Friday, October 28, 2005

Enjoy Yourself

Some of you may be too young to remember the period between 1984 and 1996 when (real, outdoor) soccer in this country was an afterthought. Not an “afterthought” in the way it is today, with spotty mentions in the nation’s top newspapers and rare highlights on SportsCenter, but a real afterthought, with no mentions, anywhere, about the sport outside of the World Cup. In the last ten years, the growth of both the internet and 500-channel television universe has helped cultivate a growing and fervent audience of fans of the US game (you, presumably).

Another major factor of that growth of course, is the league. Without MLS, we’d all be following the USL and its microscopic crowds around the US’ second (and third) cities and trying to follow our American heroes on the web & digital channels to judge our chances for the next World Cup. Over the course of the week, there has been a huge amount of negative press about MLS, its playoff system, its television broadcasts, its expansion plans, its stadium designs, its crowd passion, its uniform colors, paint on its fields, its boring matches, and so on and so forth.

To those columnists, posters, and bloggers out there, I say, “take a step back.” Is the league in the place we all want it to be? No. However, imagine what soccer in this country would be without MLS. Would you put the same energy into following teams overseas? Would you follow the Mexican league (shudder?). Would you support your local USL-1, -2, or PDL team with the same passion? Seriously, how would your “sporting” life change? For me, there’d definitely be something missing without MLS and my 2005 MLS Cup Champion MetroStars. I’d miss the friends I’ve made, pubs I’ve visited and the trips I’ve taken around MLS over the past ten years.

Warts and all, MLS has become a big part of my life, and I’m tired of the league getting ripped all time by folks that think they know better. Here’s some advice ahead of this weekend’s playoff matches: just enjoy them. Enjoy them despite the MLS haters out there. Enjoy them, even if your club loses over the weekend. Enjoy them even if the crowd looks sparse on TV. Just have a good time. ‘Cause that what it’s about, right?

Here’s what’s on the most popular networks, with the times ET.

Saturday, Oct. 29
8:00am: EPL: Tottenham-Arsenal, FSC
10:00am: GER: Moenchengladbach-Dortmund, FSC
12noon: EPL: Middlesbrough-Man. United, FSC
12noon: ITA: Sampdora-Inter, GOL
2:30pm: ITA: AC Milan-Juventus, GOL
3:00pm: EPL: Chelsea-Blackburn, FSC
4:30pm: ESP: Real Betis-Real Madrid, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Atlante- Jaguares, GALA
6:30pm: PER: Bolognesi – Alianza Liam, GOL
8:00pm: MLS: Conf Semis, 2nd leg, New England-MetroStars, FSC, DK
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas – Morelia, TELE
8:30pm: MLS: Conf Semis, 2nd leg, FC Dallas-Colorado, DK
8:30pm: COL: America Cali – Independiente Santa Fe, GOL
10:00pm: MLS: Conf Semis, 2nd leg, San Jose-Los Angeles, FSC, DK, HD Net
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-Pachuca, GALA
12mid: MEX: Tigres – Toluca, GALA

Sunday, Oct. 30
9:00am: ITA: Lecce-Messina, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Fiorentina-Cagliari, GOL
11:00am: ESP: Valenica – Racing Santander, GOL
1:00pm: URU: Rentistas-Penarol, GOL
1:00pm: MEX: Pumas-America, UNI
1:30pm: EPL: Charlton-Bolton, FSC
3:00pm: FRA: Auxerre-Paris St. Germain, FSC
3:00pm: ESP: Atletico Madrid-Villreal, GOL
3:00pm: MEX: San Luis – Monterrey, GALA
4:30pm: MLS: Conf Semis, 2nd leg, DC United – Chicago, ESPN2
5:00pm: ITA: Treviso-Siena, FSC
5:30pm: COL: Independiente Medellin – Atletico Nacional, GOL
7:30pm: ELS: LA Firpo – Isidro Metapan, GOL
9:30pm: BRA: Corinthians- Vasco de Gama, GOL
11:00pm: ARG: Rosario Central – River Plate, FSC


D said...

For me, there’d definitely be something missing without MLS and my 2005 MLS Cup Champion MetroStars.

Right, what's missing is that 2005 MLS Cup you mentioned. I think you might have accidently left it in DC.

Aside from that, good points. MLS has brought a lot, and while we've quibbled and kvetched, I do love following my team and feeling the passion of the sport. Oh, and razzing Metros fans on the internet. Not quite the same when it's a Rochester fan.

Eric PZ said...

As long as there's a playoff system, it'll get ripped one way or the other.

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