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From Sea to Shining (F)C

From Sea to Shining (F)C

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Published by Stuart Fuller
Rhys Wynne, from You’re Supposed To Be At Home, shares his thoughts on Major League Soccer.
Rhys Wynne, from You’re Supposed To Be At Home, shares his thoughts on Major League Soccer.

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Published by: Stuart Fuller on Jul 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/04/2011

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From Sea To Shining (F)C
Rhys Wynne, from You’re Supposed To Be At Home, shares his thoughts onMajor League Soccer.
Americans eh? They don’t understand“Sawka” do they? Despite hosting oneWorld Cup, escaping the group stages infour more, and winning the CONCACAFGold Cup on numerous occasions, thegame is perceived to struggle compared toits European and South Americancounterparts.History isn’t on its side. A barren spell of top league outdoor football between theyears of 1984 and 1992, as well as theinternational side not qualifying for theWorld Cup for 40 years meant that the game wasn’t perceived to be as big as “the big four”(American Football, Basketball, Baseball & Ice Hockey). Yet with the formation of Major LeagueSoccer a year after USA ’94, football in the US has been growing. So much so that today the nationalteam is seen as a threat, the top MLS players can slot into Premier League teams (Landon Donovan),and the league is seen as a competitive and profitable alternative for aging yet still talentedhousehold names (see David Beckham, Thierry Henry).Recently, I took a trip to New York to see what the MLS was all about, to see New York Red Bulls playNew England Revolution.Overall, the game is quintessentiallyAmerican. The game is still football, butthere are major rule differences from thegame sanctioned in Europe. For one, thereis a salary cap like other United Statessports. To improve the standards of thegame, the cap can be broken by twoplayers per team as the designatedplayers. Franchises are not vilified, withteams regularly changing names (New YorkRed Bulls, for example, were the formerNew York & New Jersey Metrostars) if themoney is right. Furthermore, All Stargames are regularly organised against the elite of the world.Like the aforementioned New York Red Bulls, sponsorship was rife as I arrived at the Red Bull Arenaand headed immediately to the Coors Light sponsored Beer Garden outside the ground. Garden was
 
probably the wrong word, as the area was full of weak beer, as well as foosball tables and other pubgames.The final notable example of Americanisation was the fan friendliness.Drinking at your seat was encouraged withbeverage holders, and the game was a fannight. Popular in baseball, themed nightsare when the game is themed similar tothe same themed nights you experienceon a quiet Saturday in your local beforepay day, only with more diverse andimpressive subjects. Today was “Croatianfan night”, with hand towels handed out, alarge Croatian shirt unveiled in thecheaper seats, and Davor Suker paradedon the pitch at half time. Make no mistake, MLS is
very 
American.That doesn’t make it a bad thing, au contraire.You see, with it both being a very new league and the level of cultural diversity in the States, thegames themselves are rather well supported. Although stadiums aren’t full to the brim, the supportis extremely passionate, singing loudly throughout the game, equalling and even surpassing a lot of top European league games I’ve been to.To say that the fans aren’t passionate is alie, sure it may not get the mainstreammedia attention that other sports get, butthe fans care – more so than in gamessuch as baseball. Fans of the MLS haveadopted the European nature of caring forthe team. Further that with a surprisinglyin-depth knowledge of the world gameand an MLS game is a welcome slice of home when you are abroad.Onto the game itself and the standard of football was great, if not amazing. NewEngland Revolution started brightly, winning a few early chances. After 20 minutes the New York RedBulls, with their front line of ex Arsenal & Barcelona Thierry Henry and ex Shrewsbury Town & NottsCounty Luke Rodgers, imposed themselves on the game. After 35 minutes, Red Bulls conceded apenalty, which was saved by Greg Sutton. Following this, Red Bulls seemed to spur on, taking the lead5 minutes before time when a cross from the right wing was turned into the net by Revolution’s RyanColchrane. Come the half time break, Red Bulls were 1-0 up.

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