LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena called the first year of Major League Soccer "challenging," with many involved not sure where the league would go after it staged its first game on April 6, 1996.
MLS turned 20 years old as a league on Wednesday, and Arena, who was involved in the league's first match, said that he and most everyone involved in the fledgling venture were "scrambling" right from the start.
"We had a very inexperienced league with a bunch of people who didn't have much experience in soccer at a high level or professional sports," Arena told MLSSoccer.com. "So it was very challenging in the early going. We didn't know what we were about.
"Obviously, the old days of the NASL were always a shadow on our league from the start. The league was created in a more responsible business manner, and everyone was conscious of that, yet in all honesty none of us really knew where we were going in the early going."
Arena coached D.C. United in that first MLS game. His team lost 1-0 to the San Jose Clash at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, in a match Arena remembers being "terrible." U.S. national team member Eric Wynalda scored the game's only goal.
The 64-year-old went on to manage the national team from 1998-2006, briefly overlapping with the end of Wynalda's senior team career.
Now with the Galaxy, Arena said the league has come a long way, even though certain realities then can still be an issue today.
"It was really challenging from travel to scheduling to selecting players and that process to signing players," Arena said. "It was all new. To be honest, we were just scrambling."