Four seasons. Four conference changes. Four disregards of the club and fans.
There’s no other way of saying it at this point: USL takes advantage of Saint Louis FC. Our location is obviously on the “edges” of the two conferences, and that leads to us being the team that becomes in flux. At some point, someone in the front offices has to say, “Whoa, wait, hold on, those guys have been moved around every year!” And ultimately, the response has been “So?”
Saint Louis FC has stable owners. Owns their facility. And has die hard fans that show up even when the team is awful. The league knows that, and takes full advantage of it. With an odd number of teams, one conference would have been overloaded. Why move us? Why not make the west be 16, and the east be 17?
I know that my Louligan friends have enjoyed their trips to Tulsa for those games. I haven’t been able to make it yet. You know why? They share a stadium with a baseball team, and our games have almost always been on a weeknight. That’s a 6 hour drive, so there and back in a night isn’t an option. I’d have to take two days off work to go to an away game. Which, I’ll probably do this year, because our road trip options have been destroyed.
Destroyed, along with our rivalries. (Granted, our on field play did us no favors there.) The league announced each team will play 34 games in 2018. Simple math just told me that inter-conference play is dead, because each team playing their own conference will essentially fill that number of games. Doesn’t take Alan Turing to decode that fact.
No more cross conference games. No more Kings Cup. No new trip to Nashville for hot chicken and music on Broadway. No chance to be one of the 20,000 at Nippert vs Cincy. (Did you know they get 20k?) No welcoming Indy11 to the league after being friends for years. (I am happy to get to see the Roustabouts and Grid again. But we can have more than just two friends.) No building traditions. We are orphans.
Speaking of traditions, the bus trips for away games are legendary for Louligans. The first game ever against Louisville, Bus #2, the bus driver scraping a guard pole on the way home from OKC…these are what help build friendships and makes the Louligan bond strong. The only option is Kansas City for Swope Park, as the two Oklahoma teams are, as mentioned before, further away than our eastern “rivals”. So went from 4 gameday trips to…one. Thanks.
So, fine. Disregard us again, USL. We’re the land of misfit toys. We were once your darling, before Cincy came with their 20,000 fans. You used to talk up the Kings’ Cup. We used to get mentioned for our outstanding charitable work. I guess when the team struggles, the fans don’t matter anymore. I’m not going to go and pretend that we’re Millwall, because we do care that you don’t like us. The fans in this town deserve more respect than what you’ve shown us. It’s humiliating, the pity that other fans are showing us after this announcement. It was bad enough they pitied us when He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named coached us out of points last year. Now we’re getting a lot of “aww…sorry Saint Louis.”
Maybe we should play in a baseball stadium. Should our owners sell, move, or fold? The team could go on hiatus for a year. Oooh, maybe we fans should throw bottles at the heads of opposing players and have no repercussions. Or spit on women and call fans retards. The team may be disappointing, but at least we’re always here and not embarrassing you. Great way to reward a stable fan base. I thought MLS treated it’s fans poorly.
And we still haven’t talked about west coast start times. So now ⅓ of our games will start at 9pm our time. That’s a great way for a club to be able to build support; you can forget people watching on local TV. They’re either going to be out at that time, or getting ready to call it a night soon. I’ve seen this with hockey games; people lose interest in those away games.
Oh, guess what? There will be a central conference next year, you say. So that makes FIVE CONFERENCE CHANGES IN FIVE YEARS. Matt Bird told me “we’re fucking gypsies”, and he couldn’t be more right. But here’s the thing: there’s 33 teams this year now. Which divides by three…evenly. Atlantwo would have to be in the Central for a year until Memphis joins, but hey, they’re a Two. So you COULD have done us (and a lot of other teams) right, you chose not to.
So, I leave you with my two favorite soccer quotes, to sum up how I feel about how you’ve treated us:
Matt Brown: kiss my ass.
Maradona: …suck it and carry on sucking it.