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My Two Cents

My Two Cents

October 18, 2013
Oh, the hypocrisy of it All

Will Smith is a long-time Red Bulls who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

By Will Smith
Specia to

Recall, if you will, the early days of Major League Soccer.

Think back to clocks that wound down, shootouts, player allocations, ethnic marketing, extreme parity, football stadiums, artificial turf and Charlie Stillitano's mustache. Some of us, myself included, said, "Ok, it's not perfect, but it's ours and I'll support it." Others said, "No, this is not acceptable. We need to be more like the European leagues! Or even the South American leagues! "

As time went on, MLS did become more like the European leagues. The arrival of Don Garber brought the end of shootouts, the upward ticking of time and ethnic pandering. Soccer-specific stadiums were built and even Charlie Stillitano shaved his mustache.

Still, the fans wanted more. "Relegation and promotion!" they cried. " Rid us of the salary cap!" they wept. The league heard their wails and loosened the purse strings by allowing for Designated Player signings and developmental players." Alas, the fans wanted more still. "We need to be more like the rest of the world! We are purists! We need proper football culture!"

However, time has shown some of these so-called purists to be hypocrites who cry into their warm beer and retreat to their mothers' basements when they are confronted with what they say they wanted.

Take a look at the reaction to the second division North American Soccer League and its league-leading New York Cosmos.

For years, American soccer fans have decried the salary cap and begged for its abolition. Now that the well-financed Cosmos have put together a formidable team in a cap-free, albeit second division league, a review of last weekend's soccer columns and blogs would seem to indicate that this is the beginning of the apocalypse. There is talk of the Cosmos "ruining" the NASL by "dominating" the league through "overspending." People are even reviving that old myth that the Cosmos were responsible for the demise of the old NASL, which is patently untrue, by the way.
While the old Cosmos certainly had their economic shortcomings, the truth is that the league went under by virtue of over-expanding too rapidly into markets lacked sufficient interest. Tulsa, anyone? Team Hawaii?

Yes, the chicken littles who once called for the end of the salary cap are now claiming that the Cosmos will destroy second division soccer in this country with their “free spending ways.” Mind you, these are the same people who dreamily watch the Spanish La Liga on television, ignoring the fact that the only two teams with any chance of winning the championship are deep-pocketed Barcelona and Real Madrid. Hypocrites!

As for the “we must get rid of the playoffs” crowd, it’s interesting to note how much they complain, online, about the NASL’s split season championships, which are very much in the vein of the Argentine league.

It also is interesting to note how fans of teams like New England and Chicago are all for the playoffs when their teams are the ones fighting for the last available spot. I imagine that these are the same fans who, after years of whining and moaning about how MLS should be “more like the rest of the soccer world” and have “promotion/relegation”, will be weeping the loudest when it finally arrives and it’s their team that gets relegated. These are the same fans who say they want the game to grow, but complain when a family of five sits in front of the them at the game and doesn’t know all the chants, most of which are deeply juvenile and painfully uncreative anyway.

I’m delighted to have MLS and I’m equally delighted that the NASL is growing into a strong second division. I think that MLS has made tremendous strides in its 18-year history and I firmly believe that US soccer’s best years are ahead of it.

Now if we only get the hypocritical “purists” to pipe down a little, we’ll all enjoy ourselves a lot more.

"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
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