Given the amount of publicity, further expansion and the addition of some genuine stars, the MLS is some way into a season that will be classed as make or break by some. It is evident that last summer’s World Cup in Brazil further contributed to the rising stock of the sport that Americans like to refer to as soccer. Partially explicable by the relatively short distance to Brazil, it felt as though, US Soccer were able to benefit from, what felt like, the strongest support any US team has ever received.
The above set the scene quite nicely for the MLS that now enjoys more popularity than the NBA, North America’s professional basketball league. This is not just a development on the symbolical front, but evidence for a shift of American and Canadian sports preferences. As a result, the MLS finds itself introducing new franchises, whilst seeing new facilities built across the two stake holding countries on a regular basis.
The interest is not limited to North America, but draws investment from European heavyweights such as Milan legend Paolo Maldini who has recently invested in the launch of Miami FC, an NASL (second tier) franchise. Similarly, David Beckham is seeking to invest in an MLS franchise in Miami and will probably help boost the game even further. Even more intriguing, Sky Sports have recently bought rights to broadcast MLS games across the UK. Again, this will have a significant impact on the league’s future.
In the meantime, the current season is well underway and early favourites have signalled their intent with the expected results. While Kaka-led Orlando City for example, have struggled to keep up with the pace, the likes of NY Red Bulls have been rather impressive. There will be more to look forward to later this season when Frank Lampard joins David Villa at NY City FC; line-ups will certainly continue to sound more impressive with every season.
As far as predictions go, at Shots & Goals, we have our money on the Red Bulls and the Sounders.