I have been to a number of sporting events, soccer and otherwise, in my lifetime, and none have left me wondering why I bothered to spend the money or time attending. Until the game on Tuesday night. As the seconds seems to drone on endlessly, so too did the inability of either team to mount anything resembling a cohesive attack.
This game was nothing short of a glorified MLS "World" match, where close to ninety percent of all participants were members of one MLS club or another. And yet, I have seen, heard and read mentions of the lack of support for the United States in a home venue, such as BBVA Compass, as 'appalling'. I almost, in some form or fashion, want to slap the smug look off the faces of the MLM insinuating such idiocy.
The fact is this game unintentionally hurt the professional soccer product in Houston pretty significantly. For one, because of the low turnout it will be some time before the city has a chance to host another meaningful US Men's match. Second, the turnouts will continue to be mediocre at best as a result of the quality of the squads being trotted onto the pitch for the less than meaningful matches.
I've seen some mention how the turnout should have been greater with such names as Chris Wondolowski, Dwayne DeRosario, Brad Davis and Will Bruin. Yet, I cannot help but wonder where this sudden though of regular MLS players being some major soccer draw. Sure, some of the players for both teams could be considered MLS All-Star caliber, but not all of them. Certainly not with the lack of quality we witnessed on Tuesday night.
And that brings me to my next extremely important point about this match: Who in their right mind thinks a midweek game during the school year against a mediocre opponent is a worthwhile investment for advertisers and sponsors, let alone event organizers and fans? All this event served was to exacerbate the perception of Houston as subpar sports city.
But, you've all heard these things debated ad nauseum, and I am sure you follow guys like Taylor Twellman, Grant Wahl and Glenn Davis as I do, so these are not new things. What may be new is the reality of what actually Houston does for the US Men's National Team when a match worth attending is brought to the city with something valuable on the line.
Back in June of 2011, a match took place at Reliant Stadium. It meant something, it was during the summer break for kids and it drew a crowd of 70,267 fans. It was a Saturday match, too. There was something very real on the line. And I was also at that match. (For a good read on the match, in case you forget what I'm talking about, http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Mens-National-Team/2011/06/US-Beats-Panama-1-0-Advances-to-Gold-Cup-Final.aspx)
The fact is this. The match we witnessed on Tuesday was abysmal. It was quite possibly one of the most boring matches you will ever witness, even if you watch or attend high school soccer. This match epitomized all of the negatives heaped upon the sport by the naysayers and detractors. And yet, there are those who would use it as a symbol of how much Houston lacks a 'hardcore' soccer fanbase.
I realize I should spend some time judging the actual performances, or explaining how good one player was compared to another. Really, though, I just want to move on from the match and forget it. I don't ever want to think back to this match, ever. So instead of leaving you with the sobs of a grown man cut deep by his own national team, I leave you with the following video: