Nov 2, 2012, 3:35 PM EDT
Assuming the unthinkable doesn’t darken our world, or somehow trouble our soccer world, Major League Soccer will return for its 18th season next year.
And that will be something of a milestone to celebrate.
I had not thought of this before, and recently needed Marc Stein, the co-host of our Soccer Today weekly radio show and podcast, to point out that reaching season No. 18 represented a fairly significant if slightly obscure milepost. Why?
Because the previous incarnation of top tier American soccer, the ill-fated and probably “before its time” North American Soccer League reached only 17 seasons.
I suppose you could quibble that top-tier professional soccer lasted 18 seasons here previously, before the NASL shuttered for good in 1984. That’s because two competing organizations operated in 1967; they merged in 1968 to form the North American Soccer League. The NASL’s rise and fall – it dwindled to a paltry nine teams for that final, bleak campaign – was told over 17 seasons.
That league was clearly, fatally flawed. Sometimes it got pretty ridiculous. But it was glorious in some ways, and it beat the trail for so much that would follow. At some point, all those fantastic crowds in Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia and elsewhere, every splendid free kick off David Beckham’s right boot, every single MLS memory ever made for any living soul, all of it, owes the debt to NASL and its architects.
That’s why when so many people of a certain age think back on the old NASL, they remember the romance of it all rather than the chalk marks, pockmarks and the outright disaster zones it sometimes left behind.
There’s plenty of information available on the old NASL and everyone’s favorite bellwether, the Cosmos. It’s all out there on the answer webs; go ye and discover.
But as the 17th MLS playoff season reaches full speed, with MLS franchise No. 20 inching nearer every day, know this:
Major League Soccer has already accomplished so very much – and now it’s got an extra link of solid history on an increasingly durable chain.
Jul 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT
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Jul 22, 2014, 8:51 AM EDT
James is officially a Real Madrid player.
Jul 22, 2014, 8:42 AM EDT
Douglas Costa: “We all run a deadly risk if we are in the region.”
Jul 22, 2014, 7:49 AM EDT
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Jul 22, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT
23-year-old will complete his $107 million move and be introduced at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:09 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT
Honduran midfielder will miss six to eight months.
Jul 21, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT
Group is pushing for a $160-$200 million venue, claiming to be on MLS’s “short list.”
Jul 21, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT
The 17-year-old potential U.S. international played along side Aaron Ramsey and About Diaby on Saturday.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:32 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Those in New Jersey and Portland could see a whole lot of Julian Green in the next couple weeks.
Jul 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Relive five of Stevie G’s best goals over his 14-year England career.
Jul 21, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
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Jul 21, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
What makes an MLS franchise great? Who is the greatest? Is there a right or wrong answer?
Jul 21, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT
Former World Cup winning captain to be handed the reins for second time in four years.
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