With the publishing of my 'Backpass' article this week and the conclusion of the MLS regular season, 'Around MLS' will be signing off and closing down, sadly.
Our website was started with a bevy of young talent and a lot of ambition. Unfortunately, it ultimately didn't sustain itself. The original goal was a website that would preview and recap every game each week, but after a few months, there weren't enough writers to cover the whole league. The talented Jay Stuccio was editing, managing, and writing, while going to college at the same time - the definition of burning the candle at both ends.
We also had tremendous energy at the beginning of the site, but a lot of it dissipated quickly. Many writers who started with a lot of desire ultimately didn't make it past June. Some writers made promises penned two articles and disappeared. Sometimes the quality of writing was, uh, uneven.
Our GoDaddy-platform CMS (content management system) did us no favors, either. The website looked pretty, but editors needed to cut and paste everything themselves. The system to have more than one editor logged on was wonky, at best. There was no comments section, no way to embed a gif or a tweet or an instagram, and no way for writers to see how many page views they were getting. None of that helped us to grow the site. [If you ever plan to start your own blog/website/news site, mark my words, do not use GoDaddy.]
When Jay and graphic designer Mickey Kennedy jumped to Soccer By Ives in July, the site needed a massive programmatic shift just to keep going - no more previews and recaps, just team-beats for a few clubs, and a weekly column. I dutifully took over as Editor in Chief, although I knew the odds of expanding our readership, picking up some committed and talented writers, and monetizing the site to make a few bucks was woefully slim.
Even doing a few consistent columns with a half-dozen committed writers proved too difficult, as fewer and fewer writers were regularly contributing. In the end, only Galaxy writer Rye Bails and me were punching the clock for our shift at the plant. It was honestly a stretch just to get the site to the end of the first MLS season.
There is much to be proud of. We had some very successful articles, and some very successful weeks. Some pieces got national attention from the soccer intelligensia and did thousands of page views. Our midseason review was excellent, especially with cameos from brilliant nationally acclaimed writers like Rob Usry and Harrison Crow. Talented writers like Rye Bails and Hossam Zaki emerged. And Jay Stuccio and Mickey Kennedy were scooped from our humble arms up to a bigger outlet, SBI. Those are all great successes.
But ultimately, I'm disappointed. When I joined the team in February after leaving Burgundy Wave, I was hopeful that a few good writers could make a go of it with an independent site that didn't have the same standardized approach to football news and content creation that SB Nation or Vavel do. Both are great outlets, but a lot of their content has a sameness that can ultimately stifle creativity. I don't claim that Around MLS was a bastion of alterna-soccer-writing. In fact, we were often pretty run of the mill. And sometimes, out of a need to cover every team, we had some below-average writing. You should see some of the s%^& I read before it got edited.
But there was a dream, and it ultimately sagged like a heavy load under the weight of it's own expectation. And now it is done.
I dunno where I'm going next. I hope I and some of the other Around MLS writers keep clacking the keyboards on MLS somehow, somewhere next season. Like a lot of young soccer players, we've been cut loose at the end of a disappointing year, and nobody knows where our paths lead.
Thanks for reading Around MLS.