Over the past few years, I’ve been a critic of Major League Soccer, but I believe much of my criticism has been misconstrued by soccer fans in the United States. It’s not that I want MLS to fail. Far from it. I would love to see the league continue to grow in this country, but any criticism of MLS is often misinterpreted as negativity or “an agenda” when it is in fact constructive criticism.
I’m here to start the 2014 MLS season with a clean slate, to take in the new season with an open mind and to give the league another chance. In the past 12 months, MLS have made a turning point in its 18-year history by being more aggressive in its attempts to sign star players (Dempsey, Bradley, Defoe) and expand the league (Orlando, New York, Miami). While the league still has difficult challenges ahead of it, it’s time for soccer fans to be more open about leagues around the world without being derogatory or dismissive just because they’re different. And that includes me (and, as a result, World Soccer Talk).
From 1998-2001, I was a Miami Fusion season ticket holder and Afusionado, part of the club’s supporters section (that’s me pictured above wearing the Fusion jersey). It was a team that I loved, and one that was such a huge part of my life. I proposed to my girlfriend (now wife) on the pitch at half-time in front of 11.000 cheering fans. I made so many wonderful friends, and had so many incredible memories. So when the team was contracted, without the fans or players even having a chance to say goodbye, it was like a bitter divorce. Worse, it was more like the sudden death of a close loved one. In hindsight, it was probably one of the reasons why I was harsh on MLS in later years, to tell the truth.
Since then, MLS has done a lot of things right and feels like a completely different league than it did 13 years ago. Plus, there’s the return of a MLS side to South Florida on the horizon, which gives me, my wife and my family of 4 children a lot of happiness to know that there’ll be a local top flight team near to me so that we can participate, too, in seeing MLS games in person, which makes such a huge difference in my interest in following the league.