It took me too long, but I cracked open Long Range Goals, by Beau Dure last night. An inability to sleep combined with strong writing meant that I also finished the book. Dure you may know if you read USAToday, frequent SB Nation's MMA blogs or read ESPNw, or if really dedicated you read his blog (SportsMyriad). He's followed the league for some time and unlike some journalists wades into the fray at BigSoccer, on twitter and occasionally even reads this blog. He could probably be best described as a mainstream journalist with an expertise in Olympic sports who respects new media.
His book is a strong telling of the history of Major League Soccer. It starts right at the beginning with three competing concepts for Division One soccer in America, one of those being a wacky Americanization that is quite frankly a different game entirely. Throughout he provides citations for the extensive use of quotes, whether original or found through research. Both commissioners, the head of World Cup 1994, many players, other executives and agents make appearances. Replete with facts, data and tales of what nearly crushed the league at various points it is still paced so that you can read all at once or by taking small bites at a time.
The journey is chronological. It addresses not just off-pitch news of the year, it also encapsulates each team season. For someone like myself who listened to those first few years on Internet radio it was great to read about the Columbus Crew of the 90s. For those that are new to MLS with the Seattle Sounders it is a necessary reminder of this league's unique business history and dominant talents.
Sounders fans won't find themselves mentioned much. We are late to this party, though Seattle pops in to various expansion talk. Never as the bride, the book ends with the high notes of 2009's MLS Cup Final here.
For a soccer fan in Seattle we must embrace the league's history. We must understand that however quirky the rules and structure are now, it was once much more so. We must know that there was a long period where the league's existence was in doubt.
Just as Sounders soccer has a history prior to MLS, MLS has a history prior to Seattle. If you want to know your history there is no better start than "Long Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer." You can find it at any major retailer, on a fancy e-book and probably at the library. You should buy it though (Amazon has hardcover and Kindle e-book). You will read it again and great writers about the sport we love should be rewarded.