I am a Joe Posnanski fan. I'd say this even if we didn't once have the same name signed on our paychecks. He's easily one of the three biggest writing influences for me. (And, it's worth noting that when I walked into the press box a month ago during the Kansas City Wizards-Los Angeles Galaxy match and saw him sitting there, I was a wee bit starstruck.)
Unfortunately, the city that he was based in (and still lives in I believe) makes an unglamorous cameo in
his Sports Illustrated profile of Landon Donovan
. Judge for yourself.
Landon Donovan cannot move. Well, this is Kansas City. Nobody can move. The Wizards' field is the bane of American soccer. Carved into a minor league baseball stadium, CommmunityAmerica Ballpark, it's way too short and way too narrow. Playing here, as Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will say, is like playing big league baseball with the bases 75 feet apart. The field smothers creativity. There is no open space. There are no clear angles. It is soccer in a Chevy Equinox.
Landon Donovan cannot breathe. No, really. He has bronchitis. His cough makes his sides hurt. A cold Midwestern rain falls, and the pitch is mud, and the lights shine at an odd angle, and an April wind blows right through him. The announced crowd is 10,045. Reality demands that number be cut in half.
The only part of those two opening paragraphs that bother me? The fact that he (a KC guy who writes an annual "Hey, maybe this is the Royals year" column) doesn't once mention (even in parentheses) the fact that a new stadium is being built mere feet from where he was sitting to write this column. (That's just journalism 101.)
As for the shots on the small, creativity-sapping stadium that the Wizards (for now) call home? He's just using the minor league and shoddy settings as a backdrop to tell the story of how far Landon Donovan has come as a person and a professional. To great affect, I believe. (After this summer, we won't have this conversation any more.)
Though, this paragraph might be slightly uncalled for:
The Wizards and the Galaxy will play a dreadful scoreless draw that could spark three days' worth of "soccer is dull and un-American" talk radio. Fortunately there is no talk radio show host within miles of the place.
That game was dreadful in scoreline alone. There was more action and excitement in those 90 minutes than 85 percent of Royals games. Let's just be glad Poz didn't have the time to discuss Kei Kamara's miss during that game. He might be the first journalist to write about the Kansas City Wizards who
mention the "MLS Miss of the Century."
If you can get past the supposed "pot shots", the article is quite good. Posnanski will be in South Africa for the World Cup and I, personally, can't wait to read what he has to say. Whether it's good or bad.