Saturday, March 10 was the start of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, and no one seemed to care.
To those who follow MLS, it’s disappointing that the only things it’s known for are a lack of fans and the presence of David Beckham. It’s especially disappointing that Americans neglect a league that they should be proud to call their own.
The first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when they think of MLS is David Beckham, the 36-year-old Englishman who Americans think has come to Los Angeles as their savior, and who Europeans think has fallen from grace. Lately, Beckham is lauded more for his work in front of a camera than for the way he distributes a soccer ball. While he still shows some promise, the days when one aspired to “bend it like Beckham” are surely gone. He is one player on one team, but everyone acts like he is a game changer—like the world is watching us because we have their precious David Beckham, like he influences the entire league.
And I have news for these people: he doesn’t.
The real talent lies in the homegrown American kids: ones with the passion stemming from their days as youth players. Juan Agudelo, a 19-year-old Colombian-born American who plays for the New York Red Bulls, was regarded as an emerging stars of American soccer for his performance last season. So was Brek Shea, a 22-year-old Texan. If it doesn’t touch your patriotism to hear that these young men are excelling with the American National team, then I don’t know what will.
Then there’s the fans. A total of 124,955 fans attended the seven opening matches that weekend. That’s an average of 17,851 fans per game, just shy of the 17,869 record. Numbers don’t lie, and clearly the league has attracted a large number of fans.
Not to mention that these fans are, simply put, crazy. Take the fans of the Seattle Sounders for example. They’re considered the hooligans of the MLS: they wear giant green afros, huge blue sunglasses, paint their entire bodies blue and green, and drunkenly sway and sing songs for their team. It’s a passion that is unmatched and unrivaled.
Plus there are so many other things to look out for: like Shea’s self-described “chicken hair,” and Thierry Henry’s beard, which looks like it may swallow him whole. And hey, while you’re watching, why not check out the talent too?
So the next time you’re bored and flipping through the channels and an MLS game comes on, please don’t it. Please don’t fawn over David Beckham and scout him out the entire game. There’s more to MLS than Europeans past their prime and a bunch of dudes chasing a ball, and that’s clear in every single match.