While Glasgow has a rich football history, the story of my team is not so glamorous. Being a fan of “soccer” in the US leaves one with very little choice or hope. The national team continually underperforms, exhibition games are usually quite underwhelming, as top tier clubs wouldn’t want to injure anyone in a no-stakes exhibition, and the only real hope for one having pride in a team is the Major League Soccer (MLS).
The MLS is perhaps the worst national league in the world. It’s made of largely American talent that’s not good enough to break into the main European leagues, over the hill, mid-tier talent from pretty much every average club in Europe, and Caribbean and Central American talent wishing to make a higher salary than in their own domestic leagues. The league is structured as a quasi-American, quasi-European league, that seemingly draws on the worst qualities of both competitions. Add to that the fact that domestic talent is drafted, leading to the best domestic talent going to the worst clubs with no development programmes, the best foreign talent going to those who can pay and are usually already good. In short, the best stays the best and the worst seemingly get worse.
In this awful league there is a new team: my team, F.C. Cincinnati. Founded only 18 months ago, and despite the city throwing money into a large, new 38,000 seater stadium, it seems to pale in comparison to Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls, or F.C. LA –the bigger hitters in the MLS. In our inaugural season of the MLS this year, we lost – a lot. We also came dead last – by a lot. Having only notched in six wins all season, scoring only 31 goals over 34 games –yep, that’s more games than goals – F.C. Cincinnati were 13 points adrift of anyone else in the Eastern Conference, and 10 points in the overall MLS league standings. In losing seasons, one might claim a minor victory by beating their local rivals, but we didn’t even do that. We performed better against our rival team, Columbus Cruisers, when we were in the second-tier league –in the MLS, we lost 3 – 1 in the fantastically-named “hell is real derby”. We also broke one record in our first season in the division, goals conceded – with 75 against our name in just 34 games. The worst part is, as I’ve previously said, it will not get better.
So why keep going then? Why be a fan of this club unless you’re a sadistic masochist? Well, there’s something special in Ohio where we seemingly enjoy losing: see the Cleveland Browns or Cavs. We have disdain for those who win; they seemingly have it easy, or are fake fans. It’s easy to wear a jersey when you win the cup, but would you wear it and go to games when you’re getting decimated? We believe football is about the experience and the pride for the area you’re representing, even when we (almost always) lose. As our chant goes, “no one likes us but that’s ok, score a goal, score a few, Cincinnati, we’re here for you.”
So, while your team is in a bad spell of form, or having a worse season than you may have expected, don’t be upset. Only through heartbreak do you get to earn your badge of honour as a true fan. If nothing else, you can take heart that you’re not a fan of F.C Cincinnati, and you can hope for a better season next year.