Big things are happening soccer wise across the country. I think it is safe to finally end the whole “will soccer ever catch on in America” debate. Though, I’m sure the pro/rel fiefdom will never let that debate die until pro/rel becomes a thing. That said, with The Soccer Don and the rest of the MLS power-brokers starting to tour the potential expansion markets. The LoonumStaff started wondering what our thoughts were about MLS before MNUFC won the bid to join the league. You’ll find wide ranging answers to the question below, some of which may surprise you. Please join the conversation and let us know how you’d answer in the comments.
Would/Did you follow MLS without MNUFC getting the expansion bid?
Eli Hoff: I was first getting into soccer as Minnesota's expansion bid was forming. Even without the Loons taking part in MLS, I tried to pay attention to the league. At different points I "supported" the LA Galaxy (I had heard of some of their players, and I bought them all on FIFA), Vancouver Whitecaps (Cool uniforms), and Orlando City (This was more actual fandom). None of the teams interested me enough to spend a couple of hours each weekend watching them. I'd occasionally check scores/highlights for the league, and if a match on national TV looked good, I'd tune in, but I paid far more attention to the Premier League. Without MNUFC in the mix, I'd have to think it would be much the same for me. Having skin in the game makes it much more interesting, without it, it's hard to focus on games until the playoffs.
Miran Saric: I didn't have much of an interest in MLS other than a cursory glance at the scoreboard and standings now and then. I'd watch some of the big games but never the full 90. Honestly, if it wasn't for MNUFC I think I'd have a hard time getting into this league what with all my other sports obligations and being a Euro snob who definitely compares the quality of this league to Europe. However, now that MNUFC's in MLS I've become much more open to the fun and quality found in this league.
KatoSportsGirl: Did I follow MLS before MNUFC got the expansion bid? Not in the slightest. Do I follow MLS now? Not really. I did follow the NASL while MNUFC was playing in that league however. Part of this has to do with the fact that the NASL streaming is free and MLS only has two matches on per week unless I pay for MLS Live. The largest part has to do with the fact that I'm not a fan of the MLS model or season. The NASL has four teams make the playoffs while MLS has 12! It’s harder to not make the playoffs in MLS than it is to make them. I am a MNUFC fan through and through but not an MLS fan.
Stephen Taylor: I tried SO hard to get into MLS before we were announced. I really did. I was, at different points, a NYRB fan, and LAG fan, and an SKC fan. But I could never care enough about any of those teams to keep my interest for more than like a month of the season. I couldn't really develop an attachment to another MLS club, especially knowing that there was still a chance we would eventually get a team here. The best I could do without a horse in the race was casually watch the playoffs.
Garrett Denney: I’m a convert from the premier league. After following Chelsea (cough … Champs again … cough) for the better part of a decade, I felt the magnetic pull of soccer on a more local level. We started attending MNUFC matches when they were in NASL and fell in love. Great team, great fans, and a fantastic game day atmosphere. I was hooked. Only when they announced that Minnesota was a frontrunner for an MLS slot did I start to pay any sort of real attention to the league. When we secured a spot, I tapered off my Premier League viewing and dove head first into MLS. That said, I don’t believe I would still be following the league as closely as I do today if we had missed out on a slot. Sure, it’s fun to see your city’s name in the conversation but that halo effect wears thin quite quickly if it doesn’t blossom into an actual franchise. Frankly, I don’t buy the argument that keeping more cities in the race is a sound marketing tool. It would be far more of an impact to bolster our second division with some kind of MLS 2 so the league could award another 20-30 franchises over the coming decade or two.
AgedRightBack: I followed MLS very closely when it first launched. Some friends and I had our own fantasy league, and we went to a game or two a year in Kansas City or Chicago. Then we all started to raise children, and over the years I wasn’t able to devote as much time as I would have liked. I always kept an eye on the league, though, caught an occasional game on TV, made a point of checking the schedule whenever I traveled to an MLS city on the off chance I could fit a game in, and once I even built a vacation to Colorado around an MLS game. I probably would have maintained that level of fandom moving forward, but as soon as Minnesota landed a team my interest in the league went quickly from casual to rabid. Loons till I die.
dvits14: MLS launched my junior year of high school. For those of you who remember MLS back then, well, it was essentially unwatchable. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t good at all. So the only soccer fix I could get was basically the men’s and women’s World Cups every four years. Soccer just wasn’t available like it is now. I just really fully got back into soccer within the past handful of years. It was completely by accident as well. Flipping channels one night I came across a Seattle-Portland match and I was instantly hooked. For one, the atmosphere was absolutely insane. Secondly, I was shocked at the level of play compared to what I remembered. Before I knew it, I was tuning into every match I could watch, which admittedly wasn’t every week. I had adopted the Sounders as my club but I was never truly fully invested in them. I found it difficult to really get invested in a team halfway across the country. Though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see them win the title last year. I think the distance is also why I’ve never been a huge fan/supporter of any of the Euro leagues. Anyway, shortly thereafter, Dr. McGuire purchased the Stars and rebranded the team United. I started attending matches at Nessie and that was that. I was all in and found a new team to fully invest in. I was super excited about them making the move to MLS. If they wouldn’t have made the move, I would still have supported the team. MLS would still have been there but my main focus would have always been on the Loons not MLS. I became so fully invested in the Loons that I’ll even go so far as to say if the Vikings would have won the bid, I honestly don’t know if I would have cared. It wouldn’t have been the same to me. But thankfully the Loons won the bid and I am now 100% in on MLS!
So what about you? Were you an MLS fan before the Loons won the bid? Do you only follow the Loons or do you pay attention to the rest of the league as well? Let us know your thoughts.