Few things are more reliable than the occasional bleating of the MLS2Detroit crowd. Usually something spurs them all, all self-serving. Whether it is Dan Duggan trying to drum up support for his shitty PDL-side or Dan Garber creating a sense of demand for the franchises he is shilling for, at minimum, $100 milllion dollars.
And with the inevitable MLS2Detroit sheep come the wolves of the NGS. Or at least that is the story I keep hearing. It certainly isn’t the story I’m seeing.
The Northern Guard, for whom I cannot speak, aren’t about a league. They’re about a team. That team is Detroit City Football Club.
I think this much they’ll agree with me on. After this remember I am a single member of the NGS speaking for himself and no one else.
I don’t like MLS. In fact, fuck MLS. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I’m blocked by the MLS twitter account for calling their rules on championship stars “Byzantine bullshit”. Now, “Byzantine” is a big word for those interns, but blockable? Really?
There are a lot of aspects of the MLS that suck. Their commissioner is a twat. Their expansion is based off the needs of billionaires. They ban fans for creating the atmosphere that appears on all the marketing materials. They active work on turning the league into a retirement league for over-the-hill Eurostars. They kill local teams, local culture, and plop down sanitized “darbies” on fans who otherwise never interact.
So if DCFC has to grow, and it is growing, it will eventually outgrow the NPSL with its short season and reliance on unpaid college players bound to the rules of the NCAA.
So where does DCFC go?
Well let’s look at our options, shall we?
We have the PDL… which is also tier 4 and is occupied by the Fucks so why bother? Really it is just a fancy NPSL with a little bit of MLS weight behind it.
We have the USL, tier 3 soccer and the first truly professional league in the pile. There are a lot of MLS “2/B” teams here which for me sort of wrecks the fairness and the prestige. They keep trying to call themselves tier 2and my reaction is always, “You can’t be tier 2 when you’re a fucking reserve league”.
There’s the NASL, tier 2 and the “wild west” of all the professional leagues. With their expansion into California their position on the pyramid is safe for now, but there are a lot of other issues we’ll get into.
And lastly the MLS – the sanitized big league with the cash, the clout, and contracts.
Who does DCFC go with? Where do we expand?
My gut reaction, and my heart’s reaction is “NASL”. Go with the wild boy. He’ll treat you right and we’ll go far together.
But. And this physically pains me to say. My final answer would probably be “MLS”.
Fires rage in the comments below.
Give me a second.
I fucking loathe the MLS. FUCKING LOATHE everything about it. But do you know what I loathe more?
The idea of a world without DCFC.
That hits me hard. I want DCFC to survive above everything else. I want to go to DCFC games when I’m 80. I want to fucking be buried in rouge and gold knowing that DCFC was a world-wide name, a symbol of Detroit’s rise from the ashes and a club renowned for its involvement in the community and the loyalty of its fans.
The USL is a league to get pigeon-holed in. You either bounce out of that league quick or you fucking die in it.
That leaves the NASL and the MLS.
So why one over the other?
Want to see why?
Strikers 52% down?! Cosmos, the reigning champions, down 13% plus a decrease of 1,400 from 5,000 to 3,600 in one week. Jacksonville down 36%. The only team that is up is fucking MinnU and they’re leaving for the MLS!
These are terrifying numbers if I’m honest. The NASL looks like it is entirely propped up on the rush of fans to new teams like Miami and Rayo. It’s like a fucking ponzi scheme or something.
Indy Eleven, the big success story that sold out like every game last season? Down 7%.
I’m sorry, but I’m not seeing a sustainable league here. Based on the average DCFC outdraws two of these teams and is not far behind a couple more. And now we have a bigger stadium to call home and the FO announced on twitter that we’re down to 200 season tickets left. I’m assuming we were selling about two or three thousand.
Now these numbers are based on only a handful of games but each of these includes the fucking home opener. That’s supposed to be a big match. It’s super hyped up! First game of the season! But here its coming with a whimper instead of a bang.
So the reality is, from where I’m sitting, unless the NASL cleans up its act really quick, it’s going under and its going to be soon. The only real hope is for new expansion teams to breath life into its quickly withering body. And I don’t want to risk losing DCFC for a fucking league I don’t owe anything to. That’s what we mean by club over league.
Now, obviously, I will follow DCFC regardless of where they go and I’ll support to the greatest of my ability, but I don’t see the NASL working out. I just don’t.
The USL could work but its a pretty big could. For the USL to work in my eyes you need to divide the independent teams from the reserve teams. Let the USL be its own league with its own character and then we can talk.
So really, what league does that leave?
It leaves the MLS.
And that is, when you boil it down, the key issue. There are no alternatives in the US when it comes to soccer. And this is why so many people are MLS or nothing (beyond they simply don’t know about the other leagues).
So what are some likely scenarios?
Well, assuming USL stays its course (a mix of indie and reserve teams), NASL stays its course (the wild west, ghost towns and all), and the MLS stays its course (sanitized franchise corp) this is how I can imagine it playing out.
Detroit City announces move to NASL around 2018, but league is looking shaky. Loses a few “core” teams either to bankruptcy or smaller leagues (looking at Strikers and Edmonton). Cosmos not looking good either, but league considers their history too important.
New teams keep giving a boost to the league, but nothing ever seems to pan out past a season or two.
By the time DCFC enters the NASL there are serious problems showing. Owners might reconsider at this point, fearing attaching themselves to a sinking ship, however staying semi-pro would be equally ruinous.
Detroit plays two or three seasons in NASL, but in that time the league basically sags under its own dead weight. Teams drawing 2,000 fans are hurting teams drawing 12,000. Without TV exposure any chance at success for bigger teams is nonexistent. MLS begins openly courting rumors they might be planning on stealing the cream of the crop, DCFC among them.
After that I would assume that we’d jump over, especially if NASL is in a nose dive. MLS isn’t worried at this point. They know they can claim any city recently devoid of a club as their own. They aren’t going to help anyone out of the wreckage. Teams that escape will escape on their own merits. Rumors of backroom deals are all bullshit. Does Detroit make it? Honestly not sure.
Anyway, that is pure speculation. But realistically I just can’t convince myself the NASL is okay unless we see a turn around on those numbers and soon.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a pessimist, and this is why I usually keep my mouth shut during the MLS/NASL debates. One is abusive and the other can’t hold down a job.
In the end they both suck.
And in the end I stick with my team through thick and thin.