Sunday, 17 July 2011
Why the MLS is along way from being a top league
The MLS (Major League Soccer) is the league for all the American franchises. It is a relatively new league to most around the world and is trying very hard to raise the profile of the game in the US. With players such as Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez and of course the most notable one of all, David Beckham, playing in the MLS, this is definitely helping raise the profile of football in the states. However, these players are reaching the ends of their careers and their past glories at Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester United seem many years ago. They are helping increase the popularity of the sport with the aid of sponsorship and Television coverage, but the competitive side is still a distance away.
Yesterday I went to a "mid season" friendly for the LA Galaxy against Real Madrid. This on paper was a great spectacle, Beckham vs. Ronaldo, in Los Angeles, in the huge coliseum stadium and coverage live on ESPN. A great chance for Real Madrid to prepare for their "real" season ahead and get their pre season campaign under way. I would like to see Real, Barca, Arsenal, Chelsea etc have a mid season friendly? Could you imagine? The amount of games they play, the competitive nature of every single match played would mean it is impossible for this to happen. If the Galaxy and the MLS clubs are being serious about their intent to build a strong league, then why are they having mid season friendlies? This to me just shows how far behind they are to the European clubs.
I understand that a club like the LA Galaxy with a larger fan base than any other MLS team, and the huge sponsorships and television money that have come into this club, are a big draw for fan's across the country. They are also using the status of this team to raise the profile of the entire sport in the country. Also, the MLS want to show the world that they mean business and how better than to play against the best teams in Europe and probably the world. This point and approach is understandable. I just get frustrated when I hear senior members of MLS saying that their league is closing in on that of the European clubs. It is miles and miles apart! There are so many things that need to change before the league gets anywhere near that of the European leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga and Seria A. To start with, the season for me needs to start and finish at the same time as in Europe. The mid season friendlies need to stop and the television coverage needs to go worldwide.
This all will take time, which I understand. I believe that with the right people in control of the MLS, the league can start catching up a bit faster with the European leagues. More sponsorship will help and I'm sure events like the one I saw yesterday will be continually used, but I would like to know when will this happen? What are the aims of the MLS?
Let me know any views you may have on this issue or any other in the sport.