I have to confess. I never paid attention to you. The lack of tradition, lack of big name players, and lack of a fan environment made me yawn. I thought of myself as a “high class” football fan, only rooting for teams in Europe and understanding what was happening there instead of what was happening in my backyard. I even grew up in Colorado, an hour drive away from the Rapids, one of the original franchises, and I still never cared about you.
You, Major League Soccer, just never caught my attention. It just felt like you pushed all your chips to the LA Galaxy, hoping that a big market team winning the Cup would give you momentum to surviving another year. While it likely worked, I just didn’t care. I would watch my Celtic in Green and White Hoops from Glasgow, Scotland battling Manchester United or Juventus in the Champions Leauge. You just couldn’t hold my attention.
But, all started to change a few years ago. Seattle and Portland were added to the league and you finally had amazing fan atmospheres. Genuine fans rooting for their teams and a natural geography rivalry. Passion and excitement started to enter the everyday conversation of MLS. I would go out of my way to watch those games because they reminded me of big European games, something we were desperately missing in the USA.
Then expansion happened. And it was announced that LA was going to get its second franchise back. After living overseas, including in England, I desperately wanted to be a part of something that was built from the ground up. LAFC, the new team, was going to be built and formed in proper Los Angeles. I wanted in right away so I could finally say I had a team in the USA to call my own.
It was a long process to get LAFC off the ground. Original membership deposits were placed almost two years ago to the day. A friend went in with me because he too wanted to be a part of something from the ground up. After over a year of waiting, built up excitement and anticipation, I finally attended my first MLS game when LAFC kicked off at the Banc of California Stadium on April 29.
MLS, you finally won me over. The season was drama filled, from the most insane and sublime goals I’ve ever seen, to last-minute drama that raised or hampered my spirits, and emotions I never knew I could have watching American soccer. I watched more MLS games this season than I have in the previous 25 years of MLS combined. And I loved (almost) every minute of it.
So, thanks MLS. I wasn’t a big fan before the season started, but I was proved wrong fairly quickly. There’s nowhere to go except up and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how that plays out over the next few years. Consider this your love letter from someone who thought I was too good for you. It turns out, you were too good for me
Sincerely, (a fan that hopes that LAFC pulls off what Atlanta did this year),
YOU CAN FOLLOW ANDREW DORAN ON TWITTER AT @APDORAN. FEEL FREE TO SEND COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, OR IDEAS TO HIM!