Have you found yourself watching MLS games in a totally different light than in years past?
In 1996 I began following D.C. United and my brother picked up the Tampa Bay Mutiny as his side to support. Road trips to the “sombrero” to see Cobi Jones and the Galaxy face the Mutiny while road trips to RFK to see Balboa’s Rapids play United dominated the early days of MLS soccer for my family.
As the league grew it was fun to see new teams like Chicago and Seattle enter the league. Later additions like Montreal and Portland really grew the supporter’s culture and has made the league wide-open and full of parity and excitement.
Up until this year it was road trips like I described earlier or U.S. Open Cup matches at USL sites providing the only way I could see the MLS product in person. Seeing games on TV like Toronto and their atomic ant Giovinco go into Yankee Stadium and play thrilling 4-4 draws on the “stick of gum” NYCFC pitch (baseball field) was fun for a neutral MLS soccer fan to see.
But now with a hometown MLS team to support I have now found myself watching games with a totally different set of lenses in my glasses. I am now rooting for western division teams even more and I have really grown to despise more and more eastern division sides (Red Bulls, Revolution, and Union sides have always been the enemy to me).
I am feeling a “home-team” affect with every game played and I now look at how ALL the MLS games have some meaning for the five stripes. In years past I could really enjoy a Crew-Fire match as a neutral viewer but now I am finding myself taking sides in every game, every weekend. Watching NYCFC play Orlando last weekend I see the next opponent for Atlanta up 2-0 and what should prove to be one of our fiercest rivals OCSC down 0-2….and I wanted both of them to lose. David Villa looks strong and we owe him and NYCFC some payback for the loss they handed us a couple weeks ago in the Bronx. Orlando is going to be a great regional foe and Cyle Larin is going to be a handful to defend.
I wonder if you are feeling the same way watching MLS games around the league in a different light this season? It’s personal now with ATLUTD in the mix and I am enjoying the games even more and more this season as every result, goal, injury, signing, and rumor has some meaning for the good guys in red and black stripes.
I’m done being a MLS neutral…I’m all in on the Five Stripes.