Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Euro Shift

I mentioned recently that the sale of the Wizards to Cerner and friends would mean that Lamar Hunt's MLS interests are down to two teams. That has a big effect on the whole "Americanization/Europeanization" debate in MLS, because Hunt is one of the bigger Americanizers in MLS. He fought to keep eight teams in the playoffs after contraction, and his teams are known to have annoying sound affects/music during games.

Why is that important? Back in 2002, as one of only three investors, Hunt owned 30% of the league's teams. In total there are 9 owners for 13 teams, which means that a lot of new people have come into the league. The new investors seem much more friendly towards the European approach. Who knows what the new Wizards owners believe, but overall there is a movement towards traditional soccer thinking in America. I've been seeing it all year long in various articles about MLS. The fact that single table is even a possibility shows you how real that change in approach is.

Like for example, with Chivas USA and New York this year. It's not a shock that people who were already involved in soccer outside the USA are going to prefer to do things in a more traditional way. Plus, the new Toronto FC franchise seems to be thinking that way if the name is any indication. We've all heard various chatter among players and Bruce Arena about making the regular season more meaningful. It was also very interesting to see Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo talking about why MLS should align with the international calendar.

MLS now has a technical committee this season in addition to the competition committee. The latter has a representative from each owner, while the former has reps from all teams plus four other men. It appears that they've created the technical committee to get some advice from those ex-players and coaches, as opposed to the suits in the competition committee. They should know better than anyone what could help. Members of the technical committee include the previously mentioned Arena and Clavijo.

Clavijo also mentioned something about having "more soccer people" in the team organizations. Imagine that, soccer people running the American soccer league. Real soccer fans never wanted a shootout or flashy uniforms, and the Americanization of soccer was a failure. Futhermore, there are more than enough soccer fans in this country already to make MLS a huge success. The league needs to try and capture the attention of those fans first. It's only after that should they go after the casual sports fans.

So get used to names like FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, and Toronto FC. That's just the beginning.

Comments on "The Euro Shift"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:57 AM, October 03, 2006) : 

Of course FC Dallas is one of the Hunt teams. I've been to three FCD games this year, and I don't recall any "annoying sound or music" during the game, but perhaps exposure to other sports (plenty of GnR/Metallica at Dallas Stars games) means I don't notice.


Anonymous Eric B said ... (3:36 PM, October 03, 2006) : 

Sorry, anon, no personal observations allowed in questioning a BigSoccer-style rant against the "Americanization" of the game.

Also, if "soccer people" like Clavijo think that trying to play matches in Denver and Chicago between December and March is anything other than the worst idea in the history of mankind, then I'll settle for the non-soccer (read "people who speak English with American accents") people who have most of the league's teams playing in their own stadiums.


Blogger scaryice said ... (5:24 PM, October 03, 2006) : 

Dallas seems to be the one Hunt team which doesn't do that stuff. I wonder why?

Eric, 90% of my post was not a rant. It's just what's actually happening.


Anonymous Eric B said ... (6:56 PM, October 03, 2006) : 

Has Columbus really been as jockrockified as Kansas City? I don't recall so much the few times I've been there, but that was many moons ago.

Perhaps the amount of PA noise at KC was the wish of the local FO, and not some sort of Uncle Lamar commandment.


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