Recently I’ve been listening to a band called Divine Fits (recommended!). Many folks refer to them as an indie rock supergroup, but I’d wager most people haven’t heard of the bands they come from. Supergroups come together when musicians from well-known acts form one new and (by name, anyway) superior act than their native ensembles.
But to be honest, most of them suck.
Sure you’ve got Cream, but you’ve also got Slash’s Snakepit and Zwan. And trust me there are a lot more Zwans than Creams on Wikipedia’s list. Also, as my friend Brad said, if you look at that list, there’s a disproportionate amount of bands that list Clapton as a member…which further diminishes the odds of a supergroup being any good if it doesn’t have Clapton in it.
In MLS, there are a two true supergroups that have formed; one with fantastic results, one less so.
The LA Galaxy are one of MLS’ most storied franchises and they’ve got the hardware and roster to back that up. Our rival to the north, New York, is a work in progress—lots of shiny parts, no shiny trophies. These supergroups have come together from various leagues and countries to form what should be a dominant presence in MLS. But, soccer, like music, is about much more than the player, it’s about chemistry. Adding expensive pieces does not guarantee greatness and we’ve seen many designated players join the league and make little to no impact. It’s because of the importance of striking the right balance of unity and formula for success.
On the other side of things, you’ve got bands that start together and grow into their roles as a unit. And there’s something wholly exciting about a group creating music that they fostered together, of creating a whole that’s unique and organic resulting from hours of playing together and honing their craft. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell posits that The Beatles were successful, in large part, because they practiced like crazy. None of them were wildly special, but they were so well-practiced as a unit, they rose above their own separate potential to create, well, THE BEATLES.
With that in mind, I like to think of the Union roster as The Beatles-in-training. As it stands, the roster is chock full of young, talented, and hungry players. They have at the very least, a promising level of talent. And, most of them will be playing together for the foreseeable future. They could set young ladies’ hearts aflame! They could create some of soccer’s all-time greatest goals and defensive stops! They could capture the national consciousness and make soccer THE AMERICAN SPORT. Okay. So maybe not The Beatles, but at the very least a beacon of hope for professional sports.
Pro sports today moves at the speed of light: teams hire coaches, fire coaches, sign and trade players at a rate that’s impossible to keep up with. I don’t have to document the decline of player-team loyalty, it’s simply the state of pro sports. In fact, the fans feed the frenzy just as much as the teams. Think about any of the transactions or rumors of possible trades, signings, and releases you’ve heard as a fan of any team, let alone the U. I’m sure you’ve reacted calmly and rationally every time. It goes without saying that this is part of fandom. But it’s out of control.
That’s why it’s nice to see how the Union now seem dedicated to fostering a team that will be around for more than a year—growing players in a system is a rarity in this day in age. Obviously success is not guaranteed, but it’s fun to root for a team finding itself and discovering their chemistry together.
Just give them time and I bet they’ll come together.