The fastest way to turn your mentions on Twitter into a dumpster fire is to be critical of any sort of soccer team.
I did this on Monday, criticizing the big babies known as the fans of Detroit City FC and it suddenly turned into a discussion on why Major League Soccer is bad.
This is not a post about why soccer is bad. I think it’s a good sport that when played at a high level is very entertaining and offers a ton of drama.
That being said, I don’t give a shit about MLS, and here is why.
1. It’s the equivalent of AA baseball or ECHL hockey
There is nothing wrong with being a big supporter of AA baseball or an ECHL team in your home town. That doesn’t instantly make it a good product, just because you and a few thousand other people like it.
As of right now, MLS likely isn’t even in the top-10 best soccer leagues in the world. They barely play non-star players, the players who are “stars” are 39 years old and only playing in MLS because it’s a big pay day for them.
You don’t see AA baseball or ECHL hockey on TV three times per week, because it’s not a good enough product. But because this is the best league in the country it’s on TV all the time.
People act like MLS is a top-tier league, when in reality the only thing “major” about it is the name. In fact, the only reason people think MLS is a big deal is because it’s played in big cities like New York, LA and Seattle. Just because it’s in a big city doesn’t mean it’s a big-time product.
If MLS were played in Toledo or Wichita, nobody would give a shit about it.
Put it this way, when a team from the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB wins a title, they are truly the best team in the world in their sport. When an MLS team wins the MLS title, they aren’t even the best team on their own continent, let alone the world.
2. Cut the faux European shit out
This country spends a lot of time making fun of Europeans, and then MLS season rolls around and out comes FC Whoever, or Real Salt Lake (seriously that’s the worst name in sports) or Sporting Kansas City.
Stop, you’re not European. Make up your own traditions. Don’t steal other people’s weird things like making giant signs that cover an entire section, or light smoke bombs and flares just because it seems like a soccer thing.
Find something to make your team unique, like Portland, who cuts a giant fucking log after every goal. That’s awesome. Do more of that.
Think about this: do you really need to be wearing a scarf at a soccer in July in Dallas when it’s 110 degrees? No.
3. They treat the players like shit
MLS loves to talk about competitive balance (like every other sports league) and keeping salaries in check, but that’s a bunch of horse shit.
MLS has a salary cap of just over $3.5 million per season, and the salary minimum is $36,500 and $48,500, meaning if a player played 10 years in MLS at minimum salary, the first thing he would do after retirement is go fill out a job application and make more money.
Let’s keep in mind the league gets $90 million every year in TV money, and will soon get more than $1 billion if they add eight more teams like they say they will. But sure, none of that can go to the players, that would be bad.
And then there’s the issue of free agency. It doesn’t exist in MLS, basically so owners can collude together to pay players a little money as possible.
MLS loves to say it doesn’t have any more, but the second an over-the-hill star who once had a good year for a European league is available for his retirement tour, every team in the league suddenly has $15 million lying around to pay their designated star.
4. I’ve never had a local team to root for
This is probably the biggest thing. Growing up in Michigan there was never an MLS team or even a team in a lower league near me.
It’s insanely hard to care about something when the product isn’t available for you to consume. Remember how I said the league is in place like LA, New York, Seattle and Chicago? Well I don’t care about any of those teams, that’s not where I’m from, and if I’m going to casually watch soccer that I don’t have a vested interest in, it sure isn’t going to be MLS, but more likely EPL or any other European league.
I have tickets to the junior hockey team here in town and will have tickets to the minor league indoor football team too, and you know why? Because it’s in my hometown and I can go root for it. Does that make the product good? No, but it’s nice to support those things so they stick around a while.
And to be honest, even if I had an MLS team near me, I probably wouldn’t go that often. Again, it’s a AA caliber league that charges big league prices. The closest team to me is FC Dallas, and the cheapest season ticket is $20 a game to sit in the corner or behind the net.
I can go see the same caliber of hockey or baseball for half that price and end up with a better seat.
So really, that’s it. Again, I don’t hate soccer or fans of it or even MLS, I just don’t care about it.