The Birth of a LeagueA 10-team organization with zero soccer-specific stadiums at the start, Major League Soccer now has 20 franchises, 13 of them playing in homes of their own, with payrolls that have tripled. As the league plays its 20th season, key figures recall the kickoff campaign
Reporting by Grant Wahl and Brian Straus
Compiled by Alexander Abnos
See the whole article here, courtesy of SI.
Kicking Back Comments: This is a spectacular article from many on the ground floor of MLS. It is a worthy read and in fact I may even put this one into "essential."
There is a critical aspect missing in it however ... the referees and the efforts it took to get a group of referees together for these matches. There are heroes that should have been heard from here like Dr. Joe Machnik and Dr. Herb Silva to name a couple.
You think it was a wild time for the owners and players, I can assure you it was an even wilder ride for us referees in the early days. As one of the referees who worked in MLS from day 1 (I was truly lucky to be the 4th official on the home opener for NE), the above story is incomplete without that view.
Imagine the challenge of getting a group of referees together with experience ranging from FIFA (like Esse Baharmast) all the way through to backyard, barely State referee kids (like me) who were really just starting out. It is a series of experiences I will never forget ... and (in general) should be part of the fabric of the beginning of MLS, as believe me, we were involved ... at times more than we should have been.