Can US Soccer Flourish Without Dangerous Rivalries?

17 Apr

Celtic and Rangers

The 2010 MLS season kicks off and I heard a bunch of moaning. Some commentators take the field and kick the game with sharp spikes on how weak the league is. Rootless cosmopolitans continue to look to Europe. And what is it that drives them to seek out their fix from these foreign dealers. The quality of the football drug is vastly superior and there is one huge snort – the rush of bitter rivalry.

While there are some developing rivalries in MLS, what it lacks are the crazed battles of the old world. Take a rivalry like Celtic and Rangers in Scotland. Murderous, dangerous, and sectarian and you can go to other parts of Europe and find the same. In Spanish soccer, it’s bloody civil war and nationalism; in Israel, it’s politics; in Argentina, it’s the class divide.

Scattered geography, the lack of two-team cities, the success of the liberal American mixing bowl makes it harder to show up and hate fellows from Dallas, or Canadians, when the only thing they have hurt the USA with is a hockey stick. At the national level, American fans could up the ante in the rivalry with Mexico by showing up in large numbers to the stadium but as we all know, home games for the USA often seem like away.

At some point in the future, maybe MLS can merge with UEFA to create a trans-Atlantic tournament or bounce into the Mexican divisions to form a NAFTA Super League – The North American Futbal Association. That could kick in some fierce rivalries. If the clubs could attract the airlines to throw up cheaper flights and short stay packages, maybe the crucial factor of an away support can crystallize. Leaving a victorious insult in another town stokes the rivalry furnace.

So, can powerful adversaries in American soccer be forged? Or is it even necessary or desired? Maybe the game in the USA need not mimic the style of old world anger. Maybe the game could thrive on a more mellow and technical path without bloody murder, rancid protest and playing from the heart – then again, maybe not.

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9 Responses to “Can US Soccer Flourish Without Dangerous Rivalries?”

  1. nick April 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Just wait until Montreal is in the MLS! Toronto and Montreal is epic like good vs. evil! then with portland to go at seattle we’ll be good not too mention both those teams have a rivalry with Vancouver and now we are really set

  2. Rob Carey April 20, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    Can you imagine the songs from the opposing fans?
    “Who ate all the fries?” or to L.A. teams: “They’re fake, and you know they are”, and to the Real Salt Lake Mormons, “One wife, we’ve only got one wife”

  3. Alan Black April 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    Hahaha! Yes, plenty of excellent material for songs. A good old slap up.

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