While the New England Revolution fans have been waiting for news of a big dollar, big name Designated Player (DP), the team has instead added a couple experienced, if not front of mind, French internationals: Ousmane Dabo and Didier Domi.
The first question across many Revolution fans’ minds: Who?
Tip of the tongue names or not, there is little doubt that the team is improved by addition of these players, each of which has an impressive resume that includes top European leagues and clubs. While we don’t know how much of a hit either of them is to the team’s salary cap, this is clearly the beginning of a number of moves that will leverage the cap room opened up with Taylor Twellman’s unfortunate early retirement and the jettisoning of pricey Edgaras Jankauskus.
With news of other signings to come soon, one can also surmise we are also seeing use of some salary-dropping Allocation money, since the Revolution likely had access to more of that this year having missed the 2010 playoffs.
Given the spending, there is a segment of fans that will undoubtedly bemoan the lack of a “big name” signing thus far as a continuation of disinterest from the front office because that is what those fans are now programmed to say. But the reality is that calendars and financing are working against any Designated Player signings by the Revolution until at least mid-year, when there will be European players out of contract and their addition would only cost the team half a year’s salary against the cap space.
It is OK to ask some hard questions about on-field and off field impact of these new signings. Including things like, how will the newly acquired 30+ year old legs hold up on the Gillette turf and cross country flights? Or, after four years of Greek soccer (good, not great), what is Domi’s current level? And, are the Revolution going after the large (ahem) French fan base in greater Foxboro?
It is pretty unreasonable though, to think that these players have nothing to offer since they are not DPs. There are more leaders in MLS that are not DPs than those that are – and outside of Beckham – they weren’t household names. Even Juan Pablo Angel, perhaps the poster-child of a successful DP in terms of consistent production, was only known by the core soccer fans that follow MLS.
So while we don’t know what the Revolution’s new French contingent will bring, their addition would appear to be a step in the right direction in terms of quality and experience. And while (nearly) nobody in New England knew who these guys were a few weeks ago, that has absolutely no bearing on their usefulness to the team.
That’s why I am puzzeled by the lack of any “unveiling” of the players that amounts to more than just a press release and web posting.
Dear Revolution… where are the cheesy, but common, pictures with the Revolution brass? (You know, the kind with big grins from the player and team officials as they hold a Revolution jersey with the newly added player’s name emblazoned across it.)
I’m giving the team the benefit of the doubt that logistics prevented such an unveiling of Dabo and Domi as important new signings, but if was anything else, it was a missed opportunity. At least get out that picture with the big (if practiced) grins – even if it happened behind closed doors.
If we get scarved, hand-shaking, smiling pictures with rookies from Superdraft (whose importance will nearly certainly dwindle over time) we should get it for experienced internationals. If you want fans to think these players are difference makers and we want other players who are watching across the globe to be interested in coming over, we should treat them as difference makers from day one.
The fan base is yearning for optimism, and these signings have provided some.
As long as you don’t claim that you’ve signed Thierry Henry, feel free to throw some gas on the fire and let’s see some fanfare.
Initial opportunity lost, but there is a whole season to make up for it.
C’est la vie…