Have you fellow soccer snobs repented and accepted MLS into your life? Hark! The Priests of MLS have spoken yet again and have set forth the fundamentalism of American soccer fandom. And as per usual, their pride is wounded by us admitted soccer snobs and our dislike of MLS. This schism is tiresome even in the best of times, but it is all the more so when MLS bots refuse to accept one pertinent point- the simple fact of freedom of choice and a little something called free will.
MLS bots, pay attention. Regardless of what you may think, there is simply not one reason why I have to like MLS. Just because it is the United States’ top league is frankly, irrelevant. I know this may come as a shock to an MLS bot. Make all the arguments you like about how much quality is actually in MLS. It is completely irrelevant to why certain soccer snobs such as myself support the clubs we do.
I don’t watch sports, or certain leagues or support clubs or teams because of their popularity, their star power, the players that play for them. I began supporting Arsenal back when they “Boring, Boring Arsenal,” so save the Arsenal sexy football comebacks or attempted gotcha! comebacks.
MLS ever going to have North London’s Arsenal FC in it? I doubt it. Good luck with trying to convince me to devote the majority of my soccer attention to MLS. I began supporting Arsenal at a time when England’s first division and subsequent Premier League was arguably the fourth best league in Europe behind Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga. So, the MLS bots’ argument about league quality should hold my attention is a fallacy (Ligue 1 is actually the league I watch the second most of and it will never be confused with the best league in Europe). I’m not the kind of supporter or fan that is swayed by marketing campaigns and star player synergy and all that pop culture and sports marketing crap that is frankly ruining or has ruined most American professional sports for me (I’m looking at you NBA & MLB).
But let’s argue that quality point just for a second. I’ve seen Diego Maradona, Marco Van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Baggio, etc. in their prime. I hate to break it to you, MLS bots but MLS isn’t even close to reaching that sort of quality yet. Budweiser drinkers really think it is the king of beers too.
And that last paragraph is the sort of snob info drop trying to pull rank that Kyle Martino makes reference to in his blog post. Hate to break it you, Kyle, but you’re darn right I feel justified in my snobbery. When as a teenager in the late 80s and early 90s I had to scour newsstands throughout New Orleans looking for soccer magazines or sports papers only to be forced to settle on Italian and French magazines and newspapers for information on soccer, you’re darn right I feel justified in my snobbery. When this dearth of information on soccer forces you to self teach yourself enough of a foreign language so as to keep up on all the ongoings of top leagues at the time in said magazines and newspapers, you’re darn right I feel justified in my snobbery. When you beg your parents to pop for the extra sports cable package just so you can catch two weekly shows that come on at hours when you’re in school which then forces you to work extra chores to be able to buy the extra VCR to tape subsequent shows to inform yourself, you’re darn right I feel justified in my snobbery. When you grow up in an era when ethnic minorities or kids from the wrong schools or playgrounds are shunned from select and ODP programs because they weren’t American enough, you’re darn right I feel justified in my snobbery.
The not-American-enough argument brings me to my next point- this moronic concept that just because you’re American and you like soccer, it is your duty to support the MLS. This is so simplistic and jingoistic I’m not sure where to begin. But I think I’ll start with the fallacy of that not supporting MLS somehow means you’re helping stunt the growth of American soccer or whatever an MLS bot’s actual point is with that sort of charge. Again, wrong. I support the New Orleans Jesters because I am originally from the New Orleans area. Last time I checked New Orleans is in the United States. You MLS bots should know this. We freaking gave you a quintessential American musical genre in jazz and helped heavily in the development of three others (rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm & blues, & blues). So, if the MLS ever puts a team in New Orleans or Louisiana, I’ll watch every damn game, unless of course they are related to the Glazers like the once rumored NOLA FC. What I won’t do is throw my support to the nearest geographic team just because of their proximity and just because they’re MLS and they’re on tv and because, American club! F*ck yeah!
So, I’m plenty on board with wanting soccer to develop in the United States but I’m not under the delusion that it has to be strictly done in the MLS. Which leads to the other fallacy of the “you should support the MLS” argument- most American players should eventually play and develop in MLS to strengthen future USMNTs. Again, this is such a specious argument because it denies the reality of world football and player development throughout the world. As I’ve stated on several occasions on the Two Daft Yanks podcast and much to the chagrin of the mythos that MLS bots try to paint, weakened or inferior domestic leagues (either real or perceived) such as those that exist in Brazil, Argentina, Holland, Belgium, etc. have not or do not affect the quality of their national teams as much as people would have you believe. If anything having both domestic and foreign based players has only strengthened sides like Holland, Germany, Brazil, etc. or do you MLS bots think Lionel Messi is actually Spanish? Or that he should play for Boca Juniors or River Plate? Maybe send Cristiano Ronaldo back to Sporting so he can quit hurting the Portuguese national team while playing at Real? Zinedine Zidane sure made the French team a pile of crap when he was at Real Madrid and Sweden must only be average because Zlatan Ibrahimovic has chosen to play his career in places like Holland, Spain, Italy and France. Players such as this have developed to the heights they have because they have played in better leagues than their given countries’ domestic leagues. Reality. It sucks for delusional people.
Now the last point I’ll make is a response to the MLS bots cries of why don’t Euro/soccer snobs like the MLS. If we are such the douche snobs you say, why does our opinion matter so much to you? Never mind that all you’re really trying to do is shove some sort of fan orthodoxy that has to be adhered. Although it is humorous to watch MLS bots pander for our snobs’ attention. Perhaps MLS bots should ponder why that is. I couldn’t care less if an MLS bot only watches MLS or also watches La Liga or the Kerplockestani third division or whatever league or leagues it is that you like. If you like it, go for it. Who cares what other people think?
And that final point speaks a lot more about an aspect of humanity than it does any fandom. People end up creating a rule of commandments and then try to force all people of a particular endeavor to obey the stone tablets!, as it were. People can’t just live and let live. Thus, the MLS zealots have decreed American soccer fans, from uninitiated acolyte to heretical snob, must attend the church of MLS like a good little American soccer fan and be part of the Chosen Soccer People and get into American soccer Paradise. Can you bots just excommunicate me already and be done with it so I can go back to living in Euro snob sin and wandering the Nod of the EPL ? Thanks, and enjoy your zealotry.