MIAMI - David Beckham has done it. Major League Soccer is finally coming to South Florida.
While thousands (hopefully) are cheering on Becks as he flashes his global star power to bring Miami an MLS franchise, lets not forget that we've been here before... and failed miserably.
That's right, this is not the MLS's first rodeo in these here parts. Or have you forgotten all about the Miami Fusion?
Back in 1997, the Fusion were one of the first two expansion teams in the brief history of the MLS. Eager to tap into an international market full of what it thought would be an enthusiastic group of supporters, the expansion was ready for lift off in 1998.
However, you knew things weren't quite "right" at the get-go. First, the Miami Fusion would actually play 20 miles to the north in Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium. Second, the team failed to draw fans after an opening night attendance over 20,000.
The Fusion then fired its first head coach after just 19 games.
However, despite the off-pitch struggles, the Fusion, led by Carlos Valderrama and his wild hair, eventually made the playoffs in its inaugural season before being eliminated by D.C. United.
But low attendance eventually doomed the franchise as the team struggled on the field. In 2001, attendance was the fourth worst in the entire league.
In 2002, the MLS contracted the franchise along with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and was given the boot. The Fusion ownership group reportedly lost millions during its years in the MLS.
Beckham and his ownership group obviously believe this time will be different. Major League Soccer is no longer the new kid on the block and has created real roots in the U.S.
Also, the new Miami MLS team will actually play in Miami and in a brand new stadium.
Of course, being an expansion team, things will be bumpy at the start and success may be a few years down the road, but the pieces are there and now it's up to South Florida to prove the second time is the charm.
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