MMCB: Discovering the Pacific Northwest and why it’s perfect for MLS

SoundersFans (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                                  Photo by ISIphotos.com

I am an East Coast guy. There is no denying that and I have never made a secret of it. You can call me on my "East Coast Bias" and I probably won't argue that in the past I have preferred trips up and down I-95 to cross-country flights (unless Las Vegas is involved), but a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest has opened my eyes to a part of the country that some East Coast folks like myself just aren't that familiar with.

Places like Seattle, Portland and Vancouver were never more than just places on a map to me before last week, cities tucked away from the rest of the United States. They were cities that might as well have been on the other side of an ocean because there never had been much reason to go there or know much about them. That changed for me last week after spending the better part of four days taking in life and the soccer scene in the top left corner of the country.

In short, it was an experience to remember.

The reality is that the people in cities like Seattle, Vancouver and Portland genuinely love their soccer, and they are ready to embrace Major League Soccer with open arms. This isn't about rich guys stroking their egos by paying for teams in their hometowns. The recent MLS movement toward the Pacific Northwest is about a league going where the fans are and where the passion for the sport is.

I must confess to having been among the many who had visions of Miami or a second New York team in the recent rounds of expansion, but walking around the city of Seattle in the days leading up to last week's unforgettable debut match for the MLS Sounders you realize just how much the people of Seattle had embraced a team that hadn't even taken the field yet.

The same could be said for the people in Vancouver and Portland, where grateful fans let their emotions show after seeing their cities awarded MLS franchises. Talking to Houston Dynamo goalkeeper and Vancouver native Pat Onstad and hearing him talk about his hometown's love for the sport and his memories of being a fan of the NASL Whitecaps you could hear the emotion and the unflinching confidence he has in Vancouver being a success for MLS.

Ultimately that is what matters most to the survival and success of MLS. Finding markets where soccer fans already exist, where they are hungry for teams and where they will turn an MLS team into a way of life. The people of the Pacific Northwest are ready to do that and the league will be that much stronger for it.

Does this mean there aren't soccer fans in St. Louis or Atlanta or Miami? Of course not. There are soccer fans all over the country who would do anything to have an MLS team, but what some people on the opposite side of the country  may not have realized until last week is that the Pacific Northwest is a soccer hotbed and its passion for the sport is going to give MLS the type of boost it couldn't have found in any other corner of the continent.

It might not be convenient for people on the East Coast to fly out to Seattle or Vancouver, and having that many more late-night games might prove inconvenient, but eventually MLS fans from all over the country will come to realize the value and importance of MLS planting its flag in the Pacific Northwest with three teams.

Hopefully those same people will realize, like I did during an unforgettable week in Seattle, that it isn't about being East Coast people, or West Coast people, but about being soccer people wanting the sport to thrive in this country. The people of the Pacific Northwest are ready to help make that happen.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Expansion, MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps, Monday Morning Centerback. Bookmark the permalink.

94 Responses to MMCB: Discovering the Pacific Northwest and why it’s perfect for MLS

  1. jloome says:

    I still believe this same condition exists, dormant, in most American cities; the recent Dp signings of Angel and Beckham have simply convinced the people who were unimpressed by MLS that it’s now worth paying attention to.

    There has been a sea change. That’s what the guys with the big bucks understand. Soccer may never be north America’s number one sport, but it has finally properly arrived.

  2. luda says:

    Bravo!

    Having lived in the pacific northwest for 3 year before moving to NYC, I must say I agree with everything you have written and that it’s about time people start realizing this. I have not seen as much genuine love, support, and interest in soccer from any other place in the country (and I’m originally from SoCal!). This will go a long way in making MLS a more popular league, soccer a more popular sport country-wide, and ultimately help bring home a World Cup…

  3. Hopper says:

    Right on Ives. I completely agree. MLS won’t have to do any work to win over sports fans in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver because they’re already here, and have been here for a while. You’re not gonna see half-empty stadiums like you do in many other MLS cities. The Pacific Northwest will show the rest of the league what MLS cities CAN be.

  4. Geoff says:

    100% on point Ives. I’ve only ever been to California on the west coast but have always been dying to one day see Vancouver, Seattle and Portland and it would be the perfect trip for an east coast supporter to head west. I do wonder why MLS didn’t go to the Pacific north west back in 1994 when deciding which cities would get teams.

  5. Furball says:

    Congrats, Ives. I hope you now see why we in the PNW have been so critical of much of your reporting on expansion. We can’t wait to get you in Portland for our MLS opener in 2011. You will experience a true soccer experience and not the manufactured corporate crap you witnessed in Seattle. A marching band? Ole, Ole, Ole? Wait until you sit amongst the Timber Army. You will feel like you are in an European city, or Argentina.

  6. Rastafari says:

    Much respect.. Ives

    Your notes on the PNW are right on.

    Anyone who is still not a believer should come to witness Qwest and make up your own mind.

    SOUNDERS!!
    WhiteCaps
    Timbers

  7. CO_Soccer_FAN says:

    Great article Ives! Your article made me anxious enough to go see a game in Seattle in the near future. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  8. Nico_7 says:

    Glad to see you’ve broadend your horizons Ives!

    I was fortunate enough to live in Seattle for 10 months right out of school before my job had me move to the northeast (Princeton, NJ). I’ve always been a soccer fan but never an out and out MLS fan until my time in Seattle, where I was able to fall in love with the USL Sounders and bare witness to the swelling tide immediately prior to the MLS announcement over a year and a half ago. I am now an out and out Sounders supporter, even more so than my beloved Juventus which I’ve followed intently for nearly 9 years. There’s just something special about the soccer culture out there that sort of infects you, whether it’s the passion of fellow fans or the ability to track the team’s history back for decades (to the NASL), there’s just something that grabs hold of you, or at least it did to me. Out of all of the places I’ve either lived or traveled in the US, the Pac NW reminds me the most in terms of soccer culture as my time living and traveling in Europe…although it still has some way to go before it reaches those lofty realms. Regardless, I am completely confident that teams in Seattle, Vancouver and Portland will only help to continue the league’s growth and become beacons of fan passion. I should also note that my only concerns with Seattle getting a team when they did was the end of the intense in-season rivalry with Vancouver and Portland, so I’m estactic that those teams will be joining the league and can’t wait for their arrival.

  9. tyson says:

    “They were cities that might as well have been on the other side of an ocean because there never had been much reason to go there or know much about them.”

    the funny thing is that i would say a very large percentage of the northwest feels this same way about the northeast.

    wonderful write up, im so glad you had a chance to experience what we do up here in seattle. i cannot wait for the rest of this season and the seasons to come with our friends and rivals in vancouver and portland. i truly believe the northwest is going to be a destination area to attend MLS games. Here is to the growth of the MLS. cheers.

    GO SOUNDERS!!!!

  10. RBNY fan says:

    After reading this and taking a step back and looking at our league as a whole, you have to ask yourself: “where will American soccer be in 10 years?”
    I get butterflies in my stomach when thinking about this and the potential we have. Wow, seeing that game in Seattle almost brought tears to my eyes, and its not because RBNY lost.

  11. DC96 says:

    Ive been noticing this as only an 18 yr old observing soccerin the country his whole life and someone tell me if you disagree, but I don’t think it’s about Soccer growing in our country, its really MLS. (that wasnt a bash, Im a strong supporter) Why can we get CL games on Sportscenter and soccer bars filled across the USA for a USA -whoever freindly and USA leads the world in Ticketing for South Africa so far. Many of my American freinds can name just about the entire current rosters of any EPL, SPL, or Serie A team while just learning that Toronto’s, LA’s Chivas, and many MLS franchises existed. I really don’t think soccer has anymore room to grow imo. MLS has plenty though.

  12. HIncha Tim says:

    Ives,

    Welcome to the clan! NOW you know what I’ve been trying to tell you for so long. ;-) As always, yudamon. Take a trip to Portland and Vancouver too. They both offer the same (or more) passion but will be different than Seattle in important ways.

    I think the MLS made a great decision to bring all three teams in, and although the Timbers and Whitecap fans will be loathe to admit it, Seattle’s early success I’m sure was important in convincing MLS bosses (all eastcoasters) to overcome some of the same misconceptions that you had.

  13. anon says:

    I love seeing pictures of me with beers on the the media

    The PNW is a hot bed, when Wankouver and Porscum come in its only going to get bigger

  14. Mikeype says:

    Maybe someone can help me out with a question I have. Now that the league has announced the 17-18th teams, how is MLS going to realign the conferences (that is, if they still have conferences)? Personally, I think it is time for a single table format.

  15. luda says:

    hahahaha @ RBNY fan’s last sentence.

    I too felt that way. I am a RBNY fan because I live in NY now and like to support my local club, but having moved to NY after living in Seattle for many years I also support the Sounders and I am really glad they are on the scene.

    MLS is growing ridiculously fast if you really step out and look at what’s been gained (and lost) over the pat decade and a half.

  16. Cam says:

    It will be great to see that 3-way rivalry come to MLS. I predict that the Seattle-Portland-Vancouver rivalry will be the closest thing North America (not including the Mexican league) has to Celtic-Rangers or Boca Juniors-River Plate.

    Don Garber was quoted as saying that the midwest will be the next region to “shore up” in MLS. St. Louis fans should be happy to hear that. Also, the mayor of Des Moins, Iowa is reportedly putting together a committee to explore how feasible it would be to bring an MLS team to Iowa by 2013. Interesting…

  17. mexicanbluefish says:

    Thank you IVES, excellent words from you. I am from Portland and I remember Pele´s famous speech there, I also remember when the USMNT played there and the fans were really nuts, it was fantastic. The University of Portland has always had a great following and the weather in the Northwest makes for real earthy if not English type affairs.

  18. elmatador says:

    I agree 100% Seattle’s was the highest attendance this past week. KC 10K, San Jose 10K, that’s just sad, even the highlights look sad..i think even Englands 3rd or 4th tiers bring in more than that. I agree with furball, can’t wait to see those fans making it feel like a real soccer game.

  19. luda says:

    I have been checking the large newspapers of Seattle and Portland and I am shocked (pleasantly of course) with the large amount of coverage the soccer teams get in the front page of these papers. It goes to show how much these cities care about the team.

    Can you picture RNBY on the front page of the NYT? LOL. Not likely.

  20. KajaGooGoo says:

    I’m one of those Geezers Sounders fans from the wayback machine and can relate to Ives’ tale of the PNW.

    Portland for all its (trash) talkers is one hardcore town for the Timbers. You east coasters are in for a treat if you wanna see some crazy Mofos.. I give them the respect they deserve. Can’t wait to see you guys in the league and in Seattle where the Sounders will again rain on your parade.

    Vancouver,.. Damn what a great addition too. I recall the days in the Kingdome.. Late 70’s when you guys would roll down here in FORCE. Thousands of Canucks would infest Seattle. I think the only bigger crowds were here to see Pele.

    This Triad up in the PNW will again become one of legend. This is Derby stuff boys.. like you have never seen in the MLS before.

    Garber finally got it right.

    Thanks IVES

  21. beckster says:

    Ives – better late than never! Great comments and your predictions will come true. The soccer fans in the Northwest are passionate and you can’t underestimate the fact that in Portland and Vancover, there are no competing major league sports during the MLS season. That in and of itself will do amazing things for support and attendance.

  22. BlueWhiteLion says:

    Ives, it was pretty cool hearing a semi-confessional from you–but you also tapped in to what probably many of us think. I have never been in the NW USA, even though it has always intrigued me. I had a similar experience with Canada in general. As a kid, it was just a fishin’ spot. After spending some time in the terrific city of Toronto, I “fell in love” with the city and its friendly international flavor.

    I would love to have someone break down a revenue pie chart for the MLS. What percentage of profit comes into the league from a rockin’ city like Seattle or Toronto, with sold out stadium, merchandise sales, etc. compared to TV revenue from “major markets” where soccer might not be so established–from an MLS perspective, such as NY or Miami. Is it better right now from a financial standpoint for the MLS to have teams in markets that might be out of the ‘national eye’ but are totally solid with their fan-base?

  23. phath0m says:

    you just brought a tear to my eye ives….

  24. Soccerforrepublicans says:

    Good Lord, let’s quit kissing the Northwest’s butt. Putting three teams in that portion of the US in a few years is overkill.

    How about ONE team in the entire Southeast?

  25. Haig says:

    “Can you picture RNBY on the front page of the NYT? LOL. Not likely.”

    The team is not presented in a way that ties into existing soccer tradition (which is powerful in NYC). It’s also not presented in a way that resembles other major league teams in the New York area. The Red Bull marketing approach is not the kind of thing that sports editors appreciate: the team’s marketing is either coarsely commercial (naming the team after a product) or rinky-dinky minor league (gimmicks like the “running of the bulls” with the facepaint and horns).

    When they present the team in a serious way that deserves respect, the NY media channels will respond.

    As much as I appreciate the stadium in Harrison, it breaks my heart to see what a joke the “Red Bull” branding is.

  26. Reid says:

    As an East Coast biased fan, i’m def pumped for the next few years.

    Its hard as hell trying to get people interested in MLS by taking them to Revs or RB games, but if more and more people see TFC, Seattle, DC, etc games where there is are thousands of young, enthusiastic fans, I have a feeling interest will spike all over the US.

    All the best wishes to portland and vancouver.

    P.S. Don lets see about Montreal in the next round, and if your concerned about hte money, look to money long term and not just short term.

  27. RedLine55 says:

    It’s about time MLS realized that it’s not about the size of the cities (population-wise)… or how many of this or that “soccer-loving” ethnicity makes up your demographic… it’s more about competition between sports franchises WITHIN a city. Portland and vancouver will do well, and Toronto is doing well, too. Most of the cities that are competing with American Football, Baseball (sometimes 2 teams in a city), Basketball AND NHL are going to struggle all the time. This becomes more severe the further away a SSS is located from the city center. Word.

  28. Matt Y says:

    Ives…while I respect a man for admitting his ignorance, and changing his opinion….it’s you and the rest of your east coast blinded thinkers that made us wait for 14 years to get a team.

    The NASL did real well in the PNW, every friendly/international played in the PNW post NASL has done real well…Seahawks stadium was built with the intention of brining an MLS team to Seattle….the reasons for the MLS to have a team have been stacked up…right in the league’s face…but they kept on pumping teams into areas that have no where near the same support/love for soccer as the PNW.

    Some reading this will say…hey..this guy finally gets a team and he’s pissed? What a wanker….well…you know why I’m so pissed?

    Because I’ve been a loyal fan of DC United since the beginning…and now I can’t give them up..DC United is in my blood.

    So…even though the place that I’ve lived almost my entire life finally has a team, and I’m a season ticket holder…will probably go to every game…the Sounders will never be my #1 team…..

    AND…even though I’ve been working on my kids for 5 years to be DC fans…they went to the first Sounders game…and now they are Sounders fans…just that easy.

    During the game my son and daughter kept telling me to put away my DC scarf cause it was embarrasing!!!

    So..yeah I’m bitter at the MLS for waiting so long…and I’ll get over it. Better late than never….

    And hey…I got to see the Red Wankers lose and DC comes to play on 6/17!!!

    Thanks Ives…great article…and all you guys in the east…come visit the teams in the PNW..you will be well received and the cities are awesome.

    I hung out real quick with some Red Bull fans…showed them my DC scarf and jersey…made them laugh that a Seattle guy is a loyal DC supporter

    PS: Please forward your article to Goff (if he hasn’t read it already) because he made a real dumb comment about the MLS putting too many teams in the PNW….and the next 4th expansion team will be in Walla Walla (no need to look on the map…it’s in the middle of nowhere…course they’d probably draw more fans than KC or NY/NJ…to be honest…

  29. joel says:

    I support whoever will back their club. Seattle proved that they embrace their team. Good Stuff!!!!

  30. kpugs says:

    I never doubted the Pacific northwest nor the fans there. But having three teams so close together in a league that many Americans still don’t know exists bothers me. If the area truly can support three teams, more power to ‘em.

  31. Drew-ROC says:

    Quoting Ives— “Ultimately that is what matters most to the survival and success of MLS. Finding markets where soccer fans already exist, where they are hungry for teams and where they will turn an MLS team into a way of life”

    Ives, fans in Rochester (and St Louis for that matter) WISH that’s what mattered most. Clearly it does not. Unless you have the benjamins falling in line…

  32. ryan says:

    the expansion to the northwest is certainly generating headlines. unfortunately those headlines are on obscure blogs like this one, and in newspapers in seattle that are getting ready to go under. the one thing that the expansion has done, however, is guarantee that mls games of the week will continue to be preempted for wnba games. did anyone notice that the expansion announcements to vancouver and portland didn’t even make the list of headlines on espn.com? did anyone else notice that the mls is on less television channels this year than it was last year. did anyone else notice that attendance is down, on opening day no less, league wide. weak. soccer will never be accepted in this country.

  33. Bill says:

    I’ve lived in portland for a few years (I’m a new yorker through and through). And clearly it’s a different world there.

    Soccer is considered just like a regular sport. People play it, watch it and talk about it – just like they might the jailblazers or seahawks.

    I’m envious and wish Montreal the best in the next round (yeah, I’d rather drive there then new jersey!)

  34. David says:

    A good number of non soccer fans here are looking at the Sounders as a “replacement” for our stolen Seattle Supersonics. 2008 was by far the WORST sports year ever for the city of Seattle: 0-12 Washington Huskies, 4-12 for the Seahawks, 101 losses for the Mariners, and the Sonics were moved to OKC.

    2009 has breathed new life, starting with Husky basketball and the Pac 10 championship, and the start of the Sounders, most notably. There’s a buzz here. Griffey’s back, with a new GM for the Mariners, the Seahawks signed TJ Houshmandzadeh, and the Sounders are finally here!

    Seattle sports are finally waking up, and people are pumped. I can’t describe how electric the stadium felt and how much fun the game was last week. It’s only going to get better once Portland and Vancouver join the league next year. I can’t wait to drive a couple hours in either direction to cheer on my team at away games.

  35. Dave in Seattle says:

    People forget that the Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers all averaged over 20K per game in the old NASL days and it was not unusual for their derbies to have 35,000 people with several thousand out-of-town supporters traveling up and down I-5. This region has been football crazy for decades. I think this is a smart move by Garber to create real rivalries and buzz for MLS.

  36. Haig says:

    “Matt Y” : gloryhunter. Your kids SHOULD laugh at you.

  37. Ed Ho says:

    Well, putting 3 teams in close vicinity to each other in such a short period of time is a huge risk. It will either be rewarded and successful by creating instant derbies or it will fail because it drained a limited regional soccer fan pool by expanding too fast. I hope it succeeds because I love soccer, but there is huge risk here.

  38. Trex says:

    I’m sold. Bring it on PNW.

  39. Chase says:

    CAM,

    Where did you read this? I am from Iowa (living in DC now) and haven’t heard a thing about a move for a MLS franchise and it has not been reported in any of the major media (if you have a link, I’d much appreciate it).

    Right now they are home to the Des Moines Menace of the USL-PDL, who has had the highest average attendance in the league (averaging around 3,000 a game).

    There has been a long running fight to build a SSS stadium in a Des Moines suburb that would seat 8,000 initially and then have the ability to be expanded to 17,000 for international friendlies (and apparently if their was a move for an MLS franchise).

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. DSM is a major youth soccer hub, has a vibrant Latin American community, and the area would probably support a team strongly. And as an Iowan, this would immediately become my team, however, DSM is still a fairly small market and an MLS team would face stiff competition from the biggest game in town, Iowa Hawkeye football (and to a lesser extent Iowa State Cyclone football). I think a USL-First Division franchise is far more appropriate and would be a nice step before making a move for an MLS franchise.

  40. JJ says:

    Good move to go to cities with rich soccer cultures already. Most folks had no idea how big soccer is in Houston until the Dynamo showed up.

    The NW cities are a lot like the East Coast in that there is history for youth and D1 NCAA programs, unlike many places in the South and West.

  41. JesseMT says:

    I’m curious what you East coast folks think about the potential for expansion in your half of the country. What cities out there are ready for MLS the way Toronto and Seattle have been? Anecdotally, I see Montreal working really well if they ever want in. Is the history of player development in the St. Louis area enough to create support for MLS? If NY ever gets a team, will the diversity of the city generate enough loyal fans to counter the plethora of other entertainment options available to New Yorkers?

    Last week was great, but sometimes I worry about the league. There are several teams that just aren’t that well supported – Dallas, Colorado, Kansas City, Chivas USA, etc…. And even though I’m happy as a clam up here in Seattle with the support for SSFC, I know the continued success of my team depends as much on those other markets as anything going on here. Really, that’s why Portland and Vancouver are great picks right now. I have no doubt they’ll be greeted with the same kind of passion and support as the Sounders have been.

  42. Zoti says:

    As much as I appreciate the stadium in Harrison, it breaks my heart to see what a joke the “Red Bull” branding is.

    Posted by: Haig | March 23, 2009 at 01:55 PM

    Couldn’t agree more with you. It pains me to see the PNW teams come into the league with their NASL names and tradition especially when we as New Yorkers were told to forget about Cosmos for the new Metro identity and then have it taken away from us by Red Bull.

    I’ve been supporting the Metros since ’97 and I will keep supporting the team but I will never accept the Red Bull identity.

    Call me what you want but if Wilpon brings back Cosmos to NYC/Queens I think I’ll have a hard time not rooting for them as opposed to the New Jersey Red Bulls.

  43. Carlos says:

    Ed, trust me, the “regional support” in the Northwest has barely been scratched. First of all, as Portlanders will never tire of reminding us all, Timbers fans would rather rip their hearts out than support a team called Sounders. So when our tagalongs to the south enter the league, they’ll have a big following that was completely untouched by the Sounders. Second, while they are much more civil about it all, Whitecaps fans are similarly passionate about their club and will wholeheartedly support it. Bringing the Cascadia rivals back into one league again will produce the hottest games in MLS every year. Qwest was loud last Thursday, but that’ll be nothing compared to our first beatdown of the Cinders.

  44. Matt Y says:

    Haig,

    …you are a Red Bull fan…

  45. Brokenbil says:

    Well put, Ives! I think Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver hold a lot of promise for the league. I just wonder how it will affect future MLS expansion plans. Will preference be given to ownership groups associated with successful USL-1 franchises?

  46. Tony in Quakeland says:

    After watching the Seattle opener and seeing reactions in Portland and Vancouver, I started having a radical thought…i’m almost embarasses to say it out loud, but here goes…Don Garber has been doing a good job.

    Wow, there, I said it!

  47. seven says:

    Ives, to a large degree you are preaching to the choir. Your comments section has been full of insight re. the excellent markets in the Northwest. You were way behind the curve on this. Most of your expansion analysis were justifications about why Miami failed in the past & why NY deserves a 2nd team.

    I still think the expansion process was flawed & the only real criteria was a half decent stadium & a willingness to spend $40 million on the expansion fee.

  48. Eugene says:

    It actually makes me wonder if NY and Boston, etc., are the right places for soccer, considering how much harder it is for teams here to draw fans to games — whether the team on the field is successful or not.

  49. Luis says:

    As much as I would like to think that Seattle has and always will have the best fan support in the league (a Seattle pride thing), I would love it if Portland and Vancouver had similar or better support for their teams. Hell, if all the teams in the league were supported this well, it would just make me happy. It just makes the league better overall.

    I do question the ability of MLS teams to succeed in places like the Southwest. But I really have nothing to base it on.

    What I would love to see on here is somebody from that area who can put together a cogent and well-reasoned explanation for why an MLS team would be strongly supported in the Southwest.

    All I have to draw on is the fact that the Atlanta Hawks have no fans. Somebody educate me.

  50. Adam M. says:

    Europe, which is roughly the same size and population as the U.S. and lower part of Canada, has a five world class first division leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France) and a handful of other solid first division leagues. If the MLS umbrella will eventually encompass multiple first division, region-based leagues, then I am wholeheatedly in favor of the recent expansion to Portland and Vancouver for the reasons Ives notes. If not, then I fear MLS has wasted two of its few remaining slots on small markets that, regardless of local interest or attendance, will not be able to compete dollars-wise for top players with teams situated in larger cities. This problem may not be immediate given the strict salary and DP restrictions, but it is surely no accident that the top clubs in Europe come from its largest cities, regardless of how passionate the fan bases of smaller market clubs might be. The real question for Portland and Vancouver is whether their interest will hold if their teams end up as yearly also-ran.

  51. Joe D says:

    Seven, what the hell are you talking about? Preaching to the choir? Most of the SBI Mafia is from the East Coast and every SBI poll I ever saw about expansion had Portland and Vancouver losing out to the likes of St. Louis and Montreal. I’m one of these people who never gave the Pacific Northwest much thought. Now I cant wait to go there to watch games there.

  52. Mr. Fish says:

    Eugene, that’s an insane comment. New York and Boston ARE hotbeds for soccer. The management and fan treatment from the Revs and MetroBulls have conspired to keep fans away from the clubs.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about the game experience that keep people coming back.

    In Foxboro (not Boston), the skinflinty Krafts only open one side of the stadium… making the crowd stare across the field at 35k empty seats and tarps. How’s that for an atmosphere

    In the Meadowlands, 13+ years of mostly losing in a market with 9 other pro teams and a crappy turf field have soured the fan base. Some can’t deal with cheering for an energy drink.

    Seattle and the other new teams can safely avoid these miscues, generating fan passion with wise marketing investments. They don’t have to make the mistakes that have sullied the MLS water in NY, NE, CMB, FCD, and COL.

  53. Thomas513 says:

    Ives-

    Glad you had a good trip and got to see what Seattle fans are all about. I am glad you made the trip as tv did not do the energy in the city justice.

    For all the observers out there, Thursday night was just the beginning (albeit a great one). The team will get much better over the next couple of years and the atmosphere will get much better as we become more organized. I would invite anyone who can to tune in to a late season match to see an even better atmosphere.

    Finally, bring on porty and the couv. This is going to be incredible.

  54. Drew says:

    El Matador…KC and SJ are playing in temporary venues that only hold 10,000 people. They both sold out this weekend.

  55. RdBullSux says:

    The Sounders really seem like they have a good game plan. They’re not as bad as Toronto was their first couple of years. How did they get that Columbian kid to come? Shouldn’t he be in Europe?

  56. brassonesinNYC says:

    Yeah Haig, because the MetroStars did it right the 10 yrs they were in existence. I don’t know what they’re putting in the water down there in TN, but let me remind you that the only tradition in the NYC is mostly the Eurosnobs and the S.A. snobs supporting every known European and S.A. team and not their local team. That has been going on forever. Oh, and that NY media you talk about, well they’re not really into reporting about soccer. It’s all bullcrap Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Rangers, Islanders with bit of Nets and Devils thrown in there for good measure. The only ‘real media’ reporting soccer are on blogs like this. That’s just the way it goes. But, you know, there are the few of us who have been supporting our local soccer team no matter what, and that includes rebranding. That’s what will become tradition. Imagine, supporters supporting no matter what. The only ‘joke’ here are people like you who are ‘heartbroken’. Get some dude, please.

  57. Casey says:

    It’s common logic that once Seattle was granted a team that Portland and Vancouver would be shortly awarded teams as well.

    It makes a lot of logistical and financial sense to have these three teams in the same league.

  58. Reid says:

    JesseMT- for your question on east coast expansion, the two cities that would be great to have a team are New York and Boston. I’m from directly in the middle of both and dislike going to both jersey and foxboro for games. If either the RB’s or Revs played in their cities soccer in the NE would me much, much bigger.

    After that (next year w/philly) from DC on up is pretty well covered as long as Rochester can keep their team.

    As for the southeast, the best thing is continued support for miami, railhawks & battery. Maybe some day with good numbers MLS will look their way and not just at the dollar signs.

  59. Tim says:

    Adam M:

    The top teams in Europe come from its largest cities? Uh no. Manchester, and Liverpool are not that big, Birmingham (home to Aston Villa is larger than both). Turin is small yet is home to Juventus.

    In fact, of the top 20 largest Euro cities, only 5, London, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome have teams that could be called the “best”. So thats what? Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter, Milan, Barca, RM and Roma out of like 30 or so teams in those 20 metro areas?

    link to en.wikipedia.org

  60. lassidawg says:

    “You will experience a true soccer experience and not the manufactured corporate crap you witnessed in Seattle”

    -The Dumb Port fans

    I wasn’t able to go so I have no idea about the band, but it seems like an original idea in th league. I am glad for he real and smart fans in Portland who desire to watch a team win and not for the dummies that try to act like the old English Hooligans. Of course they haven’t had a team that can manage to find a way to win an open cup match.

    It is amazing how many people I have had come up to me since last Thursday night asking about going to a game.

  61. smokedgouda says:

    As a former Seattleite living back on the east coast in NYC, here is my take:

    Seattle has a great soccer community with hundreds of teams in multiple adult leagues. They have international aspirations that other ‘old-guard’ cities don’t feel they need to posess. To sum it up, they are an unconventional town with a lot of hyper-educated people looking for outlets to be cultured by.

  62. Tom says:

    re: Adam M., on multiple leagues:

    What I’ve thought in the past what MLS should do is, rather than divide the table into western and eastern regions, to divide the table into north and south regions. The “Northern” conference wouldn’t necessarily be composed of teams in the geographic north, but in the cities with the coldest winters in the MLS. For example, were it to be implemented starting next year, the Northern conference would consist of: Col, RSL, NY, Phi, Chi,Tor, NE, CLB; the Southern conference would consist of: LA, Chv, Dal, Hou, SJ, Sea, KC, DC.

    The utility of this is that you can then stagger the schedules so that southern teams don’t have to play in the middle of June in the sweltering heat and the northern teams don’t have to play in the freezing cold. For example, the Southern conference could begin play in January, break after May for a summer break, reconvene in August and continue finish off their schedule in time for the playoffs in October. Conversely, the Northern conference could begin play in late March and continue playing all the way through October. In order to compensate for the long stretch of rest the Southern Conference has in the middle of the season, they could stagger transfer windows as well, allowing the Southern conference only the use of the June-August window, and the Northern conference only the use of the January-April window (Perhaps November-December can be designated as a period in which players can move to non-conference MLS clubs).

    I think the best thing about this plan is that the league is then able to operate year round, technically without any offseason at all save for the two months between the MLS cup and the following January. The league could maintain a year-round presence in the sports market that suddenly doubles in size between August and October when both conferences are playing games, thus providing a nice build-up to the MLS Cup.

  63. bob says:

    hello dude, east coast is a cramped trash hole with obnoxious people compared to the rest of what the U.S. has to offer. Come out of the concrete jungle and into freedom and serenity.

  64. Homey says:

    Amen Ives. I totally support the idea of putting teams where fans will support them, regardless of the region or whatever else. Plus, it makes it MUCH more enjoyable to watch on tv. I don’t support the idea that we need to put a team in the Southeast just for geographic balance, when there’s not one city that can guarantee good fan support.

    I also have an unrelated question… We keep talking about the Pacific Northwest. But if you’re a Canadian, isn’t Vancouver the Pacific Southwest? Just curious.

  65. Tom says:

    Also, for Christ’s sake, shorten the playoffs, the early stages don’t attract attention anyways. Divide the conferences into two divisions and have the champions of each play for the right to enter the final.

  66. Adam M. says:

    Tim,

    First, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Roma, AC Milan, Inter, (and I’d add) Bayern Munich and Lyon make up 9 of the top 12 teams in Europe usually, out of hundreds of first division sides, and all hail from some of the largest metropolitan regions in Europe. More to the point, including Manchester, Liverpool, and Juventus, vitrually every consistently winning team in Europe hails from the largest cities within the country they play in. Liverpool is a big exception (though its not a small market in England), and they have decades of rich history behind them.

    Portland is the 23rd largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and Vancouver is only slightly larger (Seattle is 15, and a great addition). I’m not suggesting that they should not have teams ever. I am only suggesting that MLS has a limited number of spots for now and those spots, if given out at all (and I don’t they should have been now) are better filled by larger markets that, if run right, can win dollars and players necessary to make this a world class league. I hope they sell out every game and wish them well. I just hope MLS has a long term plan that makes sense if they don’t perform on the pitch.

  67. JesseMT says:

    Having your teams in huge metropolitan areas isn’t as important if MLS stays single-entity. Small markets like KC and Portland will be able to compete with the LA’s and NY’s as long as they are on equal economic footing. Even if MLS moves away from single-entity, but keeps a lot of revenue sharing and the salary cap, talent and success should be spread throughout the league.

    I’m convinced that fixing what ails existing MLS markets is as important as successful expansions. Unfortunately, that responsibility falls to the individual owners who have run flawed operations as much as it does the league. It seems like the new owners coming into the league are a lot more savvy than groups like the Krafts.

  68. Robert says:

    Adam M.,

    Seattle and Vancouver won’t have any financial issues. Portland might because it only has a couple large employers and high unemployment, but it is a growing city nonetheless. And it helps to have a loaded owner in Henry Paulson.

  69. Rogue_15 says:

    One thing to keep in mind is not the size of the market but the passion of the fan base. I know, I am a member of the Timbers Army, yeah, one of those “crazy mofos” in Portland.
    Take note: last year with metro populations of slightly over 2 million Portland and Vancouver held the second and fourth places, for attendance, respectively, while Seattle with another million people held the eighth position even as they prepped to switch to MLS. I’m not dissing Seattle (at least not this time) but rather to point out there is not a direct correlation between city size and suitability for a team (I’m sure you’ve all heard it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it). If you ever want to see how to get a football team going, come to Portland.

    By the Portland’s also well known producing and consuming the nation’s best ales.

  70. Scott A says:

    Areas with crappy weather support teams. Not a slam on these areas or a supreme axiom, just what I’ve noticed. Best supported NFL teams are places like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo. In all those northern cities in England. Baseball in NY and Boston. Soccer in the Pacific Northwest. Cold rain loves sports

  71. Tom P says:

    Perfectly stated Ives. You hit the nail on the head.

    If you love U.S. and want it to thrive on a prfessional level then the Northwest (and Canada)are the places to be.

    This from a guy living in South Florida surrounded by thousands of soccer lovers who couldn’t give a damm about the U.S. professional or the U.S. National team for that matter.

    Man- did Barcelona FC wise up just in time or what? Imagine the clips on European television of a 1/3 filled FIU Stadium and what that what have done for image of the MLS? Now imagine after 3 years Barca decides to fold the team due to lack of support or dump their shares to whoever would take them?

    Well – that’s pretty much what would of happened.

    By the way- did anyone notice the attedance figures were not outstanding for opening weekend except for Seattle? But then 10,000 may be a sell out in KC’s and San Jose’s current stadiums.

  72. Knuckles says:

    Feh. There are three breweries in that town worth a damn, and the rest I can leave behind (NOC, HUB and Laurelwood).

    Please, leave the USL attendance comparisons where they belong, which is nowhere. What competition did the USL have in PDX? Nothing. What did the Sounders have to compete with? Even in a down year (or years, as this very disaffected Mariner fan will atest), the Mariners are an attendance juggernaut. Last year the Sounders also played all of their games in Tukwila. Starfire is a nice complex, but a pain in the ass to get to if you’re not from the Beacon Hill\Tukwila\Renton\Sea-Tac area.

    I think Portland will do great for a number of reasons:

    1) Love of the sport.

    2) No real competition in the summer.

    3) Love of the sport.

    The only thing that really pisses me off about PDX coming in is that the beer selection at PGE will probably be better than the beer selection at Qwest (which, when held in comparison to that of Safeco, is an absolute embarassment to the city).

  73. Caldwell says:

    Vancouver is tucked away from the rest of the United States because it’s in Canada.

  74. Paul says:

    “I’ve been supporting the Metros since ’97 and I will keep supporting the team but I will never accept the Red Bull identity.

    Call me what you want but if Wilpon brings back Cosmos to NYC/Queens I think I’ll have a hard time not rooting for them as opposed to the New Jersey Red Bulls.”

    Posted by: Zoti | March 23, 2009 at 02:58 PM

    The Metro’s never won anything. The franchise was horrible. RedBull got us a new stadium so, I’m riding with them. People have this romantic idea about the Metro’s that simply isn’t true. The Cosmos played in Jersey too… People need to get over themselves. Support the team or don’t. Just stop crying about it…

  75. Jeff in Mississippi says:

    Let me give y’all an explanation as to why soccer isn’t going to work in the southeast, at least not in Atlanta. If you look at Atlanta, they have all 4 major sports. The only team they support reasonably well is the Falcons. Attendance at Hawks games is a joke. The Thrashers (NHL) are even more of a joke. Nobody goes to the games. They coudn’t even sell out playoff games for the Braves back when they were really good in the 90’s. Atlanta just isn’t a good sports town. It never has been. If the MLS team wants a team in the south, they ought to look at Charlotte or Nashville. Both cities are smaller than Nashville, but have shown they support sports. I’m all for growing the sport down here, but if the MLS ever puts a team in Atlanta, it will be a disaster and set things back even further.

  76. Jeff in Mississippi says:

    Sorry, didn’t proofread that… both Nashville and Charlotte are smaller than Atlanta, but they’ve proven they can support professional sports.

  77. newyorker says:

    I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest or the west coast for that matter but I definately agree with Ives and for all of the stories I’ve read since before Seattle was awarded an expansion that this region is an excellent soccer hub. It really is so surprising to see all the pictures of scarves and the signage on the streets of Seattle promoting the team not to mention the excellent sales of season tickets and tickets for soccer events in general there. I live on the east coast but I am very excited that all 3 NW cities are now included in MLS. In my mind, once Montreal, St. Louis, and NYC 2 join the fold this will really be a top flight league in NOrth America. I’m not ruling Miami out or anything but I think it still needs to prove itself as a viable soccer market, even though the demographics are changing fast there.

  78. Richard says:

    St. Louis has always been a soccer hotbed. I remember growing up around there in the ’80’s when the local indoor soccer team would get has much TV sports news coverage the NHL team or college basketball, and more than the NBA (St. Louis hasn’t had an NBA team in a long time).

    Makes you wonder how the MLS folks could have screwed up the locations so much when they started out in 1996. It seems that a 10 team league of NY, DC, Chicago, St. Louis, LA, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal (maybe Salt Lake City and Houston later) would have been better attended.

  79. southsidered says:

    St. Louis doesn’t have the NASL history of the PNW cities, but I was a teenager before I knew that indoor soccer wasn’t the third major sport everywhere else. The star Steamers players were as well known as any of the football or baseball Cardinals, and better known than most of the Blues. Even as recently as the late ’90s, the Ambush were drawing 14-15K per game. We still get MLS, SLU, and local high school soccer highlights on the local TV news. If MLS is really looking for more cities where soccer doesn’t take a back seat to other sports, St. Louis is a must.

  80. southsidered says:

    “Makes you wonder how the MLS folks could have screwed up the locations so much when they started out in 1996.”

    Because when it came to soccer, Lamar Hunt had a lot more money than expertise. He is directly responsible for the location of three of the most chronically undersupported MLS teams (KC, Dallas, Columbus).

  81. Matt says:

    Well I had a blast. The Red Bulls played like crap, but it was worth the trip in any case.

  82. Big Z says:

    I was LOL when you went Obama in the last line. You’re a cheese ball Ives.

    I still can’t believe they’re going let the Patchouli stinking timbers into the league.

  83. sammysounder says:

    How much you wanna bet Portscum outdraws New Jersey?

  84. Cyth says:

    Quit trying to rain on our parade. We’re from the PNW, it won’t work!

  85. Russ says:

    Tony Chursky would agree with those comments.

    Where o Where have the NASL days gone. Onceuponatime Giorgio Chignalia and the Cosmos played the 1st Seattle Sounders in a soccer bowl.

  86. northzax says:

    Cascadia is really like a whole different country. I’m from Portland, although I have lived in DC for a decade. Portland, Seattle and Vancouver have all the expressed distaste of a sibling rivalry gone bad. Vancouver has the best physical location (seriously, Elliot Bay is gorgeous, but Burrard Inlet is even better, Portland has the Columbia and Willamette, not even close) Seattle has the economic boom and cachet fed by two decades of technology and the grunge boom. Both Vancouver and Seattle have fine big state research Universities (UW, UBC) but Portland managed to hold on to the NBA. Vancouver had a massive influx of Hong Kong money in the late 80s and early 90s to go from a sleepy outpost to a modern city with international pretensions (Reagan and Bush I wouldn’t allow more immigration from Hong Kong after it was announced, something like 5 thousand multi-millionaires moved to Vancouver instead of San Francisco or Seattle in two to three years, including three of the ten richest men in the world at that time. injected something like $50 billion US into the BC economy) Portland is definitely the little sibling of both, it started smaller and the boom was smaller. but it has learned from watching the experience of Seattle (which is why things like public transport are so excellent in Portland)

    so to recap, Seattle is the big bother who is successful as all get out, but who’s personal life is hell. Vancouver is the pretty sister for whom everything seems to come easily, and Portland is the little brother for whom no amount of success or happiness will suffice, as long as the other two look happier and more successful.

    by the way, two tests you really should be able to pass in case you are traveling to Portland or Seattle anytime soon:

    1: which of the following places can be considered ‘back east’?

    a: New York
    b: Boston
    c: Chicago
    d: Cheyenne

    2: pronounce the word “Willamette”

  87. Brian says:

    If you want to talk about wasting space on small markets then lets discuss Salt Lake, Columbus and Kansas City, three markets that are smaller than Portland.

    Kansas City is the biggest head scratcher because the city already had football and baseball teams with long records of poor performance.

    Columbus and Salt Lake are in the same position as Portland with one major professional team that plays during the winter.

    We all should just resign ourselves to the fact that MLS will never be on level with the top European leagues. I just want it to be big enough that I can watch road games on TV.

  88. Chase says:

    Brian,

    KC is not a headscratcher when you keep in mind that Lamar Hunt was a major benefactor of the league and had Arrowhead Stadium as a ready made, rent free home for a franchise.

    The Wiz were also the lone Midwestern representative of the original 10 franchises (some might claim Columbus as part of the Midwest, I, as an Iowan I don’t).

    And despite not winning a Super Bowl since the 1960s, the KC Chiefs are one of the best supported teams in the NFL (regularly selling out an 80,000 seat stadium) and were a competitive team for much of the 1990s and early/mid 2000s. The Royals were not a team with a long record of poor performances when the MLS was established in 1996 and had won a World Series in 1985.

    And this comes from someone who despise Kansas City sports (as a big Chicago White Sox and Oakland Raiders fan) and is not a KC Wizards supporter. The franchise has actually been revived by the sale of the club by the Hunt Group, its move from the cavernous confines of Arrowhead to the more intimate Community America Ballpark, and the construction of its future SSS.

    I am no apologist of the Wizards, but there were specific reasons why a team was placed in KC and the club has a brighter future than doom and gloomers in here care to believe.

  89. Marc Silverstein says:

    Harry would certainly be proud of you Ives:

    Seattle Sounders

    Redknapp began his management with a spell as player-assistant manager of North American Soccer League side Seattle Sounders from 1976–79.

  90. overmars says:

    oh how I love the phrase Cascadia, because that is also the Cup competition between the three teams. NY your renaming has put you out of the Heritage Cup, for NASL namesake teams.

    NORTHZAX-I could not have put it better, Portland-The red headed stepchild, Vancouver-The Hot Attractive one with a bright future, and Seattle-The first son, with it’s problems but it leads the way.

    p.s. when does the Adidas contract end? Nike might want to get involved now, maybe there would be a bidding war…

  91. Brian says:

    Chase,

    Its obvious that Hunt was the reason for KC having a team. That didn’t make it a wise choice.

    Also game attendance doesn’t make a successful franchise, especially when most attendance records aren’t accurate.

  92. gonzo says:

    Well Adam,

    Per Neilson ratings, Seattle is the 13th largest market and Portland is the 23rd. Vancouver BC is in Canada but it is of a similar size to Seattle. So they are not smaller markets. I guess you could argue that Portland is but not Seattle and Vancouver.

    link to arbitron.com

    To segue briefly into basketball, this struck me as idiotic by the new Sonic ownership group. They moved the Sonics from the 13th largest market to the 48th…and they want to have a profitable business?

  93. sammysounder says:

    I just want to clear up that there’s a difference between the size of a city and it’s market for soccer.

    1,000,000 people who don’t care about soccer is a smaller market than 500,000 who do.

  94. jkmass says:

    For the most part i believe the expansion was a smart idea for the MLS if the league wants to gain interest. Altough i truly think that if the MLS wants to expand going to Canada and St. Louis is the smartest idea for the next round of expansion in 2012. St Louis Soccer United and the Montreal Impact…maybe?