My colleague at the Champions Soccer Radio Network, Daniel Feuerstein has a very interesting take on what now seems like an age old question: Has Soccer arrived? Much along the same lines as my column over the weekend about how MLS Cup garnered about one fourth of the total viewers the Euro final did on ABC, it seems something about the domestic game is preventing people from following it. Let me state this: I have about as little regard for MLS as possible. I saw my local team contracted by the league while clubs with less local support continued to play. I’ve seen a dip in quality in the league and fewer and fewer good young American players being developed in MLS. Unlike some fans I also believe MLS’ poor record in CONCACAF competitions speaks for itself. I happen to believe the best team in MLS would be in a dogfight to avoid relegation over a two year period if they played in the Mexican First Division, a league which many MLS proponents claim is comparable to MLS. I also enjoyed watching MLS on a weekly basis ten years ago more than today: not only did I have a local team to support but more players in MLS were part of their national teams and accomplished internationally than today.
All of this having been said, I again remain curious and disappointed that so many American born fans of the beautiful game choose to totally ignore MLS and focus on European football. Maybe its simply my makeup and my national pride/jingoism but I cannot truly imagine calling myself a soccer fan being American and totally ignoring MLS.
I believe MLS is an inferior product to most European leagues. However it is also OUR product. Take some pride in ownership, take some pride in being American. You don’t have to love MLS but to dismiss it and not even attempt to follow it is a disservice to the sport in this country. While we are at it, it is important to support USL and NCAA Soccer as well. The NCAA Final Four will be on ESPN 2 this weekend. This is a good chance to check out some young home grown talent and support the continued growth of the game here at home.
EDITORS NOTE: SEVERAL COMMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN LEFT ABOUT TELEFUTURA’S RATING BEING ADDED TO ABC’S TO GIVE MLS CUP A 0.9 RATING ARE MISLEADING. TELEFUTURA HAD LESS VIEWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S MLS CUP THAN THE MATCH A YEAR AGO AND LESS VIEWERS THAN TELEMUNDO DID FOR THE SPANISH LANGUAGE BROADCAST OF MLS CUP 1998. BOTTOM LINE: MLS CUP RATINGS ARE DROPPING.