Jul 1, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Soccer fans watch during a viewing party for the USA versus Belgium World Cup Soccer match on Freedom Plaz. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

What Kaka can really expect in Central Florida

Move over, Ann Coulter, you’ve got another guest on the soccer-hate bandwagon.

Beth Kassab, a News Columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, decided to write about soccer in America, because why not — let’s just start writing about what we don’t know. (In a related story, I’m about to write a letter to New York Knicks president Phil Jackson on how to build this basketball team because I’m such an expert in basketball tactics)

Kassab writes in the story, which I won’t bother linking because I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now, essentially that soccer is nothing but the redheaded stepchild when it comes to sports in Orlando.

She goes on to bash soccer and Major League Soccer throughout the story, then tried to claim on Twitter that it had nothing to do with the sport’s popularity on Orlando — which she did a very poor job of showing us that.

Let me remind you that the title of this column was “What Kaka can expect in Central Florida.” What she forgot to mention is that Kaka can expect an ever growing and very supportive fan base — one that had a couple hundred greet him at the airport; one that packed the Citrus Bowl with 20,000 people for the championship game of a third tier soccer league (absolutely no offense to USL PRO) last season; and one that average 8,000 fans per game last season.

At one point, she compared him to David Beckham, “America’s favorite Calvin Klein model, with spicy Victoria on his arm.” She added that “that more locals would recognize you if you modeled Old Navy jeans instead of Armani suits.” False. Pretty big character worldwide, and any soccer fan would know who he is. Most locals who don’t follow sports generally don’t know who any athlete is.

Then also said “this isn’t L.A., and you aren’t David Beckham.” Yeah, you’re right. Kaka isn’t David Beckham, very few people in the world match his footballing skill and popularity — Christiano Ronaldo would be the best comparison, in my mind — but from a pure skill and accomplishment standpoint, Kaka has much more coming to Orlando and MLS with him than Beckham.

Now, on to the MLS TV ratings which she mentioned. No, MLS will never reach that of the NFL —  probably no sport in the country will in the foreseeable future. MLS, yes, does have poor TV ratings for several reasons that don’t just include people not wanting to watch.

From my point of view, MLS has done a poor job over the past, well, since ever of promoting their brand and promoting games. The league just signed a massive TV deal with ESPN, FOX and Univision that will put more games on TV, and expose the league to a wider audience. To this point, I hardly get any games on TV. ESPN throws in a few games a year, and NBCSN has it’s normal games of the week, but not everybody even gets that channel. MLS is not like the NFL, where you can turn on the game on any given Sunday and watch five different games on any basic cable station.

I’ll give you credit, you got the page clicks that we’re all go after, but at the end of the day, you argument is not strong. The numbers show that this city will support the game, and it’ll support this team. If it wouldn’t then we wouldn’t be getting our MLS team, and certainly wouldn’t be getting our nice new stadium.

In telling Kaka what he can expect here in Central Florida, you pretty much dictated what you can expect: a lot of really angry soccer fans.

Tags: Major League Soccer Orlando City SC

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