I know the tired old Mark Twain coined cliche works better on the radio than on the internet, but I'm afraid that it might sum up the current state of the Rhinos on many levels.
Whether it's issues regarding the stadium, the team, uniforms, youth development, the vision for the future, the marketing of the team, the choice of uniforms, and a whole host of things, I'm starting to wonder if the powers that be at PAETEC Park realize that they are real issues or not.
Maybe it isn't denial, but rather that the people that can affect change don't know how to change things with the resources they have. Then the question has to be asked about whether they have the right people making decisions and whether their bosses are in denial about whether they hired the right person or not.
Perhaps a cliche about Frank DuRoss and Steve Donner fiddling while PAETEC Park and the Rhinos burn would be a better analogy.
The Rhinos tried to address fan concerns this offseason, but came up short in many areas this offseason as well. They can point to the fact that New York State not coming through with the funding for improvements all they want, but at the end of the day paying customers don't care why improvements weren't made. They'll just care that they didn't get done.
Another issue is marketing and game night promotions that have been lacking since the move to PAETEC Park. They had to know that was an issue, yet I still am not seeing great strides in marketing. Fans ask all the time about more TV, radio, and print ads. Yet, I'm not seeing an increase in advertising over last year. A lot of fans wondered where the cool game night promotions went and the list I've seen for 2007 is a marked step backwards. I mean, where are the Scott Vallow, Scott Palguta, Kenney Bertz, and Rex the Rhino bobblehead dolls? Where were the magnetic schedules for the home opener? Where are the posters for kids' bedrooms?
And that's not even getting to the on the field issues. Coach Calloway was given a new contract following last season's trip to the USL 1st Division final. But I've said before and I'll say it again, I think pro soccer owners need to hold coaches more accountable for the style of play that a team has and less for wins and losses. How many fans have been driven away due to the belief that they can go see Craig Demmin and Doug Miller play each other in the RDSL Over-30 Premier Division for free on Friday June 15th and that's a better value than paying to the Rhinos take on the Battery that Sunday evening? Is that a function of the league the Rhinos play in, the job they've done putting a roster together, the coaching style, or some combination of all of those factors?
Do the Rhinos need to move to MLS to make PAETEC Park work long term?
Perhaps it's an overreaction to a tough weekend. I know that I got really upset when I read that the Rhinos were unable to land a single player on this week's USL 1st Division Team of the Week . Goodness knows the loss of Scott Vallow has affected the team. But, something is rotten in the state of Rhinoland. I just hope that the powers that be realize it's more than just Rex droppings before it's too late.
Rhinos Women gearing up for Friday night's home opener
With Friday's home opener rapidly approaching, the Rhinos Women made a couple of big announcements official yesterday.
First, they unveiled the roster that has a mix of core players from last year such as Alex Sahlen, Liz Masterson, and captain Rachel Kruze, six players from the Trinidad & Tobago National Team, and a couple of players from Florida State's team that has had a lot of success as of late. They also announced that three local high school players will be a part of this year's squad.
The other big announcement was that the Rhinos Women will be taking part in the US Soccer Passback Program. The program funnels used soccer equipment and uniforms to less priviledged kids who need it. The Rhinos Women are supporting the program by rewarding fans that turn in their used soccer gear with a free ticket to a Rhinos Women's game.
MLS News & Notes
- FoxSports.com is reporting that Red Bulls Park is having delays due to site clean up issues. The delays look to be pushing the opening of the stadium into late 2008. MLS Underground has a rendering of the Red Bulls planned training center.
- The Houston Chronicle has an article on where the Dynamo are with regards to getting a new stadium built in downtown Houston. Poltical football, ain't it grand?
- The Toronto Globe & Mail has a piece that tries to explain why Toronto FC has captured the hearts and minds of soccer fans in their city. Steven Goff of the Washington Post has an article on the same topic after DC United played at BMO Field over the weekend.
- The Denver Post has an article on Rapids' owner Stan Kroenke's plans for Arsenal. It will be interesting to see what the overall reaction to the takeover is, should it happen. I'm betting that it will be closer to the reaction that the Manchester United fans had to the Glazer takeover.
- For those that want a clue as to what the LA Galaxy's new uniforms might look like when David Beckham makes his MLS debut, check out what they were wearing at practice the other day.....
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.