Praise for MLS, but Toronto still in proper mess

High praise this week for MLS from veteran football reporter Gabriele Marcotti, who penned a piece in The Times of London that said the North American soccer circuit “has grown into a proper league with proper fans.”

I’d love to link to Marcotti’s piece, which describes contrasting experiences at two New York games, the first in year one of the league and a return trip for this season’s Red Bulls playoff game against San Jose, year 15 of MLS. But The Times website is subscription only, so I’ll just clip his final two paragraphs for your reading pleasure:

When MLS was launched, the founders talked abut growing the league slowly, from the bottom up, putting stability above all else. In that regard, it’s mission accomplished. The other part of the challenge wasn’t just about pushing football – the multitude of European and South American games on TV and the web can more than satisfy the armchair supporter – it was about peddling the real-life experience of going to games and creating a fan culture specific to MLS. Here, too, they’re well on their way.

The biggest difference between 1996 and 2010? 2010 feels real.

Kind words, to be sure. But while MLS may be a proper league and, in cities like Toronto, draws proper fans, those fans don’t always get to watch proper football. They might when the MLS Cup comes to BMO Field on Nov. 21, but they seldom do whenever TFC takes the pitch.

Juergen Klinsmann and his SoccerSolutions company have been called on to solve the woes of our local lads by serving as consultants during the hiring processes for a new coach and general manager. The German will make his first trip to Toronto on Thursday afternoon to outline his plans for world domination successful football by the shores of Lake Ontario. We’ll check back tomorrow with a look at what he says.

At The Rails

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