There was a good turnout for the Mexico-Colombia match on Wednesday at DSG Park in Colorado. Mexico brought a team full of relative nobodies but the fans still came out to watch El Tri.
As I was watching the match (which was pretty dull to be honest), I wondered if people would question why more of the fans who showed up for the game don't go out and support the Rapids. It seems like a logical question. After all, if you like soccer then you should support your local soccer club, right?
Well, it's not quite as straightforward as that. I'll try to put it in a way that might help some people understand why fans will come out for one soccer game but not another.
I like baseball. The Dodgers are my team, though they're not doing that great right now. One minute they're fighting for first and the next they're seven games back of the Snakes. Still, I'll bleed Dodger Blue 'til the day I die.
In 2002, I had the opportunity to go to Japan for the World Cup. I flew into Tokyo and caught a train to Yokohama, where I stayed that night. I was pooped when I got to my hotel, the New Otani Inn (as an aside, I didn't have a great time in Japan so I literally shuddered when I typed in that hotel name).
I got into my cramped room and let myself fall on the bed; I was pooped. Soon after, I picked up the remote and turned on the television. I wasn't quite ready for sleep. I came across an old Western movie, where the bad guy was russlin' up some trouble. It was in English with Japanese subtitles as opposed to all the rest of the channels which spewed unintelligible gibberish at me, so it appealed to me.
I changed the channel again and came across a baseball game. It seems the Yokohama Bay Stars were playing a home game and I was lucky enough to stumble across it. Now, I like baseball and was hard up for watching something so I left it on the game. But it took about three pitches for me to lose interest. I changed it back to the Western, and the sheriff was now chasing the bad guy out of town.
Even though I like baseball, the Bay Stars weren't doing it for me. I've since thought about that and wondered if I were to live in Japan would I follow the Japanese baseball league? Would I latch on as a Bay Stars fan or perhaps follow the Nippon Ham Fighters? I know I wouldn't follow the Yomiuri Giants; those guys are probably a bunch of, uh, losers. Probably I'd still be a Dodger fan. They'd remain my team and if I were to pick up a Japanese team it wouldn't replace the los doyers.
So why would I expect then for people who grew up following a team in Mexico or Argentina or England to suddenly follow the Galaxy or the Fire or FC Dallas simply because they live nearby those clubs?
Just as the Bay Stars didn't do it for me, MLS teams just don't do it for a lot of people. That's not a slight against the league. It's just what happens when people swear allegiances to soccer clubs.