banner
Jared Fialko

A Futbol Future?

Posted February 24, 2013

Railhawks Photo

I’m sure I’m not taking a wild shot in the dark when I say that soccer probably isn’t high on everyone’s sports totem pole. In fact, I bet there are several of you who have bust out a Daniel Tosh-esque rant on the game from time to time.

If that’s somewhat similar to your opinion, I hope I don’t lose you for the remainder of this blog. I enjoy the game. I grew up playing the game. I even lasted past the reversible jerseys, soccer moms in minivans hauling half the team around, and the whose turn is it to bring the orange slices and Gatorade phase. Don’t get me wrong, I will never protest that I was any good, at any stage of development, I don’t even recall if I cracked the starting lineup at Senior Night of my high school finale! I own an Arsenal jersey, albeit I cannot wear it regularly anymore, thanks a lot, Robin Van Persie.

So, color me excited when I see a Major League Soccer team visit the Triangle. If you missed it, the Vancouver Whitecaps visited WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday for preseason play with the Carolina Railhawks. It’s nothing new, of course the Railhawks stunned the MLS champion L.A. Galaxy in the past. However, it’s hard to put aside the feeling that this wasn’t a glimpse at the future too. Professional soccer at the highest level’s been talked about before, but every year the rumblings seem to get a bit louder.

“The end goal is to get better every year and grow professional soccer in the Triangle,” said Carolina Railhawks President Curt Johnson. “To bring a championship back to the Triangle, certainly.”

It’s not an overnight process, and no one is going to pretend that it will be. On the whole, the MLS has failed to succeed in the Southeast. Both Florida franchises in Miami and Tampa Bay were 86’d in 2001 and there’s been currently no presence along the East Coast further south than Philadelphia. Typically, the league looks for venues that can house 20,000-25,000. The facilities at WakeMed are on their way though. The $7 million dollar upgrades now offer 10,000 seats, a party deck, four additional suites, and improved concessions and amenities.  Johnson says ultimately the fans and the owners will decide what level the ‘Hawks will play at.

“More importantly, the growth in partnerships, in terms of sponsorships, season tickets, and overall attendance growth,” Johnson said. “We doubled our attendance.”

There’s no denying that the interest is here. And growing.

“The passion for the sport at all levels is here,” Johnson said. “You see the success stories around the country, in certain marketplaces selling out regularly. Seattle averaged more than 40,000 a game during the regular season over the last couple of years. There’s no reason a similar level of success can’t happen here.”

Meaning the Whitecaps and Galaxy could become regular visitors in regular season affairs, as opposed to just special events.

“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Johnson.

Could Major League Soccer lie underneath? I, personally, hope so.

Currently listening to: The Black Keys, “Little Black Submarines”

9 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • readme Feb 25, 1:29 p.m.

    I should add that while I think soccer is a complete bore, zzzzzz, I do enjoy watching the UNC women's team completely annihilate any team in their way. That is awesome.

  • rmeltonwpsinc Feb 25, 12:53 p.m.

    First off Jared...burn that #20 Arsenal jersey. If he doesn't want to be a Gunner, then let him go. I will proudly wear my #9 Podolski or my #10 Wilshere and support the side.

    I enjoy watching the BPL, UEFA Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup & Capital One cup matches. I also keep up with the USMNT and USWNT. We have to remember that the rest of the world has like 100 years headstart on the US regarding interest in the sport. Will we ever get there? In all honesty, probably not in my lifetime.

    But there are things that the US can do. First, I agree with Paul (even if he is a Blue), we have to get on the world schedule. That would make things so much easier in regards to loans, transfers and scheduling internationals. I also think this would help our USMNT with training. Also, we do need to keep developing players. The US is more than just Howard, Dempsey and Bradley. We have Brad Friedel @ Spurs, Brad Guzan @ Villa, Danny Potts @ West Ham, Jermaine Jones @ Schalke and Jozy Altidore @ Alkmaar, just to name a few. We probably have 20 or so players playing in Europe right now at various levels. Could we say that 20 years ago? We are getting there. Finally, I love that Jurgen Klinsmann was named USMNT coach. He understands the world game.

    Anyone who doesn't like futbol can reduce it to the lowest denominator. I mean, isn't tennis just hitting a ball back and forth until someone misses, isn't golf just hitting a ball in a hole or isn't basketball just shooting the ball into the basket?

    For those of us who love the beautiful game, it's much more than just kicking a ball around. A nil-nil draw can be a great game with lots of action.

    So...go watch a Railhawks game or catch a college game in the area. Understand that the quality is not on Europe's level (hey, the Bulls or Mudcats are not MLB), but supporting local futbol develops interest which develops talent.

  • kornfan2448 Feb 25, 11:30 a.m.

    Have to admit, not a huge fan, but have been tempted to go catch a Railhawks game. Hoping that watching it live may make it more attractive. Going to a Durham Bulls game is one of my favorite things to do and I love the sport of baseball, but I can honestly say that I can not remember the last time I watched an entire game on television. I'm willing to give anything a chance, but even if I don't enjoy it, I'm not going to degrade it, I just won't go to games or watch it.

  • charlies Feb 25, 9:21 a.m.

    Jared,
    We are getting there in the US. The changes have been subtle over the last 40+ years that I have been doing this futbol thing. We, now, have a viable top pro league that have great stadiums and s in those great stadiums' seats on a game to game basis. The Triangle produces many great youth players (both boys and girls) that play at the top of the next level. In fact, it is, probably, the sport that produces the most top level Division I athletes from this area, no matter how you analyze the data. It is a continuing growing sport that has finally settled into its niche and that NICHE is growing. I, for one, am looking for continued growth....here and elsewhere across the country! Thanks for putting your sentiments into words! Charlie Slagle

  • paulmichaelowens Feb 25, 9:18 a.m.

    Good blog. I think the comments are a reflection of the attitude towards the sport, as it stands with 4 so far, 1 hater, 1 big fan, 1 supporter, and a passing plus 1.

    Myself, a person who has played, been a certified ref, and Chelsea fan, I also watch the GAME.

    Because it is a game. The attitude of the hater, is like the one who hates on NASCAR, "cars driving in circles". If you don't truly understand the sport, you cannot appreciate it. If you don't understand what a it really takes to play the game, (can you run for 90 minutes?), the skill entailed in dribbling (watch Lionel Messi), and just try and kick the ball in the goal, now do it again with a team defending. A 0-0 can be an awesome game, if you can appreciate and understand fundamentals, which just goes to show why celebrations of goals are so passionate.

    The hurdles that the US needs to get over is a REAL development problem, such as good programs for the youth, (major clubs outside the US all have youth programs), a real dedicated tiered division structure (MSL > NASL? > USL? ), and also a MATCHING schedule to the rest of the world.

    I think the Railhawks are generating buzz in the Triangle and it will take support to make them grow. Obviously the facilities are good enough for the US Teams to play on, but a dedicated stadium should be built, with the Wake Med park be a training ground. There is quite a bit of good land right near the airport that could be developed.

    I like RVP, he is on my fantasy team and wish he hadn't gone to P-U, but it demonstrates the need for World Class strikers. Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard represent the US well, but we need more like them. Michael Bradley is getting there, but is improving.

    What is needed is better coverage of the sport on a broader range of channels and streaming media.

  • immaannoid Feb 25, 8:26 a.m.

    It's interesting to hear people berate soccer/football/futbol, but think hockey is a sport. Yeah, right.

    It would be great to have real pro-soccer in the US and Triangle. Premiership clubs already support development leagues in the US (Chelsea in this area), so it's not hard to imagine that there will soon be a decent league in the US.

  • readme Feb 24, 11:57 p.m.

    I've watched many games of varying skill levels. I've played it a lot growing up. And I can sincerely say it is by far the most boring sport to watch. I realize I am in the minoroty here seeing as how the rest of the world is obsessed. But after years of reflection, I've concluded that this time, for certain, everyone ELSE is crazy. It is just plain horrible. The only entertaining parts to watch are the flopping and whiny crybaby stuff and the 15 seconds of hihlights that might be exciting enough to make the news. At least with golf they are always showing people taking shots. Golf is more fun to watch. That is sad. And all this before I even go on a rant about vuvuzelas. We haven't forgotten those.

  • 903 mens national championships Feb 24, 10:57 p.m.

    If I want to watch soccer, I'll watch my kids or whatever Spanish or English games are on cable. The quality of the mls is like watching the d-league instead of the nba...not good.

  • charlesboyer Feb 24, 8:31 p.m.

    You'd be surprised how many football fans there are around the Triangle. No, not as much as Europe, South America or Mexico, but there are indeed a good number who appreciate the game and look forward to the PL, La Liga, and Serie A action as well as the CL and World Cup. I see jerseys from the different English and Spanish clubs all around, and maybe even more often from the Primera League as well. Games are on in bars and some around town even specialize in showing the fixtures.

    As for RVP, he's doing quite well, sad as it may be to you Gooners. He's going to do something in May he would have never done in a Gunners shirt: lift the silver for the Barclay's Premier League. He also has a good chance to at least pull a double with the FA Cup -- United can and should beat anyone left in the tournament -- and maybe, just maybe pull off a treble with the Champions League. Arsenal didn't offer him any real hope of ever doing any of that, and I don't blame him a bit for wanting to play for a team that sets their sights higher than a 4th place finish on the table.

  • The Logan Zone

    Today at 11:30 am on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Detroit at New England

    Today at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • NFL: Cleveland at Atlanta

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Miami at Denver

    Today at 4:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: NC State vs. South Florida

    Today at 4:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NFL: Washington at San Francisco

    Today at 4:15 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Dallas at NY Giants

    Tonight at 8:30 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
COL 4
CAR 3
Final
DUKE 70
STAN 59
4:00pm Today
CREI
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
NCSU
SFLA
 
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
CHA
 
Final
ORL 92
MIA 99
Final
IND 83
PHO 106
Final
NYK 91
PHI 83
Final
CLE 93
TOR 110
Final
HOU 95
DAL 92
Final
MIN 101
SAC 113
Final
SAN 99
BRK 87
Final
MIL 100
WAS 111
Final
UTA 94
NOP 106
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
CHA
 
6:00pm Tonight
MEM
LAC
 
6:00pm Tonight
BOS
POR
 
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
GSW
 
9:30pm Tonight
LAL
DEN
 
Final
UGA 55
CHSO 9
Final
UF 52
EKU 3
Final
OSU 42
IND 27
Final
OKLA 44
KU 7
Final
UAB 18
MARS 23
Final
NEB 24
MINN 28
Final
PURD 14
NW 38
 
Final
ILL 16
PSU 14
Final
MSU 45
RUTG 3
Final
UCF 53
SMU 7
 
Final
SCAR 37
SALABAMA 12
Final
WKENT 45
TXSANANTO 7
 
Final
WAKE 6
VT 3
 
Final
ODU 30
LATU 27
Final
ARST 52
WASU 31
Final
CMICH 20
WMICH 32
 
Final
COLST 58
NMU 20
Final
LALAF 16
APPST 35
Final
BST 45
EMICH 30
Final
HOU 38
TULSA 28
Final
UTAH 10
ARZ 42
Final
FSU 20
BC 17
Final
UNT 17
FIU 14
 
Final
CLEM 28
GASTATE 0
 
Final
ND 28
LOU 31
 
Final
MICH 16
MD 23
 
Final
ARK 30
MISS 0
Final
PITT 30
SYR 7
Final
ISU 31
TTU 34
 
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
IOWA 24
WISC 26
Final
MEM 31
SFLA 20
Final
CAL 17
STAN 38
Final
NMST 17
LAMON 30
Final
ALA 48
WCAR 14
Final
OREG 44
COL 10
Final
MTST 35
FATL 34
Final
UVA 30
MIAMI 13
Final
AUB 31
SAMF 7
Final
TENN 21
MIZZ 29
Final
BAY 49
OKST 28
Final
MSST 51
VANDY 0
Final
UCONN 0
CIN 41
Final
UCLA 38
USC 20
Final
WYO 14
BSU 63
Final
NEV 20
FRES 40
 
Final
WASH 37
ORST 13
Final
HAW 37
UNLV 35
 
Final
PRIN 68
INCWORD 79
 
Final
UMASS 68
ND 81
Final
GEOR 80
RMU 66
 
Final
LAS 59
PETE 50
Final
VT 63
APP 65
 
Final
IUPUI 71
BST 69
Final
WMICH 91
DRAK 75
 
Final
RICH 80
HIGH 56
 
Final
MSST 71
UTST 63
Final
CAMP 48
COL 54
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
NIOWA 66
UNF 49
 
Final
CSNO 79
SAMF 72
 
Final
YALE 61
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
NEV 50
CLEM 59
Final
PROV 80
FSU 54
 
Final
MARQ 89
NEOM 97
Final
DET 66
SALA 53
 
Final
TXSA 80
TXST 67
 
Final
CHIST 75
TRINCHRIS 52
 
Final
UMO 63
LIB 52
 
Final
BONA 59
CAN 53
 
Final
SAV 87
CLST 83
 
Final
NW 68
ELON 67
 
Final
RFLSH 57
MDES 53
 
Final
CARK 68
SEMIZ 74
 
Final
AFA 90
WSCO 60
 
Final
YOUNG 82
LONG 72
 
Final
MTST 66
SOUTH 48
 
Final
ARKLR 73
UMKC 68
Final
ABCHRIST 81
DUQ 102
 
Final
WEBER 58
LSU 72
 
Final
BUT 80
GHND 39
 
Final
CSFU 70
SJST 66
 
Final
WOFF 72
SD 68
Final
NORST 76
TXSOU 66
 
Final
COOK 42
TOWS 63
 
Final
SILL 46
YALE 53
 
Final
KNST 83
ALCOR 80
 
Final
MAN 78
BING 63
 
Final
JVST 88
MILES 71
 
Final
CSOU 79
WRST 86
 
Final
CITA 81
BOBJONES 50
 
Final
INDST 78
BRO 66
 
Final
WYO 56
COL 33
 
Final
GSOUT 97
FCCOL 41
 
Final
CCAR 76
PIEDINT 33
 
Final
LATU 63
AMER 44
 
Final
MAR 62
ARMY 76
 
Final
TENT 69
CHAT 67
Final
EKENT 115
CLERMONT 50
 
Final
SMU 77
EWASH 68
Final
NIAG 62
HART 65
 
Final
PENN 77
LAF 83
 
Final
UCSB 91
MASTERS 45
 
Final
BUCK 69
MNTER 73
 
Final
VMI 93
UNCW 110
 
Final
RIU 66
NEB 62
Final
NKENTUCKY 98
OHMWSTRN 48
 
Final
GTDNS 73
QUIN 76
 
Final
EMICH 70
UNCG 62
Final
ETST 98
UNCA 87
 
Final
TEMPL 50
UNLV 57
 
Final
STJOE 68
VERM 60
 
Final
MON 65
CCST 50
Final
KSU 78
ILLCH 60
Final
FAIR 60
SHSU 74
Final
LIP 74
TRANSYLVAN 63
 
Final
FUR 55
UCD 58
Final
WKENT 63
BEL 64
Final
NDST 74
HAMP 66
 
Final
IND 85
LAM 72
 
Final
TTU 80
MIZST 68
Final
HOU 72
MRGST 57
 
Final
NAVY 44
NE 68
Final
ALAAM 81
OAKW 61
 
Final
WILL 60
SELA 57
 
Final
TULA 89
SONO 45
 
Final
TXPA 82
A 77
 
Final
RICE 65
WMARY 69
Final
TXARL 87
HOUB 69
 
Final
MINN 69
UMBC 51
 
Final
UTEP 77
NMST 76
 
Final
GONZ 109
STTHOM 55
Final
SUTAH 75
WLVRN 85
 
Final
PBY 49
MORE 69
 
Final
DUKE 70
STAN 59
Final
WISC 78
BSU 54
Final
PORT 75
SIUE 53
9:30am Today
MAINE
VALPO
 
11:30am Today
GMAS
COC
 
12:00pm Today
FSU
UMASS
 
12:00pm Today
SHSU
WOFF
 
12:00pm Today
UNCG
YOUNG
 
12:30pm Today
CMICH
ARKPB
 
1:00pm Today
ILLCH
SILL
 
1:30pm Today
MORE
AMER
 
1:30pm Today
CORN
DREX
 
2:00pm Today
CCST
COOK
 
2:00pm Today
ARKLR
CSNO
 
2:00pm Today
LEH
CLMB
 
2:00pm Today
USB
MERMAR
 
2:00pm Today
FAIR
SD
 
2:00pm Today
NMU
TEXAM
 
2:00pm Today
STLU
TAMCC
 
2:30pm Today
EMICH
LONG
 
2:30pm Today
ND
PROV
 
3:00pm Today
RAD
CATAWBA
 
3:00pm Today
DEN
COPST
 
3:00pm Today
UAB
JST
 
3:00pm Today
WICHS
NWM
 
3:00pm Today
OKLA
NWST
 
3:30pm Today
PSU
USC
 
3:30pm Today
KSU
YALE
 
4:00pm Today
CREI
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
NCSU
SFLA
 
4:00pm Today
UCR
STKAT
 
4:05pm Today
HC
NICHOLSCOL
 
4:30pm Today
BC
DAY
 
4:30pm Today
MON
TOWS
 
4:30pm Today
SAMF
UMKC
 
4:30pm Today
HOF
WAGN
 
5:00pm Tonight
CIN
EILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
UGA
FATL
 
5:00pm Tonight
BRAD
NCAT
 
5:00pm Tonight
LATU
PBY
 
5:00pm Tonight
RUTG
Terriers
 
5:30pm Tonight
NAVY
BING
 
6:00pm Tonight
SHU
GWEBB
 
6:00pm Tonight
UNT
IONA
 
6:00pm Tonight
KENT
MNTST
 
6:00pm Tonight
FORD
MLOWELL
 
6:00pm Tonight
UCF
USCU
 
6:30pm Tonight
SCAR
AKR
 
6:30pm Tonight
WVU
UCONN
 
7:00pm Tonight
CALST
DEL
 
7:00pm Tonight
HOW
HOOD
 
7:00pm Tonight
OSU
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
VANDY
TENST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NE
MAN
 
8:00pm Tonight
COLST
MERC
 
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
NARZ
 
8:00pm Tonight
WASH
PAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
LMU
SDCHR
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAR
MIAMI
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
ODU
 
9:00pm Tonight
GAELS
UCI
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
OTT 2
STL 3
Final
WAS 1
BUF 2
Final
PHI 4
CLB 2
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
 
Final
TAM 2
MIN 1
Final
BOS 0
MON 2
 
Final
NYI 4
PIT 1
 
Final
NAS 3
FLA 2
Final
DAL 5
LOS 4
Final
COL 4
CAR 3
Final
EDM 1
CHI 7
Final
CAL 5
NJD 4
 
Final
SJS 3
ARI 4
4:30pm Today
WIN
STL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
ARI
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
 
1:00pm Today
HOU
CIN
1:00pm Today
ATL
CLE
1:00pm Today
NEP
DET
1:00pm Today
MIN
GBP
1:00pm Today
IND
JAC
1:00pm Today
CHI
TAM
1:00pm Today
PHI
TEN
4:05pm Today
SEA
ARI
4:05pm Today
SDC
STL
4:25pm Today
DEN
MIA
4:25pm Today
SFX
WAS
8:30pm Tonight
NYG
DAL
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14