Kevan Lee is not qualified to do a soccer column. He is an NFL fan with a narrow world view and a strong distaste for sports that don’t involve use of hands. Nevertheless, he thought doing MLS power rankings would be a fun idea. He is probably confusing fun with either masochism or irrelevance.
There are three myths about soccer that need debunking.
1. Soccer is entertaining.
2. America is good at soccer.
3. The MLS is a crock.
Let’s start from the top.
Soccer is not entertaining. I have watched two hours of 0-0 soccer action, and I can honestly say that I did not walk away from that viewing experience wanting more. On the contrary, I wanted to murder the game of soccer.
Some might say that my bad experience could be partially blamed on watching MLS soccer on Fox Soccer Channel. That’s a discussion for another time. But what I have found is that soccer is not consistently, memorably entertaining. If it was, I would own a Frankie Hejduk jersey and know who Frankie Hejduk is.
America is not good at soccer. We are good at democracy, competitive eating, and making up reasons to go to war, but when it comes to the beautiful game (which, in MLS, is up for debate), we are simply above average. Our deep run in the 2002 World Cup is mostly to blame for the discrepancy between reality and imagination, as we played beyond our means in reaching the quarterfinals. Since then, we have continued building a strong foundation that should yield benefits sometime around World Cup 2022 (or so says this Facebook group).
The MLS is not a crock. At least, it is not a crock in the way the XFL was. For a league going into its 13th season, the MLS is doing quite fine actually, despite the constant criticism from mainstream media and ignorant sports fans.
For the longest time, I was one of those ignorant sports fans. I made jokes about poor attendance and Cobi Jones’ haircut because I could have cared less about whether or not soccer succeeded in the US. I had my NFL and my Pretender reruns, and I was happy.
Then a strange thing happened. I got hooked by the US’s World Cup appearance in 2002, and I started following the players long after the Cup had ended. Naturally, I was drawn to MLS, considering so many players call it home. The action wasn’t half bad. The build-up to a goal was exciting, and the personalities of the players were fun to watch.
Still, I am no expert on the game. Far from it. If I hope to achieve anything from this column, it is to entertain die-hard soccer fans with my naïve comments and to document the journey of a mainstream fan to the fringe of American sports. Should I learn something along the way, then great. Should I flame out in a bitter post toward the insufficiencies of soccer, then I apologize in advance.
I really don’t know what I’m getting myself into.
MLS Power Rankings
1. Houston Dynamo. The two-time defending champions deserve to start the season at the top. And I deserve a medal for knowing that they are two-time defending champions.
2. DC United. The team with the best regular season record tanked in the playoffs. Mavericks fans, the MLS was made for you!
3. New England Revolution. Taylor Twellman is the Carson Palmer of MLS.
4. Chivas USA. Brad Guzan is my favorite goalkeeper. I could not tell you why.
5. FC Dallas. I support any team that plays in a Pizza Hut Park…or a Carl’s Jr. Coliseum, for that matter.
6. Chicago Fire. The inappropriateness of this team nickname continues to startle me.
7. LA Galaxy. Will a healthy David Beckham make a difference? Will exponentially less media attention?
8. NY Red Bulls. Jozy Altidore should be fun to watch…for a soccer player.
9. Columbus Crew. The Crew’s Argentinian striker Schelotto must feel so terribly far from home in Columbus.
10. Kansas City Wizards. I know literally nothing about this team.
11. Real Salt Lake. With no Freddy Adu, it will be hard to tell just how many teenage girls to expect at home games.
12. Toronto FC. My goodness. How many of these teams are there?!
13. Colorado Rapids. Rapidly sucking.
14. San Jose Earthquakes. The expansion ‘Quakes will have a tough time staying competitive in their first year. Fortunately, relegation does not exist in MLS.