Music City Mediocrity from US Soccer

I simply hate that US Soccer has given the Trinidad qualifier to Nashville. The stadium is far too large (69k) and this reeks of yet another misguided attempt to grow the game in the deep south. If they manage to draw over 15,000, I’ll be absolutely stunned.

I am so sick of both MLS and US Soccer trying in vain to grow the sport in places like Tennessee and Alabama by playing qualifiers there or God forbid, putting expansion teams there. I guarantee you, no matter how hard we try, soccer will never approach anywhere near the mainstream acceptance in the deep south that it already has elsewhere like the Northeast, California, and Chicago just to name some.

I should say that I don’t include Texas (behaves like its own republic), Florida (behaves like its own banana republic), or North Carolina (Northern and Latino interlopers changing face of the state enormously quickly) in this rant. If this match were in Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, or Charlotte, I’d be perfectly fine with it.

Maybe US Soccer wants to put matches closer to the big market of Atlanta. That is a sensible enough thought, but if Atlanta really cared that much about soccer, than one of its stadiums such as the Georgia Dome, Bobby Dodd Stadium or Sanford Stadium would make the changes necessary to host the occasional soccer match there. The fact that there isn’t an acceptable place to play in Atlanta is an indication that the interest simply isn’t there.

And before you go screaming off about how I am saying that “soccer cannot work in ‘red states’ because they’re all ignorant hillbillies,” let me remind you of some places where I really want to see US matches (qualifiers or friendlies).

  • Salt Lake – If they don’t host a qualifier in the Hex, Sunil should have his head examined
  • St. Louis – Not yet ready for an MLS team , but I suspect they’d get pretty excited for a single match maybe in a temporarily grass-covered EJ Dome.
  • Omaha – They have a new, spotless 6,000-seat soccer stadium at Creighton that, with some added bleachers, would be a great venue for a friendly.

There are plenty of real growth markets out there for US Soccer to explore by placing friendlies or other USMNT matches. I still do not think the south is one of them. Are there passionate soccer fans in the south? Sure, but there aren’t nearly enough of them to deserve one of US Soccer’s most important matches.

Southern soccer fans, feel free to flame away.

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9 thoughts on “Music City Mediocrity from US Soccer

  1. FWIW, Omaha went for Obama in the last election (Nebraska awards its congressional district electoral votes independently). Not that that takes away from your larger point. Which is, I think, we should be putting WCQ where there is actually interest in them. These are important games, not freaking promotional exhibitions.

  2. I’ll only comment to point out that the last two WCQs held in Alabama were pretty good crowd draws, at or north of 30K. Other than that I agree that USSF needs to concentrate on more soccer-friendly venues where a crowd of 30,000 fills the place up instead of being a less than half the capacity of the stadium.

  3. I simply hate that having your post show up on the front page of this site adds any credibility to your trollish little rant.

    Move along please.

  4. Just for the record, I agree with every point of your rant.

    Especially that the USSF is putting such a small game in Nashville. I know we’re trying to stay away from 50/50 crowds with Central American teams, but we could have put someone like Costa Rica, which doesn’t have billions of away fans, but would still draw more overall, in Nashville.

    El Salvador would have been perfect for DC or New England, either in Hartford (close to NY, Boston, and the rest of NE as well) or Foxboro (not so hot on this one, but obviously the Revs play there and it has hosted US games many times before). I was at the 2007 Gold Cup at Gillette Stadium (U.S. vs El Salvador; Guatemala vs T + T at night), and there couldn’t have been more than a thousand El Salvadorian fans. If played in Hartford, at a 43,000-seat stadium that is likely to sell out because of its proximity to everything, I think this game would work great.

    Honduras needs to go to SLC, where the tickets are controlled and there is not a large immigrant population, nor is there a high likelihood of many Honduran fans traveling.

    For T + T, I think that Chicago’s obvously out since they just played T + T there. And you know what? Only 11,000 showed up. So screw you, Chicago, I’m putting this game in Seattle. 19k+ season tix for a team that has not yet played? SOLD. I’d either have this game in Seattle or DC, but since DC already got Cuba, I’m thinking maybe DC should get a U.S. Gold Cup game, instead.

    Back to the original point, I think they might have had something with Nashville, but put a real crappy game there.

  5. So you don’t hate Reuplicans, you just hate the southern republicans. Got it.

    FWIW, the Morocco friendly in 2006, on a Tuesday, which was promoted by the USSF (as opposed to the Olympic Qualifiers, which were promoted by CONCACAF) drew 26,141 while the 2005 Hex match in Birmingham drew 31,465.

  6. DC are has a huge Salvadorian population and would be a terrible venue for a US-El Salvador WCQ – just as it was for Honduras during 2002 qualifying!

  7. Tenn isn’t the “deep south”, its technically a border state to the northen half of the country according to US history. If anything Tenn is one of the most northen states in the South, so at best it could be considered an “upper southern state”.

    Nashville is also a large city (by southern standards) and has the potential to draw a crowd, not that it will but the potential is there. Also, I’m sure that money has something to do with it, US Soccer didn’t just randomly decide to have a qualifier in Nashville, there was most-likely some incentive behind the devision from one party or another for one reason or another.

  8. As stated previously, matches in the South (Birmingham, Nashville) have done well, and having attended both, it was a great atmosphere. Nashville and surounding areas have huge youth soccer programs, and even here in the hills of East Tennesse, soccer has quite a following. I have already got a group of 15+ rounded up for the match and we are getting the word out to anyone who will listen. So get off your high horse about who “deserves” the match. This is America’s Team, and all of us who have supported the boys throughout the years deserve to attend a match without driving 8 hours, or flying cross country. I am so tired of the soccer elitism that exists, that only certain geographic areas are worthy of receiving grace from the soccer gods. What a bunch of crap. So just give it a rest, and how about spending your time promoting the game for EVERYONE, instead pontificating on how unworthy everyone else is

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