Kicking the Traveling US Circus in the Shins

There is an interesting proposal over at The Shin Guardian about having the US National Soccer team pick a particular city as its “home base” for an extended period, market it heavily and build a true home-field advantage.   In many ways, it is a compelling argument that I recommend you check out . . . but I think there is one area that may have been missed.

The blog mentions Having the USMNT come to your town may generate some buzz, but is not a great strategy, especially if it is to the detriment of the support of the team on the field.”  But the “buzz” I think is being addressed there is that of having a soccer game somewhere that’s out of the norm (like testing a new potential MLS market), but there’s another kind of buzz that I think is important.   It’s the buzz that an international match brings with it for the fan in attendance.   For me, it is unlike the atmosphere available in MLS games (with perhaps a few exceptions led by Seattle or Toronto) and is energizing for a first-time or long-time fan alike.   There is something altogether different about rooting for the US and feeling that country v. country tension that is created which plants a unique seed of interest in the sport.

So while I think there’s merit in what’s being proposed . . . I think international matches bring a better chance of capturing a new fan and growing the sport in a new market than any professional exhibition.  I wonder how many MLS fans started as US fans some years ago?


3 thoughts on “Kicking the Traveling US Circus in the Shins

  1. Bob, thanks for commenting on / linking to our post. I agree that attending a game can create a fan for life due to the thrill of supporting your country. However, I think that doing that a couple thousand fans at a time is a limiting strategy, especially if it precludes more rabid support for the Yanks.

    One of the reasons why I think Denver could be a good option is that it is a “destination city” that people would want to visit outside of the USMNT game. Houston doesn’t have the same appeal, LA has the beaches and Hollywood, NYC is NYC, but there are a host of other cities that are geographically or entertainment deficient in drawing a traveling crowd.


  2. I can understand having a “home base” for the USMNT, but that would not be beneficial for soccer in the US as a whole. As you pointed out, it does create a bit of a buzz wherever the team plays. Whether a game is played in a city with an MLS team that generates fans (Seattle), in a city that doesn’t (Foxboro), or a city that doesn’t have a professional soccer team yet (Philly), the USMNT brings supporters ALL THE TIME. To keep it the way it is allows all American’s to feel like they are the home crowd.

    We’ve seen crowds of people coming out to see some of the top teams in Europe play this summer. Meaning there are soccer fans in this country, just not MLS fans. Giving them the chance to see the USMNT will continue to help soccer in the US grow.

  3. Pingback: Soccer in American: Creating Soccertown, USA (Part 2) « The Shin Guardian

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