By J Hutcherson (June 30, 2020) US Soccer Players - Let's assume that the bubble holds. Major League Soccer makes it through their MLS is Back tournament as planned. There's no additional hiatus, no crisis moment, and all involved play out the schedule as if it's business as usual. Even better, the concentrated environment improves play, leading to a bitter fight for a championship that resonates . . .
By J Hutcherson (June 23, 2020) US Soccer Players - Belgian's Pro League became the first notable topflight in Europe to decide not to resume its season. Minus a government mandate, Belgian soccer authorities decided to act before the Bundesliga showed a restart was possible. Their northern neighbor the Netherlands had no choice. The Dutch government banned any pro sports until September, calling . . .
By J Hutcherson (June 16, 2020) US Soccer Players - Major League Soccer decided early on that its version of parity would make them the league of no dynasties. To their single-entity way of thinking, this was a good thing. No dynasties meant no dominant teams defining their new league. They were wrong. DC United was the first MLS dynasty and the LA Galaxy was right there with them. Chicago emerged . . .
By J Hutcherson (June 9, 2020) US Soccer Players - Back in 2010, the 5th-place team in the Western Conference took advantage of Major League Soccer's pseudo single-table. With all of the wildcard playoff spots up for grabs regardless of conference, the West took all four of them. The East had no one to blame but themselves when one of those low seed Western Conference teams ended up winning the . . .
By J Hutcherson (June 2, 2020) US Soccer Players - On May 26, 1999, Manchester United scored twice in stoppage time to win the Champions League. It's a classic moment in large part because so many people around the world saw it live. Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel running up the field to join the United attack. Bayern Munich trying to shake off that equalizer only to see United set . . .
By J Hutcherson (May 26, 2020) US Soccer Players - In 1996-97 Borussia Dortmund became the unlikely champions of Europe. At the time, the Champions League was still a new format to answer an old question. Who was the best team in Europe? That now required a group stage. Dortmund took full advantage, shining the light on a club that wasn't as well known outside of Germany and becoming the first . . .
By J Hutcherson (May 19, 2020) US Soccer Players - Back in 2001, the Miami Fusion entered the MLS playoffs with momentum. They were the Supporters' Shield winners, tied on points with fellow class of '98 expansion club Chicago. Though there were rumors that the league was in financial trouble and potentially considering contraction, Miami wasn't at the top of that list. They were a team looking to . . .
By J Hutcherson (May 12, 2020) US Soccer Players - In 1984 the North American Soccer League barely had the cash in hand to try to buy time. The league's survival was the overarching issue. A last gasp gambit to revitalize the league by having the United States host the 1986 World Cup failed the previous summer. With no answer for the flagging interest in the league except to spend money they . . .
By J Hutcherson (May 5, 2020) US Soccer Players - The 1981 season was pivotal in the story of the original North American Soccer League. After rampant expansion in the back half of the 1970s, the league began to shed teams. The new normal for the upstart NASL was trying to preserve what it had rather than adding more. The 1980 season was the last at 24 teams. They would start 1981 with 21 teams . . .
By J Hutcherson (Apr 28, 2020) US Soccer Players - As ESPN's The Last Dance makes clear, the biggest story in Chicago sports in the summer of 1998 was the Chicago Bulls. They won the final NBA championship of the Michael Jordan era amid the kind of turmoil that justifies a multipart documentary series. What could an expansion MLS team do that same summer to have any kind of relevance? Well, the . . .