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Brews and Views Essay Series: Why American Soccer?

We continue our new series on the Free Beer Movement. It's called "Brews and Views" and we pose a question or topic to various prominent soccer persons and, well, they give us their view on it.

We've got loads of get people that have already responded to our call for essay submissions and each week we'll feature a unique perspective on the current topic/question at hand. Kicking it off (pun intended) we're asking our respondents the question, "Why American soccer?".

As inhabitants of the U.S. of A we've got loads of soccer viewing options and limited amount of time. We want our panel of essayists to make their case as to why the American version of the world's game is the one we should all invest in.

Regularly readers know where we stand on this issue. Buy American. It's ours. Build and shape it so it ranks as one of the premier leagues in the world.

The series will include such diverse voices as former U.S. Men's National Team player Alexi Lalas, The Shin Guardian, MatchFit USA's Jason Davis, Church of Soccer, Nutmeg Radio, FutFanatico, MLS Insider, and many, many more.

Interested in submitting your own answer to the question, "Why American soccer?", then send us an email with your response. Please keep your submission to under 1000 words (that's like 2.5 pages typed!) and include a picture that you feel goes well with your response. Send it to freebeermovement(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Local, live soccer. Austin, 2009. (Photo by Free Beer Movement)

By APR and Teucer / "Juggle the Numbers"

We take the "Why American soccer?" question a step further and ask: "Why local soccer?"  We live in a world of instantaneous communication, where we can all theoretically know about soccer results as they are happening. Indeed, as a pair of amateur statisticians we keep abreast of all the results in the leagues that interest us. Every soccer aficionado has easy exposure to the best teams in the world, which means we can be fans of them from anywhere. If you want to watch the best quality soccer in the world, it’s at your fingertips; if we wanted to analyze the best and most followed leagues, we would be quite able to do so.

But we follow the domestic game, because we favor local soccer. There is nothing like being a part of the excitement and feeling a part, however small, of your team’s victories. A win for a team you happen to enjoy, playing in a stadium you will likely never see in your life, is far less engrossing than the energy of a supporters’ section at a local match. We rejoice in the tension of the buildup before a quality chance, in the unbridled joy that comes from the stands as the home team sinks a late goal to get a result, in the stunned silence that follows a particularly damaging away goal. We delight in watching as the wins pile up and our local teams move up the table, and in the pain of watching as they are in near free-fall to the bottom, in the camaraderie that develops between your friends at the stadium and in the shared hatred of the local rivals. These are all things which have a much more profound effect when it is something you can identify with. Compared to the best teams in the Premiership or Serie A, we’re watching second-rate sides on second-rate fields - but as long as they are our second-rate sides, playing at our second-rate fields in our hometown stadia, this will always be more satisfying than anything we might see on a broadcast from Europe.

Stepping back from "Why local soccer?" to "Why American soccer?", we can then take our passion for our individual local team, and use it to build passion for our "local" league.  Whether that league is a fully national league, or a recreational league in a small city or town, passion for the league will help it to grow and improve.  In the long term, that builds up the quality of play, and improves not just the local soccer environment, not just the national one, but the worldwide one.  A stronger local recreational league improves exposure and talent level on the local basis, which in turn increases it on the national level, and eventually up to the global level.  By having better local leagues, we have the facilities to expose more people, young and old, to the sport.  As soccer becomes more ingrained in our culture, the quality of the top players produced by our nations will continue to improve.  If you are a fan of your national team, even if just for the World Cup, then it is in your interest to help improve your national league structure.

American soccer is nothing more nor less than the sum of all the local soccer in all of the United States. It unites thirty-two professional teams and their thousands of eager fans, along with countless amateurs competing on every level from backyard pickup games to the US Open Cup. To embrace American soccer is to embrace local soccer, and vice versa - and once you’ve dipped your toe in those waters, you never leave. We might have our favorite teams abroad as well, but it is our local clubs to which our hearts truly belong. We stand in our supporters’ sections and chant, or we volunteer our time to help our teams make the season happen. We follow our teams by high-def television or by low-resolution webcasts, by busing to rivals’ stadia, by social media on the web and by the old-fashioned web of real social interaction with other fans. We endure torrents of rain we hope may let up any minute and summer heat we know will not break until the next game, if then - because when we feel our hearts race with every goal and every near miss, we know we’re precisely where we want to be.

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