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How do we measure club success in MLS?

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An interesting question was posed on a radio show Sunday afternoon as I was driving to BBVA which had nothing to do with Major League Soccer or the Houston Dynamo, but it got me thinking about how it applied to the team and league.

Is MLS Cup really the end all, be all of Major League Soccer and US Professional Men's Soccer in general?
Is MLS Cup really the end all, be all of Major League Soccer and US Professional Men's Soccer in general?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Would you rather be a fan of a club who consistently makes the playoffs and makes it to the Eastern or Western Conference Championship, or a fan of a club who wins MLS Cup once every 7 seasons with the other 6 seasons being crap shoot seasons full of rebuilding and retooling?

The more I ponder the question, the less sure I am of my own answer.

Currently, the Houston Dynamo exist as the former, a club which consistently finds itself in the playoff hunt, usually as far as the Eastern Conference Championship. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, and in this case it holds true.

I brought the question up in the Generation Orange podcast this week (towards the end of the show), and something was brought up by Hal Kaiser about how the Dynamo casual fanbase has become apathetic to the regular season. There's this underlying sense of "the club will get back to the playoffs and we'll come out and support them when they do." I wonder if the apathy of the casual fans would change if the club were more of the once every 7th season MLS Cup winners?

Would the apathy change if the club won the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup? What if the club won the Supporters Shield?

There is a bigger underlying issue here, but I find it interesting to ponder on a personal level whether anything would change if the club was successful with other silverware. Have we become conditioned to believe MLS Cup is the end all, be all of Major League Soccer? Is this just a Houston Dynamo fanbase sentiment or does it echo true with other MLS fanbases?

Share your thoughts because I don't believe there is one single right answer to these questions, and I do not think there is a single end all, be all championship either. And all you need to grasp that line of thinking is a quick glance at the European Soccer landscape and Premiere League versus Champions League versus Club World Cup.