Tiny Iota: Dynamo secretly the best team in Houston

The most successful professional sports team in Houston this millennium hasn’t been the Texans, the Rockets, or even the Astros. It is the upstart Houston Dynamo, who delivered what the other three couldn’t: a championship. The former San Jose Earthquakes, playing out of Robertson Stadium, gave the city its first professional sports championship since 2003 (Aeros) in their first season in Houston.

However, Major League Soccer has long been an afterthought in the national sports scene. Soccer, despite being the most popular sport in the world, has never been extremely popular in the United States. Through June 20, MLS has averaged 15,368 fans per match, about the equivalent of a lower-tier NBA team or bottom-of-the-barrel major-league baseball team.

MLS still has a lot going against it, however. The biggest strike against MLS is that, unlike the rest of the sports leagues in America, it has never been seen as the best of the best. Soccer has never had a pre-eminent league. Many leagues around the world have competed for that title, including the English Premier League, the Spanish Liga, the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A and many others.

Over time, the quality of play in MLS has grown to the point where it could start getting superstars at the end of their careers, such as the January signing of English star David Beckham by the Los Angeles Galaxy. MLS is not the best soccer league in the world, and it is probably not in the top 10, but it is pretty good.

Another problem facing MLS is the over-saturation of the sports market. The league is competing against several other leagues in America, and in the day and age where casual fans can drift away from things so easily, it is important to have a spot in the national conscious.

So I’ll pose a question: When was the last time you saw an MLS game advertised on the ABC/ESPN network? At a time when ESPN seems to control so much of the sports marketplace, scattering casual fans to whatever league it inks a deal with (hello, Arena Football League!) instead of sports deserving of coverage based on their own merits, it is important to have your name out there.

While it is not exactly an anonymous league, MLS could be much more popular if it could break down this apparent anti-soccer bias that appears to be the norm in the mainstream. Until the rest of the nation catches up, here’s a tip: the best sports team in the city plays at Robertson. Go catch them while they’re still a secret.

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