MLS Fantasy: Why playing Fantasy Soccer Manager should be on every fan's to-do list this year

Maybe fantasy isn't your thing. Maybe you don't know the rules. Maybe the time commitment seems overwhelming. Or maybe you just don't see the fun in it.

That's all fair. Just don't knock MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager before you try it. Whether this is your first, third, 10th or 18th season following Major League Soccer, everyone should try their hand at management at least once.

Much like MLS itself, Fantasy Manger is a great way to unite friends and families (and perhaps even convert some of them into fans), learn about the league and feel the affect of controversy and drama firsthand while experiencing the thrill of competition each and every week of the season.

That's not enough? How does $10,000 in prizes sound to you? At the very least, join or create a league and play along with your friends and coworkers. Perhaps you just want to show your team is as well supported in fantasy soccer as it is in real life. Or maybe it's even a chance to seed the next generation of MLS fans.

I recently came across this comment in one of our Fantasy Chatter threads:

For them, it's a father-son bonding experience, a chance to follow something they both love with something shared on the line. And if a 10-year-old can enter the discussion – and pick a fantasy team that's actually pretty darn good – what excuse do you have?

With his lineup in mind, let's play a little word association game. Match the players above with the team they play for. How many did you get right? If you're an MLS Fantasy Manager, you probably know all of them.

Case in point, a few comments down the page:

MLS Fantasy Manager isn't just about competition and comradery. It's not all about prizes – although those are nice. It's a learning experience, a fun way to help you better understand the league you love and the players that make it truly special.

Four years ago, I could maybe name 50 MLS players. Rivalries? No clue. For the most part, the league and CONCACAF Champions League schedule, transfer and trade markets and club identities were a mystery. Now? Let's just say I've made significant progress – and plenty of friends along the way.

And, most importantly, it's been fun. It's kept me engaged in MLS even when I couldn't watch the matches. It's given me a new community to call my own. It's turned a novice into an expert.

So if you're new to MLS or feel like you could improve your knowledge of the league you call your own, sign up to play and create or join a league with your friends today. There's nothing to lose – unless, of course, you stay on the sidelines.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.