There was some news earlier in the week that perhaps may have flown under the radar in New England. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that it actually happened in Houston or the fact that it has to do with their new NWSL expansion team the Houston Dash.
Either way, it's important for New England soccer fans because it allows our number one soccer rivalry to spill over into the women's game.
Brian Ching has been named managing director of the expansion NWSL team the Houston Dash and will be involved in both the soccer and business sides of the franchise after retiring this year after a 12-year MLS career and eight years with the Houston Dynamo. Also, earlier today, the Dash announced former USWNT and Breakers (WPS) coach Tony DiCicco was hired as a consultant after reports he could be the Dash's first head coach.
The news on December 23rd about Brian Ching was an early Christmas present for me and as far as I'm concerned, all New England area soccer fans.
Why? Because it's widely known that the New England Revolution fanbase doesn't much care about Houston, the Dynamo or that striker I mentioned earlier. I won't go into details because it brings back to many bad memories.
And now, a Brian Ching led and Tony DiCicco consulted NWSL team is going to play against our New England, erm, Boston Breakers. I'm starting the rivalry between the two right now, before the Dash even sign their first player or select their first draft pick, just on the fact that the Dash's managing director is one of New England's premier soccer villans and it's being consulted by one of the legends of US Soccer who happens to be a New Englander and former Breakers head coach (DiCicco is a Wethersfield, CT native).
And while there's probably not a lot of animosity towards DiCicco, who's a USSF Hall of Famer and rightly so, New England Revolution fans harbor a lot of ill will towards Ching. So what better way to introduce Revs fans to the NWSL than to get them a little fired up about defeating an old nemesis.
In all honesty, I'm excited for this. I want an excuse to watch more NWSL soccer, to support the women's game and new league and of course, read more of Nick Hemming's excellent coverage of the Breakers. But most importantly, I want to beat Brian Ching and his team, be it the Houston Dynamo or Dash, at every possible opportunity.
And that means that three times a year when the Breakers and Dash play, the atmosphere at Dilboy Stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium should be electric. Or better yet, perhaps a Revolution-Breakers vs. Houston double-header at Gillette? A chance to beat both Houston soccer teams in the span of a few hours? Sign me up right now.
But the question is, can the Breakers' Boston/New England NWSL fanbase buy into this rivalry and can Revolution fans be excited for women's soccer? The average fan might not know too much about the New England Revolution-Houston Dynamo rivalry and think that their rivals are other northeast teams like the Western NY Flash, Sky Blue FC (NJ) and the Washington (DC) Spirit. I think Revolution diehards should be jumping at another chance to extract revenge against Brian Ching, even if he's just the managing director of an NWSL team now.
In a league with not a lot of teams and a lot of familiar players, particularly United States Women's internationals, it's difficult to build rivalries. Sure Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign will always dislike each other because it's Cascadia, but the rest of the country is largely devoid of any rivalry that's not geographic.
The Houston Dash's closest opponent is FC Kansas City, which could be another budding MLS-style rivalry. In 2013 if the NWSL had a rivalry week, the NWSL's Cascadia rivalry would've likely joined FC Kansas City and the Chicago Red Stars, while Washington and Sky Blue FC and Boston and Western NY would've rounded out the projected games. But to promote the NWSL, you need to get excited to watch every game, not just the ones against your rivals or to see the rotating group of USWNT internationals play.
That's why I'm drumming up the NWSL's newest rivalry between the New England, erm, Boston Breakers and the Houston Dash. Revolution fans already dislike Houston and Brian Ching, so getting them into the spirit of this new and budding rivalry shouldn't be too hard. This can absolutely work.
And since Brian Ching has retired from this playing career, he can't be beaten on the field anymore, so I'll settle for off the field. If New England/Boston soccer fans cheer loudly enough the Breakers beat the Dash badly enough, maybe we can get Ching fired...
Still wouldn't make up for 2006 but it'd be a start. Hopefully the start of a new rivalry as well.
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