Last week Sporting Kansas City CEO Rob Heinemann announced some good news in terms of a huge friendly. This gave no specifics to who would be playing, when it would be, where it would be, or if it would involve Sporting would be involved at all.
What it did do was raise a fuss over the values of a midseason friendly.
Some fans loved the idea. They outlined the pros of the friendly in the middle of the MLS season.
Some fans were not that excited. They represented the cons of having a midseason friendly.
There are both pros and cons to the mid-season friendly, if it involves Sporting. I'll lay out both the advantages and disadvantages for the friendly, and let you decide for yourself whether the friendly is a good idea.
It seemed most fans liked the idea, and brought out these reasons in support of it.
Oh yes, there will be money involved. Ticket sales for an extra game drive in money, the club coming to play pays money, concessions at the game, TV deals if it's a big enough opponent like Manchester United 2010.
Robb Heinemann said that it was a huge friendly. One can deduce from that that it is a big enough opponent to drive in some more money for the club. With extra money, Sporting can get better player, amenities etc.
If the opponent is as big as Heinemann says, Sporting should receive a hefty payday from the match.
When a big name comes to town like Manchester United in 2010, Kansas Citians will flock to the match. That match almost sold out Arrowhead Stadium, which seats more then 70,000. People wanted to see the famous team and, in the process, started to pay attention to the Kansas City club.
Also, people on England watched their club fall to this American club they've probably never heard of. After that, people knew who the Kansas City Wizards were: Conquerers of the mighty Red Devils.
Big names bring in their own fans that learn about our Kansas City soccer club, and big names bring in people in America who may not be interested in the MLS otherwise. It gives Sporting a name outside of the MLS, and hopefully brings in more fans of the club.
What better ways to get practice then by facing one of the top teams in the world?
While it normally isn't the entire team at full strength, the club coming to play Sporting is still a fantastic team for Sporting to play against. Even if they get demolished, they still have experience against a great team, which makes them better against MLS sides.
It's practicing the things Vermes teaches them in practice, against a real team in a game that won't count against them. It's a perfect practice tool.
Seriously, how can anyone find a fault with more Sporting?
It's an extra time for people to dig out their flags, bang the drum and have fun at LiveSTRONG Sporting park. It's an extra time to cheer on Sporting, even in a game that doesn't have any effect on standings.
It's more soccer in Kansas City, what's not to like?
For the advantages of having a friendly in the middle of the season, there are disadvantages. Ones that might even dissuade the friendly from happening.
It's a bit hard to focus on the San Jose Earthquakes when Manchester United is coming to town.
The main focus of an MLS club should be exactly that, the MLS. A friendly against a big opponent like Robb Heinemann promises would be a distraction to the players trying to focus on the league.
If the friendly leads to subpar performances against the league teams, is it worth having at all?
Soccer is one of the hardest sports to play in terms of endurance and conditioning. The season is already rough with a 34 game league schedule, not to mention U.S Open Cup matches. One extra match may not seem like much, but it's still 90 minutes of running, while trying to score.
That then leads to worse performances in the league. If a team is too tired from a game that doesn't matter that it impacts the games that actually matter, is the game worth having?
Towards the end of the season, the field at LiveSTRONG Sporting Park was in bad shape. The impact of a multitude of soccer matches, plus concerts had a bad effect on the grass.
90+ extra minutes of pounding by cleats and slide tackles can't be beneficial to the field.
If the game is at Arrowhead like in 2010, then this disadvantage is a moot point. But if it is like last year against Newcastle, then the field crew has something more to worry about.
If a team pulls off a huge win like in 2010 against Manchester United, then team morale is extremely high. But that game was against a depleted side with a lot of its players still recovering from the World Cup.
Now what happens if Sporting runs into a team at full strength like Seattle against Manchester United in 2011?
If Sporting gets demolished in a game that doesn't matter, it could affect the energy and performance in the next league match.
Time for you to decide
I've laid out the pros and cons of a midseason friendly above, now it's time for you to decide whether this friendly is a good idea. Leave your opinion in the comments and vote in the poll.
I want to start a new thing on the blog called "Twitter Thursday." Yes I am copying Sam Mellinger's blog on the Kansas City Star, but I don't care. I think it will be fun. Just send questions or comments about Sporting Kansas City to either of my Twitter Accounts @AngryKCFan or @RealBenGartland. I'll try and do one Thursday if I get enough submissions, so please, send in stuff!