BY JOHN ACE
“John, why don’t you follow an MLS team?” is a question I regularly get.
The answer is simple. Like Franck Ribery’s recent statement that “(He) could be swayed by the MLS, but wouldn’t count it as an official part of his career”, I’ve never counted the MLS to be a league that I would watch. I think that the USL is even a better league than MLS, for many reasons.
But now, some things have changed. While there isn’t promotion/relegation (which I think all leagues should have, if they wanted to be counted as a proper league by other, better leagues) there’s now 21 teams (with the addition of Orlando and NYCFC, the joint venture between the Premier League’s Manchester City and Baseball’s New York Yankees) which is a nice, proper number if leagues want to be competitive.
There’s also the Carolina Challenge Cup, that’s been going on for a number of years, and, being a Battery fan, who are the hosts of the tournament, I get to see MLS teams on a yearly basis.
And, with watching a bit of the MLS playoffs, I was thinking on picking a team for the next season, but I never really got around to it. Until, last week, I saw my friend Dan Conover‘s (aka Big Boss) article for this site on his quest for an EPL team. This gave me an idea.
I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve never picked an MLS team, and I said I might at one point…. Why not document it on the site, like Dan?” And so here we are.
I’m finally picking an MLS team, much to my stepfather Jim Lynch’s bemusement.
But, unlike Dan’s index, I have a different one. I’m perfectly fine with following a team that doesn’t win all that much. (He didn’t want to follow a team who’d get relegated.)
THE JOHN ACE INDEX FOR FOLLOWING A FOOTBALL TEAM:
Do they have a good fanbase? (Let’s give this a points value. And call it Good Fanbase Points) (GFP)
I’m a die-hard Liverpool fan, as many of my readers will know, and The Kop is loved so much because, when the fans get behind the team, there’s nothing that can stop them. They’re famous for singing so loud that they try “to suck the ball into the net.” I love that in a team.
Do they play well? Are they a fun team to watch? Good Play Rating (GPR)
Again, as a Liverpool fan, I’m accustomed to watching good football. And the reasons we’ve gone through so many managers is because that good football has changed over the past few years. But now, it’s back. And it’s a treat to watch. Good football teams also have to play well.
Are they known for being dirty? Bully Box. (BB) (Named after a system implemented in 4th grade, where you could report bullying, that nothing was seemingly done about and soon became a mockery.)
This is something I don’t like.
In England, you have teams like Stoke, and Everton under recently departed manager David Moyes, who get by on being bullies. I think it’s sad when a team has to play rugby in a football match.
Are they on TV a lot? Like all fans, I like it when I can sit and watch a game on TV. It can help and hurt a team’s fanbase depending on whether they’re on TV or not. But it’s sad that MLS’ TV deal only lets you watch at maximum 3 games every week. Considering that you can watch every Premier League match, you can’t watch the league that’s right on your doorstep.
To back this up, I give you the fact that MLS Cup 2013 only garnered a 0.5 (in millions) viewing number. Partly due to the fact that no one had a clue what was going on.
But like Dan, who took certain teams out of the running due to what he called “Douchebaggery”, I’ll do the same. There’s teams in the MLS, that while I don’t particularly enjoy the league, I dislike for various reasons.
GFP: 5 The atmosphere at RBA is pretty cool. Not often do you get a decent crowd for a game in the snow, which might even be called off, in America.
GPI: 5 The play sometimes revolves around Theirry Henry’s strengths, but when you have a player of his quality, you have to use him to the best of your ability.
TV? Yes. Partly due to the fact that they are one of the most recognizable teams in the league, NYRB are one of the teams you’re most likely to see on TV.
Pros: Red Bull Arena is pretty cool. They pack that stadium constantly and the atmosphere is pretty rad when they do. Plus, they have a Rivalry with DC and I’m not too fond of DC.
Cons: Okay, I put NYRB here for a number of reasons. One is their players.
As a Liverpool fan, I can’t like anyone who has Tim Cahill even associated with their team. Once an Everton player, always an Everton player.
As someone who grew up with many Irish family members (see Jim Lynch, who’s Irish) and an all-round lover of the game, I can’t support NYRB with Theirry Henry, who used his hand to effectively knock out Ireland from the 2010 World Cup.
Another reason I dislike the Red Bulls: Their name. They’re named after an energy drink. Really? Are they that desperate?
Lastly, they’re from New York City. While the City’s great and all, I just end up disliking any New York sports team by default. If they’re not douchebags from minute one, they will be sometime down the road, and NYRB have shown that.
TV: Sometimes DC are one of the first MLS teams, so they’re kinda popular on that fact alone.
Pros: They play the Battery in the Challenge Cup almost yearly, and bring a few of their supporters’ down as well, but something doesn’t feel right about a team that plays in a stadium primarily used for baseball.
Cons: I’ve always disliked DC, and I’m not exactly sure why.Maybe it’s because they’re called “United”. They have an uncanny knack for beating the Battery. I don’t like that either.
GFP: 4 They don’t get great crowds if the team aren’t playing well.
GPR: 6 When they do play well, it’s all about Donovan. He can make or break the team.
Pros: I see literally NOTHING good about LA. Most of them are overpaid for being terrible. (Looking at you, Omar Gonzalez.) and Bruce Arena’s their manager. Arena’s the man that benched the best American goalkeeper ever to play a guy who whined his way into the team.
Cons: I don’t like LA for a few reasons. They’re basically the Manchester United of MLS. They win a lot and act stupid while doing it. Even with Robbie Keane (*Insert Keano, Keano here*) to give them a wee shred of decency, I’ve hated LA before he signed for them.
Ex-Man U player David Beckham played for them, which made them despicable in my Liverpool-supporting book, and Landon Donovan is their captain.
I absolutely hate Landon Donovan. Not that I don’t appreciate what he’s done for US Soccer as a whole, but he abandoned the game and expected to be let back in like nothing ever happened when he was done “finding himself”.
He also spent 2 short loan spells at Everton. Bad Landon, bad.
I can’t index these guys as they’re an expansion team who’re coming in in 2015, and unlike Orlando, haven’t even played a minute of Football in their history.
Pros: Like I said, they’re a new team, which makes it easier to follow them, I suppose. But they don’t even have a stadium yet. They just recently got an owner… But on the good side, they will actually play in New York, unlike NYRB, who play in New Jersey
Cons: Like NYRB, I dislike them automatically because they’re from New York. And they’re a joint venture, like I said, between the Yankees, (The Evil Empire, the Sith, what have you) and Manchester City (The kids that have started buying the Premier League).
As an Atlanta Braves fan once baseball season rolls around, and a Liverpool fan, and someone who loves the city of Boston, supporting them would obviously be blasphemy.
GFP: 7 Part of what makes them so good is their fanbase. When they came about after Miami went defunct, I thought they’d have the same results in terms of crowd numbers. Boy, was I wrong.
GPR: 7 They play great football in the USL, and even though I dislike Adrian Heath because he played for Everton in his day, I’ll give him credit for being a good manager.
BB: Oh, yes, they are being put in the Bully Box. They got so many BS calls in the Semi-final against the Battery last year, it was unbelievable. And they even got Colin Falvey sent off for something he didn’t do. They’re terrible.
Pros: Like NYCFC, they’d be a new team. You could say I’d follow them straight from the off. But that’s where the pros stop.
Cons: Okay…. Let’s see… They’re rivals of the Battery. They have an ex-Everton player as their manager. They consistently challenge the Battery for the USL Pro title. They’re dirty. What more do I need?
Now I’ve separated the uglies from who might actually get a chance, I can proceed on to the next article with something good to say.
Next Article: In the Hunt- The teams who may be worthy of a follow