I know right, you probably read the headline and thought, “here we go, another self congratulatory piece, aren’t we great? Aren’t we fantastic……”
Well no. Honestly this is far from that. Granted, if you support our local teams be it Saint Louis FC, or Fire and Ice, Lions, or Ambush to the college powerhouses like SLU or SIUe. This article isn’t aimed at you. You go to games. You pay your dues.
I wonder however, if we suffer from a little of the crossover from the Cardinals and their fans syndrome? You know the one, where your Cardinals mad relative will talk at length about how classy the fans are, how knowledgeable the fans are, how supportive the fans are. Yet the same guy will only go to one game a year. Do we have some of this here in our sport?
The mystique is right there. 1950, the Hill, Harry Keough, 10 open cup winners, every World Cup having an STL native in the USMNT they’ve qualified for. The ingredients are all there for a Soccer City cocktail. So where is everyone?
You cannot have games in this city where the teams are struggling for attendance and call yourself a soccer city. The Lions play in front of empty bleachers, the Ambush attendance isn’t what they claim it is, maybe 18 months ago it was, certainly not last season. “But Matt, they don’t play downtown, They play in St Charles and Belleville. It is 95 degrees, it is graduation season.” Excuses.
FC Bordo played downtown and 100 people showed up. That’s not the response of a soccer city.
Simply put, 20,000 people going to watch fly by night friendlies or the occasional national team game does not a soccer city make. Being 4th in TV markets for a world cup once every 4 years does not a soccer city make. Sitting at home waiting for MLS does not make you a soccer fan.
Supporting your club does, through thick and thin. Supporting your city’s team does. Last season and the celebration of sellouts at the end of the year has long since gone. 4700 at the last game is frankly nothing to write home about. Especially when other clubs like Cincinnati are killing it. Can you honestly tell me, even if tickets were considerably cheaper and we had the venue that Saint Louis FC would get 20,000 fans? No way. This team is immeasurably better than last season yet we cannot fill up the venue we have.
Too many people are quick to point out that Saint Louis is a soccer city. Yet all too often they will sit home and let others do the work of making it so. With the rumors swirling around of a Major League Soccer expansion being made anytime, I do think there is a mentality of wake me up when MLS comes to town. I can’t stand by that. It is an excuse not to go to games. When and if MLS arrives there will be a new excuse not to go. You’ll sit at home saying Saint Louis is a soccer city whilst watching home games on television. Allowing others to do the leg work while you smugly brag to anyone who will listen.
Taylor Twellman said it best at the Ted panel discussion; “1950 has gone. It’s time to make history again rather than living off it.”
Go to games. Even if it is a team I don’t support.