Football In The States Is Broken, But Fun To Watch
December is a time for lists and remembrances of the year in any topic, so I thought it would be smart of me to update everyone on the clubs TEB has profiled this year in our feature that has looked at football in the United States.
Part of the fun in this series is to bring the sport in America to the rest of the world. The study I have undertaken here has not only been Major League Soccer (MLS) or professional clubs, there has been amateur sides included as well. To kick off this review, I am going to take you through each club by the order they have appeared here on TEB.
In some ways it was disappointing, and in other ways it was a rousing success. They finished with ten fewer points, and six places lower in the table (12th overall this year) than last. However, they did make it to the US Open Cup semi-finals by beating MLS sides Columbus Crew (more on them later), and Chicago Fire. They crashed out to eventual finalists New York Red Bull in the semis. In the off-season, MLS announced them as one of four finalists with Detroit (no club yet), Sacramento Republic (more on them later) and Nashville as being in the running for the next two expansion slots.
2017 could prove to be the last year for the storied lower league club, as they announced after finishing in fourth place in United Soccer League’s Eastern Conference, that they could not raise the money to sustain themselves for another year. Thus they are taking a year off, which usually means death to a club. That is a horrible for a club that is so steeped in tradition here in the States.
The Cascadia outfit had another interesting year, they had a huge win against expansion side Minnesota United (5-1), but did not go far in the US Open losing in the first round to their hated rivals the Seattle Sounders (who won the MLS Cup last year). They did make it to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Houston Dynamo. After the season, manager Caleb Porter stepped down as coach. The Timbers also had the leagues Most Valuable Player (MVP) in Argentine midfielder Diego Valeri.
The USL Western Conference darlings finished the year 8th and ran to the semi-finals before losing to Swope Park which is Sporting Kansas City’s affiliate club. The Republic are managed by Paul Buckle, who is overshadowed by his wife, NBC’s Rebecca Lowe, a Palace fan here in the States (both are British born). The Republic are always going to be in the running for the next expansion slot in MLS, and have been said to already know they are in.
This was a horrible year for one of the great stories in MLS. Last year they were going for a treble, which has never been done here in the States. They did finish last year with the US Open Cup, and Supporters Shield. 2017 should have been the year for them to continue being awesome, but they fell apart in the second half of the season. On July 27th, they were in top spot in the West, and then fell down. The offence and defence fell apart, the injuries starting stacking up, and the youth did not grow up fast enough. The club can and will bounce back from this.
From Jason Rego their assistant manager – “Awesome! We started the season splitting the club into two teams A and B. Serious A squad, more of B squad who are good ballers but wanted to focus more on the fun side. Started training indoor in January making a few signings. March was pre-season where we beat Division 1 and Division 2 Bay State Soccer League (BSSL) teams. Then we went the whole of the BSSL season with one loss and one draw, the other sixteen matches were victories. We made it to the finals of the BSSL McKenzie Cup against Division 1 BSSL Champions GPS Omens where we lost 3-1. We went undefeated in our summer league and crowned champions. We entered the US Amateur Cup, won the first round but we were unaware one of our players required clearance paperwork because he played in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), so we were kicked out.”
The Cosmos are the most recognisable name in American soccer history. However, this is a completely different club than the one that captured the world’s imagination. Gone are the days that they could out-spend everyone, they just do not have the money. Being part of the new North American Soccer League (NASL), they do not have the visibility to attract many great players. They almost went bankrupt last year trying to cover expenses, but through all of that they still made it to the Soccer Bowl where they lost to San Fran Deltas.
It was another banner year for SPKC, they won another US Open Cup. They did have trouble scoring this year with Gerso being the top scorer with only ten goals. The club finished fifth in the West just below Houston Dynamo. They did not spend much money on the club this year, so there is a thought with more money pumped into the club from the league, they might add more talent.
They are a club playing in the amateur leagues (National Premier Soccer League NPSL) outside of New York City, in the great state of New York. They were founded by the man who created Foursquare, Dennis Crowley. They are well known for their amazing shirts, and online presence. However, in their second year of existence they ran all the way to the conference final and won thanks to a Michael Creswick goal in the 94th minute against Hartford City FC.
A very challenging year, as it came to light at the end of the season MLS, the commissioner and the owner wanted to move the club to Austin, Texas. This was due to falling attendances (which is the owners fault) and lack of television exposure in the market (again, the owner’s fault). On the field they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing out to eventual champions Toronto. This year will be remember for the fans revolting against the establishment. This is a real turning point in football over here.
This is the club that dominated the early years of the league. When anyone talks about the top players or matches in the early years, it always surrounds DC. Since the money came into the sport, they have been left in the dust. They are owned by a shareholder with Inter Milan, and that still has not helped. They have also been playing in RFK Stadium, a place that should have been torn down in the nineties. DC United has finally built its own stadium which they move into later in the year, but until then they will still be middle to lower end of the table. They finished 21st in the league, and their manager is a club legend, so it is going to be another year of nothing.
So, there you have it. The season in review for the clubs that I have talked about on TEB this year. I hope you have all learned a little more about the sport in the States, and have grown to follow more. The sport in the States is broken and in bad shape, but can be fun to watch.