As an MLS season ticket holder, I greatly dislike in-season friendlies against out-of-season European or South American teams. Most teams have stopped doing them - the Timbers haven’t done them in about five years, for example. With a very few exceptions, MLS teams have realized that hosting a game against a big club from abroad might generate a day’s worth of buzz, but doesn’t necessarily translate into dramatically increased interest in the MLS product, so almost all MLS clubs have decided to limit their risk of injury and stop having these games, since the reward is pretty small.
The New England Revolution, on the other hand, are still doing these friendlies. They had one last night! The good thing about it was that it was being billed as the “Final Whistle On Hate”, and was a benefit for groups that fight hate crimes, particularly antisemitism, around the world. While most in-season friendlies are utterly pointless, this one at least had a noble goal.
Problem is, it’s still a sporting event with athletes going all out to win. And Chelsea found out the hard way why these games are kinda dumb, as last night in the second half Ruben Loftus-Cheek went down with what was later confirmed to be a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The game raised over $4 million for the organizations it was supporting, so that’s good, but it cost Chelsea a fairly important piece of their puzzle in Loftus-Cheek. As a human with empathy, I do not wish harm on anyone, but as an Arsenal fan, I’d like to encourage Chelsea to feel free to play a couple more friendlies while they’re in the US. I say this not in an effort to further injure their players, but why not see if we can’t tire them out a bit before Baku? Play some friendlies, see the sights, just relax and enjoy your time in the US, Chelsea. It’s not like you have anything more important to do!