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Leagues: MLS

The Forgotten Ones

You know, I think the Honda Fit is a cute car. I think that every time I see the banner ad on the front page, what irks me about it is the fact that I can’t really fit — no pun intended — my 6’7″ body in one without feeling like a sardine, oh well.

I’ve said it before in my posts on MLS Talk, but I’m really annoyed by the whole USL v NASL drama. CBS just canceled As The World Turns, sensationally, and I’m willing to bet it was because the 50-something-year-old soap opera could no longer compete with this crap. Okay, maybe not, but I believe it. Kartik posted about it — the soccer drama, not the CBS drama — on his personal blog today and one of his readers left a comment saying how they might stop watching domestic soccer if the USL comes out on-top. I disagree, for a number of reasons. MLS is domestic soccer and they didn’t have anything to do with this mess, I know how fun it can be to blame them, I do it all the time, but this isn’t their fault. Another thing is that you won’t be punishing the USL if you stop watching matches, you’ll be punishing the clubs, and many of the clubs are run on shoestring budgets and didn’t have anything to do with this crap, and that’s what I wanted to talk about before I made this paragraph entirely too broad, entirely too random, and entirely too long.

Most USL clubs are genuinely local teams run by soccer people, they own the team because they love soccer and want to be involved in soccer. Maybe they played Football Manager too much and went insane, but they most likely just wanted to bring soccer to their local area, these people are the backbone of our sport and we should do everything we can to support them, not punish them, because these clubs are true labors of love.

Take my local club — the USL-2 Charlotte Eagles (and Lady Eagles) — for instance. I know, some people disagree with the fact that they promote religion at the matches, but that isn’t what this is about. That club has never, and will likely never, run a profit. I don’t even think it comes close, in fact, I don’t even think they’re allowed to dream about coming close. But since 1991 (1993 in the USL structure) they’ve fielded a team, almost 20 seasons without fail. Not many people realize that the Eagles are Charlotte’s most successful sports team, but they are. They don’t enjoy wild support like Portland or Seattle, but they have a small and vocal bunch who wouldn’t have a team to support unless someone decided it was worth propping up. I’m thankful for the Eagles, and while the goal of the club might be different than other clubs, I’m thankful that I can go watch professional soccer in a stadium in my hometown. This story can be repeated all around the country, in Charleston, in Des Moines, in New Orleans, in Jackson, all over. Please, don’t punish these little teams, they’re already being beaten up enough by this schism we keep having to watch because the head honchos of each keep trying to yell louder than the other.

Originally I was sympathetic toward the TOA, but now I’m not. I hope they get sanctioned, because if they don’t then we might as well forget about lower-tier professional soccer, but I hope they and the USL suits realize how infantile they look.

Wilmington was recently kicked out of the USL Second Division, I’m not entirely sure why, but I hope the team can land in the NPSL if possible, it’d be a shame to see them go entirely, just like it’d be a shame to see any of these clubs caught on the fringe go.

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  1. yankiboy

    November 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Steve, unless the Eagles fold or drop down to the PDL, another,
    lower division pro soccer club it’s NEVER going to happen in the
    Charlotte area. That’s just a reality. NASL isn’t going to put a
    cub there. USL definitely isn’t going to put a club there. As long
    as the Eagles franchise continues to be professional, pro lower
    division soccer in Charlotte will not happen. Now if Michael Jordon
    all of the sudden wants to be involved in an ownership group or
    some other big, “mega-star” type can get some guys together with
    the capital then maybe MLS would try to take over the market like
    they did in Toronto and Denver. I just don’t see that happening
    either–but hey–I’ve been wrong before and I will be again.

  2. Steve

    November 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    How much would it cost to get a good lower level pro soccer team
    going in Charlotte without religious affiliation that fans can
    drink and tailgate and make an intense atmosphere with a few
    thousand fans? Charlotte is so ripe for a eagles alternative
    something more like Wilmington Hammerheads or Carolina Railhawks or
    Charleston Battery.

  3. thomas

    December 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    IMO if you aren’t a churchgoer you should laugh at the miserable failure of the eagles to play the game properly and ask what they are doing wrong all the while applauding their engagement in modern civic society.

    But be warned because soccer is a religion all of its own – the stadiums are temples to ritualised forms of behavior and the icons of the game have tangible achievements to their name who are fully deserving of the respective levels of popular respect they are accorded.

    Drinking alcohol is a detriment to playing ability and in my experience does not help spectating either, so ppl are only complaining for the sake of it.

    Anyhow, if you don’t support the philosophy of a club you are free to set up a separate organisation to compete against them and prove your business ethos is a better proposition. It’s not like sport is exclusive and there’s only one way of winning.

  4. Mac

    December 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    So your against the TOA because they want to run their teams like a business and actually grow and sustain the sport? How are they hurting the Charlotte Eagles? If they’ve been around for 2 decades even though they’ve never turned a profit, I don’t see how the TOA effects them. They may have to leave USL and go to the NPSL, but does that really matter?

  5. Westmalle

    December 10, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    What a bitter response from people. I agree with the story. I supported the Chicago Stingers when there was no soccer team in Chicago. The NFL promotes Coor’s Light (beer flavored bottled water) Chalotte promotes Christianity. Ok. It’s still soccer on the field. If you are that anti-Christian, maybe you will stay away, but the rest of us would not be offended by the Christian/Soccer connection. The point of the story was that the USL provides professional soccer to mid range communities that would not draw a division one team. Relax folks!

  6. The Gaffer

    December 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    How do these teams promote Christianity at games whether they be NFL or soccer games? This is the first I’m hearing of this…

    The Gaffer

    • Lars

      December 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

      The greater question is why? Don’t we believe that the game is not a preordained result? Otherwise, why the hell do we watch?

      When a team fails they accept blame, when they succeed they thank god.

    • Nick

      December 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm

      NFL teams don’t promote Christianity, the promote football. They may have minor affiliations with one charity or another, but their prime focus is football. That’s why they appeal to a wide range of people throughtout their communities, why they draw large crowds, and hence why they make money.

      The Charlotte Eagles are owned by Missionary Athletes International, a Christian missionary organization who’s only goal is to evangelize, mainly to young kids. The Eagles run “soccer” camps that are Bible camps with soccer balls pressent. Because MAI own the team, they cannot serve alcohol, they make no effort to appeal to “real” soccer fans (not saying real soccer fans have to be drunk, just that the entire atmospher is one of sunday school picnic, not a sporting event that is exciting and attractive to the wider audience).

      There are plenty of soccer fans in Charlotte who refuse to go because they have as much interest in being at an Eagles game as I have in being in a church! The Eagles don’t appeal to people outside of their little clicky way of life, and then hhave the gaul to complain that no one comes to games, and there are no real fans getting behind the team! It’s an absolute joke, as are the Eagles!

      What’s worse, I spoke to USL about this and how the Eagles were not appealing to anyone outside their comfort zone and was told that while the Eagles exist Charlotte would never have another team sanctioned by USL. So not only do the real soccer fans of Charlotte have crap team they have no interest in supporting, there is no way they will ever get a real team unless MLS steps up!!! So excuse me for getting on my high horse, but THAT is why I hate the Eagles, and why people bleating about how the poor old Eagles gets no love makes me wanna smack them upside the head!

  7. Nick

    December 9, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Agreed! I live in Charlotte and the Eagles are a disgrace to soccer! Small but vocal bunch??? What the heck are you talking about, I’ve been in libraries that are louder than Eagles games! Stadium??? What stadium??? It’s a crumbling crap heap of HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FIELD! I tried to drum up support for the Eagles, putting hundreds of dollars into the campaigne, website, ads, everything, and GOT NO RESPONSE FROM ANYONE!!!! And don’t even get me started on the religion thing! I go to soccer to get away from that crap! If the Charlotte Eagles are the future of soccer in the US, then God help us all! Pun very much intended.

    And how can you say that you support the owners of struggling clubs and then fire at the TOA???? THEY ARE OWNERS OF STRUGGLING CLUBS THAT HAVE BEEN SHAT ON FROM A GREAT HEIGHT FOR YEARS BY USL!!!!!!!!!!

    Last time I’ll read this crap.

    Over and out!

  8. Vnice

    December 9, 2009 at 10:54 am

    So…this sounds as if written by a high school sophomore. No offense.

    Anyway, the Charlotte Eagles are a piss poor example in this article. Again, no offense. But, I do not support the notion of an actively evangelical team in a secular sports league. I would be embarrassed to admit to being a USL supporter when that is one of the teams held up as an example.

    Imagine if an NFL team suddenly became a tool for proselytizing…I can’t even fathom what the backlash would be like.

    • Bobby Brandon

      December 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

      Several NFL teams already do, to a much smaller degree, but they do promote Christianity at events.

      • Nick

        December 9, 2009 at 3:12 pm

        Yeah? Do they serve alcohol at games? Do they invest in marketing and persue all avenues to gain a better stadium and facilities? My guess is yes, they do, because their primary concern is Football. The Eagles’ primary concern is Christianity, so they don’t serve alcohol, they don’t invest in marketing, and they won’t reach out to or cater to traditional soccer fans because, as noted above, their prime reason for being is evangelism. They are owned by an evanglical organization, and two minutes in the “stadium” will remind you that you are infact back at Sunday School, not at a sporting event.

        Now this may be one of those times when the Bible can’t be taken litterally (I get so fuzzy on this issue, forgive me), but I believe the Bible says you can’t serve two masters. And that is true, the Eagles can’t, the serve the god of the evangelism, not the god of soccer, and it shows.

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