Monday, November 13, 2006
My new favorite team is now officially 1860 Munich.
Well, they're kind of like my all time favorite song - of the week.
I'll also officially confirm that Josh Wolff has been one of my favorite players since that goal against Mexico back in 2001 - the one that a certain former teammate/star set him up with to finally put the US over the top versus that country to the south.
Those were the days.
Quietly having made the World Cup squad in 2002, Wolff played an integral part in what was the most important, if not the most satisfying, win in World Cup history when he set up Brian McBride with a perfect thinking player's pass for the first goal in a 2-0 win over arch rivals Mexico.
In the meantime, the current Wizard has quietly slipped in, off, on and through the radar of US fans, never quite controversial enough to enjoy the wrath reserved for his younger counterparts, but just promising enough to be considered an overrated forward.
England came a-callin' last August, but the wise and all-knowing UK Home Office apparently knew better and decided that a two-time World Cup participant wasn't worth a work permit for their second division, thus denying Wolff's chance to play soccer in the home of football.
Now, 1860 is 'seriously' looking for someone to fill a hole, and Wolff is actively seeking to fill one. I don't expect that he'll disappoint.
What better place for the Georgia guy to go than a country that likes American players and a team that is looking, by their own admission, for a player who can make, well, um, plays?
Let's get something out of the way in case previous attempts at irony have been lost on everyone.
Josh Wolff is a damn good soccer player.
I've been somewhat of a "Sports Illustrated jinx" for all who participate in US soccer, having written a "Don't go back to MLS" article on that guy from Conyers, a "Watch out Liverpool" piece on a certain Galaxy forward, and most recently, a "Don't ever count this guy out" bit on the surfer from San Diego right before Germany.
So all bets are off the board in Vegas when I pimp Wolff for the next overseas signing, but with the look-see confirmed by 1860, I'm pitting him to join Greg Berhalter at the other Munich club by week's end.
This is going to be great. Two of the worst players to have ever been good enough to be better than the competition and take part in two World Cups, joining forces to give 1860 fans something to cheer for that only Hannover fans have known previously - two Americans on the same team.
Although Berhalter and Wolff have been two of US fans' favorite whipping boys over the last five years, neither can ever be accused of ever backing down from a challenge.
Berhalter has toiled his way through both the English and German second divisions without a thought to coming 'home' to MLS and you can't expect Wolff to give up trying to make it 'over (t)here'.
I've never really caught on with the idea that Joe US Soccerfan has equating "anything less than a point per game is unsatisfactory from any offensive player" to "sucks", especially in MLS where the best player failed to even lead his team to the playoffs, but Wolff often fits the bill
It's not as if he had a bad year in MLS, the land that stats forgot. In 18 starts - missing almost half the season on World Cup duty - he had five goals and two assists, which was enough for fourth leading scorer on his team while playing half the minutes.
This of course following a career year where he had 10 goals and 10 assists, leading his team and good enough for ninth in the MLS scoring chart.
Before anyone goes crazy with those statistics, don't forget that given enough of them, I can also prove that the world is flat. Wolff is much more of a player than what soccer statistics can account for on paper.
The last time Wolff actually played an integral role for the US was versus Germany in Dortmund, prior to the World Cup 2006. The Americans were thrashed 4-1 on four second half goals from the eventual semifinalists, while Wolff had to leave the game following a jaw crushing blow from Per Mertesacker
What most people remember is how great Cory Gibbs was for a quite malleable defense (he did nothing wrong), Steve Cherundolo's 70-yard goal attempt and how the fault of each and every one of the four goals scored fell heavily on Berhalter's shoulders.
I wrote a column concerning that piece of mob rule/opinion, and also mentioned what I thought of Wolff's play during the 23 minutes he was available.
Arena started Wolff at the #10, where he had never played before, and the US did pretty well in the first half.
Wolff was leveled in a "legal" collision from Mertesacker in the seventh minute and admitted to seeing double for the remaining time he spent on the field.
On that particular play, he sprung one-time phenom Eddie Johnson down the sideline with a deft seeing-eye touch that Wolff has always excelled at - and come Germany 2006 was virtually non-existent from the Arena chosen first eleven.
Johnson worked a corner out of what should have been a shot on goal, while Wolff received a concussion from what should have been a red card on the lanky German international.
Of course, a concussion, double vision and a cheeky redirect attempt on goal prior to being substituted would never be reason for Wolff to receive anything less than the red-headed stepchild treatment following the game.
Wolff came back to the United States after the disastrous World Cup showing, where his services were hardly called upon, to put his time in with Kansas City. Among all the hopefuls and up-and-comers whose names were thrown about, only defender Oguchi Onyewu was mentioned more regarding serious transfer speculation once August came around.
As Bobby Convey (and Tim Howard) learned just a few short years ago, 'tis better to be average and a Manchester United hopeful than just hopeful of playing one day versus Manchester United.
The University of South Carolina alum started packing his bags but the English Home Office's decision was unequivocal: two-time World Cup participant Josh Wolff was not good enough for Derby County of the Coca-Cola Championship.
Well, it's not as if there is any ink to dry, 1860 hasn't even broken out the quill yet.
I just thought I'd put my vote in before anyone even asked.