Thursday, April 9, 2015

Get ready to crank up the Yawn-Master 3000.

Yet another outlet has been somehow convinced to pay Frank Deford for yet another tired, often exaggerated (if not downright incorrect) soccer whine, this time with the duh-worthy supposed bombshell that MLS is not the greatest league in the world already.

Maybe someone should go ask him how strong the NFL looked in 1940. Sneak preview: Having been reduced to 10 teams early in the decade, it drew over a million total fans - or 50% shy of the NHL total that year, and 1/6th of the 2014 sum for all of MLS - for just the second time ever.

Reality: In its teens, Major League Soccer managed to grow admirably during a historic recession. And, ummm, it has several fantasy games. I could pick it apart grump-by-grump, but that would just mean it mattered.

Pull your head out, NPR. You could pay a lot less for an opinion that means something.

- Greg Seltzer


Tony M said...

Someone made a great point on Bigsoccer. (Hey, it happens.) Ten years ago, he wrote the same article, only it was "Americans don't care about soccer." Now it's that we don't care about MLS. The fact that he shifted targets a knowledges how wrong he was last time.

Greg Seltzer said...

... and that he kinda tries to pay attention to it (at least intermittently). If he did not, he could not attempt to credibly write about it.

Paul Poenicke said...

Nice point about NFL growth, Greg. We should have a rule about sports journos who write this tripe: whenever you write an uninformed, trite, cliched piece about MLS, you have reached a point in your career when you are too cranky, dull, and past it for anyone to read what you write. It is in the best interest for all for those who reach this point to be put out to pasture. (Although if the same point applies to coverage of the USMNT and USWNT, we would be out regulars on Fox and ESPN.)

Air said...

I agree with all of the complaints against his article as I did the earlier version. What gets to me is the stat about attendance. 19k per game is only 2k behind france and italy top leagues. It is even with the Eredivisie. The true difference is the ad revenue, which he rightfully points to, from TV. Hopefully that will continue to grow, although it is the major weakness in the whole operation. Of course to say that MLS is a dead sport walking is ludicrous.

I think the bigger concern I would have with the league is how does it grow without becoming not-viable. I don't think that a 30+ team league would ever really make competitive sense. If it does, it would imply that the rift in how soccer is played in the US would be greater than it is today IMO. (Mechanics of running an NFL team is significantly different from the Euro soccer counterparts. That does have an noticeable change in the structure of the product put on the field.)

I know what I am saying has been treaded out my many others, but worth throwing in his one valid point.

Unknown said...

tl;dr - there is a "problem", but its not really a problem, and it's going away as the league grows.

i dont think theres any league in the world bigger than 24, so id really prefer to see MLS not try to push past that. once we hit 24 (we're already at 23 + potential miami), its time for pro/rel. well this is in my perfect world, but i doubt it happens. we'll see how NASL continues to grow, the ESPN3 deal is great for them.

my experience at a very soccer-loving high school in norcal... europe is king. everybody cares about La liga, BPL, and UCL. some care about Liga MX. almost none care about MLS.
tbh, while i always liked the earthquakes, i agreed that MLS was a pretty big joke and i basically didnt follow MLS.

this, however, is something that is changing, at least in norcal. the stanford games, the ultras-MLS-ownership conflict, and the new stadium got a lot of people into MLS. there is an improving league-wide standard of play, clearly, and that is helping as well.

i always thought the biggest problem was MLS was that the players were there but the coaching wasn't. it was way too much kickball and 4-4-2. nowadays, most teams focus on keeping the ball and moving it around, and almost every team plays a contemporary formation.

so, there is a "problem", but its not really a problem, and it's going away as the league grows.