Like the MLS. The league established itself as an American soccer league with credible American players (on Sunday, all of D.C.'s goals were scored by U.S. citizens) and enthusiastic American spectators. Who would have thought that the MLS's New York-New Jersey MetroStars would average 3,000 more fans than the Mets?
It is something that not even United midfielder John Harkes, a former ball boy for the old North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos who has grown up to be the spokesman for U.S. soccer, could have imagined. "I remember when the Cosmos were my idols, and then one day the league just folded into nothing more than memories in a scrapbook," said Harkes, who returned from the English Premier League to help launch the MLS. "With this season, soccer is awake again in this country. I hope that 30 years from now people will look back on this game the way we look back on Super Bowl I."
There was relief in Harkes's voice and a conviction that the drama just concluded would be merely the first in a long run of championships. Just a game. Not a collector's item.