Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The MLS Game Is Not So Beautiful

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 10:41 PM

By CHRIS RASMUSSEN

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To many Americans, soccer is boring, foreign and, according to the National Review, a manifestation of the "Marxist concept of the labor theory of value."

I like watching international soccer, even when I don’t have a rooting interest and often while curled up on the couch reading a well-worn copy of Das Kapital. Nowhere else in sport does a famous manager use astrology to select his lineup, although Trey Hillman soon might feel a temptation to consult biorhythms when selecting bullpen pitchers.

I’m not alone. Millions of Americans wake up early on Saturdays and Sundays to watch the English Premier League or Serie A from Italy aired on stations positioned between obscure religious broadcasts and pornography on their digital cable channel guides.

The KC Wizards?

Soccer's great. The MLS isn’t.

It's the MLS league structure, not its players or their level of play, that's the source of my apathy. Nearly every game in European leagues affects the race for relegation, European qualification or the league championship. But each MLS team meanders through 32 games in the regular season, eliminating only six of the league’s 14 teams from the playoffs. Each game in Europe means something; no regular season MLS game means anything.

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Further, the MLS lacks the greatest attraction of the international game: an atmosphere fueled by centuries-old resentments. Watch an English Premier League game or the Euro 08’ tournament and you'll find fans taunting their opponents with chants or songs in a patriotic or sectarian fervor that otherwise leads to uniforms and rifles. This week’s biggest controversy in Euro 08' involved a Polish newspaper depicting the beheading of German players on its cover. This was in bad taste, but we can all agree that a newspaper cover pales in significance compared to other historical events involving those two neighbors.

Who do I resent in the MLS? I am completely indifferent about the Columbus Crew, which is the name of an MLS franchise, not a cover band specializing in 1980s power ballads. I don’t hate anyone who follows Real Salt Lake, since living in Utah is “Real” enough and requires our pity.

Thanks, but the Royals provide a surplus of meaningless, listless games for this city. We don’t need imports.

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