Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Face It ... The Revolution is Training Wheels for Jonathan

So as if almost on cue with our last post on an aspect of "the soccer business", JAFO comes forward and hands us a cracker from Boston Magazine, The Krafts Are the Worst Owners in the League, by Kevin Alexander.

It is a great read worth the time.

Mr. Alexander I believe correctly comes to a few conclusions in the article about the importance of the Krafts' in getting MLS off the ground, but also the fact that for a variety of reasons he enumerates, they are one of, if not the worst owners in MLS.

There are a few I would add as well that were touched on, but not highlighted.

First, the Krafts' are not soccer folk, they are good business folk. This was highlighted to me on the league home opener for the Revs when they played DC. I had the distinction of being on the refereeing crew along with Esse Baharmast, Ed Resendes, and Del Rainho. I was serving as 4th that day.

As you would expect we lined up for a whole bunch of pomp and circumstance for the 1st ever MLS match in Massachusetts. Jonathan Kraft was due to take the ceremonial kick to start the festivities and everyone was aflutter (myself included) to make sure everything was "just right."

Prior to the actual taking of the ceremonial kick there was palpable concern if Jonathan could actually complete his task of kicking a soccer ball. One team official stated that there was concern he would "... roll over the ball and might break his leg." He wasn't kidding either.

Fortunately for all Jonathan did fine.

Second, the Krafts' have an awesome complex at Foxboro and have sunk a ton of money into it. It is no wonder folks are dragging their heels to go somewhere else. With a limited number of hame games every year in the NFL ... and not great weather ... it sure makes good business sense to have as many events there in the warmer time of year. MLS seems reasonable ... and draws on the order of 14K per match. Almost last in the league, but still a good captive audience for dinner at Tastings (among others).

Third, Boston is a tough market given the success of the other (4) major teams here. Please note, I am speaking generally about the Celtics at this point. Let's face it between the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics, Boston is treated to some of the winningest sports teams in history. Let's also face it that the Revs are not a great team historically as MLS goes. In fact, other than Dallas, New England is the only original team to NOT win a MLS Cup nor a Supporter Shield in 18 years!

Now this last point may realistically be due in part to the lack of money the Krafts' are willing to put into the team ... which is a self fulfilling prophecy as to why they do not do well.

Finally, I personally believe that the Revs are training wheels for Jonathan to manage the Patriots. Heck, experience is important and if you can get experience like this, you should. It is a reasonable "warm up" for Jonathan, who I believe will certainly take on the Patriots one day.

So what do we do? Honestly I'm torn as the only way I would have become a MLS referee is because I had a team (literally) in my back yard. It would not have happened in the "early days" any other way. Do we continue and suffer mediocre to poor ownership for our only MLS team, or do we thank our benevolent benefactors for a great start, and part ways?

It was noted in the article also that the Krafts' refused to provide comment for the story, outside of (and I'm paraphrasing) ... We are busy getting ready for a Patriot's playoff game.


Who knows, maybe our fortune will change when Tom Brady retires, and Bill goes off with Bon Jovi and buys the Buffalo Bills.

Look out MLS Cup, here we come!!

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