Saturday, March 2, 2013

A MLS Lifer Looks Forward

As a lifelong fan of Major League Soccer, today is my opening day. It's Release 18.0 of First Kick version 2013 and the league has achieved a respectable level of success. I remember heading back to Ohio in 1996 to watch the MLS opener with a high school friend that I played with. I also recall the thrill of being at the 4-0 home opening win of the Columbus Crew over DC United in Ohio Stadium and thinking that the sport had finally arrived.  I even met Brian McBride after that match and later interviewed him for a weekly column that I wrote for at the now defunct MLS Review website called 'Comments from the Corner.' I remember the excitement and buzz around that evening like it was yesterday.

The dog days are over
I also remember being part of sparse crowds of matches at Mile High Stadium and Arrowhead stadium and seeing "the contraction" of Florida with the folding of the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion franchises. There were plenty of times I also had to defend my league in front of fellow soccer (or football) purists.

The path ahead
Since then we've advanced to a league comprised of 19 healthy franchises with the majority playing in soccer specific stadiums and Commissioner Garber talking about the goal to be one of the top ten leagues in the world in the next ten yearsTomorrow I will take my place in the Timbers Army as my Portland Timbers reboot the mission for their third campaign with a great deal of optimism. From here the path forward looks very positive.   Here's my bold predictions for 2013 as Los Angeles betters Kansas City for another MLS Cup.

Eastern Conference

  1. Kansas City
  2. Houston
  3. New York
  4. Chicago
  5. Montreal
  6. Columbus
  7. DC
  8. New England
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Toronto

Western Conference

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Seattle
  3. San Jose
  4. Portland
  5. Real Salt Lake
  6. Dallas
  7. Vancouver
  8. Chivas USA
  9. Colorado