It was announced Wednesday night during the MLS All Star game that MLS wants to expand to 24 teams by 2020. Of course one of those teams is going to be Beckham’s team in Miami; Don Garber also announced he had spoken to prospects from Orlando, Detroit and Sacramento. He said, “The strength, passion and vision of the MLS ownership group is the foundation behind the success of our league. We look forward to adding new partners with the same commitment to the sport and love of the game. As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.”
Before I dive into my logic, don’t get me wrong on one thing. It’s awesome that the league has grown so much over the past couple of years, in no way am I hating on any of that. I just think it’s time for the league to put a team in a place where there’s a potential for something awesome. Now for the logic running through my head! Here’s where I get stumped. If the league is all about “expanding” GEOGRAPHICALLY, why isn’t there any interest in the Southern states? I get that there’s judgment that people in the South aren’t huge soccer fans but hello, North Carolina is prime real estate for a MLS team. Here’s a couple reasons why.
-UNC is a overflowing with young talent and many have gone to the MLS superdraft. Back in 2011, five UNC players were drafted and since then a steady flow of players have made it to some level of pro soccer; whether it be USL, NASL or MLS.
-NC teams are dominating USL play with the Charlotte Eagles and Wilmington Hammerheads. Both teams have had pretty successful season as of late. Back in 2012 Charlotte had a great run in the USL. Their attendance might be scarce but remember, people said that the Charlotte Hornets would never make it and they led the NBA in attendance for over 10 years….
-NC is one of the top states in youth soccer associations. Everyone knows that youth soccer is a gigantic stepping stone in a kid’s life when it comes to sports. NC has one of the best programs in the US and offers a wide range of camps/leagues. My point is that homegrown players and academy’s are awesome in MLS. In NC you already have a huge interest in youth soccer, why not take advantage of it?
-Now lets talk about the Carolina Railhawks, a big part of soccer in NC. The Railhawks have sent 12 people to MLS; some players, and some coaches. Why not add a MLS team or convert the Railhawks into a MLS team?! It makes perfect sense; it would be a hassle but would totally be worth it. I get that it takes a lot of money to even be on the radar for a team, and it takes a lot of fan power too. You can argue all you want about the fan base; Railhawks games are sold out every time they play, they have played LA Galaxy twice in the past year and won both times (I was there and it was crazy). The fans are as excited, if not more, about their teams as if they were watching MLS stars play. So don’t tell me there isn’t a fan base for soccer or even enough prospect for there to be a MLS team in NC … because there sure as heck is.
Here’s my finally statement; we have awesome BBQ, beaches, mountains, sweet tea, and our accents are to die for. So come on Don, look at us Southerners and our love for soccer… I’m pretty sure you’ll love it here!