MLS Prospects Create Artwork in Kansas City

4 years 9 months 2 weeks ago January 12, 2012 Jan 12, 2012 Thursday, January 12 2012 Thursday, January 12, 2012 1:23:27 PM CST in Sports
By: Associated Press

KANSAS CITY (AP) -- Chandler Hoffman stuck his bare feet in the yellow paint and squirmed.

"It's squishy," he said.

Then he took a tentative step onto the green canvas inside a vast marble hall at the renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Then he took another step, and another, and pretty soon he was doing a quirky version of the cha-cha-cha from one side of the canvas to the other.

Hoffman and five other prospects expected to be chosen highly in the MLS draft spent Wednesday getting creative with their feet - in a much different way than they're used to. They created an 18-foot-long painting entitled "Creating the Beautiful Game," dipping their feet and cleats into the paint and then using their natural movement - kicking, passing, dribbling - to apply it to the canvas.

"This is something none of us have ever done," said Hoffman, a forward from UCLA and Hermann Trophy semifinalist who some expect to be taken first overall by the Montreal Impact on Thursday.

It quickly became clear the six prospects were better at soccer than painting.

Sam Garza, a forward from UC Santa Barbara, started moonwalking across the canvas, streaking the blue and yellow paint into a muddy glob. Maryland forward Casey Townsend nearly wiped out after he dipped his cleats into paint and took a big step onto the would-be artwork.

"I don't know what Jackson Pollock is thinking today," said museum CEO Julian Zugazogoitia, referring to the late abstract expressionist painter known for his "drip" technique.

In some ways, the final results looked a little bit like Pollock's work.

Paint from the players' feet streaked together to form layers of blue and yellow atop the green backdrop, while dripping lines of white crisscrossed throughout the work.

The final layer, a bright orange, was applied to two soccer balls that the players kicked back and forth across the canvas, once in a while kicking them up in the air at each other while museum officials stood aghast - priceless tapestries hung from the walls not more than 30 feet away.

"I've taken art classes, but nothing like this," said Connecticut midfielder Tony Cascio, his feet still covered in light blue paint. "It was a lot of fun. Beats sitting in my hotel room."

A couple of hundred museum patrons had gathered around the painting by the time the players finally stepped away from the canvas, bursting into spontaneous applause.

It wasn't the first time Major League Soccer went to great lengths to generate publicity, especially for the draft. Last year, six players kicked soccer balls with their names on them into a pool, and one that a dolphin poked at first was expected to be the first overall selection.

Other players who took part in the expressionistic exercise Wednesday were Louisville midfielder Nick DeLeon and UC Santa Barbara forward Luis Silva, a first-team All-American.

Garza may have been the most artistic of the bunch. He said he draws in his spare time, and even took some classes in high school. When asked to put a price on the painting, he initially balked.

"I'd put a hundred dollars on it," he said.

Not quite what a Jackson Pollock is fetching these days.

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