I started following American soccer in 2003 as an eleven-year-old. In middle school, I stumbled upon the old Major League Soccer website, mlsnet.com. At the time, I barely knew professional soccer existed in the United States, but that day I randomly decided to support the Los Angeles Galaxy. Why? I liked the name and the logo. Nothing connected me to Los Angeles; I have never traveled to California, let alone any farther west than Oklahoma. Two years ago, I started writing about the Galaxy for CaliSports News and published Op-Eds about issues with the US Open Cup.[i]
I no longer solely support the LA Galaxy, but let me clarify—in no respect do I support the philosophies of Major League Soccer as a whole; I only support the players, coaches, and fans. I also cheer for North Carolina FC, my hometown club (proud fan for over a decade), in NASL and the Atlanta Silverbacks in the NPSL.
What made me join American Soccer United? I have numerous reasons:
As a sports historian, I want the American soccer community to know the true history of the sport in the United States—from the 1860s to the present with both amateur and professional.
As a social activist, I want reform in American soccer to fix many of the issues surrounding the sport in the United States.
As a feminist, I want gender equality and equity for male and female players, which means equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal support.
As a member of the LGBT community, I want equality for players of all sexual orientations (gay, straight, transgender/transsexual, bisexual, asexual, queer, etc.). We should look at their skill and playing merit, not their sexuality.
As an American soccer fan, I want US Soccer’s main focus to be development and not league favoritism. Too much conflict of interest between US Soccer and Major League Soccer exists for the media to not question it.
As a fan, I want the sports media to question and keep US Soccer, MLS, NASL, USL, NPSL, and all of the other soccer organizations in check to make sure they have the right motivations—improving soccer for all. They, along with fans, must hold these organizations accountable.
Like former president Barack Obama said in his final press conference regarding the American press, “You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics. You’re supposed to ask me tough questions. You’re not supposed to be complimentary. You are supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure we are accountable to the people who sent us here.”[ii]
Fox Soccer and ESPNFC do not contain MLS in their names for a reason—they cover (or at least should) soccer at all levels in the United States; both amateur and professional, mainstream and regional. We need a platform that accurately reports about all levels of soccer in the United States and provides critical scrutiny of US Soccer and the other organizations. We, fans, deserve it.
We need to stop Americanizing the global game. We need transparency. We need US Soccer to refocus its priorities. We need to improve American soccer so one day we might see the USMNT hoist the FIFA World Cup Trophy just as the USWNT achieved three times—1991, 1999, and 2015.
Above all, we need to unite the American soccer community. We must not allow league divisions to separate us. Nor must we allow gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality or the media to separate us. Whether you support promotion and relegation, equal pay for female players, or the pay to play issue (etc.), we all have something in the American soccer community we want to change. We all also have something that promotes cohesion within us—a love of soccer, a desire to improve the sport in the United States, and a desire to see the USMNT join the USWNT as World Cup Champions.
Without the full force of the American soccer community behind reform, we cannot achieve these desires. As a collective movement, we can, but we need you whether you like MLS, NASL, USL, NPSL, the USWNT, the USMNT, NWSL, or any of the other leagues.
I witnessed the divisions created by the promotion and relegation discussion, and I witnessed the divisions created by which league fans support. American Soccer United wants to overcome these divisions and craft a successful movement to improve the sport nationwide.
Read the American Soccer United call for change: http://ussfreform.com/a-call-for-change-in-the-ussf/ and consider joining the movement. If you want to contribute written pieces like these email AmericanSoccerUnited@gmail.com.
[i] I also wrote, “Soccer Manifesto: Let’s Bring Change to MLS.” Here is a link to all of my articles at CaliSports News: http://www.calisportsnews.com/author/csnpatricksalkeld2015/.
[ii] Brooke Seipel, “Obama to Press: Having You Here Keeps Us Honest,” The Hill, January 18, 2017, http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/314868-obama-on-the-press-america-needs-you.