The Worst of 2018
While making a “best of the year” is fun, looking for the dark parts of this year is also a worthwhile practice. As Socrates said “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” We must examine where we have been to find solutions for our shortcomings and to plan for progress next year. So while 2018 offered many highlights, let’s now look back on where 2018 was less than awesome.
Dan - UPSL Spring Playoff Hiccup
We had just started as a site, fired up and ready to roll. The UPSL Spring Season had just wrapped and the playoffs kicked off in Colorado. And then...all hell broke loose. Clubs were filing protests, calling bullshit on refereeing, league officials were arguing. It was epic! And the worst part was the information was just trickling out and the feeds had been cut. It was so hard to know what was going on. Big shout out to a couple of club guys who kept us posted, but the whole thing was a black eye for the league, when they should have been golden. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to next month’s National Final to see if lessons have been learned. As long as we grow, the failure isn’t a total loss.
Steven - Seeing players trying to fight
We all have seen or heard about the GAM United incident during the playoffs. There was also another incident during the Inland Empire FC v. Warriors FC promotion match that could have led to another fight. This is just unacceptable. It seems since the Copa Libertadores Final, I have seen an increase in players or fans becoming violent. That is not passion, it is pure stupidity. We are all supposed to be fans of this game and should be mature enough to understand that it’s not worth fighting over.
Shawn - The mismanagement and utter disregard shown by UPSL
With the rapid expansion of UPSL across the country, things like this were bound to happen. However, the disrespect and disregard shown toward Lowcountry United during the Spring playoffs was astounding. After that ordeal, I contacted the league commissioner and asked him what happened with that. He feigned ignorance and acted like it was more of a bother than taking it as a legitimate concern. Hopefully, things like this will be handled appropriately and will be ironed out, but if recent events are any barometer, I highly doubt it.
Phil - US Open Cup
I’m going to continue to scream about the Open Cup into the void until I’m heard. The “Open” Cup has not been open for several years. Rules apply to local qualifiers that don’t apply to pro teams. Professional teams get byes into later rounds. Professional teams field weak teams and stage the matches at other grounds when having the privilege of hosting a lower division team who’s fought and striven to make it to that matchup. The Cup, in its current format, is not “Open” and is not even serving its purpose as the USSF’s Cup. It is a MLS League Cup that other teams get invited to. It needs to change immediately.
Dominic - Social Media Skirmishes
Soccer twitter has long been known for its toxic side and 2018 certainly wasn’t immune to this trend. While I certainly don’t see myself as an angel on the topic and learned a few lessons this year, I can honestly say that I tried while others still seem lost in the enraged fog. I hope to see things improve in 2019 but with all the new leagues, topics, and controversies that are surely on the way, I’m staying realistic.
Josh – Duking It Out for Notoriety
As wonderful as it is to discover hundreds of non-MLS teams from coast-to-coast, and as amazing as these organizations can be from team-to-team; the organization of soccer in the United States is a hot mess. From an Open Cup who still may or may not allow brand-new monied teams to flex already qualified amateur sides right out of the tournament to an ever-expanding top-tier who provides no point of entry for successful clubs just a division below. As a matter of fact, there is no unification between any of the alleged tiers in US soccer, and no incentive for a club to pursue success other than bragging rights. US Soccer seems rudderless and it has resulted in a caustic relationship between those who are happy to just support their nearby MLS or USL club, and those who demand change and accountability. The mud-slinging has wrangled some clubs and websites to side against others despite the fact that, below the top-tier, largely, our goals are all very similar. Let’s end the vitriol, talk to each other and explain our perspectives without anger and assumptions—I’m sure we all want the same thing.
Brian – Hearing So Many People Say This is the Worst Time Ever for US Soccer
I hate being the “you don’t know how bad we had it back in the day” guy, but I am tired of everyone talking about how bad US Soccer is right now. If you grew up in the 1980s, as I did, the World Cup wasn’t even a consideration. Watching the 1986 World Cup -- you would never know that the US was even a country. Yes, we are coming off a massive disappointment; yes, the entire system is cumbersome at best (try being the parent of a 12-year-old that has to navigate the ridiculous number of travel and academy teams out there while also covering the inconsistency of the system itself at the same time), but DAMN!, I am tired of hearing everyone’s bitching on a daily basis. Get out on the field yourself and do something to help move US Soccer forward. Get your coaching license, write more about all levels of soccer, play regularly, support a local club or even multiple clubs. Spotlight clubs, people, organizations that are getting it right, as we do. But, most importantly, stop acting as if it is a birthright in this country to dominate a sport because of our supposed resources. Much greater soccer countries than ours have never won the World Cup, or have had recent disappointments (Brazil, Germany, Italy, etc.). Go back to the drawing board and figure it out.