Sunday, September 15, 2019

Come On You Hounds!!!

      Amongst the soccer heads in Pittsburgh, there are a certain strain that support their favorite teams in the big Euro leagues like the Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, even the lesser followed Euro leagues like Ligue 1 or the Eredivisie. I'm guessing there are also those who follow the South American leagues or League MX.
      But they won't give the MLS or even worse, the USL the time of day.  Honestly, I don't really follow the MLS either. The closest MLS outfit to Pittsburgh is Columbus Crew. I maintain a slight disposition towards Everton in the Premier League. Only because of my attitude towards the underdog and my contrarian nature and most US soccer fans are quick to follow the big money clubs like Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City.  Basically, the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers of the British game.  Most of the big Prem League clubs are owned by Arab sheiks, Russian oligarchs and even a few American big money interests with a few billion burning a hole in their pockets and no place to spend it.
       I more or less follow Everton because they aren't those clubs. While Everton is not owned by British money, they are not part of the Prem League Big Five. They usually hover around the middle of the Premier League table. They do well enough to avoid relegation, but they are no threat to hoist Prem League hardware anytime soon. I zig when others zag.  Gotta be me. But even then, I follow Everton's progress in the table.  But I have no idea who's in their lineup.  That's about it.  My feeling is why support a team located halfway around the world, who's stadium I'll never get to attend, and frankly doesn't need my money.
       I'd rather support the local team. In Pittsburgh, that's the Riverhounds. For the benefit of the uninformed, the Riverhounds play in the USL Championship. The second division of the US soccer pyramid. One step below the MLS, but that step is basically difference between the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top.  Most of the USL players make a bit more than I do. They're pros, but they don't make the big bucks. They're looking to do a year or two with the USL and eventually try to get a spot on an MLS roster or failing that, get signed on a lower division Euro team.
       Some of these guys were loaned to the Hounds from an MLS squad. Some had a cup of coffee on an MLS team. Some came from the local loop in their home country.  Some from college.  But naturally, they all have aspirations higher than their current station.
       But frankly, I'd rather watch them than a Premier League side. They're accessible, I can walk to the stadium, the beer and food is inexpensive, they're a local product, and in the last couple years, the Hounds have been competitive in the USL. And, they deserve my support.
       For what I'd pay in terms of tickets, food and bev, and merch for two Premier League games, I can get a season ticket for the Riverhounds in the best seats at Highmark.  They deserve my support.
       They put a pretty good product on the field for their level of competition, and frankly, I'd rather watch them than the Pirates. At least The Hounds ownership is committed to winning.