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2010 MLS Preview: Schedule Edition

A nod to the Aggies
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jason Gulledge

I was just hanging out prior to the Super Bowl, but I found myself thinking more about soccer than football. I was specifically cogitating on the MLS and this whole fiasco regarding the collective bargaining agreement (or lack theorof). This whole ugly affair between the players and the owners has me sick to my stomach as a fan of the league and a usual proponent of its popularity. I started watching MLS when it took the American sports pitch 15 years ago, and I even stood by the less than popular league after my area’s team, the Mutiny (R.I.P.), was contracted.

I vowed I would not watch MLS after the Mutiny were disbanded, but sure enough I found myself as interested as ever. About three years ago, I went from supporter of MLS to full on fanatic, and shortly after I started sharing my love of soccer and MLS with you all here on this site. I have always especially enjoyed setting aside extra time to write one good post a year, a post that introduces my annual MLS Preview series. Now, I’m not saying that my other posts are bad, I just admit that I spend minutes on most posts, but I put in a couple hours on my two big “Intro” posts.

I actually edited these two posts as if I was a “journalist” (well, sort of) in order to make them tight and (hopefully) humorous. When I read them now, I think they represent some of my best work for STO. Sure, most of those two posts was spent making completely inane jokes that have nothing to do with soccer, but I still think both missives managed to get some germane information across to the reader. When I read them now, I still think they are pretty funny. Unfortunately, I now I lack the time to edit (get it). I just spit words stream of consciousness style. It’s a fact.

My older stuff was better. In fact, my first such “Intro” was one of my first posts ever for STO. I wrote it in about one hour, and I think “pound-for-pound wise” it may still be my best post ever. It is definitely one of my most vulgar, which I find people seem to respond to positively (especially when the targets are Britney and Beckham). The post’s cherry on top for me though was when I saw that the words “2008 MLS Preview: Schedule Edition” pop up on Deadspin, a sports blog that I had been reading for years (and still read), in their daily Blogdome (R.I.P.).  

One year later, the 2009 MLS Preview:  Schedule Edition also was featured on Deadspin – once again in the Blogdome. I had again put in some time on the post, so I was thrilled to see that other people were enjoying it (and actually reading it, to tell you the truth). I finally felt like an honorable member of the sports blogging industry (which is not an oxymoron). When #2 made Blogdome, it made me start to think a three-peat could be possible. And now, it is 2010. But, MLS hasn’t figured out how to end its labor feud and Blogdome is no longer a fixture on Deadspin. So…

Can I write an entire series of posts previewing a season that never happens? Can the intro post to that series appear in a defunct daily blog shoutout? I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions. I think I must accept Blogdome is dead and the three-peat isn’t happening. But I will not accept the end of MLS or this series. I will not sit idly by and watch while soccer is once again screwed in America. No, we must have MLS in 2010. If we don’t, you might have to say goodbye to your personal Mutiny. And trust me, it’s hard. I still miss Carlos every time I see a bichon frise.

So, I’m going to bring you all of my annual team previews just like I always do because I love the league and (I hope) it will be back in 2010. I am going to put on a happy face and just pretend everything is going to be OK (even if it isn’t). I think everyone has too much to lose for the league to sit out an entire season. Thus, I bet a deal will get done. So, over the next month, I will profile each team for your pleasure here on STO. Every few days or so, I will tell you about one team’s recent results, star players, and 2010 championship chances. I will ensure you get the knowledge you need.

Here is the schedule:

(02/11) Chicago Fire

(02/16) Chivas USA

(02/17) Colorado Rapids

(02/18) Columbus Crew

(02/22) DC United

(02/23) FC Dallas

(02/24) Houston Dynamo

(02/25) KC Wizards

(03/08) LA Galaxy

(03/10) NE Revolution

(03/11) NY Red Bulls

(03/12) Philadelphia Union

(03/15) Real Salt Lake

(03/16) SJ Earthquakes

(03/18) Seattle Sounders

(03/19) Toronto FC

(03/22) Pre-Season Power Rankings

(03/23) MFLS Preview

(03/24) Doc Brown’s 2010 MLS Predictions

(03/25) MLS Kicks Off

I hope you enjoy these previews. I also hope the owners and the players know what no season would mean to the league and its chances of long term success. All of this nonsense persuades me to affirm the fact that I hate the gamesmanship that permeates complex negotiations like the one that the MLS owners and players are currently in. The entire process is about ego and making the other man blink and accept less than he promised himself he would. Unfortunately, these labor disputes do not always end fairly. Plus, they always end with unresolved acrimony. 

That is why I think it is never fun to engage in pressure-cooker settlement conferences. I am pretty conservative by nature (believe it or not), and I don’t think I have the “balls” to make the brazen bluffs one has to make sometimes during negotiations. I know I love Jeopardy, but I hate being in jeopardy. Go figure. I’ll also tell you this, I can’t advocate for either side in this MLS mess. All I know is, I hope it is over by the time you read this post. If it isn’t, so be it. I’ll just sadly remark “It is what it is” (which has apparently become the official nihilistic ethos of our time).

Then, I will be on my way. I won’t look back, I’ll just look even more abroad to get my soccer fix. Hopefully, all of our Nats will be moving to the top leagues across the pond over the next decade anyways. Losing the Mutiny was hard, but losing the entire league for a whole year would be the last straw. Now, I still want to be able to see our stars of tomorrow here at home and I want our kids to be able to go to pro soccer games. But, MLS owners want expansion. Players want more money and rights. Fans want more quantity and quality. We can’t all have what we want.

Like I said, I can’t tell you who is being greedy. I honestly don’t have the time this year to write a great Intro post or to discern which side is being more douchey in this whole CBA mess. I’m sorry for that. All I know is, I want to see some MLS soccer this year, and I would love for a deal to get done very soon. At the end of the day, I am going to preview the teams whether the season starts or not. That’s right, I am going to keep previewing away even if they cancel the 2010 calendar of games. I simply must do it to protest a most cruel predicament: a whole year without MLS soccer.

No MLS in 2010 would mean many things. It would mean bad things for the 2010 US National Team, who is hoping to develop a couple of young guys in the league in the hopes they can contribute in South Africa. It would mean bad things for long time fans of the league like me who have no franchises to cling to who may walk away from the league for good. Worst of all, no 2010 MLS Season will mean no Jimmy Conrad, which means dreaminess will go on holiday with that little gnome from the Travelocity commercials for the rest of the year. Jimmy needs to head back to Kansas.

MLS needs to get its deal done. The league is in a great position to expand over the next two years despite the recession, and it cannot afford to alienate its hardcore base. Top flight pro soccer will be played in America in 2010. I really believe that. But, if you could, please go ahead and cross your fingers anyways everyone. Also, please keep coming back to STO over the next two months to get ready for the 2010 MLS season. We may feel like we are far from home, but all we need is a piece of paper with a couple of signatures on dotted lines and we will be ready to kick off the 2010 season.

Let’s finish dotting those i’s and crossing those t’s soon, OK guys?