Hey, don't get me wrong. With everyone eating Credit Crunchberries for breakfast these days, I'm happy anyone decides to invest hard-earned money in Soccer United Marketing's on-field arm. I haven't heard any follow-up on whose feet have gotten cold in the past weeks, but come to think of it, names like Anschutz and Hunt haven't been crowding the headlines alongside Redstone and Ford, so maybe our evil overlords actually have their ducks in a row, and MLS is actually a good investment.
And unlike certain big-club spinoffs currently loitering in the league, the plan here is to serve a vacant market. A market whose fans briefly held the Supporters Shield hostage back in 2002, but nevertheless an available market. If it's not necessarily cool to mock a team name of a team you don't support, it's still less cool to come out against fans having a team to cheer for at all. "Barcelona USA" offends my refined sensibilities, but I ain't the target market.
The Chivas USA precedent argues that non-Barcelona fans might be alienated by the team name, but really, how many fanatical Spanish monarchists could there possibly be in the Miami area?
But yet...this feels wrong.
That's irrational, since Barcelona FC and their MLS subsidiary would be in the same business only in the most tangential of ways - they won't seriously be competing for the same players to sign, let alone competing in the same tournaments. And as far as the main club overshadowing the MLS team in the eyes of its owners, well, if that's the standard, we have a lot more to worry about from the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Oakland A's and Colorado Avalanche. (I'd add the Los Angeles Kings, but, AEG is running them in a very Galaxyesque way, so you can't say they're really hurting AEG's attention to MLS.)
If Chivas USA had turned out to be a rip-roaring success, I might feel differently. But maybe not - soccer in the United States does have a history of importing the names and reputations of big internationals, and the result was Not A Successful League.
Assuming this gets anywhere. Odds are Barcelona USA will be in the same conference in 2010 as the teams in Cleveland and San Antonio.