Vini Oliveira has been cut by the Sounders FC, and Drew Carey himself may as well have ripped out my heart. I am not a soccer fan, but I am a Vini fan. I watched Sounders Super Search and when Vini won the opportunity to join the team, I couldn’t help but feel happy for the Bellevue native and his family, who celebrated joyfully beside the newest Sounder.
Speaking of Sounders Super Search, what a crock. I feel cheated by the reality TV show which I condemned, then had second thoughts about, then watched and enjoyed. You had to feel good about the opportunity these players received. A dream shot to earn a spot on a major professional sports team doesn’t come along every day, and when it does, the results are magical. Which is probably why KING TV and Disney both got on board with the Sounders FC to make this show happen. It was such a highly-anticipated event, that KING slotted it after the Superbowl and a special episode of The Office, all but guaranteeing a ratings boost for the local programming. The network then brought in the big guns, with inaugural voice Kevin Calabro narrating the action, keeper Kasey Keller providing commentary, and bombdotcom sportscaster Lisa Gangel as the sideline reporter of sorts. It was supposed to be a huge deal, and when all was said and done, it lived up to the hype.
But now, come to find out, SSS was just too good to be true. Like an Alex Rodriguez steroid-infused home run cheating the game of baseball, Sounders Super Search cheated its viewers and Seattle sports fans alike when it yielded, well, nothing. We had our winner, Vini Oliveira, for little more than two weeks before he was asked to leave the team. TWO WEEKS! Why even hold the damn search if your so-called winner is nothing more than a token gesture publicity stunt? My heart breaks for the Oliveira family, who displayed such unbridled happiness when their son, brother, cousin, nephew, grandson, friend was chosen as the people’s champion. How do they feel now? How do they feel about the team that led them on?
It’s a joke. It’s like watching 90 minutes of the movie Invincible, only to find out that Eagles receiver Vince Papale gets waived at the end. Or all of The Rookie, only to discover that Jimmy Morris’s luck runs out in Double-A ball. It’s a crap ending and I hate the Sounders, the supposedly fan-friendly organization, for breaking our hearts. So until Vini returns, I’m boycotting the team. Bring Vini back, and you’ll get me. Keep him off the team, and you lose one fan. It’s not a big number, but I’m confident more people will join me. The coalition to Bring Back Vini starts here. He’s the People’s Champion, and we love him! Viva Vini!