Major League Soccer’s 29th season begins in less than one week. In what is Lionel Messi’s first full season in MLS, his Inter Miami team kicks off the season opener on February 21st against Real Salt Lake, live on MLS Season Pass.

Normally, the excitement level for a season opener featuring the world’s greatest player would be heightened. However, soccer fans in the United States are feeling a mixture of amusement coupled with animosity.

The animosity comes from MLS announcing 60 days ago that it was exiting the US Open Cup. That move was met with outrage from all factions of soccer fans in the United States. Following a weekend of fans across social media threatening to cancel their MLS Season Pass subscriptions, Major League Soccer flip-flopped and said it wasn’t quitting the US Open Cup after all. Instead, it would continue talks with US Soccer to reach a compromise.

Sixty days later, MLS continues to drag its feet. No decision has been reached. Instead, MLS is still trying to reach a compromise instead of doing the right thing.

MLS’ decision to abandon the US Open Cup and then make a U-turn has taken a lot of the air of excitement out of MLS Season Pass.

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Inter Miami has become a subject of amusement

The animosity felt towards Major League Soccer is also mixed with amusement. Inter Miami’s preseason world tour has been another PR disaster, which has reflected poorly on MLS as a whole. Tata Martino’s side was embarrassed in defeats to two Saudi Pro League teams. Meanwhile, Messi’s decision to not play in Hong Kong resulted in such a backlash that two Argentina games were canceled in China. More than one week later, there’s even more fallout.

The amusement comes from how badly one team can run a preseason tour coupled with how many holes the team has in its defense. Will this be a car crash of a team that people can’t take their eyes off? Or can the Barcelona alumni of Messi, Suarez, Busquets and Alba demolish the opposition?

Given the continued hostility felt by many towards MLS due to the Open Cup decision, will this impact MLS Season Pass subscriptions?

For many soccer fans in the United States, MLS abandoning the US Open Cup was the last straw. Across social media and in comments sections, fans said “enough is enough” and that “the league has crossed a line.”

Whether it’ll impact the number of MLS Season Pass subscriptions, only Apple and MLS will know. Given all of the bad press MLS has received, but how little of it has been picked up by mainstream media, the league may not be too fussed about it. After all, Apple and MLS are hoping to reach a mainstream audience that isn’t paying attention to everything that happens in soccer.

Open Cup and MLS Season Pass: In-depth analysis

Photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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