Sunday, January 22, 2006
The next 10 years ...
Most marketing folks will tell you that a sports generation is about 10 years long. Every decade a new set of sports fan emerges and provides a new base/sucker/loyal supporter for those folks looking to make sports even more financially lucrative in this country than it already is.

At MLS, the new decade is of critical importance. Sure, the past score has been one of growth, of gaining a foothold and simply trying to survive. To become the league that most MLS fans want not only will it take time, it will take a new perception. Right now, for better or worse, soccer (and as a byproduct MLS) is viewed as a sport for those kids who couldn't hack it as a quarterback or defensive lineman.

The next decade of MLS will be defined by Marvell Wynne, the first overall pick at Friday's MLS SuperDraft, and those players like him who come into the league over the second decade of major professional soccer in the United States.

Don't believe me? Take a look at what Marvell said:

Well, shit. I can't find the quote and I've been drinking but basically it said something along the lines of him being the kind of player that soccer in the U.S. has been trying to attract. He's fast, strong (a tank is how our graphic designer responded to seeing him) and, let's not ignore it, African-American. He's the kind of guy I would expect to see being drafted by Houston ... the Texans, not the 36ers. He's not the 14-year-old prodigy and he's not the 17-year-old who won't play in MLS during his rookie year.

We've always wondered what it would be like if the best American athletes played soccer and in MLS. Well, we're about to find out. With Wynne and EJ leading the way, MLS is going to have it do its best to market itself as a league to be taken seriously, not somewhere where everyone gets to play.

This isn't 8-a-side-for-the-fun-of-it-for-kids-who-are-unable-to-play-anything-else. Not everyone gets to play in this game. You're not guaranteed to get playing time. To be a real league, it's got to be about the players in the uniform, the colors on the badge.

Not the guys on 5th Avenue. Not the expansion and the business of soccer. It's got to be about the players and "will my team win this year?" not "will we survive until next year?". When it gets to that point, that's when I know soccer will have arrived. And guys like Marvell Wynne (and Clint Dempsey and Juan Pablo Garcia) will be the guys who get MLS there.

I'm looking forward to it.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kali said...

Yay for drunken blogging!

12:53 PM  
Blogger D said...

If I could agree with you more here, I would probably be you. Which would be awkward for all involved. Especially when it comes time to settle the tab.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous nico said...

Another thing about Marvel and EJ and guys like that, not only are the superb athletes, they seem like cool people, and that's something that can't be underestimated. As great of a player as Donovan is, he doesn't come off as particularly "cool" in the sense of people having the attitude of "that's one cool mofo."

DaMarcus has some of that, Clint Mathis has some of that (I know people bag on Clint, but you cannot seriously tell me he wouldn't be a blast to hang out with, he's a total maverick.)

3:32 AM  

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