TUES, 2:45PM ET
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POR2
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World Football Challenge: A Worrying Few Weeks

2009 wfc challenge 412x114 300x83 World Football Challenge: A Worrying Few Weeks

The inaugural World Football Challenge begins tomorrow on American soil, in the Bay Area.  Much like the “World Series of Football” in 2005, this event conflicts directly with our region’s Continental Championship which also is contested on American soil. But unlike that tournament which was promoted by SUM and involved MLS teams, this event shuts out the American club game as if it does not exist. That summer also some European teams toured independently of SUM and also conflicted with the USMNT’s Gold Cup run.

Perhaps this tournament reflects a utopian model for what some so-called fans of the game want to witness in this country. Elite European teams with few if any Americans (the three European teams involved in this tournament have two players total from the CONCACAF region) touring the country, allowing us to pretend for a minute we are in Europe and we do not have our own club game or national team to support. These clubs and their organizers taking what little dollars families have allocated for viewing of football in this recessionary economy and spending them on maintaining European club dominance not on growing the American game.

The attitude of some fans of the game in this country is worrying. Regardless of where you live in the United States, chances are you are within driving distance of a club or semi-professional club. This summer, we’ve seen the remarkable run of the US National Team in the FIFA Confederations Cup, and top quality international football once again on our soil.

We’ve seen an improvement in MLS quality, some good football in USL-1 and USL-2, and even PDL teams sell players on to perceived power teams in Europe. We have also seen MLS and USL-1 provide between them more players for the CONCACAF Gold Cup than any other leagues.  We’ve noted the number of players who have come through the PDL or our College system that has become legitimate stars for the USMNT or other CONCACAF nations.

But like in 2005, when the US struggled to get past Honduras and Panama in the semifinal and finals of the Gold Cup, many of our fans are focused on other things that are almost entirely extraneous to the game in this country.

Even worse,  Mexican fans are forced to choose this weekend: their national team contesting a continental championship or Club America, Mexico’s second most popular team (okay, maybe it’s most popular- this depends entirely on whom you ask) playing against an Italian heavyweight. The matches start at the same time tomorrow, with one on Univision and the other ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes which cannibalizes the audience.

I found it highly annoying and somewhat offensive the other day, when I spoke to a friend of mine from the Washington DC area. This friend, who I’ve worked in politics with is excited about Chelsea coming to Baltimore. I asked him if he had been by to see United play this year and he told me “Manchester United isn’t part of this tournament.” Perhaps, it’s my own peculiar thinking that leads me to assume when I say United to someone from suburban Maryland, I am talking about DC United.

Long story short: this friend of mine not been to a DC United game this season and was unaware of the local USL-2 team that plays in his neighborhood. He did however consider venturing to Baltimore for Crystal Palace’s visit to play their USL-2 affiliate this past week. He didn’t make it but felt that trip was more worth his time than seeing the MLS team that plays close to his office or the USL team that plays near his home.

This story is repeated I am sure nationally, as fans of the beautiful game believe anything that happens to have an American flavor is somehow tainted, even though many of them have not given the American game a real opportunity. People claim to support the game but yet turn their backs on their own domestic leagues and national team without really ever really developing knowledge about them.

We hear “fans” bash CONCACAF and the quality of the opposing national teams when they have not taken the time to watch Panama, Honduras or Jamaica play. Their judgments are not independent but reflect a peer pressure from “educated” fans of the game and certain elements of the press as well as American based bloggers who ignore the domestic game.

In writing this, I am not asking for others to join me in skipping the matches. I know many of our readers watch European football and find the touring of some of the world’s most recognizable clubs to be a nirvana. I am likely to watch the games involving Club America, currently one of the worst teams in Mexico’s first division so I can get a feel for whether the second most famous club in North America will recover this season (I’ll be covering Miami FC tomorrow night but will tape the Club America match).  But of course Club America will be without Guille Ochoa because he has actual serious internationals to contest in this next week. I am however asking for the “fans” who patron events like this to open their minds up to American soccer, and the CONCACAF region. Perhaps a good showing by the weak America side without Ochoa can help serve this purpose, but given CA’s recent form I’m not holding my breathe.

Scheduling appears to be an issue all over the board. I had no idea that the Superliga semifinals had occurred on Wednesday night. Part of this was simply logic: if SUM is gearing a tournament to appeal to Latin fans why would it be held at the same time as the Copa Lib. Finals?  Even more perplexing was the decision to play in Foxborough when the Copa Lib. Final included a Brazlian team.

Superliga in 2009 has been a washout. Conflicting with the Confederations Cup and then the Gold Cup, we saw Mexican team on holiday send watered down sides, and one team even neglect to send their first team coach. But Superliga serves a purpose of promoting the North American game, which European tours do not.

I’m not condemning anyone who may want to watch an allegedly better brand of football in person or on TV. (I watch plenty of European, Japanese and Latin football) But I am annoyed by those who claim to support the game and yet ignore the domestic product. I am also condemning those who claim to me “CONCACAF sucks,” without ever watching the opposition in this region or some of the other leagues.

Fans of European football who think MLS is beneath them while be pleasantly surprised at the competitiveness and quality of the Mexican League.  Club America, the lone CONCACAF representative in this phony event is not an accurate barometer of the strength of the FMF at this point in time: sending America to this tournament, is somewhat akin to having Newcastle contest these exhibitions. A team with a huge fane base but short on quality currently, and long on getting beat by smaller budget teams in league play.

I do not fault ESPN for showing these games. They have learned through the hard knocks of MLS’ absolutely pitiful TV ratings, as well as a decline in USMNT TV ratings over the past several years (until the Confederations Cup, of course) that European football sells in the US. But I do fault those “fans” that seem oblivious to the game in this country acting as if the next few weeks are the greatest in football for this country. Those “fans” are among what is holding the game back here in the United States.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

54 Responses to World Football Challenge: A Worrying Few Weeks

  1. Oscar Baechler says:

    Kartik, when you gonna move to the Northwest Corridor? I think it would ease your troubled mind so much to live in an area obsessed with its local teams and rivalries first, and European “celebrity” football second.

  2. Oscar, good point even though I am a tad bit annoyed that Seattle could only get 15,000 and change for a US game.

    I assume it was because it was the 4th. Otherwise the Northwest with 3 MLS/USL teams and countless interesting PDL derbys (all of which I have been tracking this year)is the heart of soccer in N. America. That’s the way it should be, bravo Seattle/Porland/Vancouver!

  3. adambchildress says:

    I understand the setiment of which this article was written, however it is my opinion that the style of soccer that will be played between these “powerhouses” is what Americans need to see here to get them to start watching Major League Soccer, Gold Cup (which I think should be held every 2 years like the eurocup), the US Open Cup, and tournements of that nature. As an American who loves the top 4 American sports pre-eurocup 2008, I never found the excitment I did with the NFL and such watching the very few games I watched of MLS. Now it may seem like I am a eurosnob or whatever but right now while my Detroit Tigers are playing I am watching Houston vs Toronto, I also have Setanta and FSC, and it is my opinion that the World Powers being showcased once or twice a year on our soil and showing more World Powers on ESPN can do more for football in this country than 14 years of MLS.

  4. adambchildress says:

    ## that was supposed to say loved(past tense) the top 4 American sports…for me its Football(soccer) 100 percent.

  5. adambchildress says:

    oh and because its hard to accertain my MLS love, I have MLS Direct Kick, I love Seattle and what they have done, and believe they are what no clubs should be molded after, and I watch 2-3 MLS games a week and I watch the Charleston Battery on USLLive. I watch 8-10 EPL games a week during the season and support Wolverhampton (the first team I came to know through my boss from there) and Liverpool. I love the game of football and would love an MLS team in Detroit instead of our PDL Bucks, but MLS,USL, SUPER LIGA, and other leagues and tournements do a horrid job at advertising there existance.

  6. doug mulliken says:

    i have been following soccer since as long as i can remember, and i am absolutely one of the people you talk about who turns their back on the american game. i grew up watching mexican soccer on tv, and even though i’m american i support the mexican national team and couldn’t care less about the “USMNT.” (which, by the way, is one of us soccer’s biggest problem. nobody calls it the “EMNT” when referring to england, yet we feel the need to differentiate between the women’s team and the men’s team… but that’s an argument for a different day.)

    there is a flaw in your argument, kartik – in 2005, when chivas and rsl came into the league, i decided to give mls a chance. i had never watched it previous, because i was more interested in south american and, to a lesser extent, european soccer. what i found in 2005 was that the league is terrible! yes, the quality is improving, but it’s improving by baby steps, not leaps and bounds. now of couse, in 2005 expansion affected the talent pool, but as i write this comment i am watching tfc-houston and the quality is still really bad. earlier in the half there was practically a rugby scrum of three guys from each team crashing into each other, and the ref let play go on! that’s bush league stuff!

    BUT, i have decided to give mls another chance. but here’s the thing – i will give mls another chance, but stop trying to convince me (and people like me) that the product we are watching is, in any way, quality soccer. it’s not, but that’s ok. when it comes to mls, we are getting american cheese, not brie. but that’s ok – just stop trying to tell me that the product is better than it is. i (and people like me who are referred to as snobs by mls fans) know that mls is not high quality. if we choose to watch, it won’t be because of that.

    this doesn’t have much to do, per sé, with the article you wrote, but i thought that i would voice the sentiments of someone who would describe himself as a “soccer fan” as opposed to a “us soccer fan” – i am american, and i love soccer, but i am not a fan of american soccer. but like i said, i will give mls another chance. because sometimes you don’t want a brie and apple sandwich on a french baguette… sometimes you want a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread.

  7. The product isn’t in any way comparable to European OR Mexican football. I hate when MLS compares itself to the FMF because truthfully watching both leagues it is not close. But the point is that American fans should embrace their local teams- be they in MLS, USL, PCSL, NPSL, whatever.

    I have concerns about MLS. I am in the small category of people who actually believe the quality of the league has decline since the 1998-2000 time period when it was actually quite good and we had several players who played for their world cup and euro squad teams. But my issue is that people act like it doesn’t exist and by extension know very little about our national team or our region and then make comments and assumptions based on what they hear from the European press or pro Euro American based bloggers- it’s largely enlightened ignorance.

  8. Pumas Fan says:

    Preach it, Rev. Kartik!!
    There is so much good soccer being played in North America now (MLS, USL, FMF, NCAA, etc.) that it’s hard for me to even keep up with what is happening in Europe anymore with some of my favorite teams from that part of the world, and I find myself following leagues outside of North America less and less every year (except to keep tabs on players from CONCACAF playing overseas). It has always seemed odd to me to see a bunch of American suburban white guys – who’ve never traveled outside the U.S. except perhaps to Cancun – at my local soccer pub cheering on Tottenham with scarves and everything (as if they grew up across the street from White Hart Lane) and not give even a second glance at the MLS team here in my city, or any of the FIVE college soccer programs located here. This baffles me, and it’s not because they prefer a “superior” level of soccer (EPL) as every match it seems that one or two of them ask questions about such simple aspects of the game – the offsides rule, etc. As a fan of the game, I especially enjoy getting to see a match in person, be that at one of the local college teams, my local MLS team, or even a high school match and my loyalty will always be tied more closely to teams I can see in person, way more than to teams I can typically only enjoy via paid, commercial television.

  9. It has always seemed odd to me to see a bunch of American suburban white guys – who’ve never traveled outside the U.S. except perhaps to Cancun – at my local soccer pub cheering on Tottenham with scarves and everything (as if they grew up across the street from White Hart Lane) and not give even a second glance at the MLS team here in my city, or any of the FIVE college soccer programs located here. This baffles me, and it’s not because they prefer a “superior” level of soccer (EPL) as every match it seems that one or two of them ask questions about such simple aspects of the game – the offsides rule, etc. As a fan of the game, I especially enjoy getting to see a match in person, be that at one of the local college teams, my local MLS team, or even a high school match and my loyalty will always be tied more closely to teams I can see in person, way more than to teams I can typically only enjoy via paid, commercial television.

    You said it much better than I did……that’s the summation of the whole argument. Thanks, Pumas Fan!

  10. adambchildress says:

    would you critisize someone who lives in Idaho for being a diehard supporter of the Chicago Fire because he dosnt live there? Or is it just fandom that reaches over an ocean that bothers you? I have never been to England but lets say I was a diehard Manchester City Fan, well if your like me and your learn about the history of the city you would see that they are similar to Detroit so you can have ties in that manner that make you feel closer to them than for say Houston because Texas seems nothing like where your from. On facebook I have made friends with fellow Wolverhampton Supports and we chat it up all the time. In todays day and age I dont believe that the location of your birth should be used as a bermoeter for how much you can support an unlocalized team. I follow the Seattle Sounders because I cam into soccer at the end of last season(mls) and chose them because they were new to the league. During the Bush years I felt much closer to my foreign counterparts than I did to America. I didnt like the direction American and its people were heading. So I guess I need to shed myself of Wolves and Liverpool gear and only support the Michigan Bucks which is our PDL team…..one thing people like you above forget is that football(soccer) is the glue that holds people together, so if you become a fan of a team no matter where your living, those other fans that support the same team as you are your brothers.

  11. I don’t criticize people for becoming fans but if they don’t support the game in their local areas it is a big issue for the development of the game in this country.

  12. Kartik says:

    as long as you support an american club and the national team, you can support whatever english team you want

  13. adambchildress says:

    Kartik, In my opinion you have MLS charging 40 million dollars for a franchise. If it were me running things then once they paid the 40 million I would then give the team back 20 million that must be spent on the roster. Until we get quality players here its not going to make the jump. We are one of the richest countries in the world yet most of our soccer players make less that aaa and aa baseball players. They need to raise the cap significantly if they are to be taken seriously. If we had more money here maybe our American players would stay instead of sitting on the bench of foreign clubs, thus making our league better. All I ever hear is parody parodparody, well if the parody is each team is rubbish to watch 75 percent of the time then I dont want parody. This is not in response to anything youve said it just my thoughts. I want MLS to be a top tier sport here but were not going to get there running the league as it is currently its time to take the next step. Plus is I was the MLS I would see if I could by the USL and have promotion relegation but thats a pipe dream.

  14. JTW says:

    the usl………..u suck leaguue. why does that league even exist? why is mls forced to compete with a league in second tier markets. if i were the ussf i’d force usl out of business or to become an amauteur league. i cringe every time an mls team loses to a usl one in the us cup and was really pissed about the puerto rico islanders. thanks you to the mexican team that beat them on pks.

    all professional teams should be in mls. usl should be amatuer and development like the pdl.cities that cannot support an mls club will have a pdl type club and they can support their closest mls city. with soon to 18 teams across the country everyone is near an mls team.

    and kartik if the mexican league is so much better than the mls how do you explain the usa always beating mexico? any game between a top mls team and a top mexican team would follow the same form as the national teams. mls is without a doubt better than the mexican league, and as we saw with the confed cup on par with most european leagues.

    i like the premise of this article but disagree on usl which is a waste and hurts mls, and mexico/concacaf which is waste of our time. we dominate the region with the best league and the best players.

  15. Darren says:

    I agree with Pumas Fan. It behooves me the commitment people have to a team they’ve never seen live when they have MLs or USL teams playing around the corner. In the case of Kartik’s friend he has DCU, the two USL teams and lots of PDL and College options. To simply say it is inferior is to lack self respect in being american IMHO.

  16. adambchildress says:

    JTW- where is the MLS is the Super Liga and Champions League? If USL teams are so bad why do they even come close to winning games against MLS? The closest MLS team from me is 5 hours thats not close. If MLS is so great then why does ESPN and FSC treat it like a red headed step child showing one game a week? I like the MLS but your nuts if you think that its the best in the region with the best players.

  17. Lee says:

    Kartik & Pumas Fan

    You guys may think your some sort of super yanks or something but you represent what is fundamentally wrong with America. I don’t want to be told who to root for or whom to watch. That’s communism. Speaking of communism, MLS is like a socialist government hording the player rights and with all these phony rules and allocations, drafts, etc.

    USL is slightly better. Truthfully it’s more watchable with real tactics but the players suck and must frustrate the coaches like Heath, Rennie, etc with their inability to compete at a high level.

    What bothers me is you say we should watch MLS. Truthfully, I gave it a chance and still watch USL but all the dumb rules and allocations, etc make it totally unwatchable.

    I can cheer for who I want to cheer for. I root for England because of the common language and because they have the best league. Besides I don’t need a bunch of rednecks in pickup trucks shooting “SOCCER IS COOL MAN” when the USA does something and treating the most beautiful game on the planet like some on again off again Olympic sport they embrace just for jingoistic purposes when the usa wins.

  18. Chris says:

    Well I have been a football fan for a long time…I do love european football that being Italian Serie A only..I hate the EPL…i do give MLS a chance…I watch it everytime when its on. I do not have a team i support because i cant seem to decide who i like better…either DC United or Columbus Crew them being the cloest to me since I live in Kentucky…The only thing that sets MLS apart from the euro leagues is the money and everybody knows this. If the MLS teams were rich as hell and were owned by Arabs that were rich as hell. MLS would be booming and everybody would be watching it. If a MLS clubs had the money to afford players like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Kaka, just any player from europe every league in Europe would not be so good compared to MLS. MLS is not competeing with Europe in no way so I could careless which league is good and which one is bad. MLS is good in its own league and it interest me…Houston and Toranto FC was a good game today i enjoyed it alot. just like I enjoyed the LA and Red Bulls game…and not caring if David Beckham was even there. I do think its bad that nobody here in america does not care about the MLS or gives it a chance…but the only reason for this is because there is no big names here other than beckham. I dont really think the fans can make the team better it will defintaly make the teams feel better and try harder prolly if they sold out every game and wanted to see them play you know…so overall MLS isnt bad nor is the USL football is football and MLS and USL will only get better names will start coming one day.

    @ Doug…wow I hope we never see you in an USA jersey at a USA game.. unless it is at a Mexico vs USA game, just go to mexico and stay…I am american and i will support MY country when it comes to International Football. the USA Mens team has helped football here in america and the USA Womens team has helped womens football in america and there is no way you can deny that. the USA mens team is growing and there is also no way you can deny that. as far as im concerd mexico is dead and the USA team is only getting better and better…the yanks are coming my man.

  19. Louis says:

    I agree with just about every word of this brilliant article. I am so tired of eurosnobs but also of american soccer snobs who make no effort to follow the region and say “ah we should be better than haiti, right,” and ” who are mexico’s big players, i never watch them.”

  20. Pumas Fan says:

    Imagine siting in your neighborhood pub in London, Fulham posters all over the walls, blocks from Craven Cottage and watching a satellite feed of a match between the Dynamo and the Galaxy because you’ve recently begun to follow the Beckham circus and as a result you now follow the Galaxy, have the scarf, etc. Fine. No harm, no foul. Then, when the lads from your ‘hood ask you if you’ll be going to the match down the street tomorrow to see Fulham play Arsenal you say, “Aah, I don’t really follow football in England anymore, or even London for that matter.” “But you are a fan of the game?” they ask. “Why, yes,” you reply. “But, you don’t cheer for Fulham?” they ask again, incredulously. “Nope,” you say, not interested.”
    Good luck with that.

  21. Kartik says:

    good example pumas fan. These eurosnobs, especially that idiot that claims he roots for england (he doesnt know anything) needs to piss off

  22. the usl………..u suck leaguue. why does that league even exist? why is mls forced to compete with a league in second tier markets. if i were the ussf i’d force usl out of business or to become an amauteur league. i cringe every time an mls team loses to a usl one in the us cup and was really pissed about the puerto rico islanders. thanks you to the mexican team that beat them on pks.

    What? You don’t believe in second divisions or bringing the sport to places without an MLS team. I’m in a market that once had two MLS teams within 200 miles and now actually has an FMF team (the CONCACAF champs) closer to me than an MLS team. So I should voluntarily give up USL? You were rooting against PR in CONCACAF to protect MLS? OMG, you are whacked.

    all professional teams should be in mls. usl should be amatuer and development like the pdl.cities that cannot support an mls club will have a pdl type club and they can support their closest mls city. with soon to 18 teams across the country everyone is near an mls team.

    Again, I am closer to an FMF team than an MLS team. I don’t want to rehash how the Mutiny and Fusion were contracted but simply saying “those were the two worst MLS markets” isn’t true. Their were other factors. Also, MLS will only have 16 teams in the US not 18

    and kartik if the mexican league is so much better than the mls how do you explain the usa always beating mexico? any game between a top mls team and a top mexican team would follow the same form as the national teams. mls is without a doubt better than the mexican league, and as we saw with the confed cup on par with most european leagues.

    I guess none of these leagues have foreign players? Mexico just has Mexican players? Check out the squads from some of the top South American nations in qualifying and you’ll see a ridiculous number of top players from the FMF. You’ll find a grand total of ZERO from MLS. The leagues truthfully aren’t even close. I support MLS but comparing it to the Mexican First Division is silly and the argument put forward by MLS fans, like yourself who clearly never watch anything but MLS is shocking.

    i like the premise of this article but disagree on usl which is a waste and hurts mls, and mexico/concacaf which is waste of our time. we dominate the region with the best league and the best players.

    MLS hasn’t even had a team in a CONCACAF final since 2000. A USL team has made the semis more recently than an MLS team. I don’t know how you claim MLS dominates the region. As far as the USMNT, we still haven’t won a game in Costa Rica or Mexico yet. We are the best team in CONCACAF. But we are not the dominant team. Those are two different things entirely.

  23. adambchildress says:

    Puma- England is the size of Florida so though the guy in your stories decision wouldnt matter to me…no matter where you live in England your near a club, in America thats just not the case. I live an hour Northwest of Detroit so the closest club to me is 5 hours, hardly in the neighborhood. Imagine that only 2 games a week of MLS are shown if that on tv one being ESPN the other if you upgrade your package to get FSC. Now imagne being in you basement with a large screen tv and every EPL team showcased everyweek. Friends in the area omming over wearing your english clubs colors and chatting with friends online over in england who are also supporters and then hearing your club talked about on World Soccer Daily almost everyday…since CSRN is gone there are not MLS daily programming, so if your like me and your not near an MLS club the exposure to the English game is much more prevelent in my area. Now I do get from my friends here whosay hey you wanna go to the Tigers game today and I say no the Dynamo are playing Seattle at 3 or were headed to the Lions game today you wanna tailgate, nope Villa is playing Everton today…either way regardless of what they say my day is spent more happily watching english football than American football.

  24. Adam Edg says:

    The thing I love about football/futbol/soccer is that it is the world’s only truly international game. There are great professional leagues in so many countries that I can literally have several favorite teams. Do I follow every team the same? No, but I do have a team I cheer for in most of the major European leagues. The only other sports structure I can compare soccer to is the NCAA. I can cheer for a team from the Big 12, Big 10, SEC, etc and not have to worry until they play each other. The same goes with club soccer. I have a hierarchy: Man U, Bayern, Inter, PSG, Ajax. I watch TIVO games for each of these teams whenever I can. Have I been to Europe? No. And I will be watching all of the Inter WFC games on ESPN. God Bless TIVO!
    When it comes to soccer in North America I know that the level is not on par with Europe, but I love it anyway. It’s what we have; we are the underdogs. I love the Fire and will cheer for them over any other (Pro) club team anywhere because they are MY MLS team (even though KC is closer). I love the Menace in the PDL; I road tripped with the team to KC in 2005 & 06 to face the Wizards in the USOC. I will cheer for them over EVERYBODY because they represent MY CITY. Same goes for Grand View University (NAIA) & Drake University (NCAA) because I attended both schools (BA & MA, respectively). It may not be EPL or Serie A, but it is still good – maybe great – soccer.
    I always cheer for the US. Sure I get pissed when we go to bunker-mode, but I still cheer for the nation of my birth. Except when they are playing the US, I always cheer for Germany because of my heritage. A World Cup win for Germany is almost on par with a US win to me. England is my third team, also due to heritage. I follow Argentina’s national team too, but that is because I don’t like Brasil. Still, the US ALWAYS tops the rest.
    My point is that club soccer is a buffet. There is something that everybody likes and more than enough to make you full. You can pick and choose what you like to eat, but you always need something to drink. The MLS, USL (1, 2, & PDL), NPSL, and NCAA are the beverages. So every once in a while you should try washing down your AC Milan with some DC United.
    The national team is the Tums after the meal…

  25. Steve says:

    The MLS does some things very nicely, which could help the league going forward. The superdraft will always allow them to distribute talent throughout the league in a way europe doesn’t. The playoff system is a definate plus in my opinion, as it allows teams to compensate for international duty and injuries, while also having meaningful games at the end of the season. I dislike the salary cap, I think the league would be better served with a baseball style luxury tax. I think things on that front will improve as more teams get their own stadiums.
    I for one love seeing these european clubs playing in the US. It further exposes the public to top flight club soccer in the US. MLS is nice enough, but it’s hard to argue that the quality of play or talent is anything comparable to that which we see overseas. The average American sports fan will never follow MLS or European soccer very closely, but they are starting to tune in for games. Thats definate progress. Today’s game in Seattle drew 65,000 people. 15 years ago, I’d doubt there were 65,000 people in the Seattle area that would be able to tell you Chelsea had blue unifroms. It’s progress, and MLS will benefit.
    David Beckham brought some press to the league, and right from the start it showed that US fans will come out to see the MLS if it had big name players. I think MLS would benefit more from keeping bigger name US players at home. Guys like Gooch, Howard, Davies and Altidore would all help add credibility to the league. To help the US team, though, they really need to play against better competition. MLS really needs to look to add more depth of quality players to the league, rather than focus on guys like Beckham.
    The US has the best baseball league in the world. There are minor league teams everywhere, but very few people living in those towns could tell you where their local teams are in the standings. They’d probably have a tough time naming any players. Like MLS, it’s hard for these teams to develop relationships with their fans, as their players who perform at a high level inevitably end up leaving to play in a better league. That doesn’t stop fans from attending an occasional game, but it makes it hard to become a passionate fan.
    As the quality of club soccer in the US improves, I believe fans will begin to follow the domestic leagues more. There is definately a larger soccer following in the US today than there was 15 years ago, and as more soccer gets broadcast on TV, the following will get larger. If the networks feel they will get better viewership by showing european clubs, I’d suggest looking at it as a start. It’s better for the sport than having bowling or golf being shown. There will always be a following for lower quality leagues, but it is unrealistic to expect the majority of fans to prioritze a local product over a vastly superior product.

  26. eplnfl says:

    Kartik, one of your better written pieces. 100% behind you on the sentiment that American’s need to support local soccer. That does not mean that we should not enjoy a European team touring here as long as we get a real effort given the prices that are charged.

    All of what you said above concerning the crowded schedule, Superliga being lost in the shuffle, and programming by the networks cutting into each others audience is true. Yet, it is also a sign of great achievement for soccer in America. I was very proud that ESPN had a soccer doubleheader today. Featuring domestic teams and a packed house in Seattle it was` what so many of us here have asked for years. Think about that for a while, really an immense achievement. Part of which is due to this site and the related family of the other Talk sites. Then the evening action took place with the Gold Cup and MLS. In Chicago we had the Fire game on free tv and the Spanish language broadcast in great HD also on free TV and the FSC English call of the game. What great stuff. Ok, I grant you that MLS should not play during a USMNT but America is a`big country on choice and we are used to having numerous games to chose from all the time. So, except for a qualification game or the WC let’s live with it a bit.

    So, to the Eurosnobs, I say come along for the ride, US Soccer is here now and the football world will never be the same.

  27. The Gaffer says:

    Personally speaking, I think there’s enough room for European and CONCACAF football in America as well as MLS, USL, etc.

    Attendances for future Seattle Sounders games will be helped by yesterday’s game against Chelsea. You’ll have new fans attracted to Qwest Field to see Chelsea who would have been overwhelmed and in awe at the passion shown by Seattle, thereby creating new Seattle fans as soon as Chelsea leave town.

    The same can be said of the World Football Challenge games across the US where soccer fans will go to a game featuring two high-profile sides. After those high-profile sides leave town, the new soccer fans will look for a team to support and their local MLS side (or USL club) will be the perfect destination.

    How many of you readers were introduced to soccer by first watching European football on television or watching high-profile tournaments on television before you became supporters of your local MLS club?

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  28. LI Matt says:

    My only interest in the World Football Challenge is seeing Gooch play for Milan. Beyond that, I can’t be bothered.

    ***

    nobody calls it the “EMNT” when referring to england

    If the English people choose to ignore their (fairly good) women’s national team, that’s not our problem.

  29. I will be watching the WFC when Club America plays, except tonight when it conflicts with the Gold Cup. ( people in Mexico will not be wasting their time with America tonight I bet even though that is one of the two best supported clubs in the region). But beware the European football fan who proclaims how bad CONCACAF is based on America’s performances. They are one of the worst teams in the Mexican Primera division right now and it soothes the ego of fans trying to proclaim everything European as better or the only way to have them and not say Pachuca or Pumas in this event.

  30. Jack says:

    I disagree with the jist of this article. Any exposure of soccer is good exposure in America. 60,000 people watching a world league soccer match can only help the growth of Soccer in the US at all levels.

  31. Rex says:

    @Adam. To be a true fan of the game, I believe you need passion. Regardless of today’s technology, true passion for a club and geography will always be linked; passion and on-the-field quality have much less in common. No one from Southampton will ever support Portsmouth despite being of much less quality. If you dont have a personal link to a team (e.g. geography) then you are just another bandwagon fan.

    The problem is that there is a disturbing trend of euro-snobs who have been following overseas soccer for years and for some reason feel insecure with the challenge of new soccer fans in America. They are desperate to show these new fans that THEIR brand of soccer (which THEY have been watching for years) is so much better than this new stuff.

    I think the promotion of any soccer is good for MLS, but we have to be careful that we don’t fall into the euro-snob mentality in promoting it as a far superior experience. What we need is successful cross-over matches, of which Seattle/Chelsea was a good example. Houston Dynamo have been successful in this with their matches with teams such as PUMAS, Pachuca, and Saprissa in Superliga and Champions League.

  32. park bolivar says:

    Absolutely have to agree with The Gaffer upthread.
    Although I dated girls who played soccer back in high school (hell I married one), and I was living in Europe for WC 1998 (I enjoyed a match or two, but mainly sold booze to classmates during matches). I kinda followed WC 2006 and Euro 2008, but the moment I really started paying attention to the sport was when my infant son started waking up screaming in the middle of the night. He and I would head downstairs, and flip channels until he calmed down and fell asleep on my chest. He seemed to quiet down and pay attention whenever soccer was on, and we would catch replays of Aston Villa matches (don’t even ask me how that happened).
    So, almost by default, I became an Aston Villa fan, and when the EPL season drew to a close, I found myself still looking for any matches, anywhere… and decided it would be a good time to start following the US game (both MLS and USMNT and my town’s really bad PDL squad)

    So, August 1, I’ve decided to suck it up, and grab a friend and go see Dyanmo play United. If it’s enjoyable – I’ll probably be dragging my kid out that way in good time.

    But, to spend a long time agreeing, there are times and moments when watching other leagues play the beautiful game makes you start paying attention at home.

  33. adam says:

    Kartik, why worry about this? The fans bases hardly overlap anyhow. MLS/USL fans and Euro fans are like to separate factions that don’t break bread or hold court together. I think that’s a problem but you and most readers of this site think that’s fine and so be it.

  34. El Tri says:

    we r killin haiti right now.

    kartik, you say a lot of terrible things but this is your best work. i agree 100%. the euros will argue america is a good team but who wants to see america without ochoa during the copa oro? usa fans should e focused on the usa and el tri on el tri, ticos on ticos. this world football challenge is for those who don’t truly watch futbol over here.

    saw ur miami fc team get thrashed by portland as el tri was kicking off with you on the call. 2-0 at home. ouch.

  35. Mark says:

    The writer of this article is 100% right. Every American Fottball blog should reprint it. Eurosnobs as you call them(we call them wankers) kill the sport in your country.

    It can only concluded that Americans are idiots if they think glorified exhibitions that mean nothing to these teams are important. It’s like American baseball Spring Training. Imagine the Ny Yankees playing the Red Sox in India. They would treat it like a joke as are these teams. But here is the stupid Yank acting like a schoolboy because he can pretend for a second that top flight football is played on his soil. Forget it. These teams don’t care about you. They only want daft American money. What dopes. They are heere on holiday.

    I thought MLS stopped this? They made the Euro teams have to come over and play them. What happened? And ESPN more and more seems only to care about Euro football and not their own country’s game. Their anchors don’t even know one thing about football, but their taskmasters make them report about it. It’s laughable. They are like the moron yanks who only support EPL teams. We laugh at you yank posers. 3 or 5 years ago you would never see stories on Ronaldo moving on ESPN.

    I thought Americans were the proudest people on Earth. But when it comes to football you act like silly children to our side. MLS and the US team might not be the best, but it’s YOURS. Support it. Tell these stupid teams on holiday to go home. And if every MLS team stating spending 20 mill on a roster MLS would quickly go bankrupt. Most euro teams are hurting for cash these days. Not everyone is Madrid or had has rich arabs.

    A Brit living in America

  36. Chris says:

    Well I think its stupid that somebody would take it as a joke even if it was pre season…If i played football i would take every game seriously and play hard and not play around because its pre season..Im just the kinda person that isnt going to play around. When I played basketball in my early years…when we wasnt playing a tournament or a season game i took the game seriously because i wanted to win. Its comepletey fuckin stupid to take pre season games as a joke…Alot of people think its a joke nothing more just like International Friendlys…I dont think International Friendlys are jokes espically when its the USA playing…we have a point to prove to the world and we aint going out there to just kick around. I was on the FIFA 10 video game forums and people were saying just cuz the USA wins friendlys dosent mean your shit….i highly disagree because i can promise you the USA team is going out there to win and give it all they got…We may be playing in a easy region known as the Concacaf…but it seems like we are playing against the refs and the team…so we have to work that much harder. I consider England is in a easy region the only threat to them is Croatia in WCQ and if they are just kicking about in thier friendlys then this is why England slips up in the world cup…thier Qualifers are to easy and apparentley they kick around in thier friendlys and play around. ..but the National Teams are a whole another subject..I like the MLS and yeah we could tell these forgien teams to go back…but what can you do about it…Club America and Inter game it didnt seem to be a friendly friendly game…it was a all out game but oo well…it was interesting.

  37. Football Tactician says:

    Why the hell did they schedule the Club America game at the same time as the Mexico game???? Couldn’t they schedule it before or after? 2pm or 6pm PT? What a bunch of idiots.

    I agree with the guy who mentioned the redneck usmnt fans. That fanbase has way too many racists. F ‘em. I will never wish that team well.

    But Kartik, people could watch which ever brand of football they want. Don’t dog people for ignoring the American game. There is far too much better football to watch outside the usa.

  38. Chris says:

    Football Tactician, It sounds like you have a problem with Americans before any americans may have a problem with you….it sounds like your being more racial than anybody on here..hahahahaha Your just jelous, i understand…get over it you baby..god. there is no american on here that cares what you think about us…so there is no need of posting such a thing like that on here..keep it to yourself…

  39. Cruz Azul Fan says:

    mr. kartik…….good article

    but do you really think those elite bastards that cheer for america care about el tri? they think they are too good to worry about the mexican national team. sure it is a disgrace it was scheduled at the same time, but the america fans they do not care. ochoa should find another club before it is too late for him.

  40. s.y.l.c. says:

    Great article. I agree with everything here.

    I find myself following a lot of local clubs. Theres the red bulls, the PDL rough riders, and even Greek American Atlas (being born in Astoria the Greek town of NYC its almost a law that you support them or the Pancyprians). Thats not to say I cant follow Arsenal anymore but feel more connected to the local sides no matter the quality.

  41. s.y.l.c. says:

    it was also nice to see america win yesterday

  42. A-RET says:

    AWESOME PIECE! I agree with every word. Keep it up!

  43. Robert Jonas says:

    I attended the WFC game yesterday afternoon, and thought the whole event was quite entertaining. MLS is my first choice league, and I have been supporting the Earthquakes since the late ’90s, but enjoy some of the summertime exhibitions that make their way through the Bay Area every year. Club America was at Stanford two years ago to take on Chelsea — an exhibition presented by the same folks that are bringing the WFC around this year — with a supporters group that gave all the local EPL fans quite a show. My anglophile friends were very impressed by the passion of those fans, and gave thought to seeing other Latin matches. I spoke to one fan yesterday, wearing an Earthquakes jersey, and asked him why he came to the match. Besides the Quakes being out of town, he wanted to see the CA fans in person. Just being in a stadium when the big clubs roll through is a treat for US fans.
    While I recognize that these matches are a money-grab of sorts, they do provide live soccer to those who may not get a chance to travel to see their favorite international teams. Furthermore, exposure to live soccer at any level does encourage fans to seek out more matches. While crowds at Buck Shaw Stadium (for MLS and WPS) may not have the same frenetic energy of the Club America supporters, new fans will enjoy the company of knowledgeable and passionate followers of San Jose soccer. Some will come back again, and again, and MLS will benefit (maybe slowly) from these new fans of live soccer.
    Is the WFC good for MLS? Not immediately, but they and every other league looking to make it in the American soccer scene will be better off moving forward.

  44. Ray says:

    MLS is simply put garbage. Did you see the MLS TV ratings? 0.1 on FSC, 0.2 on ESPN and Univision. What a joke, especially considering besides Miami, Detroit, Atlanta and Tampa they will be in the top 16 TV markets next year. USL is a nice little minor league for smaller towns but in places like Miami why would anyone stand for that garbage when they are used to better football from South America?
    I am so tired of people pontificating that we need to support MLS, watch teh national team, yadi yadiya. MLS is terrible and the US showed in the Confederations Cup that they play like Stoke or some other lower table team against the big boys. Sometimes playing an 8-1-1 works if you get lucky on the counter but truthfully they have nothing but level players from Europe or Mexico. If I were a Baseball fan would I watch Rookie League or Single A exclusively instead of the MLB because it is in my town? No way. I wouldn’t even bother. That’s the best analogy to sum up MLS and the US team.

  45. Ray says:

    Also, you may state that Club America is a bad team by Mexican standards but they still have a much larger fan base in the USA than the entire MLS and they still have much better players. Do you think a player like Cabanas would ever play in MLS? Do you think Paraguay would still select him if he played in MLS? Of course not.

  46. Nate says:

    Fans like Ray is why we need more articles like this.

    Good job Kartik. I could not have said it better myself.

  47. doug mulliken says:

    this thread is kind of dead, but i can’t help but agree with football tactician – aside from the fact that the us NEVER played in san diego when i was growing up (and it hasn’t gotten any better in the decade since i left), and i therefore never had a chance to watch them, i am really uncomfortable with the attitude of a lot of “usmnt” supporters, who seem to think that a soccer rivalry can be an excuse for what would be considered outright racism in any other arena…

    like the guy who told me to “go to mexico and stay there”… that’s the kind of comment that to me reeks of ignorance and jingoism. i don’t have to defend my decision not to support the us in soccer – i just don’t. growing up, mexico played in san diego way more often than the us, and so if i was watching international soccer, it was mexico, not the usa. for some stupid fear of drawing an anti-us crowd, the team refuses to play in the 7th largest city in america. i looked it up – from 2000 to 2009, the “usmnt” has played only ONCE in san diego, and even that match was at a college stadium, not qualcomm. so fine. they don’t care about me, i don’t care about them…

    but that doesn’t mean i hate the united states. i just support the mexican national team. unfortunately, too many usa fans have told me i am a traitor or a scumbag or whatever for me to ever be a usa fan.

  48. Football Tactician says:

    doug mulliken, you should read the posts made by usmnt supporters in various internet forums. The anonymity of the internet lets them express their true feelings. Needless to say, there is a lot of racism among them.

    I applaud you for rooting for the country of your heritage- Mexico. They represent your ethnicity, which is much more important than nationality. Nationality is an artificial construct, which can change depending on your economics. But your ethnicity, who you are, stays with you forever.

  49. doug mulliken says:

    see – that’s the problem – i’m not mexican. i’m about as white as they come… that’s why people have such a problem with it. but i do agree with you – nations are artificial constructs.

    i am completely comfortable when i put on a mexico jersey and watch the team play… the color of my skin and my family’s background do nothing to change that…

    i’ve had this discussion with my brother a number of times – he roots for the usa, and while he understands why i don’t, we still get into it from time to time…

    the thing that gets me is, if i chose to root for england or germany or italy, most “usmnt” fans would be fine with it… but because it’s mexico, they hate me for it.

  50. My favorite club is Fulham, followed by the Chicago Fire. Does that make me “less of a fan” or “less informed” about soccer.

    The tone of this whole article disturbs me a bit. I’ll put my “football knowledge” against Kartik’s any day of the week and 7 times on Sunday.

    Glad to see the European clubs play in the U.S. Get off your high horse people.

  51. Willis says:

    Should I also skip the Rolling Stones next time the tour, because we have perfectly good bands based in the US?

  52. Edgar says:

    Hey KARTIK KRISHNAIYER. Did you watch CA play? Hmmm, L.A. Galaxy couldnt do what CA did. Do you still think they are “short in quality?” I live in L.A. and I’m a Chivas fan, but you idiot media just open your mouth to remind everyone about the negative. Scum. Pure Scum.

  53. As I tried to in play in this piece, I’m rooting for CA. But that doesn’t mean they are on par with Pumas, Toluca or Pachuca heading into this new season.

    Any Primera team from Mexico can beat AC Milan on American soil. I’m pleased that CA did it.

    Of course the Galaxy didn’t do that- who here has argued MLS is in anyway comparable to the FMF? Certainly not me. I’ve even argued in the past that the MLS Champion would be in the relegation race in Mexico, so I am not surprised.

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