Last week, Major League Soccer announced continued expansion of the league with eyes on Sacramento Republic and Saint Louis FC as the next top tier franchises (following David Beckham’s Miami outfit someday).
Sure, it’s an exciting announcement. The league is growing, and with that growth, fans, advertising revenues, talent, and cash enter into the soccer picture across North America. MLS can only go up, and that’s awesome.
But, Oklahoma City, more so than Sacramento and St Louis, should be in the picture for expansion.
Hey, I get that this may be a weird article to read on the premiere FC Dallas fan-driven blog for content and hard-hitting journalism. Who cares about Oklahoma City on a site centered on all things Dallas?
It’s no secret that a few of us regulars on the site are Oklahoma-born soccer fans who came to root for FC Dallas because it was the closest pro team option as we made our way into support for Major League Soccer. Frisco is only about three hours away. Plenty of Dallas fans make that trip, braving tolls, poor driving conditions and drivers, and slightly stronger beer (though those laws are changing/have changed). I’d say that Oklahoma-based contingent of fans is significant, indicating a market that is growing with the emergence of both the Tulsa Roughnecks and Oklahoma City Energy.
Plus, Oklahoma City is booming with some of the demographics and fun that has made soccer popular in places like Atlanta and Kansas City. There is apparently some revitalization of downtown going on with breweries and “hip experiences”, if you are into that sort of thing. There is likely space in the city for a nice stadium or some sort of renovation project. And there are lots of youngsters who will help fill up an academy and lead likely to the next Chris Wondolowski (who has Kiowa family roots in Carnegie, OK).
You got to love a city that can be interpreted through sports culture, like in Sam Anderson’s Boom Town where he make the case that arrival/theft of the Oklahoma City Thunder continues OKC’s strange, exciting, disturbing, and ugly history. The arrival of a Major League Soccer franchise would continue that legacy and bring OKC deeper into the global stage. FC Dallas would gain another natural rival, and the eventual Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Oklahoma City division would be one of the most difficult in MLS.
Oklahoma needs more soccer. Too many high schools don’t provide an opportunity for youngsters to continue to their skills, and as American football declines, soccer becomes a more inclusive, fun, and friendly alternative.
Yes, the emergence of a legitimate expansion team in Oklahoma City would test my loyalties as an FC Dallas homer, but like most of us who have lived in different cities while still feeling called home, we will live in the grey and figure it out a trip up and down I-35 at a time. Sacramento and Saint Louis probably have stadium plans, fan bases, investors, and data to back up their expansion bids, but I don’t care about those things. Oklahoma City just feels right. It’s time.
Who would own the team?
Bob Funk, owner of the Oklahoma City Energy, seems the likeliest option. He already has done site feasibility studies and believes the Energy are capable of moving on up. However, there have been snags, but the latest proposal looks intriguing. Frankly, the Energy wouldn’t be a bad name to add amidst the various Uniteds and FCs in MLS either.
Who would coach the team?
Okay, this is all speculation, but I’d love see Zach Loyd, FC Dallas legend, get the nod to return to Oklahoma and help this club take its step into dominance. Barring that, Oklahoma City Energy would make a big splash and bring Oscar Pareja to the fertile, windy plains of the Sooner State.
Who would be its natural rivals?
OKC and FCD clash with such fervor that the existence of the Red River Rivalry will be forgotten, and in its place, these two clubs’ annual battle, the I-35 Invasion, would capture the imagination and passion of both states. (It also helps/hurts that climate change has reduced the Red River to the Red Stream by this time.) In addition, Oklahoma would have a heated rivalry with all California teams, re-opening and re-adjucating old Dust Bowl wounds.
What are the chances Oklahoma City Energy or another OKC team gets an MLS franchise?
100% (hypothetically speaking, of course).
- Are you excited about expansion?
- If you could help Oklahoma City’s potential pitch to Major League Soccer, what would you add to a bid?
- Do Sacramento and Saint Louis deserve slots? Why or why not?
- Could the Dallas-Ft Worth area support a second MLS team?