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MLS Grounds That Soccer Fans Must Visit

In the 1970s, the North American Soccer League certainly grabbed the headlines. The New York Cosmos, with a lineup that featured Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and Johan Cruyff, were as big in the Big Apple as the New York Yankees.

Elsewhere, soccer luminaries such as George Best, Eusebio, Gordon Banks and Trevor Francis populated NASL sides. These superstars of past and present were putting the beautiful game on the map in America the beautiful. How sad then that there simply weren't soccer-suitable stadiums to allow these players to display their magic?

Most NASL squads simply played their matches in hastily-converted American football stadiums. Matches were contested on hideous artificial turf, which made the soccer ball bounce with the same uncontrollable ricochet that a golf ball takes when it strikes pavement.

That isn't the case with today's Major League Soccer. The top soccer outfit in North America, most grounds that are home to MLS teams are quaint, cozy, soccer-first facilities.

Certainly, these grounds enable fervid supporters to create an environment where the visiting side can be certain that they're in for a long afternoon or evening, an ideal scenario to place a wager on the home side with the online sports betting site that best suits your needs.

Let's take a look at the MLS grounds that are well worth visiting if a trip to North America is on the agenda.

BMO Field, FC Toronto

BMO Field

BMO Field, home of Toronto FC. Photo by Abazz (Wikimedia Commons)

Erected on the site of the Canadian National Exhibition, BMO Field rocks on match day. This is the same locale where dismal Exhibition Stadium was home to the NASL's Toronto Blizzard, the MLB Toronto Blue Jays and CFL Toronto Argonauts in the mid-1970s. But while the Blizzard were third in the pecking order there, BMO Field puts Toronto FC atop the heap.

Yes, the Argos do also play here but they take a back seat at BMO. The Argonauts only wish they could ramp up the raucous level of support that packs a Toronto FC game.

The Southend Supporters, also known as the Red Patch Boys, get this place rocking whenever Toronto FC takes the pitch. Other supporters' groups include U-Sector, Kings in the North, Tribal Rhythm Nation and Original 109.

Constructed in 2007, BMO Field has seating for 30,000 fans.

Subaru Park, Philadelphia Union

Subaru Park

Subaru Park. Photo by: Something Original (Wikimedia Commons).

You'll not find a more scenic setting for an MLS Stadium than the one in the City of Brotherly Love. Nestled on Chester's Waterfront at the Delaware River and next to Commodore Barry Bridge, the view looking out from the stadium is equal to the splendid sightlines from the seating to the pitch.

Supporters group The Sons of Ben, named in recognition of U.S. founding father and Philadelphia icon Ben Franklin, actually drove a grassroots campaign to raise funds to help pay for the stadium.

Subaru Park opened in 2010 and holds 18,500 spectators, with a three-tiered plan in the works to expand capacity to 20,000, then 27,000 and finally 30,000.

Providence Park, Portland Timbers

Providence Park

Providence Park. Photo by: Hawk00eyes (Wikimedia Commons).

A side that can trace its roots back to the halcyon days of the NASL, the Timbers look to the future while embracing their past when they take to the pitch at Providence Park.

The outside covering of ivy provides the facility an old-time look to it, and that's appropriate considering Providence Park first opened its doors in 1926. The covered seats serve a two-fold purpose. They keep the Timbers Army supporters dry during the city's notoriously rainy weather, and it keeps their flares from extinguishing.

Renovations continue to give Providence Park a new look. It's closeness to neighbourhood watering holes ensure that a good time will be had by all.

Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles FC

Banc of California Stadium

Banc of California Stadium. Photo by: BagmanTheEditor (Wikimedia Commons).

When seeking a blueprint for how an MLS stadium should be designed, Banc of California Stadium would be an ideal starting point. It's a soccer-specific stadium with a natural playing surface. The sightlines are spectacular, the atmosphere inviting, and all the seating is covered.

It offers an intimate capacity and creates an environment that won't soon be forgotten. Seats are as close as 12 feet from the pitch, yet the 34-degree incline ensures that there isn't a bad seat in the house, None of the 22,000 spectators are further than 135 feet from the action.

The 3252 supporters club in the north end, so named for the number of seats in the safe-standing section, even includes their own supporter-designed bar that is only accessible via that section of the stadium.

Everyone loves Banc of California Stadium it seems - expect for the visiting side.

Keyworth Stadium, Detroit City FC

Keyworth Stadium

Detroit City FC Northern Guard Supporters. Photo by: John C. Mozena (Wikimedia Commons).

No, DCFC is not an MLS side. In fact, they play in the National Independent Soccer Association, a fourth-tier pro league. But they are a cultural phenomenon known nationwide. No tour of North American soccer grounds could be considered complete without a visit to Keyworth Stadium.

Originally commissioned by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a works project during the Great Depression, the stadium opened in 1936. DCFC raised over $700,000 to renovate the facility in the inner-Detroit suburb of Hamtramck.

Managed by former Ipswich Town player Trevor James, Le Rouge, as DCFC are known, are famous for their Northern Guard Supporters. From their skull facemasks, to their ritualistic march to the stadium on match day and their entertaining, sometimes profane chants, an afternoon spent amidst the Northern Guard Supporters is an afternoon you'll remember forever.

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