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Michelle's Musings...Welcome back Becks Edition

1. So, David Beckham is officially back tonight, gracing MLS fans with his presence after his Italian jaunt. While he was gone, Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan basically trashed him in the book The Beckham Experiment, by Sports Illustrated writer (and former Miami Herald intern) Grant Wahl. Donovan contends Becks was not a great teammate, and was stingy, to boot.

Becks had harsh words for Landon upon his arrival at camp, but says they have smoothed things over and if Landon is in scoring position, Becks will feed him the ball. We'll see if he sticks to his word.

2. I was at Wimbledon and on vacation in Spain during Gold Cup (Ronaldo Nike posters plastered all over Madrid saying "His Expectations are Greater than Yours''), but saw there were great, spirited crowds at FIU. That's fabulous. But it doesn't mean MLS would work there. Fans here are very passionate about international soccer. MLS, not so much. Maybe some day, but not yet. Seattle is the kind of place MLS works best, and the 30,000 crowd last week is proof.

3. Feel bad for Miami FC, which has tried every which way to get fans here involved, and is struggling at the gate. Announced crowd of 450 last week. Ouch. Hard to believe fans here (who had the HIGHEST TV ratings for Confederations Cup) wouldn't at least have some desire to see pro soccer live. But apparently, most don't. Never-ending dilemma.

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Please Michelle don't act so stupid. Miami FC does zero advertising. Fan can only do so much to spread the word. Don't come out and blame the fans.

Gotta agree with George here, go ask any random number of people across Miami if they know about Miami FC and they will tell you they have no clue. It isn't the front office's fault, they do what they can with what they have, but its the Traffic group that is not putting any effort or money into a serious marketing campaign to reach the fans in Miami.

And MLS can work here and at FIU. The Fusion were just getting off the ground and averaging around 11,000 in 2001! Eight years later, US soccer has improved and interest is up. Put an MLS team in Miami with the right ownership group and a talented team and it WILL succeed, and then some. The Gold Cup WAS proof of this.

It is sad when the Gold Cup can draw 17,000 for what are basically four mediocre national sides (Costa Rica being the best of the bunch), then Miami FC draws 400 fans at the same stadium just days later. Too many soccer fans in South Florida care much more about their clubs/national teams "back home" than they do about a pro team in their current home. Kind of similar to what happens here with other pro sports.

Nevertheless, Miami FC has a strange advertising strategy: put up billboards at foreign stadiums in hopes that Miamians watching the games (and they do watch) will notice, but virtually zero advertising at home. They can do a LOT better with local advertising, IMO.

Last but not least, the USL schedule is the strangest I've seen of any pro league. Earlier in the season, Miami FC didn't play a home game for what appeared to be 4-5 weeks. Not a good way to build momentum and fan interest.

MLS made an abysmal mistake by letting the Fusion fail while simultaneously propping up KC and Dallas(why you choose to stick it out in those two markets as opposed to S. Florida is beyond me), and because of that top division soccer should have never left South Florida. Now we have to start from scratch first just to get a team back and second to regain the fans the Fusion were beginning to acquire at a fast rate. This market was about to hit it's stride for pro soccer and the rug was pulled out from under us.

Miami FC is a mess, mostly thanks to Traffic. Selling key players, not finding a decent home venue until this season(and even then FIU and Lockhart are grossly oversized for ANY minor league club, much less one in Miami), and have done close to ZERO local advertising. And people want to blame the fans? Heck, if not for the hardcore fans and our 24 hour soccer-thon event earlier this year this team might not even exist anymore. Put a game or two on TV, or maybe put a few billboards up and you make 90% of South Florida aware of this team first, and then you can talk about getting more fans out to games. Joe Soccer Fan isn't gonna dig into the back page of the sports section(or web site) to look up soccer when he's got La Liga, FMF, MLS, and UEFA on his TV all the time. You've got to put it in his face as much as you can. You can hardly tell a game is being played if you drive past FIU or Lockhart on gameday, much less beforehand.

As much as I'd like to see support built from the ground up, and for Miami FC to succeed, I'm afraid the best hope for pro soccer in South Florida lies with some billionaire with an itch for soccer and the desire to build a MLS stadium. With a die-hard, totally committed owner willing to spend(and lose) money, I could see a USL side here pulling in 4-5,000 fans per game after a few years, like Rochester, Charleston, Puerto Rico, Portland and Vancouver get, but with Traffic at the helm it ain't happening. Constantly threatening to fold the team and relying on word of mouth and articles in the paper(albeit good ones) to promote the club are no way to build a strong fan base.

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