This Funeral Calls for a Toast

 

It’s good to see that there will be plenty of people who are going to miss MatchNight, and what it had to offer.

However, it’s time for a toast, a celebration – not for tears.

And besides, I’m not done yet – at least my life-support machine tells me so.

MatchNight has given many of us a forum to provide you with sterling – if not erratic at times – coverage and analysis of soccer in the United States.

We’ve done this with mostly no compensation except the comments and feedback visitors to the site, and its affiliates, have provided.

I remember when I first started covering soccer back in 2001. I started with the WUSA and the Richmond Kickers.

At the WUSA matches, you could almost take bets on what section of RFK had the most fans – the press box or the rest of the stadium, especially when Mia Hamm wasn’t playing.

Soon after, I received credentials to cover DC United, and not long after that, I started receiving credentials to everything short of the men’s World Cup.

And no matter what the case, I was always treated with respect – from the players, coaches and staffs of the teams, and by other, more mainstream reporters than myself.

The reporters covering the games have valued my input (I think), and I valued their deadlines and lessons I learned from them – most of them good ones, believe it or not.

This treatment for someone who started out with a blog, when blogs hadn’t quite evolved yet.

But I always thought of my job as providing information and insight that others couldn’t give due to their constraints.

In many ways those constraints have eased, and you’re seeing mainstream reporters with blogs, more space to write – and more things like podcasts and video to accompany articles.

Does that mean I feel I’ve become obsolete? No. These people are all welcome to the party too.

We shouldn’t look at the mainstream as kicking us to the curb.

Quite the contrary.

Haven’t we been calling for them to embrace the sport, give additional insight beyond the match reports and occasional feature?

Well, now we’re getting more of that. Yes, newspapers have made cuts too, but we’ve seen others add blogs, add features, add more coverage about MLS in their print products. We’re also seeing, slowly but surely, more than one US magazine about the sport.

Besides, with a high speed connection and a voice, you too can be a part of the new media.

All you have to do is look to DCenters as a shining example. Visiting their site is like going to your neighborhood watering hole and bantering about your favorite team with friendly, passionate voices.

A quick aside: Big Soccer is more like going to Wal-Mart. You might find everything you need, but the quality is generally lower, and there’s too many people elbowing each other just to get a $5 iPod.

A lot has, as I’ve mentioned, changed since I started covering soccer.

Recently, I’ve not had as much time to devote to providing the coverage that you deserve. That’s due to a few things.

The most important reason is that I’m getting married at the end of March. Everything else comes second after my fiancee.

I’ve also taken a new job and moved in the last few months, coinciding with the end of DC United’s season. All of those things have served to take up time that I used to have for reporting and writing.

I’m still working on balancing out those things. But I’m not going to stop covering soccer. I’m still having a lot of fun doing it, and I think there’s many more things to cover, and in many ways.

I’ve been privileged to see great moments, and bring them to all of you. I’ve received a lot of support and generous feedback – one day I know that’ll turn to greenback (I can dream, can’t I?).

In the meantime, I’ll be back at the matches (except for the ones that come while I’m on my honeymoon), trying to bring a different perspective and sharp analysis to all the teams around here.

DC United is a great franchise, worthy of top-notch, critical and analytic coverage.

But this region, this Mid-Atlantic region, is a hotbed for great lower level programs as well (MLS reserves, USL, college, youth soccer, etc.), and it’s my plan, at least, to continue providing coverage of those too.

The only thing we’re euthanizing is the Mid-Atlantic Soccer Report name. Come Mar. 31, it’s gone.

No one should miss that moniker, and since we’re still going to be around under the UnitedMania banner, you won’t have to miss us either. We’ll still have great photos (Chris Leon and Martin Fernandez). We’ll still have informed, if not off-the-wall, insight (Chris Webb, Mike Martin and John Dyson). And I’ll still bring you my all-around game. With our new podcast, we’ll be bringing you new things too.

So, stay tuned, be prepared to update your bookmarks and ready yourselves for the upcoming season. We’re not dead.

In the meantime, go ahead and drink a toast – to MatchNight, and to all those who have come, and gone, trying to fill the gaps in soccer coverage in the US.

It’s well-deserved.

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