Usually I like to wait until dirt is actually shifted before celebrating, but DC United sure seems pleased with yesterday's vote, so that's good enough for me. This might be the most important MLS story of the year, and yeah, I'm aware of all the people who have announced retirements. DC United's ownership has come through in one of the most difficult political environments in the country, and delivered for one of the league's strongest fanbases. Losing or moving DC United would have been a far bigger black eye to the league than Chivas USA ever was, or however many years NYCFC shares Yankee Stadium. It's too important, too well-supported, to lose without a serious loss of confidence in MLS. That won't happen now - DC fans will have a team for the next twenty years.
Speaking of which, it is nice to finally have proof that NYCFC did not come at the cost of more established teams' needs. A soccer-specific stadium for New England would frankly be extra credit at this point, since - and I'm confident of the thickness of this particular limb upon which I am climbing - the Krafts, rather than the commissioner, seem to be the reason why such a thing has not already been built.
It's worth taking a breath and seeing how far the league has come, as far as infrastructure. Here is the league and stadium list from 1996:
Burn: Cotton Bowl
Rapids: Mile High Stadium
Wiz: Arrowhead Stadium
Galaxy: Rose Bowl
Clash: Spartan Stadium
Metrostars: Jimmy Hoffa Memorial Stadium
Revolution: New England Patriots Owner Name Here Stadium
Crew: The Ohio Stadium
Mutiny: Christ if I remember. The Buccaneers' stadium? Yeah, it must have been - it wasn't the baseball dome, that's for sure. Did they fire the cannons for goals? I forget
And, of course, DC United: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Raccoon Sanctuary
Forget literally every other team that has joined the league since then, and forget that out of those teams only two aren't or weren't the primary tenants in their primarily soccer stadiums. Even if you were charting the league through these teams only, we'd have one team folded, SEVEN stadiums built, with one certainly and another maybe on the way.
Compare with the list of stadiums the NASL built in the 1970's:
This is the kind of success that makes people doubt the league is in such financial peril that it's losing 100 million dounts per annum. But that's a different topic.
It's about the time of year we all come up with annual retrospectives and stories of the year and so forth. I haven't even begun my obligatory Landon Donovan entry that literally no one needs or is asking for. Donovan and Thierry Henry will be huge losses, but what a team does after their figurehead leaves is more interesting to me - that's what shows the strength and direction of an organization.
But not as much as the focus and dedication needed to see a freaking stadium to fruition. Who the Galaxy and Red Bull pay to play is simply not as important.
The World Cup? Yeah, I guess one of those happened. They'll have another one soon enough. Hell, they're having one next year. This was saving a twenty-year old team that, frankly, was not going to be replaced any time soon if it left. This was the American soccer story of the year. If MLS can build a stadium in the District of Columbia, they can build one anywhere.
Oh...well, almost anywhere. I keep forgetting Miami is still a thing.
Wait, I've got it. David Beckham should start an MLS franchise in Havana.