Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Santos Laguna Press Conference & Practice

As you may know there was a press conference for Santos Laguna. It was the typical affair, but there was a pretty interesting comment by coach Guzman. Here are a few notes and from the press conference:
  • Garth Lagerway (RSL, GM), John Digles (Chief Marketing Officer, Xango), Daniel Guzman (Santos Coach), Jorge Estrada (Santos co-captain), and Francisco Torres (Santos co-captain) were all in attendance.
  • All 3 Santos representatives mentioned that they take every match seriously and want to "put on a good show". I think they mean it.
  • Xango portrayed the Xango cup as a world class soccer event, and that this was part of the tradition that has included Real Madrid, Everton, and Boca Juniors. I get the sense that they really want to build this into something noteworthy.
  • Coach Guzman was asked if he would ever consider coaching in the MLS. He answered that he would love to coach abroad and the MLS would be a great case to coach. I believe he really meant it. He followed up with Real Salt Lake would be a great place to coach. Oddly enough I think he was only kind of kissing up and may have been semi-serious.
  • Apparantly Guzman (San Jose) and Lagerway (Dallas) both played in MLS at the same time.

Afterwards Santos had a practice on the turf at Rice Eccles. Here are a couple of observations and some tidbits that I picked up there:

  • They don't subscribe to the short practice on the day before the game theory as I left about 1 hour 45 minutes into their practice.
  • They run similar drills to RSL, but seemed more relaxed, less intense.
  • They seem to have stronger technical ability from top to bottom than we have.
  • A couple hundred (or more) very passionate Santos fans were in attendance at the practice, and had to wait through an hour long delay due to travel delays by the team.
  • I learned that the choice of Santos not only benefits RSL by attracting potential long-term Mexican fans, but that Xango receives alot of play in Mexico from this event. Mexico happens to be their second largest market.
  • I learned that the stadium naming rights may have a little bit of a stigma to them because the stadium is stationary and only provides local benefits except for exposure on TV, however the MLS TV exposure is viewed as relatively week. It's likely that as MLS TV exposure expands naming rights throughout the league will increase in value.
  • Apparantly Xango (because they pioneered the jersey sponsorship domestically) has a bargain arrangement with RSL. Other sponsorships such as VW, Best Buy, etc drew big bucks.
  • The fact that the 2009 All-Star Game will be held here and will be announced tomorrow is the worst kept secret in history.