Editorial: What To Do On An Off-Week In MLS? Watch More MLS!


Being a beat writer/supporter can sometimes be a very taxing process. Although the two positions are a bit different (a beat writer should not be partisan, while a supporter must be partisan) the two jobs do require a similar level of a commitment to one’s job. A reporter will get ripped for an error in a sentence just about as much as supporter will be for wearing the jersey of a different team.

With this level of commitment can be draining, it is certainly understandable why a person would want to take a week off from soccer when they can. It is almost spring, people who have children who need mommy/daddy to have one tifo-free weekend, and there are things like weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and funerals to go to.

These are the things that the many supporters and beat writers of the D.C. United (including yours truly) and the Montreal Impact will grapple with as their teams take a break this weekend. But rather than do these frankly normal things, supporters should get back to their normal bars or spots on the couch and watch more MLS this weekend. But there is only one simple answer: watch more MLS.

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Personally speaking from  5 years of experience covering soccer and serving as the beat writer for D.C. United, there is perhaps no better time to learn more about MLS than when there is the least amount of pressure to watch MLS. There are no deadlines, no expectations, and no worries about travel or fitting a match into your daily life. The off-week is an opportunity to learn more about the greater league, some of the teams that you normally cannot watch, and get to see players that you might have heard about but not seen. Oh, and there is also beer and barbecue that can be had with a match in the background.

While it is understandable that the average person cannot watch every match on TV on a given weekend, let alone a weekend when the home team is playing, getting comfortable with other squads is a good thing. No one is expecting a New York Red Bulls supporter to switch their colors after watching the NYCFC-New England Revolution (Sunday 7 pm EST Fox Sports 1). But if that supporter can learn more about one of their rivals, isn’t that a good thing?

Scouting of course goes beyond just your rivals. Despite Jurgen Klinsmann’s best efforts, the MLS is still one of the most important for American soccer players to develop their talents and make the US Men’s National Team. Taking the time to watch a player like Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe in Sunday night’s Portland Timbers-LA Galaxy match (3/15 7pm FS1) will give one greater insight into what he could bring potentially into the USMNT. It is difficult to get that in a match against the team that you support.

There was a time when one could make the excuse that there is lack of coverage of MLS on television in the United States (sorry Canada, you still have issues) that no longer seems to be an issue. With set times now established by Univision (and an SAP function to get rid of that tired argument that you cannot watch a match in another language,) ESPN, and to a lesser extent Fox (FS2 is still stuck in the Wild West) supporters can plan their schedules around games being on. There is also of course the league’s MLS Live package and the internet which is probably the most cost-effective but illegal method.

This isn’t to say that every match in MLS will be a barn-burner. There will be a few dull games here and there. But this occurs in every league across the footballing world. What matters is being involved beyond your own team that you support and cover. To be able to change soccer not only in MLS but in North America requires being knowledgeable and understanding of what is going on around the league.

So enjoy your soccer even if you do not have a stake in the match!

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