"As a relatively new soccer fan, I too have found the excitement in a sport that I could care less about for the majority of my life (Hammer, “Why Does America Hate Soccer?” July 18-25). If only more articles would be written about the sport of soccer in the U.S., and not just about Beck's arrival and what it means to the MLS. However, I must say, I was a little disappointed in your article, and its lack of originality and accurateness.
1. Advertising time: While soccer does not offer the TV timeouts and breaks in action that "our" sports do, their network coverage is outstanding. ABC/ESPN has signed a long-term contract with the MLS to carry their games through 2014. ESPN2 will carry regular season games, while post-season games will be shown on ABC. While ratings have been low, executives for both ESPN and MLS have stated that this is a long-term project, and they are not concerned with a slow start.
2. "Beatability" factor: The U.S. doesn't get behind sports we lose at? Argentina won the gold medal in basketball at the last Olympic Games, and Spain won the World Championship. Japan won the World Baseball Classic. The bigger concern is our history. MLB and NBA remain the top leagues in their respective sport because they have always offered the greatest players the world has to offer. Also, the U.S. men's soccer team recently won the Gold Cup. While I understand your point that we do not compete with top tier national teams, "We suck at it" and "We never win anything and our team usually embarrasses itself in the process" are grossly incorrect. We are not a top tier squad, but we are clearly second tier.
3. MLS quality: Perhaps you missed last night's All-Star MLS team against Celtic FC. The MLS squad squashed ’em. The final was 2-0, and they controlled the match throughout the game. The problem with international viability from an MLS team is the emphasis on parity throughout the league. The elite leagues in the world have three or four teams that have a legitimate shot of winning it each year. These leagues are top heavy, which is what MLS is staying away from. Also, the Dynamo was in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF tournament. Not only would they squash a British Conference Two team, but, dare I say, would be competitive against most of the EPL. While the MLS may not be the same quality of the elite international leagues, it is clearly not the "Little League" of soccer. Triple-A, certainly, but the quality of the league is highly underrated.