By Christopher Schachter, EPL Talk correspondent
Arrived safely in Chicago, shocked and amazed that they speak the President’s English outside of New York City. You see, except for the occasional trip to visit my brother in SW6 and dragging my fiance on the Stamford Bridge Grounds Tour (10 pounds and a bargain at that), I rarely leave the concrete hell I call home. Never fly ATA, it’s crap. There was gum stuck on my seat. No Gallas on board, he’s disloyal for trying to break his contract. No Ashley Cole on board he’s loyal for trying to break his contract…
Toyota Park, AEG and MLS’s newest addition to the company store (hey, the players get their checks from the league and only the hot dog vendors get paid by the “Club” in this league, right, bizarre) is a pretty park, located between an airport, four highways and situated within a 5 mile radius of some rather depressing office park facilities. Yes, it’s in the middle of nowhere. As I arrived MLS All Stars (minus Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tyler Twellman and Pablo Mastroeni, but starring Freddie “Hype” Adu) were training.
Chelsea arrive in 4 hours, I’m gonna phone that dude in Scotland for the keys to invisibility and cloister myself in the dressing room, it’s small and Jose’s head is big…the security here is laughable. A bunch of kids comprise the “Event Staff,” if you walk by them looking pissed they step aside.
ESPN, the company that basically took over ABC sports, where I used to work (now I put soap operas and news on the air), is mashing on graphics and doing interviews with MLS (that was me yawning). Mitch Green is the game producer, he played soccer on scholarship at Colorado College and has produced major college football, golf, college hoops and has been involved in 3 world cups for ABC/ESPN. Yes, he knows his stuff, I kid you not and he was givin the thankless task of teaching Dave O’Brien (everybody’s fave Baseball announcer) world football on the fly during the tournament…not too much pressure. He tells me that while producing live on the air, he’d be furiously writing the history of the game on index cards going through stacks of ’em over the month, 22 or so games and tossing them in front of both O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa. He mentioned that O’Brien, known as one of the nice guys in a cut throat business, really underestimated the complexity and nuances of the game and it’s glorious history. Oh, by the way, Eric Wynalda (did he even try to learn anything prior to stepping on set at ESPN’s Bristol, CT studios) was gonna interview Bruce Arena, but the new coach of the Red Bull has left town, gettin’ ready for Barca I guess.