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If the Vancouver Whitecaps, through some miracle, beat a full-strength Manchester City lineup today, I will of course be thrilled. "What an upset by our boys!" I will say. "A damned shame they can never pull that off in an even mildly consequential game but still! Eat me, the second-best team in Manchester!"
Even a draw would be pretty enjoyable. "We are as good as Manchester City. Everybody knows that Manchester City would win MLS if they tried. Therefore, we are good enough to win MLS." It would be kinda annoying because I'd have to find a way to get all pumped up for a major upset without crediting Tommy Soehn or the Whitecaps for scheduling this thing in the first place, but I'd manage. There's only one thing I love more than a good result for an underdog, and that's a good result for an underdog when my team's the underdog.
Don't confuse that with caring even a whit about this game, though. If the Whitecaps beat the Canucks at ice hockey I'd be thrilled to bits but I wouldn't care about that either. This game is no different from a hypothetical Whitecaps-Canucks hockey game: it's a stunt, an event that a lot of people will be able to enjoy on its own terms but that should never be confused with a game that matters. A win over Manchester City would be nice. A win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday would have been better.
I'm not saying you shouldn't care about this or enjoy this game. Maybe you're a Manchester City fan thrilled to see your boys in town, or maybe you like the English Premier League and haven't had many chances to see an EPL team in person, or maybe you just want to see what the Whitecaps can do against better opposition. That's fine. For once, I'm not even being judgmental: a Whitecaps fan excited for this friendly is no less of a Whitecaps fan in my books.
Just please understand why some just want this bloody thing to be over.
I'm not alone in my uninterest in this game. The FAN 590 website had a fantastic story on how little some of the Whitecaps players care.
This game, while ill-advised, is by no means a cash grab: between Manchester City's reported $1 million appearance fee, the $200,000 cost for the fake grass, the fact that most of the tickets went free to season ticket holders, and the expenses associated with the friendly I'd be flabbergasted if the Whitecaps weren't taking a heavy loss on today's proceedings even before the Real Salt Lake postponement.
Is there any way this game can be better as entertainment than an average MLS match? If you don't have some vested interest in just seeing Manchester City full stop, what are the odds that you're going to enjoy this? City will either play to a fraction of their full powers or completely dominate the Whitecaps up and down the field and neither one of those possibilities means exciting soccer. That's the problem of booking a match between two completely mismatched teams. Then there's the surface: temporary grass makes for a very interesting pitch even if it wasn't sodden almost to the point of unplayability (despite what are by all accounts heroic efforts from the Whitecaps ground crew).
If the Whitecaps wanted to bring in some European content as a treat for season ticket holders and casual fans, bring in two European teams for $500,000 a pop and let them play each other! Wouldn't a lower-half Serie A team vs. a lower-half Premier League team make for a much more entertaining sight than a top-five Premier League team beating the unholy tar out of the worst team in MLS? It won't convince any Eurosnobs that MLS is a great world-class league on par with the EPL but you were never going to do that anyway. They refuse to realize the quality of MLS in spite of all evidence: that's why they're Eurosnobs. Even a reasonable, uninformed fan who simply needs exposure to MLS's quality won't be convinced by a one-sided shitkicking at the hands of City!
(That whole theory bugs me so much. I'm sorry, but if you want to convince would-be fans that you have a professional organization that plays quality soccer, booking a game against immensely superior opposition on a highly questionable field in the middle of the regular season two days before a road match isn't the way to do it.)
This game means nothing. It means nothing even more acutely than I usually say games mean nothing: none of us will be able to draw any conclusions about players or coaches from this performance, there's not actually much pride at stake... the most we can hope for is that Bilal Duckett pulls a Gabe Gala and knocks a goal in against all odds.