Thursday, April 28, 2011

Progress In MLS? Where?

MLS woke up to the same new world on Thursday in more ways than one.

Real Salt Lake was unable to announce the arrival of Major League Soccer on Wednesday night, simply because it hasn't arrived. Monterrey saw to that, and claimed CONCACAF's spot in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Mexico > MLS.

Nothing new there.

Also, the league announced that New York will participate in a four-team friendly tournament, pitting the MLS side against Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Boca Juniors. New York won't play against the South American side but will play the two European teams.

It's still all about the spectacle in MLS. Sure, there are better teams now than there have been in recent years. Even though they lost the CCL final, RSL could go down as a power and one of the top teams in league history. New York and Los Angeles are stacked and there is a lot younger, better talent in this league than before with the likes of Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Fredy Montero, etc.

But for MLS, the summer friendly slate is top priority. Who MLS teams play against matters to the league, when really, it should not.

We've already seen a steady stream of friendlies that have been announced: Manchester United will play Seattle, Chicago and New England; Vancouver will play Manchester City; Everton will visit DC United; Portland will play Ajax; and the LA Galaxy will play at least one high-profile friendly match (my money's on LA-Real Madrid).

What does the league gain from all these high-profile friendlies? Revenue... that's the main thing; then there's the publicity as supporters from back in Europe will watch their team meet up against an MLS rival; and of course some of these high-profile opponents could force their highlights and match reports onto TV and into print, and that's always nice, right?

But it doesn't gain anything tangible that can be used towards helping progress the league.

That Real Salt Lake lost the CCL final is not just a reflection on the team and how it failed to put the series away but on the league and how it has not arrived yet, how there is still a lot of progress to be made.

Glamour over substance in MLS?

Nothing new there.


Anonymous said...

I think you are being a little harsh.

There has been lots of progress being made in MLS, and I really think RSL's run is indicative of that.

In regard to the friendlies - MLS, like any other sports league, is a business too. It's a business competing in a flooded market with four other major leagues. They've got to do what they've got to do.

I think MLS has done a good job balancing glamour and progress.

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