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2010 MFLS Preview

Evening Soccer
Creative Commons License photo credit: Katie@!

This post was supposed to go up on March 23, 2010. You see, a couple of days before the MLS season starts, I always do an annual “Ode to MFLS.” Back in 2008, I introduced many of you to MFLS, the original MLS fantasy soccer site on the internet. I explained how it was created by Mark Wheeler, a founder of Sam’s Army, and how it had become a grassroots phenomenon. In 2009, I once again touted MFLS and extolled its vast ocean of virtues. 

Well, I decided to move my annual Ode up this year because I fear – for the first time ever – that we won’t have a season at all. I know MFLS is set to celebrate its 15th season. The guys who basically volunteer their time to run it have already calculated player salaries for the season and set up everything for 2010. However, I don’t know if MLS will ever kickoff its 15th season. No MLS would mean no MFLS, and I don’t know which season I would miss more.

It may be ironic (and perhaps pathetic), but I think I would miss the virtual game more than the real one. You see, ever since the Tampa Bay Mutiny were contracted, I haven’t really given a damn about any specific team in MLS. Sure, I still have watched the league as a fan (and blogger), but I haven’t been emotionally invested in it. Meanwhile, I have been very emotionally invested in MFLS. In fact, I have probably been way too invested for way too long.

But, I can’t help it. I love MFLS. I love the strategy. I love the competition. I love the conversations. MFLS features the oldest fantasy divisions around, which means it also has the most vehement soccer fans in America. These gents have played the game for years, yet they always come back to best the “Johnny-come-latelies” every single season. My team has been around for years now, but my team’s tale doesn’t go anywhere near the top of the table.

Nope, my team has always been mediocre. But, I haven’t really cared. It’s not just about winning, it’s about enjoying the league and camaraderie with other MLS fanatics. The grassroots feel of the league has never been diminished or changed in the least. Something else that hasn’t changed has been my opinion when it comes to this strike situation. In fact, my two cents have always been the same, but I will set them out again here. In short, I think it really sucks.

I think a lost season would suck more for Mark and the folks who run MFLS though than it would for just anybody. Think about it. Not only are those individuals some of the most widely-renowned soccer supporters in the US, but they also put in a ton of time figuring out everything prior to the 2010 season. They have sacrificed their time so that others can enjoy a season that might not even come to fruition. I would be perturbed if I were in their shoes. 

I have said over and over that I think these negiotiations are complex and that I haven’t the foggiest idea which side is “to blame” if there is no season. Maybe neither side is “to blame”, maybe both, who knows? The answer you will get depends on who you ask and what angle they are coming from. As a fan, I will be disappointed if a deal doesn’t get done, especially in a World Cup year. If we have no domestic soccer, I won’t be diplomatic. I will blame everyone.

That’s right. I will blame the owners; the players union; the sponsors; the agents; the lawyers; the Don, Commissioner Garber; ESPN; Alexi Lalas; Paris Hilton; David Beckham; rock & roll music; President Obama; one Baldwin brother (to be named later); and Milli Vanilli’s Rain. If only they hadn’t lip-synched! Seriously though, I just want this whole CBA shenanigans to end, and soon. Maybe then we could get down to some serious soccer. 

And, maybe then I could finalize my team and get ready to take on some MFLS legends in 2010. These lads are manly men with many Cups to their names, while I have never won a Cup. That’s right, I have never hoisted hardware despite a multitude of chances. I surmise this is due to the fact that I manage my team in the style of my ginger idol, Alexi Lalas. He never met an aging defender he didn’t love, and he had a wicked quick trigger finger.

Unfortunately, I will again begin this season (assuming it happens) with the mindset that – like Alexi – I need to tinker with my team so much early on, that I will end up looking absolutely ridiculous later on when the final weeks roll around and I can’t even field a team of starters. I will self destruct. Count on it. I will sell out early and often. This is a terrible MFLS strategy, and one that should not be emulated by anyone who wants to win a Cup.

I did perform admirably in the Predictions League last year though. I finished strong the last week to enter into a tie for 25th. Now, I know 25th isn’t exactly impressive, but I’ll take it. I plan to bring my same style back this year, which is sort of a strange hybrid between the two styles that usually compete for the top spot. I had many weeks where I just missed in ’09, and I think I could perhaps perform even stronger in 2010. I’m not Doc Brown though.

No, but I do think Hotspur must have that sports almanac that Marty tried to bring back from the future in Back to the Future II. He has won the Predictions League title two years in a row now. He is also a member of my esteemed division, USA v. World. Thus, in order to even win my division title, I would have to best the best MLS prediction machine. This is just another 2010 MFLS storyline that will be forever lost if there’s no season. What a shame.

Seriously though, if we don’t have a season, I may miss my MFLS, but I will miss my MLS more. I will miss seeing several suitors for a spot on the squad in South Africa ply their trade right here at home in the hopes of catching the eye of Bob “Skeletor” Bradley. I will miss the close rivalries, coaching rants and Cup runs. I will miss it all, but I don’t have to. All we need is a couple signatures on a some specific dotted lines, and we are back in business my friends.

So, to make a long story short (too late), I love MFLS. If you play it, you will become addicted to it too. Addicted to the fun you will have managing your own team and addicted to the witty banter you can always engage in with MFLS regulars. They truly are the best MLS fans in the country, and they desire delicious soccer honey close to their hives (don’t know what that means, sorry). In the immortal (altered) words of Dire Straights, I want my MFLS.

Plus, maybe this is the year Alexi & I finally break through into the Top 100 in the Fantasy League. Ha, just kidding! The Laws of Lalas will once again be criminally bad come the end of the season. I am looking forward to failing spectacularly though. I hope to see you there when I do. Please, if you are a fan of the beautiful game here in America, go sign up for MFLS today and get ready for a fantastic fantasy season. You won’t regret it, I promise.