You Talkin' to Me? Is Major League Soccer truly major?

Young fans display their loyalty to the Union on their heads in the form of scarves before the team faced the Seattle Sounders FC in the Union's first game at PPL Park.
Young fans display their loyalty to the Union on their heads in the form of scarves before the team faced the Seattle Sounders FC in the Union's first game at PPL Park.
Posted: June 28, 2010

From: Tannenwald, Jonathan

To: Fagan, Kate; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major is MLS?

It has been declared on Page 2 by the estimable Mr. Gonzo that Major League Soccer is "a weak product of insufficient entertainment value."

I happen to disagree, but I also spend my winter watching Big Five basketball at the Palestra instead of the 76ers. To each his own, I say.

So the question is: What do you think it would take for all of these apparently newfangled American soccer fans to also become fans of Major League Soccer?

From: Fagan, Kate

To: Tannenwald, Jonathan; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major is MLS?

American fans probably aren't sold on the MLS for the same reason American fans don't watch the NBA's Development League or minor-league baseball: Because, like Page 2, it's not where the best players play.

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Fagan, Kate; Tannenwald, Jonathan

Subject: How major is MLS?

Zing! Good news and bad news for you, Kate. Page 2 had the budget to send you to the World Cup. That's the good news. Bad news is that we don't have the cash to bring you back. Enjoy South Africa. Send us a postcard and don't forget to file on the Sixers once the season starts.

From: Tannenwald, Jonathan

To: Fagan, Kate; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major is MLS?

Well I'm certainly evidence of that.

From: Fagan, Kate

To: Tannenwald, Jonathan; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major can MLS be?

Does Page 2 have the budget for an NBA League Pass?

I can buy a vuvuzela and watch the 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks here in Joburg. I'll use the vuvu each time Mr. Evan Turner hits a pull-up J.

From: Tannenwald, Jonathan

To: Fagan, Kate; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major is MLS?

Is there not something to be said, though, for the ability to actually go to a game in person? I would never dream of claiming that the talent level of MLS is anywhere close to the top leagues in Europe or South America. But MLS is accessible in a way that the Premier League and Champions League aren't.

I've been going to MLS games for over a decade now, here and in other cities. What makes going to a game worthwhile is being a part of the atmosphere. You can't pick that up on television, even at the World Cup.

From: Fagan, Kate

To: Tannenwald, Jonathan; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major can MLS be?

I've been to MLS games and I just don't buy that you're getting world-class soccer atmosphere. That's like comparing the nightlife in Lincoln, Neb., to NYC or L.A.

From: Tannenwald, Jonathan

To: Fagan, Kate; Gonzalez, John

Subject: How major is MLS?

I didn't mean that MLS is a world-class atmosphere. I just think it's better to experience it in person. To actually be there makes soccer better in the same way that experiencing hockey in person makes it better.

Though I'll certainly defer to your knowledge of Nebraska's club scene.

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