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MLS kicks off its 25th season and I wish I cared more

After 25 years the MLS should have their stuff together. They don’t.

Zarek Valentin & Mathieu Deplagne by Jamie Smed is licensed under CC BY 2.0

MLS kicks off its 25th season and I wish I cared more

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Here we go everyone. It actually happened. Professional soccer has survived in the United States for a quarter century. Major League Soccer is getting ready to kick off its 25th season on Saturday at 1pm. DC United will host the Colorado Rapids in the first match of the campaign.

I honestly wish I cared more. I get into it when I’m at a game, but otherwise I barely follow. If I hear of some crazy highlight, I’ll go to YouTube and look it up. When my “hometown” team makes a signing, I’ll Google it. When the (way too many) supporters groups of NYCFC put out a joint statement because their club thought it was okay to play a “home” game at their local rival’s stadium, I pay attention.

But overall, it just doesn’t do it for me consistently enough.

I want to care. Watch more. Get excited. Scream at my tv.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t do it.

The 25th season should come with some hoopla. I’m not daft enough to think that because I don’t see it it’s not happening. But man, this should be a bigger deal. Instead, it’s about as exciting as watching the USMNT play in Trinidad in 2017.

MLS has been dubbed a retirement league. And while that’s not entirely true, it’s not entirely false either. Now, this isn’t all the fault of Don Garber and MLS. However they do need to stop adding more teams to the league.

Am I spoiled by European football? Yes. Do I still think professional soccer in the US can grow and thrive without following the world model 100%? Maybe. Are they growing and thriving now? No.

What’s missing?

I can’t stress to you enough how much Americans would LOVE relegation. I may be beating a dead horse by saying that, but COME ON. Nobody wants MLS to grow to be a 30+ team league like other major sports in the US. Americanizing the game based on the four major sports is flat out stupid. And people wonder why soccer isn’t more popular here…

Sure, the haters will always feel like there’s not enough action. But the passive fans would have their interest piqued if we gave them a reason. The way the MLS, USL, and NASL operate is stupid, and we need the USSF to pull them together under one true umbrella. Again, I’m beating a dead horse here. I’ve gone in on this topic a number of times. Honestly, I’m tired. And I’m losing interest.

The lack of relegation, absurdity around designated players, and the overall atmosphere in some cities (cough FOXBOROUGH cough) is preventing added excitement that exists in other leagues around the world.

I never expect that MLS will be a legitimate top league in the world. It would be nearly impossible to surpass La Liga, The Premier League, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 in popularity. But they should be able to bunch above their weight now and again. Not only is American soccer not in the same weight class, it’s like watching a heavyweight champ take on a fifth grader.

Sure, you’ve got teams like Seattle, Atlanta, Portland, and Columbus. There are rabid fan bases out there. Hell, the Revolution have an unbelievable group of supporters. But it’s probably the worst place to play in the league. And yes, mid-high caliber players like Chicharito will be donning MLS kits for the first time this year.

But in the grand scheme of things?

It’s not even close. And after 25 years it should be.

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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