MLS Has Become a Frustrating Place For Fans

Supporters vent as struggling clubs try to move off the bottom
by Ray Marcham   |   Friday, May 29, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

Just a third of the way into the MLS season, there’s already concern with several clubs around the league.

The concerns can drive a supporter base a bit crazy. Make them a tad grumpy. Turn the pressure up on coaches, front office staff and ownership. Check out social media, and the frustrations are reaching a fever pitch.

A few clubs are doing worse than expected, but maybe those expectations were too high. For example, New York City FC hasn’t won a match since mid-March, or just before David Villa got his first hamstring injury of the season. The arrival of Frank Lampard should help the offense, but it’ll take more than Manchester City’s best player to push NYCFC into the playoff race.

There’s been plenty of frustration in Philadelphia, as the Union only won one of their first 11 matches. There was even a protest outside of PPL Park a couple of weeks ago, showing the dismay towards the club. But Philly has won two in a row, including an impressive win last week over the Red Bulls in New Jersey. Whether the Union have turned a corner will be known soon enough.

You want grumpy? Checkout a Portland Timbers social media timeline. Supporters in Portland are getting close to the fever pitch of frustration that was reached in 2012, and once again general manager Gavin Wilkinson is the focus of many complaints. But the honeymoon is long over now for Caleb Porter, as there’s a concern that maybe he was a one season wonder. Yes, Diego Valeri is injured again and Will Johnson is coming back from his broken leg, but the offense is struggling (again), and the improved defense can only do so much. The Timbers also have almost no chance of winning the Cascadia Cup, making matters even worse. There is no pity in the Rose City, and the Portland front office is hearing it. The question is, are they listening?

Very grumpy? That would be Toronto FC fans, and a big chunk of it has nothing to do with soccer. The decision to let the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts move into BMO Field in 2016 has made many of TFC’s supporters beyond mad at MLSE, the company that owns the Reds and manages the stadium. Outgoing MLSE President Tim Leiweke had a number of fans challenge him about the decision to allow the Argos to play in BMO Field, and a “Day of Mourning” was held in protest last Saturday during TFC’s 1-0 win over Portland, with numerous fans wearing black. Things aren’t calm in TO right now.

How about…bewildered? Then Montréal, where it took the Impact until after their CONCACAF Champions League final run to win a league match, might fit that. But with the CCL now a memory, maybe things will get better in Quebec, especially since Montréal have played just seven MLS matches this season. But they have won two straight in MLS and qualified once again for the Canadian Championship final. Let’s hold off on them for a bit.

That feeling like things are just…stagnant? One wonders if Chicago is feeling that now. The Fire have had a streaky season, going from losing three in a row to winning three in a row to now being winless in their last four. While they have drawn their last two, there have been times when Chicago has looked fairly bad. But Mike Magee is coming back, and that might give them a spark. And since the Fire have played fewer games than anyone outside of the Impact, there’s time to get back into a groove. Besides, they are in MLS East, so they, along with everyone else, still have a playoff shot.

Colorado? They finally got their second win last weekend when they defeated Vancouver, but it still has been a long, long season already for the Rapids. They emphatically ended their scoreless streak in their win at Dallas, but offense is still a concern. Maybe the one positive for the season is that Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will host Tottenham in the MLS All-Star Game. Another? MLS West is so tight, they can still move up quickly with a couple of wins.

Orlando City? That’s a club frustrated with itself. So many missed chances have taken away points for the Florida side, but the frustration might be limited to those on the field. But Kaká has been what the Lions have hoped, and it hasn’t been so bad that it’s a lost cause. Besides, they’re in the playoff race. And it can get better.

Whether fans in Portland, New York, Toronto, Colorado or Chicago, there is already a fair amount of frustration to go around. Whether it’s a bad team, one that’s not performing to expectations or decisions made by the front office, it will bubble to the surface very quickly. If you read Twitter or Facebook, you know how that works.

Of course, it could all be worse. You could be Chivas USA fan, having their club yanked away after last season and having to wait an extra year for Los Angeles FC to build their stadium by the Coliseum.

That’s frustration.  

Ray MARCHAM

Nationality:
USA
College:
Washington State
Club Domestic:
Portland Timbers
Club Foreign:
Arsenal
Cascadia native and a fan for as long as he can remember, Ray was brought up on the old NASL. Learned to love MLS. Wanted to play like Clive Charles. Then like Tony Adams. Only dreams, of course.
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