The Groundsman’s Shed

Comment: The MLS Season Begins, and for once- I care. by groundsman
March 28, 2008, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Comment, football, Me, MLS, soccer, USA, World Cup 2006


I’m not going to lie– I last regularly watched the MLS in 2006, before and after the World Cup in Germany, when myself and many other American soccer fans were thirsting for more sport to watch.   ESPN/ABC were giddy with successful ratings from the international competition and began showing many of the domestic matches on the main channels.  Unfortunately, it became obvious to many fans of sport in general that there were light years of difference between the respective levels of play.  At the time I was simply an Arsenal supporter who would feverishly watch any and all Premier League action, sprinkled with a bit of Serie A coverage, and followed as much world football news as I could online.  I had no place in my mind and heart for the MLS with their creepily corporate team names, and bad camera work during the matches.  I felt sympathy for these professional athletes playing on gridiron fields with the yard markings still clearly visible, some who were college educated lads on less than $30,000 a year, but I just couldn’t put up with the sloppy play (all attack, no defense whatsoever) and the ill informed or non-existant punditry provided by the television sports networks.

Something has changed.

Not only are there more “name players” in Major League Soccer, but it feels as if from top to bottom, there’s more energy surrounding the league, and expectations are higher.  I don’t know if it’s The Becks Effect or not, but for the past couple of seasons, when I’ve told people I am a soccer fan they don’t look surprised or amused anymore– they usually nod excitedly and ask who’s my team and where I’m going to watch the match.  Not only is soccer in the U.S. (or at least where I live) seemingly more accepted- casual sport fans seem more educated about the sport.

As for the level of play within the league, I’m told it’s gotten significantly stronger.  I saw much evidence of that whilst watching the championship game last season (despite my shameful MLS prejudice, I make it a habit of watching the final matches). 

I’m admitting all of this to the ether because I have promised myself and my MLS-supporting friends that I will watch faithfully this season, since it may not be entirely fair for me to feel warmth for League One teams in England while ignoring players in my own country.  Atlanta does not have an MLS team, (though when the women’s league was in it’s heyday, we had a quite good squad) so I have been struggling to find a team to support (especially since I can’t travel to the matches and many of them aren’t on television), but I will attach myself to some squad- and like the Gunners of Arse, they will have a devoted and overly optimistic fan in myself. 

Any suggestions for an excellent squad for me to watch closely and consider granting my devotion would be rather helpful!  For now- remember Saturday is the big double header to open the season on Fox Soccer Channel!

[Photo: ebatty]


13 Comments so far
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FC Dallas, duh.! lol – Although I’m not too sure about them. Last 2 years make it to the playoffs just to blow it. Houston is on a Roll. But since I live in the area and go to the games, I have to stick with the home town FC Dallas..

Oh, need to set the dvr right now for the games tomorrow night..
Good luck picking out your team to watch…

Comment by tazdog

Ahhh, Dallas. I considered deciding based upon which teams were in cities with the best airports, but years from now, when my family and I are shelling out 80 bucks for replica shirts and I have the team’s crest painted on my face, I don’t want to tell the guys down the pub that I chose my team based on quality of air travel. 🙂

Comment by groundsman

I am in the same boat as you, living in a market without an MLS team. I used to live near Boston and go to Revs matches so I have a soft spot in my heart for them. Now, I just watch the league in general and wait for the day that a city close to me has a squad. Glad you’re giving MLS another shot.

Here’s hoping that Arthur Blank shells out some $$$ so an MLS team comes to Atlanta.

Comment by Black Coffee & Bourbon

So glad you can identify with my issue BCB! A lot of my friends back overseas snicker at the fact that so many American football fans like Premiership teams rather than their “home” teams- but really, because the US is such a big country geographically, the KC Wizards seem about as much like a “home” team as Arsenal do. If I have to choose between “home teams”, I’m going to choose the one that plays more attractive football, yeah?

That said, I don’t know if I really want another football team to come here, just because the ATL really isn’t a good town for new teams. Our hockey team went through a lot of rough years, and only still exists because of tenacious ownership. There’s too much competition in this city from pro gridiron football, baseball, and college football is like a religion in this state. Not to mention the fact that there’s just so many other things to do culturally here. I’d like for an MLS team to just be nearby, perhaps in South Carolina or northern/central Florida, so that it has a fighting chance of survival.

…or they could just throw money at our USL team, The Silverbacks, who already have an established fanbase. 🙂

Comment by groundsman

Sorry, lol I had to throw up my home team.. Hope they play well tomorrow.. Was watching most of the double header tonight and so far the 2 games are going pretty good..

Comment by tazdog

[…] Comments tazdog on Comment: The MLS Season Begins…groundsman on Comment: The MLS Season Begins…Black Coffee & B… on Comment: The MLS Season […]

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Nothing wrong with your love for FC Dallas, Taz! I’m just insanely jealous of the fact that you can actually see live football nearby. I’m going to some Atlanta Silverbacks games this season, so that should make me feel a bit better. Their colours are similar to Arsenal’s so I may not even buy new scarves! (terrible, I know)

Comment by groundsman

[…] As you can tell, I’m still having a bit of trouble with my pledge to find an MLS team to love and support. […]

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Well turns out that my trip to Seattle next week will prompt a trip to watch the USL Seattle Sounders. That will be fun..
Hope you will find some good games to go see this season..

Comment by tazdog

Ok so I was checking out the Sounders schedule for my trip to Seattle this week, and I noticed that they play Atlanta on May 2nd. It’s also being broadcasted on FSC.
Here is what the site says:

Seattle Sounders vs Atlanta Silverbacks
Friday, May 02 2008 | 5:00pm
Fox Soccer Channel

Anyways you probably knew about this but just in case, my home team against yours in usl.. nice!

Comment by tazdog

I didn’t actually know that! Very sweet! I’ll try to come up with some quality trash talking before the match. 😉

Comment by groundsman

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Cool site.

Comment by Rob Miller

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