Major League Soccer announced this week that it will add a second franchise in the New York area. It will be called the New York City Football Club, will be jointly owned by the Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees, and will start play in 2015.
I know these things based on looking 'em up this morning. Previously, I heard this was going to be the coming together of the two mightiest names in sports, and I thought the co-owners were going to be the Yankees and Manchester United.
See, I know me enough futbol to know that Man U. has been much mightier than Man City for most of the time I've been aware there was something called the English Premier League.
And I know this because when I was making a trip to London 15 years ago, my late, great friend Dark Star asked me to pick him up a Manchester United jersey. The Darkman knew his soccer and didn't say a dang word about Manchester City, so there's no way this is a coming together of the two mightiest names in sports.
I woke up as if struck by a thunderbolt at 5:10 a.m. today. This happens often. Generally, I'll peruse the print edition of the Star Tribune for a half-hour, then go back to the rack for a couple more hours.
Occasionally, I'm too awake to do this, so I'll get on-line and try to inform myself on the important issues of the day ... such as, what's John Sharkman Tweeting about from Toronto, or how many home runs did the two Miggys, Cabrera and Sano, hit last night.
On this morning, I looked in the mirror while sloshing a mouth full of Listerine (original flavor) and said: "You know what, oldtimer? We're going to get an MLS team here in the next few years, and you don't know diddly about it. For instance, you don't know when the season starts, when the season ends, or how many games the teams play.
"Heck, you didn't even know how many teams there were in the MLS, until taking note that the New York City Football Club would be 20th, which allowed you to assume that there were now 19.''
Yup. I had all those thoughts while conducting a double dose of Listerine sloshing this morning, and made the decision to no longer accept my status as an MLS stupe.
I looked at the standings and noted the 19 teams had played in the range of 15, 16 games so far. I also noted that Houston and Kansas City were in the 10-team Eastern Division (or maybe conference). That screwed up geography led me to muse, "Rather than East and West, maybe the MLS would be better off going with something like Leaders and Legends.''
The next big mystery for me was this "Real'' stuff. I was aware of the famous futbol club in Spain, Real Madrid, but what in Hades was Real Salt Lake? Teams in Salt Lake City are supposed to have names closely tied to the city's heritage, such as Jazz.
I went to the Wiki, of course, and some team official explained Real Salt Lake thusly:
“Internationally, the Real brand signifies soccer at its highest level — soccer with excitement, tradition and flair. The name symbolizes dignity, history and, quite literally, royalty. It is our daily mission to establish those attributes for our team.”
We got that straightened out.
There's also a team called CD Chivas USA, which is sadly holding up the bottom in the Western standings. The only Chivas with which I'm familiar is Chivas Regal, and even in my long-ago drinking days, I had no taste for Scotch whiskey.
Mystery solved: CD is Club Deportiva, and deportiva refers to a sporting activity in Spanish, and Chivas means "goat'' in Spanish, and there's a team in Mexico referred to lovingly as the "goats,'' and the owner there has an ownership stake in the Chivas team in L.A.
There hasn't been nearly as much chaos in MLS franchises as I had imagined (an imagining based on zero research). As it turns out, from the league's start in 1996 until today, only two franchises have been disbanded: Miami and Tampa Bay.
San Jose also was put on a leave of absence for a couple of years, but came back. There have been five franchises added since 2009: Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Philadelphia and Montreal. And New York City (expected to be located eventually in a new soccer stadium in Queens) will make 20.
Don Garber, the MLS Commissioner, is making no qualms about future expansion. He was quoted at the New York City announcement as saying, "There's activity in Miami, activity in Orlando, Atlanta, and other places.''
Minneapolis is one of those other places, with the magnificent Taj Ma Zygi scheduled to be available for soccer by the 2017 MLS season. And let's face it, with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf set to pay dang near nothing in his own dollars when you throw naming rights, the NFL's free money and personal seat licenses into his pot, the crafty old Zygmeister will have whatever it takes to get the 24th team in the MLS (after Miami, Orlando and Atlanta, where there's activity).
And if they can be that pretentious with a name out there in bumpkinville, a k a Salt Lake City, we here in cosmopolitan Minneapolis surely need a name that symbolizes dignity, history and an international flair.
I got it:
The most famous soccer team in Sweden is IFK Goteborg. With that in mind, the name for our 2017 MLS expansion team has to be Idrottsforeningen Kamraterna Minneapolis. And, yeah, you can call 'em IFK for short, or Angels or Comrades, which somehow are involved in the definition of those I and K words.
As for the MLS regular season: It runs from March until the end of October, with 34-game schedules. Ten teams advance to the playoffs to compete for the MLS Cup. Meantime, the regular season points champion gets the Supporters' Shield.
I presume this is somehow based on the old locker-room bromide, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.''
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