Last night we saw one of the greatest displays of fan support in, not just soccer–but sports. It wasn’t during one of Major League Baseball playoff games–though the Oriole fans were quite ruckus and jubilant after years gone by of being irrelevant. It wasn’t a display by one of the 11 NFL teams yesterday. It was Seattle soccer supporters who came out 66,000+ strong to cheer on their team to a 3-nil victory.
Was this a do-or-die moment for the team in terms of the playoffs? No. Not in terms of the playoffs. They did need to win by multiple goals in order to keep a supporter trophy and they did just that. But, think about this, we just had our team full of players not from here who went out and lived and died out on the field for the sake of their fans honor.
Sure, they as a team took home a valuable 3 points; that by it self is becoming an ever important feat with the surges of both Salt Lake and the LA. The win gives them the #3 seed and helps them slip past Galaxy, who, in reality, for the past two months have been feasting upon inferior teams.
Last night was a great moment, not just for the team as they pulled past LA, not just because they beat up on their bitter rivals from the south, but it demonstrates how far this sport has come in America. A Sunday evening time spot on ESPN and one of the largest crowds in MLS history. There isn’t much more you could ask for. I can’t imagine that ESPN got more than a .4 or .5 but regardless it’s still really important to have the exposure.
8 months ago I came to a few different people at the Fansided network asking them for the keys to this blog. I came to them with numbers and data and a plan. The intent to make this site successful and hopefully it would be the breading ground for further expansion for Fansided. Despite my passionate argument they decided that the time wasn’t right.
I bring this up because with in the last month I’ve seen my conversion from having an interest to now writing for growing network. I’m seeing how much soccer in America is truly rising among the masses. It amazes me to see where we were just one year ago and then to see how things have grown.
Last night I had three guys over from my office. Guys that were hardcore college football fans. Guys that thought it was crazy to be watching Soccer on a Sunday. Within 20 minutes they grew excited and blown away by the intensity. They were shocked to see how brutal the play was and how passionate the fans were. They asked probing questions through out the match about the league and the game in general. Ultimately what came about from last night is that people who had no interests in the game at all are now more open minded and all in all really enjoyed the game last night.
The sport is growing and it’s reach is even touching the sticks in Alabama. We are not too far away were we will start seeing the same enthusiasm last night at CenturyLink around the rest of the league. After that we can only hope to see it spread beyond the youth leagues and start infiltrating into MLS academies and home grown players.