later today (or on Monday, I’m hearing now, due to a late run of unexpected stories at the SI.com HQ), I point out that that Bob Bradley’s men have scored just three goals in five games. The last time our boys in Nike red hit that kind of slump? That would be 1998 in and around the World Cup, a real low-water mark for the program. That’s not something any team wants to be associated with.
  • I’m not worried about leadership around the Philadelphia Union. That’s because Faryd Mondragon is in da’ house. Mondragon is Philly’s new, veteran goalkeeper. And he has instantly added stability to a rear guard that desperately needed it. You can sense his command and composure. And the results (two games, two wins, two shutouts) speak volumes. Hell, they aren’t just speaking … they are hollering! This cute little taletells me that Mondragon understands how to be a leader off the field, too. Little stunts like this not only bond the group, but also keeps things light before a big match. That kind of stuff is invaluable.
  • Finally, I’m not worried about having enough to do on my Friday night. I absolutely LOVE Fox Soccer Channel’s weekly Friday offer. (Tonight is Columbus-Dallas, and both teams need a W something fierce.) How it works for FSC and for MLS, we’ll have to see. But for me personally, getting one match on Friday before the marathon of seven or eight on Saturday is pure gold. 
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