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Friendly fire

By Lee Ryder on Jul 19, 11 01:32 PM

Newcastle United's second pre-season game with Sporting Kansas City may well be classed as a "friendly" for the Magpies tomorrow night but for their American opponents it comes slap bang in the middle of their "regular season".

Major League Soccer has came on leaps and bounds since it entered the football world back in 1996.

Back then, the Yanks didn't do draws and even decided drawn games with, not penalties, 35-yard shoot-outs!

Seriously, MLS players who each have five attempts each of running with the ball from 35 yards and attempting to score in a shoot-out situation (a bit like ice hockey) to decide a game.

But the league over here has matured since then and a good old fashioned 0-0 draw is accepted, reluctantly, by the American public who demand dramatic conclusions from their sport.

With 18 teams on board and two Conferences, the format is still very different to how we think about the game from a Premier League point of view.

Yet the idea of a "friendly" in the middle of the season simply would not go down well in England.

And from the point of view of Peter Vermes, the Kansas manager, it has hardly come at a good time for his team.

With three games in six days, the Newcastle match being sandwiched in the middle of that sequence, Vermes has threatened to play junior players and trialists against the Mags - if referees don't buckle and let him make multiple subs rather than the regulated five changes.

Whether junior players and unknowns taking on Newcastle decreases the value of the game or not is open for debate, it would certainly leave the Mags red faced if they lost to a team of nobodys.

Nevertheless, Premier League teams taking on MLS sides certainly raises the profile of the game further in America.

Certainly, that's something the game still needs badly over here as it competes with the NFL, NBA and NHL while Womens football and the recent performance of the US team, still generates much more interest than MLS.

Indeed, there was not even a single mention of the Kansas v Newcastle game in USA Today this morning.

Anyway, I better sign off here, another training session awaits for Newcastle this morning and the it's Alan Pardew's Press conference as he prepares to meet the US media.

Follow me on Twitter for updates from the US @lee_ryder

2 Comments

Robert said:

The USA Today is probably not the best tool for checking in on the pulse of the American sports fan. It's written on a fourth grade level so the helmets among us can feel like they're informed. Still, none of the friendlies have exactly moved the needle on a national level. You can be sure that there are members of the Toon Army traveling into Kansas City (and Columbus and Orlando) for their chance to catch a glimpse of the team, though.

Stephen Morgan said:

for those of us travelling from all over North America to see the game in Columbus( I am coming from Toronto), is there a chance to meet the players? how are the players adapting to the heat? who pays for the tour, part NUFC & MLS? is the club making money omn this tour or is it a chance to broaden the clubs fan base in North America?
see you in Columbus
cheers

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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