OPINION: Why Louisville needs a soccer team


Jack Steele Mattingly


There’s just something about soccer. The passionate and colorful fans. The powerful shots fired at the goal. The fast flying ball hitting the net, making the crowd go wild. The game is really an amazing show. I’m a passive soccer fan. I don’t necessarily follow clubs but I watch international matches almost all year. That being said, the first word to come out of my mouth when I heard Louisville may be getting a professional soccer team was, “GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!” Not only am I personally excited, but I know that Louisville is the perfect place for such a team.

Let’s get the facts straight. Orlando’s USL Pro team, Orlando City Lions, is en route to becoming a MLS team by next year. However, this leaves an open spot for them to move their USL Pro franchise. One location has stood out at this point and that would be Louisville. But what are all these acronyms exactly? MLS stands for Major League Soccer, one of the major sports leagues in North America, and is similar to the NBA, MLB, and NFL. It consists of 19 teams but will adding two more(New York City and Orlando) by 2015. The USL is the United Soccer Leagues which is the organizer of several smaller soccer leagues in the Americas, they’re all professional but the MLS has a larger range of teams and fanbase. One of these includes USL Pro. USL Pro was formed in 2010 and has quickly become a force to be reckon with. Their recent agreement with MLS established a similar “funnel” system to the pros that we have here with the Louisville Bats/Cincinnati Reds in which basically the smaller league acts as a reserve team for future players for the major league.

The whole structure of soccer leagues in America is pretty complex and unlike any of the league systems set up in Europe. Many have labeled it the American soccer pyramid, due to the highest division being MLS, followed by the North American Soccer League(NASL), then the Professional USL clubs, and then multiple smaller leagues with a hoard of smaller clubs. If Louisville is signed up to be straight into USL Pro league(Division 3), we can expect to already gain a lot of traction in the soccer club scene of America.

But let’s take a look at soccer in Louisville. It should be well known by now that Louisville is grooming kids for the world of soccer. We have HYR, Mockingbird Valley, United Soccer Club, and many more. With an outstanding series of programs for youths to get involved with soccer, we are raising a generation that appreciates the sport of soccer.

But these soccer clubs have been in Louisville for quite some time, and the current adults of Louisville also have an appreciation for the sport. I would have to say that a Louisville MLS team would get a lot of seats filled of various ages such as we see in Europe where the sport is glorified.

Not to mention, Louisville is perfect place geographically. There’s a reason Louisville gets so much business in tourism and that has to do with our location. We have an excellent airport that brings in businessmen from around the world as well as export tons of goods through UPS. Louisville is just a great place for anyone in the United States or the world due to the convenience.

Another reason Louisville is highly regarded is that the league would like a city that already has stadium ready so that they can begin the 2015 season. Although Louisville doesn’t have a large enough local soccer stadium, Louisville Slugger Field is expected to be an excellent temporary location.

But let’s also take a look at the economic side. Based on the reasons I listed above for why a Louisville soccer team will gain a lot of attention, we can also conclude that this team will surely bring in more money to Derby City. Louisville already has a good economy but the city can always find improvements to be made and for the town to prosper.

In the end, I can only see Louisville gaining a lot out of this deal. The list of pros far outweighs that of the cons. Not to mention this would also get the whole town into the club soccer scene and only bring in more international attention. I suggest everyone go ahead and get ready to start cheering on the Louisville Lions(maybe the name could use some work), because I know I’ll be at the front of the line buying season tickets.