It's one of my favorite topics and it came up twice in the last 24 hours - the importance of the US soccer community caring about American soccer.
Tom Dunmore is writing a piece for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN Soccernet and another for Pitch Invasion on the topic of supporters culture in MLS. He asked my thoughts for the articles and my comments included the following:
"The supporters’ energy and passion is not only felt within the section, it is transferred throughout the stadium. It gives emotion to the game experience for everyone who attends and elevates the meaningfulness of the game that is talked about the following day at school and at work.
That “water cooler talk” is critical because, good or bad, it is the team’s advertising to tens if not hundreds of thousands of others who weren’t at the game. It is unbiased, independent testimony to the game experience. If the experience is bad, the negative impact can be devastating to future sales. If the communication is positive, it can lead to organic growth of the team’s diverse fan base."
Then this morning's Soccer America Confidential had a terrific column by one of the country's very best soccer writers, Ridge Mahoney. His column today about the improvement in MLS is enjoyable to read based on both the content and style. If you're too cheap to subscribe to Soccer America and receive its essential online coverage, i'll tease you with a few paragraphs from the end of Ridge's column:
"And I realize what I'm seeing is not just glimpses of soccer scenes savored in other parts of the world, but what fans are feeling: the anticipation and excitement and passion and ferocity they share with players as they battle on the field.
In Toronto and Washington D.C. and Houston and Salt Lake City and Chicago and a few other places, there are a lot of fans who care about their teams. Really care.
MLS isn't EPL or La Liga or Bundesliga or Serie A or the Mexican League, yet no league can progress if the players who play and the people who pay don't really give a damn. When those people are reduced to a tiny minority, MLS will truly be major league."
Now after reading that, you should be motivated to go here and subscribe. Ridge's musings alone are worth the $79.