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MLS 101: Introduction Edition

Welcome to MLS 101, your introductory course in America’s top flight soccer league. I will be your professor, and over the next month I will teach you about the US soccer experiment and its results. There will be a quiz at the end, so take notes.

MLS is approaching its fourteenth season, which is scheduled to kick off in March of 2009, but many Americans still know very little about the league. Sure, casual sports fans are aware the league exists, but I doubt the average ESPN viewer could even name three players. “David Beckham, Landon Donovan… um… um… Does Alexi Lalas still play?”

No he doesn’t. But a ton of talented players do ply their trade right here in America. Is MLS a top tier league on par with the EPL, Serie A and La Liga? Of course not. Those leagues have much more established histories and they feature teams with New York Yankees like money. That’s why they have Galacticos and we just have the Galaxy.

But, our league is improving. In 2009, 15 teams will each play 30 games in the run up to the playoffs and MLS Cup 2009. In addition, some squads will play in international tourneys like the CONCACAF Champion’s League and SuperLiga. There is a ton of soccer on America’s plate in 2009, but will Yanks keep being picky eaters?

I hope not. I genuinely pray this is the year the league explodes into relevancy on the US sports stage. For that to happen, sports fans need to become acquainted with the teams and familiarize themselves with their histories and their players. That is what I am going to do over the next month here at STO. I hope you will join me as I present…

MLS 101. I was going to call these posts MLS For Dummies, but that doesn’t mean reading these posts means admitting you’re stupid. The title was just going to be a satirical riff on the popular line of “how-to” manuals that one sees at every bookstore in America with titles like “Gardening For Dummies”, “Religion For Dummies” and “Homeschooling For Dummies”. That last one sounds dangerous.

But I decided to go with MLS 101 instead, because I am no fan of copyright infringement. These posts will be like Cliffs Notes for the league, and if you read them all I promise you will be able to hold your own in any discussion about MLS. For each team (and teams of the past and future), I will present a synopsis aimed at instructing potential fans about MLS. So, please come back to STO during the next month as I present MLS 101.

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