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

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • readme Feb 25, 2013

    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, 2013

    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, 2013

    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, 2013

    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, 2013

    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.

  • BernsteinIII Feb 25, 2013

    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, 2013

    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, 2013

    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, 2013

    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.

  • NASCAR: Folds of Honor 500 in Atlanta

    Today at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • AAC: SMU at UConn

    Today at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Big Ten: Michigan State at Wisconsin

    Today at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Wake Forest at Duke

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NBA: LA Clippers at Chicago

    Today at 1:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • Big Ten: Michigan State at Wisconsin

    Today at 4:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NHL Hurricanes at Chicago

    Tomorrow at 8:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Clemson

    Tuesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
Final
NYI 3
CAR 5
Final
DUKE 73
SYR 54
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
CHA
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
UTA
 
Final
WAS 99
DET 95
Final
MIA 91
ATL 93
Final
NYK 103
TOR 98
Final
MIN 97
MEM 101
Final
DAL 94
BRK 104
Final
UTA 82
MIL 75
Final
PHO 74
SAN 101
1:00pm Today
CHI
LAC
 
3:30pm Today
HOU
CLE
 
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
CHA
 
6:00pm Tonight
BOS
GSW
 
6:00pm Tonight
IND
PHI
 
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
POR
 
6:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
 
8:00pm Tonight
DEN
NOP
 
Final
LIP 94
KNST 75
 
Final
GHND 47
NAVY 57
 
Final
LAF 74
ARMY 64
 
Final
AMER 69
BUCK 71
 
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
STJ 81
GEOR 70
Final
CLEM 70
GT 63
Final
COL 61
LEH 55
 
Final
FSU 59
LOU 81
Final
MD 66
MICH 56
Final
UGA 68
MIZZ 44
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
LAS 56
RIU 59
Final
UNH 65
MAINE 56
 
Final
IUPUI 80
NEOM 87
 
Final
WINT 80
PBY 53
 
Final
VMI 69
SAMF 80
 
Final
CITA 54
WCU 67
 
Final
DEP 53
BUT 67
Final
LONG 70
CAMP 65
 
Final
TULA 47
CIN 63
Final
VCU 55
DAY 59
Final
TOWS 60
DEL 65
 
Final
WMARY 66
DREX 80
 
Final
JVU 75
FLGC 67
 
Final
EVAN 67
ILLST 69
 
Final
BRAD 52
INDST 60
 
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
WICHS 74
NIOWA 60
Final
UWGB 83
OU 63
 
Final
LSU 73
MISS 63
Final
OKLA 67
TCU 60
Final
BING 76
UMBC 69
 
Final
AFA 60
UTST 74
Final
GTDNS 79
VERM 73
 
Final
XAV 66
VILL 78
Final
MNTER 74
WAGN 64
 
Final
ILLCH 61
WRST 46
 
Final
YALE 90
SARAHLAW 55
 
Final
UAB 100
MTST 95
Final
NDAK 65
SUTAH 71
 
Final
LIB 77
UNCA 95
 
Final
CHIST 65
WLVRN 44
 
Final
UMO 57
BGU 62
 
Final
SHU 84
LIU 73
 
Final
APP 66
LAMON 43
 
Final
VANDY 73
ALA 66
Final
KENT 84
ARK 67
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
Final
MRGST 77
COPST 88
 
Final
SHU 67
CREI 66
Final
BONA 92
DUQ 75
Final
MERC 69
ETST 64
 
Final
UMASS 82
FORD 74
Final
RAD 72
GWEBB 62
 
Final
JMU 82
HOF 73
 
Final
BU 70
HC 77
 
Final
KYST 70
ISU 69
Final
DELST 65
MDES 69
 
Final
LOYC 65
MIZST 51
 
Final
IDAHO 80
MNTST 73
 
Final
MCNST 83
NICST 78
 
Final
TTU 63
OKST 62
Final
PORT 66
SDU 78
 
Final
BRY 61
Terriers 51
 
Final
RMU 71
RFLSH 70
 
Final
UVA 69
VT 57
Final
BAY 78
WVU 66
Final
FUR 60
WOFF 62
 
Final
SILL 63
DRAK 57
 
Final
FD 73
CCST 66
 
Final
WMICH 80
EMICH 72
 
Final
CSOU 97
HIGH 93
 
Final
UNCG 58
CHAT 61
 
Final
SD 80
SDKST 64
 
Final
CARK 74
SELA 72
 
Final
KU 69
TEX 64
Final
EWASH 76
MONT 77
 
Final
TROY 64
UGST 75
 
Final
TXST 70
ARKST 60
 
Final
UNT 57
ODU 70
Final
CORN 45
DART 56
 
Final
NCAT 77
FAM 65
 
Final
PSU 77
IOWA 81
Final
MORE 87
JVST 55
 
Final
PEPP 65
LMU 49
 
Final
SCAR 81
MSST 68
Final
BRO 62
PRIN 80
 
Final
NEV 62
SJST 51
Final
SCST 57
SAV 68
 
Final
BEL 88
TENST 62
 
Final
UF 66
TENN 49
Final
ALAST 49
TXSOU 58
 
Final
SOUTH 71
ALCOR 63
 
Final
JST 73
MVSU 49
 
Final
SEMIZ 89
PEAY 65
 
Final
TOL 70
BST 59
 
Final
KSU 65
BUF 71
 
Final
LBSU 70
CSFU 47
 
Final
MARS 79
FATL 63
Final
STLU 50
GMAS 78
Final
DAVID 77
GWU 66
Final
CLMB 70
HARV 80
 
Final
LAM 79
INCWORD 66
 
Final
YOUNG 74
UWMIL 82
 
Final
ELON 74
UNCW 55
 
Final
ILL 86
NW 60
Final
YALE 55
PENN 50
 
Final
STJOE 57
RICH 63
Final
UNF 86
STET 71
 
Final
HART 59
USB 74
 
Final
DUKE 73
SYR 54
Final
EKENT 70
TENT 67
 
Final
LATU 76
TXSA 66
Final
NKENTUCKY 84
USCU 65
 
Final
MAST 84
WILL 64
 
Final
UMKC 70
GRCN 65
 
Final
NO 75
ABCHRIST 55
 
Final
TENNM 67
MURST 73
 
Final
HOW 67
HAMP 68
 
Final
ALAAM 72
PVU 75
 
Final
SDST 46
BSU 56
Final
NILL 73
CMICH 55
 
Final
RICE 76
CHAR 77
Final
ORU 60
DEN 57
 
Final
WKENT 77
FIU 61
8:00pm Saturday
TXPA 0
NMST 0
 
Final
COC 56
NE 65
 
Final
SCU 71
GAELS 70
 
Final
HOUB 87
STEPH 102
 
Final
SMISS 63
UTEP 60
Final
MEM 72
TULSA 74
Final
UNLV 69
WYO 57
Final
TXARL 82
ARKLR 73
 
Final
TEXAM 80
AUB 55
Final
LALAF 68
GSOUT 58
 
Final
ARKPB 66
GRAM 57
 
Final
TAMCC 61
SHSU 59
 
Final
UTAH 57
ARZ 63
Final
NCOL 76
NARZ 74
 
Final
GONZ 70
BYU 73
Final
WEBER 61
IDST 57
 
Final
FRES 59
NMU 55
Final
USF 65
PAC 55
 
Final
CPSL 56
UCD 66
 
Final
PORST 60
SACST 73
 
Final
SEAT 53
CALST 43
 
Final
CSNO 83
UCR 76
 
Final
USC 70
WASH 55
Final
UCSB 54
UCI 51
 
2:00pm Today
NIAG
FAIR
 
2:00pm Today
PETE
IONA
 
2:00pm Today
RIDE
MAR
 
2:00pm Today
MAN
QUIN
 
2:00pm Today
UCONN
SMU
 
3:00pm Today
CAL
ORST
 
3:00pm Today
HOU
SFLA
 
3:30pm Today
PROV
MARQ
 
4:00pm Today
WISC
MSU
 
4:30pm Today
MON
SIENA
 
6:30pm Tonight
WAKE
PITT
 
7:00pm Tonight
STAN
OREG
 
7:30pm Tonight
OSU
PURD
 
8:30pm Tonight
COL
ARST
 
9:30pm Tonight
UCLA
WASU
 
Final
FLA 5
BUF 3
Final
NAS 3
DET 4
Final
NYI 3
CAR 5
Final
CLB 0
NJD 2
Final
BOS 4
ARI 1
Final
MON 4
TOR 0
Final
PHI 4
NYR 2
Final
COL 1
MIN 3
Final
SJS 2
OTT 4
Final
EDM 1
STL 2
4:00pm Today
WIN
LOS
 
5:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
FLA
TAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DAL
ANA
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
STL