New soccer team creates deeper connections with sport


photo illustration by Samantha Haney

With the introduction of St. Louis’ soccer team, it has inspired a new respect for American soccer. The first game will be on March 4.

Eshwar Murali, News Sports Editor

My journey into soccer (or if you are a pretentious American, fútbol) started when I stole my brother’s copy of FIFA 16. After booting up the game, it prompted me to pick a professional soccer team as my default club in the game. I picked the club with the coolest logo with happened to be Arsenal, a soccer club in England. Ever since that choice, Arsenal has become a major part of my life. I’ve spent many hours of my life screaming at and watching Arsenal games and spent money on any Arsenal memorabilia I could get my hands on. Every soccer thought in my head centered around my love for Arsenal, however, this overwhelming love restricted my view on other parts of soccer, mainly: Major League Soccer (MLS).

Growing up, I had almost exclusively watched European soccer. Mostly in the form of the Premier League, England’s top soccer league, and the Europa and Champions League, which brings the best teams in Europe in one league. This is all to say that I’ve never even watched an MLS game. People like me are often called Eurosnobs in American soccer circles. 

A Eurosnob is an American who supports teams thousands of miles away while not supporting an MLS team. However, as a Eurosnob, I had never cared or felt bad for being called that, because I truly didn’t care about the MLS. Mostly because it couldn’t compare to the Premier League.

First of all, the MLS is just smaller than the Premier League. In the 2017-2018 season, the Premier League’s revenue was six times bigger than the MLS. In that same season, the Premier League had around 17,000 more in average attendance than the MLS. The MLS simply doesn’t have the market that the Premier League has. Professional soccer has existed in England since 1885, while the first professional league in America was created in 1967. Soccer is much more ingrained into European culture compared to American culture because it has been around for much longer. These statistics and other stereotypes about the MLS scared me away from the league. The MLS was inferior in my eyes. 

However, my perspective on the MLS changed on Aug. 20, 2019; the day that St. Louis City SC was unveiled as a new expansion MLS franchise. 

In soccer circles, there is a phrase that is often used, “support your local.” Meaning you should support your local soccer team, but previously I never had that opportunity. The closest thing we had to a professional soccer team was Saint Louis FC, which played Fenton, however, they were dissolved in 2020 due to the pandemic. I was finally given the opportunity to support my local team through St. Louis City SC, but first I had to get over some Eurosnob-fueled preconceived notions about the MLS.

Mainly, the idea that the MLS was a retirement league for soccer stars well past their prime. Examples include Gonzalo Higuaín, who finished his career at Inter Miami, and David Beckham, who played some of his last years for LA Galazy. While these examples paint the picture that the MLS is a retirement home for soccer greats, it is the opposite. In 2022, the MLS had an average age of 25.8 while the Premier League had an average age of 27.08. With a sizeable gap from the Premier League, it could be argued that the MLS is one of the most exciting, young leagues in the world, rather than a league full of washed-up players looking for a final paycheck. 

Also, there are many upsides to supporting St. Louis City SC, such as ticket prices. Season tickets start at $391 which is cheap compared to Arsenal season tickets which start at £1,010 (about $1211.34). Additionally, games start at better times for Americans. Some Premier League games can start at 6:30 a.m., or at midday, which can be very inconvenient for American viewers. While MLS teams kick off at more reasonable times for American viewers because that’s who they are catered for. 

But most importantly, we can see our community in St. Louis City SC. One of the players on the team is 17-year-old Miguel Perez, who is a student at Pattonville High School, which is only 26 minutes away from Lafayette. He even came on in the final minutes of  St. Louis City SC’s first-ever MLS win against Austin FC. With players like Perez on the team, who knows the identity of the next young St. Louisan on the team? Maybe it could even be a Lafayette student? 

The point is that St. Louis City SC will give St. Louis soccer fans a new and unique way to experience soccer. The team allows us to see our own community in an emerging league and we can experience it in a relatively accessible way.  I’ll always be an Arsenal fan for life and I’ll always watch the Premier League, but on March 4 I will be found watching and cheering on St. Louis City SC for their home opener as a reformed Eurosnob.