The All-Encompassing Pro/Rel Thread on Soccer in the USA

Discussion in 'Soccer in the USA' started by bigredfutbol, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Growing up in rural Nebraska, there was no opportunity to play soccer. At all.

    Over a decade ago (maybe quite a bit longer, I'm actually not sure--my parents still live there but I moved away over 30 years ago), my hometown of around 4,000 people installed a soccer field and instituted a rec-league program for little kids.

    At the time, the local paper ran an editorial arguing against starting a club program for older kids. The argument was that while it was nice to have soccer for little kids, there wasn't enough genuine interest in the sport at the older age to justify the city supporting a travel team. The writer (the owner/editor of the local paper) pointed out there were two club options in neighboring towns, each only 10-15 miles away, for the handful of families who really wanted to do that.

    There was a whiff of condescension in his tone, but also a germ of truth. I'm not sure there was enough interest, talent, or experience to make a travel club team work back home years ago.

    Well, two or three years ago the High school added boys & girls soccer as school sports. Proper soccer fields have been set at the local park next to the softball & baseball complex. I suspect that quite a few of the kids who grew up playing in the rec league grew to really love the sport, and thanks to the internet and cable tv they were able to watch the pro game as well.

    Neither boys nor girls are exactly powerhouse teams yet, and I can't vouch for the level of play of HS soccer in small town Nebraska these days, but from what I've read in the hometown paper online both are getting more competitive and nobody seems to think it's all a mistake or a failed experiment. So now kids in my hometown can grow up playing competitive soccer AND watching it on TV.

    This is in a rural county of under 10,000 people, mind you.
     
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  2. HailtotheKing

    HailtotheKing Member+

    San Antonio FC
    Dec 1, 2008
    TEXAS
    Club:
    San Antonio Scorpions FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Even without them they were about 2x HOU's spending. 5.6m is all HOU spent TOTAL COMP. But yeah, the gameday 18's were pretty close. Looking into it, it's crazy to see that Elis is the highest paid at 650K and NOBODY else makes 500K or more (only two are above 400K and Manotas is under 300K). HOU has done a pretty damn good job in talent per 1$ spent.

    Observing your last five posts, based on your own criteria you need to remove yourself from this thread.

    Now, if I were moderating, it would only be a suggested forever because knowing you, you won't ponder and don't give a shit about being capable of contributing to this discussion in a positive way.

    Of course, if you treated you the same way you've treated everyone that doesn't share your opinion on the Pro/Rel for USA forum you have the privilege to post in you'd be BANNED FOR LIFE. That's more than just a tiny bit hypocritical.

    Have a day.
     
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  3. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There are those of us somewhere in-between.

    I prefer promotion and relegation but that the lack of such a system does not de-legitimize American soccer which is still at a very early stage in it's evolution. The fact is that the only way to get people to invest in American soccer is to give them a piece of the pie, rather than stand on their own two feet, to mix metaphors quite obscenely.

    And promotion and relegation isn't the romantic merit based system it was 40 years ago when kids would sign for a team at 14 or 15 years-old and still be there 20 years later. Even Moneyball Barnsley, based in one of the glummest places in the north of England, have managed to find billionaire investors.

    Outside of England and Germany pro-rel is even less relevant as the same yoyo teams get promoted or relegated every season, and we see leagues in Argentina and Mexico making rules specifically to prevent their biggest teams from being relegated.

    I do get pissed off when I see wealthy businessmen buying teams with no tradition and no fans and bankrolling them into the Football League for no other reason than to massage their own egos. Take a look at the worst supported teams in EFL and when they were promoted.

    2009 Burton Albion* 3,351
    2012 Fleetwood Town 3,164
    1999 Cheltenham Town 3,134
    2003 Yeovil Town** 2,952
    2017 Forest Green Rovers 2,775
    2010 Stevenage 2,714
    1997 Macclesfield Town 2,316
    2011 Crawley Town 2,290
    2007 Morecambe 2,033
    2006 Accrington Stanley 2,763
    * Decent Championship attendances were fuelled by away fans.
    **Bit of an exception as they can attract decent home attendances but the relegation battle took its toll.


    So after two decades in the EFL in some cases, these teams have not established themselves in terms of attendances. Factor in the state of some of their stadiums, which would fail to meet US high school regulations, and you wonder what benefit there is to the Football League of allowing promotion on merit alone.

    upload_2019-5-16_10-48-6.jpeg
    Morecambe
    upload_2019-5-16_10-43-57.jpeg
    Macclesfield
    upload_2019-5-16_10-45-11.jpeg
    Forest Green

    Of course they care about promotion. Hopefully they'll manage to get more than 11 points if they're in the Premier League next season.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Expansion Franchise

    Chattanooga FC
    United States
    Apr 7, 2018
    I agree!
     
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  5. CrazyJ628

    CrazyJ628 Member+

    Jul 16, 2007
    The center of the Earth
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    I'll give it a whirl. Strap in because this is going to be a long post.

    Before we move forward some points that are important:
    • USSF and FIFA are not going to impose it. Nor do they have the right to.
    • MLS, USL, NISA, NASL, MPALDHS+F or whatever league should be able to implement it or not depending on the will of their governing bodies
    • USSF will sanction any league that meets divisional criteria. They've said as much but the truthers ignore this.
    With that out of the way. I've often stated that USSF should have very little power and the best example for what the USSF should be is the NCAA. The NCAA sets rules for the game, it sets divisional criteria (that it doesn't enforce), and limits on things like scholarship numbers for FCS vs FBS. It also has academic and amateurism rules that aren't germane to the discussion. The point is that the NCAA is pretty hands off in most cases. The one thing they do really well is national championships. USSF should follow this example.

    So knowing that USSF and FIFA isn't going to impose pro/rel (nor should they) and that USSF will also grant sanction to any league that meets divisional criteria, how do we get to pro/rel? Simple, you leave it up to leagues.

    In college sports, if a school is looking to move up to D1 from D2, they typically need to be sponsored by a conference. This sometimes happens with one sport or then entire school's athletic department is sponsored. Johns Hopkins in B1G lacrosse is a good example of one sport being sponsored. We also have independents (BYU/Notre Dame) playing in football as well. Right now promotion is sort of handled this way. Since MLS is the only D1 league right now, each time they expand, they basically sponsor a new member. The same with USL at D2. So how do we do pro/rel?

    Throw MLS out. It ain't happening. Your only hope is another league meeting D1 criteria. USSF will sponsor a D1 USL (USL Premier). Let's say USL stops the bleeding, brings in owners who are willing to invest to D1 standards, and sets up a D1 league, they can then partner with several D2 leagues or the overall pool of D2 teams and promote and relegate within themselves.

    If individual teams like the Cosmos or Miami FC meet D1 criteria but don't want to join a league, let them play as independents. They'll have the USOC and friendlies to fill their schedule. They'll be irrelevant like BYU but at least they'll shut up about being locked out of D1.

    USSF will scrap the current USOC format and have a new format with an Open Cup at each level (D1 only, D2 only, etc). This will be the "national" championship and the winner of the D1 USOC will get an auto bid to CONCACAF Champions League. It's up to CONCACAF to figure out the rest.

    Like each individual conference in college sports, each league is basically on their own to figure out media rights, territorial rights, training and development. Sure, you'll have some haves and have-nots but you have that in college sports. Ohio State plays in the same division as Gardner Webb and they might even meet in the NCAA basketball tournament but no one realistically thinks OSU is going to lose to GWU on a regular basis.

    But what about SUM!!! The overblown boogeyman of the U$$F/ML$ conspiracy to hold down pro/rel? What of it? Again, look at the NCAA. ESPN holds the media rights for most NCAA championships and also hosts the SEC network. Is anyone claiming that the NCAA is protecting SEC baseball because of their combined deal with ESPN? Nope. If SUM/AEG/ESPN/IMG/Fox or anyone wants to buy media rights to multiple leagues and the USSF as a whole, go ahead. It honestly doesn't matter.

    TLDR:
    USSF isn't going to impose it. It should be up to the leagues to figure it out.
     
  6. owian

    owian Member+

    May 17, 2002
    San Diego
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've seen that there is now an argument over which side of the debate has the larger majority but I honestly think it's misplaced. I actually think most people are in the middle ground. Most people I have seen on the thread or talked to (not going to lie don't spend that much time talking to people about pro/rel in the US) seem to have similar views. Pro/Rel overall seems good, clearly works and in a perfect world would like to see it in MLS. Where the divide comes is how much risk are they willing to take in order to bring it in.

    Now there are some people who say damm the risk it's a "right". I do believe that is a very small but vocal minority. But I have also heard people trying to make the argument that pro/rel itself is dumb. Which makes even less sense.
     
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  7. Crawleybus

    Crawleybus Member+

    Oct 18, 2013
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    If football was all about attendances or history then you have a point but it isn't about either of those things, its about the actual game itself, you don't get points for being popular or because you won the cup in 1886, you get them for winning football matches. I don't think my home town (Crawley) has any less of a right being in the league than Notts County. I also don't think they are there just because of money (I don't think they are any 'richer' than any other club in League 2). They are there because of football results and that is the whole idea isn't it? Just because Bournemouth only get 11,000 fans at their home games should they not be allowed to play in the same league as Manchester United? Besides a clubs attendance will change depending on the success of the club, do you not think that Crawley Town would pull in rather more than 2,000 fans if they were in the Premier League? If Manchester United fell out of the Premier League for long enough even their support would start to 'wane', Charlton Athletic used to be able to pull 60,000 fans at one point in their history.
     
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  8. Crawleybus

    Crawleybus Member+

    Oct 18, 2013
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    They might, they might not, Man City, Wolves, Leicester, West Ham, Watford, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton, Brighton have all been promoted over recent seasons and they have all managed more than 11 points! On the 'flip side' Aston Villa finished 2nd during the first Premier League season (92-93), Norwich 3rd, Blackburn 4th, QPR 5th and Sheffield Wednesday 7th! All of which didn't play Premier League this season! Four of the top 6!
     
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  9. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Exactly.
     
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  10. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It was a flippant comment. It didn't deserve a ripost.
     
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  11. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There is no such thing as a "right" to be a member of a private organization.

    The only reason the Football League opened up in the first place was that it made business sense. It wasn't out of justice or human rights.

    I'm suggesting it may be time to review the business case, not to stop pro/rel altogether, but to take steps to ensure promoted teams are an asset to the league.

    We know teams in League Two are struggling financially. Wouldn't it make more sense to ensure that clubs entering the league will be an asset to the organization?

    If Burton, Macclesfield, Exeter and Carlisle made it to the Premier League at the expense of Southampton, Everton, Leicester and Crystal Palace, I think there would be a rethink.
     
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  12. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #20862 bigredfutbol, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    Co-sign.

    The dirty little secret about pro/rel--it's not that important.

    I like it and wish we lived in a place like England where the sport is so popular and deeply rooted that we would NEED pro/rel to accommodate all the clubs. But not having it is NOT a tragedy and I can enjoy soccer and support soccer just fine without it.
     
  13. USRufnex

    USRufnex Member+

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    #20863 USRufnex, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    But you did fail.
    Finding an exception to the rule doesn't disprove the rule.
    If anything, it proves that perhaps MLS should stop requiring billionaire ownership before any of their next new-car-smell expansion outlets come off the lot and kick a single ball.

    It looked to me that you implied it.
    Which is why I asked.

    I asked you a "yes" or "no" question because the person you refer to from Accrington Stanley had some really passionate critiques and ideas and long winded twitter rants about the state of the English game.

    So, the answer is, "no,"
    @andyhholt has not recommended England move towards a closed system.

    If anything, he's arguing that an English system flush with too much money and power at the top over the past 20+ years has too many non-soccer billionaires in it to function properly as a merit based pyramid.

    To me, that sounds alot like MLS these days, except they're losing a great deal of money and only recoup it by selling expansion outlets to the highest bidder.

    You and the anti-Pro/Rel tribe on BigSoccer routinely engage in rabbit hole arguments as justification for the status quo in MLS. I refuse to go down any of those rabbit holes anymore.

    Promotion (not necessarily the pursuit of it) drives income, if it didn't, nobody would be spending bigger sums of money on players in the Championship to crash the EPL party. These days, especially this season, I like watching Championship better than EPL.

    But yes, Relegation does drive expenditures. How much money do you spend to avoid it? If you are relegated to EFL League One or League Two, do you cut costs further, or do you regroup and try to win against weaker competition?

    In America, USL Pro was "promoted" as a league from D3 to D2 by a USSF with inherent conflict of interest problems. I believe to this day that up to half those teams did not even merit financial "promotion," let alone promotion based on "sporting merit," and are not worth anywhere near the $7mil the USL is trying to charge for an expansion spot in their closed-shop version of "The Championship."

    In my market, how much did Barry Williams have to pay to wrestle away majority ownership from Jeff and Dale Hubbard of the Tulsa Drillers?

    In an open system, that'd be based on the value of a club that paid between $250k and $500k as an expansion fee to start in USSF D3, not the value of the league it belongs to. That franchise then fielded teams that alternated between competitive mediocrity and outright last place suckage, yet were promoted to D2, through no fault of their own.

    In an open system based on FIFA's rules on sporting merit, the Roughnecks would have either not been promoted to D2 in the first place; or the owners might have made some player acquisitions and wholesale changes midseason to avoid relegation from D2 to D3 in anticipation of a sale during the offseason. If they'd invested in players to avoid "the drop," maybe this year we wouldn't be looking at an entirely new roster.

    I was told by multiple sources during the offseason that USL Tulsa under Barry Williams was going to have a player payroll in the "top three" but I'm not sure if that was for the entire USL or just the Western Conference. So, will this entirely new team (save the interim coach from last summer) compete for Top of the Table this season? Maybe, maybe not, but the huge amount of goodwill and fan support lost over the past 4 years ain't gonna magically come back this season, no matter how hard my friend Wayne Farmer works to turn around this embarrassing dumpster fire of a franchise.

    IMHO it would be easier (and notably less expensive) for Tulsa Roughnecks FC to revive their franchise one level lower, and turn around the fanbase by winning (or almost winning) USL-League One and being in contention for a merit-based promotion to USL-Championship than it would be to simply make the playoffs this season with a mediocre record.

    So, you'll admit that you don't support "P/R at all here in the U.S."
    That's pretty "black & white" with no "shades of grey" in my book.
    Thanks for admitting as much.

    You know what else is "black and white?"

    Denver has had Major League Soccer for the last 23 years, while Tulsa has had Major League Soccer for 0 years. When I walked into Mile High Stadium to watch my first MLS game the summer of 1996, it had all the atmosphere of a public library. It took me about ten minutes to think to myself, "why doesn't Tulsa have this?"

    Tulsa was one of the final 18 cities for a planned 12 team MLS set for 1995. It wasn't until I moved to my hometown 12 years ago and researched in depth that I found out what the Tulsa bid was all about. And how close the city was to being either Team #11 or #12 which I believe would have entered in Year One alongside Long Island or possibly Chicago? We had about 600 more season ticket deposits than Seattle, had political, corporate, and media support for it, and had a few aces in the hole, one being this guy who was on board for the soccer specific stadium ideas from Day One. The only thing keeping Tulsa from being a founding member of MLS was a $1 million conversion of Skelly Stadium's surface from astroturf to grass. And it was only a few weeks ago, I found out from someone "in the know" that this was indeed going to happen and everything was completely in place for Tulsa to be a "league owned team" but a last minute divorce settlement threw a wrench in the works. Otherwise, Thrifty would have been the official car rental of MLS to go alongside the first MLS weekly highlights show from Winnercomm studios here in Tulsa.

    Anyway, I don't have any problem whatsoever with single entity as proposed by Alan Rothenburg. It was a suitable (yet unique) solution for the old NASL problem of having franchise owners going on all kinds of different tangents (like Skandarian folding Calgary over the transatlantic phone or Bruce Anderson dumping Seattle Sounders' Coach Alan Hinton to Americanize the team with the motto, "Red White Black and Blue.").

    But the evidence from my perspective pointed towards single-entity being used as a means (taking a handful of league investors) to an end (getting local ownership for each club and moving in the same direction.

    I know that's not enough "grey area" for you but I'm out of time this morning.

    So, I'll repost this link to a time back in 2009 before MLS decided to expand beyond 24 teams and before I converted to the idea that US soccer/MLS needs to ween itself off single-entity and move towards a more open system including an American version of Promotion and Relegation.
    http://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/major-league-soccers-original-sin-1994-1996.1072413/#post-18170347

    #ProRelForUSA
     
  14. USRufnex

    USRufnex Member+

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    That's just your opinion.

    I think pro/rel is indeed important for the long term future of lower division soccer in this country. In and of itself, it won't fix everything but NOBODY has claimed that. Only anti-Pro/Rel zealots on BigSoccer who love to stereotype and discredit.
     
  15. USRufnex

    USRufnex Member+

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    False equivalency.

    Your characterization of the "two sides" suffers from a hopelessly arrogant BigSoccer-centric anti-Pro/Rel bias. If you think the conversation is "beating a dead horse," you can either unwatch the thread or there is an IGNORE button.... use it.

    Otherwise, there are people far beyond your paygrade who are actively trying to change the American closed shop system for the betterment of all, while MLS continues to cling to a "pinko commie" system of centralized control and against a business model of free enterprise and open markets....

    #ProRelForUSA
     
  16. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I never said anybody claimed it would fix everything. I will even allow that it might be good for the lower divisions--hell, just a day or two ago I wrote about how there's actually a lot of pro/rel at the adult amateur level, which might eventually help create bottom-up momentum to implement it in the pro game.
     
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  17. Roger Allaway

    Roger Allaway Member+

    Apr 22, 2009
    Warminster, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    How much of that change (if any) is driven by immigration. The reason why I ask is that the last time I was in Nebraska (a long time ago, 13 years), I saw a soccer game being played between two teams of Spanish-speaking men on what looked like a well-kept field in a park in South Sioux City.

    South Sioux is nowhere near as rural as where you grew up, but it's also quite far from being urban (or was then).
     
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  18. HailtotheKing

    HailtotheKing Member+

    San Antonio FC
    Dec 1, 2008
    TEXAS
    Club:
    San Antonio Scorpions FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There are people far beyond your pay grade who are actively speaking to the issues that pro/rel contributes to in the deepest and most supported pyramid in the world.

    #Facts********UpYourNarrative
     
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  19. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In many areas, that's certainly the case. Many cities and larger towns like Fremont, Grand Island, and so forth have very large immigrant communities.

    But my home county isn't one of them--I just checked the demographics to make sure my own personal observation matches the data, and according to the latest data, the population is currently just over 98% native-born. Just over 95% non-Hispanic white, for that matter (it was closer to 99% non-Hispanic white when I was growing up, so it's become slightly more diverse over the past few decades).
     
  20. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If Commisso or Silva said they were going to back a MLS bid in Tulsa would you complain?

    I think he was complaining specifically about D5 Salford City being bankrolled by people who have no connection to the community (though Accrington's initial rise followed a £2 million windfall following the sale of Brett Ormerod to Southampton).

    It also drives gambling. Owners budget on the expectation of being promoted. Most are not. Notts have suffered from this syndrome as much as any team.
     
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  21. CrazyJ628

    CrazyJ628 Member+

    Jul 16, 2007
    The center of the Earth
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    I think immigration has had a hand in the rise of soccer. I also think there are a few other factors.
    • Overall access to soccer - When I was a kid, you were lucky to find soccer on TV and the video games weren't very good
    • FIFA Video Games - This has gone a long way toward expanding the reach of the sport
    • In the USA in particular MLS has played a huge role. 20 years of having a solid pro league is nothing to sneeze at
    • Finally, the demographic shift. I'm in my late 30s. I grew up playing soccer and now I'm theoretically in the prime media and spending demographic. My age group has had kids who also grew up with parents that liked soccer. That wasn't the case when I was a kid. Most millenials are closer to 40 than 20 now and we have grown up with the game the same way that my dad grew up with baseball. We're passing that love of the sport on to our kids (I'm not, kids are gross but others are).
     
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  22. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Beacon NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The impact of immigration on the popularity of soccer is wildly exaggerated.
     
  23. Roger Allaway

    Roger Allaway Member+

    Apr 22, 2009
    Warminster, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I wasn't referring to the impact of immigration on the rise in popularity of soccer in America generally. I was talking about the impact of immigration on the rise in popularity of soccer in small-town Nebraska, particularly those towns with businesses that employ a lot of Mexican workers.

    I think (just a guess, really) that the number-one factor in the rise in popularity of soccer in America over the last 30 years or so is the increased access that American kids have to high-quality European soccer on American television.
     
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  24. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    My experience has been that your more likely to see pickup soccer in immigrant communities, FWIW.
     
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  25. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree with all this.
     

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