I caught up with a buddy yesterday. Good dude. Hadn’t seen him in a while. So we hit a local pub and swapped talk over a couple of pints, abetted by "Jules," a wickedly effective siren at the art of suggestive selling.
We started a little early. And when you do that, there might just be trouble ahead.
So today I’m leaning to the sluggish side. You know how that goes.
The point here is this: Almost everything worthwhile in life comes at some price. Would I rather be steaming ahead at 100 percent capacity today? Sure. But do I regret getting out last night, squeezing a little more life juice out of this thing, a little better for passing the night with a drink and a friend?
In front of that background, let’s talk about Omar Gonzalez. And let’s broaden the conversation to MLS loan deals, which are suddenly hotter than Rooney Mara’s Dragon Tatooed-resume.
I’ve known Omar since before he left for Maryland. Just a few weeks ago, we were chatting about a nearby neighborhood where he grew up, and he let me in on the secret of where to get the best snow cones in the world. (But only in the summer, of course.)
I absolutely hate that he got hurt. Just when things were going so well for the young man, this terrible thing happened at FC Nürnberg. I mean, he finally gets into Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team camp, and he finally gets a shot at bigger and better exposure overseas … and now he’s out for about six months.
And cue the roar and rumble over the scourge of loan deals in 3, 2, 1 …
Yes, now comes the 20-20 hindsight, I suppose. Should MLS teams reconsider the value of pimping out their valuable talent to overseas sides that, in some cases, probably couldn’t spell MLS if you spotted them the "M" and the "L." In other words, they don’t necessarily hold MLS in high regard and could presumably make choices that aren’t in the best interests of the stateside clubs.
I say, "poppycock."
These loan arrangements do have value, especially for younger talent. We can debate the value of Thierry Henry’s coming spell at Arsenal, but even that has residual value in global exposure for a league that could still use some. (Not nearly as much as 10 or even 5 years ago, for sure, but spreading the word of MLS quality remains a work in progress.)
Could a player such as Tim Ream, for example, use a couple of months of seasoning, getting real tests in actual matches (as opposed to just training spells)? You bet.
Did Landon Donovan’s time previously at Goodison Park help cement his place in U.S. Soccer lore, and help him gain leadership chops that could still reap benefits for the Galaxy and for the United States national team? Absolutely.
Are there risks? Of course. See "Gonzalez."
Then again, the Galaxy center back and 2011 MLS Defender of the Year could have just as easily been injured training in Phoenix, where the national team is currently working out. He did, after all, injure the knee in a collision with a fellow U.S. international, Tim Chandler.
There’s a risk-reward calculation to everything. It’s just life.
If you want to cover your body in bubble wrap and sequester yourself in a central area of your home, away from windows to avoid any stray shards of glass, you’d probably increase your (already strong) odds of surviving the day. But it’s gonna be a pretty lousy day. It’s a tradeoff, you see? It’s always a tradeoff.