US Soccer and MLS Doing a Disservice To Southeastern United States

usa map no soccer US Soccer and MLS Doing a Disservice To Southeastern United States

Shame on US Soccer for making an announcement right before a major holiday about not sanctioning the USL and NASL. By releasing the news on December 30th, the organization must be hoping the story would be buried by most news organizations.

While the soccer community will be up in arms over the news in the next few days to weeks, one story that I believe will be overlooked is the disservice that both US Soccer and Major League Soccer are doing to the southeastern United States.

By not sanctioning the USL or NASL, and by MLS having no teams in the southeastern United States, you can see from the above map the massive portion of the country (identified in red) that has no local professional soccer team.

That land mass is larger than most countries in the world. I’ve made this point before on MLS Talk, but it needs repeating. The nearest Major League Soccer team from my home in South Florida is DC United, which is exactly one thousand miles away. That’s the same distance from London, England to Naples, Italy — where there are hundreds of teams in between those two cities.

In fact, the closest team to me is Atlante, based in Cancun, Mexico, which is 574 miles away.

It’s inexcusable that there are no Major League Soccer teams in the southeastern United States. And by US Soccer making the announcement today that they’re not going to sanction either second division, it puts both of those leagues in jeopardy and I don’t see a solution being brokered anytime soon since both parties are in complete opposition to each other.

I’m very upset about the whole situation. And yes, MLS had a team in Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale, but both teams were contracted. But the league needs to seriously think about what it can do to market a new team in the area since there is such a pent-up demand for soccer in this part of the country. That was a void that USL filled by having teams in the Southeastern United States (as well as other parts of the country where there were no MLS teams).

It’s time for US Soccer to resolve the USL/NASL situation and it’s time for MLS to get serious about making it a truly American (and Canadian) league.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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100 Responses to US Soccer and MLS Doing a Disservice To Southeastern United States

  1. AF92 says:

    Great. Hey everyone, “The Gaffer” is putting up $40 mil of his own money to put an MLS team in FL, and he will build a proper stadium for them. Wow, how generous. Wait … what … He is just some dude blowing smoke up our butts, and is probabbly 16 yrs old living in mom’s basement. Oh. Well then he is hiting the streets to find someone who will be willing to put up all that money right? No … he’s not. I see, he’s just some basement dwelling geek that wants soemone else to spend all that money. Well, I guess ther’s only one thing for him to do. Start cheering for Atlante.

    • The Gaffer says:

      AF92, I’m guessing you live near a MLS team so it isn’t an issue for you. So you’d rather me to cheer for a MLS team that I have no connection to instead of Atlante?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • AF92 says:

        No I’m saying cheer for Atlante. Seriously.

        • The Gaffer says:

          AF92, not all of us can be as fortunate as you to live in a city where there is a MLS team in your backyard (in your case, DC United). But following up on your statement mentioned above, can I presume that you’re encouraging anyone in the southeastern United States to support a Mexican team if they’re closer than the nearest MLS team? If so, how is that good for soccer in the United States or MLS?

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • AF92 says:

            Nice try, but you are way off base with the location. Closest team to me, and attend games, is in the NASL camp. And your the one that brought up Atlante. Since proximity is an issue for your support, that is what you wrote, then go for the closest. Everyone else can root for whoever they want, wherever they are.

  2. AF92 says:

    Oh, and he seems to have wiped out, Houston, Kansas City, and Chicago.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Houston, Kansas City and Chicago are included on the map, but they’re still much further away from me to Washington DC.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Bobby says:

      To, AF92.

      Miami-Dade, Florida to…

      Washington, District of Columbia: 925 miles.
      Houston, Texas: 977 miles
      Kansas City, Kansas: 1,248 miles
      Cancun, Quintana Roo: 525 miles.

      Bing maps. Took me three minutes.

      • AF92 says:

        What’s your point, LOL. Boy you are thick. Can not even understand what I said. Let me make it simple, I’ll try not to use big words. If you do not want to follow MLS, do not. Just go root for teams you like in another country. It is OK. Those of us who prefer our domestic league will leave you alone. Bye, bye. Read it very slowly and think about each word. You probably will only need the dictionary a few times.

        • The Gaffer says:

          AF92, it’s simple. I want to support a MLS team, but there is not one local to me. The closest is 1,000 miles away. What don’t you understand about that?

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • AF92 says:

            I understand and sympathize, did I spell that right. I’m just saying stop complaining about it. You have a team 500 odd miles from you, in Cancun no less. Cheer for them. It is OK for you to not cheer for an MLS team. If you want an MLS team near you, someone needs to find the moneybags to bring it. That has not happened yet. I hope it does, cause there should be an MLS team in FL.

        • Bobby says:

          Oh Lord have mercy. *massages his temples*.

          This article isn’t specifically related to Major League Soccer, is it? The first part of the headline is “US Soccer”, the body that just elected not to sanction a second division league, one of which has been part of American soccer since the Reagan Administration.

          While yes, he would like a Major League Soccer team in Florida, he’s also bemoaning the fact that fans of teams in the now unsanctioned leagues have no local team to support, and no, just because a team is domestic doesn’t make it “local”. There are vast cultural differences between American states as we’ve explained, people in Atlanta have no more reason to support the Houston Dynamo than they do Dynamo Kyiv. Unless they want to be one of those people that supported MLS Toronto over USL Puerto Rico — despite the island side fielding twice as many Americans — under the guise of “supporting the domestic game”.

  3. Bobby says:

    We’ll see how it turns out, but if the worst case scenario happens, a bunch of good, loyal American soccer supporters just got the screws put to them.

    I still have my local team(s): Charlotte and Charleston, if I’m correct in say the USL-2 was resanctioned. Admittedly, it’s not the best quality, but it’s still live football. Aside from that the next team is DC United and Philadelphia, but Charlotte has nothing in common culturally with those places. For what reason should I support a team in DC over say, Arsenal? Because they’re American? They might be American, but so are Seattle and I’m probably closer to Lisbon and Benfica than Washington state and the Sounders.

    After Philadelphia my next local team is Dandy Town from Pembroke Parish, Bermuda. Awesome.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Bobby, excellent points. That’s the whole issue here. If there is no Major League Soccer team close to me (or you, or others), what’s the benefit of following MLS on television when I also have the choice of watching any other major league in the world (which would be far more entertaining).

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  4. Garber even stated this summer Baltimore fans should support DC United. When Garber was at the NFL before the Browns moved to Baltimore he should have said “shut up Baltimore, root for the Redskins.”

    That is MLS’ attitude about these things.

    Are we to tell Atlanta, a city that was worldly enough to host the Summer Olympics putting it in a class with Seoul, London, Tokyo, Rome, Sydney, Beijing and Barcelona that you cannot have a football team worth supporting but by luck of the draw (the Hunts) little Columbus Ohio will have a permanent first division team?

    All NASL and USL have aspired to do is bring high quality soccer to markets that have nothing else. It is MLS’ own fault that they have labor problems and that the TV ratings aren’t good and so many football fans look to Europe to get their footy fix. Their enablers at the USSF don’t need to take it out on the rest of us just to protect MLS’ business interests.

    • Bobby says:

      I give it 10 minutes before you’re called an America hater or a Eurosnob for being honest.

    • "Little" Crew Fan says:

      So you want to take our team out of “little” Columbus, OH. Thanks for taking a dump on our city and fans. You know what, since it will appease you, go ahead, take our team, move it from Columbus and put it in Memphis, Baltimore, Charlotte, Nashville, Tampa, or Atlanta.

      Oh, wait… “little” Columbus, OH has a greater population than any of those huge, deserving cities… including Atlanta, GA? What?? Wow, amazingly Columbus is evidently the 16th largest city in the country. Who knew? But, you know what, we’re just lucky to have an MLS team let alone one of the largest universities in the country.

      At least once Columbus has the Crew taken away then the conspiracy to shut out the Southeast will end and this site will be able to finally move on. Cities like “little” Columbus, OH that don’t pass the MLS Talk test should be stripped of their MLS teams because they’re too “little.” Just don’t forget that we have MLS’ first SSS and have hosted US v Mexico several times… oh, and we’re bigger than Atlanta.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Wasn’t Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium the first MLS soccer specific stadium when it was converted from a high school stadium into a soccer stadium in 1998, one year before Crew Stadium?

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

  5. I feel your pain – I’m born & raised SLC kid for 25 years and now i’m living in Southern California – I’m RSL till I die! But, I’m lucky enough to get to have them so close as well as having the Galaxy & Chivas in my backyard – my hometown RSL is only an hour flight away & Seattle, San Jose, Colorado, Houston & Dallas are all closer than your nearest team. It’s sad especially seeing that Bradenton is the epicenter of the USMNT.

    Stupid question – what happens to the Charleston battery tournament that RSL won last year and are scheduled to play in again this year?

  6. Michael says:

    The MLST “soccer in Florida at any cost” drum beats again…

    • The Gaffer says:

      I’m asking for a team in the southeastern United States, closer than 1,000 miles away. I’m not asking for a Florida team (although it would be nice).

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • It’s funny how the people both here and at TKR who say “he hates MLS because their is no team in Miami,” have not read my piece saying MLS should not come back to Miami.

      Moroever, my arguments about MLS have nothing to do with the geography of the teams. They have to do with MLS, being as Ginge of CSRN’s American Soccer Show puts it “a legalized organized cartel” who in my mind is protected by political machinations of the governing body which is rife with conflicts of interest.

      Perhaps, if MLS began rewarding the American players whose backs this league was built on, rather than continuing to pay foreign players who would never even be considered national team prospects in their homeland 5 times what national team pool players for the US make in this league, I’d be more forgiving of the cartel.

      Perhaps, if MLS stopped saying how great the league was and how strong competition is while falling flat on its face in any meaningful international competition, I’d be more forgiving.

      Perhaps, if MLS stopped having fans that parrot the arguments coming from MLS HQ whether about the level of play, the quality of the league, the management structure, the TV ratings, the attendance, the profits, etc I would be seen as less radical.

      This is America. We are built on dissent, freedom of speech and the ability to question and critically analyze things. Only in the insular culture of American soccer, where fans, media and management are together in a permanent bunker mode and dissent is wrong seen as something that could kill the sport are Soviet type tactics employed.

      Somehow the simplistic argument that the lack of a team in Miami makes me dislike MLS is floated, while in reality it is my understanding of world football and the American sports scene that makes me question both MLS and the USSF. They could have five teams in Florida, and I would still be really unhappy with the drift this league has taken over the course of the last 14 years.

      • dan says:

        i hate to tell you this the way you talk about MLS makes me think of the current USA. Corparate America rules this country there is no right or wrong there is just what Corparate America Wants.

  7. Mark says:

    I am thrilled by this gutsy decision by Gulati and the USSF.

    MLS is still trying to build itself into one of the top leagues in the world. We are getting there, but aren’t there yet. The NASL by invoking nostalgia for a failed league that bought big foreign players but left behind tons of debt threatens that. USL threatens that by signing MLS players to contracts that include free loaner cars and paid rent/apartments.

    MLS is the league we should all be following and investing our time and effort into. The investors that put money into USL or NASL are hurting MLS. Can you imagine if we could bring that money into MLS as well? It could be such a fantastic league.

    USL’s presence has hurt growing the sport and when the odd USL team like the Puerto Rico Islanders wins in CONCACAF it hurts the American game.

    MLS deserves our protection and support. We need to promote it and these competing leagues need to go away. Either the investors chip in to contribute to buying an MLS franchise or work with the youth level to enhance our player development.

    • Bobby says:

      …And to all those American players that helped Puerto Rico go that far in the CL after being thrown on the scrapheap by MLS and it’s scouts you say?

  8. Joey Clams says:

    It shouldn’t matter that no one in the Southeast is currently willing to pay an expansion fee or build a stadium. MLS should, however, anticipate being able to one day have teams in the Southeast and should, therefore, not overexpand, especially not to cities in another country.

    That assumes, of course, that MLS is concerned with growing the game here. Yes, I realize that it must prosper, but it should be allowed to do so only if it satisfies the requirements of an INDEPENDENT United States Soccer Federation.

    There is no independent USSF; it’s a rubber-stamping appendage of MLS. One takes money from Nike, the other from adidas.

    Few complain, however, because the average soccer fan in the United States is an elitist who resents the South and wants to show off our cosmopolitanism.

    And people wonder why the American soccer scene is derided.

  9. Robert says:

    All US leagues are a joke. I’ll stick to FMF and EPL.

    • Joey Clams says:

      You might as well. But even their authenticity is waning.

    • dan says:

      i find thse leagues boring and i rather stick to the MLS USL and NASL.
      I cant stand the Mexican Government and their whining so i will not support anything from them.
      EPL i like few teams from there but its hard for me to watch because of all the EUROSNOBS.

      I will Support all 3 american and canadian clubs and leagues.

    • Charles says:

      Yeah EPL isn’t a joke. What the heck ?

      The same team has won 3/4ths of the their championships over the last 20 years.
      Only 4 teams have a chance of winning it this year and they are half way through the season. To follow that league, you either bandwagon jump onto one of the big 4 or watch a team that will NEVER, NEVER win it all.
      EVER.

  10. JP says:

    Ok Kartik, I think you have to slow down a bit on the “legalized organized cartel” thing with MLS seeing that the whole break from USL was caused because of Overlord Marcos running a shady house.

    I quote the best write up I’ve read on why the owners started to break off and do their own thing:

    “One thing about the USL is that it was run as a bit of a personal fiefdom by Francisco Marcos, with the league collecting yearly “franchise fees” from its clubs and an increasing amount owners unsure of what exactly the league was doing with the money (USL controls the marketing of the entire league but puts out almost no major advertising, and gives the teams it collects franchise fees from no final say and no vote in league scheduling, rules, or regulations).

    Then last year you have the league being sold to the Atlanta-based NuRock group when there was at least one and possibly two groups that bid more money, with news coming out after the fact that not only was the league sold to a group run by a personal friend of Marcos, but some of the USL-1 teams only found via press release when they had been told previously by the league that one of the other groups had won the bidding and were working on adjusting the league structure with said group, and said group was essentially informed through the public domain that they actually had not purchased the United Soccer Leagues like they had been previously told they were.

    Let that one sink in…”

  11. Chris says:

    I wish I had a team here in Kentucky…I dont want to support a team out of Ohio or D.C., If there was a team in TN then I would support but not in Ohio or DC. So now basically I watch MLS just to be watching. Its a shame I cant fully support a team in my own country.

    • Jonesta says:

      I feel you Chris, I watch MLS because it is the top division of soccer in the United States and as such I will support it over any foreign based team to which I have absolutely no connection with other than perhaps an American might play on one of the teams. Sure I like teams out there and respect the players and such but as an American I want this country to be the best it can be in all aspects. That being said I live in Alabama, and while I do love my Auburn Tigers and college football my passion is soccer and in our domestic top tier there is no team anywhere near me to support. Any team that crops up in any of the truly southern states (preferably a team in Atlanta, Christ they have a pro team in every other major sport) will immediately grab my fervent support. Until then though all MLS will get from me are a few ratings for those ESPN matches and 20 bucks for a season pass to watch a few game feeds on their website.

      Georgia, Alabama, and Florida had enough of a soccer footprint to manage to get clubs into the Development Academy. Surely we could support an MLS team at least as well as Dallas.

  12. lhssoccerfan says:

    I think the article brings up an important question. Why are there no mls teams in the southeast? It is hard for me to believe that North Carolina, Georgia, or Florida cannot support a team.

    • Bootsy says:

      Why are there no MLS teams in the southeast? Because no rich person has put their money forward to pay an expansion fee and build a stadium there.

    • Mickey T says:

      Soccerfan
      the reason there are no teams in the southeast isn’t that hard to understand. No one with money wants to go there because they don’t believe it will be profitable enough to warrant that kind of investment. The last to attempt it was Barca and they pulled out. I would also point out that the top level clubs that were in Florida folded for lack of support and the USL – 1 clubs Silverbacks suspended play. With those kinds of results it is going to be hard to get someone to put up 40 mil with no expectation of return. The reason the MlS expands to Canada and the Northwest is because they know they have the fan base and can be profitable quickly, not because Don Garber hates the south. When the south proves it will support a team it will get one.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Mickey, how can we prove we can support a team when we don’t have any professional teams in the entire southeastern United States right now?

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • Bootsy says:

          Gaffer: It’s hard, I agree. But one way to do it is how Philadelphia did it. Form a supporters group for a team that doesn’t exist, and work to attract a large number of people to it. Create and distribute supporters group jersey shirts, so you’re clearly visible whenever you’re gathered together. Pick one MLS game each season to travel to as a group, and get a large number of people to go; then, as a group, spend the whole game making noise for the team that doesn’t exist. (I say “pick one MLS game” because I know it’s expensive to do this, because you don’t have a team near you; but if you can afford to do this more than once in a season, so much the better.) Any time a televised soccer event occurs anywhere you can get to — USMNT games, college soccer, whatever — get as many people there wearing your shirt, and visible in the stands on TV, as you can. Show up as a visible/audible group at league events such as the Draft, the Supporters Summit, and especially the Cup Final. Invite Don Garber, as well as potential local owners, to large gatherings of the group you’ve created (Garber almost certainly won’t be able to come; but the important thing is to invite him, and to send him photos afterward that show the turnout while expressing your regrets and hoping he can make one this year.) This is what the Sons of Ben did. Of course it’s harder for you because the distances involved for visibility are larger. But harder impossible.

          Oh, and one other thing: you do have professional teams in the SE United States. I don’t know how long it’ll take to sort out the NASL/USL1 debacle, but the answer isn’t going to be “forever and ever.” Whether they settle their differences in the next seven days or whether it takes til 2011, Carolina, Charleston, Atlanta, Miami are not going to turn to dust. Something will happen.

        • Mickey T says:

          Gaffer,
          I understand that, I was all for the Miami project and would like to see a club in Charlotte, but with the kind of money it takes to get a franchise where are you going to find some person or group to put up that kind of money with only a hope of a better result than before. It seems to me that unless the league itself puts and owns a franchise down there your only option is to hope someone is willing to risk that much money in a region with no history for large group support for soccer or just support a club from distance like I do with the Oakland Raiders in the NFL while living in Ohio. It really isn’t that hard to do. I live 45 minutes from Cleveland and there is no NHL club there and we have all kinds of high school and college hockey in this state. Should I assume the NHL hates Cleveland or should I just figure that because every pro hockey franchise ever brought there has either folded or hangs on with low attendance and near collapse the NHL doesn’t deem it profitable to put a franchise there.

        • Bootsy says:

          Dang it, I keep forgetting that angle brackets will get interpreted as HTML tags. That long paragraph should have ended with “harder is not the same as impossible.”

    • Charles says:

      Hard to believe ? I hope you are right about NC and GA, but didn’t two teams already fail in Florida ?

      • dave2010 says:

        No, two teams did not “fail” in Florida; MLS failed in Florida. MLS contracted in Florida because none of the MLS sugar daddies (Hunt, Anschutz, etc) cared about Florida. Tampa had no owner, and Miami’s owner couldn’t afford the losses (which, being single entity, all MLS owners share). Go look at the attendance records: there were several teams that drew fewer people than Tampa and/or Miami, teams that are still in MLS, in some cases, still drawing poorly. Consider Hunt’s ties to Dallas and Kansas City, for instance; any chance he would have cut those cities from MLS? Not a chance.

        Also consider the huge success of the original NASL in Tampa Bay and Ft. Lauderdale. The Florida NASL owners knew how to sell soccer in Florida (and this at a time when the sport was almost unknown); soccer is huge in Florida now, but MLS screwed things up so badly circa 1996-2001 that they had to pull out of Florida because neither Tampa Bay nor Miami (actually Ft. Lauderdale, but whatever) had deep pocketed owners willing to protect them. MLS would love you to believe that there is “something wrong with Florida”, because it deflects blame away from their own manifest incompetence.

        It does not help that ignorant people repeat this “didn’t two teams already fail in Florida” nonsense; and instead of learning the facts, everyone just assumes that Florida won’t support soccer, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s nuts.

    • Guest says:

      Georgia can’t support a team. People in Atlanta hate men’s soccer.
      Charlotte, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Nashville, New Orleans, and even
      Memphis are better Southeastern cities for MLS Soccer.

  13. Bootsy says:

    The Gaffer writes: “one story that I believe will be overlooked is the disservice that both US Soccer and Major League Soccer are doing to the southeastern United States . . .It’s inexcusable that there are no Major League Soccer teams in the southeastern United States.”

    Do you *really honestly think* that the reason there are no MLS teams in the southeastern U.S. is because of some bias in the league offices against the southeast? *Really*?

    The reason there aren’t any teams in the southeast is quite simple, really: no rich person in the southeast has gone to the league and said “here’s my $40 million, and here’s my demonstrably credible, short-time-to-construction stadium plan.” That’s it, that’s all there is to it.

    I think it’d be great if there were teams in the southeast. Heck, I’d far prefer the Battery to make the jump than that we have teams in some of the places we do now. So the question is, how bad do you want it to happen? Bad enough to do what the Philadelphia folks did: organize, grow grass-roots support, and show so much passionate commitment to the idea that some local rich person decides it’s a good idea to buy in? That worked. We all watched it work. Whining about the league not putting a team there, when the league has no ability whatsoever to cause a multi-millionaire with a stadium plan to simply materialize out of thin air, has never worked.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Bootsy, it’s not as simple as a businessman saying that he has money to fund a team and it magically happening. MLS has to approve the expansion city.

      In the case of Miami, billionaire Marcelo Claure was willing to bring a team to South Florida but both he and MLS decided to take a pass at this time due to the economic recession.

      Claure is still interested in bring a team to Miami, but MLS has to announce that it’s accepting bids for new franchises before Claure can proceed. The ball is in MLS’s court. If they’re serious about having a team in the southeastern United States, all they need to do is to make it known that they are accepting bids.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Gitecmo Slunkmeat says:

        Claure is not THAT interested FFS, he only wanted the deal if FCB was going to be involved and share the cost. Claure doesn’t have the backing to get MLS interested, period. Hell, Cooper is closer to becoming a real I/O in STL than Claure.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Gitecmo, Claure stated in October 2009 that “I would definitely consider a new bid, and the first thing that needs to happen is for the MLS to announce that is accepting bids for new franchises. We hope that will happen sometime in the next couple years.”

          Source: http://bit.ly/7MCDmb

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Gitecmo says:

            I’m pretty sure MLS is open to all comers who come to the HQ and make a serious bid with serious financing. Claure is offering a line to save face. Montreal isn’t sitting around waiting for MLS to make any grand announcement.

            Please.

  14. Jon says:

    You make it sound as if MLS is blackballing the whole region. Sorry, if a big money bag would announce tomorrow that he wants to bring a team to Atlanta/Tampa/Miami/Charlotte and is willing to build a stadium to do it, guess who moves to the front of the queue for the 20th team?

    It is about willing and proven investors at this point, not locations. MLS cannot make someone step forward in the SE as much as I believe they would like to. Why do you think they tried so hard to make the thing with FCB and Claure work? Arthur Blank was also courted, but has taken a pass.
    It hurt badly that Tampa and Miami were so mismanaged the first time and that MLS was bleeding money at the time. Given the relative stability of the league and its growth since then, however, can anyone honestly make an argument that they made the wrong decision to contract those teams?

    You and Kartik both write without any nuance, choosing instead to make a very complicated process seem simple. I would love to see a team in the SE as well, but it is up to people with money in those communities. If you want it so bad, make some friends with some bourgeois folks and get it done.

    • Joey Clams says:

      But expanding to another country rather than waiting for the South / Southeast is tantamount to a blackball. The league can only have so many teams, after all.

  15. Gitecmo Slunkmeat says:

    This blog site should change its name to: “It’s not a real league until soccer comes to SEC/NASCAR Country, aka We deserve it and MLS needs to make it happen.”

    Boo-hoo. Find a viable I/O like Seattle, Toronto, Philly, Vancouver and Portland. Far as most of us soccer fans are concerned, we don’t need MLS in the southeast.

    Only American football and NASCAR seem to make sense ($$$$) down there. MLB is a failure in the stands of the mighty southeastern market, NHL is a failure there, NBA too. MLS did the smart thing and got the hell out while it could and had no real fight from the I/O’s who ran Miami and TB.

    In the regards to Florida, I love it there. FLA is great for college sports, MLB spring training, old folks and Disney vacations. Viable pro sports teams outside of the NFL>>>>> not so much, too darn flaky and loaded with transfers or foreigners who follow their home teams/leagues. The second generation folks end up following American football like most every second generation does, it’s our culture.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Gitecmo, let me guess. You live in Chicago so you’re obviously going to be jaded because you already have a MLS team on your doorstep. Not everyone in the southeastern United States watches the SEC or NASCAR.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Gitecmo says:

        Wow, you can read my IP address and see I’m on Chicago? You’re either a creeper or way cool!!!!!

        Yes we have MLS and thanks to Uncle Phil and his deep pockets we got our team. Since then, we also worked out a deal with a local city to build our stadium for us and Phil sold the club and stadium operating rights. Pretty good for us here I know!

        As far as NASCAR and the SEC, I lived in the south for nearly 30 years, you can lie to yourself all you want, but the SEC, American football in general, NASCAR and even the ACC college basketball (which I forgot to mention) do rule the sports landscape. The commercial dollars, TV contracts, fans in the stands and tailgating prove it. Period.

        Can soccer make it in the SE, yes. You just need your Uncle Phil and “real” financing and a viable stadium set up. Claure is NO Uncle Phil, or even OnGoal for that matter. It’s been pretty hard looking for such and owner in the Se and FL since MLS got serious about ensuring long term viability back in 2001. The NHL and MLB should do the same to be honest and pull out stakes from most if not all the southeast.

        Your best shot right now is relocation, something the southeast is familiar with in other sports.

    • Bobby says:

      I guess that’s why North Carolina is famous as a basketball state, and has so many venues built specifically for soccer. Because only American football and NASCAR work in the South.

      Silly us.

      • Gitecmo says:

        Hey bonehead, I mentioned your precious ACC b-ball. As far as the number of soccer stadiums being some legitimate soccer cred, I’ve seen bigger high school football stadiums in TX, GA, FL than Cary and Charleston.

        Go Heels!

        • Bobby says:

          You’re playing on stereotypes again. I never said anything about the ACC, in fact none of my “local teams” are ACC teams, and the nearest ones are Wake Forest and Clemson, in that order.

          It is funny that you’d mention UNC-CH though. They have an unmatched soccer pedigree among American universities, what is it? 32 titles between the two teams? Something like that.

          The biggest stadium in Texas (a Southern state, incidentally), Grande Communications Stadium in Midland was built to — *gasp* — handle a soccer field! Yes, it even has it marked out! And a soccer tenant?! They have that too!

          The largest professional stadium in North Carolina — Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium — was built to do the same. It actually has room to provide a wider pitch than most MLS soccer-specific stadiums. Privately financed by a former NFL player, interestingly enough.

          Cary is an overspill town that grew to have an identity of its own. Cary isn’t Raleigh, Raleigh has it’s own soccer park and stadium(s). That stadium was built for a WUSA team, and that WUSA team was actually solvent. The others? Not so much.

          Charleston? Well, I said *North* Carolina. North and South Carolina are sister states, yes, but they aren’t twins. Charleston is in South Carolina, and isn’t even close to North Carolina actually, but yes, it has a soccer stadium. A privately funded soccer stadium. It’s easy to build it bigger when you’re playing with someone else’s money, when you’re writing the checks you have to play it smart. The Battery ran a profit in 2008 thanks in no small part to Blackbaud Stadium, they’re playing it smart.

          You mentioned Florida too, another interesting one. Dolphin Stadium was built to accommodate soccer, and so was Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. I also seem to remember a certain Orange Bowl hosting soccer matches. And what’s that place in Orlando? Oh yea, the Citrus Bowl, a World Cup and Olympic soccer venue. I think everyone knows that Lockhart began life as a high school football venue, but people also know that it was reconstructed into a soccer-specific stadium that has hosted several international matches through the years.

          I could go on, tell you about how Nashville’s stadium was built to host soccer. About how Chattanooga FC outdraws all MLS teams on an attendance in relation to population scale. How soccer mad Greensboro is. Tell you about the new complex going up next to my Church down in Southeast Mecklenburg. But that’d be running on.

          Incidentally, I’m a Queens fan.

          • David says:

            Seems the MLS fiat indicates what they think of anyone outside their control. Them ignoring the UCL and the NACL seems par for the coarse.

            I’m ignorant of America’s fútbol politic, but save govt. intervention (no thank you) it seems success in the form of excellent sport and attendance ($$$) will be the only thing that will get their attention and change their mind. We’re working on that here in Chattanooga and I from what I’ve seen, other cities in the south are as well.

    • Dave says:

      Yeah, hockey’s a real failure here in North Carolina, where the Hurricanes WON THE STANLEY CUP IN 2006. It’s been, what 48 years since the Blackhawks have won anything?

      Feel free to shove your stereotypes up your arse anytime. I don’t want your MLS here in the Southeast. I want my Railhawks back.

      • Gitecmo says:

        Yeah, the Whalers did win the cup. I bet it looks like Pizza Hut Park when the puck is dropped over there.

        • Bobby says:

          Actually, the Hurricanes have the same attendance as the Fire! The RBC Center in Raleigh — a city of just under 400,000 — seats 18,600 for ice hockey. The 20,000 figure is a basketball capacity. The Hurricanes averaged 15,573 — good for 89% of capacity!

          Toyota Park seats 20,000 for soccer and the Fire — hailing from America’s third largest city — averaged 15,071 during their last full season. That’s 75%.

          I guess by your math, tiny, Southern Raleigh is a better hockey town than mammoth, cosmopolitan, Chicago is a soccer town?

  16. Gitecmo Slunkmeat says:

    Hey, why not put a big red spot over the NM, AZ, NV, ID, MT, WY, ND, SD, NE, MN, IA, WI, MI area while you’re at it. Heck, include all the provinces and territories between BC and Ontario too, not to mention AK and HI.

    Clearly MLS hates soccer loving fans in those areas too.

  17. Porque says:

    *lol at my name* anyway i live in north central florida and i feel the gaffer (and anyone else who dont have a team in their area) pain. i was born in NYC so rooting for redbulls takes some pain away but i grew up in florida and it feels funny not having a team. only major cities, except san jose. im sad that US soccer didnt sanction the nasl but im more worried at that fact than having a team near me. a second division is wat we need

  18. Butt Seriously says:

    So if I’m reading the comments right, everyone here seems to agree that it would be awesome if there were an MLS team in the Southeast. The difference appears to be that people living in the Southeast who are really unhappy with the situations seem to think there’s no team there becasue the MLS is a bunch of snobs who jst don’t like the Southeast, and meanwhile, soccer fans from the Southeast refuse to suport a team not from their area because they feel no cultural connection? Is that what I’m reading here? Who exactly is it here that has a problem with parts of the country not their own? M favorite is the guy from Kentucky who would root for a team in Tenessee but not for a team in Ohio.

    Anyway, why isn’t there a team in the southeast? Again–everything Bootsy said. And then say it one more time. And then one more time from all of u who do live realtively near an MLS club–we sure do wish there was a great team in the Southeast. It would be super fun to watch my team beat them twice a year.

    • Gitecmo says:

      You’re not reading my comments correctly. I couldn’t care less if the SE has a team or not. I do know that area sure as heck doesn’t “deserve” a team. But if a rich owner or group of investors came along with the right money, the right stadium plan and maybe followed the Sounders plan for building a grass roots fan base from the existing soccer fans in the region, go for it.

      1) I/O
      2) Stadium
      3) Serious, big time money/financing

      Someone needs to step up to the plate for these folks so we can stop reading all the whiiiiiiining.

    • Dave says:

      I love how people here seem to think MLS is the be-all and end-all of American soccer. There’s a whole set of clubs outside of MLS. Those are OUR clubs. We don’t want an MLS club. We want to support all the local clubs we already have — except it seems we can’t now, because an organization tied at the hip with MLS just shat all over them today.

      I hope the player union organizes a nice long strike. Then all you MLS bigots will know exactly how we feel today.

      • Butt Seriously says:

        that’s cool, but this is an anti-MLS posting put up on a site called “MLS-Talk” so of course you’re likely to find MLS supporters here who my tke objection. It’s not a site called MLS/USL/NASL talk. Posting a big slam on MLS on this site in response to the end result of a failure of management in the USL is unlikely to get a postive response. The current USSF decision was unanimous. MLS represents only a quarter of the those voting. MLS and it’s suporters didn’t do this to the second division clubs. And it still isn’t done yet. Maybe the USL and NASL managemet can come to their senses and work something out in the next week. Believe it or not, less likely things have happened in this Universe.

  19. Gitecmo says:

    Support local soccer, I’m sure there is plenty of youth club games going on during the Spring.

  20. patrick kennedy says:

    Richmond Kickers, Charelston Battery

  21. Matthew N says:

    Kartik, Gaffer, et al.,
    I don’t know why you even bother responding to the comments on this site. The people who continue to comment here are the same people who fill the web pages of your local newspaper with ignorant/racist/etc comments… I just want you to know that many of us really appreciate the work you do.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Matthew, thanks for that. I appreciate it. To be a soccer blogger in the States takes someone with an incredible amount of patience and humility. But people like Kartik and I push on to make soccer analysis better in this country and abroad.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  22. vic says:

    c’mon that map is hokey. You have to give the Wiz at least half of Missouri and Colombus down to Cincinnati, if no the whole state. Well, if it happens it shouldnt be by expansion. It should be from a team moving there (atlanta or miami)

  23. Jon says:

    Matthew-

    I have a Ph.D, am a university professor, and am as liberal and anti-racist as they come and I still think a lot of what these two write is crap. I am sure these two are big boys and know that getting all sorts of opinions is what sport blogging is all about. People having an opinion that goes against what the bloggers think should not be derided by you in such harsh and unfair terms. Shame on you, Matthew and shame on you Gaffer for letting those generalizations go without commenting on it.

  24. The Tuppers says:

    I understand that it is frustrating not having a team within a thousand miles of you. I think you are missing two points though – first the league isn’t going to add a team to an area just because there is an opening. The league may care about growing the sport, but more than anything else it is a group of 15 owners who have their own teams to worry about. The only way they will really care about the south is if an investor steps up with a successful bid.

    The second point is this – you could move. Yes I know that’s easy for me to say, but it’s a lot more realistic than expecting MLS to add a team to the south.

    • troy mcclure says:

      >Are we to tell Atlanta, a city that was worldly enough to host the >Summer Olympics putting it in a class with

      I hate to burst your patriotic bubble but Atlanta 96 was considered a total mess and one of the worst games ever in terms of organization.
      Im not gonna even gonna in the whole bombing thing but needless to say around the world, Atlanta 96 isnt synonymous with excellence.

      …but your point is fine.

  25. Cavan says:

    Aside from the obvious business considerations of not having a viable investor/operator come forward with a stadium plan, the attendance issues for non-pointyballed sports speak for themselves across the South. While other pro sports do have some success like the previous commentor who mentioned Raleigh’s NHL team, recent history has shown that events outside of the South’s traditional core of college football either underperform or take time to grow.

    We must remember that it takes time to cultivate a fanbase. Pro sports are still relatively new to the South due to much of the economic conditions and politics earlier in the 20th century. Because of that, I wouldn’t write off the South permanently. From what I’ve seen, the Triangle area in North Carolina has some decent seeds that could be cultivated for a good pro soccer fan culture. Such a culture would have to done organically and home-grown by someone who gets the Southern sports fan and how to present a product that appeals to them. The commentor above do have a sound point that no one wants to root for someone else’s team.

    That being said, I don’t see the lack of a pro team in the South as some sort of grand conspiracy to whine about. When MLS was selling slots for season tickets, no market in the South put down deposits like Columbus (to use an example) did. Since then, no investor/operator has come forward with a bid that made sense. It’s really that simple. No conspiracy. No need for some of the whining and gnashing of teeth.

  26. Manuel says:

    I agree that not having an MLS team in the Southeast portion of the U.S. in not the best strategy to grow this sport in the U.S. There are millions of fans in that region that are just being ignored. Eventually there will be a top tier team in this region but it may not be for some time. There is a solution although it might be a drastic one and may offend our neighbors to the North but eventually USSF officials are going to have to realize that the sport can be successful without Canadian clubs in our domestic league and their priority needs to be to maximize the sport’s potential in all regions in America.

    Canada needs to form its own domestic league in the way every other nation has their own league. Sorry Canadians but your piggy backing is costing us Americans as described by this article. Canada has many large cities and can easily support a 12 or 14 club league. In the next 2 to 3 years their could be 3 Canadian teams in the MLS, which leaves one more opening for a complete 20 club table. Kicking out the three Canadian clubs would potentially allow for the MLS to tap into the Southeast region of the U.S. The MLS can use those open slots to place clubs in any one of the following cities: Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Richmond, Birmingham, Nashville, Louisville or Tampa.

    Expand the MLS to 20 teams and add a 2nd division and all of these locations can have a professional team. Hopefully some day in the next decade or two this can happen and include pro/reg. This country is so large and diverse that it can sustain such a format as most of the footballing nations enjoy. Canada on the other can benefit also and become it’s own entity. Canada has the potential of emerging as a contender in the CONCACAF region and once they finally earn another World Cup invitation, things can really change for our neighbors to the North.

    The Champions League can then invite more then one representative from Canada creating rivalries with the MLS and Mexico’s La Primera clubs as seen in Europe between the EPL, SPL and La Liga in the European Champions League.

    • RedRover says:

      Why don’t you ask mommy and daddy to get you a unicorn for your bithday? That seems more realistic than this Eurosnob wet dream your proposing.

  27. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    All the pro soccer leagues must hate Indiana. There must be an anti Indiana conspiracy as well.

  28. RedRover says:

    “WAAAAAH!!! MLS are big meenies ‘cuz they no wanna put a team close to me! WAAAAAH!!! MLS are bias, they no like my area! WAAAAAH!!! Gimmie MLS team that I can go to or I’ll hold my breath until it turns blue! That’ll show you! WAAAAAH!!!”

  29. RedRover says:

    Bottom line: if your city has potential ownership with the capital to support an MLS team, and you have a revenue generating soccer specific stadium for a team to play in, you will be taken seriously. The fact that no one in the U.S. southeast has anything like that to offer MLS is why the league isn’t interested in the southeast right now. And not any persecuted bias you think exists. Try and deal with that.

  30. CVO says:

    Wah, wah. If you want soccer – SHOW UP! Carolina and Charleston had great seasons in 2009, and no one’s there to see it. Atlanta makes it to the 2007 finals… and folds. Miami FC (what a joke of a following!), yadda, yadda, yadda. Why keep pouring money down a sink hole? Show you can harbor good 2nd division teams (e.g. Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, etc.), and you can start talking MLS.

  31. ryan says:

    this map is terrible. you took your red lines all the way up to major cities to over exaggerate your point. you’re saying if you live 10 miles south of chicago you don’t have a team?

    way to sensationalize. i didn’t even both to finish reading the article. there’s no soccer in the southeast because unless it’s SEC football or NASCAR, no one cares. which is why the other major pro teams in the region (SEE: every team in Atlanta) suffers at the gate. worst fans in America…again, unless it’s SEC Football or NASCAR.

    • The Gaffer says:

      The red lines go from Houston in Texas to Kansas City to Chicago to Columbus to DC. Yes, if you live on the border of that red line, you probably follow the MLS team. But the point of the map is to show the outline of the closest MLS teams to the southeastern United States and what portion has no team. If you think you can create a better map, please send it to me.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  32. Jeremy says:

    You do know that you included Chicago and DC in your shaded area, right?

    And that fans in Ohio can root for the Crew?

    I know you’re trying to make a point, but it’s a slightly misleading map.

  33. AF92 says:

    Don’t forget KC.

  34. eplnfl says:

    Ok, calm down everyone. As MLS nears the magical number of 20 teams, which we all know maybe close to the point where expansion will get parked for a while, leaving out the Southeast portion of the US is a fatal flaw. From the perspective of tv interest alone your leaving out too many markets. I think we can appreciate the hurt that many of our Florida writers and readers feel that MLS or NASL was there in the past and left. It has to hurt to see Canadian cities get a team but American towns get past by.

    Please do not get me wrong, I support Canadian cities in the league but understand how fans in Tampa may fell. Again it will be a disaster to leave out the Southeast for any extend period of time if MLS expansion stops. Let me say that even more than the Southeast is concerned, think of St. Louis, Indy, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

    Yes, it’s fair to say that NASCAR and NCAA football are huge in the Southeast and while the NBA, NHL, and MLB have all planted teams in the region they are not the king of the hill so to speak as they maybe in other regions. That does not mean that MLS shouldn’t go into the region but that they need to carefully line up committed ownership and find the right town who from the start will provide a stable fan base. Chris and Kartik will know this better than any of us about South Florida but just because you have a large Latin population in the area does not mean they will support soccer. MLB means just as much if not more to many Latin sports fans as soccer.

    Those of us who love soccer here in the US, even the Eurosnobs should be concerned. MLS has to make the right choice where to go next. The future of soccer in the US depends more on the next few franchise locations then one may think. It maybe necessary in the near future to give up on other cities that have teams but do not seem to support them to the level of a Chicago or Columbus, let alone Seattle or Toronto. Is MLS fair to the Southeast, no, is it far to the Midwest, no, is it fair to the Northwest, finally so, and Texas, yes. Yet all of us who love the game who knows how special soccer is to attend in person must put our local concern behind and help figure out which city in North American will help out the growth of MLS the most. It is a tough call to make.

  35. Jed Clampet says:

    I know there are alot of politics as well as sound business reasons for the locations of MLS teams, but so many of them are in places that get so friggin’ cold early in the year that I think some southern cities could actually make more financial sense. Tulsa has wanted to get another team , and they were very successful with the Rough necks in the NASL in the past. the OKC area wants in the MLS business, and so do people in Arizona and other places that don’t ice fish for fun. I also feel these other leagues do have some quality teams and players and ultimately help in player development for the MLS. (see back to the politics stuff)

  36. eplnfl says:

    Jed:

    I am with you that the Southwest is another area that wants the MLS and will support a team. To cover the US and Canada and satisfy the many soccer fans now out there, may take 28 teams. Yet, we all know that the talent necessary to have that many teams is only available with a massive input of money for player signings.

    You have to feel that the future is bright but things can still go wrong.

  37. thomask says:

    Why has nobody mentioned Garber demanded a pay raise from $1m to $3m per year? He thinks he is worth more than the whole squad on the roster of any MLS team. And obviously, if MLS can afford to pay him then there’s at least one person making a whole heap of change from the sport.

    All this economics talk is just justification after the fact – why does anyone think it’s right that paying a massively overinflated ‘franchise fee’ to own 49% of the rights to a club represents any sort of meritocratic system. Only billionaires are wanted by MLS because the establishment wants to reassert their control by creating artificial barriers to entry. Allowing an open league system where any team can progress on merit would expose the national politics as the complete sham it is.I mean Obama was only accepted because he is a Havard alumnus.

    Come on, the game is about taking what you can get away with while you can get away with it. France in the World Cup? I ask you! Hilarious!

    Why should anyone worry about having a sanctioned league? Why are no questions being asked about how Sunil Gulati got the job at the top of USSF and what interests he represents?

    Soccer teaches consistency, so demand it from the soccer authorities.

  38. Roger says:

    The kind of results of MLS after 14 years,especially if you consider that we are by far the wealthiest nation on the region, speak by themselfs. Performance like that would get CEOs fired in any american coorporation.
    The number of “franchises” keeps no relationship to the size of our country.
    The single entity concep has been imposed without any fans consideration.
    The players have been mistreated and brutally misspayed.
    The salary cap prevent us to atract the best soccer talent in the world,wich is essential for a us soccer league to succed.
    By no using pro/rel a huge chunk of our country is just left out.
    Now we have a clear case of collusion with Mr Gulatis playing Judge and part at the same time.

    All of this could have been prevented by adopting the open market,pro/rel system that has proven suscessful in all the important leagues on the world.

    FIFA is the ruling entity of soccer on the planet.The one suposed to protect our game.At what point should FIFA get involved??
    My humble opinion: NOW

  39. eplnfl says:

    FIFA getting involved. Pray not. The last thing the american game needs is the over bearing FIFA higher ups telling us what is good for the American game. That will lead quickly to a demise of the league. Other ideas please.

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  41. somaie says:

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  42. Maroussia says:

    It will be great to watch Auburn Tigers, i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/Auburn_Tigers-tickets looking forward to it.

  43. Jeromy says:

    On the field, the early wave of international players who had joined MLS at its inception drifted into retirement or moved on to clubs elsewhere in the world. The run-up to the 2002 World Cup saw a gradual shift in the league’s philosophy toward the development of American talent, a move that would eventually lead to success for U.S. soccer.

    Despite this movement, declining attendances forced MLS to stop the bleeding by contracting the two Florida franchises, the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Miami Fusion, just a few years after their establishment. This left the league with 10 teams, the same number as when the league began. Also, the league has been reorganized back to the Western/Eastern conference basis.

  44. tj says:

    Well I know the Piedmont Triad metro (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point) in North Carolina has been eyeing major league soccer for a long time. There was a real effort in the early 2000s to build a major league soccer stadium in the heart of downtown WInston-Salem. The effort at the time eventually failed but currently Greensboro is home to the region’s soccer team and has very strong support. the stadium in Greensboro expanded to 10,000 seats. The Piedmont Triad is home to the largest and fastest growing latino poplation in the state of North Carolina and I do know that a major league soccer stadium is included in a major mixed-use concept plan which would be located between Greensboro and Winston-Salem. The Triad is also a good fit because no other major league sport is compete for local corporate dollars. Charlotte already has the NBA and NFL. Raleigh has the NHL and corporate dollars in those cities are already stretched thin.

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