5 Reasons Why Major League Soccer is Doomed
Rummaging through the trash bins outside the English Premier League’s headquarters in London’s Gloucester Place I came across an extraordinary memo that could turn the world of football on its head.
Here’s a short excerpt, but it’s enough to give you an idea:
“All Barclays Premier League organizations have been informed that at the culmination of Season 2014/15 their owners will be instructed to relinquish control of aforesaid association football clubs and will henceforth be all under the inclusive umbrella of a new entity titled Massive League Soccer.
“To prevent billionaires from Russia, the United States and the Gulf States from winning everything and buying all the best players, Massive League Soccer will forthwith own all the clubs and control all the player contracts. Massive League Soccer players will be paid the equivalent of Football League Championship salaries in 2015/16, but Massive League Soccer reserves the right to pay much, much more to some players if they’re really, really good. Massive League Soccer also reserves the right to pay peanuts to players who don’t sell any shirts with their names on, while understanding and acknowledging that all games should start with 11 players on each side.
“The advantage is that managers like that pesky Jose Mourinho will no longer be necessary because Massive League Soccer will be picking the teams to ensure they are balanced and the same four teams don’t keep taking the top four places. If the same four teams continue to take the top four places, Massive League Soccer waives all responsibility.
“Please also see amendment (1a) Relegation (and therefore promotion) will not be required under Massive League Soccer single-entity ownership….”
The EPL has denied any knowledge of the document, with a spokesman suggesting that maybe I’d swigged back a few too many pints of warm Speckled Hen or was calling from a very high Colorado.
The mystery continued when I tried some old friends in the sports departments of England’s newspapers. All the talk of Speckle Hen had whetted my appetite and I was thinking they might be interested in paying for such a big scoop, even if they wouldn’t have anything to write about without Mourhino or relegations (and promotions) if the memo turned out to be authentic. But no, they insisted, it was just too ridiculous. Even the tabloids wouldn’t touch it.
Flying back to Los Angeles, crestfallen that all my detective work was for nothing, I happened to mention the crumpled classified document to my American friend Sean at the Field of Broken Dreams, where I drag my tired bones around a football pitch (half covered by a baseball diamond) every Sunday.
“What’s the big deal about that?” said Sean, scratching his head. “There’s no story there…
“It’s exactly how we do it in the United States.”
That being said, here are 5 reasons why Major League Soccer is doomed:
1. Because of a policy change
MLS has changed its policy of bringing heavily tattooed legendary players (David Beckham, Thierry Henry) that even Americans who insist on calling football soccer had heard of in favor of clean-cut types like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard (maybe) and Jozy Altidore that they probably haven’t.
2. Because the league is fixed
MLS runs the league like a Communist state with every team absolutely equal except for the richer ones (LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC) who aren’t. And we know what happened to the Soviet Union.
3. Because it’s just too darned far to travel between games
Beckham’s been round the world three times on his MLS air miles since he quit football to make even more money.
4. Because you can’t buy respect
The US has tried this before with Pele, George Best, Rodney Marsh, etc. and it didn’t work.
Football is a roots game, born out of regional identities, generations of family tradition and a disproportionate level of caring about what, after all, is just a game. America has it with the other football, with baseball, basketball and Ice hockey. Families live and die by those results.
I love the US and I’ll defend it to anybody but the truth is that Americans like being good at stuff, the best in the world if possible. The MLS is trying to speed up the process by buying in talent but you can’t buy time and that is what it will need for the US to become a genuine world power in football. It will come, but you can’t force it.
5. Turn around to the closest person next to you and ask them to name 5 current MLS players
Even most of the insta-fans who watched the World Cup in the summer will have forgotten all of them except Landon Donovan, and he doesn’t even count any more.
Saying, ‘the skinny guy with the crop cut and tattoos,” the "bald, pale guy" or “the one with the dreads” doesn’t count.
(PS. Does this mean I might as well forget about my application for a press pass for the LA Galaxy?)