Are These U.S. Soccer's Good Ole Days?Play
Major League Soccer’s postseason is underway.
Wednesday night’s action included a spectacular bicycle kick goal by the New England Revolution’s Juan Agudelo, though his team lost that knockout game to D.C. United and was eliminated from playoffs.
Maybe you didn’t know that.
Don’t feel bad. There was a World Series game on at the same time. The NBA season began. Perhaps you’d already begun handicapping the Thursday night NFL game. And NHL games were underway.
And so it will go. The MLS playoffs will continue to compete with the most exciting part of the baseball season, the early jostling of the NBA and NHL seasons and the NFL Megalith, which dwarfs all pretenders, ever more relentlessly, as the weeks of its regular season rumble along toward the Super Bowl.
There is an argument that though lots of pro soccer teams — particularly the ones in Seattle and Portland — have large, devoted fan bases, MLS will never challenge the big kids because the big kids got there first. In the neighborhood of the McMansion, you can’t build a starter home.
I like soccer. I’m a fan. But sometimes I think, “If somebody starting a league wanted to make absolutely sure that nobody would pay attention to the most important part of their season, this is when they’d stage it, right?”
And then I ask myself, “Yeah, but what else could they have done?”
And I answer myself, “Yeah, darned if I know.” Because it wouldn’t work to play soccer through the winter, would it? To fill the stands for games played in sub-freezing temperatures and driving sleet, you’d have to have a clientele as crazy as the people who go to football games in Chicago and Green Bay in December and January. How likely is that?
And then I stop talking to myself, perhaps just in time, and I turn to positive thoughts: It’s still relatively cheap to attend an MLS game. It’s still a pretty quick exit from the parking lot afterward. The league has provided fans of international soccer with the opportunity to see such worthies as David Beckham and Robbie Keane without expensive trips to Spain, England or France. Fans can also experience the fun of being in on something from the beginning. Maybe it’ll turn out to be like buying low — and never selling. Rooting for the league now is rooting for the underdog, which I’ve often enjoyed doing, unless the underdog is playing Barcelona. If pro soccer here does someday grow to be as fat and happy as football, basketball and baseball, maybe I’ll yearn for these humble autumn days of a less popular diversion.
This segment aired on October 31, 2015.