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USA Soccer Great Pulls A Kenny Powers, Reappears In Mexico

  • Matthew De George

When ESPN redoubled its efforts to (read: finally started to see the money-making potential of) covering domestic soccer, Eric Wynalda’s voice was a mainstay in studio and in the press box.

His occasionally tumultuous relationship with the Worldwide Leader culminated prior to the 2008 MLS season (after such incidents as telling ESPN co-worker and notorious anti-soccer proponent Jim Rome to “suck his d—k” and comparing flares lit in the Chicago Fire fan section to deadly wildfires in his native California).

The U.S. National Team’s second all-time leading scorer then spent a brief stint on the coaching staff of the Under-20 national team before unsuccessfully pursing other coaching opportunities with the senior squad as well as MLS franchises.

But now, he’s back. Don’t call it a comeback, though; it’s only a front office position with a third tier Mexican outfit, Murcielagos F.C. (We kid, they don’t have offices; it’s probably more like the front tent or some guy’s basement).

Yes, much like Eastbound and Down’s Kenny Powers, Wynalda is back on the grid, this time south of the border. Officially, he’s the President of International Operations, which might just be an excuse for him to spend a lot of time outside of Mexico.

In an interview with Jeff Carlisle, his former colleague at ESPN, Wynalda strikes a decidedly “better-than-nothing” tone.

My decision is to either continue to scream at the rain, or go to work. I’ve decided to go to work.

Plus, conveniently located near the border, he’ll still have ample opportunities to scream, this time in the face of drug cartel gunfire.

Ok, so Sinaloa isn’t the place most coaches go to cut their teeth (only their cocaine). And Murcielagos may not be the largest club in the world (Google it and you get redirected to Murcielago, a fighting bull famous for surviving 28 sword strokes from a bullfighter in Cordoba, Spain in 1879 that earned it the right to be immortalized as a Lamborghini model).

But Wynalda is keeping his head high, explaining to Carlisle in an outstanding bit of rationalization how American’s should take the flight south to further their professional soccer aspirations:

It’s a great option for some of the talent in America to expedite their career. There’s also a lot of talent in the region and we’re constantly being scouted by the bigger clubs like Club American and Chivas de Guadalajara.

All of a sudden, Salt Lake City doesn’t look all that bad (at least the Mormons generally aren’t homicidal mercenaries).

On the bright side, though, this change of scenery does keep Wynalda away from John Harkes (and gives former broadcast partner Giorgio Chinaglia a great place to lay low for a while).

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