Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Future is in the Northwest
by Paul Kennedy, March 19th, 2009 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MY VIEW] It's all coming together for MLS in the Northwest. As it should be. The Seattle Sounders FC will make their MLS debut against New York Thursday before a sell-out crowd at (down-sized) Qwest Field (TV: ESPN2, 9 pm ET). On Wednesday, MLS announced that Vancouver will join the league as its 17th team in 2011. Portland is the favorite to be awarded the 18th franchise, also scheduled to begin play in 2011.

There been must talk about how the economy is impacting American sports. In the case of MLS expansion, the economic downturn actually helped matters.

It killed the sexy talk of FC Barcelona launching an MLS expansion team in Miami, one of the hardest-hit cities in the country. I know of no one outside of Miami who liked the idea of returning to South Florida, where the Fusion failed miserably and all sports (with the possible exception of the football Dolphins) struggle, but Barcelona's effort persisted for months before it came to its senses.

In turn, Miami's exit from the expansion race promoted the less glamorous idea of heading back to the Northwest, where Seattle, which has already sold 22,000 season tickets, sits right between Vancouver to the north and Portland to the south on I-5.

The soccer rivalry on the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland corridor was born in the 1970s when the original Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers played in the NASL. That rivalry has been rekindled in recent years in the USL-1.

I am reminded of an incident that took place a few years back at the Starfire Sports Complex, the USL Sounders' home in suburban Tukwila. I was working late one night and needed to track down a late U.S. Open Cup score from Starfire. Seattle was hosting Portland. I stumbled online to the Timbers' post-game audio broadcast and heard the noise of police sirens. The announcers reported that police had been summoned to the scene because the visiting Timbers fans were supposedly causing a disturbance. A riot at an Open Cup game? The fact is, there was no trouble -- they were simply visiting fans, disappointed with the outcome of the game, and they were loud. No wonder the police were confused!

Small as that contingent of Portland fans who had made the trek up I-5 was, they are MLS's future.

MLS owners can talk all they want about the need for a breakthrough on television, but they first need a product to sell, and that is achieved by what they produce on the field and attract in the stands.

Seattle has achieved popular success -- the Sounders feature the Sound Wave, a full marching band! -- and hopefully that enthusiasm will spread.

Fans traveling up and down I-5 is MLS's future.

(Seat-ticket deposits go on sale in Vancouver on Saturday.)



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
No Giovani dos Santos in Mexico squad    
Just weeks after joining the LA Galaxy, Giovani dos Santos is out of the team under ...
USA and Mexico will split Rose Bowl tickets    
When the USA played Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl, the ...
What They're Saying: FIFA statement    
"The growth of football and the increased participation levels in the U.S. have been tremendous and ...
RSL promotes Waibel, moves Zarkos into soccer operations    
With the exit of general manager Garth Lagerwey to Seattle at the end of the 2014 ...
Chicago Fire completes Maloney transfer    
Scottish midfielder Shaun Maloney is headed back to England, ending one of the shorter Designated Player ...
Canada calls up nine MLS players to face Belize     
Forward Cyle Larin heads a list of nine MLS players chosen by Canada head coach Benito ...
NASL Roundup: Rowdies hand the reins to Stuart Campbell    
After serving one game as Tampa Bay Rowdies interim coach in the wake of the firing ...
Spirit and FCKC headed to NWSL playoffs after 0-0 tie    
With two weekends left in the NWSL's third season, the suspense is over. Seattle Reign FC ...
What They're Saying: Klaus Allofs    
"We had to take it seriously. Finally we decided to start negotiations with City." -- VfL ...
Video Pick: A James-to-Isco golazo in Real Madrid practice    
Real Madrid's Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez shows how he delivers the ball and watch how flying ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives