Posts Tagged ‘MLS’

DC United’s Jaime Moreno finishes career as all-time goals leader for MLS

October 28, 2010

DC United fans hold a banner of Jaime Moreno during his final game at RFK Stadium October 23. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

DC United legend Jaime Moreno, one of the best players in the history of MLS, scored in the final game of his career Saturday night at RFK Stadium, but United fell to Toronto FC, 3-2.

Moreno finished his illustrious career as MLS’ all-time leading scorer with 133 goals.  The Bolivian star is the only player in the history of the league with more than 100 goals and 100 assists.

Dusty old RFK rocked the entire game.  Redskins fans wish they had a stadium and an atmosphere like this.  The noise was loudest when Moreno scored on a penalty kick in the game’s 39th minute.  Moreno calmly jogged to the ball and placed it in the right corner of the goal, past goalie Milos Kocic.

For the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

DC United fans celebrated the final game of Jaime Moreno's illustrious career at RFK Stadium October 23. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

ESPN’s World Cup coverage has been great. Now they need to do the same for MLS.

June 27, 2010

ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup has been excellent.  Chris Fowler, Mike Tirico, and Bob Ley have done a great job of hosting pre-match, halftime, and post-match shows. Color commentators Alexi Lalas, Steve McManaman, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Martinez, Jurgen Klinsmann and Shaun Bartlett have been spot on. The questions asked by Fowler, Tirico, and Ley shows they have done their homework, and ESPN is treating the World Cup with great respect – of course they have the broadcast rights to it along with ABC.

“Show it and they will come” – just like “Build it and they will come.”

Now ESPN needs to cover MLS more.  There are hour long SportsCenters in which ESPN not only doesn’t show any MLS highlights, but they don’t even mention any scores. Hockey has grown in the U.S. in large part because ESPN covers it so much. They should do the same for soccer, and MLS should try to get a contract with ESPN. If hockey can make it in the U.S., soccer can. A lot more Americans have played soccer than hockey.

Most people under 50 played soccer when they were young.  So there are more people who have played soccer than ever before in the U.S. The sport may never overtake football and basketball in America, but it may overtake hockey and baseball within 30 years.

ESPN should pay more attention to soccer and treat it with respect like Fowler, Tirico, and Ley have. Some of the anchors still joke about it when they show highlights because they think it’s a stupid sport or they don’t like the fact that some of the names of players are foreign-sounding.

ESPN: just cover MLS. You don’t have to do it a lot, just a few minutes each show, and do the occasional feature.  Whoever thinks that a ratio of 20 minutes of baseball highlights to 6 minutes of golf highlights to 0 minutes of soccer is best for the network is flat out wrong.  How about a ratio of 18 minutes of baseball to 6 minutes of golf to 2 minutes of MLS.  At least that’s better than nothing.

Soccer

December 4, 2008

I have to say that soccer will always be the sport with the best memories for me.  Playing every spring and fall as I did growing up for five and a half years – 11 seasons — was really great.  I was only an average player – I made an all-star team once as a defender.  But it’s just such a fun, simple, pure game.  I remember at recess in elementary school it was the thing to do.  There were so many kids on the field it was ridiculous.  It must have been 20 on 20.  Part of the problem with soccer in the U.S. is that once kids reach middle school age, the number of recreational leagues goes down.

 

I’ll admit that I don’t have the patience to watch a lot of soccer on TV.  Like hockey and baseball, soccer is a lot more fun to watch in person.  But what really gets me is the arrogant attitude that the U.S. sports media has on soccer.  It’s one thing not to like the sport very much, but to openly have such disdain for it is really over the top.  It’s not uncommon to hear sportscasters ridicule the sport, being proud of their ignorance, and dismissing it completely.  I actually believe that the lack of respect the U.S. sports media gives soccer is emblematic of the way many Americans view the world – as if we are the center of the world, and we don’t care to understand other cultures.  Is it possible that the whole world is wrong about soccer?  It is awesome to hear European or South American fans chant in unison for their teams. 

 

There is actually a slice of that flavor and passion in the U.S.  DC United, the Washington team in Major League Soccer (MLS), draws about 15,000 fans a game.  Though not a huge number, those fans are incredibly raucous, chanting for United and singing rhythmically.  It doesn’t hurt that they play at old RFK Stadium, where the bleachers literally shake.  It’s amusing to hear some people say that they don’t understand soccer.  Isn’t it the simplest of all the major sports?

 

Another thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that there was a moderately successful pro soccer league in the U.S. in the late 70s.  The North American Soccer League had the New York Cosmos, led by world superstars Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia.  They actually used to sell out Giants stadium, averaging 70,000 fans per game.  Those players were superstars in New York for a few years.  The Washington Diplomats often sold out RFK Stadium when the Cosmos came to town and had solid average attendance figures of around 20,000.  I went to an English Premier League match in 2004 where the stadium only held about 22,000 (Fulham FC).  However, too many of the NASL’s stars were in New York and the league expanded too fast, and the NASL folded in 1984. 

 

Much to the dismay of the U.S. sports media, MLS is slowly gaining interest in America.  If the sportscasters and sportswriters in the U.S. paid more attention to it, and if ESPN devoted more time to it, the sport would gain more fans.  However, nobody wants to take chances and mess up a successful TV formula of pro football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, and auto racing.  Meanwhile, baseball’s popularity may be waning.  The 2008 American League Championship Series was on TBS.  TBS?