Establishing the Established

So, he says trying to seamlessly transition into posting after being absent since the World Cup, burdening his bro with all scouting, linking and writing duties…

Came across a decent article on concerning He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named “saving” soccer in the US.


In short – what I have been lecturing on folks for a while now, soccer is already established in this country and has done so under the radar of every lazy journalist who even dares to pen “America will never care.”

Outside of some of the arguments presented in the above link, people seem to forget the significance of the fact that the USMNT has been in every World Cup since 1990.  England, Holland, France, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, and my beloved Scotland among others can not make that claim.  Granted, the qualifying competition is nowhere near as fierce in CONCACAF (though underestimate St. Kitts and Nevis at your own peril), but that consistency of appearance, even with an inconsistency in performance, carries a lot more weight than people admit.

Flash back with me, if you will, to 1990.  The first time I get to watch a World Cup on Domestic TV and have it broadcast in English not Spanish.  There was no league and little hope of one developing.  TNT was broadcasting the WC and they took commercial breaks.

In 17 years since, I have seen the US in 5 World Cups, seen the establishment, development, and (eventual) solidification of a domestic league. 

In 9 years since the 98 World Cup, I have seen the introduction of soccer specific channels spoiling me to the point where I bitch if I am stuck watching mid-table teams, or lament that an English game is being broadcast concurrently with a Spanish one.

I encourage anyone who cares to sit back and think about that.  Let it sink in.  Think back to the dark days of the mid-nineties when your only outlet was the EPL review show on ESPN2 or knowing someone with a giant satellite dish. 

All calls for patience aside (we had to outlast the MLS shoot out rule, and a number of other sillies that were supposed to help the game translate), in a relatively short period of time, the difference in American soccer is actually pretty intense.

My 2 cents.


10 Responses

  1. Agreed on all points, but what if Phil Anschutz goes away? MLS has has reportedly lost upwards of $500 million since it’s inception in 1996 but has remained viable in large part due to his seemingly endless investment in MLS and US Soccer. In a way he’s not that different from Roman at Chel$ea, and in both cases it looks like either entity would be in serious trouble if the billionaire funding it at a personal loss decided to take his checkbook and go home.

  2. Obviously Anshutz/AEG is not exactly the same as Abromavich, but I still would be interested to know how much in the red or black AEG is on its soccer related investments.

    I imagine the 3 MLS teams are in the red, but I also know that the real impetus behind the soccer specific stadia in the US is knowing that they will profit from concerts by AEG contracted artists and other events while not raking in much money from soccer matches.

    AEG is also behind the Beckham deal and most of it’s tie-ins. I am fascinated by the behind the scenes business aspects, and how much money they are truly making or losing.

    He also funds the shit out of US Soccer, but on that side I don’t know of any business interests in place to recoup any of that investment.

  3. I think the Galaxy is the only team that turned a profit last year. But you’ll be hard pressed to convince me that Chivas and NY Red Bulls won’t in very short time.

    All in all, the question becomes what does it mean for soccer to be established in the US. Are we talking about NBA or MLB level of attention? Or are we (more sensibly) comparing soccer to more niche sports like golf, tennis, and (goodness) the NHL?

    Outside of the hardcore fans, who pays attention to golf or tennis outside of the marquee events? Yet you never hear anyone how nobody cares about golf. If you ask me, soccer is not far from the level of those sports here in America.

  4. My bad, FC Dallas is also turning a profit and 3 more teams are expected to turn a profit soon, if not this year.

  5. Fair point, but let me posit this for your consideration.

    Abramovich is a man of dubious wealth sinking it into a team.

    Anschlutz seems a pretty shrewd fella who has speculated through some losses to offset gains from all of the sports venues he owns. Through the introduction of soccer specific stadia, he is turning the league into one where the notion of profit is not alien.

    I read an article quoting AEG being reluctant to join in the foreign ownership frontiersmanship in the EPL. The reasoning was the lack of salary caps and revenue sharing.

    I think you will see Anschutz leave the day the MLS drops it’s rigid financial control (if ever). Until then, I think he might just have gotten in at the ground floor of a good gig.

    Of note: Merritt Paulson is rumored to be formulating a bid to turn his Portland Timbers into an MLS team. If the son of the current Secretary of the Treasury is at least speculating, that says something of the financial potential of the league.


  6. Moin posted two good posts and Kanu one in the time it took me to reply to the first. i am looooong winded.

    excellent points moin.

    I think all the MLS needs is a sweet TV deal and a little more acceptance from mainstream press (something even the NHL misses out on) and people would start taking notice of the following fact:

    NBA avg. att – 17,757
    NHL avg. att – 16,961
    MLS avg. att – 15,504

    Even if the total attendance figure for a season doesn’t touch the other two, average attendance should count for something.

    Also, MLS pulls in better numbers than Arena Football and they’ve been stuffing that down our throats for years now.

  7. ESPN’s insistence that Arena Football matters is insufferable, as is its decision to spend an entire week of prime time on College Softball World Series (as much as I love the Lady Wildcats of UofA) and WNBA. Seriously, if those sports, along with the likes of bowling, bass fishing, the LPGA, hunting (gotta love those Saturday outdoors programming), and poker can get dedicated timeslots. Why can’t soccer in some form or another? I refuse to believe those sports brings in better ratings than well produced soccer coverage (though I’ve heard bowling does do great).

  8. A junkie rent boy I found convulsing on the bathroom floor of a Greyhound bus station told me about about this blog, and I’m glad he did!

    Personally, I miss the old days, when being an MLS fan had a kind of Rosicrucian allure, a sense that, as we watched the Galaxy on KCAL at 5 on a sunday afternoon, playing the Mutiny in front of 70,000 empty seats at the Rose Bowl – “I’m pretty sure that Welton guy is from Brazil” – we were part of some dark and blistering reality that the rest of the world would never have the priviledge to endure.

    I want the league to thrive, and I think it is, in spite of itself. I still wince when I tune into a game and see 9,000 people scattered around the brand new soccer only stadia, as it were. Men of a certain age in this country, many of them editors and columnists, still vaguely associate soccer with homosexuality and communism, but they will be dying of heart attacks soon enough. I’d like to be there the day when the MLS gets a mid-season highlight on ESPN, and its reported as matter-of-factly as a baseball score.

  9. Hey, I called dibs on the He Who Must Not Be Named shit – it’s not Becks, it’s the new football coach at Alabama.

  10. Southern Papa, I think we can work something out. I don’t want to cause any ructions with a split title ; )

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