MLS has grown significantly over the last twenty years. No other league in world football has attained the status that MLS has in such a short time. Unlike it’s predecessor, the NASL, MLS is here to stay and we think it’s a league that may be able to challenge the European elite in a few years. Below we detail why we think MLS can be a force on the global football stage in the next five years. Agree or disagree, let us know in the comments and on Twitter.
1. World class cities: Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York, San Jose, Orlando just to name a few. All fantastic cities to live in and for those seeking a fun time.
Perhaps Los Angeles wouldn’t be the most advisable place for party animal Ronaldinho types, but what player wouldn’t want to live in these world class cities?
Many continental European players complain about the rain in England and the bland food. Any of the aforementioned cities will improve on the food choices due to their diverse populations. New York and the Canadian cities can be quite cold so I’m not sure weather wise (although perhaps the summer season has some allure) it’s that appealing but the concrete jungle is where dreams are made of, as someone once said.
If David Beckham’s Miami team gets off the ground then MLS will add the flamboyant city in the US to it’s ranks, among other expansion teams that have be rumoured. The weather is wonderful, the culture is diverse and suitable for European players as well as those from other continents. Beckham’s Miami team has gotten one step closer to completion with many sites predicting their team name. It will be the most exciting franchise in MLS.
No other region in the world can boast this much choice for incoming players. Expect this to be a big draw for the next wave of world class player.
2. Facilities: The United States is awash with money. Money buys you the best facilities. Football isn’t the number one sport in the US yet but the soccer facilities in the country and Canada (slightly behind but improving) are class. Orlando’s stadium is wonderful and BMO Field is a true delight, even if they installed turf to accommodate the Argonauts. There’s a lot of room for improvement and over time full grass pitches should be the standard. However, from Los Angeles to New York (and New Jersey for the Red Bulls), football facilities are top notch and getting better whereas in Europe the facilities have been in place for years but in many cases, especially in Italy and Spain, maintenance is a major cause for concern.
3. Growth of the game: The last few seasons have seen immense progress on the football side. From a local perspective, Toronto FC have gone from playing agricultural, hopeful, percentage football to a fairly cultured, possession-based style since the appointment of coach Greg Vanney and the installation of Giovinco and latterly Victor Vazquez as their creative outlets. Elsewhere, Atlanta United have dazzled in their first season with the rapid MLS record-signing Almiron making an instant impact.
This season we can also point to Chicago Fire for as an example of footballing progress. Dead last, last year, this season they’re top in the East with Nemanja Nikolic and David Accam scoring freely. In the West, Houston Dynamo are an exciting counter-attacking team spearheaded by Erick Torres. All of this to say, MLS teams are making huge strides, and the league is one of the best to watch for entertainment value – in part because the quality of defending is not keeping up with the progress of the attacking. Fun.
4. TV deals: Watching MLS is very easy here in North America and it’s become increasingly easy to watch around the world as well. SkySports has the rights to broadcast MLS games in the UK. Our friends, The Final Third are regular MLS viewers (even if Robbie Keane was the main catalyst for this). MLS doesn’t necessarily have to compete with European coverage. The European and MLS calendars only overlap for a short period. This means that when your favourite European club is on the beach you can tune in to Sebastian Giovinco’s Toronto FC, Kaka’s Orlando SC, David Villa’s NYCFC and other increasingly impressive teams. In the next few years this should see significant revenue flow into the league making MLS and its owners very happy indeed.
5. Rabid fanbases: If you thought that the atmosphere in European stadiums couldn’t bematched, you’d be very wrong. South America is known for the fire cracker type atmospheres and Turkish fans do a great job too. We went to Manchester, London, Rome and Berlin to watch football in 2016 and had an amazing time. However, the atmosphere we experienced when Toronto FC played Montreal Impact in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals was out of this world. 35,000 Canadian football fans packed BMO field in the rain to see one of the most entertaining games in MLS history. There were literal fireworks, frozen toes, tears of joy and sadness for Montreal fans. This was North American football like you’ve never known. Portland, Seattle and Kansas City are also known to have rowdy fanbases. The world’s best players will feel right at home playing in front of MLS’ dedicated fans.