I love soccer.
I played two sports when I was a kid. Soccer and softball. Considering my middle school softball team routinely lost games by scores of 32-4 (not exaggerating) it would be damn near impossible to have less success in soccer, and we didn’t. In fact, we even won a few trophies. I even kicked a couple of goals when I played, but mostly I was keenly aware of my abilities and so I had a tendency to pass the ball to someone who could kick goals.
There’s nothing wrong with selfless play, or racking up assists, I tell you.
So when Landon Donovan kicked that amazing goal in injury time during the 2010 World Cup versus Algeria, I was watching based on a lifelong love of soccer, not just a passing interest.
In fact, I follow two teams in England, Arsenal and Nottingham Forrest. But outside of the national team, I’ve never followed an American soccer team.
Recently, I decided that I needed to choose a Major League Soccer team to follow and support. With no team here in Tennessee, or in my native Michigan, the entire league was open to me.
I took to Google+ to seek out some advice, and one member of the MLS community suggested I look at players, based on how I chose my fantasy football team. That’s when I realized, I knew how to pick a team. I’d just have to apply my usual scientific criteria that I utilize when it comes to important decisions such as this.
So of course, I paid no attention to past records, or past success. The future is now. I’m not going to cheer on the 2009 MLS Cup champion. I’m going to cheer on a current team. I also didn’t care if a team was new or old. The entire league is relatively new, after all. But I did rule out the three Canadian teams. Canada is a fantastic country, but I wanted a team from the United States. That was the point of getting into Major League Soccer, after all.
I then ruled out the entire west coast, as I’ve only been to the west coast twice, and those were merely layovers at LAX during my long flights to Australia and back. On the way back, I got one of those notorious pat-downs, so my first impressions of the west coast have been slightly tainted. (Although, LAX security was extremely nice and professional, so that was an upside.)
I looked at the important things, like Supporter Clubs, stadiums, and where the team actually played versus where their name suggested they played. (The New York Red Bulls, for instance, play in New Jersey, so they were out.) In the end, I found myself debating between five teams.
Chicago plays in a suburb of Chicago, which was a turn-off. But they had a Polish supporters club called Husaria, which was a plus. And another supporters club called the Arsonists. Also a plus. And of course, the team is named after a terrible disaster. Had I not gone with my eventual team, I’m pretty sure Chicago led the way to be my second choice.
There’s something all-American about this team, which I appreciated. There’s a supporters group called the Screaming Eagles which I loved. But they don’t play in a soccer-specific stadium and while I didn’t pay much attention to shirt sponsors, VW didn’t seem to go with the All-American theme.
New England Revolution
Again, the supporters groups led the way in making this an attractive option, with the Midnight Riders and the Rebellion playing off the team name. But again, they don’t have their own soccer-specific stadium. I did like the red, white, and navy kits though.
Sporting Kansas City
Formerly the Wizards, they have the Cauldron as a throwback supporters group, but previously, they were the Wiz, which is less than ideal. Sporting Kansas City also has a beautiful soccer-specific stadium called Sporting Park, and the 2013 All-Star game will be played there.
But I ended up going with…
They play in Columbus, at Columbus Crew Stadium. The Crew Union has supporters from Detroit, Louisville, Indiana… who have watch parties and road trip to games. Their reach is broad. Then they have the Hudson Street Hooligans, which is a fantastic supporter club name. They’re close enough that I might actually make a game. But the deciding factor was that their colors are black and gold. They match my Hufflepuff scarf which means I’m already a step ahead.
So there we have it. I now support Columbus. Be massive.