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Japanese club eyes Owen, should MLS teams consider him?


                                                                                   Photo by ISI Photos

Call it one of the more shocking soccer stories to emerge today. Japanese club JEF United Chiba is reportedly lining up a bid to lure English national team striker Michael Owen to the J-League.

Now, let me start by saying that I’m not buying that report in the least. It would be one thing if it were a top Japanese team, and even then it would be pretty far-fetched, but for some bottom-feeding Japanese club to "express" interest screams of a weak attempt to stir up some buzz (did Alexi Lalas go to Japan)?

So there’s my question. Would you want Owen as your team’s designated player? Tell me your MLS team and tell me whether or not you would want your team to break the bank to bring in the former Liverpool star.

As much as I’m not buying the story I couldn’t help but think about Michael Owen and whether he would be worth a Designated Player slot in Major League Soccer. He showed in the final months at Newcastle that he can still do damage as an attacking player, but there is always that image in the back of your mind of one of his legs buckling in ugly fashion. This is all assuming he would even want to live in the United States, which I’m not sure is something he has ever expressed wanting to do.

What do I think? I’m not sure it would be worth the injury risk and lack of box office impact. Would his arrival really sell a bunch of tickets? Would he make teammates better? Would he be a media-savvy marketing tool? Would a New England or Toronto or Houston be a good fit for him?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. cbr- people were bashing Del?? on what grounds?? he’s been nothing but stellar for Juve since he signed… people will find anything to B*tch about i guess

    i do remember those rumors, and have squashed so many hopefuls by telling them that Del said in his own words that he would be finishing his career with Juventus…

  2. I think people get too carried away with what the Average American knows or doesn’t know about a player. That’s not really the demographic that we’re going after. We’re going after soccer-friendly types. The guy who knows something about soccer and the English league.

    If Angel is a worthy DP, then Owen – better known, more accomplished – clearly is.

  3. In terms of talent and marketability to the American soccer fan, I think he’s easily DP material. Injuries is the only concern. FCD should welcome him.

  4. i remember when del piero to mls rumors started popping up last year. ppl were just bashing him left and right. what does he then do? he ripped it up with juve and is very close to getting an italian national team call up for euro08.

    my point is that no matter who the player is…if you make a connection to that player and mls ppl would then come out of the woodwork and bash him.

  5. (did Alexi Lalas go to Japan)?

    How some of us out here in LaLas Land wish, Ives, how some of us out here wish…

  6. FCD fan.

    I’d like to see him in hoops, but only if they structured it like a Denilson deal, where the club could back out after any year in which his legs gave out.

  7. The guy has 136 goals in 259 Premier League games, which makes him 7th all time at only 28 years old. He will surely end his career in the top 5 of all time. He also has 40 goals in 89 games for England. Thats a helluva strike rate for some one who is “overrated” as some posters here are saying. Although I think its a moot point really, I dont think MLS could afford him and I doubt he would want to play in a lesser league like MLS at his age, it would be a huge step down for him.


    On leaving Madrid for Newcastle:

    “Where I failed is that I never enjoyed things off the pitch. My wife was never happy, she missed home and my child, who was only 3, always wanted to go home. I suppose, when you get down to it, we were not as happy we could be at home. I’m a home boy. When I’m not happy off the pitch I’ve found it difficult. In Spain, I did enjoy the experience — I scored a few goals, the fans liked me, it was a good experience. I tested it out and I definitely knew that the Prem is the place I wanted to spend the rest of my career.”

  9. As with any player – DP or not – it all comes down to price and what kind of an impact player is he going to be. Will the team (and fans) get a player who is healthy, makes the team better, sells more tickets/merchandise, and gets the press excited (i.e. more coverage)? Owen’s biggest liability in MLS would be his ability to stay healthy. Other than that, he could help just about any team. I’d rather have money spent on Ronaldhino, Veron or Riquelme… (RBNY fan)

  10. Brant,

    Good point about American’s not knowing foreign stars but caring about offense. While, if healthy, Owen would certainly be a help to any team, the additional 10 – 15 goals a year that team may get will not triple their attendance, which is what he’d have to do to justify his salary.

    It may go up by 5% for the “famous” foreign name and another 5% for the goals.

    It may go up a bit more if he helped the team win but that doesn’t help MLS. Sports are a zero sum game. For ever team whose attendance goes up because they win, another’s go down when they lose.

    The additional million or two a team gets from having Owen will not pay his 10-15 million dollar salary.

  11. P.S. Matt M, how ridiculous is it that Newcastle were so desperate to get him they offered him £120k per week???

    These numbers are insane for someone who is constantly hurt, even though when healthy he is going to still score goals.

  12. If it was 2002, I would wet myself to see Seattle sign him. In 2008, I still would think it was pretty cool. Ultimately though, I guess my logical side would rather see depth built first before we throw too much money around.

  13. Just to clarify – I pointed out that most teams wouldn’t/couldn’t pay for him. But is he an improvement over what’s already on your team?


  14. Owen is obviously a good player the twelve minutes a year he’d be healthy. But come on.

    A ten million pound transfer fee is 20 million dollars. His salary is about 10 million dollars a year without endorsements.

    If some MLS team gave him a 4 year contract, that’s about 15 million dollars a year for this guy.

    That means he’d have to roughly triple the attendance of the team. And don’t give me that crap about making it up on jersey sales. He isn’t nearly as famous as Beckham and I don’t see anyone in London buyer a Toronto jersey with Owens name on it. Incidentally, players get a good share of their jersey proceeds anyway.

    As for gaining “respect” for the league, I have yet to catch a single american sprinting off to buy a season ticket because he learned that foreigners may “respect” the league more than they used too.

    Sad truth is that salaries of top players are higher than whatever additional proceeds a team may reap by having them on the roster.

    Second sad truth is that there’s only about 25 players on the planet whom may actually bring in additional fans that the current MLS team’s roster would bring in.

    A player’s fame and ethnic background (especially englishmens)rarely have any effect on revenue or attendance.

    Waisting an entire season’s revenue on a player that is famous somewhere else is not a decision that will help the league survive.

  15. Brant- u saying that people in america would look at C.Ronaldo (assuming they dont know him) and come to the conclusion he’s part of a drug gang?? quite the scary guy i guess….

  16. AllNats-comprehension my good man, comprehension…

    Steve said, “small, injury prone striker. No thanks we alraeady have a younger version of him in Chris Rolfe”

    therefore, steve is saying we already have a small, injury proned striker in chris rolfe…nowhere is he comparing the skill of Rolfe to Owen….

  17. I think Owen is overrated, but seeing as one of my team’s two DPs is Luciano Emilio…I’d be willing to swap those two players right about now.

  18. Bottom line guys is this: Owen is a great player, and I can’t think of a single MLS side that wouldn’t be better with him than without him. There are certainly some teams where he’d fit better than others. But you find me one team where he wouldn’t be an improvement on whoever’s playing there already as a striker.

    NY? Angel is good. Owen is better. And no one knows for sure how good Altidore will be.

    LA? Tell me again how Alan Gordon is the perfect strike partner for Landon.

    Houston? Look how much they’re sucking without Ngwenya. Now plug Owen into that hole.

    New England? I’ll take Owen over Twellman any day.

    Chivas? Dallas? KC? RSL? Colorado? He’d be the best player on any one of those rosters.

    DC? Do you want Moreno or Owen? That’s what I thought.

    Chicago has Blanco, but can you imagine having to defend him *and* Owen?

    TFC would mob him. He would own the town.

    Which brings me back to Columbus. He’d be getting pinpoint feeds from Schelotto, has Moreno to absorb the hits from the defense, and Rogers to distract the other team’s speed defenders. Plus, I could wear my Newcastle jersey to Crew games 🙂

    He’d be a star. A certifiable star. No one in the US has any clue who any of the real stars in Europe are. You could put Christiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, and Luca Toni in a police lineup and just as many Americans would think they were a drug gang as international soccer stars.

    But Americans love points. They love offense. They can’t tell you who teh 5 best pitchers in baseball are, but they can damn sure rattle off the five best hitters. Think anyone knows who made the NBA’s all-defense team? THink they know who the big scoring threats are?

    You get Owen on the field taking down Roy Lassiter’s season scoring records, and people will pay attention in a way they still haven’t for Beckham, because he’s not a goal-scorer. Once Owen puts in 35 in a 30-game season, people will know who he is.

    There’s no way teh MLS could afford him. But there’s no reason they shouldn’t sign him if offered, and anyone who thinks their team wouldn’t be better off without him is nuts.

  19. lawl, the advertisement to the left is selling “soccer pills” to improve your game.

    anyways, owen i think is always liable for an injury, id not spend the money on him. I would say that TFC would be the best team if they acquired him, but they sell tickets regardless of a big name player, so i wouldnt be sold on an owen move to the mls.

  20. If people watched Owen this year, he still has a striker’s eye for the goal but no longer has the wheels to make his own play.

    The concern I would have with any MLS team picking up a guy like Owen is that barring a few teams, there isn’t a dominant playmaker who could provide Owen with enough quality balls to justify the wage package (his current wage is well over 100,000 pound per week) he would command.


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