MLS: Who Cares?


MLS in the US – Who Cares?

As I was finishing writing this post, I read Kartik’s post on “Invisible MLS” and thought the timing couldn’t be better. Here’s my recent experience …

I’ve just returned from a trip across the country to visit friends and family and spread the good word about Major League Soccer. The reaction… not many care.

From my nephew, an athletic trainer for a New Jersey high school, to a barfly in Washington, DC, the feedback was the same, as in, there was no feedback. My nephew’s comments ran along these lines…

    If the players are striving to be the best, and the best play in Europe, why is there an American league?

From the barfly, a DC sports fan, who upon being told that I was a soccer fan replied…

    Well, I don’t understand why, but that’s your choice.

And these were pretty typical of the responses I received when speaking of the beautiful game.

My trip took me through Dallas, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia and DC. In none of the train stations could I purchase any soccer related souvenirs. Local baseball, basketball, hockey and football team caps and t-shirts were available, but not one whiff of a DC United shirt or Chicago Fire cap could be found. Nor could I purchase a Philadephia Union cap while in a suburb of the City of Brotherly Love, much less in the train station.

I was in DC the morning after they qualified for the group phase of the CONCACAF Champions League. I had four, count ’em, four DC papers in my hands and not one mention of United’s victory. In fact, not one mention of the match at all.

No surprise then that 4 of the 5 cities I’ve mentioned are drawing more on the road than at home; DC United being the exception.

The flip side is what people are calling MLS 2.0, with Toronto and Seattle in the forefront. We can only hope that future MLS cities, beginning with Philadelphia and Vancouver continue the 2.0 trend.

In fact, of the top 6 clubs in average attendance, the only charter franchise in the group is Los Angeles(not counting the relocated Houston team as a charter member, although in the strictest sense, the franchise is indeed a charter member). And sitting at number seven is the second San Jose incarnation.

Bringing more fans to MLS

Ben Berger at recently posted this series on improving MLS visibility in the US.

Bringing the Fans to MLS: Part I-The Non-Soccer Fan

Bringing the Fans to MLS: Part II- Families

Bringing the Fans to MLS: Part III-Soccer Fans

RBNY – Just How Bad Are They?

Home attendance is especially no surprise for RBNY. If they continue on their current pace, no team in the EPL, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A or La Liga will have won a lower percentage of its games(9.1%) or lost a greater percentage of its games(72.7%).


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