Yesterday, MLS re-ran its story about the history of soccer in Kearny, N.J., a post that centered around Kearny native, U.S. national team and MLS legend John Harkes. In accordance with the law, it wasn’t long before Eric Wynalda’s name was brought up in the comments section.
Harkes and Wynalda are the Crockett & Tubbs of U.S. soccer, in that you can’t mention one without immediately talking about the other — or, they would be, if Crockett had slept with Tubbs’ wife and and damaged the morale of a World Cup team. Allegedly. Maybe Harkes and Wynalda are more like the Sam Cooke and Bobby Womack of U.S. soccer.
There’s nothing new to the infidelity gossip, but yesterday, it took a delightfully bizarre turn as Wynalda himself appeared to jump into the dank water of internet comments to chime in on his own behalf:
No confirmation, but it’s suspected that Wynalda was listening to “Bring It on Home to Me” on dusty vinyl when his John Harkes Google alert went off.
Sometimes, in emotional matters, you have to get those jokes off. It’s therapeutic. The Mayo Clinic has done the research (I can’t find the link, but I believe the medical journal entry was titled “Tweet Through It”) and nothing helps a man fight off tears like a solid punchline about a private matter in a public forum.
Wynalda played the situation with the wounded male’s rhetoric that shows he’s been at this game for years. He’s got his 10,000 hours deflecting jokes about his ex-wife, and throwing his kids into the mix was the perfect flourish. It’s hard to hit a guy with unnecessary venom after he makes you imagine his children reading this and running to Wikipedia for answers, snarling every time they hear Harkes on the radio.
It’s a simple fact of nature that if the United States is ever to become a global soccer power, we have have to step up our collective scandal game. If the Yanks want to live beyond the Round of 16, our players will have to train in the foul air of gossip, betrayal, and lies.
It’s no coincidence that the glory of 2002’s quarterfinal run came after the sabotaged 1998 World Cup. I don’t know if anyone actually considers that ’98 team the start of anything, but it sounds good.