As I am attempting to keep this blog fresh I have to make sure that I am honest and up front with everything that I am doing. Remember, I am posting all this in an effort to have professional soccer back in town. As I have been thinking about this there are obviously many things to consider. We could literally sit at a bar and talk about this for 12 days straight. I just don’t want to go there. For starters, I don’t drink, so being at a bar would be out of place. I mainly don’t drink due to the epilepsy, but we can discuss that at another time.
How do we get pro soccer back? One thing for sure is we have to stop waiting around to see what other people will do. Will David Beckham finalize the stadium plans? Will Paris St. Germain buy the Fort Lauderdale Strikers? Why are we sitting on our hands? We the people of South Florida need to rise up.
We also need to question everything. For professional soccer to exist what do we need? There have been debates upon debates on this subject. We know now that it can exist and the conversation has now turned to what version of pro soccer should exist. Is the MLS model worth it? Should we adopt the open (pro/rel) pyramid seen around the world? How should clubs be structured? Who should be responsible for funding youth academies?
I don’t have answers to these questions. But here in the United States, we have a lot of different things going on at once. I’m not sure it’s like that any where else. And, who is to say that what we have is not poised for success, whatever success may be. And isn’t that the real question? Why are we so passionate? Why are we so concerned?
I’m not here to point fingers and say what is the best way for soccer to be organized in the United States. But we all know that just having a team is not enough to be sustainable. We had the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (generation 3). Last year they averaged 1,361 people per game. That’s bad. Why didn’t anyone go? Were there better soccer teams in our area. Was it just because the league wasn’t at the level? Who here can tell me why we can’t get 10,000 people to come to a handful of soccer games. It was only 15 games!
Are we becoming too saturated? Look at the US Soccer pyramid. MLS>NASL>USL>NPSL>PDL. In South Florida alone we have 10 or so teams amongst those leagues. Is it because they aren’t MLS teams no one goes? When Beckham United materializes, will it draw?
I will watch any soccer game, and although the Strikers weren’t wizards on the field, I still went (just not as often as I should have). That changes now. I’m going to see Boca Raton FC in the NPSL. I’m going to PDL games between the Palm Beach Suns and Floridians FC. Are we so caught up in quality that it stops us from attending? I do have a theory about why the Stikers drew so little this past year. It’s not as simple as pointing a finger at management and saying that they screwed up. That doesn’t work. My first job out of college was at Disney World. On my first day, at lunch, I heard a 15-year employee complain about something management could do better. At that moment I realized that complainers don’t get anywhere. The stay in the same place forever. I never complained at Disney. A few months later I was that employee’s supervisor.
But back to kicking balls. And, I know that I am ranting. We need to take ownership. I mean that it every sense of the word. There has to be tens of thousands of people in our area who would love to see a professional team. Bring their kids to the game. Bring a date maybe. We don’t go because we don’t want to own up to the failures. But that is what our sport is all about. Do you think Newcastle United fans stopped showing up because their owner sold a player or because they got relegated? Instead, they just get louder and stronger until changes are made and the team gets better. We need that here big time. I envision a hoard of Striker Likers who are vocal, who have ownership and can influence change. I see Striker Likers who like to beat drums and Striker Likers who will just watch. Am I so out of place?
Back to the pyramid for a quick second. Remember what I said back there. We have 10 or so semi-pro teams in our area. You want an investor to buy an MLS team down here? Then don’t just show up for the Barcelona vs. Chivas friendly. Show up to the South Florida Surf vs. FC Miami City PDL game. Show up to the Boca Raton FC vs. Miami Fusion FC US Open Cup match.
Here is a current list of clubs you should look in to:
Boca Raton FC
Miami Fusion FC
FC Miami City
South Florida Surf
Palm Beach Suns
Miami United FC
Don’t be a stranger to soccer.