Before their Champions League matchup with the Columbus Crew, almost everyone had RSL as a solid favorite and despite a questionable first leg it ended up that RSL was able to secure the series win and move on. When the 2010 season ended RSL was just 3 points behind the LA Galaxy in the battle for the Supporters' Shield, and despite going out earlier than most expected in the MLS Cup playoffs the team kept their core of players together and that has many projecting them as a top team in 2011.
Yes that includes me with my #TheQuad hashtag on Twitter, and while some of the attention like the Champions League 360 videos have upset other teams wondering why all the attention on RSL, most RSL fans have loved being at the center of discussions around the league and with their CCL success, the team being looked at more closely all around the globe. I talked at the recent CCL match with a crew shooting video for TV in Bolivia, they had several questions about Fabi and Paulo Jr.
However could all this attention and even the success come with a cost that many RSL fans might not want to pay? After the jump I will look at the potential impact all this could have on RSL this season and beyond.
Too much of a good thing, when you have bloggers in the UK talking about which MLS players could make it in the EPL and 2 of their 5 are RSL players it looks great but would any RSL fan want to lose Nick and/or Kyle to the EPL?
Now I know that the RSL PR and Media staff will tell you that all the publicity helps the team and the brand and they are right, for what they are interested in it is all a very good thing. It means larger crowds at Rio Tinto, it means better tools to attract sponsors.
However as a fan it is nice to be considered a top team in the league and the end of season awards for several of our players has meant that what we have known for years are now known by others. The downside of success and attention is will others come looking for talent from the RSL roster? Most people in the know will acknowledge that part of the CCL run and success last year came form the depth of the RSL roster, which is really 20 players deep that could challenge for starting jobs with almost every team in MLS. There are also others who are still in their developmental process like Luis Gil, Nelson Gonzalez, and others who can fill in when needed and should get some great chances to prove themselves during the reserve league this year.
So should RSL continue to play well and win their series in Champions League against Saprissa, you can rest assured that Garth and Bill will start getting calls and emails about some of our players. I think we can be thankful that the transfer window only comes twice a year, and hopefully RSL will be able to keep hold of this talented group of players through the MLS season and beyond, you have to believe that not many are going to want to leave if we actually win the Champions League. That chance to play against the very best teams and players in the world is something that every player relishes the opportunity to do.
I would never wish or hope that RSL would hold a player back from a chance to play in Europe if that is what the player wants, I consider it a compliment to our organization that teams consider our players good enough to improve their squads. At the same time I believe that the current RSL roster is one of the top 2-3 in MLS, and they could be positioned to do something no other MLS team has ever done #TheQuad.
OFF MY SOAPBOX