MLS has existed for 16 years, 11 of which occurred before David Beckham descended from the heavens (what they call the check signing room at MLS HQ) and landed in Los Angeles. Of course, in a country with four other major sports deeply rooted in the national consciousness over many decades of popularity, this is only a few rings in the tree. According to Thierry Henry, who is now in his third season with New York, this is a problem.
From the New York Times:
Overcoming the popularity of the N.F.L. or Major League Baseball is something that even a transplanted New Yorker like Henry knows is virtually impossible. After all, he plays in a market where one night earlier this season the Red Bulls played a game on the same night that the Yankees, Mets, Knicks and Rangers all had games on television, too.
"There were five New York teams on television at the same time — what can you do about that?" Henry said. "How do you compete with 100 years of history in these other sports? In the other sports, people can say, 'Do you remember that series from years ago? That big hit?' What can they say about M.L.S.? Do you remember yesterday?"
Though there were other leagues and legends that make up the patchwork history of the sport in America, Henry might have a point in thinking that the youth of MLS might serve as a deterrent to nostalgia junkies.
Lucky for MLS, history is something that's incredibly easy to invent. After all, humans have been doing it for thousands of years. All the league needs to do is hire someone like George R.R. Martin to concoct tales of bygone eras and heroes past to fill an official history book and serve as the basis for a series of fake black and white news clips that will be put on YouTube.
Then stories of the league's colorful past will be known and treasured by all. Like the one of James "Infant" Blooth, who famously called his shot and pointed to the spot in the goal where he would score against the Chicago Fire in 1923 (back when angry Chicagoans felt it was still too soon to name a sports team after the 1871 disaster). Or the epic "Hypothermia Cup" of 1960 where sub-zero temperatures caused the game to be briefly halted when the referee's whistle froze to his lips after calling for a penalty.