MLS, CONCACAF botch doubleheader option
Once again, MLS executives prove they are not in tune with their product. The Gold Cup provided the perfect opportunity for MLS to expand their fan base. Collaboration with CONCACAF representatives could have brought doubleheaders featuring one MLS game and one Gold Cup game from the first game through to the final (This year’s format does provide doubleheaders, two Gold Cup games/one stadium, except for the final).
A collaboration among organizations would have allowed for more stadiums to get an opportunity to host the Gold Cup, which in turn, allows more people overall to see live soccer action. By spreading the wealth, Soccer gets more promotion and more exposure.
What this would have accomplished is good for both CONCACAF and for MLS. By having an MLS game take place for fans who might not be familiar with the MLS product, there is a possibility of enhancing the significance of the CONCACAF Champions League. Fans of different heritage would get the chance to see teams which may play in the Champions League.
MLS would have benefited by getting their product to their easiest fans to win over, soccer fans. A game between Guadeloupe and Nicaragua in Reliant Stadium on the 9th of July with an MLS game as part of the attraction is a marketing wet dream for the Houston Dynamo.
The biggest dilemma for the organizers of these events would have been which game becomes the headliner. This is a problem you want to have. Some may argue the MLS game may have more broad appeal than the Gold Cup game or visa versa. Regardless, there are still two games to be played and to be enjoyed for fans.
There’s also the possibility of marketing to the sports fan and getting them more heavily involved. With 2 games to see, there’s a stronger likelihood they’ll see a great game and be pulled in more to soccer as an entertainment option. (International doubleheaders tend to attract a specific audience already familiar with Soccer).
Scheduling MLS games could have been made easier by getting all the teams involved during this 3 week period of 25 matches. They could have scheduled just 25 MLS matches during this time.
Among the 25 matches to be slotted to accompany Gold Cup matches, another brand could also fill the void. With sufficient planning and anticipation from U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF, some U.S. Open Cup matches could have been included.
It’s dissappointing this is not transpiring because it would have made for great theater and discussion for soccer fans. It also seems that this idea would have garnered more national attention from ESPN.