Since moving back to the UAE, I had been asked this one question, quite a few times. One, in all similarities, was also asked during the brief time I spent in South East Asia. The question being can you explain the scope of football in the US? Should be a simple one to tackle from the sound of it, but wasn’t.
Now, I am no expert in US football, as my knowledge is limited but I believe there are quite a few notable people out there who could do a better job. If I had to recommend one, it would beIves Galarcep.
I would normally start off with, ok; firstly, it’s not called football. The sport is referred to as soccer out there. And then, I would get some laughs and the topic would unfortunately move onto how hypocritical the country is.
Having spent 8 long and exciting years in the US, I had always been amazed on the cumulative growth of the sport across the country. But this is my brief but important explanation to those interested in gaining some knowledge on the league or Major League Soccer as it is known:
Since the league was established in 1993, the number of teams participating has significantly grown from 10 – 18 currently (with two being from Canada). Notable growth for a league that just came into being 17 years ago.
Unlike the rest of the footballing fraternity, the season in the US runs from March to October. Do I personally have an opinion on this? Yes, but will explain it at a later stage.
The 18 teams are currently divided between Eastern and Western hemispheres of the country. Fairly similar to all the other sport leagues in the country. I believe it was originally done keeping the cost of travel in mind. It wouldn’t be cost effective and sportingly possible for teams to travel either ends of the country considering the massive size of the nation. Teams still travel to the other conference but play mostly within their own. I do not envision that changing anytime soon either. How the hell does football match ups in Australia take place? Something to ponder over.
Also existing is a salary cap. A post written on it earlier can briefly enlighten you on how it works.
Other than that, its all the same, they still play with a round ball, have defenders that can run through you like a bull on heat, have creative midfielders that could split open defenses and have attackers that can annoy the crap out of a defender.
The league had paved the way for the emigration of top MLS raised products (athletes) to countries all across Europe. The few that one could familiarize themselves would be the all time great and one of my favorite American footballers, Brian McBride, followed by Clint Dempsey, Freddy Adu (although he turned out to be a flop), Landon Donovan (moving back and forth though) and most recently, Jozy Altidore (a player I had always adorned for his athleticism and perseverance). These are just a few among a lot.
The noteworthy rise of the league has also given way to movement of high profile players from other parts of the world. Players like Carlos Blanco, Valderama, Juan Pablo Angel, David Beckham, Freddie Ljungberg and most recently Thierry Henry & Rafa Marquez, have or are presently plying their trades in the country.
In the end, as an individual who has had the opportunity of playing college football in the US, I can proudly say that do not take the American’s lightly. They are as much talented as anyone who’s involved in the sport and they could only get better from here on. Please keep that in mind.
Now who is paying for my Mint hubbly bubbly?