At 5pm MST, Commissioner Don Garber officially announced that Minnesota United, currently in the second tier North American Soccer League, will be joining MLS for the 2017 season, along with Atlanta United.
It has a few impacts upon us Rapids fans.
1. There’s a new team to beat up on, at least for next year.
Expansion teams are notoriously not-good. Orlando City SC were 12-8-14 (WTL) in their first year, which is actually pretty good. NYCFC were a less good 10-7-17. Toronto FC were a very bad 6-7-17. Real Salt Lake were a putrid 5-5-22 their first year.
So unless the team can add talent quickly, get organized, and rub a basket-full of rabbits feet, they’re gonna be a doormat. As long as the Rapids keep their winning ways going, that’ll be good for next year.
2. The mini-rivalry for the best mid-western soccer team just got a little more competition.
With Sporting KC in Missouri, Columbus Crew SC in Ohio, and the Chicago Fire in Illinois, MLS now has four teams in the Midwest. Of course, there is always some debate as to whether the Colorado Rapids are a ‘Midwest’ team - we’re the ‘Queen City of the Plains’, and if you’ve ever been out to Limon, it looks awfully... mid-western. The east of the state gets wrecked by tornadoes and people are awfully polite in the supermarket. On the other hand, we’re the ‘Gateway to the Rockies’, there’s a lot of transplants from Texas and California, and the state legalized weed. Maybe that knocks down our credibility as ‘mid-western’.
Still, did you know there already exists a special MLS competition over the Midwest? It’s true! FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids, and Sporting SKC compete for the ‘Midwestia Belt’. It might be time to add a few more clubs to the competition, including Minnesota.
Moreover, till now, there were only two MLS teams within a two-hour flight from DIA - RSL and SKC. Now there are three. And the four mid-western teams might make for a fun little mini-rivalry within the league.
3. We’ve got another MLS 3.0 team to deal with.
It’s a thing now, these MLS 3.0 teams coming in with energy and buzz and a millennial fan base and a soccer specific stadium and the big slick MLS marketing machine to gin up support for it. It usually means big crowds that make the originals and the early teams look, well, 1.0.
DC United has been getting it done for 20 years in a crumbling raccoon-infested dump-of-a-home-stadium. New England plays in a football stadium off the interstate from nothing and out in the middle of nowhere. The Rapids spent their first decade in Mile High Stadium, which is a perfectly nice place if you like a gridiron laid over your 18 yard box and don’t mind seeing 10,000 people in a place that seated 76,000.
MLS 3.0 teams add a lot of passion and energy. But they also act like your annoying little brother - always so damn chipper and spry. Kid, talk to me after a few aimless seasons below the red line.
That doesn’t mean I dislike MLS 3.0 teams: the more the merrier. I won’t be happy till MLS hits 40 clubs. But the Seattles and Orlandos of the world sure do make it seem like they invented soccer culture. Pipe down, junior. Best respect your elders.
In short, welcome to MLS, Minnesota. We look forward to kicking the snot out of you next year.